Academy Awards Preview

In 2006, my wife and I started a common tradition of seeing all the Oscar nominations for Best Picture and formulate our own opinions on who should win.  We weren’t married yet, we didn’t have any kids and we really had no real life obligations other than work and each other.  That year Crash won the Best Picture, deservedly so, upsetting the much hyped Brokeback Mountain.  It’s an annual tradition we look forward to, not just because of the movies, but the quality time my wife and I spend together. 

In 2010, there was a change to the process. We had been married just about 3 years and we added a child to the mix, which was going to make this tradition difficult.  So what does the Academy do?  Add 5 more movies to the nomination, thanks a lot.  Needless to say we don’t see all the nominated movies every year, but this year (at the time of this writing) we have seen 7 of the 9 nominated films and here is my ranking of those films.

The movies we have not seen are “The Artist” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, if we don’t get to them by Sunday, they will be viewed at some point.
1.      War Horse – This movie took me by surprise.  As an Historian I thought it was going to be about how The Great War was what is known as “the transition war” from man to man combat, to modern weaponry.  It wasn’t, although Spielberg does allude to it in the movie.  It was a great story and kept my attention the whole time.  The Direction and the acting were very good, and the horse “Joey” should have gotten some sort of nomination.
2.      The Descendants – There was nothing I hated about this movie and it is an extremely close second on this list, and it will most likely win the Oscar.  George Clooney was great in this film and his Best Actor nomination is well deserved.  It had everything, romance, drama and a little bit of comedy.  The fact that Shailene Woodley did not get a best actress or best supporting actress nomination may make me boycott the Oscars, not really, but she was really good and deserved a nod.
3.      Hugo – I didn’t think I was going to like this movie.  I don’t understand why, it’s Scorsese, he gets me every time.  This movie could have ranked better and maybe even gotten the top spot but the story line was all over the place and it took an extremely roundabout way to tie everything up and get to the point.  Overall I truly enjoyed it and this should definitely win Best Cinematography.
4.      Midnight in Paris –  This is where the list starts to decline and proves that the Academy needs to get back to five nominations.  This is definitely the best Woody Allen movie I have ever seen.  The story was different, yet unbelievable.  It captures the imagination of Allen and what his influences were while writing this.  Owen Wilson was good enough not to screw this movie up and Marion Cotillard was her usual fabulous self as Wilson’s alternate life love interest.
5.      Moneyball – I really liked this movie, I really like this story.  I thought Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were great in it.  But to be honest, not Academy Award worthy.
6.      The Help – If this movie was not overhyped, over-promoted and extremely commercialized I would have it higher on my list.  This is a great Hollywood adaptation of a very good book.  It’s a true Hollywood story and I found myself wanting more out of it than I got.  Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone (no nominations?) were very good.
7.      and 8 – The Artist and Extremely Loud, and Incredibly Close – We haven’t seen either of them, but they can’t be worse the #9 on the list.
          9.  Tree of Life – Freakin Horrendous!  What the hell was the Academy thinking, and how in
               the hell did this movie win at Cannes?  Because of Penn and Pitt?  We turned it off an hour
               in.  When I asked my wife the next day if she wanted to finish it her statement was “Hell
               No! I am really looking to get that hour of my life back”.  That was it in a nutshell.  Once I
               started to see the birth of dinosaurs, it was time to turn it off.
So, that is my list and I am sticking to it.  I believe the Descendants will win but War Horse was my favorite of the bunch, by a small margin.  Here are some other things I would like to see.

Best Actor: George Clooney – He’s won the Best Supporting (Syriana), but Danny Ocean needs Best Actor.
Best Actress: Viola Davis – She was really good but she is going up against Meryl Streep who is the Daniel Day-Lewis of female actors
Best Supporting Actor: Jonah Hill – How funny would it be if the fat kid from Superbad ended up winning an Academy Award. Can you say Tom Hanks?
And the Oscar goes to…..
Coming Right Atcha

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