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.

 

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Moneyball – Movie Review

Moneyball, based on the book of the same title, is a movie about a baseball team manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), in his quest to build a formidable team that can go through the year long tournament. To do so, he enlists the help of Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who has a theory that building a team not based on a player’s reputation but based on his statistical averages is the way to go. The idea proves tantalizing for Beane seeing as his team, the Oakland Athletics, has a very dismal budget to begin with. As he put it, “There are the rich teams, then there are the poor teams, then there’s 50 feet of crap, and then there’s us.”

So instead of splurging on A-list players, Beane hunts down players whose days are apparently behind them. Some have nerve injuries to their elbows, some are too old to play and others have a bad reputation behind them. The critics will rise against Beane and his experiment but he perseveres in an attempt to prove everyone wrong. Moneyball is based on a true story.

To say Brad Pitt delivers a tour de force performance as Billy Beane would be an understatement. I have not watched all the Oscar nominated actors yet but I can safely say that among all the actors who have gotten and are getting award-hype this season, Brad Pitt is without a doubt my favorite so far. He’s being pitted against George Clooney in The Descendants (check my review) as the frontrunners. No offense to George Clooney but Pitt’s performance is lightyears better. It is more engaging, more thrilling, more interesting, more nuanced. It is exquisite. He portrays his character with the exact amount of strength and emotion that it needs. At times, he shows Beane’s fragile side as he faces the looming fear of failure and at other times, as he sits in the changing rooms behind the stadium, he shows undeniable resolve. Sometimes he shows both in one frame. You can actually say that Moneyball is Billy Beane and Billy Beane is Moneyball. The symbiosis between this character and the movie is that strong. Brad Pitt embodies Billy Beane perfectly.

Jonah Hill is very interesting as well as Beane’s assistant. His performance has been rightfully nominated for many awards, including an Oscar. In fact, one of the driving forces for Moneyball is the chemistry exhibited on screen by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman, as the Athletics’ manager, is great as always in a more silent yet comical performance.

Moneyball has a great screenplay as well, as only can be expected from The Social Network‘s Aaron Sorkin (check my review of The Social Network) and Steven Zaillian, responsible for this year’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (check my review), to accompany the all star cast it enlists. The movie flows smoothly, never feels slow. And for a movie about baseball, a sport that I don’t particularly understand, it rises above the toughness of the game and turns this movie into one that is truly heartfelt, comical at times and entertaining throughout.

At the end of the day, Moneyball isn’t a movie about baseball as it is about changing the game, defying the system and breaking the boundaries imposed by other people on you. It is a movie that defies the baseball genre in which many people categorize it and rises above every single other baseball movie ever made. In fact, Moneyball might even be the best sports-related movie ever made because it doesn’t dwell on the technicalities of the sports it portrays, it rises above it to show a humanitarian aspect that everyone can relate to.

9/10

 

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).

– – – – – — – – – – — – – – – –

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.

5 Reasons the 2012 Golden Globes Nominations Are A Big Failure

If you, like me, were outraged by how ridiculous the Golden Globes nominations were this year, this is for you. And if you’re not, this is why you – as a movie enthusiast at the very least – should be.

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 was nominated… for nothing. Not a single category. Nada. Disregard the fact that it’s the last movie in the series. Disregard the fact that it’s the highest grossing franchise in Hollywood history and disregard the fact that Hollywood owes a huge chunk of its financial well-being to Harry Potter. Leave it all aside. Deathly Hallows Part 2 has an aggregate score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. For reference, the other nominated movies have scores that range from Moneyball’s 95% to The Help’s 75%. And if you thought Moneyball’s 1% difference is irrelevant, it becomes relevant when you notice that Moneyball has this score based on 194 reviews whilst Harry Potter has his based on 257 reviews.

But no matter. For those who think Rotten Tomatoes is not a decent criteria – after all Bridesmaids is truly horrible – I shall refer to Metacritic, which gives movies a certain grade if you want based on the reviews they get. Harry Potter has a grade of 87. Hugo has a grade of 83. Moneyball’s grade is 87 as well. The Help comes in at a measly 62. I’m just saying.

It’s either the reviewers are bipolar or those nominating in these award shows are bipolar. I’m sure there’s a correlation between those reviewing and those nominating, which leads me to think this double bipolar disease they have is truly damaging to the industry. What’s even worse about this is that Warner Bros actually tried to get Harry Potter a nomination. Ah well… elitist snobs always win, I guess.


2) Lebanon’s Where Do We Go Now was not nominated in the foreign movie category but the United States’ In The Land of Blood of Honey was. Apparently the fact that the latter movie had an American production, albeit being filmed in Bosnia, did not deter them from considering it foreign. They consider the language the movie was spoken in apparently. Add to that the fact that the movie has an English version which was submitted to other categories for consideration. But as you know, In The Land of Blood of Honey is Angelina Jolie’s movie and as a friend put it, these award people can sometimes be starwhores. Just look at the other nominated movies in this category: Flowers of War has Christian Bale. The Kid With The Bike and The Skin I Live In were also directed by more famous names than Nadine Labaki.

Perhaps our Oscar hopes are not totally dead now. But Where Do We Go Now‘s chances are now very slim at best.

3) Glee gets nominated for best comedy series but The Big Bang Theory, which is truly a comedy, does not get any nominations except for Johnny Galecki’s (Leonard) nomination for best actor in a comedy. Jim Parsons (Sheldon) was not nominated. I don’t even feel like having to elaborate on this.

4) Nina Dobrev, who plays two characters on the CW’s hit series The Vampire Diaries, doesn’t even get a nomination for drama actress in a TV Show. Her characters have nothing to do with each other to make it at least easier for her to portray them. They’re as different as different go. And yet, she’s snubbed. How could a CW TV show be considered worthy after all, right? It’s not like it’s not better than most TV Shows out there. But I guess you should refer to point #1 for their view on quality. I’m sorry to break it to Nina Dobrev but apparently anything she does won’t be enough to get her an award outside the Teen’s Choice or People’s Choice Awards.

5) House’s Hugh Laurie and Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall are both not nominated for best actor in a drama even though they’re both portraying totally twisted and sick characters that should be eaten up by any award committee. The fact that they’re slowly becoming iconic characters in our generation apparently doesn’t help as well.

I guess the finger given by Hugh Laurie as House is fitting.