Jonah Hill, the Academy Award Nominated actor (how cool is that to put together now?) for “Moneyball” hosted “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend and completely laughed up the audience in one of the best hosting efforts this season.
In his opening monologue, he pokes fun at himself, the Oscar process, and is joined by veteran actor and Oscar winner Tom Hanks. Check it out for yourself.
Demian Bichir for “A Better Life” Oscar scene: Telling his son that he does everything for him
George Clooney for “The Descendants” Oscar scene: Saying goodbye to his wife
Jean Dujardin for “The Artist” Oscar scene: Our introduction to George Valentin
Gary Oldman for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” Oscar scene: Smiley describing the time he met Karla
Brad Pitt for “Moneyball” Oscar scene: Telling Jonah Hill that if they win, they’ll have changed the game forever
The strongest of the acting categories this year, Best Actor is one of the few that has multiple possibilities of an outcome, and that’s a tremendous thing to have this late in the game. This year’s slate is made up of one prior Oscar winner, one prior nominee, and 3 newcomers, including one long overdue gentleman. Even though there were lots of snubbed performances in this category in 2011, that speaks more to the quality of the lead acting performances during the season than the actual work of the nominees. These are 5 of the top 20 acting jobs of 2011, and that’s a solid grouping by any regard. To learn about how this race might go down, let’s start by looking at some history for Best Actor, shall we?
As you’re reading this, the Oscar voters have already made their final selections for each category of the Academy Awards, and there’s nothing left to do but wait for the results at the awards ceremony on Sunday. It got me to thinking, what kind of case has each Best Picture contender made for their shot at the award? Below are arguments that could be made, regardless of if I agree with them or not (I don’t completely, and obviously I personally am more or less fond of certain ones), as well as avoiding the precursor results. Later on, there will be a spot as usual for you to let us know the case you’d make for your personal picks in these groups (or all of them if you so desire), but for now, this is how I see it…as objectively as possible. In short, this how I think each film would pitch itself to voters at the last minute if they were standing on even ground going into the ceremony. Yes, I’m a bit bored in Florida (for those of you who know I’m temporarily out of New York City until sometime next month), but any writing is better than no writing. Anyway, here goes nothing…
Much like Kris Tapley over at In Contention does his list of the 10 best shots of each year, I like to do something similar as well here at The Awards Circuit. The wrinkle for me is that I go with the best/most memorable scenes of the year. It’s also kind of a tie in/companion piece with my article on what films from 2011 will stand the test of time. I couldn’t limit it to just 10, so I included 5 of the 15 runners-up and came up with 15 different scenes that were my personal favorites. 8 of my 10 favorite films of 2011 are on the final cut of the list (all wound up in the piece though when you factor in the honorable mentions), but overall I think these are going to be widely considered some of the best scenes of the year. Of course, I’m eager to read what you all have to say/view as the best of the year as well, so we’ll get to that at the end. For now, let’s get on with it and talk about the best scenes from 2011!
The screenplay categories have a strong correlation with past Best Picture winners. In the past few years, “Slumdog Millionaire,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Departed” have all won the Adapted Screenplay race that translated to a Best Picture statue. Other winners such as “The Social Network,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” and “Brokeback Mountain” have lost Best Picture to an Original work. 2004 was the only year that a triumph occurred here that didn’t align with Oscar. Funny enough it was Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” which triumphed over Clint Eastwood’s winner “Million Dollar Baby.” With this year’s Best Picture race likely going to Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” whoever wins in this category will likely be considered a “consolation” prize. Three out of the five films (The Descendants, Hugo, Moneyball), are nominated for Best Picture. ”Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” had a strong showing on nomination morning when many considered the film dead in the water. Lastly, “The Ides of March” pulled in a last minute mention, likely riding the coattails of George Clooney acting work in “The Descendants,” and made a well-deserved showing.
The Artist The Descendants The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Hugo Moneyball
Tied into the Best Picture race more than any other tech category is Best Film Editing. Scoring a Best Picture win without at least a nomination here, if not a win, is incredibly rare and almost unheard of. Of late, the field has been almost entirely filled with nominees for the top prize, but at times the Academy has seen fit to cite top notch action here as well. This year, 4 of the 5 nominees are also Best Picture contenders, and that makes this part of the race pretty interesting. We have last year’s winners in play again too (that’s the picture right here to the right, in case you were wondering), plus a legend in the industry at what she does. All this makes for a lot to take in and analyze, but I’m going to do my best! What may seem somewhat clear cut is not quite so, which makes this more fun, of course. Anyway, before we get too deep into it, let’s settle down for a bit of history, shall we?
Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill – Moneyball
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
This category has often been dismissed as a way to award “distinguished” (read: old) actors with Oscars to honor their career as opposed to the individual performance in question. While I do have some major gripes with this category, this particular accusation always struck me not only as ageist (what, senior actors can’t legitimately give award-worthy performances?!) but not as backed up by recent history as the reputation would suggest. Christian Bale, Christoph Waltz, Heath Ledger, Javier Bardem, George Clooney and Benicio Del Toro were hardly old vet actors looking for a swan song trophy. In fact, the last elderly “career-honor” winner we had was arguably Alan Arkin is 2006, and even then it was a close call between him and Eddie Murphy. That’s why this year presents an interesting complication to the debate. With the average age clocking in at 62, this year’s Best Supporting Actor slate is the oldest ever, and three of them could legitimately claim this award as a career capper. Read more on Oscar Circuit: Best Supporting Actor…
Last year's Oscar winners for Best Sound Mixing for "Inception" (L to R – Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick). Novick is a nominee again this year for "Moneyball".
The 2011 Nominees For Best Sound Mixing Are…
• THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
• TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
• WAR HORSE
At my annual Oscar party, invariably some assemblage of attendees always ask questions such as “What is Cinematography?” “How do they judge Art Direction?” and a rather common one, at least in my circles… “What is the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing? How are we supposed to know the difference?”
To the lay movie fan, below-the-line work is often taken for granted and/or rarely, if ever, thought about. If a movie looks great, it looks great, but few people ever remark that the Director of Photography or Cinematographer’s work was fantastic. Sure the movie may look fantastic and the settings quite glorious, but who amongst your friends and loved ones have ever proclaimed that the art direction and set decoration work of [insert name] was exceptional.
And make no mistake, all of that is fine in a general sense. At the end of the day, people go to the movies to escape, to live another life or decompress from their daily affairs. People paying to see Transformers: Dark Of The Moon or Jack And Jill, or even a conventional dramatic Oscar contending film will simply not be concerned with how a film was lensed, how the sets were constructed, or possibly even be aware that the pacing and rhythm and sequencing of shots they enjoy are meticulously planned out and performed by an editor. At the end of the day, people just want to be entertained and not analyze every moment of the story they just experienced.
Best Picture: The Descendants
Best Director: Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Best Actor: Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Best Actress: Viola Davis (The Help)
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Best Animated Film: Rango
Best Film Yet to Open in Iowa: We Need to Talk About Kevin AND Project Nim
In 1973 the frontrunners for the Oscar for Best Actor were Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail (1973), Al Pacino in Serpico (1973) and Brando in Last Tango in Paris (1973) though admittedly Brando’s behavior the previous year in refusing his Oscar for The Godfather (1972) made him an unlikely winner. Come Oscar night winner was a jaw dropper, Jack Lemmon in the little seen Save the Tiger (1973). One year later once again it was Nicholson in Chinatown (1974) and Pacino in The Godfather Part II (1974) as the frontrunners, but again the winner was right out of left field, Art Carney in Harry and Tonto (1974). Sometimes being the frontrunner means so little, and other times, as the expected winner you have it in the bag as you walk into the building. Did anyone really doubt that Jeff Bridges was going to lose for Crazy Heart (2009)?
Nope he had won the moment he was nominated because it was his time.
Lemmon won in 1973 likely because they split the vote, and I suspect Carney had the same good fortune in 1974. Through the years there have been clear cut cases of a frontrunner losing the Oscar on the big night to a lesser performance, leaving us shaking our hands in utter disbelief. Sometimes its sheer popularity, Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets (1997) over Robert Duvall in The Apostle (1997), other times sentimental choices, split votes, or God forbid, because the actor is said to be, due, whatever that means. Read more on That Best Actor Race…
LOS ANGELES, CA. – January 12, 2012 – The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) announced the winners of the 17th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards earlier this evening. Hosted by comedians Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel, the star-studded ceremony was held at the Hollywood Palladium and aired live on VH1. “The Artist” was named the year’s Best Picture and Michael Hazanavicius won Best Directorhonors for the film.
As the year stands behind us and we gear up for the upcoming award shows including the Critics Choice Awards which will be broadcast on VH1, Thursday, January 12th @ 8pm ET. Make sure you tune in.
As for our own critics here at the Awards Circuit, I am pleased to present the Staff Writers choices for the Top 10 Best Films of 2011. Having a hand in hiring most of these writers that are on board, I am also eager to see the eclectic tastes as we try to form a non-consensus here at the site. We fully embrace how we are all different and look at film in a different way from our next critic or reader. We respect and we view with curiosity. I sincerely hope the readership of the Awards Circuit will share your Top Ten films in the comment section because I’m eager to hear what you guys and gals loved in 2011 as well.
Putting together a best of the year list can be a daunting task, especially when you have so many films and performances you feel passionate about. There are obvious performances and films I thought I felt one way about, that either grew on me or was forgotten altogether by year’s end. You’ll never find a consensus on these types of citations but you go with your gut and see what you see. Without further ado, here are my choices for the Best in Film for 2011. Read more on Year-In-Review: 2011 Davis’ Film Awards (Editors’ Choices)…
The Year-In-Review continues with some non-traditional citations on certain films and performances that did or did not make head way in 2011. What are your choices for “Limited Performance” of the year? or Most Underrated Film? or share what you thought about the Year-in-TV as I dish out my favorites in Television Drama and Comedies. Read more after jump. Read more on Year-In-Review: Editor’s Specialty Awards…
I’ve come, I saw, well, I didn’t conquer but I feel comfortable with the picks thus far. I’ve spent hours analyzing and looking at categories while trying to think like an AMPAS voter. The past eight days or so have presented many answers to questions we thought we knew the answer to. When looking at the Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and the two dozen critics’ awards that have announced their favorites for Year 2011, one thing remains clear. This is one of the most open races we’ve seen in years.
I hate using the word “lock” because as history has told us, AMPAS can “unlock” someone just as fast as we put them in. Think Paul Giamatti in “Sideways.” However, I feel comfortable using the word for a few films thus far. Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” is the clear favorite and the one to beat. It has the Oscar flair that they love and the critics have taken to it in a big way as well. I still feel the same way about it that I did when I first saw it and that means something. “Slumdog Millionaire” which had the same effect on many critics, including myself, aged very poorly and looking back, not necessarily the best film of the year. Not by a long shot. Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” has made a strong showing. George Clooney is working his magic and has encountered many awards along the way. It doesn’t hurt that he also directed and starred in “The Ides of March,” a film not locked by any means despite the Golden Globe nomination. Steven Spielberg’s great epic “War Horse” has everything that Oscar loves. While it doesn’t carry a strong showing on the performance front, the story alone will get voters checking the film off.
Up until the announcement of the New York Film Critics Awards, Brad Pitt had been fairly low on my radar in the Best Actor race. I thought perhaps a nomination for Moneyball might happen, maybe, a distant chance for a nod for The Tree of Life was a possibility. But a win this year? Not likely. Winning the Best Actor prize from the New York Film Critics Association propels Pitt into the thick of the Oscar race, and could land the popular actor his first Academy Award.
Now let’s be clear, I still believe George Clooney is the man to beat for the award, but Pitt is going to make it a race. Now that said, let’s never forget that the winner of the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actor has often gone on to be snubbed by the Academy entirely. Steve Martin in All of Me (1984) felt the sting of such a snub, as did Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers (1988). David Thewlis seethed his way through Naked (1993) to an awards from the critics, though no Oscar nomination, while the great Paul Giamatti won the award for his masterful work in Sideways (2004) only to be ignored by Oscar. So until the morning of the nominations, we know nothing. Read more on Pitt Leaps in the Oscar Race with Earnest…
They bitched, they moaned, and after all this about David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo not being screened in time, the New York Film Critics ignore the film completely. The big win of the day was Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist which landed a Picture and Director win respectively. I felt when I first saw the film that it would be a Sideways-type of affection among critics throughout the season but then Alexander Payne’s The Descendants swooped in and started gaining a lot of momentum. The film, which garnered three four-star reviews from our own writers here at the site, was looking signed, sealed, and delivered for some true awards attention. Clooney even failed to get a mention today and he’s one of the best things to come out of an actor’s performance this year.
Helmed by a powerful lead performance by Elizabeth Olsen, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene dribbles right on the edge of thriller and suspense without coming off gimmicky. Olsen evokes and drowns herself in her character keeping the questions right on the surface and not losing sight. Though the film’s narrative never fully develops and fails to explore the deepest parts of this cautionary tale, the full commitment from the directing style and its performers transform a seemingly A-typical story to something new and dynamic. Co-star John Hawkes shines once again in a new villainous and demented turn which remains one of the great supporting male works this year. A notation for Hugh Dancy is worth mentioning in a presumably vacant character but effective and taunting performance.