I’ve now succeeded in my goal to see all nine of this year’s Oscar Best Picture nominees!
I’m happy to have been able to see so many good movies this past year. It was fun to make the effort to see all the nominees. The AMC Best Picture Showcase was a big help, allowing me to pick one day to see four of the movies (three of which I hadn’t yet seen), and concentrate on catching the rest.
I thought I’d share my thoughts (no spoilers) on the nominees. I actually think most of them were somewhere between pretty good and very good, and I’d be OK with most of them being chosen for Best Picture. Here are my choices, ranked from last to first.
9. The Tree of Life. (viewed Saturday) This may or may not be good Art (Capital A intended), but I don’t think it made a particularly good movie. There were some amazingly stunning visual sequences, and a few of these even made sense. There were a few emotionally effective scenes. I can see college students staying up late debating the meaning of this movie, in parts and as a whole. But overall, this is the movie (of the nominees) that I would be the least likely to pick for Best Picture. I really don’t think this one should win.
8. I have a tie: Does a not-quite-successful ambitious movie or a well executed, fairly lightweight one rate higher?
Warhorse: (viewed Saturday) It wasn’t a bad movie, but I don’t think it quite made Best Picture material. What it came down to for me was too much war for a feel good movie, to many unlikely events for a war movie. It was very ambitious in what it tried to do, and it didn’t quite succeed.
Midnight In Paris: (viewed in June) This is one of my favorite movies out of the nominees. That doesn’t mean I think it deserves to win. It was fun and fluffy, and I adored the literary references.
I’d actually be OK with any of the movies after this winning for Best Picture. Positions 6 through 2 are fairly close to tied, as far as my vote goes.
6. The Artist: (viewed Feb. 2) I doubt I would have gone to see this if it wasn’t for its Best Picture nomination. I enjoyed and appreciated it much more than expected. The story of a silent movie star left behind by changing technology was both interesting and relevant. The use of the silent movie model, with the occasional use of sound was very well done, pulling attention exactly where it was wanted. Emotionally, the dog was the key to the movie. The main characters were somewhat inaccessible, largely due to their silence, but the dog bridged this gap. All in all, it was an interesting viewing experience, which I very much enjoyed.
5. Hugo: (Viewed in late December) Before seeing Tree of Life, my thought was that this was by far the most visually stunning nominee. Now I’ll say that it is the best looking movie where the visuals actually make sense. Every aspect of this movie is brilliantly crafted, from the script to the performances to all the details of the set. This is one of my personal favorites out of the nominees.
4. The Descendants: (Viewed Saturday) My book club is reading the novel this is based on, and I’m eager to see how much it is like the movie (or rather, the movie is like it). This is one of the most character based of the nominees, dealing with a man whose family is in crisis. I found it to be emotionally engaging, and I enjoyed the gorgeous scenery along the way.
3. The Help: (Viewed twice in August) I loved the book (and recommend the audiobook) and I think this was an excellent job of adapting it for the screen. These actresses were wonderful as they told the story of a small piece of the struggle for civil rights.
2. Moneyball: (Viewed in September, last Saturday) I’m not a baseball fan, but I love math! This movie shows what can happen when you think outside the box.
1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: (Viewed in late January) This movie just blew me away. I went in knowing very little about it, and was astounded at how well I was able to see the world through the eyes of this very quirky young boy, staggering from the death of his father in the World Trade Center.
Again, any of my top 6 would be fine with me– they each have different strengths. Each is worth seeing, if you have the chance.
Which movie gets your vote?