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

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