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

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