L'académie (or Leecademy) Awards...
I can't help it but I've always been way too invested in the Academy Awards. I've watched them almost every year since I was a very young child. My mother and I would make a mad dash before the ceremony to see all the nominated films and actors we could (It was pretty difficult because the nearest decent theaters were over an hour away). We would watch the Academy Awards like one watches a sports game; booing the bad choices and cheering on our favorites. Both of us individually would pick who we believed should win. Sometimes we were in agreement and sometimes we'd actually fight about it.
Now that I live in CA, it is very easy to see all the films nominated because they all come to the theaters at some point and instead of my old hour plus drive to see a movie I may or may not like turns into a 10 minute drive. And I still watch the show and get invested in it. I read all the magazines with their predictions, snubs and who their favorites are.
So this year I'm posting the 2012 L'académie Awards: my picks. The catch is nobody knows they've won my awards. No one is invited to the ceremony but myself, my laptop and a glass of wine. And the award itself is a figurative tip of my hat and some lip service. I have not seen all the films so I will note those categories.
Hugo- It's heartwarming but not in that saccharine way that so many "orphan looking for answers and finding oh, so much more" movies tend to be. I mean, that's what it is but the acting is compelling. The peripheral characters in the train station recall elements of Amélie. Plus, it's an Intro to Film class as well. It's Scorsesse's love letter to the early, silent films which paved the way for the films we see today. I wasn't a fan of it being in 3D (not a fan of 3D in general) but I get what he was trying to do: use the current 3D technology to bring in viewers for a film lesson who may have not seen the movie otherwise.
NOTE: I did not see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (I know I should but I hated the book) or War Horse (If you look through my posts you will see that I never plan on seeing it).
This is tough... There are so many great choices for very disparate movies.
Terence Malick, The Tree of Life- This movie took a long time to make and you can tell. Terence Malick's movies have a very carefully paced flow to them. I think he tries hard to relate the viewer to his movies by making them seem like reality while showing how beautiful everything is. I wasn't in love with the message of the film (a little optimistic) but it is unlike other movies I have seen. The characters were mostly blank canvases designed for you to project upon. There was very little dialogue and the movie consisted mostly of images and movement. I must say that Malick achieved what I think he set out to. The movie felt like I was living inside someone's mind and watching their flashbacks and recalling memories from childhood. Sometimes, I zone out and don't remember conversations or critical moments from my life but scattered images. These images often aren't reflected with my cynical eye but basked in light the way the boys in the film watch their beautiful mother (Jessica Chastain) running through the yard with them. I recall seeing my own mother bathed in that same glow signifying undying adoration. Yet another good job, Mr. Malick.
Jean Dujardin, The Artist- I really resisted this film when it came out because I am not a fan of silent cinema with all its over acting and limited subtitles compared to what is being said. I'll admit it. I was dead wrong. This is a wonderful movie and Dujardin steals every minute of it. His facial expressions and body movements convey so much that I wasn't angry his sentences weren't titled. He has the ease, poise and confidence to convincingly play the most popular actor of his era. He is so undeniably charming that even though I knew his forays into keeping silent film relevant would fail, I cheered for him. The word artist has a lot of stigma to it but he really is one in a way. Likability and good looks aside. He conveys more with a shrug and a smirk than most actors I can think of. And that's why the movie works so well, at least from the point of view of one who dislikes silent movies. But this award must be shared with the dog who is with him in nearly every scene and is the comic sidekick without whom Dujardin's performance may be lacking.
NOTE: I loved Damián Bichir's turn in A Better Life. He'd be my runner-up. And Michael Fassbender was totally snubbed for Shame.
Viola Davis, The Help- Like Dujardin, Viola Davis uses movement, facial expressions and such to introduce you to the character. Aibileen Clark could have been played as an angry, showy character. That's how you know what skills the actor possesses. All you need to do is look into Viola Davis' eyes to see her world weariness. If you watch the slow, deliberate movements you know that she is a woman who has bore the weight of the world on her back for the vast majority of her life. I'm not a crier but whenever she takes the little girl in her arms and says, "You is kind, You is smart, You is important, " I get downright teary. I'm from Mississippi and had an au pair when I was younger. Although she was not similar to the characters in the movie, I recognized that same sense of restraint in the face of authority that ate away at her soul. Not to short change Davis' dialogue! She simply is the character. Everything lines up with dialogue, facial expressions and over all feel of the character.
NOTE: I have not seen The Iron Lady. I know Meryl Streep rocks but I just can't imagine her moving me the way Viola Davis did.
Best Supporting Actor
Nick Nolte, Warrior- Okay, I know he has no shot in hell against the long-overdue perfornances and snubs of Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow but this is my awards show. Nick Nolte has been turning in excellent, salty dog performances for years but this is it. While Nolte has a tendency for being exaggerated, he is mostly understated in this movie. A recovering alcoholic and abusive father, he is willing to do anything to reunite with his sons who hate him. The younger more hot headed one, he coaches, and proves his worth by being the best he can possibly be. He appeals to his older more rational son by showing how he has been clean and sober. When he is rebuffed he results to pleading to meet his granddaughters in a realistic way. All his evolution from becoming a better person from the lout his family knew him is destroyed when he gets drunk. His drunken arguing with a tape of Moby Dick is powerful but not as much as when his estranged younger son forgives him by listening to his recollections. I feel his frustration as a man who has come so far only to be rejected by the ones he wants to redeem himself to.
NOTE: I have not seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. As much as I disliked the book, I had hopes for it as a movie when I heard Max Von Sydow was in it. I know he will be great.
Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, The Help- While Aibileen is a stalwart, quiet type, Minnie is exaggerated and outspoken. In her dealings with Hilly, she is obedient but seething with hatred. Her large eyes convey that she is not one to be trifled with. Her scenes with fellow nominee, Jessica Chastain, are some of my favorites. Chastain's character exists so that modern day non-Southern audiences can have their say. Why shouldn't she be able to eat with Minnie? Why can't they be friends? Spencer is guarded and with those expressive eyes she tries to reinforce the societal rules of the South at that time. She manages to be funny, touching and strong. Minnie could have been played with pure defiance which would have been fun to watch but not accurate. Octavia Spencer played Minnie with defiance but only as much as would fit in the constraints for society at the time.
NOTE: I loved Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs. She is my second favorite.
Okay, I'll say goodnight. Thank you all for entertaining me this year!