My Take on The 2012 Oscar Nominations

The list of nominations for the 2012 oscars has been released. To view the list, click here. Last year was a great year in film; there wasn’t a single runaway hit blockbuster (such as Avatar or The Dark Knight in previous years) but instead there were a variety of good films made relatively cheap. Maybe the shabby economy has taken the emphasis away from special effects and placed it on story? It was definitley a good year for stories.

Unfortunately, there’s plenty on the list I haven’t seen. Based on what I’ve watched, here’s my opinion.

Best Picture: Midnight in Paris.

Earlier on this site, I boldly said the best film of the year was The Tree of Life. I wrote that the morning after seeing it, and my Stendhal syndrome hadn’t wore off yet. After giving it more thought, I might have been hasty. In reality, it’s Midnight in Paris that deserves the award. Democratically, it should win. It was the movie a lot of people saw, a lot of people talked about, and a lot of people liked. The same can’t be said for The Tree of Life. Midnight in Paris is also a movie I can imagine watching several times, and I bet a lot of other people feel the same. War Horse I thought was a great film for its decision to use a traditional filmmaking method rather than try to be clever and flashy. With Midnight in Paris, there were times when I really felt I was seeing something new and fresh on the screen, which is a big deal when you consider Woody Allen has made more than 30 films.

Best Actor / Actress: ???

Out of all of the nominations for best actor, I’ve only seen one of the movies: Moneyball. Brad Pitt was good in Moneyball, but at times it seemed like the role was basically written for him. I haven’t yet seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but I can say right now I’d love to see Gary Oldman win for it. The man simply deserves an Oscar. He’s one of those actors who doesn’t always make good films, but he’s always good in them anyways (like Christopher Walken, Liam Neeson and, coincidentally, Brad Pitt). As for best actress, I really don’t know. I haven’t seen a single film that the actresses are nominated for.
Best Actor/ Actress in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer and ???

Again, this is slim pickings for me in movies. Out of the men’s nominations, I’ve seen Moneyball and Beginners, and as for women, I’ve only seen Bridesmaids. I can however say on faith that Christopher Plummer should win best supporting actor. He delivered a very real and very vibrant performance in Beginners, even when some of the other actors mumbled their way through it. Plummer has always been an exceptional actor, and he was great as my idol Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station (although the movie itself was so-so). As for actresses, just on a whim, I’ll go ahead and say Jessica Chastain, based solely on her strong performances in The Tree of Life and The Debt. I haven’t seen The Help. I’m not very useful here, am I?

Best Animated Feature: Rango

Surprisingly, Cars 2 isn’t even nominated, making this one of the first times in recent memory when a Pixar picture hasn’t made it in the running. Oh well, this will at least give others a chance. I’m pretty tired of Dreamworks’ animated films. They seem to involve formulaic amounts of animals with ethnic voices and mixed quality visuals. I like Kung Fu Panda worlds more than any Shrek spin-off, but I’ll have to go with Rango here. It had a fun story and incredibly detailed visuals. At a time when so many companies are going 3D to bring in more money, Rango had the nerve to do the opposite, and bring in layered and textured images the likes of which I haven’t seen since Wall-E.

Cinematography: The Tree of Life

It would be a real shame if The Tree of Life didn’t win for its cinematography. This is the main draw of the film itself. Terence Malick films have always featured astounding cinematography, but he takes it up a notch in The Tree of Life, as the loose story allows the filmmakers all sorts of opportunities to show us nature and the cosmos like we’ve never seen them before. It’s unfortunate too, because Hugo was spectacular as well, but The Tree of Life might as well already own the statue.

Directing: Martin Scorsese

With Hugo, Martin Scorsese reminded us of why he is so famous. It’s not because he can make a good gangster picture, or because he can get gritty performances out of Robert De Niro or Leonardo Di Caprio, but because he’s a consummate artist. With films like The Departed and Shutter Island, Scorsese was working with crime movie templates. With Hugo, he built the film from the ground up. I’m surprised Spielberg wasn’t nominated for War Horse. If you ask me, War Horse is the only film Spielberg has made in the last decade that was legitimately good (although I’m one of the few people who enjoyed A.I.).

Best Documentary feature: ???

Are my eyes deceiving me? Werner Herzog’s Cave of the Forgotten Dreams wasn’t nominated, not for best documentary feature or for best foreign film. What in the world? I wonder if there was some sort of bureaucratic error that precluded it from a nomination. What a shame! Cave of the Forgotten Dreams was a thought provoking and beautiful documentary. I wish I could write it in the ballot.

Okay, those are my predictions. I haven’t seen enough movies to go through the whole Oscar list. I better make some money to pay for tickets!

——If you’d like to support my movie watching habit, why not buy a copy of my books? Sounds like a win-win to me. I have two out now–The Madness of Art: Short Stories and A Rapturous Occasion, both available on Amazon.

What are your Oscar predictions–feel free to write them into the comments box, even if you haven’t seen that many like me.

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