Thursday, September 8, 2011

A 2011 Pre-Oscar Season Summation

Before I unleash the movies I’m most excited about this Oscar season, let’s take a look at what we’ve seen so far.  As has been the case for the past few years, American movie theaters have mostly (and most popularly) been polarizing audiences with thankless, big budget nonsense.  But, also like most every year, there have been a few hidden gems begging to be exposed.

For the record, the best film I’ve seen so far this year, which also contains the two best female acting performances, is Incendies.  But since it was nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar last year, thereby making it ineligible for competition this year, I’m not counting it in this wrap up.

There’s a lot of repetition in these categories, but that’s simply because we haven’t been offered anything else truly worthy.  Yet. 

Titles link to my original reviews.

In the kicker of my original review, I warned readers that they’ll be hard pressed to find a better American movie this year than Terrence Malick’s love-it-or-hate-it work of art.  Months later, I’m sticking by that statement.  For now.

Honorable Mention: The Double Hour, a twisty, turny, little-seen, quasi masterpiece that left theaters as quickly as it entered them.  The little attention this movie received is heartbreaking. The fact that it still doesn’t have a DVD release date is devastating.

Best Director
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Quite simply, I just don’t know how he did it.

Honorable Mention: Michael Winterbottom – The Trip

Best Actor
Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
By year’s end, my pick for Best Actor will undoubtedly change, but damn if Pitt didn’t nail it.

Honorable Mention: Demián Bichir – A Better Life

Best Actress
Kseniya Rappoport – The Double Hour

Honorable Mention: Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life

Best Supporting Actor
Hunter McCracken – The Tree of Life
Yeah, I liked this flick… a lot.

Honorable Mention: Christopher Plummer – Beginners, John Boyega – Attack the Block

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
One of the best comedic performances I've seen in years.  McCarthy, however, took it beyond mere comedy; she gave her character a heart.

Honorable Mention: I have seen none better than McCarthy.

Best Screenplay
The Double Hour - Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi, and Stefano Sardo

Honorable Mention: The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick

Best Documentary
Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Werner Herzog

Honorable Mention: Tabloid – Errol Morris

Best Everything Technical
The Tree of Life
If Emmanuel Lubezki doesn’t win Best Cinematography for this movie, there is something seriously wrong with the Oscars (other than the eye rolling choice of host).
Top 10 of 2011 So Far

Stay tuned for my Fall Movie Preview.


  1. I really hope Hunter McCracken actually gets recognition.

  2. So, you like Tree of Life huh? I thought Pitt was outstanding, as were the rest of the cast, but I consider Pitt a lock for Best Supporting Actor!

  3. Hmmm, you think Pitt for Supporting, Andy? Maybe... they may try that and then Lead for Moneyball. Interesting... those Oscar politics.

  4. Wow very heavy on The Tree of Life! Sadly, I don't think it will be nearly that straightforward with nearly of the "Oscar movies" still to come out.

  5. Yeah I bet Tree of Life only walks away with a few noms, and fewer (if any) wins. To bizarre for the average, old, white Oscar voter.

  6. Yeah, if there is a lead in that film, it would be Hunter McCracken. From the sounds of it, Pitt is the lead in Moneyball, so that it a pretty accurate assumption, I think.

    But, locks (hopefully) for me are: Michael Shannon (lead) and Jessica Chastain (support) for Take Shelter, Elizabeth Olson (lead) and John Hawkes (support) for Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Pitt for ToL. Also, Kirsten Dunst was outstanding in Melancholia and Viola Davis in The Help.

    Brendan Gleeson and Paul Giamatti were also great in The Guard and Win Win, though they will be Globe hopefuls I expect. Perhaps not Gleeson, though.

    There is also talk for Christopher Plummer for his supporting performance in Beginners. Not overly convinced by that one, though he was very good.

    Anyway, there is a long way to go. Just a few that I came up with.

  7. Wait, so you've seen Take Shelter and Martha Marcy and Melancholia? Jealous. Can't wait to see all of 'em.

  8. Man. There's no way Tree of Life is going to rake in all those awards. It may be a groundbreaking movie, but the academy is never going to give the best picture award to an artsy flick that most movie goers won't be able to enjoy. It's just not going to happen.

  9. I couldn't agree more. These were just my dream list picks (most of which would be changed now, having seen Drive). But yeah, Tree of Life will pick up some noms, but if it wins it'll only be in technical categories.