Yes, it’s that time of year again. Oscar season. After the Super Bowl, it’s one of the major reasons for celebration and parties. It gives life meaning. This February 26th, at the 84th showing of the Academy Awards, a new group of hopefuls will join the ranks of the “chosen few.”
When I was in high school and college, I set a goal for myself to see all the Oscar-nominated movies. Then, of course, I’d second-guess the Academy with my expert opinions. I actually had a pretty high success rate. You can often tell which movies are going to have stay-ability and broad appeal—or those that are hard to forget because they’re so hard to watch.
In 2008, No Country for Old Men was one of those. Slumdog Millionaire, in 2009 was another. Then in 2010, The Hurt Locker came from behind to surpass Avatar to take the top honor. We saw THL at our local theater in Florence. It was haunting, so we asked our friends what they thought of it. No one had even heard of it, let alone seen it. Hmmm. Then Oscar season rolled around and The Hurt Locker was finally released in the US to rave reviews and sell-out crowds. It won the Academy Award that year for best picture and delivered the best director award to Kathryn Bigelow (James Cameron’s ex—a fitting competition). He’d created such an arrogant persona when he won for Titanic that there were few tears shed for his loss in 2010. The King’s Speech took the honors in 2011, although I also loved The Black Swan (which, in my quasi-expert opinion, should have tied for the honors). That brings us to this week.
Here are the nominees and a few brief comments: The Artist; a fascinating look at the silent picture business. Provocative and creative. The Descendants; a down-to-earth look at family and what really matters. Well done. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; haven’t seen it, but the reviews have been lukewarm so I’m keeping my distance. It doesn’t have that “gotta see it!” attraction. The Help; already a staple with in-flight movies, which is usually NOT a good sign. Hugo; saw it last night. Well done. Creative. Great message—my personal pick. And honestly, Ben Kingsley is one of those actors—completely compelling and believable in any performance. (Just an aside: there were four movie-goers in the audience, just in front of us. One opened a bottle of wine and poured it into Dixie cups for himself and his companions. For me, wine + 3-D glasses = total distortion. And . . . the wine was used to wash down a few hot dogs and popcorn. No thank you.)
Now back to the movies. Midnight in Paris; Woody Allen’s latest, which we plan to watch. Moneyball; this one is interesting. We’ll watch it before the Oscars, but it doesn’t have the same gravity that Hugo and The Artist seem to muster. The Tree of Life; saw it. I won’t say that we hated it, but . . . okay, we hated it. Brad Pitt seems to have perfected the art of jutting out his chin for some unknown reason. That jutting lower jaw is my primary memory of his character in Inglourious Basterds, as well—which was fantastic despite his misplaced mandible. Christoph Waltz was hauntingly excellent. War Horse; haven’t seen it and probably won’t.
So here’s the tally: seen 3, will see 2 more for a total of 5 out of 9. Slightly fewer than 2/3. Not quite up to my college performance, but hey, I’m older and wiser now. Okay, we’ll agree on the older part. How about more “selective?” In any case, I’d be willing to bet that by Oscar night, we will have seen the winning movie.
Save me an aisle seat.
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