Saturday, February 25, 2012

2012 Best Picture Nominations - I saw them !!

I've mentioned before that I have a quest each year to try to see all the Best Picture Academy Awards nominations.  Most of the time there is a movie or two that isn't for me (such as last years 127 Hours, I just don't think I would watch that) but this year, I actually wanted to see all the movies (except for Tree of Life, which I never heard of before it was nominated).

By the time the nominations came out, I had already seen 4 of the movies so I was DETERMINED to see them all this year. Well.... I did it !!!!  I have seen all the best picture nominations for 2012.

Here they are in the order that I liked them.

The Artist 
  • Black and white silent film that is a love story.  It takes place during the silent film era just as they are turning into "talkies" - a big silent star meets an up and coming actress. He is in a love-less marriage, she is smitten with him.  Time moves along and he doesn't move into the talkies, she becomes a big star, their paths cross from time-to-time.  In the end, it all works out and we find out why he wasn't able to transition to the talkies very well.  It is amazing how you could follow the movie without any dialog (only once or twice did they put the words up to tell you what was said) - the actors reveled so much with their expressions and movement.  I really hope this wins Best Picture. I also think that Jean Dujardin should win for Best Actor. I also think they should win for Best Costume Design.
The Help
  • I read this book a couple of years ago and was so excited when I found out they were making into a movie.  I loved the book so much.  Normally the movie can't hold a candle to the book but not this time - the movie was GREAT and stuck so much to the book - there were a few little minor differences but I thought it was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen.  It takes place in the early 1960s and is about a recent white southern college grad who wants to be a writer and comes up with the idea (after seeing the way her "friends" treat their black housekeepers) to write a book from the helps point of view - she first enlist Aibileen, her very snobbish, racist friend, Hilly's maid to help her, eventually she gets others to join, including very outspoken Minnie.  It is a wonderful story.  I can't believe I am saying this (because I love, love, love Meryl Streep and I WANT her to win Best Actress and think she should win everything she is nominated for) but I think that Viola Davis will win.  She was not exactly who I envisioned when I read the book (I pictured someone a little older and a little heavier) but she did such an amazing job (as she always does) and she really deserves to win this.  I also hope that Octavia Spencer wins best Supporting ActressJessica Chastain is also up for Best Supporting Actress and her portrayal of Celia was perfect but I just think that Octavia should win.
War Horse
  • I wanted to see this movie but was a bit apprehensive.  I cannot stand to see a movie with animals in peril and figured that would happen and as predicted, it did but... it was mostly only one major scene and he turned out okay so I made it through.  I wasn't expecting to like this movie as much as I did but I really, really liked it.  It is a classic epic from Steven Spielberg - beautifully told.  Originally a play, it is about a boy and his horse - the horse is sold to the army because the family needs the money.  The boy is devastated of course but vows they will somehow be reunited.  You see all the different lives the horse touches as he goes through WW I - the life of a British soldier who promised to care for him and return him if he could, the life of a sick French girl and her grandfather, the lives of 2 young teenage German soldiers, the life of an army horse care-taker and many, many more.  Eventually the boy becomes old enough to join the army, he looses his sight temporarily (gas explosion) but when he hears of a horse nearby he just knows it is his beloved Joey.  Very nice feel-good movie and exactly what I have come to expect in a Steven Spielberg film.  I would love to see it win for Best Cinematography but I bet that award will go to Hugo or Tree of Life.
  •  When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I could hardly wait for its release - it looked so visual (which it is) and I saw it in 3D and this movie was really meant for 3D.  Directed by Martin Scorsese, who I hope wins Best Director, it is about a young boy who is  raised by his dad who is quite inventive.  They come across a automaton (a robotic man who can write) - the father passes away and the boy eventually comes to live alone in a Paris railway station taking care of all the clocks.  He meets a man who runs a toy shop - they don't get along at first but the man eventually comes around and lets Hugo work there to work off some debt.  Hugo is determined to get the automaton to work because he thinks his dad left him a secret message.  He needs a special heart shaped key for the final step.  He discovers through their friendship that the toy-shop's grand-daughter happens to have this key - they don't know why or how but she does and they get it to work.  It doesn't write though - it draws lots and lots of drawings.  They can't make sense of it all but (long-story short) they eventually find out that the automaton use to belong to the girl's grandfather, the toy shop owner, who was a major silent film star and director.  He has lots of bad memories from that time (when the talkies took over) and wanted to forget but eventually they all remind him that it is something to treasure, not forget.  Beautifully acted and visually stunning, it is a heart-warming story. I would also like to see this movie win for either Costume Design or Cinematography. Perhaps they may also win for best Visual Effects.
Midnight in Paris
  •  Directed by but not starring Woody Allen, who I expect to win for Best Screenplay.  It is about a man, who is a writer and is engaged.  His is in Paris with his bride-to-be and future in-laws.  He is a Hollywood screenwriter who is working on his first novel and seeing inspiration.  He falls in love with Paris and wants to move there but his fiance has no desire to do that.  He thinks it is romantic there and wishes he lived there during the 1920s.  He drinks a bit too much one night, goes for a walk and while sitting on some steps, the clock strikes midnight, an old car pulls up, he gets in and they drive into the 1920s, where he meets F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein and other famous writers and artist.  He also meets the lovely Adriana and falls for her.  However, it is only for the night - the day time he is back in the present, where he meets Gabrielle, who runs a nostalgic shop and likes Cole Porter (which Gil does too).  The city is beautiful, the music is romantic and it is a very good movie.  Owen Wilson was so charming in this movie, but wasn't nominated for anything.
 The Descendants
  • Starring the very talented, very handsome George Clooney, who I'd be very happy to see win Best Actor (although I think Jean Dujardin should win, I also think Clooney should too - such a pity there can't be a tie).  It is about a man, who has 2 teen daughters.  His wife is in a boating accident and left in a coma and told there is no chance of recovery so they remove her from life support and are basically waiting for her to pass.  In the meantime, he finds out that his wife had been having an affair (something the oldest daughter discovered a few months before the accident).  They go on a quest to find the man she was seeing and eventually find him.  The movie is also about his relationship with his daughters and how they will cope after his wife dies.  It was a good movie, not really sad but kind of depressing at times but also funny at times.  I really liked the it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
  •  About a 9 year old boy whose father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Very sad as you can imagine.  He and his father use to play a game where his dad would leave a clue for him to find.  He finds a key in a blue vase after his father dies and is convinced that this key will lead to a message from his dear departed dad (played briefly by Tom Hanks).  Oskar is a special child to begin with, a bit different than the average child but his father's death and his quest to find out what this key fits makes him a bit more unstable.  The key is in an envelope with a last name of "Black" on it so he looks up every "Black" in the New York phone book and goes to visit them.  One of the people he meets is played by Viola Davis (a small part but she plays it well as usual), he meets other people with the last name of Black along the way and they are understanding and kind but can't help him.  Eventually, it turns out that Viola Davis' character does know something about the key - it belongs to her soon-to-be ex-husband, it was his father's and he had sold the vase to Oskar's dad in an estate sale, not knowing the key was in the vase.  The movie is mostly about learning to cope and work through grief.  Although the key held no message from his dad, he did eventually get a message from him.  I thought the movie was good but was a bit long and there were some scenes (one in particular where the boy was basically recapping the whole movie up to that point to his grandfather) that seemed to go on for-ever!  I wanted to shout out - WE GET IT MOVE ON NOW !  The grandfather was played by Max Von Sydow, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but I don't know if he will win.  I'm not sure if he will win.  I didn't quite understand why they made this character a mute.  I mean I know why he was (Holocaust related) but I don't know why  they decided it was necessary for him to be mute.
  • A true story that I watched in an airplane.  It is about the business of baseball and how Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's (portrayed very well by Brad Pitt) successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget. It was interesting to see how the game of baseball works as far as trades and getting new players and such but the movie was a "guy's movie" to me - it was kind of slow and a bit on the long side.  It was good but not great.  It told a good story but I kept wondering when it was going to end.  I know this was nominated for several awards, and I could be wrong, but I don't see it winning any of the major awards.
 The Tree of Life
  • I HATED this movie! I don't say that very often but it was awful.  I can't believe Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain would agree to be in this movie.  It was poorly written and it was full of voice overs - when the characters were talking to God.  It felt like a 2 hour long Obsession by Calvin Klein commercial.  VERY ARTSY, which I suppose is the reason it was nominated.  I could see it winning for Cinematography (even though I would rather War Horse or Hugo win for that) but if this movie wins Best Picture, I will never watch the Oscars again.  I wanted to stop watching this movie after 20 minutes.  I watched the whole thing - I should have listened to my instincts.
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