Saturday, February 25, 2012

Academy Awards 2012 Pre-Game Show: Best Picture Nominees

Its that time again!  Holy Oscar Sunday is only hours away, and of course, I'm as excited as always.  This is my third Academy Awards special for this blog, and I'm shooting for a fourth next year.

Now, I'm not going to be one of those super cynical guys who will claim that the Oscars are totally meaningless and only exacerbate negative trends within the corrupt Hollywood system.  I know every single movie pundit out there has their favorite "worst oscars ever", and loves to pick and yell about that one great injustice that the Oscars brought upon the world.  Maybe it was "King's Speech" beating "Social Network", or "Crash" beating "Gay Cowboys Eating Pudding"*, or even "How Green Was My Valley" beating "Citizen Kane", its endless.  And on Monday, I'm sure ten million critics will call this the most boring show yet, hate on Billy Crystal as being a terrible host, and rant and rave and bitch for no good reason.  All that negativity doesn't do anybody any good.  I'm just here to enjoy the show, find some jokes to make, and in this post, break down all the Best Picture Nominees to see who should win.

Now, I promised, I wasn't going to be negative, but I will admit this:  2012's show has easily the weakest field of Best Picture nominees since the 2009 Awards, that year when the Oscars snubbed both "The Dark Knight" and "WALL-E".  This year they notably have only nine movies as compared to the usual ten, and unlike last year when the Best Picture group had Westerns, Action, Animation, Horror, and the usual Oscar Bait Dramas, this year's group is basically all Oscar Bait Drama and "Hugo".  Somehow the Academy thought that only nine movies would be enough - which just exacerbates the extreme injustice in not nominating "Drive".  "Drive, one of the most creative and amazing movies of 2011, is nominated for exactly one award, Best Sound Editing, right next to "Transformers 3".  So I'm unhappy about that.

Anyway, to look on the bright side, there actually are a few decent movies within this Oscar Crowd.  Let's do the break down:

1. "The Artist" is going to win Best Picture this year.  I don't know if this is actually the best movie of the year, I haven't seen it.  But every pundit out there is singing for it, its the clear front-runner like Mitt Romney was just a few weeks ago in the Republican race for the Guy Obama Will Beat in November.  I haven't seen this movie, but there's a reason for that:  I don't like silent movies.  As a matter of fact, silent movies are probably the most boring things ever:  yes, notable achievements in the history of cinema, and remarkable in how much was achieved with so little, but really really dull for my modern eyes to watch.  Yeah, I know that's a terrible thing for a movie blogger to admit, but its true.  If I get any kind of negative response for being so prejudiced, I'll review "the Artist" for you and maybe my mind will change.  But for now, I'm fine missing it.  And anyway, didn't Mel Brooks make this movie already back in 1976?

2. "The Descendants" is probably the #2 front-runner, right behind "The Artist".  I've heard a lot of good buzz around this movie, apparently George Clooney is fantastic in it.  But um... a story about a family huddling around a hospital watching a dying family member pass away.  That's a little too close to life for me.  I don't want to watch any sad movies, life is too sad already.  So I'll pass on this just like I passed on "Grave of the Fireflies".  I don't need any more baggage than I already have.

3. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is almost universally reviled as worthless completely transparent Oscar Bait.  Nominating this is like nominating "J. Edgar", a movie that is just fully mediocre and boring and exists only to win awards.  Most pundits out there are still trying to figure out how the Hell this movie got nominated in the first place.  Corrupt bargains in smoke-filled rooms?  Possibly.  I think its just because its got Tom Hanks and is about 9/11, so the Academy Awards couldn't resist it.  By the way, the plot of this movie is almost beat for beat the same as "Hugo", only apparently this movie is pretentious and horrible.  I haven't seen it for, well, obvious reasons.

4. "The Help" is a movie I've actually seen.  Hooray!  However, as you long-term readers might notice (or not notice, who knows?) I never reviewed this movie.  That's because, honestly, I didn't have much to say about it.  Yeah, it does what it does well, I guess, but really this movie is about as not for me as the upcoming "Transformers 4".  This is a movie I watched for ten minutes and then booted up my laptop and started doing other things.  I'm rooting for Viola Davis at least for Best Actress.  Plus, this movie is for Girls.  It gives cooties.

5. "Hugo" is easily the best movie on this list, by at least several miles and possibly a few lightyears.  "Hugo" was a wonderful movie, the movie that Pixar should have made this year but somehow Martin Scorsese made instead.  And thank you, Martin Scorsese, for making such a great movie.  This is all the love-letter to silent movies that I need, thank you very much, "The Artist".  And its also all the movies about socially-isolated boys solving mystery about their late fathers, thank you very much, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Pretentious".  If you haven't seen this movie yet, I don't know what to say about you.  Also, it cures cooties.

I seriously want this movie to win, but I know for a fact it won't.  Family movies aren't allowed to win Oscars.  It also doesn't help that this movie was a pretty awful flop at the box office, since Scorsese somehow managed to spend $150 million on it and it only made $100 back.  Ouch.  If it weren't for Scorsese being one of the greatest directors of all time, he would probably get stuffed in a cannon and blasted straight out Hollywood.  A lot of that money had to have gone to the completely unnecessary 3D effects, and somehow I'm guessing that Oscar doesn't like 3D movies either.

6. "Midnight in Paris" is a movie I reviewed days ago, along with "Moneyball" so I probably won't have all that much new to say.  I really liked the clever time-traveling plot and "Midnight in Paris"'s celebration of the greatest writers and artists of the early 20th century.  However, I just couldn't care about the parts of this movie that were traditional Woody Allen stuff.  So-so.

7. "Moneyball" is a baseball movie that should have been a lot more fun.  Brad Pitt was great, the idea was great, but I really wanted more of a movie about a ragtag bunch of misfits overcoming the odds in comedic fashion.  "Major Leagues" with Brad Pitt.  Unfortunately this was more of a humdrum traditional drama, too serious for its own good.  Still, "Moneyball" is probably the second best movie on this list, even if nobody thinks it will win.

8. "The Tree of Life" is the worst movie ever made.  And I've said enough about this worthless animated photo-gallery of a fake movie.

9. "War Horse" is not a movie that I loved, or I think anybody particularly loved, even Stephen Spielberg himself.  It was a decent movie, but uneven and a lot of misanthropes immediately hate this movie for being classic Spielberg schmaltz.  "War Horse" is a movie to take Grandma to:  its uplifting, its old-fashioned, its beautiful, and its got a positive message coming out of the most awful human tragedies of history, the First World War.  Unfortunately, its also a bit too blatant in its manipulation of emotions, "War Horse" isn't trying to hide what its doing.  Sadly, this isn't a movie I'd want to see twice, and its not a movie I want to see best picture.

So anyway:  "Hugo" needs to win.  But it won't.  "The Artist" will actually win.  And well, we just need to accept the Oscars for what they are and stop whining.  See you Monday for the Post-Game Show.

* By the way, don't listen to the critics, "Crash" was a fantastic movie, probably one of my favorites among Best Picture Winners.  "Crash" was amazing, if you haven't seen it, see it.  And remember, there are people who complain about how "The Departed" wasn't a good enough movie to win Best Picture.  Because fun classic Scorsese gangster movies and one of my favorite movies of all time is apparently not enough?  And dreary old "The Hurt Locker" is?


  1. What, no "Warrior"?! That's total bull.

  2. Blue, you need to see The Artist. I saw it last Thursday, and the movie flowed so well and was so beautiful, you don't even notice it's a silent film. It truly is a thing of beauty, you really should see it, certainly if it does win Best Picture, in fact, you should promise us that. A true critic samples everything, even if he or she believes that they won't like it, they can at least say with honesty that they attempted it.

    -- VinnySox

  3. The Descendants is a manipulation on emotions, as I watched it I felt everything was incredibly forced and a little bit too contrived. Plus for all my wishes that George Clooney might some day prove to act convincingly as a human being, well they were dashed. Shame. The Artist to win!

  4. Haven't seen any of these. Drive is my winner, followed by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. A bunch of old guys can't tell me what the best movie of the year is.

  5. Oscar? Who is Oscar? Don't think I've met any Oscar.