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.
It seems our collective cultural memory is ever more truncated. Who of us can remember the Best Picture winners from recent years? Or if you watch the Oscars more for the fashions, who can remember what anyone wore? Memory can be as untrustworthy as it is beloved, as fragile and dangerous as it is indispensable. Perhaps because our frantically paced, fragmented contemporary world reinforces the tenuousness of recollection more than ever, many of this year’s films seemed to wrestle with that very theme.
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 2012 Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and as is typically the case, there are some hits and some misses. I'm pleased that the Academy recognized The Tree of Life (best picture, best director, best cinematography), but I'm also perplexed by some of its other choices (Demian Bichir best actor for A Better Life? No Michael Fassbender?). If I were to have a say in the nominations, they would have gone something like this.
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.
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.