It’s all part of the ritual. First we spend months predicting the nominations, then we complain about the nominations, then we predict the winners to the point where there are no surprises during the ceremony itself, so we then complain about the show. Yes, folks, Oscar season came to a close last night, with trophies going to The Artist, Hugo, Meryl, Octavia, and Plummer over the course of the 193-minute ceremony hosted by Alan Shemper Billy Crystal.
Were there great moments? Sure: the legitimately emotional acceptance speeches by Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer, the candid charm of Meryl Streep, the terrific byplay of Emma Stone and Ben Stiller, some good old-fashioned slapstick from Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, and a Chris Rock monologue that made us wonder why the hell he wasn’t hosting again. But overall, the night was indisputably awkward — possibly even more awkward than last year’s James Franco art-installation fiasco. After the jump, we’ll run down a few of the evening’s more uncomfortable moments.
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There’s a lot to like about this year’s Best Picture nominees — a surprise nod for Terrence Malick’s hugely ambitious, quasi-experimental The Tree of Life, some recognition for Woody Allen’s charming Midnight in Paris, and a frontrunner that we actually enjoyed (The Artist). But guess what? As per usual, there were many great movies made by women this year, and none of them are up for Best Picture or Best Director. Noticing the, um, oversight, the fantastic blog Women and Hollywood has created a video compilation of potentially nomination-worthy 2011 films with female directors — we personally co-sign The Future and Meek’s Cutoff, and plan to see many more on the list. Here’s hoping the Academy is watching.
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It’s rare to read a genuinely thoughtful and nuanced analysis of our collective love/hate relationship with the Academy Awards, since so much of what is written about the Oscars is basically carping and naysaying (guilty as charged). “Oscar cynicism has become its own special form of Oscar hype,” wrote A.O. Scott, in last Sunday’s New York Times, “and I wonder sometimes if the whole thing — the nominating process, the heavily publicized tweaks in the rules, the dreary broadcast and the endless drudgery of the ‘season’ — is exasperating on purpose. The louder we criticize, the more we must care.”
But, Scott continues, “I think that underneath all the empty pomp and hyperventilating coverage there is something worth caring about. Yes, the Academy often recognizes mediocrity and overlooks excellence. Yes, the documentary and foreign language film categories are hobbled by ridiculous rules that seem designed to exclude some of the best work… Yes, the show goes on too long, with too many bad jokes and not enough moments of genuine emotion or surprise. Yes, Hollywood is a swamp of vanity, myopia and bad taste. But it is also a community of hard-working and talented people who approach this annual ritual of self-congratulation with a sincere spirit of respect for the labor of others and reverence for the traditions that bring them together.”
Mr. Scott is right (about that, anyway — he then proceeds to defend Billy Crystal, which is unconscionable). There are plenty of complaints to be made about this year’s nominees (and we’ve certainly made them), but there is nonetheless something exciting about the whole Oscar thing, about the ranking and predicting, the flurry to see the films, and the ceremony itself (Crystal or no). So yes, the exclusions continue to rankle — there’s no bigger Drive fan than this one, you guys — and the inclusions are befuddling — not to continue to beat a dead horse, ha ha, but seriously with the Best Score nomination for War Horse? — these are the nominees we’ve got, and this is the show we’re gonna get, and we’re going to watch it, and enjoy it, and, yes, even live-blog it. Until then, we’ve put together both our picks for the best film in each of the major categories (“major categories” being chosen by the highly scientific method of “the ones we felt like writing about”), and our prediction for what actually will win. They’re all after the jump; check ‘em out, and add yours in the comments.
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It still tickles us that grand prankster Sacha Baron Cohen played a lawman of sorts in Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the golden age of filmmaking, Hugo. The film is based on Brian Selznick’s 2007 novel, which is set in the 1930s and follows an orphaned Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who lives… Read More
If you’re like us and doing the obligatory Oscar week movie-cramming in preparation for Hollywood’s big night, here’s something else to think about when considering your pick for Best Picture: the anthropological question of good taste. We took it upon ourselves to rank this year’s nominees according to their design aesthetic. Wikipedia defines aesthetics as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. So, what films have it? What films don’t? Does it matter?
Click through to see how the nine nominees measured up, and let us know in the comments if you agree with us, or if you’re now questioning our good taste.
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The Oscars are six days away, and you know what that means: only one more week to see every major nominee, in order to appropriately cheer, jeer, and second-guess on Sunday night. But time has flown in these early months of 2012 — we got distracted by the Super Bowl, and then we suddenly had to watch Knicks games, and now, here it is Oscar time. How on earth are you supposed to get through all of the major nominees? It’s easy to go into a tailspin — what do you see? What can wait? What should you avoid, now and forever?
Have no fear. Flavorwire is offering, as a public service, a priority ranking of the nominees for the major awards (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress), so you can sift through the 18 nominees and see what time will permit you to see. Let’s be clear: this list is only tangentially related to the actual quality of the films at hand (since, as we’ve discussed, the Oscars often don’t reflect that quaint notion). And it’s not a prediction list per se (that will come later in the week). But it is a guide to working your way through the stuff that’s probably going to matter come Sunday night. Sift through with us after the jump.
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The Academy Awards tend to elevate the films they honor — in light of their fresh nominations, The Help feels somehow less racially problematic and we all begin to wonder whether there could actually be something to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, beyond its unpleasant, quadruple-gimmick (Hanks! Bullock! Adorable child! 9/11!) sales pitch. Of course, most of this second-guessing is pointless; the Academy’s taste is far from infallible, to put it mildly. So, it’s nice to see that UK site The Shiznit has decided to take this year’s nominees down a peg, remixing their posters into brutally honest (and, OK, sometimes slightly unfair) characterizations of the movies’ content. A gallery of our favorites is after the jump, but be sure to visit The Shiznit to see the rest.
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PARK CITY, UT: Disillusionment with the Oscars is one of the rites of passage for cinephile; we can tell you all about the great movies and filmmakers they didn’t nominate, and the swill that they did, we’ll tell you how it’s all politicized, bought, and sold, seldom having more than a passing acquaintance with actual cinematic quality. And yet here is your humble film editor, up early at Sundance to peruse the nominees announced this morning, and I must confess: it’s not just out of professional obligation. The Oscar derby is phony and petty and silly, and it’s also exciting and fun — the NCAA Sweet 16 for movie nerds. So fill out your brackets now; the major nominees are after the jump, along with some reactions.
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1. The National Film Preservation Foundation and the New Zealand Film Archive have discovered the first 30 minutes of what is believed to be Alfred Hitchcock’s directorial debut, a 1923 British film called The White Shadow. If you live in LA, mark your calendars for September 22, when it will “re-premiere” at the Academy of… Read More