Monday, 18 March 2013

2012 A Year In Review For Movies: Oscar Buzz

 Anybody else find it confusing to have two names for the same thing?  You'll find that for a lot of things but in this case I'm referring to the Academy Awards or the Oscars.  Since I've never been a big fan of TV, and my love of movies has just begun blossoming, I thought the Oscars and Academy awards were two separate events. 

Then you have the Grammy's, the Peoples Choice Awards, The Golden Globes and a whole bunch of other awards shows.  I found it hard to figure out which show was for what and which ones mattered.

Well I think I heard somewhere that the Academy Awards (or Oscars) was the grandaddy of em all.  Whether or not that's true is a mute point since I think I heard that and since these are my musings what I think is law.

I think the Academy Awards was the name of the show and the Oscar was the any event all of this is kind of an irrelevant thought since the Academy Awards have decided to re brand themselves as simply the Oscars to avoid any further confusion.

Thanks for looking out for me fellas.

But this is all a huge digression from my initial purpose of this post which is the beginning of my super important analysis of the movies of 2012.

I thought I'd start out with the movies that had a bunch of Oscar buzz.  I honestly didn't watch the Oscars and only vaguely know of the winners.  So this post is basically a grouping of movies that I liked and believe either were nominated, or should have been nominated at the Oscars.

So lets start off with what I do know to be the winner of best picture...

So Argo won best picture, and while it was a solid movie, I do not believe it deserved to win best picture.  For me a best picture winner should have a good story (it did), well shot (it was), and bring something new to the table (it did not).

For those of you who are not aware of the story, Argo is an action/thriller/dramatization film based on real events.  After the storming of the US Embassy in Iran, six employees manage to sneak out and hid within the Canadian Embassy.  The rest of the film is their attempt to flee the country.

For me the best part of this film is the storming of the Embassy.  It begins with an angry mob outside the embassy and you are transported to that location and actually feel what it must have been like to know that it was only a matter of time before the militants would storm the embassy and you would be overtaken.

The rest of the movie I found to be kind of dull.  It was well done but I still wasn't particularly entertained by it.  And thats the problem I have with this film.  For me it was a very paint by numbers film where they did everything right but took no chances and attempted something unique. 

So overall good film and definitely worth watching.  But I definitely wouldn't have Argo as my Oscar pick for best feature film.

And the next nominee is:

OK now here is a movie that is just a ton of fun.  Its got an awesome soundtrack, great cinematography, and the performance by Christoph Waltz actually won him an Oscar for best supporting actor. 

He was so good, in fact, that you were able to forgive Mr Tarantino and his juvenile, yet trademark, use of excessive gore.  And I'm not talking gruesome realistic gore that you remember from Reservoir dogs.  I mean the silly comical gore that might be reminiscent of Dusk Before Dawn.

But lets not get away from Christoph Waltz just yet.  He won best supporting actor.  He could easily have been considered the lead actor in this film.  Not only was he on the screen for a large portion of the movie, but when he wasn't, you wish he was.

This movie, while good for many reasons, is really made by Mr. Waltz's performance.  Without him it would have been a good movie but not great.  I honestly don't know why I wouldn't declare this movie my best feature film of the year.  I guess it was just too fun and silly and not serious enough to make it the winner. 

But maybe best picture doesn't need to be serious?  This movie really makes that argument true.

Anyway.  I didn't really say anything about what this movie is about.  Don't worry about it.  You don't need to know.  If you don't enjoy this movie you don't really deserve to be watching movies anyway.  But if you do need a little bit of a hint of what this movie is about check out the trailer down below.  But honestly I'd recommend just going into this one blind.  Here it is anyway:

Geez.  I've written a ton already and have only done 2 movies...ok I'm going to power through with three movies with tons of Oscar buzz that I didn't really like that much.

Alright I'll make these 3 movies critics super short.  Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty had a ton of talking and not enough action.  And I believe Looper was going for what Inception did which is try to come off as a super smart movie that really isn't.

OK done.

Alright fine i'll go a little more in depth with these films.

Lincoln has Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis going for it.  I love Daniel Day-Lewis but, while his acting was spectacular as usual, even he couldn't save this movie from the bore fest that it was. 

This movie really is just a whole lot of politicians fighting over whether or not to free the slaves.  It's not so much a story about Lincoln the man as it is the story about Lincoln's lead up to his Emancipation Proclamation.

So if you like talking then I suppose this one is for you.  I myself had a heck of a time getting through it.

I should also mention that while most of it was well shot I found the opening scene to be a bit weird.  It has Lincoln on the battlefield blathering on (foreshadowing things to come?).  While the rest of the movie is shot very well this scene made me feel like i was watching a play with props on stage. 

A small point.  But really that's the only thing I remember of this movie.  So there's Lincoln.
Next up is Zero Dark Thirty.  This movie is apparently an attempt at depicting the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, up to his death, as realistically as possible.

The best part of Argo was the storming of the embassy compound in the beginning of the film.  In ZD30 the best part of the film is also the storming of a compound, Obama's, but that only occurs at the final 30 minutes of the film.....after over 2 hours of nothing!

It follows a CIA officers pursuit of Osama through any means necessary, which includes torture, amid increasing terrorist attacks that she believes to have been ordered by Osama himself.  Eventually it ends with seal team six being deployed, and while somewhat entertaining, I have played way more exciting FPS games (that's first person shooter).  But maybe it was just that I was overly bored by this point due to the unnecessarily long build up.

And finally Looper.  I don't actually believe this film was up for any awards.  I'm including it in this list because after its release it met widespread acclaim that was leading to Oscar possibilities.  Since this film was released earlier then the other films it could just be that the memory of this film simply wore off by Oscar time.

So what is Looper?

Looper is an action/scifi/time travel film that has crime syndicates of the future, sending people they want assassinated back in time to the past, where their hired assassins of the past then assassinate their targets from the future. 

With me so far?  No?  Well it gets a little bit more confusing.
One of these assassins of the past (Joseph Gorden Levitte)  is ordered to kill an incoming future target (Bruce Willis).  Only when that future target shows up it turns out to be a much older himself. 

His older self manages to evade assassination by himself and much of the rest of the movie is the attempt by the older Bruce Willis to evade assassination by his younger self.

Thrown into the mix is also a little bit of telekinesis and some crazy guy in the future killing all of the crime bosses.

Make sense yet?  Well it's not supposed to.

And that's what I was alluding to earlier when I said that this is kind of like Inception in that the film attempts to appear much smarter then it is.  Much like Inception your are confused by many things that seemingly don't make sense.  You shrug it off as a film that takes much delving into to properly understand.  That the film itself is kind of too smart for you to understand in one sitting.  Well guess what?  It's not at all that smart, it does not require many views to understand, all you need to know is that it doesn't actually make sense.
And this can be supported with one of the characters in the movie who stated "That time travel shit will fry your brain so I try not to think too much about it".So there you have it.  This movie doesn't actually make much sense.  But if you go into this film knowing, and accepting, that.  Then you should have a decent movie going experience.

Oh and ya the special effects to make Joseph Gorden Levitt look like Bruce Willis was pretty kewl.
Alright now for two films that I would be alright with having as best picture.  The first one I actually couldn't finish but that does not in any way reflect on the quality on the film.  In fact it is precisely due to the high quality of this film that I could not finish it.  I'll get into the reasons behind that in a minute after I actually introduce the film.

 So the Impossible.  I had a heck of a time getting through this one and ultimately couldn't watch it to the end.  Why?  Well lets get into what this movie is about.

This film is based on the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that had approximately 220000 casualties

In this film we get to experience what it would be like to be relaxing on vacation and then suddenly have a tidal wave tear your family literally apart.

The film begins with the family of 5 on a plane on the way to their resort.  We get to witness them explore the resort, have dinner, and then take part in a beautiful evening where they have lamps rise into the air and take off over the ocean.  Beautiful scene with loving music.  Then we get to see some home videos of their stay at the resort where they are all having a good time and playing together.  A little scuba diving, some ping pong, and then a swim in the pool.  Its really setting the stage for you to fall in love with this family and really feel the loving bond they have with each other.
Fucking bastards.

While in the pool the ground starts rattling and then the giant tidal wave slams into the resort.  And so begins the extremely realistic disaster movie.  I love disaster movies but never before have I watched one like this.  The reason I loved disaster movies is because I enjoy thinking of what if scenarios.  What if a Volcano suddenly erupted in a major city?  What if a Comet was about to hit the earth?  What if a plague or a nuclear war decimated the world population?

Up until this film I've always enjoyed these films.  But in comes director Juan Antonio Bayona, who I've never heard of before now, and creates what it would really be like if a disaster actually happened.  Disaster movies used to be an incredibly detached viewing of the results of the disaster.  With this film you are way too emotionally involved with this family.

I should talk about this family.  We got Naomi Watts who should have won an Academy Award for her performance in this film.  She really portrayed the strong mother who forces herself to continue on in order to provide strength for her family, even when her body begins to fail her.

It's actually soon after the disaster strikes that I begin to realize this is not your everyday ordinary disaster movie.  Watts manages to survive the tidal wave and finds one of her sons and begins walking together back to their resort.  Soon her son stops walking and just points up at her.  She looks down and finds her body ravaged with injury, her shirt completely torn off, and blood and tissue coming out of a large gash in her breasts. 

You can feel the awkwardness and shame from both her son and Watts, who does manage to cover herself up to maintain dignity in front of her son. 

Speaking of her son (Tom Holland).  I don't understand how you can have such stellar performances by child actors.  In the film he goes from being just a kid, to realizing his mother is weakening, and then becoming the strong, courageous eldest son.  At no point did I feel he was acting.  He reminded of me of myself when i was that age (13) and was beginning to view and understand the world as a whole.  You can tell he was beginning to understand that his mother was not the immortal matriarch and that he himself was beginning to become an autonomous self reliant man.

Now these two characters really stole the movie but Ewan Mcgregars performance as the father should not be ignored.  He did an admirable job, next to these two powerhouses, in conveying the desperate father who will stop at nothing to bring his family back together.

There are also 2 other younger boys which brings the family up to 5. 

Now as I said I was unable to finish this film.  This is through no fault of the film but instead my own attachment to this family of 5 that I of course could not help but relate to my own.  Throughout the film I would of course always think about how I would feel if placed in that very position.

I'm not a crying man.  So after about the 10th or so time where I had to pause the movie to hold back tears I decided that it was simply too much work and in order to uphold my dry record I would have to stop watching this film.

This film just sucked me in and placed me in the middle of this Tsunami with this loving family. 

Hmmm.  I was planning on giving the next movie on this list my recommendation for best picture.  But now that I think of it I really have to give the Oscar to The Impossible.  It had superb acting by both Watts and Holland.  The cinematography was incredibly realistic.  I couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't.  In fact I actually watched a bunch of footage of this very Tsunami and it was pretty well identical to the film.  But most of all this film touched me like very few movies have ever done.

I was actually going to give my Oscar recommendation for best film to the next film on my list but I don't think I can.  So instead I give the Oscar to The Impossible. 

...I really should have left this film for last.  Now the next film will be incredibly anticlimatic.

Ahh well.  Heres a trailer for The Impossible and then onto: