February 19th, 2012

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Oscar Roundup 2012

That time of year again, folks. When my movie obession goes from eleven to twelve or higher. Although this year, I haven't really spent as much time as usual trying to read every last article and prediction I can find. Most things seem pretty decided, and there isn't any particular horse (war or otherwise) in this race that I'm really gung ho about. Overall, a pretty lackluster year. And I should know. I saw just about everything.

Anyhoo, I'll go thru as many of the categories as I feel like, ranking my choices from fave to least with some discussion points. Read on if you dare.

Best Picture
The Artist - No question, this is both my vote for best picture and my prediction. No, it's not my favorite of that past year (that would be The Muppets), but it is my favorite out of the nominees. And it's also incredibly incredibly (yes, I intended to say that twice) well done, unique, quirky, and fun. It is kind of everything you want to give a big award to.

The Help - Gave this one a second watch recently and still really loved it. Hell, I was excited to give it a second watch. The characters are what drive it, and they're so well crafted and expertly acted. And it's one that really makes you think, without forcing you to if that makes sense. If not for The Artist, I certainly wouldnt mind seeing this added to the pantheon of Pictures

The Descendants - Because apparently, if the movie title starts with "The" it gets bonus points (actually not true now that I see what other "The" movie is included). I loved this one, but something just doesnt seem strong enough for it to be a best picture. I think I said this during my write up, but it's got a very Juno/Little Miss Sunshine/Up in the Air sorta feel where its the smaller scale nominee that really stands among others like it, but doesnt quite have what it takes to pull in the big hardwear.

Moneyball - Moneyball is a fairly prefectly executed movie. It just lacks that little something extra it would need to push it to a win. Fantastic screenplay, even more fantastic cast, and just really interesting. Between the characters and the baseball details, I was intrigued throughout.

War Horse - Time was when this would have won, no contest. Its just so epic and expertly done (thank you Mr Spielberg), but nowadays its just too over the top, too expected, too perfect. While there was nothing wrong, there wasn't anything particularly memorable to make it really stay with you.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Another one that may have been obvious a few years back, but it was extremely obvious and incredibly contrived (see what I did there?). That doesnt mean I didn't enjoy it. I loved our little protagonist, and it did possess the one brand of kryptonite that's guaranteed to make me cry. But still, I was part of the camp that was surprised when it earned its nomination. Given the new rules for this year (with 10 being a maximum instead of requirement) I didnt think this one had the strength

Hugo - I kept wanting to rank this higher, but the bit of this one that really dragged kept over powering the warm fuzzies it should have been producing. Yes it was gorgeous and yes I appreciate the "we love movies" aspect of it, but it just went on a bit too long and thought a little too much of itself.

Midnight in Paris - This is one of those situations where I recognize it's a truly great movie, but its just not so much my thing. It was inventive and quirky and overall quality, I just had a hard time getting into it. Maybe its because I've never been a Woody Allen fan. Maybe I couldnt buy the Owen Wilson/Rachel McAdams relationship. Maybe I'm trying really hard to think of a third maybe, but it aint coming to me. Either way, I dont disagree with the nomination at all. It just wouldnt get my vote

The Tree of Life - There's always one. That movie that's probably my least favorite of the year that somehow gets nominated (I'm looking at you, A Serious Man). It's actually one of the most controversial movies of the year (as far as opinions, not content) and I totally get why. Yes it was beautiful and artsy and blah blah blah, but it was boring as \m/. I fell asleep during it and didnt feel like I missed anything. I like plot and that's not what this movie was going for at all.

What's Missing - Well as stated before, The Muppets was my fave of last year, but its not like I'd expect to see it on this list. There was also the arguement for HP7.5. That would have been nice, to see such a beloved series get some legit recognition. Ooooh Warrior would have been awesome on here too!


Best Actor
Brad Pitt - Moneyball - To quote George Clooney when he was asked how he felt about being nominated against one of his BFF's, "I'd like to live in a world where Brad Pitt has an Academy Award". I wholeheartedly concur. If I were a voting member of the Academy, that's how my ballot would be cast. This is one of the boy's finest performances because it was so subtle and careful. When you hear his name, you imagine this BIG Hollywood star and the commanding presence that goes with it. But that's not what his Billy Beane was about nor how he was portrayed. Utterly breathtaking.

Jean Dujardin - The Artist - What I love about Jean Dujardin in The Artist was what a unique performance it was. You rarely see someone as expressive and entertaining and versatile, and all without saying a word. However, my biggest argument against him can be summed up in two words: Roberto Benigni. Remember how he was this quirky little foreigner that came in outta nowhere and won for Life is Beautiful and then basically disappeared? You know who should've won that year? Edward Norton for American History X. Yeah, which performance is more iconic and which actor has had the more illustrious career. No I'm not bitter. (Yes, I am. Very much)

George Clooney - The Descendants - He's the current front runner, and while it's with good reason, I dont think it was the best performance this year. To me, it seemed like George Clooney playing yet another George Clooney character. Nothing about it stood out to me as different or special. Maybe I'm also desensitzed and biased because he's already got a statue at home (Supporting for Syriana) and Brad's overdue. I wont be upset if he takes it home on Sun, but I think there's more worthy options this year.

Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy - Bought \m/ time Mr Oldman can add "Academy Award Nominee" to his name in movie trailers. The Tinker Tailer trailer particularly made me sad because so many other cast members had those three little words (or even winner) in front of their names, and he just kept missing it by that much year after year. I wasn't particularly impressed with the movie, nor did anything about his performance this time really strike me. But this nomination is really a testament to his outstanding career and the long overdue recognition he deserved.

Demian Bichir - A Better Life - This is the biggest contender this year that I haven't seen. Frankly, Im not interested in the film and Mr Bichir doesnt really have a prayer in hell of getting this one. For what it's worth, I do like him on Weeds, and I'm sure his nomination is worthy, but I'll just hafta take the Academy at their word.

Who's Missing - Michael Fassbender! He'd been considered such a lock for a nomination and then poof. Nada. Not only was he fantastic in Shame, but he had an amazing beyond all reason year. He is totally beyond worth of being an Academy Award nominee, but it looks like he'll just hafta keep at it. No question he'll be up here soon, but I guess this year people were more interested in an illegal alien's sob story than a well endowed sex addict. There was also some buzz around Leonardo Dicaprio for J Edgar. Eh. I'm fine with Gary Oldman taking his spot. Also, loved that Joseph Gordon-Levitt got a Golden Globe nomination for 50/50. He really didnt have a shot in this category, but that woulda been so awesome.

Best Actress
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady - It would take an uncharacteristically weak performance from the incomparable Meryl Streep and a \m/ awesome performance from someone else for me to not rank this goddess first. She could stand up there reading the phone book and I'd be riveted. Alas, the rest of the movie is kinda mediocre, so that looks like it's killing her chances yet again. Do you realize that while she's been nominated for acting more than anyone else, she hasn't won one in my lifetime? I'll be 27 on Saturday. Travesty!

Viola Davis - The Help - Here's our current front runner. And yes, it was an absolutely amazing performance from a truly remarkable actress in an incredibly well received film. Kinda like with George, I wont complain if she takes it home, but I would have voted otherwise.

Rooney Mara - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Kind of a toss up for how I'd rank Rooney vs Michelle. I was really surpised when I saw she snagged a spot, but it made me so incredibly happy. I figured we'd hafta wait until the third movie for support to build and the nomination to come. Such an intriguing and unique character portrayed with total dedication. It took all my willpower to not ask for her hair style when I went to get my hair cut a few days after seeing this. There was an aspect to her that I could relate to far better than I can to many other leading ladies. So yeah, <3!

Michelle Williams - My Week With Marilyn - Such a stunning portrayal. I really was mesmorized, partly with Williams' performance and partly just with the icon that is Marilyn Monroe. The way she handled herself and the image she created is just awe inspiring.

Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs - Yes, this was a good performance in that she completely embodied the character, but I found the character a little flat. I think it's really the novelty of essentially playing a male character that got her the buzz. But the character didnt have much arc or depth to it.

Who's Missing - Most people are upset that Tilda Swinton didnt make it on here for We Need to Talk About Kevin. I'm only upset because the lack of nomination equals a lack of urgency in releasing the film and I wanna \m/ see it. Although there was a trailer for it before Rampart yesterday so that gives me hope that it's on its way soon.


Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer - Beginners - This was one of the movies that made me the happiest to watch this past year, and Plummer was a big reason for that. He was just so full of life and charisma, just lighting up the screen in such a sweet and heartfelt movie. The fact that he's racking up award after award makes me happy too

Jonah Hill - Moneyball - Jonah Hill being nominated is likely the single nomination that made me happiest (or at least an incredibly close second to another we'll get to later). I absolutely love it when actors are cast against type. I love it even more when they exceed expectations in that anti-type casting. I love it most when they get much deserved recognition for those turns. Can you just imagine one of Hill's doofy buddy stoner comedies touting him as an Academy Award nominee? It can happen now. Much like Pitt's performance in this movie, Hill was just so subtle and understated and effective. He was the heart and soul of this movie and did so with a skill no one knew the boy had.

Nick Nolte - Warrior - Im ranking this highly because I \m/ loved this movie. Yeah, I know, every year there's at least one performance like this one that gets nomination. But the reason for that is because they're intense and often the actor's best work. For me, this movie was def more about the brothers than their dead beat dad, but I was so inspired by it (as cheesey as it sounds).

Max von Sydow - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Another actor that says so much by saying so little. Does kinda seem like an obvious choice for a nomination, but he was truly fantastic.

Kenneth Branagh - My Week With Marilyn - Nothing really struck me about his performance as Lawrence Olivier. That's prolly because I'm not too familiar with Lawrence Olivier. But this movie for me really was all about Michelle as Marilyn. I hardly noticed anybody else

Who's Missing - ARMIE HAMMER! I know J Edgar was a subpar film, but Armie Hammer was utterly and incredibly \m/ fantastic. Watching the movie, I thought he had the nod in the bag. He was the brightest spot and had me every time he was on screen. And some of his more intimate moments with Leo's J Edgar were so touching and moving. Robbed I tell ya. Expectedly so, but that's beside the point.


Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer - The Help - I dont think I need to sell anybody on this one. Octavia Spencer was born to play this role, and this statue is totally hers to lose.

Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids - Such a big step for the Academy that this type of performance is nominated, and very rightly so. Not only was Melissa hysterical beyond all reason, but she also had the most down to earth turn of any of the cast members. She went beyond awkward comic relief to being the heart that held it together. Even if her character annoyed me, there's no denying how incredible she is.

Jessica Chastain - The Help - This girl had such a fantastic year (The Help, The Debt, Take Shelter, Tree of Life), but I really do agree that this one was her best of the lot. At this point in the game I'm running out of positive adjectives, but you can certainly throw a whole bunch at her.

Berenice Bejo - The Artist - I loved how quirky and expressive this French darling was. She is one of the cutest things we've seen on screen in a while, and I'm loving all the sound bites from her in interviews as she's taking in all of Hollywood. There were some who thought she probably should have been up for Actress proper instead of Supporting, but I think this is a good fit. While she was the female lead, it wasn't all about her. And there's something about supporting that works well with her quirk.

Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs - She was one of the bright spots in an otherwise dull movie. I said this in my write up, but I found her character far more interesting than our title protagonist.

Who's Missing - The Descendant's Shailene Woodley was expected to be on this list, and I'd have liked to see that. I loved how tough as nails she was while at the same time incredibly vulnerable. Not a lot of people can go toe to toe with Mr Clooney, and she did it with such fire.

Best Director
Time is getting crunchy so these are gonna get shorter. And Im gonna get picky about what I call out now. I think The Artist's Michel Hazanavicius has this one. I have nothing but respect for Woody Allen (while I dont typically care for his movies, I'd KILL to work with him) and I adore Martin Scorsese (even if he took his I-love-movies a bit too far with Hugo). But Hazanavicius was the true artist (see what I did there) of the lot this year.

Who's Missing - David Fincher, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Love that man. Hopefully he'll get more love later in the franchise.

Original Screenplay
Really just wanna comment on here that I'm sad that 50/50 was left out. It was gaining such momentum. Truly original and a delicate balance of offensive comedy sensitive drama. Weird, but it worked. Although I am happy that Bridesmaids and Margin Call made the short list.

Animated Feature
Such a weak year (WTF Pixar?!). My pick this year would have been Gnomeo and Juliet, but it's nowhere to be found. I'd have even been fine with Happy Feet Two or Rio. Currently Rango is the front runner, but I really didnt like it. The actual animation was phenomenal, but the story was sleep inducing.

Original Song
Man or Muppet really is the nomination that made me happiest. I literally did jump out of my seat (and I only use the word literally when I really mean it). And yes I'm incredibly pissed that this is the year that they chose to not let the nominated songs perform. While having Kermit and Miss Piggy present is a decent consolation prize, it's not enough. And for good measure, the other nominee Real in Rio.


Whew that's all folks!