Oscar nominations came out this week. I love Oscars – or the Academy Awards. Ever since I was young, I would look forward to that night – watching all the stars arrive and then the award show – mesmerized by those people who were larger than life going up to accept an award for something they did that year. I read tons of books about movie stars as a child and teenager, in awe of the movies made in the thirties and forties, and even fifties. I loved watching musicals and comedies from that time. Even when I was younger, I would watch old movies every Sunday afternoon from noon until 5 on one of those UHF channels (now I am really dating myself). So, I look forward to the Oscar nominations every year.
Many years, I am lucky if I have seen one of the Oscar nominated shows because over the past ten years, the ones picked have been so varied and some were released in limited theaters so I did not get to see them. This year, I have seen almost all of the nominated shows.
What do all of these shows have in common? I can only comment on 7 of the nominated shows, so you will have to excuse me if I do not comment on one you have seen.
1. The Artist
2. The Descendants
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
4. The Help
6. Midnight in Paris
8. The Tree of Life
9. War Horse
The Artist is a delightful movie that brings people back to the age of Hollywood as it was on the verge of talking pictures. The story highlights the journey of one man who is a silent film star, George Valentin, who is against talkies and is positive people will come to the theater to see him, not to hear him talk. It parallels his story with that of a young girl, Peppy Miller, who is just starting her movie career. The Artist is a beautifully filmed movie that shows words are not always necessary to tell a story. The facial expressions of the actors, the background music, and the storyline are woven together in such a way that it draws you into the film and their lives. If you have seen A Star is Born with Frederic March, you will see some correlations, but this film takes unique turns that delight the viewer. As you can see, I would give this movie – two Oscars – GO SEE IT!
The Descendants takes the viewer on a journey through one man’s life as it gets turned upside down. Here again you are drawn into the movie through wonderful facial expressions, music, and a storyline that catches you off guard. Our main character must deal with the repercussions when his wife is injured and left in a coma. His family are direct descendants of the last queen of Hawaii and own a pristine plot of land that has been passed down from generation to generation and at this time in the story – a decision must be made on what to do with the land at the same time that he must make some major decisions in his own life. The relationships with his daughters are poignant and moving and give you a depth in character analysis that a fellow writer would applaud. Another two Oscars – SEE THIS movie.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – I can honestly admit that I have not seen this movie yet. BUT, I will see it before Oscars – one, because it’s nominated and two because Tom Hanks is in the movie. So, as of this moment, I cannot comment on it.
The Help give us a glimpse into a time period many would rather forget but which is so fabulously written and told, we cannot help but be glad we were a part of witnessing it. The touch of humor that makes this story, which if told in a different way would break our hearts, allows us to feel with the main characters – to laugh with them and cry with them as if we were their best friends. When you see this movie, you feel like the young girl who is writing their story – like you are sitting at the kitchen table with these brave women who worked in demeaning situations without recourse – and listening to their stories. You want to be their champions and you do cheer them on every step of the way. I know – another two Oscars. If you have not seen this, rent it, buy it, and watch it more than once!
Hugo is a touching story of a young boy named Hugo Cabret who is orphaned and must find his way in the world by flying below the radar, all the while trying to keep his father’s dream alive. The fascinating characters he meets along the way in this train station in Paris show you how he has made this place his home and all the characters who people the station are his surrogate family. He has a unique purpose and we cheer him on – rooting for him every step of the way. We are intrigued by the stories behind the other characters and long to know more. The filming is stunning, but we once more get a glimpse into the Golden Age of film making when people were pioneers of a medium no one really understood. Go see this for the artistry and the storyline – based on the children’s novel by Brian Selznick. Two Oscars!
Midnight in Paris is such a clever movie and certainly not what I expected from Woody Allen. Who would have guess a time travel could be so delightful and make you long to find such a place yourself. You are swept away in the beauty of Paris, not just in current day, but in the Roaring Twenties, then the Belle Epoque. Here again we have a main character who is a writer – a tortured writer who works in Hollywood with an unsatisfying life, who has always dreamed of writing a novel. Imagine having your novel read by Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein! The way the story sweeps around and makes a lovely circle charms and delights the viewer. I loved this movie and not just because it took place in Paris, or because it brought me back to time periods that I loved, but the mastery of storytelling drew me in right away. RENT IT, BUY IT, or BORROW IT! Definitely two Oscars!
Moneyball confused me at first for its nomination. Yes, I saw it. I love sports so this movie piqued my curiosity. This is the classic underdog story – the sports movie where you are rooting for the team you know is fighting against all odds. In this movie, it’s not only the team, but the main character. You want to see him succeed. You want this young, brash young man to be right. Think if all the toys from the Island of Misfit Toys were on a baseball team together – this would be their team. Now, as I think about the storytelling, I guess I’m not totally confused by the nomination and yet, at the same time, I’m not quite sure it’s on the same caliber as the ones I mentioned above. All in all, a pleasant movie – a feel good movie, but not one of those movies that would sweep me away and jerk at my heart strings. I guess I can only give this movie 1 ½ Oscars. Still see it, but you don’t have to buy it.
The Tree of Life – here is the second movie I cannot comment on because I have not see this one yet. I also know if I will get to see it – it’s been out, and it’s gone. I would have to figure out a way to get a hold of the movie to properly evaluate it. Until then, I will decline. I heard wonderful reviews, it just was not released on a large enough scale to be able to go see it.
War Horse – when I was in New York the tickets for seeing it on Broadway were over $500. Yes, that’s how much the tickets were going for so I decided no, I would not see it. Then it came out on film and I raced to go see it. A movie about a horse and seen through the eyes of the horse. Here is another time piece that did not have the audience it should have been able to snag and yet it did not. The filming and storytelling truly brought us into the mind of the horse. There are so many scenes where the viewer is captivated and cheering for this horse – not even the people, THE HORSE = because you want the horse to survive. You want the boy to see his horse again. Once more Stephen Spielberg has created a gloriously filmed movie. Please go see this movie and be prepared to cry as it plucks on your heart strings. Two Oscars for this movie as well!!!!
Do I have predictions for the Oscars? Not sure yet. I am still mulling the over in my brain. Give me a week or two before I am able to give some prediction. In the meantime – go see them if they are at the theater or rent them if they are already out.
Bonne Chance to all the Oscar nominated movies – I couldn’t pick just one!