Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The "2012 Academy Award Nominations" - My analysis of the Good, the (Very) Bad, and the (Mostly) Ugly....

I hate the Oscars.  A lot.  I've tried making them more entertaining for myself this year, though, revealing over the past two weeks my "Dream Oscar Nominees," the people/movies I would like to see recognized in a perfect world.  You can read my picks for the Technical Categories here, the Music and Sound Categories here, the Acting Categories here, and the Big (Best Picture, Screenplay, Director) Categories here.  Were any of my picks actually be nominated for the REAL Oscars?  Well, to put it lightly…no….

The ridiculous, inane, stupid set of nominees the Academy chose to represent film in 2011 angers me to no end.  It shows a profound ignorance of the art form, and misses many of the best performances and movies of the year.  The craft categories are especially frustrating.  I urge you, as viewers, not to take the Academy seriously this year, and seek out what was truly good in film for yourself, because the Academy has no clue.  

Just a terrible list of nominees all around, and I have full thoughts on every category coming up after the jump….

 Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

A still from "The Tree of Life"

Hmmm….this is an annoying field, but not as bad as I expected.  “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris,” and “The Tree of Life” are all surprising nominees, but very, very deserving.  I didn’t think the Academy would be going for those three.  I don’t love “The Artist” now as much as I did before, but it’s still a fine film, as is “The Descendants” and “Moneyball.”  Neither were in my top twenty, but I have no complaints about their inclusion here.  Then we have cloying wastes of celluloid like “War Horse” and, most perplexingly, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a movie NOBODY LIKED!!!  Why is it there?  And even though I enjoyed “The Help,” it’s not one of the year’s nine best movie no matter how you slice it….it simply isn’t, and its inclusion is silly.  Films like “Shame” and “Melancholia” really SHOULD be here, but I didn’t expect them to be…they are, quite frankly, too smart for the room. 

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Martin Scorsese directing "Hugo"

No complaints here whatsoever.  Again, there are directors I would have chosen in place of some of these, but Malick and Scorsese, at least, were on my “Dream” ballot, so I’m happy.  Allen, Hazanavicius, and Payne all did fine work, though I hope the award goes to Malick or Scorsese, who really did achieve in DIRECTING, not just making a movie people enjoyed, and yes, those are two different things. 

Best Actor
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

Where on earth is Michael Fassbender?  I know the Academy didn’t like “Shame,” but come on…the year’s best male performance, a fact agreed upon by all who saw the movie, and you can’t give Fassbender any recognition?  Oy.  At least I had Clooney and Oldman on my fake ballot, so it’s very nice to see them here, especially Oldman, who was an underdog in this race.  I haven’t seen “A Better Life,” but I’ve heard amazing things about Bichir, and Brad Pitt was excellent in “Moneyball.”  A good category, but without Fassbender in it, I can’t take it seriously.  Of these five, Oldman deserves to win.  

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

A complete wreck of a category.  Where’s Tilda Swinton?  Where’s Kirsten Dunst?  Where’s Charlize Theron?  I could go on and on.  Part of me is very happy Rooney Mara broke the field for her brave work in "Dragon Tattoo," but at the same time, she's certainly not up to par with the performances I just listed.  I haven’t seen “Iron Lady” or “Albert Nobbs,” but from what I’ve seen in the trailers and read in reviews, the performances are hammy, shameless awards bait in the middle of fairly worthless movies.  Certainly not more deserving than Theron, Swinton, Dunst, or any other number of actresses I haven't yet mentioned..  Viola Davis was very, very good in “The Help,” and while I wouldn’t have nominated her personally, I’m perfectly happy to see her here.  And at least they got Michelle Williams, who deserves to win, so there’s a way the Academy could possibly redeem themselves.  Still, this category is embarrassingly inept.  

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Where’s Albert Brooks for “Drive?”  Where’s Patton Oswalt for “Young Adult?”  Where’s ANYBODY from “Tinker Tailor?” I’m sorry, but if you’re missing them, you have no authority to discuss who the Best Supporting Actor is, especially when you nominate hammy, overbaked turns from Branagh and Sydow.  Bull-hunky.  Still, Plummer is completely deserving, as is Nick Nolte, and I’m glad to see Hill here, even if I wouldn’t have nominated him.  He was fantastic in “Moneyball.”  Another complete joke of a category, though…

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Berenice Bejo in "The Artist"

Again, at the point where you’re ignoring Carey Mulligan’s TWO fantastic turns this year – for “Drive” and for “Shame,” the latter being the single best film performance of 2012, man or woman – you have NO AUTHORITY whatsoever.  This is ridiculous.  Anyway…I’m glad to see Bejo here.  That’s a nice surprise.  She deserves it.  Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer are two I wouldn’t have nominated personally but are still very deserving, both turning in fine comedic performances.  Jessica Chastain totally deserved an Oscar nomination…..but not for “The Help.”  Why is she up for “The Help?”  She was quite good in that movie, but when she’s got an iconic performance in "The Tree of Life" on her resume, how can you nominate her for “The Help?”  And this is the first I’ve heard of Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs,” from anybody, so I assume she doesn’t deserve it.  Bull-hunky, I say, bull-hunky!!!

Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

A very nice field overall.  Without Diablo Cody for “Young Adult” I have trouble taking any of it seriously, but if I ignore the fact that “Young Adult” existed, just as the idiots at the Academy have done, I can be on board with this.  “A Separation” hasn’t come to Denver, but I’m very excited to see it, and its nomination here is a nice surprise.  “Bridesmaids” and “Midnight in Paris” were on my dream ballot, and I hope one of them wins.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Jim Rash & Nat Faxon, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin & Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Peter Straughan & Bridget O’Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

They got “Tinker Tailor” in, so I’m happy.  It darn well better win.  “The Muppets” deserves to be here, but I knew they would ignore it, and all the other nominees are very deserving….except “The Ides of March.”  Why is that there?  That was NOT a good screenplay.  It was silly and unsubtle, but good?  Nope.  

Best Animated Film
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

No “Tintin,” no go.  “Tintin” and “Rango” were the only two decent American animated movies this year, and to ignore Tintin in favor of two very lazy DreamWorks sequels, “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Puss in Boots,” is preposterous.  Apparently the Academy hates “Tintin” because it uses Motion Capture, which is silly.  Why not start hating all live-action movies that use make-up?

Best Foreign Language Film
Bullhead (Belgium)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)

I haven’t seen any of these, though I would very much like to.  Seems like a good category.

Now let’s look at some nominees not announced during the main presentation.  I’ll give commentary on some, but not all of them.

Art Direction

“The Artist”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
“Midnight in Paris”
“War Horse”

Ooh, a nice set of nominees for a change.  There are a lot of movies missing, like “Tinker Tailor,” but “Hugo,” “Midnight,” and “Harry Potter” were all dream nominees, so I’m perfectly happy with these. 

"The Artist" Guillaume Schiffman

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Jeff Cronenweth

"Hugo" Robert Richardson
"The Tree of Life" Emmanuel Lubezki
"War Horse" Janusz Kaminski

A still of the amazing cinematography in "The Tree of Life"

I’m not sure what anyone thinks is special about the cinematography in “The Artist.”  Yes, it’s in black-and-white.  No, that’s not a reason to nominate it.  Anyway, the other four are all deserving.  I would have put other movies, like “Drive” or “Tinker Tailor,” ahead of “Dragon Tattoo” or “War Horse,” but those aren’t horrible mistakes.  “Hugo” and “Tree of Life” are completely deserving, and if “Tree of Life” doesn’t win, I swear to God I will never watch the Oscars again.

Costume Design
"Anonymous" Lisy Christl
"The Artist" Mark Bridges
"Hugo" Sandy Powell
"Jane Eyre" Michael O'Connor
"W.E." Arianne Phillips

Sigh….just a bunch of historical dramas.  No creativity whatsoever.  “Drive” belongs here, but the Academy is apparently unaware “Drive” exists.  They are idiots. 

Documentary (Feature)
"Hell and Back Again" Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Pina" Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
"Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)
"The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement" Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
"God Is the Bigger Elvis" Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
"Incident in New Baghdad" James Spione
"Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
"The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing
"The Artist" Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Kevin Tent
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
"Hugo" Thelma Schoonmaker
"Moneyball" Christopher Tellefsen

This may be the single worst category of all the awards.  There’s nothing impressive about the editing in “Moneyball,” “The Artist,” or “The Descendants.”  I actively disliked the editing in “Dragon Tattoo.”  “Hugo” is deserving…but that’s it.  Where’s “Drive?” “Harry Potter?” “Tree of Life?” “Beginners?”  Just because you liked a movie DOES NOT MEAN it was a huge achievement in editing.  Take a film class. 

"Albert Nobbs" Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)
"The Adventures of Tintin" John Williams
"The Artist" Ludovic Bource
"Hugo" Howard Shore

"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Alberto Iglesias
"War Horse" John Williams

I think this may be my favorite category.  All five scores are completely deserving.  I would have nominated all of these, and though there are others I would put up as well, like Trent Reznor for “Dragon Tattoo,” Alexandre Desplat for “Harry Potter” or Alan Silvestri for “Captain America,” these five are just fine, and completely deserving.  I’d be happy if any of them win, though of the five, I’d probably go for “Tinker Tailor.”

Music (Original Song)
"Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
"Real in Rio" from "Rio" Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Umm…..is this a typo?  I hope so.  Just two songs?  And no “Life’s a Happy Song?”  No “Star Spangled Man?” Oy….this is painful.  Just painful.  We have only ONE song from “Muppets” and a tune no one’s ever talked about from a bad animated movie.  I do not understand the Academy one bit.  This is easily the strangest category.  If the Oscars hate music this much, they need to stop giving this award.

Short Film (Animated)
"Dimanche/Sunday" Patrick Doyon
"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
"La Luna" Enrico Casarosa
"A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
"Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)
"Pentecost" Peter McDonald and Eimear O'Kane
"Raju" Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
"The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George
"Time Freak" Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
"Tuba Atlantic" Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing
"Drive" Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Ren Klyce
"Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
"War Horse" Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

“Drive” is here, so I’m happy.  It won’t win, but it should.  A fine category. 

Sound Mixing
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
"Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
"Moneyball" Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
"War Horse" Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Umm….why “Moneyball?”  Other than that, a completely agreeable set of nominees. 

Visual Effects
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
"Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
"Real Steel" Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

“The Tree of Life” should be here, probably in place of “Real Steel,” but on the whole, I’m content with these nominees.  Not too shabby. 

And that’s it!  If you’ve ever wondered why I hated the Oscars so much….the 2012 nominees are why.  This was, I think, the worst set of nominees I have ever seen.  By far. 

1 comment:

  1. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is nominated because it's about 9/11. That's all.