5 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Watching The Oscars This Year

As I’ve made it widely known already, I will not be overnighting to watch the Academy Awards this year for several reasons, the main ones being:

1) I do not care about any of the nominees in best picture. Meaning, I don’t give a rat’s a*s if The Help wins best picture or The Artist or The Descendants or Moneyball or any of the other nominees. Why? Because, despite some of them being good movies (The Descendants is atrocious and I couldn’t go through Tree of Life), they are simply nominated because academy members are a bunch of elitist snobs who couldn’t take a risk. The Artist is getting hype because it’s the first silent movie to be made in a long time (if it weren’t silent, it would have crashed and died), The Help is making the rounds because of its brilliant cast and captivating story. I have no idea why Tree of Life and The Descendants are nominated, to be honest, apart from the names associated with them.
Is it worth it to watch an award show from 3 AM to 6 AM when you don’t care about their top honors? Nope.

2) I do not care who wins best actor. Jean Dujardin, Brad Pitt or George Clooney. None of them have given me a performance this year that I feel is truly captivating enough for me to root for them beyond measure. Last year, James Franco delivered a tour-de-force one man show in 127 Hours that should have gotten him an Oscar. I had him to support. While I do have my preference, I still wouldn’t care if it goes either way, which means yet another reason as to why I wouldn’t want to tire myself by staying up all night for nothing.

3) Viola Davis or Meryl Streep? The million dollar question, as they say, for this year’s awards rounds. And yet, I don’t feel invested in any of them. Viola Davis was great in The Help. I have yet to watch Meryl Streep’s movie but everyone’s saying it’s a one-woman show, which is almost always the case whenever she’s present – regardless of how strong her supporting cast is. However, I haven’t been exposed to that one performance which absolutely blew me away, like I was with Jennifer Lawrence’s Winter’s Bone last year. If you haven’t watched that movie, you absolutely must. So as you see, with another one of the major awards becoming irrelevant to me, this turns up yet another reason not to watch.

4) Best director? Let’s pretend we understand all the technicalities that come with this. And let’s also pretend that Terrence Malick is not there because of his name and because academy voters usually worship at his altar. Let’s also pretend that Martin Scorsese’s Hugo deserves eleven nominations, including one for best director and let’s also pretend that Alexandre Payne is nominated because The Descendants is actually a good movie, which it most definitely is not, and not because he’s been away for seven years. And while you try to pronounce the name of Michel Hazanavicius, you’re left with him as the only one person who deserves it. However, I feel no investment in whether he actually wins or not. I really couldn’t care either way. I was invested in this last year because I was furious Christopher Nolan didn’t get a nomination. This year, not so much.

5) I tried to come up with a fifth reason and there’s no better reason than the fact that I didn’t bother with closing any of the major categories like I did last year. I haven’t finished watching all the acting performances. I still need to watch one of the Best Picture movies (Tree of Life doesn’t count). The one I still need to watch, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, has an aggregate score of 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and received mixed to negative reviews at best. The reason it was nominated? Probably its theme of 9/11 drama. Simply, there’s nothing about the Oscars this year that screams excitement. There are no breakthrough performances, no surprise nominations. The Oscars this year are a mess of safe choices that will go well with the history of the Academy and, in the long run, become forgotten as movies of the “it” moment that fail to garner considerable traction with the people.

 

Top 13 Movies of 2011

Note: This list is tentative and will be constantly updated to be hopefully finalized by March at the latest due to the unavailability of many movies that are garnering critical acclaim and award traction, be it on DVD or in local theaters.

After checking my first “Top of 2011″ list which dealt with music, it is time for the second one about another thing that I’m interested in and which I’ve discussed many times throughout this past year: movies.

So without further ado, let us begin.

13 – X-Men: First Class

This reboot of the franchise of which I am a fan was a very needed approach in order to keep these X-Men relevant. Showing how Dr. Xavier became as such and Magneto became, well, Magneto, the movie was really a breath of fresh air for action movies that became more reliant on screen explosions and aerobics than on a decent story to which those special effects come as a complement. (My review of X-Men: First Class)

12 – Stray Bullet

This Lebanese movie may be too short and not a very accurate reflection on the war it is supposedly set in but the acting performances in this are so gut-wrenchingly real, it can’t but be on my list. (My review of Rsasa Tayshe/Stray Bullet)

11 – The Ides of March

This political drama is my favorite of its genre this year. I may not agree with the accolades it’s getting everywhere over more deserving movies but it’s still a great movie in its own merits. It’s riveting, engaging, highly reflective and real. It can happen anytime in any political campaign. The performances are top notch as well. (My review of The Ides of March).

10 – Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s back to basics is definitely one of the better movies of the year. This Parisian comedy will make you dream. It will take you beyond the confines of whatever room you’re watching the movie in and take you aboard its own fantastical world in a trip back in time. Marion Cotillard is more than brilliant in this. The plot is very original and the movie is very enjoyable. (My review of Midnight in Paris).

9 – One Day

Many didn’t like this movie. I found it enthralling and enchanting. Telling the story of a couple revisiting each other on the day they met every year over the course of 23 years. The premise is intriguing and while I’m sure it flows more smoothly in the book upon which this is based, the movie doesn’t botch it. In fact, the transitions are very smart at times. (My review of One Day).

8 – A Separation

This Iranian movie is simply stunning. It’s a cross examination of Iranian society through the lives of  a couple getting a divorce. The emotions in this run high, they never relent. The hurt in the characters is examined and not feared. Taboos are approached and at the end of the day, it leaves you with a stereotype-breaking view of Iranian society. (My review of A Separation).


7 – War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s WWI epic is, well, an epic movie as well. Based on the children’s book of the same name, War Horse is emotional and phenomenal. It’s stunning to look at and boasts one of the most pleasurable scores I have heard this year in a movie. It is a sentimental movie that transcends age lines and turns into a story for the ages. A must watch. (My review of War Horse)

6 – Moneyball

Brad Pitt shines as Billy Beane, manager of a struggling baseball team, as he tries to get his team to survive a grueling league with a dismal budget. So he enlists Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand to help him change the whole baseball game and turn it head on heels. Moneyball might be the best sports movie made. (My review of Moneyball)

5 – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher’s take on this Swedish noir novel preserves the book’s essence and turns it into a stellar movie, fueled by a top notch performance by Rooney Mara who embodies the novel’s heroin Lisbeth Salander in spellbinding manner. I loved the book and the movie. (My review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)

4 – The Artist

The Artist is a black and white movie which relies on the symphony playing throughout its run for its only auditory input. And it just works. It asks nothing of you as a viewer but to simply watch, not even listen. It relies on the strength of the performances by its cast to communicate the emotions it tries to convey. (My review of The Artist).

 3 - The Help


Based on the book of the same titleThe Help is easily one of the best movies this year as well. It is the tale of the quest of three Southern women in a 1960s racially segregated America for racial equality. The movie may be a work of fiction but it feels so real when you watch it, you can’t but be amazed. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important” – that’s a sentence for the ages. (My review of The Help).

2 – Where Do We Go Now? (W Halla2 La Wein?)


The Lebanese movie that could. Nadine Labaki’s latest movie is without a doubt one of the best movies this year. After being robbed of a Golden Globes nomination (Angelina Jolie, I’m looking at you), we find solace in this movie winning at the Toronto International Film Festival. Telling the tale of women who go beyond their means to get the men of their religiously-divided hometown to ease the tension, the movie tugs at your heartstring, activates your tear ducts and makes you laugh uncontrollably – all at the same time, sometimes. (My review of Where Do We Go Now?)

1 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Because there’s no other movie that deserves to be here. Because there’s no other franchise that has had such a thrillingly brilliant finale. Because no other movie has ever gotten me this close to tears and because every single award show is hell-bent on shunning this from the awards it most definitely deserves. Yes, this may be predictable to many but there’s just something about the final installment in the story of Harry Potter that transcends it being just a movie and turns into a cinematic experience that we, as the Harry Potter generation, are very lucky to have experienced. (My review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2).

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Notable mentions:

Puss in Boots, previous #13 on the list’s initial version. 

Soul Surfer (check my review) previous #12 on the list’s initial version.

Source Code (check my review) previous #11 on the list’s initial version.

The Artist – Movie Review


In The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius takes Hollywood retrospectively to 1927 where the age of silent movies still reigned – all with a silent black and white movie.

Silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is at the top of the world. His movies are always a huge success. He’s adored by his audiences for his sense of humor and all around fun attitude towards everything. 1927 Hollywood was all about Valentin.

Soon after the premiere of his latest movie, he stumbles on a girl named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who kisses him on the cheek to newspaper headlines. Soon after, Peppy lands a role as a dancer in one of Valentin’s movies during which he gives her the advice of needing to be different to stand out, giving her the big break she needed. And with that, Peppy starts climbing her Hollywood stairs, quickly becoming a sensation by 1929. It is then that talking movies are introduced and Valentin refuses to start speaking in his movies. The reason for this refusal is ultimately answered in a subtle and touching way as only a movie like The Artist could pull off. His career quickly deteriorates and he is forced to deal with his own pride, decisions, miscalculations – all as Peppy Miller’s career soars with her talk to unreached heights.

The Artist is a breath of vintage fresh air in a Hollywood movie scene that is relying more and more on brainless blockbuster action movies than on truly artistic cinematic features that would leave you speechless as you leave a movie theatre. The Artist is one of those movies that leave you baffled as you watch it.

Jean Dujardin is absolutely breathtaking in this. He leads a masterful, brilliant, stunning performance – all without speaking a word. It is a testament to an actor’s ability when he can communicate the struggles, emotions, triumphs and defeats of his character to the audience all through his facial expressions and overall demeanor in a movie.

Bérénice Bejo is great as Peppy Miller – the actress who is taken places because of George Valentin and who eventually leads to his downfall, feeling guilty about doing so and wanting to increasingly take care of him. You can see her metamorphose on screen from an awkward dancer who wants to get places to America’s sweetheart, who knows exactly what she can leverage out of movie makers.

Despite being black and white, The Artist is visually appealing. Soon enough, the fact that you aren’t watching a movie in color goes to the back of your mind and you start enjoying the genius of it all. The score of the movie, composed by Ludovic Bource, is beyond a masterpiece. The Artist, if you don’t want to consider it a silent movie simply because of the lack of speech, is a movie without spoken words to the melody of a brilliant symphony. It’s very difficult not to be taken into the ingenuity that is the music of The Artist.

At the end of the day, The Artist is examining the extinction of silent movies in Hollywood by giving Hollywood in 2011 a silent movie that triumphs in quality most of its talkies. And that’s precisely what this is such a great movie. It is delicate and original. It is profound and fun. It makes you laugh and it has its heartfelt moments. It might be a lament to the Hollywood age it represents but it does so without being overly pessimistic. In a way, it seems that this European movie is reminding Hollywood of its roots, of its origin. Without being technically proficient, The Artist is showing exactly how much all those extras can take away from the essence of movies. It’s showing audiences that you can really enjoy a movie that doesn’t demand anything of you except to look at shadows, black and white pictures and moving people. And in return, it gives you so much more…

9/10