You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘2012’ category.

Like my colleagues Jared and John, I too have listed my best picture nominees in reverse order of the degree to how much I liked them. Sadly, this year was so underwhelming that the distance between 7 and 2 is quite small. I have a clear favorite in the bunch, and if you’ve been reading it will come as no shock to you what it i. There was just one awful stinker, one underrated prestige film, and seven other middling, above-average movies. I hate it when Adam is right, but he is by-and-large correct — this group is not the best reflection of film in 2011.

9. Tree of Life — There’s no use in wasting too many words on this, but the first 45 minutes were agonizing. I don’t know how Jared and Adam managed to stick through it on DVD. I’m not sure I could have resisted the urge to shut off the movie and lie about watching the whole thing. The second 45 minutes I found legitimately interesting, but then the final 30 minutes dovetailed into more incomprehension. Just a terrible film that reinforces the worst of cineaste snobbery.

8. War Horse — I went into this with low expectations, so was pleased when I ended up not hating it. Spielberg never quite gets me past the, “Yeah, but its still a fucking horse” problem. No matter how good the camera work was, and it was quite good, War Horse never rose above that issue. The threads between all the vignettes were well integrated — I just wish I had cared more about some of the human characters. We need more World War I movies – this was a decent start.

7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Another film that benefitted from the soft bigotry of low expectations, ELIC actually had some well-earned emotional moments. As Tim Grierson wrote  over on Deadspin, the precociousness of Oskar was annoying, but it was supposed to be annoying. The contrivances of the plot weren’t as bothersome for me as they were for John — it’s not more contrived than War Horse. Overall, I found ELIC forgettable, which is a lot better than what others have written about it. Max von Sydow was fine, but not really integral to the central themes or plot. I’d hope the book does a better job with him.

6. Moneyball — I haven’t read Jared’s write-up of Moneyball, but I’ll give my blanket endorsement of it. I don’t understand the fascination and love of it — the truthiness of the script aside, which reminded me of the movie Joe Morgan thinks Billy Beane would write. The movie was just too superficial for me to care about any of the characters — even now I can’t recall any scene that I haven’t been seeing in previews or For Your Consideration ads.

5. The Help — This is the third and highest-ranking of my “oh that wasn’t so bad” movies. The “white people solved racism” angle is overplayed by a Hollywood press frustrated by their inability to force the industry to become more diverse (not that it should be their job in the first place). If anything, I feel the “5 strong roles for women” angle is underplayed. Bryce Dallas Howard should be getting more recognition for really chewing the scenery as the villain, and Viola Davis is deservedly getting her due. The worst part of the screenplay was the poorly thought out “boyfriend” played by Chris Lowell ( I think? I can’t even tell from IMDB — the role was that bad). Without that meandering plotline, I might have this higher.

4. Midnight in Paris — There was a lot to love about Midnight in Paris — the supporting cast, especially Michael Sheen, Allison Pill and Corey Stoll; the breezy script; the fun score; a fresh take on Woody Allen’s neurotic protagonist. But the absurdity of Rachel McAdams as the harpy fiancee and her equally horrible parents was just too much. Having her cheat on Owen Wilson with Michael Sheen was unnecessary. It was already abundantly clear that Wilson and McAdams were incompatible (so how did they ever get engaged in the first place? Who knows!), so why make her even more dislikable by having her be a two-timer as well? That’s just an example of why this movie that could have been great was instead just okay.

3. The Descendants —  MOAR LAND DEALZ PLEASE!

2. The Artist — As an inverse to ELIC, the Artist suffers from too high expectations. I found it charming, enjoyable, surprisingly dark but overall a very solid film. Folks who are saying this is such a typical Oscar winner are forgetting that it has so much going against it: it’s silent, black and white AND foreign! When’s the last time a Best Picture winner was ANY of those things? Jean Dujardin, no doubt helped along by Uggie, is a treat and I’m looking forward to seeing him in more. Berenice Bejo is also darling. I can’t claim this “moved” me or resonated emotionally, but from beginning to end its construction was near perfect.

1. Hugo — Ah yes, the film I loved that no one else (among the Grouches) did. I feel like I need to explain myself on this one, but I need to give it a 2nd viewing, which I’ll do within the next week and write a proper post on it. IN the meantime, I’ll add that prior to 50/50Hugo was the film that hit me in the gut and heart. The latter half, as acted by Ben Kingsley and Helen McCrory (Mrs. Damien Lewis!), was just heartbreaking. It got dusty in the theaters as George Melies remembered his love for film and his missing art. It reminded me a little bit of another Brian Wolly special, The Rookie, in which an older and washed up author forgets about the life he left behind. Chloe Moretz was also brilliant, a total 180 from her performance in Kick-Ass.

More to come on Hugo, but enjoy the show tonight!

Oscar nominations will be announced on February 2.  We’re counting down to the big day by offering some hard-hitting analysis and incisive opinions on the toughest questions surrounding the nominees.  We tend to focus on the “major” categories (acting, directing, writing, picture), but let’s take a look at the artistic and technical categories.  What would you like to see happen in these lesser profile categories?

John: I Am the Grand Poobah of Smaller Categories

I’m having a hard time choosing just one hope for the smaller categories. The three I really care about, The Informant! and Avatar for Score and “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart for Song, are already probably nominees. So I’ll highlight a few that were noteworthy to me, all of which I thoroughly like but whose exclusion will not cause me extraordinary pain.

Depression Era” from stalled Hal Holbrook vehicle That Evening Sun for Song. It’s a simple, soulful folk tune from Drive-By Truckers front man Patterson Hood. The Song selection is sort of weak this year but this one stands out.

I’d also like to plump for one of Karen O’s tunes from Where the Wild Things Are for Song; “Hideaway”  and “All Is Love” are eligible. Beyond those mentioned above, some scores that made me sit up and take notice include those from The RoadPonyo, and The Secret of Kells, though I think the final one is ineligible for Score.

I love me some An Education so some recognition in Art Direction and/or Costume would be wonderful.

Finally, how about some love for The Brothers Bloom for the costumes? I didn’t enjoy all of the self-conscious quirky elements of the film, but I did enjoy the clothing, which did serve to develop the film’s offbeat characters.

And, oh yes, I can’t finish without whining again about the obnoxious sound in Star Trek.

Adam: What do tigers dream of? Oscar gold.

Since my Dracula’s Lament piece last year failed to sway the Academy (and yes, most Academy members read our blog), I’ve decided to tempt failure again and make my plug for “Stu’s Song” from The Hangover. Another Hangover piece you say? Yes. While I did thoroughly enjoy the movie, the reason I am picking it again is it is a no brainer for these types of posts – i.e. great movie that will get no love. I would pick Zombieland, but John is a Blog-Nazi and won’t let us pick something that has no shot at any kind of nomination…*cough* LAME *cough* *cough*.

Oh, right, “Stu’s Song”. Apparently humor and originality don’t factor into the nomination process for the Oscars. Like “Dracula’s Lament” last year, this was a hilarious song, well written, and original. What about it makes it unviable? I mean, it’s short, but why does that matter? The video just has clips from the movie, but that actually adds to the song. It’s in a comedy – and I think we have a winner. Once again the Academy shows it’s small-mindedness by completely overlooking a legitimate contender because it does not fall within their comfort zone. Well done.

[As John points out, don’t miss Helms’s tailoring of the song for Conan:]

Jared: Destroy Visual Effects

I’m really happy John proposed we tackle this question, because I otherwise spend very little time thinking about these categories.  Part of it, I suppose, is that I tend to believe I’m appreciating a movie for its story, so I pay less attention to its visual or auditory approach.  I’m clearly not qualified to talk at all about some of these categories (for the sound categories, if you haven’t already done so, I’d urge you to check out the really cool stuff at SoundWorks Collection).  I’m the last person in the world to notice costume design, for example, but it strikes me as a little odd that so often the nominees are predominantly period pieces.

Anyway, I’m here to plump for 2012‘s visual effects.  Granted, I may enjoy Roland Emmerich’s movies a little more than the next guy.  But the point, I think, is that when you think Emmerich, you think of sh*t done gettin’ destroyed.  Unlike some other films likely to get nominated here, 2012 doesn’t have any sort of coherent storyline or fascinating turn of events.  No, in this disaster movie, you get exactly what you’d expect.  Nonstop, relentless, continuous destruction of every landmark (natural or manmade) imaginable.  But, to me, at least, it doesn’t get boring.  And kudos for that, in my mind, should be placed squarely at the feet of the visual effects crew.  Tasked with creating tons of scenes of destruction, they came through brilliantly, and it seems odd to me that their work could be diminished just because their movie was little more than the results of their efforts.

Brian: Single Man Deserves Recognition — Say What?

I can’t believe I am actually writing a mini-post in favor of A Single Man, considering I found it absolutely boring and pretentious (I rated it less than a 4 out of 10), but I’m pretty surprised to see that it is not expected to be nominated for either Art Direction or Costume Design. If fashion-designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford knows anything, it’s style, and his movie has lots of it. Colin Firth is quite particular about his shirts and suits — and while I didn’t enjoy Julianne Moore’s big OSCAR(!!!) scene, her apartment and outfit seemed apropos of both the character and the film overall. Maybe this is just Mad Men withdrawal, as both of them cover the same time period, and both have problems with pacing and that all important thing called “plot,” but I’d be pretty disappointed if Single Man got an Oscar nom for best picture, but was left out for what it did best: highlighting both the cool and the isolation of early 1960s America.

February 2020
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