Oscar Nominee Analysis

The Oscars were announced this morning. Hugo, which was on my ten best of the year, scored 11 nominations. The Artist picked up ten. As usual, there were some lovely surprises and some downright unpleasant ones. But then, that is par for course with AMPAS. What is fantastic is that they are not catering to the public whim and actually are highlighting great films. The Artist and Hugo, the two frontrunners, have not had big box offices. The highest grossing film, actually, is The Help. But that film will not win, mostly because the buzz is around the actors, and also because The Help is not a great film (it’s a good film, but no where as good as most people make it out to be).

Of course, this will lead to cries that AMPAS is out of touch. There is some validity to this, but not amongst this year’s picks. Well, at least MOST of them – but I will get to that very soon.

For the sake of time, I will only analyze the Best Picture nominations. The full list of nominees can be found here

The Artist (2011): Thomas Langmann. This will win. It’s just far too much of a crowd pleaser amongst critics and audiences. It is also amongst the bravest films of the year – who would have thought that a silent film would be as successful as this one has been? By picking it as the Best Picture, AMPAS can demonstrate that it still cares about innovations at cinematic art, while looking firmly in the past that it so clearly loves. I expect this will be the big winner of the evening, and I know a lot of people who agree with me. Does it deserve it? Actually, yes. This was a magical film that seemed to actually acknowledge the medium of film in and of itself (unlike Hugo, which was content to only mention it).

The Descendants (2011): Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor I’ll be seeing it when it expands to other theaters. The local indie has a “TBA” announced opening. So I’ll get to that soon.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011): Scott Rudin This is a disgusting nomination for so many reasons. Currently, ELIC sits at a 48% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 48%! By contrast, Drive has a 93% approval rating, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has an 87%, and Melancholia has a 78%. But Drive gets one nomination (for Sound Editing) and Melancholia gets nothing. How in the world did this sneak onto the list? Needless to say, it has no chance. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if an apology for the nomination is issued tomorrow.

The Help (2011): Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan. First off, there’s something very sacrilegious about seeing Chris Columbus’ name as a “Best Picture” nominee. As for the film, well…this is the lone “audience award” nomination. It was not a particularly good film, but it was one that probably had the most appealing qualities that the mass audience looks for. It will probably walk away with some supporting actress wins, but nothing really more than that.

Hugo (2011/II): Graham King, Martin Scorsese I did just give some flack to Hugo. I deeply enjoyed the film and a glad that Scorsese is responsible for introducing the earliest history of cinema to a new audience. It was not my favorite film of the past year, and I am somewhat surprised that it got as many nominations as it did. Still, AMPAS has a long way to go before it apologizes to Scorsese for all of the past snubs. Having one of his films get this many nominations is a step in the right direction. I have a feeling this one will win a lot of the technical awards but..well, when it comes to the big five, Hugo may stumble.

Midnight in Paris (2011): Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum I enjoyed this film immensely, and am glad that Allen’s screenplay may very will win an Oscar (it is nominated). It is the best one he has done in a long, long time. But this film probably will not win Best Picture and Allen won’t win best director. It will be overshadowed by The Artist and, barring that, if AMPAS is going to honor a legend, it will be Scorsese. Still, I look forward to Allen’s Original Screenplay acceptance speech.

Moneyball (2011): Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt. Didn’t see it. And it’s not on Netflix streaming. I’ll see what I can do.

The Tree of Life (2011): Nominees to be determined – First, clarification.The reason the nominees have  yet to be determined is because the producer list on IMDB is a mile long. When all is said and done, Brad Pitt may be amongst the nominees in this category. But I digress. What do I think of this nomination? I was excited to see it amongst the nominees more than any other film.This was the biggest snub at the Golden Globes and, after the acclaim that greeted it at Cannes, I was surprised that Malick’s home country was not bending over backwards to be nicer to Malick’s masterpiece. Well, no more. Malick (who also received a Best Director nomination – I wonder if he will actually attend the ceremony) has finally received the recognition that has been denied to him by other organization (again, the Globes). Will his magnum opus actually win? No, but I know that even when I picked as my “Best Film of 2011.” It is a singular vision that divides people – and AMPAS usually steers away from such controversy. Still, the fact that they nominated it shows a positively progressive stance that voters have adopted.

War Horse (2011): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy I haven’t seen it, but my cousins insist this is a good film. I’ll take their word for it.

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