If history is any indication, it's unlikely that Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony will end with the most deserving nominee going home with the "best picture" Oscar. This is common sense for anyone who cares about cinema and has been paying attention in recent years. How did The Artist beat out The Tree of Life in 2011? How did Argo beat out Zero Dark Thirty in 2012? How did Birdman beat out Boyhood in 2014? When will Hollywood stop its self-congratulatory streak of crowning showy movies simply because they are meta commentaries about show business? (A trend that looks like it will continue with La La Land.)
Like everyone else, I’ve been trying to make sense of the rise of Donald Trump as a likely Republican nominee for U.S. president. How could this happen? What kind of America looks at a man as “openly debased and debauched” as Trump and sees a man they would like to have in the most powerful office in the world? I think it has something to do with the Oscars and O.J. Simpson.
The Oscar nominations were released this morning, and as usual it was a mix of good, bad and ugly. Mostly it was a predictable list, following way too closely the media hype about certain Oscar bait movies. For me the biggest overall snubs were: No best actor nomination for Robert Redford (All is Lost); no best supporting actress nomination for Scarlett Johansson (Her); no best actress nomination for Julie Delply (Before Midnight); no big nominations for Inside Llewyn Davis.
There were only a handful of iconic film performances in 2012, but there were a good number of excellent performances, often in smaller roles. I thought it'd be fun to make a list of the best 75 performances from films that I saw in 2012.
The following are three films nominated for Oscars this year that have zero chance of winning. But I’d love to be proven wrong! They are amazing films and far better than many others they’re nominated alongside.
Until recent weeks, David Fincher's The Social Network won pretty much every major award of the season. It was named best picture by the National Board of Review, the Critics Choice Awards, the Golden Globes, and pretty much every major film critics circle. Then, all of a sudden, The King's Speech came on strong at the guild awards, winning top honors at the Producer's Guild, Director's Guild, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. The momentum shifted, and now Tom Hooper's royal costume drama seems poised for a rout of The Social Network at the Oscars.Which is really unfortunate.
A Prophet, directed by Jaques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped), is the French Godfather. It's a criminal saga of the scope, dark elegance, and timeless gravitas of Coppola's masterpieces, with a keen awareness of contemporary European socio-cultural tensions that makes it particularly timely and, perhaps, prophetic.
I'll make this brief, and entirely stream-of-consciousness. I watched the Oscars last night as I do every year, and in general I was pleased with how they turned out. Here are some random thoughts, a day after the official end to the movie awards season.
The following is a list of five films that came out in 2008 that the Oscars largely overlooked, but which collectively put a very evocative, human face on the struggles of the day. These films portray average people doing their best to survive. They are people without jobs, with kids to feed, facing hardship after hardship. In this way, they are films that represent the larger human struggle—to make a living and support oneself and one’s family by whatever means necessary. It’s an uphill battle; the foes are many. But the human will to survive is a strong one. These films present snapshots of what are likely very common stories in this ever-weakening economy—sometimes very bleak and sometimes curiously hopeful, but always compelling because we can so relate. They are beautiful films that I highly recommend.
One of the films nominated in the upcoming Academy Awards’ best foreign film category, The Class is also the first great film I’ve seen in 2009. It’s a film that compelled me from start to finish and left me feeling more curious and inquisitive about the world. Not every film does this for me.