Our Picks for the Oscars

Below are the nominees we’d pick to win based on what we’ve seen. These are not our guess for which nominees will actually win. Unfortunately, due to our day jobs we have not been able to see as many of the nominees as we would have liked to but we’ll try to do better in the coming year!

Best Picture
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“Midnight in Paris”
“The Help”
“War Horse”
“The Tree of Life”

Bill C. – I’ve see all but “War Horse” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”  I enjoyed all the ones I saw, although “The Tree of Life” could have been a little more focused.  I’m going to go with “The Artist.” “Hugo” would be my back-up choice.

Bill I.  – Very tough to pick the best, as my top 3 are very close. I’ll go with The Descendants.

Best Actor
Demian Bichir, “A Better Life”
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Bill C. – I have seen all of these performances except for Demian Bichir.  For me it comes down to George Clooney and Jean Dujardin.  Gary Oldman was good but it was a pretty subdued performance without him showing a range of emotion. Brad Pitt was good too but but he didn’t show the range of the other two.  And my winner is…George Clooney.  Clooney gets the win because his was more of a real emotional performance while Dujardin was a caricature of a silent movie actor. While Dujardin was terrific, I’ll go with the real emotional performance by Clooney.

Bill I. – I will also pick George, especially liked his sprinting in his sandals. I thought Ryan Gosling should have been nominated for Crazy, Stupid Love, he was compelling to watch.

Best Actress
Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

Bill C. – I haven’t seen Glenn Close or Meryl Streep (although I didn’t really like Streep in the preview).  I’m surprised Tilda Swinton didn’t get nominated.  I’ll go with Viola Davis.

Bill I. –  Another tough call, although I hoped Jessica Chastain should have been nominated for The Debt, especially combined with her work in The Help and Tree of Life (which I only heard about). I’ll go with Rooney Mara, who blew me away portraying the Lisbeth Salander character, whom everyone who read the book I’m sure had expecatations in mind.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, “My Week With Marilyn”
Jonah Hill, “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Max Von Sydow, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Bill C – I only saw Kenneth Branagh and Jonah Hill so I’m going to pass here.  From what I’ve heard, I think it will come down to Nick Nolte (a Bill I. top movie) and Christopher Plummer.

Bill I. – Branagh is the best nominee I saw. However, best of the year was Christoph Waitz who portrayed the charmingly evil (typecast!) Circus Master in Water for Elephants. What a scary dude!

Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain, “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

Bill C. – I didn’t see Janet McTeer. Jessica Chastain had a great year; they need a ‘Best Year’ category for her (with Michael Fassbender getting it on the men’s side)!  I thought Berenice Bejo was good too, but I’m eliminating her for the same reason I eliminated Dujardin. Octavia Spencer is my winner. Just a great performance.

Bill I. – I’ll go with Octavia, but what about Bryce Dallas Howard, who was perfect in The Help?

Best Director
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”

Bill C. – I’m going with Martin Scorsese in a very un-Scorsese like movie. His love of movies is on display every frame of this movie. Terence Malick made a beautiful movie but again he just went overboard for me. All of these guys are deserving.

Bill I. – I pick Marty as well, who gave us a visual, magical tour-de-force in Hugo.

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
JC Chandor, “Margin Call”
Asghar Farhadi, “A Separation”
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, “Bridesmaids”

Bill C. – I’m surprised a silent movie is nominated for Best Original Screenplay!  I haven’t seen “A Separation.”  I’d like to see Woody Allen win again.

Bill I. – I would like to see Woody lose. For a winner, I’ll go with Margin Call, with a great story, characters and dialogue.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
“Bullhead” (Belgium)
“Footnote” (Israel)
“In Darkness” (Poland)
“Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)
“A Separation” (Iran)

Bill C – I have only seen “A Separation”, which is excellent.  I have also heard good things about “Bullhead” has gotten great buzz from FantasticFest in Austin and is being distributed by Drafthouse Films (the folks in Austin who run my favorite theater – The Alamo Drafthouse) so everyone should go see it!

Original Score
“The Adventures of Tintin,” John Williams
“The Artist,” Ludovic Bource
“Hugo,” Howard Shore
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” Alberto Iglesias
“War Horse,” John Williams

Bill I. – I don’t know about score, but the opening of Dragon Tatoo was astounding, Trent Reznor killing Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. It reminded me of the best Bond movie openings, or even my favorite opening of all time, Boogie Nights’ use of Kool & The Gang’s Jungle Boogie.

Best Documentary Feature
“Hell and Back Again”
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”

Bill C – I haven’t seen any of these but am really surprised that “Senna” was not nominated.

Best Animated Short Film
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
“La Luna”
“A Morning Stroll”
“Wild Life”

Bill C – We recently saw a compilation with all of these and they are all excellent. The best were “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” and “La Luna.”  “Books” is an homage to reading and was incredibly well done. “La Luna” is a whimsical look at the Moon by Pixar.  I’m going with “Books”. Click here to see “Books”!

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash, “The Descendants”
John Logan, “Hugo”
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, “The Ides of March”
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, “Moneyball”
Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughn, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”

Best Animated Feature
“A Cat In Paris”
“Chico & Rita”
“Kung Fu Panda 2”
“Puss in Boots”

Best Original Song
“Man or Muppet,” The Muppets; Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio,” Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Best Achievement in Art Direction
“The Artist”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
“Midnight in Paris”
“War Horse”

Best Achievement in Cinematography
“The Artist”
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

Best Achievement in Costume Design
“The Artist”
“Jane Eyre”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement?”
“God Is the Bigger Elvis”
“Incident in New Baghdad”
“Saving Face”
“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”

Best Achievement in Film Editing
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”

Best Achievement in Makeup
“Albert Nobbs”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
“The Iron Lady”


Best Live Action Short Film
“The Shore”
“Time Freak”
“Tuba Atlantic”

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“War Horse”

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“War Horse”

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
“Real Steel”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

A Separation

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

A Separation is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and deservedly so. It is set (and made) in Iran and deals with a family splitting up because the wife wants to leave Iran for a better life while the husband refuses so he can continue to care for his father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Tough choices, both moral and otherwise, are faced as the couple separates and needs to deal with their new circumstances. Part of what makes this such a good movie is you are able to sympathize with all the characters. Forces beyond their control take them in conflicting directions and some of their decisions have disastrous effects..

Excellent performances all around, including the couple, the daughter and the woman who comes to help care for the father after the couple separates.

This movie is also interesting because of the insight we get about daily life, the judicial system and religion in Iran.

This film is highly recommended.

IMDB – A Separation

Rotten Tomatoes – A Separation

Safe House

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
Reminiscent (or just a copy) of the Bourne movies, this has all the key elements: government agents who are either rogue or legitimate (you won’t know till the end), a tightly wound middle-aged female 2nd in charge (here played by Vera Famiglia), in conflict with world weary older dude (Brendan Gleeson), GQ-looking agent on the run (Ryan Reynolds) with a cute foreign lover (Nora Arnezeder), bad guys everywhere with bullets flying, brutal fight scenes both in close quarters and in and out of third world buildings and roof tops, exotic and run-down locales, I could go on and on, including the same cinematographer (Oliver Wood). But this film has Denzel, who steals every scene he’s in, often by just sitting handcuffed or standing observing. He doesn’t need much dialogue to convey his character. This is fast paced, quick cutting action, that kept me riveted throughout. Don’t worry too much about the plot, like I said, there’s bad guys after good guys, or vice versa, you find out at the end. Which by the way, decides to copy the latest Mission Impossible instead of Bourne. I don’t think that gives away anything. Enjoy the fun and mothers, don’t let your boys grow up to be secret agents!

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

I know it’s boring when we agree, but I think Bill’s review is right on! Starting with the strength of Denzel’s performance, the reminiscence to the Bourne movies (although not as good) and all the way to the similarity to the Mission Impossible ending.

While I liked most of the action scenes, I did find the quick cutting made a couple of them tough to follow and just hoped the right people were winning (I thought that in the Bourne movies too!).

In addition to the fine performance by Washington, I thought Ryan Reynolds was very good too.

As Bill I. said, the CIA bad guy was pretty arbitrarily chosen and the plot should not be focused on.  If you are an action fan, this movie is ok although not great.

IMDB – Safe House

RottenTomatoes – Safe House

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Tilda Swinton gives a great performance as the mother of a boy who goes on a Columbine-like rampage. The movie tells the story from the mother’s perspective as she deals with her grief after the event, as well as her view of Kevin’s upbringing and what she had to deal with. This adds poignancy to an already sad subject. The story is told in a non-linear way which allows interesting contrasts to be brought out at different times.

In addition to the great performance by Swinton, the two boys who play Kevin at different points of his life are also excellent (the baby Kevin also did a great job of crying on cue but I do not attribute that to his acting skills).

A very good movie but sad movie…so don’t go see this after a tough day when you need to be cheered up.

IMDB – We Need to Talk About Kevin

Rotten Tomatoes – We Need to Talk About Kevin