Any other year, I’d have been planning this list for a while. Last year with two vastly superior films (King’s Speech & Social Network), it was easy to have a start. This past year, I’m afraid I haven’t seen what I would normally gauge as an Oscar quality movie. There have been some good ones – Drive, Moneyball, Ides of March – but nothing that rocked me. Part of the problem could be that I saw the wrong films at this year’s TIFF. I gave away the tickets to The Artist & The Descendants, and passed on Shame. But the response of the folks who did see these didn’t make me run out to correct this.
The Golden Globes aren’t a valid indicator in my mind, of the Oscar nominations which will be announced next week. The wins by the movies I missed though indicates that they will be in the pack, and I’d better plan to catch up.
So my short list of what I think will be nominated, cross referenced wtih what I thought of it:
Drive – may have been my favourite film last year. Ryan Gosling has been in almost everything lately, and managed to be completely different from one role to the next. Plays like a 70s anti-hero flick, moody, quiet with bursts of disturbing violence.
Moneyball – sharp dialog from Aaron Sorkin again, and a breakout performance from Jonah Hill. And it really isn’t a sports movie, it’s just set in that world. Don’t see a nom for Brad Pitt though.
Ides of March – Ryan Gosling again, with Clooney behind the camera and supporting. It’s hurt by a too-familiar story, but doesn’t compromise along the way. And superb performances by the ensemble cast. Several likely acting noms.
Melancholia – hated it. This is what happens when auteurs focus on imagery and wing the story. If there was a script, I couldn’t tell.
Tree of Life – pretentious claptrap. See review of Melancholia for more, double strength here.
The Help – Forty five years after In The Heat Of The Night, we kick around the same subject matter with an added dose of Mean Girls. Entertaining and light, but hardly original, and definitely not timely.
Bridesmaids – because everyone liked it, and it was actually better than anyone would have expected. Well crafted and funny. Won’t win, of course, but should get the mention.
Midnight In Paris – this counts as superior Woody Allen this century, but would have been middle of the pack in the last. Stretches an interesting conceit, and makes Owen Wilson likeable. Marion Cotilliard and Rachel McAdams are wasted though in one-dimensional roles as a wanton and a harpy, respectively. As a matter of fact, everybody except Wilson is one-dimensional, which may actually be the point.
Margin Call – good performances and tension highlight this topical, thinly veiled account of the sub-prime crash. Too stagey to make a great film from this first time director, and without a strong ending, but well done.
While I may sound a curmudgeon for not liking enough this year, there were several “fun films” that I enjoyed, that won’t get a second of consideration by the Academy: Unknown, Super 8, Crazy Stupid Love, Limitless, Source Code, Attack the Block, and Captain America.
I’ll comment more on the nominations after they come out, and I catch up on the ones missed.