Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscars: Best Picture

by richmin3000

here is my final ranking and prediction in the category of best picture.

in a down year for film, the oscars did not need to nominate 9 pictures in this category. they are allowed to nominate between 5 and 10 films but i think 6 would have been appropriate. 2011 was a year that split most critics and fans alike. there were a lot of solid to really good independent films but most of them did not garner universal acclaim. instead this year's oscars will feature a lot of films that most people did not outright dislike instead of films people will remember for years to come.

the only exception to that is a film that although it was widely loved by critics, was difficult for most fans to enjoy. that is, of course, 'the tree of life' which was rated by metacritic as the top movie of 2011. metacritic aggregates many critics top ten lists and assigns point values for where the films fall on the list. tree of life received 113 points. the 37-point difference between the tree of life and 2nd place 'the artist' with 76 points is the difference between 2nd place and 10th place 'moneyball' (40 points).

in metacritic's top 30 films of 2011, here's where our oscar contenders placed. tree of life (1). the artist (2). the descendants (5). hugo (6). moneyball (10). midnight in paris (25). war horse (28). the obvious two ommissions are extremely loud & incredibly close and the help. and that takes me to my oscars rankings....

9. extremely loud & incredibly close (rating: C)
the story, the directing and the acting were all subpar, but besides that it was very heartwarming. max von sidow was the highlight of the film.

8. the help (rating: B-)
a very solid heartfelt offering. oscar bait. great acting by viola davis, octavia spencer and jessica chastain (all nominated), but the plot was a bit soft for such an important subject matter. and emma stone's protagonist story arc was quite boring.

7. moneyball (rating: B-)
i wish i could have seen this film the way god intended.. being directed by steven soderbergh. the rumor was he had intended to make it a drama/documentary with many of the real life characters playing themselves. that would have been a much more interesting movie. instead, we got a watered down, aaron sorkin rewrite.

granted, it's one of my favorite books ever and has shaped how i view baseball and life so my expectations were high. but the movie was overly simplistic. it ignored important aspects of the book and highlighted marginal aspects of the book for narrative effect. the baseball parts of the movie were terrible. i liked that billy beane was able to find success and happiness in the process rather than the results (he better because they never won a championship) and since i am a sabermetric believer, the process is the success story here.

my favorite scene is the one where john henry (owner of the red sox playing himself) offers billy beane the gm job. here is what john henry has to say:
For forty one million, you built a playoff team. You lost Damon, Giambi, Isringhausen, Pena and you won more games without them than you did with them. You won the exact same number of games that the Yankee's won, but the Yankee's spent one point four million per win and you paid two hundred and sixty thousand. I know you've taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It's the threat and not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it's threatening the game. But really what it's threatening is their livelihoods, it's threatening their jobs, it's threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it's the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They will bet you're crazy. I mean, anybody who's not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they're dinosaurs. They'll be sittin' on their ass on the sofa in October, watch the Boston Red Sox win the world series.

the red sox would go on to win the world series.

6. war horse (rating: B)
steven spielberg is the master at making great entertainment. none of his films have made much of an impact on my life or thought process. war horse is more of the same from a stale director. though technically great and filled with a lot of entertaining and emotional scenes, war horse lasting impact was gone as soon as i exited the theater.

5. hugo (rating: B+)
see my previous review of the film, here.

you can read my comments of the top four films on my top ten movies of 2011 list, here.

4. the artist (rating: B+/A-)

3. midnight in paris (rating: A-)

2. the descendants (rating: A-)

1. tree of life (rating: A)

Prediction: The Artist wins best picture because it's unhateable. the way the oscar voting works now (a single transferable voting system) it's better not to be hated (the artist) than to be polarizing (tree of life).

My Pick: Tree of Life. there is no other film on this list with this level of ambition. some people are turned off by the disjointed narrative and religious overtones, but this is true artistry in the medium of film, a singular vision and the culmination of terrence malick's incredible career.

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