With nine best picture nominees this year, I was hopeful (as I usually am) that I'd come across at least one film that would blow me away. For the first time in years though, I've been left confused by the selections made. It was an interesting year in movies, but as it turns out, some of the best Oscar nominees I watched this year were all in the acting categories - go figure.
Here's my take on the Best Picture nominees for the 2012 ceremony.
This picture seems to have the strongest contention for taking home the award, and even though I thought it was a charming film, is a picture based on a gimmick really that deserving? Yes, the silent film aspect is interesting, but it's an homage, not a representation of what a Best Picture should look like in 2012. That said, it also negates all of the impact and complexity that comes from having sound. I truly believe a Best Picture, in addition to being a great movie, should be more representative (especially in technical terms) of the time in which it was made.
I really loved this movie. It was funny, heartwarming, and not too overstated. George Clooney and director Alexander Payne delivered a great character piece about holding on to the past while being locked into a future that is determined to change. My only concern is that there were parts of it that still felt too light to really make it a serious contender.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
I went into this movie with high expectations for an emotional story about a father and son, what I got was the story of a kid incapable of showing genuine emotion in a sea of people who could. I really disliked this movie because it willingly destroyed a great soul searching adventure with a character who lacked depth and relatability. You can read my complete review on this one here.
The performances here were strong, but the message seemed a bit misguided. I think Emma Stone is a great actress, but her character actually robbed 'the help' of standing up for themselves in a story about race relations. Not a bad movie, but certainly not the best.
I was surprised by this one because of how unlike a Martin Scorsese picture it seemed. It is a children's movie I suppose, but that combination alone raises an eyebrow. In any case, I liked Hugo a lot. The nods to film history and early silent shorts in among the elaborate ongoings of a Paris train station were fun to watch. I like movies about exploring and discovery, and this was a good one.
Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen's nod to great writers was also a pleasant surprise. It was playful and humorous, and it kept you looking forward as Owen Wilson's character whimsically stumbled onto big names of the past. I think I have a soft spot for this one because I went to see it at the Monarch with my folks. That said, if I were recommending Woody Allen films I'm not sure that this one would be in my top five.
I liked this movie, but it was also a bit cold. Despite the acting nominations for Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, the whole thing felt a bit too rigid and structured. Most of the film even takes place in offices. It was interesting, but not what I would have thought a Best Picture nominee to be.
The Tree of Life
I give the Academy a lot of credit for nominating a film as experimental and esoteric as this. The lack of a traditional story is made up for with beautiful imagery and I actually found myself thinking about how fun it would have been to edit. It still feels a bit misplaced for a Best Picture, but I'd be surprised if it didn't take home the award in cinematography.
Spielberg's WWI epic seemed reminiscent of Best Pictures of the past. It was grand, but it was also slow. While I think Spielberg is awesome, I felt like I'd seen this kind of picture too many times before, right down to the Gone With the Wind style sunset to close out movie.
So all that said, who will win? Well, your guess is as good as mine. I'd say that the Artist probably has the best chance, but if I were voting I'd personally go for Hugo or the Descendants.
Other (and in some instances better) nominees to check out include, My Week With Marilyn, Beginners, The Ides of March, and of course, Bridesmaids.