Friday, February 24, 2012

Men on Film: If We Picked the Oscars 2011

Borrowing a page from Siskel and Ebert back in the good ol' days, Movie Dearest's very own Men on Film — Chris Carpenter, Neil Cohen and yours truly — are presenting our own version of "If We Picked the Oscars"! These aren't predictions, but what movies, actors, directors, et al that we would vote for if we were members of the Academy. This year, we're also chiming in with our picks for the "egregiously overlooked" non-nominees.

So without further ado, the envelope please...

The nominees for Best Picture are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse.
And our winners would be:
CC: The Tree of Life has garnered a love it or hate it reaction but I agree with Roger Ebert, who wrote that its millennia-spanning scale and often nebulous meaning(s) ranks it right up there with the now-classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Terrence Malick's film is a spiritual, moral and family odyssey, beautifully shot and acted, that I hope will gain greater appreciation from future generations.
NC: It is so rare for a film to surprise and amaze jaded critics, but the sheer exuberance and love of cinema of the French import The Artist threatened to make silent movies cool again.
KH: As a silent film enthusiast, I easily succumbed to the whimsical charms and pitch-perfect style of The Artist.
Egregiously Overlooked: Crazy, Stupid, Love, Drive, Take Shelter, Warrior, Win Win.

The nominees for Best Actor are: Demián Bichir in A Better Life, George Clooney in The Descendants, Jean Dujardin in The Artist, Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Brad Pitt for Moneyball.
And our winners would be:
CC: This is an unusually strong group of performances, and perhaps through a miracle of the Oscar fairy all five nominees will win in a tie! My own vote would go to Clooney. While I haven't admired all of his past performances (even those that have won awards), I was touched by his emotional authenticity as a hurting husband and father in The Descendants.
NC: While Clooney’s pained and almost schlubby performance in The Descendents was his best yet, DuJardin, as The Artist, overcame audiences’ resistance to an old-fashioned silent movie by being as dashing and romantic as Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn combined.
KH: I'm torn between the two above choices of my fellow critics, but in the end my vote would go to Clooney, who shed his dashing movie star image and transformed himself in to regular guy in an impossible situation.
Egregiously Overlooked: Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar, Ryan Gosling in Drive, Michael Shannon in Take Shelter.

The nominees for Best Actress are: Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis in The Help, Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady and Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn.
And our winners would be:
CC: Davis, despite my near-equal admiration for La Streep's ah-mah-zing turn as Maggie Thatcher.
NC: The hardest category by far, every woman gave an exemplary performance. But by sheer force of  Streep’s heartbreaking performance, The Iron Lady became watchable. It is time for the Academy to recognize her again.
KH: Davis grounded The Help with her innate grace, dignity and breathtaking talent.
Egregiously Overlooked: Vera Farmiga in Higher Ground, Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin.


The nominees for Best Supporting Actor are: Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn, Jonah Hill in Moneyball, Nick Nolte in Warrior, Christopher Plummer in Beginners and Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
And our winners would be:
CC: I was very impressed by both Hill and Nolte in their respective films but Plummer (who has never won and has only been nominated twice in his long career despite many fine performances) gets my vote for his delicate, inspiring work as a gay man and father coming out late in life.
NC: This is the easiest category, since Plummer’s performance in Beginners overshadowed all of the others for many reasons: it’s “his year”, everyone in the Academy loves him and, most of all, Plummer perfectly captured the wonderment of his late-in-life coming out.
KH: It's a sign of a great performance in a (in my opinion) mediocre movie that when the character is absent from the screen, you yearn for his return. Such was the case for me with Plummer in Beginners.
Egregiously Overlooked: Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey in Margin Call, Ben Kingsley in Hugo, Brad Pitt in The Tree of Life, Corey Stoll in Midnight in Paris.

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are: Bérénice Bejo in The Artist, Jessica Chastain in The Help, Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs and Octavia Spencer in The Help.
And our winners would be:
CC: Spencer, who so masterfully balanced fear and humor, dignity and remorse in The Help.
NC: Spencer gave an amazing performance, as did her Help co-star Chastain. McCarthy was delightfully vulgar in Bridesmaids and Bejo was the lovely heart of The Artist, but hands-down, my favorite supporting performance of the year was McTeer’s amazing cross-dressing role in Albert Nobbs.
KH: At first, I didn't even recognize McTeer, let alone catch the "twist" about her character until the "big reveal". Next to The Artist's Uggie, she was the biggest scene-stealer of the year.
Egregiously Overlooked: Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Emma Stone and Cicely Tyson in The Help, Shailene Woodley in The Descendants.

The nominees for Best Director are: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Alexander Payne for The Descendants and Martin Scorsese for Hugo.
And our winners would be:
CC: In an auteur showdown between Malick and Scorsese, at least in my mind, I would vote for the never-won Malick.
NC: The most unexpected pleasure of the year was seeing how Hazanavicius created a brand new silent movie with The Artist and made you actually feel real emotions. This year, he deserves the award for his efforts.
KH: And once again, it's a newcomer -- Hazanavicius -- who takes the prize over the star directors.
Egregiously Overlooked: David Fincher for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lynne Ramsay for We Need to Talk About Kevin, Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive, Tate Taylor for The Help.

The nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay are: The Descendants, Hugo, The Ides of March, Moneyball and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
And our winners would be:
CC, KH: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's lovely, sensitive adaptation of The Descendants.
NC: I'll go Hugo by John Logan.
Egregiously Overlooked: Drive, The Help, Jane Eyre, We Need to Talk About Kevin.


The nominees for Best Original Screenplay are: The Artist, Bridesmaids, Margin Call, Midnight in Paris and A Separation.
And our winners would be:
CC: I wasn't blown away by either The Artist, Bridesmaids or Midnight in Paris, and I haven't yet seen A Separation, so my vote would go to the incisive financial thriller Margin Call by newcomer J.C. Chandor.
NC: The absolute smartest script of the year was Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.
KH: Silence is golden, but dialogue alone doesn't make a script, as Michel Hazanavicius so deftly proved with The Artist.
Egregiously Overlooked: Crazy, Stupid, Love, Take Shelter, Weekend, Win Win.

The nominees for Best Cinematography are: The Artist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, The Tree of Life and War Horse.
And our winners would be:
CC: The Tree of Life, hands down.
NC: Hugo, with its magical 3D and amazing visuals, trumps all the others.
KH: A tough category, and while The Tree of Life felt at times like a string of jaw dropping images for jaw dropping sake, I'd give it to Emmanual Lubezki for his impressive body of work alone.
Egregiously Overlooked: Drive, J. Edgar, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

The nominees for Best Art Direction are: The Artist, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Midnight in Paris and War Horse.
And our winners would be:
CC, NC, KH: A train station with its giant clock tower, the snowy streets of Paris and Georges Melies' dream factory: it's hard to ignore the gorgeous Hugo.
Egregiously Overlooked: Anonymous, J. Edgar, The Tree of Life, Water for Elephants.

The nominees for Best Costume Design are: Anonymous, The Artist, Hugo, Jane Eyre and W.E..
And our winners would be:
CC: Jane Eyre is the standout for me here.
NC, KH: The Artist had sartorial style and elegance to spare... and in black and white!
Egregiously Overlooked: Captain America: The First Avenger, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Potiche.

The nominees for Best Original Score are: The Adventures of Tintin, The Artist, Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse.
And our winners would be:
CC: As predictable and mushy as some of John Williams' themes for War Horse are, they also perfectly suited Spielberg's overlong but still-affecting tale of a boy and his steed.
NC: With no words, The Artist relied heavily on its music.
KH: The moody, jazzy score of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Egregiously Overlooked: Drive, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Tree of Life.


The nominees for Best Original Song are: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets and "Real in Rio" from Rio.
And our winners would be:
CC, NC, KH: No contest: "Man or Muppet".
Egregiously Overlooked: Where to begin? "Life's a Happy Song" from The Muppets, "The Living Proof" from The Help, "Star-Spangled Man" from Captain America: The First Avenger...

The nominees for Best Film Editing are: The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo and Moneyball.
And our winners would be:
CC: Here's the one category I'll go with The Artist.
NC: While I'll go with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
KH: And one more for The Artist.
Egregiously Overlooked: Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Warrior.

The nominees for Best Visual Effects are: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Real Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
And our winners would be:
CC, NC, KH: We would all be monkey's uncles if we didn't vote for the incredible, primate-friendly CGI in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Egregiously Overlooked: Captain America: The First Avenger, Take Shelter, The Tree of Life.

The nominees for Best Sound Mixing are: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Moneyball, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and War Horse.
And our winners would be:
CC: This isn't my area of expertise, but War Horse sure sounded great (at least when the people weren't speaking its leaden dialogue).
NC: Again, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
KH: Hugo, ironically considering it too celebrates the silent era.
Egregiously Overlooked: Drive, Source Code, Super 8.

The nominees for Best Sound Editing are: Drive, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and War Horse.
And our winners would be:
CC: War Horse, same as above.
NC, KH: The should-have-been nominated more Drive.
Egregiously Overlooked: Rango, Rise of the Planet of the ApesThor.


The nominees for Best Makeup are: Albert Nobbs, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Iron Lady.
And our winners would be:
CC, NC, KH: The Iron Lady, in which Streep was aged more convincingly than Close was made to look like a man in Albert Nobbs.
Egregiously Overlooked: The Artist, Hugo, Green Lantern.

The nominees for Best Animated Feature are: A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots and Rango.
And our winners would be:
CC: I enjoyed both Puss in Boots and Rango, but I love the steamy Cuban musical-romance Chico & Rita.
NC, KH: We dug the weird and wonderful Rango.
Egregiously Overlooked: Cars 2, Winnie the Pooh.

The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film are: Bullhead from Belgium, Footnote from Israel, In Darkness from Poland, Monsieur Lazhar from Canada and A Separation from Iran.
And our winners would be:
NC goes with A Separation, while CC and KH abstain.
Egregiously Overlooked: Potiche, The Skin I Live In, Tomboy.

The nominees for Best Documentary Feature are: Hell and Back Again, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Pina and Undefeated.
And our winners would be:
CC: Pina is spectacular but If a Tree Falls has a potent, timely message and thereby gets my vote.
NC: Me too with If a Tree Falls.
KH: I'll pass on this one as I was wholly unimpressed with the three I've see so far (Hell and Back, If a Tree Falls and Undefeated, a.k.a. Hoop Dreams Meets The Blind Side).
Egregiously Overlooked: Page One: Inside the New York Times, Project Nim, Semper Fi: Always Faithful, We Were Here.

The nominees for Best Documentary Short are: The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, God is the Bigger Elvis, Incident in New Baghdad, Saving Face and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.
And our winners would be:
CC, NC, KH: We were all moved by the devastating and poetic The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.

The nominees for Best Animated Short are: Dimanche (Sunday), The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, La Luna, A Morning Stroll and Wild Life.
And our winners would be:
CC: Out of all of them, I most enjoyed the century-long, chicken-zombie mash-up A Morning Stroll.
NC, KH: A heartwarming valentine to the timeless joys of the written word, we found The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore absolutely enchanting.

The nominees for Best Live Action Short are: Pentecost, Raju, The Shore, Time Freak and Tuba Atlantic.
And our winners would be:
CC, KH: Raju, dramatic and heartbreaking, featuring powerful performances and a timely story.

And now for our own special category of dishonorable mention, the Worst Nomination of the Year:
CC: This is a rare year in which I don't have a strong objection to a particular nominee, but I am highly critical of the Academy's Music Branch for somehow only finding two tunes worthy of inclusion in the Best Original Song category. If they continue to exclude so many contenders, they ought to scrap the category altogether. Loosen up, members! (Hopefully, things will change by next year.)
NC: No other film managed to be as both cloying and insulting to the memory of 9/11victims and survivors as the atrociously Best Picture nominee Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Talented though he may be, I wanted to slap young Thomas Horn many times during the film. And unlike my esteemed colleagues, count me as one of the haters of another Best Picture finalist, The Tree of Life, which I found ponderous and pretentious.
KH: I'm still flabbergasted by the acclaim and now Oscar nomination of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, a crass caricature of a performance of a tired and slightly homophobic stereotype (the butch gal who, surprise!, isn't a lesbian). That other actresses (see above) weren't recognized instead of McCarthy is a travesty.

And finally, see the comments section below for how we would rank the nine Best Picture nominees, just like how Academy members are required to do when they vote.

Illustrations by Eda Akaltun for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

1 comment:

  1. Chris:

    The Tree of Life, Moneyball, The Descendants, Hugo, The Help, The Artist, Midnight in Paris, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, War Horse

    Neil:

    The Artist, Midnight in Paris, The Help, Hugo, The Descendents, Moneyball, War Horse, The Tree of Life, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

    Kirby: The Artist, The Descendents, Hugo, The Help, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (haven't seen War Horse yet)

    ReplyDelete

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