I finally finished my annual goal of watching every movie nominated by the Oscars for Best Picture, save one. I always give myself the okay to miss one, either because I can’t find the time, or I simply don’t want to see it. (Sorry 127 Hours, but watching James Franco cutoff his own arm, even with his good looks, doesn’t interest me.) This year I missed Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Just couldn’t get it in.
So, with the ceremony only a few days away, I’ve been thinking about which film will win. Seems the odds are on The Artist, which surprises me because I didn’t think it had the mass appeal necessary. Seemed too trendy. And, while Hollywood seems to like making movies about itself, it doesn’t seem to like awarding such movies.
But back to things I’m more qualified to discuss. Which one do I think will win? Not an easy question. My obvious choice would be Moneyball, given my obsessive love of the national pastime, but, while it was entertaining, it wasn’t ‘Best Picture’ material. It was too much fun, too inspiring, too straightforward. And it had a happy ending. Let’s be honest, Best Picture winners tend to be serious and challenging, and not all that happy. Not always, but often.
Another obvious choice: Midnight in Paris. It’s about writers for goodness sake. And not just any writers but Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Stein – all writer’s I looovve and admire. Hemingway in particular. But I think it’s my love of Hemingway that put me off this movie. Sure it was funny and quirky, but the portrayal of Hemingway was, to me, uninspired and flat. And the movie, as a whole, seemed too small to win the big prize.
I did love The Artist, but my objections to it are above. Hugo was cute, and a great way to learn film history, but it was… cute. War Horse was heartbreaking and inspiring in a tragic way, while The Descendants was the same in a darkly funny way. But neither really stood out to me. War Horse was too sentimental at times, while The Descendants seemed to meander and fail in its attempt to portray big themes.
So I guess that leaves The Help and – gasp – The Tree of Life. I really enjoyed The Help. The performances were great and the story had a good mix of heart and tears and laughs. It certainly challenged me to look at that time and place differently. And I think it has a decent chance of winning. And The Tree of Life, while ambitious and pretentious, beautiful and confusing, was not as terrible as I think people want to make it out to be. I’m still not sure what I was experiencing, and Malick might have aimed farther than he could reach with what he was trying to encapsulate on film, but I was certainly moved by it. And I do think it’s more than just a series of pretty pictures, as some are trying to dismiss it as. At the start, I was pulled out of the film by the cinematography. It was less of an aid to the storytelling and more the storytelling itself. But, eventually, the two came together, and I was able to let the amazing shots wash over me as I became immersed in the story. But I do think, while one of my favorites, it has little chance of winning.
With all that being said, I’m back to my original question: which one do I think will win? Honestly, I have no idea. I enjoyed them all to varying degrees. And disliked different aspects of them to varying degrees. But none – or even two or three – really stood out. So I guess I’ll just have to wait for Sunday.