Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL

Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL
Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL

26 February 2012

2011 Academy Awards

Let me start by acknowledging that i am tragically lacking in cynicism every year at Oscar time. Sure, some of my favorite movies of the past year weren't nominated. Scroll through my older posts and you'll find effusive praise for Road to NowhereMelancholia, and The Interrupters. None of them got even a nod. Still, predictable as the Oscars can be, and disappointed as i usually am in the outcome,  i can't help but get caught up in the glitz and hoopla every year. I'm better prepared this year than i've been in the past few years: i've seen quite a few of the films that are nominated. And despite all the grumbling about the quality of movies this year, i found plenty to love. 
I have no intention of predicting who will win; what's the point of that, beyond a sorry mix of bragging rights and disappointment? But here are my thoughts on the nominees for best picture:

The Tree of Life--If i ruled the world, or at least the Academy, this would win best picture. It is vast and daring, and yes, frustrating, as art should be. I am thrilled that it actually got three nominations! I don't expect that it will win. Well, maybe Emmanuel Lubezki will get the award for cinematography. Say what you like about my personal deity, Terrence Malick, the man has an extraordinary sense of visual aesthetics. 

The Artist--Completely charming! If there were an award for Best Eyes Belonging to an Actress in a Supporting Role, Bérénice Bejo would win it in a heartbeat!

The Descendants--I liked this movie, but not enough to give it an Oscar.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close--Didn't see it, but i enjoyed David Denby's scathing and child-loathing review in The New Yorker.

The Help--Haven't seen it yet.

Hugo--I really enjoyed this movie and loved the homage to the wonderful Georges Méliès. 

Midnight in Paris--What a delightful movie! It reminded me why i used to never miss anything by Woody Allen. Who hasn't indulged in a few fantasies of stepping into a time machine and being transported to Paris in the 'twenties? Which reminds me, why wasn't Kathy Bates nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Gertrude Stein? 

Moneyball--Haven't seen it yet.

War Horse--Haven't seen it, and don't have much interest in it.

In the acting categories:
I haven't seen enough of the performances to make any informed comparisons, but here are a few that i thought were very good:

Best Actor in a Leading Role: 
Gary Oldman should probably win in that way the Academy has of giving Oscars to actors who should have gotten them a long time ago. I found Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy kind of boring, but since Oldman should have gotten an Oscar for Sid and Nancy, i will understand perfectly if they give him one now.

I have to confess that i was a bit underwhelmed by The Descendants. As i said earlier, i liked it, but that's about it. Clooney was good. I won't throw things at the TV if he wins.

Jean Dujardin--I confess to a case of pencil-thin mustache fever. The man was delicious in The Artist.

I still need to see Moneyball and A Better Life.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: 
Michelle Williams is absolutely luminous as Marilyn Monroe. Just give her the Oscar, for goodness sake!
I also thought Rooney Mara was very good in Dragon Tattoo

I haven't seen The Help or Albert Nobbs yet. I have no intention of watching The Iron Lady at any time in the near future; I'm sure Meryl Streep is brilliant in it, but that does not change the fact that it's a movie about Margaret Flippin' Thatcher.

Supporting Actor:
Christopher Plummer was wonderful in Beginners. End of story.

Supporting Actress:
Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids. Can we please reward someone for doing comedy well?
Bérénice Bejo in The Artist, for that lovely scene with the jacket...and those eyes!

A few other categories:
Best Documentary: 
Pina: This movie was in my top five films of the year. I thought it was breathtaking for its use of setting and music, and was touched by the poignant circumstances of its making. German choreographer Pina Bausch,  the subject of the film and friend of director Wim Wenders, passed away shortly before filming was scheduled to begin. Wenders went ahead with the film, now transformed into a touching elegy for a visionary of modern dance.

But let me repeat my complaint: Why wasn't The Interrupters nominated?

Best Screenplay:
All i can say is, "Are you kidding me?" Where is My Week with Marilyn? The dialogue in that movie was so delicious that people were scribbling lines in the dark so they wouldn't forget them. 

Midnight in Paris was a very good original screenplay. 

The Artist? Really? Is that a joke?

Best Foreign Language Film:
Confession, the only one I've seen yet is A Separation. It's an excellent film. 

Cinematography: The Tree of Life. Amen.