After a lengthy sabbatical, Dr. H finally returns to give us his take on the Oscars again. Last year longtime contributor to JPFmovies Dr. H predicted 90% of the winners. Very impressive and much more accurate than many of the “experts” that slither around the big name movie sites—which goes to show you that good things do in fact come in small packages.
The good news is that the overall quality of movies is up (way up from last year) — the flip side is that the Oscars are as irrelevant as ever. Still, we must continue this tradition which does bring everyone a little fun.
In this post, JPFmovies (courtesy of Dr. H) provides you with a synopsis of this year’s 8 major contenders.
To the film’s credit, The Artist is the leader of the pack with 10 nominations including:
Best Film, Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Actor and Actress. The Artist has already won the Golden Globe Awards for Best Musical Comedy as well as Best Actor for Jean Dijardin.
The movie is set in 1930’s Los Angeles and George Valentin is the major silent movie star who feels threatened by the advent of the sound era and finds solace in the arms of a rising starlet, Penelope Miller (Bérénice Bejo) and finally agrees to a musical.
Reportedly the original idea by the French director/writer was to set this film in 1930 Berlin and draw a parallel between the rise of Nazis and the advent of sound in movies and make the hero commit suicide.
All we can say is – how very un-French. Fortunately saner heads prevailed and the movie was relocated to 1930’s L.A. The rest as “they” say is history. It remains an ultimate crowd pleaser and a feel good movie typical of what most movie audiences eat up today. Whether this is good or bad, we will have to leave up to the viewer.
Will it pass the test of time?
No, but who cares?
Don’t watch this movie expecting Casablanca. It’s not. But it’s jolly good escapist fun and tailor-made for today’s recession days.
Recommended to watch once with your significant other.
2. The Descendants
If The Artist is the king this year, The Descendants is most likely the wise old grand counsel. Although billed as a dark comedy, there is hardly anything comical with the theme. A rude awakening to the grim reality of losing one’s beloved.
Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (George Clooney) and Screenplay.
Honolulu-based lawyer Matt King (Clooney), grieving for his comatose wife, has to make decisions about pulling the plug and selling some prime family land while confronted by his two dysfunctional daughters and the surprise knowledge of his wife’s infidelity.
A better movie than American Beauty, this movie brings the best in George Clooney that we have seen so far.
A critic’s favorite, the movie may or may not win but Clooney should surely win. He has already bagged the American Film Institute and Critic’s Choice Awards.
Very resonating screenplay.
Recommended to watch twice, once with your significant other and the second time with your ex…
3. The Moneyball
A sports movie based on true events, The Moneyball draws on a 2003 book about the Oakland Athletics baseball season of 2002, when the league had lost all its star players.
General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and an Ivy League whiz kid Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) devise a strategy to scout new talent and rewrite the rule book for talent hunting.
Nominated for six Academy Awards, all major ones except Best Director.
A very interesting story with old fashioned linear narrative style, a sharp, tight script and stellar performances from Pitt, Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Brad Pitt will lose to his best pal Clooney and Jonah Hill in supporting role to heavyweights like Nick Nolte and Christopher Plummer.
Recommended to watch with buddies.
4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
JPFMovies is screaming extremely loud and incredibly close to your ears, “Don’t watch this emotionally manipulative, extremely irritating and incredibly soul drenching movie.” It is a 911 exploitative yarn about a son who lost his father.
No problem with the theme, but it’s so shallow. Not at all Oscar worthy – that it would be lucky to go direct to DVD is being kind to this abortion.
You have been warned – and take it seriously.
5. The Tree of Life
An experimental movie from Terrance Mullich (Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven) is one that moved me for its intellectual honesty and the director’s brave attempt to break new ground, while it doesn’t always resonate with the audience and existential questions with creation and metamorphosis remain unanswered. Too much for the average moviegoer.
O’Brien (Brad Pitt) is a stern father raising his two sons in Waco, Texas. The older son (Sean Penn) reflects on his childhood and the death of his younger brother.
The cinematography is brilliant and the entire movie can be summarized in one word – elegant. Too bad it’s way ahead of its time.
Still (and you heard it from JPFMovies), The Tree of Life will have a shelf life and cult following far exceeding anything we have seen this year or the last few years for that matter (and we love cult films at JPFMovies).
Michael Scorcese extends himself to explore a child’s fantasy in a 3D adventure-based on Brian Selznick’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Colbert.” It is a captivating tale of a 12-year-old boy trying to fulfill his deceased father’s dream project, repairing a broken “automaton” – a robot like contraption that writes with a pen.
Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and nine technical awards, it has some stiff competition this year. In other years, it would likely have been a shoo-in.
7. The Help
An inspiring tale of the civil rights era through the eyes of black housekeepers, Hope succeeds in capturing the screen with some really spicy dialogues and good acting. A particular bit of dialogue has been oft quoted:
Celia Foote: They don’t like me for what they think I did.
Minney Johnson: No, they don’t like you because they think you’re white trash.
Hope has been nominated for Best Film, Best Actress and Supporting Actress.
8. War Horse
A disappointing movie by Spielberg about a boy, a horse and World War I. This movie would not have gotten anywhere near the Oscars without Spielberg’s name attached to it. It is classic Spielberg, lots of effects, technical excellence, but also has Spielberg’s tendency to emphasize style over substance.
9. Midnight in Paris.
Woody Allen pays a tribute to a glorious film making career—his own. After a brief respite, Allen bounces back
with what is arguably his best work for the past decade. With his usual New York witty sarcasm and his entourage of fringe characters, you would find nowhere else but in the lower east end of Manhattan. Owen Wilson plays a disillusioned Hollywood scriptwriter vacationing in Paris with his drop-dead gorgeous fiancée Rachel Adams and her obnoxious parents where they run into her even more obnoxious friends one of them is an expert on impressionist art. Bored to death, Wilson takes a stroll down deserted boulevards for fresh ideas for a novel he is writing where, at the stroke of midnight, a car pulls over and the boisterous passengers of the car invite him for a ride which becomes a portal to the 1920’s where he is introduced by F. Scott Fitzgerald to Hemingway, Cole Porter, T.S. Elliot and subsequently Wilson falls in love with Picasso’s mistress. His love is before she decides to travel even further back to the gilded age to be with Monet. A very entertaining movie although scenes of the present day pale in comparison to the bohemian fun Allen takes us to enjoy. Not a real contender for the best movie but as usual he had pretty much locked in best original screenplay and deservedly so.