On 1/24/12 the group that handles the Oscar nominations announced the 2011 slate of Best Films. For the last couple of years they have been nominating 10 films instead of the more traditional 5 titles. I suspect this was because Hollywood has a stake, a really big stake, in seeing films succeed financially if not critically. By adding 5 films which had no chance to win a Best Picture Oscar, they were able to give a lot of promotion time to a group of films that they would like to see make a buck and help keep the studios and film makers in business.
This year they could only come up with 9 titles for the Best Picture honor. This means that by not even finding one more so-called gem for us, they basically looked at the other 2011 films and said “what a bunch of stinkers.” It’s easy for them to ignore films like the last in the Harry Potter series as, even though it is better than some of their nominated fare, it already succeeded in being the highest grossing domestic film of 2011 and probably will end up making more money than the selected 9 films put together.
I have already seen and reported on 7 of the 9 films and herein give you a quick recap as many people will check out these films after the Oscar nominations are made public. Slumdog Millionaire is good proof of how this phenomena works.
In recognition of the nominees in order of how I rated them from worst to best here is the majority of the field.
The Descendents 2.5 out of 4.0. Basically a soap opera with a little humor and pretty scenery. The Help 3.0 out of 4.0. Great performances in an above-average film which belabors its main point. Hugo 3.0 out of 4.0. Wonderful looking film that seems disjointed in that the 2nd half doesn’t seem to have much to do with the first half. Midnight in Paris 3.4 out of 4.0 for Woody Allen’s neat and fun time travel extravaganza. Moneyball 3.5 out of 4.0. A baseball movie not really about baseball hit’s a homerun. War Horse 3.5 out of 4.0. Steven Spielberg’s gorgeous homage to the Lassie films using a horse. I missed Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life as did everyone else when it came out last May. Let me know if you liked it. I don’t believe it will win any Oscars but you never know. I also passed up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which opened LIMITED in December. It has only generated a whimper at the box office and is not even close to having a chance at the Oscar for Best Picture. And, saving the best for last, The Artist rated 4.0 out of 4.0. A silent film that won’t remain silent for long. Ted Turner has stated he intends to obtain the rights to this film and not only add color but will create a complete soundtrack as well. Now we will know what they were really saying.
The Oscar winners will be revealed on Sunday Feb. 26th and the show will probably end by Tuesday Feb. 28th if we are lucky. In last year’s Oscar review article I called for the return of Billy Crystal as host. My call has been heard. Welcome back Billy.