Wow…writing this up took all day. Just when we think we’ve figured the Academy out, they throw not just one wrench but many in the mix. Academy Award Nominee Jennifer Lawrence announced the nominees today along with AMPAS President Tom Sherak. Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” led the nominations with eleven including Best Picture and Director and Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” garnered ten nominations. Let’s breakdown each category and see what just happened here.
Best Motion Picture
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“Midnight in Paris”
“The Tree of Life”
Yes, I know today is going to be pretty much dominated by the Oscar nominations and their odd choices (though honestly, is it ever not this way?) with this morning’s announcement, but there’s a place for this column as well (and perhaps you can distract yourself from wondering what the Academy was thinking by watching one or two of my selections), so here it is. This week, one of the best films of 2011 hits shelves, along with some other high quality selections. In fact, this is one of the most stacked release weeks in a long time. 2 of my top 30 films of last year are out, plus a host of other titles I can easily recommend. This is an embarrassment of riches…a superlative DVD/Blu-Ray release week and the Oscar nods. How lucky are we? Anyway, there are two flicks that rose to the top today, and one of them is an easy choice for my PICK OF THE WEEK overall. It was one of my very favorite movies of 2011, an Oscar player all winter long (though sadly completely ignored this morning…a real shame), and a shockingly good piece of cinema. It’s:
There were a whole host of ways that this dramedy about a young man struggling with a cancer diagnosis could have gone wrong. It’s a real testament to those involved that it not only does everything right, but in an exceptional way as well. Directed with a really deft hand by Jonathan Levine, based on a real life event in scribe Will Reiser’s life, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role, the flick is an incredible achievement. Factor in great supporting turns by Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Phillip Baker Hall, and Anjelica Huston, along with a career best performance by Seth Rogen, and you have easily one of the best films of 2011. It came in at #7 on my Top Ten list, and now that it’s available to own I urge all of you to pick it up. It’s going to be a classic one day, even if the Academy didn’t see fit to honor it with a nomination. It’s just that great!
Please see Viola Davis’s statement regarding her Oscar nomination for THE HELP:
“It’s an honor to be nominated a second time, it is a personal accomplishment and triumph for women and women of color. I’m so glad the film has been recognized, it was a labor of love from the moment it was conceived and it is rewarding to see the impact it is having.”
I am deeply honored to have been nominated by the Academy for my work on Hugo. Every picture is a challenge, and this one – where I was working with 3D, HD and Sacha Baron Cohen for the first time – was no exception. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve been recognized by the people in your industry. I congratulate my fellow nominees. It’s an impressive list, and I’m in excellent company.
Twas the night before the Oscar nominations and all through the house, not a single Academy member was stirring, but us prognosticators were nervous as a mouse.
Aside from that crummy rhyme, I do have a few things to say now that we’re just a matter of hours away from knowing who the latest crop of Oscar nominees are. Before I begin though, I must say how much fun 2011 was in terms of trying to get a handle on the awards race. Plenty of questions still remain…questions like “which films will have enough #1 votes to get a Best Picture nominations?”, along with my curiosity about how films as varied as Drive, A Separation, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and We Need to Talk About Kevin will do. I’m awaiting the nominations with baited breath, but before that, a couple of points that I’d like to bring up on Oscar Nomination Eve…
Sad news out of Sundance as one of the behind the scenes legends of indie film has passed away. Bingham Ray isn’t a name that everyone knows, but those who do know it are aware of his impact on the film world, mainly in terms of getting smaller films to a theater near you. He will be missed. Here’s the obituary from Deadline:
Sundance Institute just announced that independent film champion Bingham Ray passed away today. He was 58. ”It is with great sadness that the Sundance Institute acknowledges the passing of Bingham Ray, cherished independent film executive and most recently Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society. On behalf of the independent film community in Park City for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, we offer our support and condolences to his family. Bingham’s many contributions to this community and business are indelible, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten.” He had taken ill unexpectedly and was hospitalized but stable in Provo, Utah. That’s nearby Park City where he was attending the Art House Convergence Conference before the Sundance Film Festival began.