Watching: A Cinematic Adventure with the 2012 Best Picture Nominees

Yesterday, Cristina and I sat through five of the nominated movies for Best Picture. We have seen three of the other nominees with only War Horse being left out. And because watching five movies in one day is an adventure, we decided to write our thoughts on this cinemantic journey.

Two of the movies were about the movies and specifically the silent era. I adored Hugo. Wonderfully lit for a 3D film (besides Avatar, 3D films are way too dark), this film seemed to be a love letter from Scorsese to the movies. The young child actors were well cast. While the movie did at times seem like a PSA for film preservation, it made me smile the entire time. The other film about the movies, The Artist, was a great homage to the silent era. The handsome leads were able to find the emotions needed for this film without saying the words. While it isn’t City Lights or The General, it too has you smiling the entire time. To Cristina it was one of her two favorites.

I have mixed feelings about The Help. It’s a very good movie with an even better one waiting to come out. The story of the white crusader who helps the people of color find their courage just seems to have been done one too many times (Glory, Ghosts of Mississippi). However, the film boasts excellent performances from it’s entire cast. I just wish the last scene was actually the start of the movie.  Finally, being free for the first time, Viola Davis’s story was just getting interesting.

The Descendants is also a well acted movie. It came the closest to giving me the feeling that I was watching someone else’s life. George Clooney is struggling to keep his life together after his wife is injured in an accident without a chance of recovering. It’s a journey movie of one finding one’s self and realizing that they have the courage to do what will make them happy. The final scene of Clooney’s character and his wife is a powerfully gut-wrenching scene.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the one film that I felt like saying “meh” after. The movie just felt manipulative to me. The movie deals with a boy, probably with Asperger’s, dealing with the lost of his father on that most terrible of days of our generation. It’s so well acted and so well directed that it seems to ask for an Oscar nomination. The film is brilliant when Max Von Sydow is on the screen.

Moneyball is a very good film. It’s downfall is that it almost comes off as documentary. Actually, that is what makes it a great film.

The most frustrating film is also the most beautiful of the nominees. Tree of Life doesn’t have a linear story line which makes it the only film I wouldn’t recommend. It’s a tone poem about…life, death, God, and the void. It does seem to have it’s roots in the Book of Job, but even one of it’s stars, Sean Penn, has no idea what the film is about. That doesn’t mean it isn’t great. That doesn’t mean it isn’t awful, either. This is truly the only film I have seen in years that can be judge solely on what your experiences tell you about it.

That leaves us with my favorite film (and the film that ties with the Artist for Cristina’s vote): Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The film has Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson in it but the true star is the streets and architecture of Paris. Owen Wilson’s character keeps switching from the present day City of Lights to the artist mecca of the 1920s in a journey to find himself and what will make him happy. And as he learns, Paris of any era might just have the answers.

Now, to plan a future trip to Paris…

Cristina’s note: If The Artist or Midnight in Paris does not win, the Oscars are a sham!

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