But what else would you expect from Gator? Before I begin my preview of the Academy Awards, I’d like to start with a few disclosures.
1. I can’t remember the last time I watched the Oscars. I may have tuned in once or twice in high school.
2. This year I’ve only seen three of the nine Best Picture nominees – The Descendants, The Help, and Moneyball. I’ve also seen two of the five movies for both Best Actor and Best Actress. All opinions on other films will be based off the one or two reviews I’ve read, the trailer (if I happened to watch it), and my idea of what the movie was probably like. It may not be scientific in any way, but then again, neither is the actual Oscar voting process.
It feels good to get these things off my chest. They were weighing on me like newly-fat-again Jonah Hill. See? I can still make current pop culture references.
Let’s start with the supporting actor/actress awards. Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids is the clear winner for the latter category. The Academy is delighted when pretty actresses make themselves ugly, so by the transitive property they should love an unattractive actress pooping in a sink even more.
As for supporting actor, the only thing I know is that the day Jonah Hill wins an Oscar will be the day Liam Neeson allows a pack of Eastern European wolves to successfully kidnap his daughter, hook her on drugs and sell her as a prostitute. It’s not happening. The Academy has a very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a very long career — skills that make it a nightmare for actors like Jonah Hill.
On to Best Actress. Viola Davis should win for The Help, even though the movie affirms the rock-solid truth that white people are the reason for the civil rights movement’s success. Meryl Streep could obviously put up a fight for playing that old cougar Margaret Thatcher. And Rooney Mara played Lisbeth Salander perfectly in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but a win for her would signal Hollywood’s mistaken assumption that quiet rage equals great acting. This is my problem with the movie adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestseller: despite their differences, Salander and Daniel Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist are, unsurprisingly, very Swedish characters. Swedes are very understated. If a reindeer breaks into their house and tears up their inexpensive yet functional futon, they don’t make a fuss. This cultural stolidity makes for fine literature but emotionally lacking cinema.
The Best Actor category, like many of the main categories, seems to be wide open. Clooney could win for acting handsome and sad, or Brad Pitt could win for acting handsome and cocky, (aka “Being Brad Pitt), or Jean Dujardin could win for acting handsome and silent and French. My vote goes to Clooney. The Descendants was a better movie than Moneyball, and I can’t in good conscience award anything to a Frenchman.
And that brings us to the Best Picture category. Let’s go through em one by one.
War Horse– As I watched the trailer for this movie, a few thoughts went through my mind: “Wow, this looks beautifully shot…England during World War I was downright gorgeous…wait, is the fucking HORSE the protagonist??” So yeah, that’s not winning. Although the horse looks like it put in a surprisingly nuanced performance, at least for an equine. If it was put in a separate acting category with Nic Cage and Keanu Reeves, we could be talking Oscar.
Hugo – According to Wikipedia, this was a big-budget family epic directed by Martin Scorsese. Scorsese already got his Oscar, and it’s based in France. Let’s move on.
The Tree of Life – I actually really wanted to see this, but never got around to it. But by all accounts it’s more confusing than one of Brooke’s knock knock jokes (see below), so its chances are slim.
The Artist -One of our contributors wrote a review of The Artist about a month ago, and based off that I am ruling it out. Any movie that kills a dog whimsically will not be winning an Oscar in this country. Also, see the above rule re: the French.
The Descendants – I liked this movie a lot. I don’t think it would be a Best Picture winner every year, but of the nominees this year it may have the strongest argument for winning. Clooney’s character’s daughter carries the film; she’s absolutely fantastic.
Midnight in Paris – Ugh. Woody Allen. I don’t outright hate the guy, but his shtick has gotten old. At least this doesn’t star him; it stars, I’m told, Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams. I like both of them. Hansel and Christopher Walken’s cute daughter make for a good couple. But should they be starring in a Best Picture winner, or just smoking peyote and rappelling off the side of Mount Vesuvius in their minds?
Moneyball -This was a good movie. It was well-written, well-acted, and absolutely nothing more. I left the theater and went about my day after I saw it, and I haven’t thought about it since.
The Help – One of the more interesting movies of the year. Like many people have noted, it definitely has a squirm-inducing “white people solve racism” angle to it. I liked it, but I recognize that sometimes movies, even very good ones, tend to gloss over ugly historical truths (this was my problem with Life is Beautiful). So while The Help contained some superb performances, the questions surrounding its portrayal of racial interaction would preclude it from winning a Best Picture Oscar.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -I didn’t see this movie and I hate it. Like HATE it. It looks so trite, so cliched, so melodramatic, so awful. Casting Tom Hanks as dying in the Twin Towers is obvious emotional manipulation; casting Sandra Bullock as his widow is obvious emotional manipulation. Hanks’s son’s character, a quirky, intelligent, highly imaginative boy, is obviously emotionally manipulative. I hate this movie, and I never want to see it.
Verdict: As the only nominee with no major question marks that is Zach-approved, The Descendants wins. So there you have it. No need to watch the awards themselves, just take my word for it: these are your winners.