Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 February 2012

The Briefest of Reviews from 1970

An excruciatingly predictable story about a priest who becomes involved with a beautiful woman (Lauren Hutton who – I hadn't realized before – was clearly the poor man's Faye Dunaway in 1970). Anyway, as you can imagine, the priest is questioning the way the church does things: contraception, celibacy, racism, etc. And then he questions himself and his commitment to god, his mother, etc. Blah blah blah. Robert Forster in 1970, though? What a hottie. Seriously. I had no idea.

The Briefest of Reviews from 1970

Wow. This is a really weird picture. Paul Newman took over as director for this movie mid-shoot after five weeks. The film is based on the novel by Ken Kesey. It's a sort of father-son, brother-brother narrative. But... well it didn't really work for me. The direction is odd – lots of shots of machinery working at cutting down trees, and the emotional payoff just isn't there. Also: Newman is in the movie and (as we all know) he is pretty much a genius, but he hasn't put himself in the movie enough. He has generously paid much more attention to his costars, and so the movie is more about Henry Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Richard Jaeckel, and Lee Remick. And Newman can't save the film from the insularity on which it trades. I didn't identify with the guys a bit.

The Briefest of Reviews from 1970

Richard Harris as Cromwell and Alec Guinness as Charles I are both absolutely fantastic in this. And, actually, the film convinced me (at least for a little bit) that Cromwell was not a complete jackass. This is an excellent historical epic. It went on a bit long, but then these British history films from the period all went on a little too long. I want to say, too, how much I absolutely love Frank Finlay – in Othello, of course, but he's great here, as well.

The Briefest of Reviews from 1970

The classic film. This is the first Peanuts film, and it isn't exactly coherent, but the music is so much fun, the characters are great (of course), and there are some absolutely unforgettable sequences.

26 February 2012


Here's how I think the night will go down...

Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Animated Short Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Best Live Action Short Film: The Shore (though my faves are Raju and Tuba Atlantic)
Best Actor in a Lead Role: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Actress in a Lead Role: Viola Davis, The Help
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Art Direction: Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hugo
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Best Costume Design: Mark Bridges, The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanivicius, The Artist
Best Editing: Thelma Schoonmaker, Hugo
Best Achievement in Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Best Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (in an upset)
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Best Original Song: Bret McKenzie for "Man or Muppet, The Muppets
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Foreign Language Picture: Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Best Sound Mixing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (in an upset)
Best Sound Editing: Drive (in an upset)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, and Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, A Separation (in an upset)

I haven't seen any of the documentaries (short or long), so I have no predictions to make, but everyone thinks that the winners will be The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom and Undefeated, for what it's worth.

The truth is: I think many of these predictions are wrong. And I completely hope that's true just because I prefer surprises more than I like knowing how it's all going to turn out.

The frontrunner for most of the under-the-line nominations is The Artist, or at least it should be. This means that The Artist should win Costume Design, Art Direction, Editing, and Score.

This is the way it will go: if The Artist does sweep those under-the-line awards, then Hugo picks up in the Sound categories, Visual Effects, etc. If I'm right, though, then it means that the Academy liked Hugo almost as much as they liked The Artist and they split the votes (favoring The Artist but a split nonetheless). My logic here is that they are giving three big ones (Picture, Director, Actor) to The Artist, so they will want to give Hugo other things (Costume, Art Direction, Editing), which means they will feel like they also want to honor other films in the Sound department and for Visual Effects, etc.

I know a lot of people have been complaining this year, but in years when there are a lot of surprises, I am the happiest. I don't worry about the Academy honoring the films I love. They are never going to do that. I just like it when they choose weird things...

Okay, we'll talk again soon.

25 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 10 of 10

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
1 Nomination
  • Visual Effects
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo.

This movie is so good! I know what you're thinking, but seriously. The visual effects are marvelous, sure (I love me some mocap), but the film is also clever and smart, and I went with it even though it took some definitely unexpected turns. James Franco does yell "Caesar!" a lot of times – I feel like that whole trailer is just filled with him yelling that name – but what a good movie! If Academy members have seen this movie, they'll vote for it, which is why I'm expecting it to win. 
Will Win: Visual Effects
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #14 out of 68

Real Steel
1 Nomination
  • Visual Effects
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Olga Fonda, Karl Yune, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis, James Rebhorn.

This was the worst movie I saw all year. In fact, I think every year this happens: the worst movie I see all year is a movie that I only see because it was nominated for an Oscar. Oh well. In this film, giant robots punch one another. What's sort of hilarious about this is that I am forever complaining about how giant robots in movies always punch each other (see Transformers and Iron Man). I can never understand why future generations don't invent some more interesting form of combat. You're a robot with advance technologies; shoot a missile, for chrissakes! Also: the film is filled with product placements. There are dozens of them, actually. My companions and I started counting them simply to keep our interest: Dr. Pepper, Cadillac, Coca-Cola, Nokia, Bing, Capital One... it's shameless.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #68 out of 68

The Muppets
1 Nomination
  • Original Song ("Man or Muppet"): Bret McKenzie
Director: James Bobin
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Alan Arkin, Jack Black.

There are two songs nominated for Best Original Song this year. There is a complicated reason for the two nominees, but they involve the Music branch's numeric system for rating songs. If only one song scores above some kind of threshold, there are only two nominees. The second nominee is the song with the most votes that doesn't score above the threshold. I feel comfortable saying, after seeing both movies with nominated songs, that "Man or Muppet" was clearly the runner-up here. I watched this Muppet film, and I have to say: I don't get it. I just don't understand. I know the whole point of this film is cashing in on nostalgia for the muppets and love for them and how much everyone misses them and all, but this is the first Muppet thing I've seen and I just don't get it. There were a lot of cameos in this film, too, but I honestly didn't recognize half of them either. Seriously: who is Selena Gomez? (Did I mention this song is going to win on Sunday?)
Will Win: Original Song
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #62 out of 68

1 Nomination
  • Original Song ("Real in Rio"): Siedah Garrett ("Love You I Do" from Dreamgirls), Sergio Mendes
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx,, Tracy Morgan.

Two important things to say about Rio. 1) "Real in Rio" is a delightful little song. I was an immediate fan. 2) Rio is a good little movie. It is easily better than 3/5 of the nominees for Best Animated Feature. All of this baffles me, frankly, and after an evening of seeing The Muppets I don't really know what else to say. I found Rio really cute and filled with amusing characters. Also: it's extremely colorful, has some beautiful shots of Rio de Janeiro, and it's also – as it turns out – quite funny. I was a fan. I want to say two more less-important things about Rio: 3) The Academy has a tradition of nominating films with Brazilian rhythms and music for Oscars in the music categories (Brazil (1944), Flying Down to Rio (1933), as well as the Crosby/Hope comedy Road to Rio from 1947) and 4) I was delighted by how much the animated films this year were filled with languages other than English. Rio has a good deal of Portuguese in it, and Rango, Chico & Rita, and Puss in Boots are all filled with Spanish. I appreciate this trend.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Original Song
My Rating#38 out of 68

24 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 9 of 10

W Ciemności (In Darkness)
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Picture: Poland (Katyń, Man of Iron, Young Girls of Wilko, Nights and Days, The Deluge, Promised Land, Pharaoh, Knife in the Water)
Cast: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, Maria Schrader, Herbert Knaup.

The older films that represented Poland with the Oscars have mostly been directed by the great Andrzej Wajda (Katyń, Man of Iron, Young Girls of Wilko, and Promised Land). Knife in the Water, the classic Polanski film, also has made an appearance in this category, before he started working in English with Repulsion. I didn't really realize Agniezska Holland was still making films in Poland. Her film Europa Europa was nominated for Original Screenplay back in 1992, and her Angry Harvest was nominated for Foreign Language Picture (for West Germany) in 1986. Since then she has been directing for The Wire and Treme, excellent credits to be sure. If any film this year can unseat favorite A Separation, it will be this one – WWII has been a favorite subject matter for this category for years.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Foreign Language Picture
My Rating: Not ranked

Rundskop (Bullhead)
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Picture: Belgium (Everybody's Famous!, Farinelli, Daens, The Music Teacher, Peace in the Fields)
Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Barbara Sarafian, Tibo Vandenborre.

This is only Belgium's sixth nomination. Historically, this country has succeeded by choosing period pieces/costume dramas (all of the films above except for Everybody's Famous! took place before 1930), and they have traditionally been Francophone films, as well. Bullhead is in both French and Dutch, and is set in contemporary Belgium. Lately the Academy has been happy to nominate exciting films and movies about violence, but they don't seem to want to give them the Oscar when it comes down to it. Still, the Oscar nomination hopefully means that people actually get out to see Bullhead.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: Not ranked

1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Picture: Israel (Ajami, Waltz with Bashir, Beaufort, Beyond the Walls, Operation Thunderbolt, The House on Chelouche Street, I Love You Rosa, The Policeman, Sallah)
Director: Joseph Cedar
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Shlomo Bar-Aba, Yuval Scharf, Alma Zack, Aliza Rosen.

This is Israel's fourth nomination in the last five years! Either the Israeli artistic group who chooses these films is really excellent or the Israeli film industry is really good at making films that appeal to the old USAmericans who vote for these things. Or both. Joseph Cedar has already been nominated in this category, as well, for 2008's Beaufort about the defense of a Fortress on the Lebanese border. The other two recent nominees, Ajami and Waltz with Bashir have also been very good. I am not expecting Footnote to take home the Oscar on Sunday, but I am, of course, happy that the Academy has maintained a sustained interest in the Middle East and its politics.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: Not ranked

Monsieur Lazhar
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Picture: Canada (Incendies, Water, The Barbarian Invasions, Jesus in Montreal, The Decline of the American Empire)
Cast: Mohammed Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx, Brigitte Poupart.

This is Canada's second nomination in two years. And one of the great things about Canadian cinema, it seems to me, is that – since the Academy changed its rules on exactly which language constitutes a "foreign" languageCanada has been submitting films about its immigrant populations and by its immigrant filmmakers. (Prior to this shift, all of the nominated films in this category had been directed by the great Denys Arcand.) Last year's Incendies (of which I was not particularly fond) is about Lebanese immigrants, and Indian-born Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta's wonderful Water doesn't even take place in Canada. Monsieur Lazhar is about an Algerian immigrant. I love this shift, and I look forward to this film. I should also note that both Monsieur Lazhar and Incendies were based on plays (by Évelyne de la Chenelière and Wajdi Mouwad, respectively).
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My RatingNot ranked

23 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 8 of 10

1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Abigail Breslin, Bill Nighy, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, Stephen Root, Harry Dean Stanton.

Wow. This was incredibly stupid. It's clichéd in every way possible. The animation is not particularly interesting. And the plot is derivative of cinema classics like Chinatown and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which is fine as far as it goes, but in service of what? The film's protagonists are all the ugliest desert creatures you've ever seen, and its villains (the only attractive animals in the desert, apparently) are one-dimensional and – what's more – completely obvious from the very beginning. As always, I hate when a movie makes me so much smarter than its main characters, and this Rango lizard might be the dumbest reptile ever to make it to the big screen. I hated this movie. Oh yeah, and it's going to win.
Will Win: Animated Feature
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #65 out of 66

Puss in Boots
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Chris Miller
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Zach Galifianakis, Salma Hayek, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Constance Marie, Guillermo Del Toro.

I thought this was fun. It has its problems, of course, but I had a good time. For me, all the movies in the Shrek franchise (this is number five) have a problem with synching their character animation. In this movie, for example, Puss is animated beautifully, but the way that Humpty is animated just doesn't match Puss's gorgeous puss. This always happened in the other Shrek movies, too: some of the characters are lovely, and the others just don't match. But Puss in Boots is charming. Banderas plays the character to the absolute hilt. It's very funny, and also filled with little jokes en español. (Puss constantly goes into bars and orders leche: never milk.) I was a fan.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #44 out of 66

Chico & Rita
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: Eman Xor Oña, Limara Meneses, Mario Guerra.

This is lovely. It's a beautiful, realistic love story, that also isn't shy about sex and the importance we all place on it. But the real winner here is the music. The music in Chico & Rita is so beautiful. So beautiful. I wasn't the biggest fan of the animation in this movie, but the music more than makes up for it. Chico & Rita is filled with gorgeous numbers, musical history, and meaningful tunes. This  is a great time. This is easily my favorite of the nominees in this category.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #28 out of 66

Kung Fu Panda 2
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogan, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Dustin Hoffman, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Victor Garber, Jean-Claude Van Damme.

This is pretty awful. Some of the animation is really beautiful, but there is no real reason for the different animation styles in the film to work in the way that they do – the movie arbitrarily switches back and forth. And the plot. Ugh. The plot is so stupid and clichéd that its only real function is to have some bones on which to hang the beautiful animation. The movie also manages to be boring, even though there are lots of fight sequences. I liked the first Kung Fu Panda, but this mess? I honestly fell asleep.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating#61 out of 66

Une Vie de Chat (A Cat in Paris)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: Dominique Blanc, Bruno Salomone, Jean Benguigui, Bernadette Lafont, Oriane Zani, Bernard Bouillon.

Another one I haven't seen. I wish I could've found a way to watch this online, as it looks rather fabulous, but alas. I will have to wait until a DVD release. One thing that we can all probably safely say (without having seen it) is that it is better than Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rango.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: Not ranked

22 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 7 of 10

Jane Eyre
1 Nomination
  • Costume Design: Michael O'Connor (The Duchess)
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Judi Dench, Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins, Su Elliot.

I can't remember this movie very well, to be honest. But I remember really liking it. The costumes are lovely, and I liked the horror-film style that Fukunaga brought to this Gothic novel. He, of course, does this at the expense of the novel's other elements, particularly its delightful comic moments. Still, it's an approach. With all of the flat approaches to older texts this year (I am thinking in particularly of Clooney's and Cronenberg's), at least Fukunaga's has a point of view. As for the costumes, they are interesting enough for the Academy's costume branch, but not enough for the full voting body. I don't think Mr. O'Connor can win; he's already won one anyway, so I won't feel too bad for him.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #23 out of 66

1 Nomination
  • Costume Design: Arianne Phillips (Walk the Line)
Director: Madonna
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, James D'Arcy, Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaac, Richard Coyle.

Here's another one I haven't seen. I have a lot of shame about this, but Madonna's movie just doesn't see fit to come to Tallahassee any time soon, and I have no choice. The costumes, however, look amazing, and though apparently no one likes W.E. as a film, I can't wait to see it. Truth be told, if I were voting, Phillips would get my vote first: there is, frankly, no reason for Sandy Powell to get another Oscar (especially when she is less than gracious about it) and Phillips's costumes are imaginative and lovely. Nevertheless, I expect Ms. Phillips will not go home with the Oscar on Sunday.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: Not ranked

1 Nomination
  • Costume Design: Lisy Christl
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Xavier Samuel, Sam Reed, Joely Richardson, Sebastian Armesto, Edward Hogg, David Thewlis, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, Jamie Campbell Bower.

This movie is terrible, and I actually don't understand why the costumes got singled out for honor except that I am sure they took quite a long time to build them all. They are not particularly interesting (they are clearly the poor man's version of Elizabeth or Shakespeare in Love), and they surely don't ask us to re-magine things we don't know about those styles. There are a few gems, but mostly I was bored. However, for a hilarious (at least we thought it was hilarious) live-blog of Anonymous, visit here.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #60 out of 66

1 Nomination
  • Sound Editing
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Cary Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks.
The year's most ignored film. Now, if you recall, I wasn't as nutso over this film as everyone else, but Drive is very good, and Gosling is (as should be apparent to everyone at this point) a star. The thing is, this film is filled with excellent performances, terrifying moments, great chase sequences, and interestingly staged violence. And for this reason... I think it's going to win in the one category in which it's nominated. My theory behind this is, that as the Academy members go over their ballots, they will get to Sound Editing, see Drive at the top, and decide that they loved the film and wished they could've voted for it in other places. This happened with Black Hawk Down back in '02. I'm crossing my fingers.
Will Win: Sound Editing
Could Win: N/A
My Rating#25 out of 66

20 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 6 of 10

Margin Call
1 Nomination
  • Original Screenplay: J.C. Chandor
Director: Chandor
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci, Penn Badgley.

I really liked this movie! It's also about a bunch of genuinely terrible human beings. A fascinating paradox: in a movie where I genuinely thought nearly all of the people depicted in the film were despicable, I liked a lot of them. Margin Call is a movie about the financial crisis and one (out of many) of the situations that brought about this crisis. And yet... this movie is gripping and interesting; the characters are fascinating, and though the plot is completely predictableMargin Call (unlike a movie like Fair Gamebreathes new life into its historical subject and makes for riveting cinema. The screenplay, by director Chandor, is an absolute marvel. A fully deserved nomination.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #22 out of 66

1 Nomination
  • Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
Director: Mike Mills
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent, Plummer, Goran Visnjic, Mary Page Keller, Lou Taylor Pucci.

This movie was not my favorite. I've written about the movie here, so I won't go into that now; I'd rather just talk about Christopher Plummer. Plummer is, as you might recall, amazing in 1965's classic The Sound of Music, and if you've ever seen this musical onstage, it is obvious how absolutely essential Plummer's performance is to that film. He is astounding in that movie. Plummer has, however, only been nominated for the Oscar one other time (very recently for the underwhelming The Last Station). This is after being very notably passed over in 1999 and again in 2001. All that to say: Plummer's win is long overdue, and his performance is excellent, so everyone is delighted to be able to honor him this year.
Will Win: Supporting Actor
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #42 out of 66

1 Nomination
  • Supporting Actor: Nick Nolte (Affliction, The Prince of Tides)
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Cast: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn.

I really liked this movie, too! Some of these choices this year are excellent. To begin with Nolte, he is absolutely superb in this movie. He is broken and sad and penitent and ugly. It is a performance awash in self-pity, and I found it brave and completely endearing. I think this is one of my favorite performances of the year. He is so good! O'Connor's direction of this movie is ludicrous, and the script is filled with clichés, but none of that really seemed to matter as I watched this film. The fighting is exciting, Tom Hardy and his acting partners are all excellent, and the sentiments behind the brother-brother and father-son relationships all kept me deeply affected.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #24 out of 66

The Adventures of Tintin
1 Nomination
  • Original Score: John Williams (War Horse, Munich, Memoirs of a Geisha, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Catch Me If You Can, Artificial Intelligence: A.I., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Patriot, Angela's Ashes, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Sleepers, Nixon, Sabrina, Schindler's List, JFK, Home Alone, Born on the Fourth of July, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Accidental Tourist, Empire of the Sun, The Witches of Eastwick, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The River, Return of the Jedi, E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, The Towering Inferno, Tom Sawyer, Cinderella Liberty, Images, The Poseidon Adventure, Fiddler on the Roof, The Reivers, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Valley of the Dolls)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig.

So. Much. Fun. I've talked about this film already here, and at the time I mentioned how delightful Williams's score is, so I don't need to go into that, but what I will go into is how this movie got totally snubbed by the animation branch. I don't care what criteria they are using or what the animation branch has against motion capture, but they cannot seriously believe that any single movie that was nominated for the so-called Best Animated Feature award is better than The Adventures of Tintin, Because that is a joke. Tintin is impeccably directed. The editing, the sound effects, the score, the screenplay, and the cinematography are all superb, and the only reason Tintin isn't nominated for Best Animated Feature is because of politics. And I know, I know, that the Oscars are about politics a lot of the time. I understand that, but Tintin's exclusion is simply indefensible. One nomination is simply not enough for this fantastic film. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating#18 out of 66

19 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 5 of 10

A Separation
2 Nominations
  • Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi
  • Foreign Language Picture: Iran (Children of Heaven)
Director: Farhadi
Cast: Peyman Maadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini.

I haven't seen A Separation yet. I am hoping that I will actually get to see it before the Academy Awards next Sunday, since it will allegedly be released in Tallahassee next Friday. I'm crossing my fingers, because everyone says this picture is simply excellent. This is Iran's second nomination in the Foreign Language Picture category, and the first time any film in Farsi has been nominated for the Screenplay category. It's a very big deal. I am excited.
Will Win: Foreign Language Picture
Could Win: Screenplay
My Rating: Not ranked

The Iron Lady
2 Nominations
  • Actress: Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia, Doubt, The Devil Wears Prada, Adaptation., Music of the Heart, One True Thing, The Bridges of Madison County, Postcards from the Edge, A Cry in the Dark, Ironweed, Out of Africa, Silkwood, Sophie's Choice, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Deer Hunter)
  • Makeup
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Streep, Jim Broadbent, Susan Brown, Iain Glen, Alexandra Roach, Olivia Colman, Harry Lloyd, Roger Allam, Michael Pennington, Julian Wadham.

This movie is a mess, really, but Meryl Streep and her makeup artist are both absolutely incredible. The film takes the point of view that Mrs. Thatcher was noble and courageous and principled, her policies laudable and right. This is fine as far as it goes – I disagree, but a film is certainly free to take such an approach. The trouble is, the film is never quite clear about Mrs. Thatcher or these all-important principles. Instead, The Iron Lady would have us believe that Thatcher got every idea she ever had from her father, succeeded mostly through stubbornness, nitpicked about commas and agenda items, never managed a coalition as a politician, and was generally ignorant about the workings of the government she ran. A film is obviously free to take this approach, as well, but if one isn't criticizing her and at the same time isn't really explaining her, what is it doing? But... is The Iron Lady worth seeing for Meryl Streep's work? Yes. She is extraordinary. Absolutely phenomenal.
Will Win: Actress
Could Win: Makeup
My Rating: #46 out of 65

A Better Life
1 Nomination
  • Actor: Demián Bichir
Director: Chris Weitz
Cast: Bichir, José Julián, Dolores Heredia, Bobby Soto, Chelsea Rendon, Joaquín Cosio, Carlos Linares.

I really liked this film. It's about a man trying to make a life for his son in Los Angeles. He is an undocumented worker from Mexico, and though his son is a U.S. Citizen, though he works six days a week, and though he has lived in the U.S. for fifteen years, he lives in constant fear that he will be deported. The film details his struggle beautifully. The film is deeply moving without being too sentimental, and it's also a movie that is really smart about race, placing every decision the characters make into its economic context. I love movies about Los Angeles, in general, as well, and this film photographs the city beautifully and accurately. Bichir's nomination wasn't a particular surprise, but I should note that he was nominated over Michael Shannon, Ryan Gosling, and Michael Fassbender.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #13 out of 65

The Ides of March
1 Nomination
  • Adapted Screenplay: George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck.), Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck.), Beau Willimon
Director: Clooney
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Max Minghella, Jennifer Ehle.

Zzzz. I have already talked about this movie here, so I will not bore you further with why I think this film is boring. What's crazy to me is that the really great thing about The Ides of March is Ryan Gosling's wonderful performance. What is really bad about the film is the screenplay, and yet... here it is nominated for Adapted Screenplay, beating out several other contenders, including the excellent The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Adventures of Tintin as well as fan favorites The Help, War Horse, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Oh well. I never thought Beau Willimon's play Farragut North was any good, and though the film is better, it's still not very good. The poster's cool, though, isn't it?
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #47 out of 65

16 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 4 of 10

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3 Nominations
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing
  • Visual Effects
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey, Julie White, Kevin Dunn, John Malkovich, Tyrese Gibson.

This movie was so absolutely terrible that I actually started to enjoy it. Now, I understand that people say this rather frequently ("But it's so bad it's good, Aaron; you're sure to enjoy it!") but I almost never feel that way with movies. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is different. It's an absolute train-wreck; it's incredibly confusing; and it's so absolutely permeated by stupidity that it is actually fun. I keep coming back to this, but at one point in the movie – as my friend Allan pointed out to me – a building falls in slow motion for about 10 minutes while all the action inside the building takes place in real time. This is after an extended sequence where soldiers actually fly into Chicago. How they manage to fly is not explained; who these soldiers are is not explained; why they are flying into Chicago is also not explained. Once I gave over to this blatant gratuitousness, Transformers: Dark of the Moon totally became worth watching. As for Oscar, they keep nominating these Transformers movies, but they never manage to win. Don't hold your breath.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #52 out of 65

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
2 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Supporting Actor: Max Von Sydow (Pelle the Conqueror)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Cast: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright, Zoe Caldwell.

This film... I don't know. I read the book and really liked it, and, well, the book is really bookish. So making this into a movie didn't really work for me. I thought the film didn't really completely understand the book, and the film is sentimental in ways that the book is not. The book is also fundamentally about the 1945 bombing of Dresden, and historicizes (as we say in the Academy) the bombing of the World Trade Center by placing it in the context of other enormous global bombing incidents: Dresden and Hiroshima. Still, it's a nice film and is inoffensive as far as it goes. It is also great that Von Sydow got a long overdue second Oscar nomination for his work here (he was notably passed over in 1999 and then again in 2007.)
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Supporting Actor
My Rating: #38 out of 65

My Week with Marilyn
2 Nominations
  • Actress: Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain)
  • Supporting Actor: Kenneth Branagh (Henry V)
Director: Simon Curtis
Cast: Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Branagh, Emma Watson, Judi Dench, Julia Ormond, Dominic Cooper, Zoë Wanamaker, Simon Russell Beale, Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones.

This has an odd tone to it. The performances are rather lovely, though. I was particularly fond of Branagh, who does a very nice impression of Olivier that is also imbued with a great deal of feeling. All in all, though, I am not really sure that I understood this movie. Are we supposed to come away from it really believing in Marilyn's genius or pain or innocence or allure? It certainly doesn't make anything about Marilyn's life any clearer, and the whole thing has the feel of a kind of young man's wet dream fantasy about Marilyn Monroe falling in love with him.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #39 out of 65

2 Nominations
  • Original Screenplay: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
  • Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, McCarthy, Jill Clayburgh, Chris O'Dowd, Wendi McLendon-Covey.

I thought this was really funny. And lest you tell me that it was mostly improvisation and doesn't quite deserve an original screenplay nod, I would direct your attention to Mike Leigh's five nominations in this category (every one of them deserved). Frankly, I think the nomination that is undeserved here is McCarthy's, but people do seem to like her work. She's a popular favorite, so I won't grouse about it. In a lot of ways, I think this film's popularity with the Academy just goes to show that the Academy is not completely out of touch with the popularity of films, though some would have us believe that they only go in for "artsy" stuff ("artsy" as far as I can tell simply means "bad"). Two nominations is nothing to sneeze at! – more, certainly, than J. Edgar or Young Adult or The Ides of March or A Dangerous Method or other obvious Oscar-bait films managed to get.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #31 out of 65

14 February 2012

It Pairs Well with Everything

Matt: are you going to this show on Friday night?
Aaron: Yes.
Matt: Okay. I was debating, but obvi your presence has made my decision.
Aaron: Haha. You know it's gonna be a mess.
Matt: Oh I do, I do. I haven't heard one good word about it. Gin and harsh criticism to follow.
Aaron: Bahahaha.
Matt: That might be the title of my first book.

11 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 3 of 10

The Tree of Life
3 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Director: Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line)
  • Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, The New World, Sleepy Hollow, A Little Princess)
Director: Malick
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan, Fiona Shaw.

This is my favorite movie of the year – and I suppose it was bound to be. When Malick makes a movie it is my favorite movie of the year. That's just how it goes. The master has, of course, never won an Oscar; he will not be winning his first one this year; and I don't imagine him, quite frankly, ever winning an Oscar. And he doesn't need to. He's going to keep making a great movie every five years or so with or without awards, right? I also just want to say that I was over the moon that this made it to be one of the nine Best Picture nominees. I know a lot of people (shout out to Michael, Dayne, and Jordan) for whom this is their absolute favorite picture of the year, but I wasn't really imagining it as one of the nominees. I am delighted. As for Lubezki, his work on the last two films for which he was nominated, The New World and Children of Men was just extraordinary. He's never won, and I just don't think he can be ignored this year. (Incidentally, The New World was my favorite movie of 2005 and Children of Men was my favorite movie of 2006. Coincidence?)
Will Win: Cinematography
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #1 out of 65

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
3 Nominations
  • Actor: Gary Oldman
  • Adapted Screenplay: Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan
  • Original Score: Alberto Iglesias (The Kite Runner, The Constant Gardener)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: John Hurt, Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, David Dencik, Ciarán Hinds, Kathy Burke, Simon McBurney, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes.

I loved this movie too! People have found its plot confusing and its acting underwhelming. I had the precise opposite reaction. The number of talented actors in this film is staggering, the plot is completely engaging and unexpected, and the story is a deeply moving one about betrayal, sacrifice, honesty, and loyalty – as well as violence, intrigue, and espionage. Gary Oldman is great, and so is his supporting cast. The score to this film is absolutely gorgeous, and I have been listening to it on a loop for at least a week now. It will not be winning on Oscar night, but it is lovely nonetheless.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #12 out of 65

Albert Nobbs
3 Nominations
  • Actress: Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction, The Natural, The Big Chill, The World According to Garp)
  • Supporting Actress: Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds)
  • Makeup
Director: Rodrigo García
Cast: Close, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, McTeer, Brendan Gleeson, Pauline Collins, Phyllida Law, Jonathan Rhys Myers.

This is a very sweet, very small movie that had a couple of excellent sequences and that I liked quite a bit. It is based on a play by Simone Benmussa, and Glenn Close is superb in it. Janet McTeer earns a well-deserved second Oscar nomination: she is fantastic in this. The film itself is a big departure from García's usual work, and I'm not sure if I understand it, but I can see why he was drawn to the material, even if it's not his usual thing.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #25 out of 65

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
3 Nominations
  • Art Direction: Stuart Craig (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The English Patient, Chaplin, Dangerous Liaisons, The Mission, Gandhi, The Elephant Man), Stephenie McMillan (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The English Patient)
  • Visual Effects
  • Makeup
Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Evanna Lynch, Matthew Lewis, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, David Thewlis.

No film from the Harry Potter franchise has ever won an Oscar. It's also never been nominated for makeup. So... I think this is the year. The makeup really is extraordinary – that Voldemort face. Seriously. But in this one there is also the makeup job on Ciarán Hinds as Dumbledore's brother and that dead-body-slash-chandelier in the first Voldemort scene. It makes me shudder just to think about it. As for being impartial about this franchise, I don't think I can be. It's easy to say I didn't like The Order of the Phoenix (I didn't) but I love, love, love Harry and Ron and Hermione, and when I recently re-watched The Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2 I was reminded just how good these movies were. Objectivity? Forget about it.
Will Win: Makeup
Could Win: Visual effects
My Rating: #21 out of 65

09 February 2012


So tonight my friend Julie and I watched Anonymous together. She's in New York and I'm in Florida, but we synchronized our watches so that we could text-message each other through the movie and make the whole thing more bearable. And, I have to say, it worked.

I'm not sure how much of this - if any of it - is funny, but we had a good time. A kind of double live-blog of Roland Emmerich's latest film:

Aaron: The ultimate expressions of humanity in the English language?
Julie: Our shakespeare. Our.
Aaron: This opening is stolen from Branagh's Henry V.
Julie: This art direction is stolen from Man in the Iron Mask circa 1998.
Aaron: Hahahahaha.
Julie: Well, naturally. Shakespeare stole everything, so that is fitting.
Julie: If I was in the audience, I'd be asking for my money back.
Aaron: Miss Jacobi is acting!
Julie: With a capital A.

Aaron: I suppose this is how The Globe burned down...
Aaron: Yep.
Julie: Ahahahahahahahaha.

Julie: We're only 7 minutes in and it already doesn't make sense.
Aaron: And it's jumped times twice.
Julie: I'm not sure if the drinking will help or hinder us.
Aaron: Hinder. Definitely.
Julie: Oh well. Absolutely necessary.

Julie: Is his hair crimped?
Aaron: Haha. I hope so.
Aaron: I love this guy's hair.
Julie: He could be in an 80s hair-band.

Aaron: Everything is brown in this film.
Julie: "Earth tones," A-ron. Earth tones.
Aaron: Sepia, methinks.
Aaron: Oh thank Jesus, some color.
Julie: Haha.

Aaron: Vanessa!!!! Love her.
Julie: Is she a butterfly?
Aaron: A walking Christmas Tree, I believe one historian called her.
Julie: Did men wear blue eyeshadow back in the day?
Aaron: And today.
Julie: True.
Julie: More time changes!
Aaron: What the hell?
Julie: When are we??
Aaron: The 1570s???
Julie: Is this baby Willy?
Aaron: Baby Edward De Vere, naturally.
Julie: Shit. I'm already drunk.
Aaron: Back to 1602?
Aaron: Actually I can't tell when this is supposed to be.
Julie: I have no idea either

Aaron: Cobblers are artists. How dare they! Ask Jimmy Choo.
Julie: HAHAHA!

Aaron: But why does he look so bored?
Julie: Rhys? Because he IS boring?
Aaron: These outdoor shots are terribly fake-looking.
Julie: Yeah, it's pretty terrible
Aaron: I need more rum. What is this scene of villainy in one-dimension.
Aaron: Time shift. Yet again!
Julie: No beauty! No art! Tyrant!
Aaron: Hahaha.
Aaron: This ugly little twerp! The film hates him.

Aaron: This Shakespeare actor is hot.
Aaron: I'm into it.
Julie: That's the rum talking

Aaron: This makeup is good! I think that's David Thewlis under all that old age.
Julie: Again, the rum.
Aaron: Hahaha.
Julie: Do I know him?
Julie: (You're right. IMDb)
Aaron: Lupin.

Aaron: "My poems are my soul"?
Aaron: Such clichés.
Julie: I've stopped listening. Just looking at the pretty boys. Time for more beer.
Aaron: Mozart's Requiem during the wedding?
Aaron: Stolen from Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth. This movie is all copies of other things.
Julie: Did you expect something else?
Aaron: I expected it to be a little more subtle. But I am a fool. It's Roland Emmerich.
Julie: I mean, the screenwriter wrote Legend of the Guardians. That owl movie.
Aaron: Hahaha.

Aaron: The Shakespearean acting is so bad!
Julie: I like the white sparkly outfit though.
Aaron: Ooo me too. Good call.
Aaron: More fake exterior shots!
Julie: His hair is scaring me.
Aaron: I'm having a feeling. Henry V is good!
Julie: Feelings! Those are not allowed here.
Aaron: i.e. rum.
Julie: HAHA

Aaron: Vidal Sassoon is back.
Julie: Hahahahahahahahahaha
Julie: That crimped hair! It kills me. Actually, it's like tiny spiral curls. I'm so intrigued.
Julie: Uh oh. Rhys is confused/angry?
Aaron: I love it.
Aaron: This is so fucking bad.
Julie: Ooooo angry.
Aaron: "Voice you have no voice."
Aaron: Ben Jonson? Seriously? He's a wonderful writer.

Julie: What is that top?
Aaron: Chanel.
Julie: Tim Burton?
Aaron: Yes. That's perfect. Burton.
Julie: "You're... Writing again!"
Aaron: You're listening again! Haha.
Aaron: "The voices I can't stop them!"
Julie: The voices! They're speaking to him!

Julie: Don't you wish Spielberg's goose would come out right about now? I need some comic relief.
Aaron: It was a duck.
Julie: Goose.

Aaron: Who's this chick?
Julie: Hahaha. I have no idea.
Aaron: Fake exterior shot #465
Julie: Haha. Glad you're keeping count for us.

Julie: Why are we arresting them again?
Aaron: They had sex, I think.

Aaron: Little boy is adorbs.
Julie: He has some nicely wind-swept hair.
Aaron: Indeed.
Aaron: This is way more confusing than Tinker Tailor.
Julie: Yes, but only because it's unintentional. This should not be a difficult story to follow. What was Roland smoking?
Aaron: These exteriors kill me.

Aaron: Who is Vidal Sassoon?
Julie: Hahahahahaha
Aaron: Is that his kid? Or is the other one his kid?
Aaron: Or both?
Julie: I don't know, but Rhys seems to know him
Aaron: They're both his sons, I think.
Julie: Words. Words.
Julie: Bastards? Who is he married to?
Aaron: The sister of the twerp who is now advising QEI.
Julie: OMG. So confused.

Julie: What. Is. She. wearing.
Julie: Have we been in the Rose yet? Or does Roland think the only theater in London was the Globe.

Julie: Ooo that art direction.
Aaron: Fucking fake exteriors.
Aaron: Where's John Fletcher?
Julie: Who?
Aaron: Who!?!?!
Julie: I was being ironic. Calm the fuck down, A-ron. Hahaha.
Aaron: Haha.

Aaron: Love Will's costume!
Aaron: Well QEI's costume is insanely weird.
Julie: Why are we rioting?
Julie: What the hell is going on?
Aaron: Words, Julie. Words.
Julie: Ha.
Aaron: This is such nonsense.
Julie: OMG these deaths are amazing. Play the melodrama, girl!

Julie: That head piece!
Aaron: I liked it.
Julie: Of course you did.
Aaron: I love a headpiece.
Aaron: She's like a 17th century Cher.
Julie: LOL
Julie: Is this exposition?
Aaron: No: act three monologues.
Julie: Emote!
Aaron: Why is he crying?
Aaron: The hunchback, I mean.
Julie: That was his moment! Let him have it!

Julie: Snow!
Julie: Nice fur.
Aaron: The first pretty exterior in the film.
Aaron: And then we're back to fake ones. That lake!
Julie: Truth.
Aaron: Thank god that wife of his explained this plot sequence because I was confused.

Julie: Those are some intense sleeves.
Aaron: They're like a duvet!

Julie: How is that old man still alive?
Aaron: Yeah. Hello continuity.
Aaron: He died!

Julie: Oh dear. That was dramatic.
Aaron: That was good. I liked that bit of writing.
Julie: That is the rum.
Aaron: Is Derek Jacobi gonna come back, too?
Julie: I hope so. Him and Mark Rylance. They'll do an epilogue.
Aaron: Tenors are singing. Should I be having a feeling?
Julie: Of disgust?
Aaron: They made King James I into a big old queen. (At least that's historically accurate)
Julie: Obvi Roland likes his queens.
Julie: Is that Mark?
Aaron: Yes!
Julie: In the white costume we like.
Julie: Yay!
Aaron: Yay!

08 February 2012

2012's Nominees: Part 2 of 10

The Descendants
5 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Director: Alexander Payne (Sideways)
  • Actor: George Clooney (Syriana, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air)
  • Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways), Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
  • Editing 
Director: Payne
Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Nick Krause, Amara Miller, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard.

This is great. I am not used to really liking Alexander Payne movies, but this one was moving and sensitive and generous, and the performances are truly excellent. This already won the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama) which means that a lot of people like it even though it got only five nominations and Woodley got snubbed in the Supporting Actress category (a bit of a surprise). The screenplay may still win. If Clooney wins it will be his second acting Oscar. And he is great in this, so who could begrudge him?
Will Win: Adapted Screenplay
Could Win: Actor
My Rating: #16 out of 64

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5 Nominations
  • Actress: Rooney Mara
  • Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network)
  • Editing
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Daniel Craig, Mara, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Goran Visnjic, Joely Richardson.

Okay, so this wasn't my favorite movie in the world when it came out – I spent a lot of time comparing it to last year's Swedish version – but it is easily one of the best made film's of the year and this movie seriously got robbed of some nominations and I'll say it. Most importantly, I think it really deserved a nomination for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's incredible score, and while I didn't think the screenplay was anything to write home about, the art direction certainly was. Dragon Tattoo definitely deserves its cinematography nod here, and I am betting on it to take home one trophy.
Will Win: Sound Mixing
Could Win: Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing
My Rating: #33 out of 64

Midnight in Paris
4 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Director: Woody Allen (Bullets over Broadway, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadway Danny Rose, Interiors, Annie Hall)
  • Original Screenplay: Woody Allen (Match Point, Deconstructing Harry, Mighty Aphrodite, Bullets over Broadway, Husbands and Wives, Alice, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Radio Days, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Manhattan, Interiors, Annie Hall)
  • Art Direction: Hélène Dubreuil, Anne Seibel
Director: Allen
Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Carla Bruni, Kathy Bates, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, Adrien Brody, Corey Stoll, Michael Sheen, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy.

This is why I can't be mad at the Academy for things. My favorites still get nominated for things. Four of the films in my top ten are nominated for Best Picture. It's hard for me to get angry about things like that. This movie deserves every accolade its getting. It's very funny, and smart, and boasts some superb performances. If you look at Allen's name up under Screenplay right there, you'll see that this is his fourteenth nomination for writing a movie. He is the man with the most writing nominations ever. He's won twice. I don't expect him to win this year, but the man is brilliant, and – evidently – he's back.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Screenplay
My Rating: #9 out of 64

The Help
4 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Actress: Viola Davis (Doubt)
  • Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
  • Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain
Director: Tate Taylor
Cast: Emma Stone, Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Spencer, Chastain, Chris Lowell, Allison Janney, Cicely Tyson, Sissy Spacek, Ahna O'Reilly, Mike Vogel.

Viola Davis is great in this – she's also great in everything: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Solaris, Far from Heaven, Antwone Fisher. Even bad movies: Doubt, It's Kind of a Funny Story, you get the idea. I saw her once in a production of Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel and, well, I just love her. I will be completely delighted if she wins Best Actress. She's wonderful and she deserves an Oscar. Octavia Spencer has been doing excellent supporting work for years, as well, so I am delighted to see her get her due. And... I am not going to say another word about The Help.
Will Win: Supporting Actress
Could Win: Actress (this is really close, I think, but I am predicting Meryl to win)
My Rating: #55 out of 64