Blog posts from the 2012 Oscar season

2012 Wrap-up

Well, it’s over. I ended up being 12 for 19, which I’m really disappointed in. I blame Scorsese and whoever he paid off to win visual effects, the sound categories, and cinematography. It shouldn’t have won any of those. What Hugo should’ve won was film editing. Shameful. The Artist shouldn’t have won costume design in any stretch of the imagination. I’m glad “Man or Muppet” won, even though I didn’t think it would.

But, the past is behind us and there’s no use remaining bitter about it.

The show was better than last year, I thought. They need to bring back doing performances for Best Original Song though instead of having so many random montages. The Wizard of Oz thing was especially dumb. Although I enjoyed hearing some of the things that actors and filmmakers had to say about their favorite movies etc etc, it’d be nice to see something like that with regular people. It might make the general public less hostile towards the Academy.

Billy Crystal started strong but seemed to get really bored. I appreciated the joke in the beginning about how nothing brightens the world financial crisis than millionaires giving each other hunks of gold. I think it was a necessary thought to throw out there since it can seem kind of ridiculous. However, he kept going on and on about financial stuff and it just became too much. His comment about the Harry Potter franchise and taxes was a low-blow.

I really liked the statements the presenters gave for the leading actors and actresses. I thought they were a nice summarization of the significance of the different roles. I can’t believe Jim Rash aka Dean Pelton from “Community” was one of the writers for The Descendants. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis were the best presenters, although Emma Stone entertained me too.

Was Cirque du Soleil necessary?

All in all, the Oscars ceremony could be more entertaining and efficient than it actually is. It could also be nicer to some of the IMPORTANT categories like cinematography. Come on.


2012 predictions

2012 has been marked by daddy issues (9 movies), France (6, maybe 8), and lots of hope. This was a year for a lot of uplifting films, and characters who come to positive resolutions.

I saw 28 out of the 37 total films nominated for Oscars this year (excluding shorts, foreign films, and documentaries). Quick links to each film can be found here.

Below are some brief descriptions of each category this year and a table with my predictions.

Best Picture
The Artist is almost certain to win the big one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a really tight race between it and The Descendants. I think The Descendants is the better film although The Artist was certainly more unique.

Actor in a Leading Role
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if George Clooney (for The Descendants) walked away with this one. Jean Dujardin is supposed to win and he did do a fantastic job. HOWEVER, I would almost be willing to assert that George Clooney did better physical acting in a NON-silent film than Jean Dujardin did in a silent film. That being said, my bet is still on Dujardin to win.

Actor in a Supporting Role
This is a weak category this year, although all the nominees did very well in their individual films. However, none of them were over-the-top amazing. Christopher Plummer (Beginners) will probably win this award, but I think Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) did a much better job than Plummer. Von Sydow just unfortunately suffered from poor writing (which is ironic since his role was silent).

Actress in a Leading Role
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) should win this, no problem, and I agree. The wide range of emotions and ages she had to play should make her a lock-in. I would be surprised if someone else won.

Actress in a Supporting Role
This category is incredibly strong this year. However, Octavia Spencer (The Help) will win this and if she doesn’t, everyone will be surprised and probably annoyed with the Academy.

Animated Feature Film
In a year with no Disney or Pixar films, Dreamworks is still going to lose to Rango.

Art Direction
Hugo was the most nominated film this year, but it’s unlikely to win any of the big awards. However, I think that it should win art direction and I’m predicting that outcome as well. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Artist pulled this one out.

The Tree of Life is most likely to win this and I agree, although it’s hard because I’m laughing just thinking about the ridiculousness of this “movie”. It did have beautiful shots and images throughout it, though and that’s why it should win.

Costume Design
Anonymous should win this because it’s costumes were the most complex and were executed really well. If The Artist wins this category, I’m going to be mad since Midnight in Paris wasn’t nominated for costumes and they had a lot of the same types of costumes (as well as a BUNCH of other types from different scenarios). Jane Eyre wouldn’t be a surprise to pull out a win, though.

Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) will most likely win this although I don’t think I agree. There were moments in The Artist that I just didn’t get. I probably would pick Woody Allen for the winner of this category, although I might be the only one. I just loved Midnight in Paris.

Film Editing
Hugo should win this for its several long “one shot” scenes and I think it probably will. The Artist may pull this one out as well, but I would disagree because all they did was re-use editing techniques from the 20s. (Except this time it’s easier because they used computers.)

The Iron Lady should win this and I agree. As I’ve learned from watching the SyFy show “Face-Off” (a reality show for movie makeup artist wannabes), aging makeup is one of the hardest things to do.

Music (Original Score)
The Artist should win this and I would agree. The score for this movie was its own character and was vital for telling a story with no dialogue. Composition-wise, though, either of John Williams’ scores (Tintin and War Horse) were more complex. I wouldn’t be completely surprised if one of those won instead, but I would be disappointed.

Music (Original Song)
“Real in Rio” (Rio) should win this, no problem. (Even though I LOVE “Man or Muppet” and can’t wait for them to perform it tonight.)

Sound Editing
The two sound categories are often won by the same film, but I don’t think that’s the case this year. (Although War Horse could come out of nowhere and win both and I wouldn’t be too surprised.) The murmur around the internets is that Hugo will win both but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. I think Transformers will win. It’s a long shot, I know, but they’ve never won for sound editing and technically speaking, they should. I think Drive should win, though. Drive‘s sound editing was noticeably phenomenal.

Sound Mixing
If Hugo wins this category, I will be so mad. As I said in my review, there was at least one time during the movie where the background noises didn’t mesh well with the dialogue and that is the definition of poor sound mixing. Unfortunately, I didn’t see War Horse, but I think it may just win. However, my choice would be Moneyball to win.

Visual Effects
Freaking Harry Potter is throwing me for a loop in this category because both parts one and two of movie 7 were nominated for visual effects and it was fantastic. It’s possible that HP could win this one just because it didn’t win last year. They could give it to them this year as an honor to the movie as a whole. However, I really think Rise of the Planet of the Apes should win and it very probably will. Hugo, the Academy’s favorite, may pull it out which would be very disappointing.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Descendants should win this hands down. If Hugo wins, I will throw something through the window. The second best of this category, I think, is Ides of March, followed by Hugo, Tinker Tailor, and Moneyball. 

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Midnight in Paris should win this, and I agree. If The Artist wins, I’ll, again, throw something through the window.

Quick links to the 2012 movies

If you are visiting my home page and would like a quick link to a specific film, here’s a list (you can also use the tag cloud on the lower right side to find posts for specific awards):

Real Steel

Movie: Real Steel
What it’s up for: Visual effects

This is a great, feel-good movie. I enjoyed every minute of it.

It’s 2020 and the ultimate fighters are now robots instead of humans. Charlie (Hugh Jackman) is a former boxer turned underground robot-fighter. He’s bad with money, makes bad bets and worse enemies. News arrives that his ex-girlfriend from a decade ago has died and the custody of the son he’s never been with is his. While accompanying Charlie, who’s trying to find a new robot, Max finds a broken down sparring bot and decides to fix him up and train him to fight.

Hugh Jackman is great, as usual, but his precocious child counterpart steals the show. Dakota Goyo plays an incredibly adorable blonde, blue-eyed adult in a child’s body. Max is his father’s son, despite never knowing him, and he brings a complementing counterpart to Charlie’s dramatic personality. Evangeline Lily is also fantastic. She plays Bailey, Charlie’s life-long friend slash on-again-off-again romantic interest.

The plot was complex and interesting. The only downside is that Charlie’s boxing back-story isn’t developed quite enough to be significant. However, we get enough of it so that its importance at the end is felt. The writing is well-done, but not brilliant. It’s very simple – but in a good way. The screenplay in general was really good.

The visual effects were really good, but nothing any more significant than Transformers. They did use some animatronics, which is great and should be done more often, but that doesn’t technically fall under visual effects.

Unlikely to win.

Transformers 3

Movie: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
What it’s up for: Sound editing, Sound mixing, Visual effects

So, I haven’t seen the second of the Transformers series, but I got to watch this one with some Transformers experts so it was fine. Turns out, you really don’t need to know too much to watch a Transformers movie.

In this edition, the Autobots have formed an alliance with the humans on Earth to help keep the humans from destroying each other. Very quickly, though, things start going amiss as Optimus Prime discovers that the humans have been hiding something from them.

I will say that I was thoroughly entertained the whole time. I was interested and wanted to know what happened throughout the entire 154 minutes. However, the writing and editing left much to be desired. There were gaping plot holes that were too obvious to be acceptable for a professional film. There were a few scenes that seemed to have been put in at the wrong place and scenes that just ended without a transition.

What’s always bothered me about the Transformers series is the sexist use of women. The female characters are always dressed way too scandalous for running in war zones. Their breasts and butts are always the focus. They’re really not that helpful and they use their sexuality in a very obvious, superficial way. The one female character that wasn’t like that in this episode of Transformers was a stuffy, boringly dressed, mean, ball-busting woman who everyone just hates the whole time. I hate it.

Anyway, (off the soapbox) the visual effects were astounding, of course. The sound editing was incredibly important and well done, of course. The sound mixing was good too. At least, there weren’t any noticeable issues.

Sound editing: Doubtful. 

Sound mixing: Doubtful. 

Visual effects: Doubtful.

A Better Life

Movie: A Better Life
What it’s up for: Actor in a Leading Role (Demian Bichir)

Everyone needs to see this movie. Movies should be used for more than just entertainment. They should help educate us about real things in the world. They should put a humanizing twist on abstract concepts. Margin Call did that in one way. So did The DescendantsA Better Life is a more obvious example of this. It humanizes the US-Mexico immigration issue, which I think is something that everyone needs a chance to understand. I know I didn’t (still don’t completely) but this movie gives the opportunity to CARE. And care is the beginning of all movements.

Demian Bichir plays Carlos Galindo, an illegal immigrant living and working in Los Angeles. His son, Luis, was born in the US and Carlos is trying to give Luis a better life through building his gardening business. All this while keeping under the radar of the police and trying to keep Luis out of the gangs.

This is an absolutely beautiful movie. It paints a wonderful portrait of the father-son relationship and how hard some people are willing to work to stay in America. It also just shows the GOODNESS that people can have. The cinematography was gorgeous and the writing was fantastic. There was also a ton of symbolism and foreshadowing. I wish this movie had been nominated for more awards.

Demian Bichir was phenomenal. I would put him right on par with George Clooney in The Descendants. He absolutely deserved the nomination. It’s a shame that he won’t win. His nomination reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence’s nomination for leading actress last year – a powerful performance that no one saw. I hope to see him in more movies and I hope this nomination gets this film more attention.

Sadly, he won’t win. (Unless the Academy decides to get political…which they’ve obviously done before, but with more high-profile films.)

(PS: I don’t know anything about the legal situation surrounding immigration and citizenship. For the sake of transparency, my take on the situation is that I don’t think illegal immigration is ok but I think it should be easier to enter the US legally and become a citizen.)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Movie: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
What it’s up for: Visual effects

I was really excited to see this movie, despite what everyone had told me about it. I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t expecting an epic masterpiece of cinema. It was a good, engaging story and was a great addition to the Planet of the Apes legacy. I love a good back story.

The movie is meant to explain how the apes originally took over Earth. Whoops…if you haven’t seen the original Planet of the Apes, I just spoiled the ending. However, if you haven’t seen the original POTA (or at least know how it ends) you’ve probably been living under a rock since 1968.

I thought the story was good, the writing was adequate, and the score was only ok. The glories of the movie by far (obviously) are the visual effects. I’m kind of in shock about how far computer animation has come so quickly. Every bit of computer-generated images looked real. The apes looked real and blended into the real surroundings perfectly. Hair is so hard to animate – or at least, it used to be. I think we’ve leapt past that hurdle now after seeing this movie and Rango. I’m going to see Real Steel and Transformers over the next two days, but I can’t see anyone else winning this category, considering the nature of the animation.

Highly likely.

Scores (Or, how John Williams rules the world)

I already referenced the scores for three of the five nominees (The ArtistHugo, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) but I’m not going to get a chance to see War Horse (which has multiple nominations) and I don’t really want to go see Tintin just to hear the nominated score. So, YouTube saves the day. Here are John William’s two nominations:

Movie: War Horse
What it’s up for: Score (and Best Picture, Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound editing and sound mixing)

(The video is 15 minutes long. Don’t be intimidated by that, if you want to listen. If you listen to the first couple minutes you get a good gist.)

Movie: The Adventures of Tintin
What it’s up for: Score

I’ll be straight with you: I am completely biased when it comes to John Williams. He is my favorite composer in all of history. I can distinguish his work without anyone telling me whose it is.

BUT, putting my bias aside, I truly do believe that these two scores are much more unique than any of the other three. Composition-wise, I think they’re superior. He’s at an advantage with the Tintin score, since it’s a cartoon and cartoons can have a lot more distinctive personality in their scores. The War Horse score is gorgeous. I love everything about it and it makes me want to see the movie even MORE than I already did.

HOWEVER, the kicker in this category is the fact that The Artist‘s score had to do a lot more than the other scores. It’s score had to be a character. It had to help tell the story in a really tangible, foreground way. (You could argue the same thing for War Horse, I’d wager, but it’s entirely different when the score is supporting the dialogue versus the score playing with no dialogue at all.)

Despite my undying love for John Williams, it’s gonna go to The Artist, and I’d have to agree.

(PS if you want to hear all 5 scores, here’s this:)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Movie: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Max von Sydow)

Deep breaths. That’s all I can do for a while after watching 9/11 stuff. I knew I was going to cry through this movie. I get irrationally emotional with 9/11 stuff. I was basically crying during the previews in preparation. (I exaggerate.) Let’s try and put that aside, though.

Ok, so it’s a 9/11 film…sort of. Oskar’s dad, Thomas (Tom Hanks), died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Thomas and Oskar went on excursions (quasi-scavenger hunts) through NYC. A year after his death, Oskar finds a mysterious key in his father’s closet and devotes himself to finding what the key goes to, sure that it’s part of an excursion his father had set up for him before he died.

The good: They did the emotional stuff brilliantly.  There was a lot of suspense. Oskar’s mom is played by Sandra Bullock and she, to quote Rajesh Koothrappali, is brilliant in everything. Max von Sydow was fantastic (more on him in a moment). There were some deeply wonderful surprises.

The bad: It was really poorly written. AUGH. Poor writing destroys my soul. There were plot holes and Max von Sydow’s fantastic character did not get nearly the amount of screen-time he should have. And the last minute just…*sigh*. I hate it when something at the very last moment ruins a movie.

It was also an awkward movie because Oskar falls somewhere on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum and/or has some sort of anxiety/mood disorder(s). Basically what that means is that the character acts, reacts, and speaks in a pretty disconcerting manner. (I hope no one takes offense at this. I certainly don’t mean it that way. It’s just difficult to understand how to interpret his character and what he’s doing. Is he being funny? Is he being serious? It was just hard to tell sometimes.) At least, I’m pretty sure that that’s what they were going for with the character of Oskar. I might be giving them too much credit. The kid actor may have just been over-acting the whole time.

As for Max von Sydow: I absolutely adore the character he plays. I wish that they’d done more with him. There was so much potential there and it was just wasted. However, with the time he was given, he was fantastic. His character had more depth than Christopher Plummer’s, in my opinion. He just suffered from a poor screenplay. It’s frustrating because if the movie had been written better, he’d probably be a lock for the Oscar.

Best picture: No way. I honestly don’t know why exactly it was nominated. If it had been worked out to its full potential, I could understand…

Supporting actor: Unlikely. Unless the Academy decides to be surprising.

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