The Oscars are this Sunday, so I'm cutting it close with my predictions and ranking of the nine films that were nominated. I just saw the ninth movie tonight so I am ready to rank all the movies nominated for a Best Picture Oscar from my favorite to least favorite:
1. The Help - It was hard to rank the first three movies because I probably liked them all about the same and they all had really great casts and they all kept me entertained. But I'll give the #1 spot to The Help because I also loved the book it's adapted from and it was pretty cool to see all those amazing actresses in one movie and it's nice to know that a movie with a mostly female cast can make lots of money and not just be about shopping, relationships, fashion, and other frivolous stupid things Hollywood seems to think women like in their movies. This movie made me both laugh and cry and I am still wondering to this day (and this has actually been brought up in a couple of conversations I've had with people): how the hell did Minnie make that pie and Hilly not even notice what she put in it? I mean, she kept eating it! How could she not taste THAT? I mean you think you would be able to taste that even if there was also chocolate in there...
2. Midnight in Paris - What a delightful, charming movie! I can see why it was nominated for an Oscar. You know, this is only the third Wood Allen movie I've seen (Annie Hall and Match Point being the other two) because he is such a prolific director that I guess I just assume his movies can't be that good because he makes so many of them...plus I can't keep up with them, but now I will have to check out his higher-rated movies. It stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams as a couple about to get married joining McAdam's parents on a trip to Paris. Wilson plays a screenwriter who is struggling to write a novel. While they're there, they run into an old male friend of McAdam's who she used to have a crush on and who Wilson calls a "pseudo-intellect" because he's obnoxious the way he's always sprouting out facts and acts like a know-it-all all the time. One evening, at midnight, while Wilson is walking around the city to get inspiration, an old-fashioned car from the 1920s with a bunch of laughing and smoking people come up to him and pick him up to take him to a party where he meets people such as the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso and realizes he's time traveled back to the 1920s and does this every night at midnight where he gives his manuscript to Gertrude Stein to read. He goes back and fourth from the 1920s and present day and falls in love with a free-spirited French woman (Marion Cotillard) while he and his bride-to-be are having problems back in the present day. I can see why this is Allen's highest-grossing movie to date. It won't win Best Picture but I think it has a very good chance of winning Best Original Screenplay.
3. The Artist - A black and white silent movie made in 2011? Call me crazy, but I actually thought it was pretty good! There were scenes that made me smile like the one where Peppy Miller is getting close to George Valentine's coat. And Uggie has to be the cutest dog onscreen since Verdell from As Good as it Gets.
4. Moneyball - I hate sports and I hate math, so I was all prepared to hate this movie which is all about baseball and trading players and money and statistics and other fun things with numbers that should have bored me to tears, but the script did a good job of explaining things and kept everything interesting. Brad Pitt as Oakland A's manager Billy Beane is good as is Jonah Hill, the young kid from Yale he hires who has a method for choosing players. I just saw this movie tonight so maybe I'm feeling charitable placing it so high. If I'm being honest, numbers 4-6 I probably liked about the same.
5. Hugo - I hate 3-D, but this movie does it well and the entire look of the film is absolutely gorgeous. It is a lovely tribute to the Golden Age of cinema even though it does get a little eye roll inducing at times. A fine movie, but I thought The Artist was the better "love letter" to old cinema.
6. The Descendants - Like I mentioned in my review for it, this is my favorite Alexander Payne movie and George Clooney is great in it and if he won the Oscar for Best Actor, it would be fully deserved. It may seem a little low to rank it at #6, but I guess that means I liked most of the movies that were nominated for Oscars because I thought this was a pretty good movie....just liked five others a little better!
7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - I probably like this one and War Horse about the same. They weren't bad, but there were some problems. This one, for instance, I didn't understand why this kid went all over the city to talk to people to find out about this mystery key he found in his dad's closet after his dad died on 9/11. It was stated earlier that the kid had a hard time talking to strangers and now he's just talking to so many people a day and then all he had to do....well I don't want to spoil the ending, but it made me go, "Really?" Well, there were things I did like about this movie and I thought it was touching and it made me cry so it did touch me.
8. War Horse - Pretty movie and it made me cry (I cry at pretty much every movie, so that really doesn't mean anything!) Not Speilberg's best and dragged a bit at times. Still, a decent enough movie.
9. Tree of Life - Oh, God. Okay. I know a lot of critics and people (mostly those who are huge movie buffs) LOVED this movie and are all talking about how it changed their life. I can respect that if you are one of those people. However, I could not get into this movie. At all. I like the occasional movie that makes me think and would like to think I am a philosophical person - you would be surprised at some of the things I have pondered, but I do not think I am spiritual enough to "get" this movie. I think another thing it had going against it was that it had Terrance Malick as its director. Dear God, I have never been able to get through one of his movies...this is the first one of his I've watched all the way through. His films just bore me. I don't mind movies that aren't always in the traditional linear storyline, but this one just seemed to be all over the place. There's this whole segment about the creation of earth that's put in towards the beginning of the movie. If I wanted to see how the earth was created, I would watch a documentary about it on the Discovery Channel and hopefully it would be narrated (by Morgan Freeman with any luck) so I would know what was going on and learn something. There are dinosaurs in this movie. It was cool to see dinosaurs but I couldn't help thinking that they were probably thinking, "Uh, we ain't in Jurassic Park!" Yes, I know computer animations don't think; that's how bored I was! The main plot revolves around a family in Texas with Brad Pitt as the stern father to three young boys; one of whom grows up to be Sean Penn who is in a few scenes. Even Sean Penn has said he doesn't know what this movie is about and he's one of the most pretentious douches in Hollywood! My DVD came with a message before the movie started saying that I should have my volume all the way up to get the maximum effect or something like that. I didn't do that, but I kind of understood why they had that. There's barely any dialogue in the movie and when there is, it's almost like you're being dropped into the middle of a conversation and sometimes the person's voice is really low or a whisper, so it's hard to hear. There is no soundtrack to this movie...when music is played, it's usually a record or a piano that the characters are also hearing, but other than that you just hear the sounds of nature in the background. The ending was just a big WTF. Like, it did not end at all. I really can't blame people for walking out of this, but at the same time, they should have educated themselves and have seen what the movie was going to be like before they went to it. I know some people don't like watching trailers or reading reviews because they might be spoiled, but I always make sure I know what a movie is going to be like before I go see it. It doesn't always mean I'll love it, but I only have myself to blame if I don't like it. My parents saw this movie when it came out in the theaters and I was shocked when my mom told me this because I, being the educated film nerd (haha) knew the response this movie was getting and how critics loved it, but it was polarizing for audiences. My parents aren't huge movie nerds so I have no idea what possessed them to see this one. She said she and my dad were either going to see this one or Midnight in Paris, which is way more up their alley. Needless to say they thought the movie was weird and didn't like it that much. I told them the next time they're not sure about a movie, they need to call me and I can tell them a little about it and probably predict if they will like it or not! If there's anything positive I can say about this movie it's that it did have some beautiful images and it does provoke discussion!
Now it's time for my predictions!
The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I really wish the Academy would go back to five pictures instead of this new "at least five but no more than ten" non-sense. You know, it they had just nominated The Dark Knight back in 2009, none of this would have happened! It's kind of a pain having to watch all these movies! Anyway, I would be shocked if The Artist didn't win. It already won the Bafta and GG for Best Musical/Comedy and it's the clear frontrunner.
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist
Terrance Malick, The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorses, Hugo
This reminds me of the category last year when you had a bunch of seasoned directors and one newcomer and the newbie won. Now here you have four seasoned directors and one (fairly) new director (Hazanavicius) and like with Tom Hooper winning for The King's Speech last year, Hazanavicius (I feel like I am always spelling his name wrong) will win this year. You can't deny the DGA he's already won; whoever wins that always wins Best Director Oscar. I can't even think of a time when that didn't happen. I am secretly rooting for fellow Omaha native Alexander Payne to take it though, but hopefully he can win a Best Screenplay Oscar!
|George Clooney, The Descendants
|Brad Pitt, Moneyball
|Jean Dujardin, The Artist
|Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
|Damian Bichir, A Better Life
It's hard to believe this is Gary Oldman's FIRST oscar nomination! I have not seen his or Bichir's movies. All signs point to Dujardin winning this - he's already won the Golden Globe (comedy), Bafta, and SAG. His Oscar win would be very deserving; however I wouldn't be totally surprised if George Clooney won. He may already have an (undeserved, IMO) Oscar for Best Supporting Oscar for Syriana back in 2006, but he is George Clooney and Hollywood likes to kiss ass. I'm going to predict Dujadin (because the Oscars are always predictable), but won't be totally surprised if Clooney sneaks in a win. I hope if Dujardin wins, he jumps all over the seats just like the last European man to win one of these!
|Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
|Meryl Strep, The Iron Lady
|Viola Davis, The Help
|Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
|Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
You know, even if Meryl Streep was a sure thing to win the Oscar, I still wouldn't want to see The Iron Lady because that movie looks SO boring to me! I also haven't seen Albert Nobbs or My Week with Marilyn. I like Meryl Streep, but I feel like she is nominated for everything she's in. I have no doubt she's good as Margaret Thatcher, but should she really have been nominated for Julie and Julia? The Devil Wears Prada? The Music of Our Hearts or whatever that one was called? It's like stop already! Meryl may be 60 something but she's still got plenty of time to win another Oscar. Look at Christopher Plummer .... he's 82 and he's going to win his first Oscar tomorow! Why don't we wait ten or so more years before we give Meryl another Oscar, okay? Meryl may have won the Golden Globe (but she always wins those - she's Meryl freaking Streep!) and the Bafta (well they are the British Oscars and she did play a famous British person in her movie!), but I think (well, hope anyway) that Viola Davis (who won the SAG) will end up victorious this Sunday. As much as I love Octavia Spencer in that movie as well, if only one person could win an Oscar from that movie, I would want it to be Viola.
Best Supporting Actor:
|Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
|Jonah Hill, Moneyball
|Christopher Plummer, Beginners
|Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
|Nick Nolte, Warrior
That nomination for Nick Nolte came out of nowhere, didn't it? Well, it doesn't matter because Christopher Plummer is winning this one. He's the one that's a sure bet. The supporting actor category is mostly reserved for elderly actors that the Academy want to recognize before they die. Of course there are exceptions. Poor Max von Sydow; I think he's the same age as Plummer, but Plummer has the edge because he's more well known and more beloved. I have seen his, Von Sydow's, and Hill's movies.
Best Supporting Actress:
|Octavia Spencer, The Help
|Jessica Chastain, The Help
The only nominee in this group I haven't seen is McTeer. I think everyone was really good and while it would be really cool for Melissa McCarthy to win - because you never see a comedic performance win an Oscar - it is going to be Octavia Spencer. Hey, she may not have done THAT in a sink, but she did make a very special pie!