The Oscar nominees were announced yesterday and surprisingly, Hugo leads with 11 nominations, ahead of The Artist with 10. A bit behind are Moneyball and War Horse with 6 nominations each, and The Descendants with 5. Life is never only black and white, so I’ve decided to mention at least one reason why each of the 9 movies nominated for best picture should win, and at least one reason why it shouldn’t. I did list them from worst to best (in my opinion anyway) so I won’t appear completely spineless:
Best Picture – Back to the Past (6 period films)
9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Why should it win? Because it’s based on a book by Jonathan Safran Foer who is a really great writer. It’s an ambitious and stylized movie that benefits from a fantastic performance by Max Von Sydow.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because it’s extremely kitsch and feels incredibly self-important. It’s an exploitive movie in the sense that it tries to milk the viewer’s tears for a tragic historic event (9/11).
8. The Artist
Why should it win? Because it’s an imaginative, clever and stylized homage to the silent film era; it’s a love letter from director Michel Hazanavicious to cinema in general and to Hollywood in particular (Hollywood will probably repay the love letter with an Oscar in return).
Why shouldn’t it win? If a silent black and white film that was made in the 21st century will win the Oscar it could set a dangerous precedent: Next year we’ll be seeing Moving images that were produced on revolving drums or a movie that will be shown in a Kinetoscope (both inventions that came before the silent film era)…
Why should it win? Because it’s magical, beautifully shot and naive in a good way. As the cliche goes, this movie is suitable for both children and adults alike. And as a bonus Hugo co-stars Sacha Baron Cohen.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because it’s a bit too long, and a bit too sad considering that kids are its main target audience.
6. The Tree of Life
Why should it win? Because you get to admire the guts Terrence Malick has, creating such a non-communicating movie (long sequences of exploding galaxies and quarreling dinosaurs come to mind). It’s also beautifully shot and directed.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because after you have rejoiced at the sight of people following 10 minutes of solar systems, you realize that you’re in for an uneasy viewing experience: a family with young children who are suffering under the hand of their abusive father.
5. War Horse
Why should it win? Because you just can’t be cynical about this movie, even if you try. It’s moving, nostalgic and even a bit uplifting. It’s kind of strange in the sense that it feels like a family oriented movie despite scenes of soldiers being executed and horses being shot in the head. Seems like Spielberg may have had some sort of an unlikely and impossible combination between E.T and Private Ryan in mind, and somehow it works.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because it’s basically a love story between a young man and a horse.
4. Midnight In Paris
Why should it win? Because after almost giving up on Woody Allen (When You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Whatever Works and Scoop were all bad or mediocre), this movie brought many to believe in him again. It’s witty, clever, nostalgic and magical.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because Woody Allen doesn’t really care about the Oscars, he’s received many of them and one more wouldn’t really make him happy or even happier. He couldn’t care less whether he’ll get the Oscar this year or if Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 will (He didn’t even attend the Golden Globes ceremony).
3. The Help
Why should it win? Because it has a fantastic ensemble cast of female actors, all of them giving excellent performances; and also because it’s an uplifting movie that carries an important message in the spirit of Martin Luther King.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because the only reason the hilarious Bridesmaids wasn’t nominated for best picture is the fact that it had a scene of a woman pooping in the sink. Although no one from the female ensemble cast of The Help poops in the sink, one of them poops in a pie (poop = no Oscar).
Why should it win? Because many who don’t know a thing about baseball were still captivated throughout the entire film; Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill both give memorable performances, the dialogue is witty and cynical, the story fascinating and the pacing - perfect.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because Moneyball presents baseball as a game of numbers and not as a game of people; players are being traded as if they were objects.
1. The Descendants
Why should it win? Because it has a very intelligent and mature outlook on death, responsibility and loss; it manages to be emotional and moving and at the same time also very funny. The acting by every single actor in the movie is top notch.
Why shouldn’t it win? Because it’s a heartbreaking movie and our heart is a fragile organ.
Since there are still plenty of important categories, but only limited internet space, I’ll refer briefly to the other notable Oscar nominations:
Best Actor – Friendship on the Line
The two best performances this year belonged to the two buddies – George Clooney and Brad Pitt. While Clooney already won an Oscar (for best supporting actor), Pitt is still Oscar-less. Maybe if Clooney wins he’ll give up his Oscar and give it to Pitt - Oscars arrive every year, but true friends are sure hard to come by.
Should be: Brad Pitt or George Clooney
Will be: George Clooney
Best Actress – The Usual Suspect
When portraying Margaret Thatcher, it feels as though Meryl Streep decided to take on the role she played in Julie and Julia - Julia Child, and make her passionate about politics and leadership instead of cooking and food. And so, in The Iron Lady we have Meryl Streep playing Julia Child playing Margaret Thatcher. Is it an Oscar worthy performance? I think so.
Should be: Meryl Streep
Will be: Meryl Streep
Best Director – Payneful Decision
In The Descendants Alexander Payne constructed a wonderful movie that doesn’t have one unnecessary moment in it. He brought the best out of all the actors in his film, and created a beautiful and most of all humane movie. In The Tree of Life Terrence Malick directed an ultra-stylized, offbeat and ambitious (many would say pretentious) film. I don’t think he deserves the Oscar for it, but since it’s his first movie in six years, the Academy might grant him the reward as an incentive to keep making movies.
Should be: Alexander Payne
Will be: Terrence Malick
Best Original Screenplay – Wiig VS. Woody
Bridesmaids was outrageously snubbed, and wasn’t nominated for best picture or for best actress (Kristen Wiig gave a star making performance there). Winning the Oscar for best original screenplay would be the only just compensation for the horrid injustice. Midnight in Paris is the first brilliant Woody Allen film in years, and can also be regarded as a worthy candidate.
Should be: Bridesmaids or Midnight in Paris
Will be: Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay – Alexander the Great (and Aaron Sorkin the greater)
Moneyball’s screenplay was written by one of the best screenwriters alive today – Aaron Sorkin. Just like in The Social Network, Moneyball also totes a witty, cynical and clever script that made me become fascinated about a subject that doesn’t really interest me (Baseball. I’m not really into Facebook either, and was also captivated by The Social Network). The Descendants also has a great script by Alexander Payne, but not as sharp as Moneyball’s.
Should be: Moneyball
Will be: The Descendants
Best Animated Movie – The Chameleon
After we surprisingly found out that The Adventures of Tintin wasn’t nominated, we were left with only one serious candidate in this category. Rango is funny, visually stunning, and witty. It’s great for a family outing, and great for fans of Westerns who can appreciate the many references to the classics of the genre.
Should be: Rango
Will be: Rango
Best Foreign Movie – Israel VS. Iran (Part 1?)
Winner of the best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival, Footnote is a psychological and clever movie about an ego clash between a father and his son, a clash between traditional and modern, between two methods of thinking, between two brilliant and eccentric professors. It is overwhelming proof that Israeli cinema has more to offer than just war movies. A Separation, which will probably be the winner in this category, is also a good and powerful drama, but a bit too slow for the average movie goer. Are the Americans going to give the Iranians an Oscar and take out their nuclear program? It’s a give and take I’m willing to accept.
Should be: Footnote
Will be: A Separation
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