Good Morning...down to under 48 hours until Oscar nominations are announced by The Academy.
CEASE THAT CORONATION!
This morning I have two pieces that suggest that there is still a reasonable level of suspense about what will ultimately win the Oscar next month (Feb. 26) for Best Picture.
First from The Playlist's Oli Lyttleton: 5 Reasons The Artist might not win best picture (in fairness, he strains to get to 5):
And also from Sasha Stone at Awards Daily a rumination on the possibility that The Descendants could pull off the upset:
MY TOP TEN FOR 2011
Well, after much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, here is my Top Ten list for the films that I saw in 2012 (somewhere north of 50...not "critic" type numbers...but a lot of films)...But admittedly, I haven't seen everything. Haven't caught War Horse or Extremely Loud yet. Nor critical darlings like Melancholia, Take Shelter or Martha Marcy Mae Marlene. Someday, I'll get 'em in.
#10 HUGO (dir. by Martin Scorsese)... Scorsese steps into a completely different filmic milieu and succeeds very well. It's a beautiful film to look at. The 3D isn't a bother (as it so often is in most 3D films) and sounds one of the biggest themes from serious films this year...the nostalgic reverence for the history of film and its place in our lives. (my runner -up #11 picture...Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).
Hugo's IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970179/
#9 ALBERT NOBBS (dir. by Rodrigo Garcia) Glenn Close's passion project that took decades to get made was largely dismissed by most critics, but I contend that her performance as a woman masquerading as a mild mannered MAN and Janet McTeer's supporting performance are enough to put it on my list. I think that a number of critics just didn't get how difficult it is to do what Close does in this film. Probably headed to 3-4 Oscar nominations.
Albert Nobbs' IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1602098/
Check out my actually published Albert Nobbs review from Telluirde for The Playlist:
#8 RANGO (dir. Gore Verbinski) I'm also a bit surprised that this hasn't gotten more critical love at the end of the year. It also hasn't benefited from what has been a yearly "Will The Academy nominate an animated film for Best Picture?" push. This despite the fact that it is a clear front runner to win the Oscar for Animated Feature. Nonetheless, it's funny, quirky, and inventive.
Rango's IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1192628/
#7 BEGINNERS (dir. Mike Mills) Christopher Plummer is headed to an Oscar nomination (and probable win) as Supporting Actor as a widower who finally comes out in his 70's and Ewan MacGregor plays the son dealing with the new circumstances. It's a beautiful, touching funny and very human film from Mills. It would be nice to see him get an Original Screenplay nomination as well and it could happen; it's not very likely, though.
Beginners' IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1532503/
#6 MONEYBALL (dir. Bennett Miller) A top flight job from all involved. Steve Zallian and Aaron Sorkin's adaptation is brilliantly done. Miller directs with confidence (I am fast getting to the point where I'll go see a film just because he's the director) and Brad Pitt is more than fine as Billy Beane. And the surprise is how good Jonah Hill is. Probable Oscar nods to Zallian, Sorkin, Pitt and Hill. Miller's odds for a directing nomination are fairly long, though.
Moneyball's IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1210166/
#5 A SEPARATION (dir. Asghar Farhadi) A miracle of a film from Iran. I contend that this is the best written film of any type this year. Almost certain to be a Best Foreign Language Film nominee (and the likely winner), I've been advocating n Original Screenplay nomination for months...not likely, but it's also not impossible. And here's the thing...it's Iranian...I saw it with subtitles and it still translated to great writing...do you have any idea how difficult that is? Steady direction and great committed performances also. Talk about your films that transcend boundaries...
A Separation's IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1832382/
#4 THE DESCENDANTS (dir. Alexander Payne) A nice return from Mr. Payne who had been away from directing for 7 years. George Clooney stars as a man with family issues. He's probably going to win his second Oscar for this and perhaps he should, it's one of his best turns on screen. Good support up and down the cast as well with relative newcomer Shailene Woodley a very possible nominee for Supporting Actress. This will probably net 4-7 nominations Tuesday morning. Check my Playlist review from Telluride for further details here: http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/alexander_payne_george_clooney_riff_on_family_love_loss_death_and_the_choic#
The Descendants IMDb page is here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033575/
#3 THE TREE OF LIFE (dir.Terrence Malick) No one tried anything bigger, bolder and more adventurous this year than Terrence Malick. So many people have said, "what's it about?"...best answer "Life" sort as the title implies. Malick juxtaposes macro and micro versions of "life" with each illuminating the other. Brad Pitt is very good as a domineering 50's era father. it also helps that the film is incredibly beautifully shot and that Malick (clearly drawing from his own experiences as a young boy in Texas and Oklahoma) gets the look and tone of the place and time of the micro story just right. This film and my #1 are the two films that I saw this year that kept returning to me mind to turn over again and again.
The Tree of Life's IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478304/
#2 THE ARTIST (dir. Michel Hazanavicius) I was intrigued from the moment I heard the premise and started to hear the reactions and descriptions out of Cannes. Firstly, how bold do you have to be to pitch a black and white silent film in the 2000's??? Pretty bold. And then the execution! And it works so so well. Hazanavicius' vision is beautifully realized especially from Jean Dujardin in the lead. To my mind, 75 years removed from the days when this was the ONLY way films were done, this was like re-inventing the form from scratch. Remarkably well done. The Artist will likely be in double digit nominations (and it may be the only film to get there this year, though Hugo has a real chance as well) on Tuesday morning and deservedly so.
The Artist's IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1655442/
#1 SHAME (dir. Steve McQueen). Yeah, I know. It's NC-17. And a lot of people do NOT like it, love it, care for it. Many actively hate it. It was certainly not universally embraced at Telluride. But, I'm telling you, this film stuck with me all fall. Shattering, searing, unflinching. And the performances from Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are phenomenal. Fassy will probably get the only nomination here and he'd be winning the Best Actor Oscar if I had a ballot. Mulligan would also be at the top of my Supporting Actress ballot, but she appears to have only a marginal chance of being one of the five nominees on Tuesday. I'd also include McQueen and Abi Morgan for screenplay. Perhaps McQueen for direction and likely cinematography as well.
Shame's IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1723811/
What are your Ten Best of 2011??
Coming tomorrow...Michael's Telluride Film Blog and The Film Award Clearinghouse predicts the Oscar nominations!
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