Oscar Nominations 2012

With the announcement of the 84th Academy Awards Nominees this morning, I’ve prepared here a guide to the 9 nominated films for Best Picture plus a few more. I’ve seen them all except one, which I admit is somewhat unexpected, that’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. For some of the others, do click on the link in the title to read my full review.

Here are the 9 nominees for Best Motion Picture:

The Artist —  Riding high the waves in this Awards Season, and most likely to grab the top Oscar. Kudos to the filmmakers for taking a bold and contrary step to pay homage to the silent era of Hollywood. Audacious in its attempt at a black and white silent film in 2011, where CGI and 3D’s are the cinematic effects, a long way from the great advancement of sound. Sure it’s light and frothy, which makes me admire all the more the boldness and foresight of the financial backers. Actions do speak louder than words. 10 noms in all.

The Descendants —  Well acted, probably George Clooney’s best performance I’ve seen, a close Oscar contender with Jean Dujardin of The Artist for Best Actor. The idyllic setting in Hawaii shrouds conflicts among family members: between husband and wife, parents and children, and in the extended level, relatives when it comes to monetary gains and interests. A fine film from Oscar winning director Alexander Payne of Sideways fame. While there are interesting twists and turns, the ending is predictable. A close contender with The Artist for Best Picture.

The Tree of Life — I’m excited to see Terrence Malick’s existential epic included in the list.  The film generally draws two opposing reactions, like its premiere in Cannes, boos and applause. Ironically, those might well be the two ways the film portrays, two possible views towards life. Other noms: Terrence Malick for Best Director, and deservedly, Emmanuel Lubezki for Best Cinematography.

Midnight In Paris — It has been a long time since Woody Allen won a Best Picture Oscar (Annie Hall, 1977), glad it’s time again for a nod, even though its chance of winning is slim. As in a few other nominated movies on this list, nostalgia is key. An imaginary trip back to Paris during the literary and artistic golden age of Gertrude Stein, Hemingway and Picasso, an aspiring writer from California learns the notion of golden is only relative. What’s precious may well be the time at hand. Woody Allen also receives noms for Directing and Original Screenplay.

Hugo — Leading the Oscar nom counts with 11. Another homage to the cinema, or, the creation of the cinema dating back to the Lumière Brothers, but specifically to Georges Méliès, the French innovator of cinematic special effects. Interesting to see Martin Scorsese uses the modern technique of 3D to honor the pioneer Méliès. A visually stunning adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scorsese has proven to me that 3D doesn’t have to be synonymous with soulless gimmick. Heart-warming, beautiful film for everyone.

The Help — As Roger Ebert was labelled “a lackey for imperialism” after writing that he likes ‘Downton Abbey’, I must put in this Disclaimer: I have high respect for the courageous fighters in the civil rights movement, both on a societal level like Martin Luther King Jr. and those making personal steps like Rosa Parks. How I feel about this movie is strictly to do with the movie itself. Ok, here it is: I find it riddled with simplistic and contrived sentiments. The pool of major acting talents are morphed into caricatures. As I was watching, I felt they were all acting, not being. Can’t blame them, they were following a script and a director. Viola Davis nom for Best Actress, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress. And the Oscar likely goes to Spencer.

The War Horse — Again, a Disclaimer here: I’m not against animals in movies… often, it’s the humans that leave much to be desired. Personally, I’m surprised that this is from Spielberg. Lacklustre storytelling, cliché moments and superficial characterization. The most natural and beautiful actor could well be Joey, the horse. The film is an adaptation of the children’s book of the same name written from the POV of the horse. Now, that sounds fresh and unique.

Moneyball — Can strike the heart of even non-baseball fans. A well paced and edited, engaging movie. The real story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. It’s always satisfying when the underdog wins, David overcoming Goliath, especially when money is involved. Brad Pitt getting Best Actor nom, and Jonah Hill Best Supporting. Other categories include Editing and Adapted Screenplay.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — The is the only one among the nine I have yet to see, for truly I did not expect it to be nominated for Best Picture. I’ve read Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, the source material, with mixed feelings. And for it to be adapted into a film, much has to be done to interpret, alter, and display.  So, I reserve judgement on the film until I’ve seen it.

Other Nominees:

Meryl Streep for Best Actress in The Iron Lady — If you want historical accuracy, go see a documentary. But even there it depends on the POV of the filmmaker.  Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) has conjured up an internal world of the only woman Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher. Unless she comes to rebut the director’s view, who are we to argue against it? Let’s just go beyond the debates and appreciate the marvellous performance by Meryl Streep. This might well be her chance for a second Best Actress Oscar since Sophie’s Choice in 1983. Jim Broadbent always complements superbly.

Michelle Williams for Best Actress in My Week With Marilyn — Michelle Williams proves her amazing versatility here. I mean, after seeing Wendy and Lucy, Blue Valentine, can you imagine a more diverse role as Marilyn Monroe? She delivers convincingly. Kenneth Branagh gets the nom for Best Supporting Actor as Sir Laurence Olivier. And who’s that obscure chap that gets to spend a week with Marilyn? Why, he’s Eddie Redmayne, Angel Claire in Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Gary Oldman for Best Actor in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — Film scholar David Bordwell suggests that we see it as ‘a moving mosaic’. This film is made up of fragments of John Le Carré’s complex and massive work. So it’s better that you’ve read it first before watching. But if you’re like me, abandoning the book without finishing, you can still appreciate the overall atmosphere and the fine acting. Intricately weaving characters and time frames, the film’s intriguing ending has prompted me to go back to the book after watching it. CLICK HERE to read Bordwell‘s insightful review to help you through the Labyrinth.

***

CLICK HERE for a full list of Nominees.

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Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review.

13 thoughts on “Oscar Nominations 2012”

  1. I thought of you this morning when I heard on the news the nominees had been announced. Who is you favorite to win best picture?

    .
    Stefanie,

    Yes, got up at 6:30 to watch the 10 mins. announcement and then wrote this post. Seems like the momentum is swinging towards The Artist.

    Arti

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  2. I really appreciate your insight and listing everything here so nicely. Par for the course I haven’t even seen one of the movies nominated. I’m a media underachiever! I would like to see at least 3 of these nominees! Thanks for your reviews!

    .
    Ellen,

    No worry, I’m sure you can achieve 3 before the Oscars Feb. 26. I think you’ll enjoy the films on this list… but maybe more for some of them.

    Arti

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  3. Honestly, at this point I think it’s pretty well established that the Oscars are going to overlook handfuls of artists who truly deserve recognition each and every year. Not only that, but it’s also an exceedingly subjective discussion in the first place. The snubs are obviously here like Swinton, Fassbender, Brooks, and even Serkis to an extent, but it’s the Oscars and I will always watch them.

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    1. CMrok93,

      You’re right in pointing out the snubs. This is just confirming that the movie industry depends on popularity (box office sales) to support artistic pursuit. The increase from 5 to a possible 10 Best Picture nominees might well be to welcome more commercially successful movies to join the club. I agree that the well-deserved talents in lesser known films ought to be recognized. Being set back by limited releases and low budget in promotion, they face a huge challenge to compete with big name producers and distributers. Swinton’s We Need to Talk About Kevin has not even been released in many cities, mine including. And Fassbender’s Shame has remained more a festival fave rather than breaking into general acceptance. Another one is Melancholia… which works like the flip side of The Tree of Life. But I’m so glad that at least the Academy has recognized Malick.

      Arti

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  4. I was waiting all day to have time to snug into your post! It was worth the wait and is my equivalent of a “bedtime snack!” Since I’ve only seen two of the movies — Midnight in Paris and The Help, my favorites are only suppositions at this point. Hoping to catch a few over the next couple of weeks. But I have to say, unless Loud and Close wins a lot, I think I’l still give it a pass — or else wait for the DVD!

    .
    Jeanie,

    Thanks for waiting and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your cookies and warm milk. 😉

    No, Extremely Loud will not win a lot cause it’s only nom. for 2, Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture. Don’t think it will win either. After watching the trailer, I’m not too eager. For you, I think you’ll enjoy The Artist, Hugo, and The Iron Lady. Check them out.

    Arti

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  5. I’ve been wanting to see Hugo — glad to see it got some noms.

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    nikkipolani,

    It leads the pack with 11! Make sure you watch the 3D version. I know, it’s just ironic that I’m promoting 3D. But Scorsese has really put it into good use and made a visually stunning motion picture.

    Arti

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  6. Best guide to the Oscars that I’ve read! Thank you for this, Arti – really helps to get an idea of what’s up this year. I’ve only heard the trailer for the Iron Lady, but Meryl Streep’s voice is so uncannily like Margaret Thatcher’s that I thought first time around it was documentary recordings. She is such a clever actress.

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    litlove,

    Do go and check that out. I’d be very curious to know what you think about The Iron Lady. I’ve heard the film has just about split England in half…

    Arti

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  7. There is a lot to be excited about here, for me. I look forward to the many I have not seen. I am happy for you that “Tree of Life” was included, since I know you were disappointed that it wasn’t in the Golden Globes. Beautiful summary, as always!

    .
    Ruth,

    My pleasure in compiling this guide, albeit had to get up at 6:30 am to watch the announcement. I’m very curious to know your response to some of these nominees. Do let me know what you think after you’ve seen them, any of them.

    Arti

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  8. The last movie we saw was Midnight in Paris and since we saw it when it came out, that was quite a while. We have been talking about going to the movies this week. I’ll have to see what is playing around here as sometimes they have mostly movies for children and teens. I wanted to see Sarah’s Keys as I enjoyed the book but it was gone within two weeks.

    I finished the book The Paris Wife. It bothered me that it is called a “novel’ – so what is true and what is fiction? As it is I did not care for Hadley too much – she seems too ingénue, subdued and naïve for me. Plus her losing Ernest’s manuscripts at the station was totally irresponsible – too immature for me. In the book they mentioned their friends Gerald and Sara Murphy. I found a book at the library called “Everybody was so Young – Gerald and Sara Murphy a Lost Generation Love Story” and I am reading it right now. By the way Gertrude Stein mentioned the “lost generation” term and it was taken a bit out of context. I also just received from ABE “Shakespeare and Company” by Sylvia Beach – so that will be next. I am completely involved in Paris in the 20s and 30s – I wish now I had asked my mother more about that time in Paris. Love your film reviews – that will help me make a decision about which ones to see.

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    1. Since you’re all into Paris right now, my suggestion for you from this list is definitely Hugo, watch it in 3D if you can. From my review above, you know it’s an adaptation of Selznick’s children’s book, about the orphan boy Hugo who lives in hiding in a Paris train station. It’s not just for kids, actually, I’d say it’s for history and film lovers, and Francophiles too… it’s an homage to the French cinema pioneers. You’ll enjoy this I’m sure.

      So, you’re not much of a Hadley fan. Yes, she’s naive, but her counterpart is also too much for her to handle. Just a mismatch, unfortunate. Regarding Gertrude Stein’s term, yes, you’re right, people have been taking it out of context. I remember from reading A Moveable Feast, it first was used by a mechanic working on her car (?) about the men coming back from the Great War… shell-shocked, dazed and lost.

      Enjoy your comment, as always. Have fun reading. Do come back and share about any movies you’ve seen

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  9. I still have several to see, not the least of which are WAR HORSE and IRON LADY. Some tough choices (as always) and I try not to let my “take” on certain actors get in the way (love Meryl, but not Michelle). Would love to see the horse movie, too, but perhaps best as a rental (at home, where I have tons of tissue available!)
    Wonder how you’ll vote?

    These are . So, what’s your vote? Will that be disclosed?

    .
    oh,

    Unlike last year with The King’s Speech, I don’t have anyone I’m really rooting for this time. Of course my fave would be The Tree of Life, but don’t think it has a chance. Midnight In Paris too, no chance, despite my liking it. So, it’s not so much about me, but the thousands of Academy members voting. The Artist seems to be the front-runner as of now. But you never know. So you’re not a MW fan, then save your time and go see MS in Iron Lady… Like to know what you think of it. For her performance there, I think she has a good chance this time winning. You’re right to save War Horse for DVD, but one film you must see on the big screen, and in 3D, (I keep telling ppl. this, quite unlike me) is Hugo. Yes, you must see this one.

    Arti

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  10. I figured out “Meryl Streep” in your comment to oh, but who is MW? I’ve looked again, but I guess I’m blind this morning – I can’t find the full reference.

    I’m not in the horsey set, but I do know a few horse owners and trainers and the reviews from them of War Horse have ranged from lukewarm to vaguely negative. Interesting.

    I’m so glad Tree of Life is included, especially for cinematography.
    And I’m still needing to see Midnight in Paris. As for Margaret Thatcher – I thought of her when I was adding the last image in my current post. It never had occurred to me that “thatcher” was also a name that came from an occupation!

    .
    Linda,

    MW: Michelle Williams, she’s Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. A dreamlike, nostalgic film. And ‘thatcher’? Right on. But I’m still thinking about those cinnamon rolls…
    So when’s the next movie outing to Houston for you? Don’t think Midnight in Paris is still showing, but there are still several good selections on this list.

    Arti

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  11. “The Artist” arrived in OKC this weekend for a limited engagement.

    “With Pleasure”, I saw it this afternoon.

    No, better make that…with much pleasure.

    Thank you for writing the words that inspired me to go and see.

    Like

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