Negative ads. Smear campaigns. Glad-handing voters. Intimidation.
Piles of money. And the cold dead hand of a master manipulator behind the
scenes. Yes, it's Oscar campaign season again. Not nearly as entertaining as
the donnybrook for the Republican Presidential nomination, but in many ways involving
the same tactics, dynamics, frustrations, and likely outcome.
With the announcement of the Oscar nominations this morning,
the Academy once again has unleashed a stinging slap to my pretensions to
In short, I got seven wrong out of 34, or about 77%. At best a C+ and short of
my average of 80-85%.
As usual, though, I'm wrong for all the right reasons.
The Academy just announced its short list of nine candidates
for Best Foreign Language Film Oscars.
Belgium, "Bullhead," Michael R. Roskam, director;
Canada, "Monsieur Lazhar," Philippe Falardeau, director;
Denmark, "Superclásico," Ole Christian Madsen, director;
Germany, "Pina," Wim Wenders, director;
it's the same: they announce the five "Best Foreign Language Film" Academy
Award nominees and you haven't heard of any of them, let alone seen
them. But here's a chance to get an early look at a strong contender, the
official French Oscar entry, Declaration
Of War. Directed by and starring
Valérie Donzelli, it's about a young couple who discover that their infant son
has a potentially terminal brain tumor.
The National Society of Film Critics, of which I am a member, had a choice between "Life" and death today, and they chose death. That is to say, Lars Von Trier's doomsday celebration "Melancholia" beat out Terence Malick's cheerier "Tree of Life" for Best Picture by one vote. "Tree of Life" would make a comeback with Best Director and Best Cinematography somewhat later in the four-and-a-half meeting, but not before "Melancholia' scored again with Best Actress with Kirsten Dunst.
After an informal poll of my fellow Boston Society of Film Critics members, the
winner of the 2011 "Where's Whitey? Award for Best Animal Actor" has been
It wasn't even close.
For a performance all the more impressive because it was
done without resorting to any dialogue, barked
or otherwise, and.
Here "The Artist" impressively scores number one on three more lists. I
feel so bad that's it's not my favorite movie. More divisive are "J.
Edgar," "War Horse," and "Melancholia, which have been showing up on
both best and worst lists. Sometimes from the same critic.
1. "The Artist"
It's a sad fact that we often do not recognize someone's
greatness or the significance of their contributions until they pass away. Such
is the case with that late, great ape, Cheetah (or Cheeta, as he preferred to have his name spelled) who passed away Christmas
Eve at the age of 80. And so belatedly, to acknowledge this legendary hominid,
we have decided to posthumously award him the "Where's Whitey?" lifetime
Once again my colleagues here have been kind enough to share their picks.
More to follow.
Ten Best in Order:
A Dangerous Method
Bill Cunningham New York
So, to wrap up the 2011 Boston Society of Film Critics awards:
BEST PICTURE: "The Artist"
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE PICTURE: "Incendies"
BEST ANIMATED FILM: "Rango"
BEST DOCUMENTARY: "Project Nim"
BEST DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
BEST NEW FILMMAKER:Sean Durkin for "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
I just came from a screening of David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," in which Keira Knightley as Sabina
Spielrein kicks and screams and laughs hysterically as she's dragged from a
carriage into the Bürgholzi Mental Hospital to be treated by Michael
Fassbender's Carl Jung.
Yesterday I went to a screening of "Young Adult,"
directed by Jason Reitman from a script by Diablo Cody, in which Charlize
Theron (an old hand at disturbed characters after her serial killer in
"Monster") plays a woman who is acutely depressed, alcoholic, and
self-destructively obsessed with a man she went out with over fifteen years
Is the NYFCC indulging in crass self-promotion by rushing to be the first critics society to present its 2011 awards. Are they, as some people such as blogger David Poland insist, a "business call. not a show call," putting their impact on the film industry (i.e., the Oscars) above their responsibility to disinterestedly weigh the merits of the year's movies? It doesn't matter: they're already underway.
As good as George Clooney is as beleaguered Hawaiian nabob and
family man Matt King in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants," 20-year-old
Shailene Woodley still steals the show as King's messed-up teenaged daughter Alexandra. Her
subtle, funny, and vivid performance will probably catch the eye of critics
groups and the Academy as the awards season approaches.