I bet you thought I forgot. Admit it. Didn't you?
Yes, dear reader, it's time for the annual review getting ready for the Oscars.
A disclaimer first--we haven't seen all the movies. OK--now that the confession is out of the way, let's get down to business.
Now that the Academy allows up to 10 nominees for best movie, it is getting more difficult to see them all. First, we just don't go to that many movies. Second, by the time the nominees are announced, some of the theaters around here have already shown some of the eventual nominees, and for whatever reasons have not rebooked them.
And the nominees are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse.
So, we want to see, but have not see, Hugo and Midnight in Paris. Even if Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, or The Tree of Life were to return, I am not sure we would go.
I may as well take them in the order listed above.
The Artist--if my husband and I were Siskel & Ebert (yes, I know Siskel is dead) we would have one thumb up, and one down. I liked it; my husband didn't. Here's what I liked: the way the actors were so expressive, without words; the way that black and white seemed so...colorful; the dog; the dancing; the sweet story line; and the way a silent movie told the story of the demise of silent movies.
The Descendants--two thumbs up. Loved it! Simply loved it--and, it goes without saying, this is my pick as winning movie of the year. Here's what I liked: George Clooney; the young actress who plays the elder daughter; the magnificent scenery of Hawaii; the wonderful story line; Beau Bridges; and the denouement of the plot.
The Help--two thumbs up. Since this movie is an adaptation of the extremely successful book, it had a high bar to meet. Here's what I liked: Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer; Emma Stone as Skeeter; a strong female cast (you don't see that often); the chocolate pie scene (you know what I mean); the interweaving of historical events from the civil rights era--a light touch, but still it's there; the denouement of the plot. I recently heard Viola Davis on Fresh Air, and I am now rooting for her as best actress.
Moneyball--sort of two thumbs up. This is a thoroughly engaging story, but not really "best movie" material, in my opinion. What I liked: Brad Pitt; Jonah Hill; Philip Seymour Hoffman (who is always good, but in an atypical role here); a bit of an inside view of baseball. What always mystifies me is how I enjoy movies about baseball when I don't really enjoy the game of baseball.
War Horse--mostly two thumbs up. Oh, yes, it's formulaic, and at times gory, but there's a gorgeous horse in it... OK, what I liked: the horse; the happy ending; the horse; the thoroughly realistic and quite harrowing battle scenes; the horse; and .... the horse.
And, now my picks for top prizes, understanding that I have not seen them all:
Best Movie--The Descendants
Best Actress--Viola Davis
Best Actor--Gary Oldman (in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
Best Directing--The Artist
Not having seen all of the movies does limit my choices. Martin Scorsese might take best directing, Michelle Williams might take best actress for playing Marilyn. But, you go with what you have seen.
Happy watching until February 26. And, joy of joys, Billy Crystal is back!