Those silly gold statuettes

For most of my adult life, I’ve tried and failed to see every Best Picture nominee in advance of the Academy Awards.  This year, I finally did it and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to watch the show (red carpet and all).  While I’m not a big fan of awards, especially in the arts, I think the only time I may have missed the Oscars was during the early ’80s when I was  busy hunting punk rock singers and vintage house dresses.

Here are my thoughts about the nominees for Best Picture from best to worst (and thank you Hollywood for remembering what it means to entertain.)

HUGO: This is my personal choice for winner. There is a perfect chemistry that’s created when all the elements come together so seamlessly to make a film great and memorable: for me, Hugo accomplished this (despite flirting with Disney formulaics).  From the poignant story/script to the gorgeous art direction, delightful (not distracting) score and flawless direction plus the happy ending I personally needed to see, it was the one film that swept me entirely away and lingered with me for many days.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS: This is one of those love or hate films and I loved it. LOVED IT.  If Hugo wasn’t so amazing and The Artist so ambitious, this would have been my pick for best picture. As a Woody Allen fan from way back, I can say it’s been a long time coming since he made a movie that delighted me so.  Not just any director could pull off this premise and he did it beautifully. Big ups to my man Woody, perv that he is. (Did you not notice how many times he made Rachel McAdams bend over?) Also, he deserves a special award for making McAdams a villain. Yay.

THE ARTIST:  As much as I enjoyed this film, the story, the message and the artistry, and as much as I related to it working in an industry that may be in its twilight, I wasn’t as deeply moved by it as I was by Hugo. As an emotional person (a woman, go figure), I suppose feelings play into my choices more than intellect. This too had the happy ending I hoped for, great acting and direction, and of course the novelty of being without dialogue, but I wasn’t gripped.

THE HELP: Despite the backlash, I thought it was a great little movie, superbly written and well-acted. I’m a white girl, I’ll never know that particular pain. I’m sorry.

MONEYBALL: I saved this movie for last because I figured I’d hate it. Generalizing aside. Boy was I wrong. Thought not really a Best Picture, it was a great picture. Granted it was hard to lose with such a fascinating story but the writing and direction kept a nice pace and the acting (read: Brad Pitt’s muscles) didn’t hurt either.

THE DESCENDANTS: Good movie, good acting, but Best Picture? I think not.  I don’t understand the blanket praise for Clooney’s performance, either.  What am I missing?

TREE OF LIFE: I expected to fall deeply in love with this film. I figured it would end up just behind Magnolia on my list of all-time favorite films.  Lo, my expectations were too high. That’s not to say it doesn’t deserve something, because there is much to be enamored of here but somehow the pieces don’t quite fit together. I do think Brad Pitt’s performance was worthier of an award than his portrayal of Billy Beane in  Moneyball. I’m not at all opposed to a film that takes some work, but Malick needs to learn to kill his darlings.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE: Ridiculously contrived and unbelievably tiresome. Ever heard of a script supervisor? Didn’t think so.

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