Wednesday, January 9, 2013

For Your Consideration: Final Round-Up

With the Oscar nominations coming tomorrow morning, I decided to take one last look back at the films from 2012 that should get nominated tomorrow, but most likely wont.

For me, 2012 was a fantastic year of movies, I mean, I literally gave more favorable reviews than negative ones, which I don't think I've had a year where I loved this many movies since 2009.  Reading other websites and film magazines, I get the general consensus that everyone feels that 2012 was one of the better years of film in years, and for that reason that also will make this year's Academy Awards one of the more up in the air competitions since perhaps 2005, when films like Crash and Brokeback Mountain were duking it out for the top prize.

This year, there really is a case that could be made for at least five movies to possibly win -- Zero Dark Thirty for its topical story, Argo for it's Hollywood saves the day narrative, Lincoln for its portrait of one of the most popular Presidents of all-time, Les Miserables for the Broadway crowd, and even Silver Linings Playbook on the fringe for just being such an enjoyable, well-loved film.

With so much stiff competition in 2012, many films fell by the wayside that might have made the cut in weaker years, but what really inspires this kind of post every year is that, while this has been an incredibly strong year for film, the Academy Awards often will not highlight some of the best films from any given year because of prejudices against superheroes, Hollywood blockbusters, and stuff that is often not considered artsy in their minds.  These are the films I want to look at today, the films that were artsy enough and would have made it had this not just been such an amazing year, as well as the films that will get snubbed purely because of their genre.   As always, it's easier to traverse such a post when it's in some sort of organized form, so I decided to list the films and the performances that I feel deserve recognition come tomorrow and wont get it.

Jack Black for Bernie 
Bernie was by far one of the funniest movies of 2012, and it was because of Jack Black as an effeminate Texan mortician accused of murder.  Black's performance was so dialed down from his usual, over-the-top schtick, I actually believed his performance, and found it all the funnier by him playing it straight and just letting the absurdity of the situations be what drives the humor.  A reserved performance from an actor who should have been recognized back in 2005 for his nuanced supporting work in King Kong (just my opinion, folks).

Best Adapted Screenplay for Skyfall
What writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan, did with James Bond's 23rd adventure, Skyfall, was make an anti-Bond film that wound up being a true-blue Bond film thanks to their marvelous writing.  They delved deeper into these characters than any other Bond movie, they rocked Bond's world, made him less of a superhero, and yet that made him all the more awesome when he overcame his own shortcomings to save the day.  With the per-requisite supporting cast put back into the Bond world, as well as exotic locales and two of the better Bond girls since the Roger Moore-era, Skyfall felt like James Bond, while it still moved you emotionally.  While Skyfall is a dark horse contender in Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem's brilliant portrayal as bad guy Silva, as well as being a dark horse for Best Picture, the film's most deserved nomination is one that it probably wont get.

Elizabeth Olsen and Best Original Screenplay for Liberal Arts
Liberal Arts is one of those Indies that was well reviewed, and fairly well received by the arthouse crowd in general, and yet it hasn't generated one ounce of award's buzz.  Written, directed, and starring, How I Met Your Mother-star Josh Radnor, Liberal Arts was one of the more charming films of 2012.  Radnor's script was in all honesty the type of script you were taught to write in screenwriting classes.  It follows the three-act structure to perfection, while tying every character and situation to a central theme, not to mention Radnor's amazing ear for dialogue, with some of the more natural dialogue I've heard in a long time in this film.  Then, there's the performance from young actress, Elizabeth Olsen, as a college student who falls for Josh Radnor's 35-year-old admission's officer.  Olsen further proves herself as a charismatic, versatile star who just needs the right vehicle for her career to really launch off, but come on, she at least deserves to be mentioned in the Best Actress category for her work here.

Tom Hiddleston, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture for The Avengers
If there is one movie that I truly am furious about it's omission from any award's conversation so far, it's The Avengers.  How this film didn't even pop up with a Best Ensemble nomination from the Screen Actor's Guild is beside me.  Not only has The Avengers quickly become the third highest grossing film of all-time, but it did something that had never been done before.  Marvel took four separate film franchises, spanning five different films, and put all of those characters into one large event movie and it rocked the socks off of almost any other blockbuster from the past twenty years.  Seeing as how Best Picture nominates the producers, I really don't see why a movie that was such a huge risk, winding up to be so phenomenally awesome and successful, isn't grounds for nomination?  Then there's Joss Whedon's script, which balanced the personalities of all of these individual characters, who have proven to hold their own films very well, and then you have actor Tom Hiddleston as Loki, playing the quintessential villain.  It's always said, a hero is only as good as their villain, and Loki came across as a genuine threat thanks to Hiddleston's nuanced performance, that bests even Javier Bardem from Skyfall, and if that performance is getting Oscar buzz, then Hiddleston should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  It just baffles me, even after all these years covering the Oscars.  I mean, why so much bias to films that deliver awesomeness, emotion, and entertainment, all packaged into one?  That is the question.

Across the Board for The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is probably the one film from 2012 that I feel genuinely deserves to be recognized in all categories.  This should not be interpreted as me saying it's the best film of 2012, but from a production standpoint, it was probably the most well put together.  From the immense time and detail put into bringing the world of the novels to life, through massive sets, spectacular make-up work and costumes, to the intense performances from the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson, all the way to the pitch perfect screenplay from Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross, it all worked.  Not to mention the editing and cinematography, that sold the gritty world that Gary Ross was creating for this sci-fi thriller.  And come on, Gary Ross for Best Director.  If you're gonna nominate him for Seabiscuit, then he has to be nominated for The Hunger Games.  Few films of this scale bear an artist's mark quite like this film does, from every performance to every decision involving the look and feel of the world, it all feels of one vision, and that stems from the director.  Given all I said above, it's a no-brainer that I also feel that a good adaptation of a Young Adult book series should be given a Best Picture nod rather than just saying it's the new Twilight.  Alas, it wont, due to bias against films based on teen books, as well as bias towards the science fiction genre in general.  If Harry Potter never broke through the glass ceiling with the Oscars, then there is no way The Hunger Games will, but it so should.  The books are serious works of literature, and the film is a seriously thought provoking piece of cinema.

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