This madness is almost over (until next year of course). The Oscars are this Sunday and I managed to see every single film nominated. That’s not a humble brag. This whole thing took a lot of time and even more effort. Most importantly, I’m proud to say Shooting the Script has also reviewed all the nominated films…well almost. There are still a few films that slipped by without being reviewed for various reasons. I ran out of time to give them full-length reviews, so this post will serve two purposes. It will provide links so you can easily find every review of the nominees, and for the few left unchecked, I’ll have a quick capsule review written for them here. Okay, here we go.
Amour - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Film
Anna Karenina - Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Score
Argo - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
The Avengers - Best Visual Effects
Beasts of the Southern Wild - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay
Brave - Best Animated Feature
Chasing Ice - Best Original Song
Django Unchained – Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing
Flight - Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay
Frankenweenie - Best Animated Feature
Hitchcock – Best Makeup and Hairstyling
This is a film about the making of Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho. It’s only interesting when actually dealing with the behind the scenes of Psycho, otherwise it’s a rather dull relationship drama. The film, and Anthony Hopkins, strive to create a character that looks like and sounds like Hitchcock, but it never feels like anybody making the film understood the man. He’s constantly being reduced to something I don’t recognize or something that’s not interesting at all. It’s one thing to take the legend and make him mortal, but you can’t take away everything else that makes him great and entertaining. It’s a huge miss and a massive waste of time.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects
Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth with mixed results. Martin Freeman is game as Bilbo, the hobbit roped into a treasure hunt with 13 dwarfs and a wizard. The production is top shelf. The visual effects, production design, and makeup are the best money can buy. I’m not against making this movie long and I’m not against splitting the book into 3 movies. There’s a way this can be done and not feel padded. Unfortunately, the film’s first half is a slog. There’s a lot of table setting (literally), and even with all the free time very few of the characters are developed. Once the adventure hits the mountains the film picks up. The pace is light and the action is a lot of fun. I’m still interested to see what the next two films will look like, but I won’t be watching at 48fps. High frame rate is a whole other discussion, but it didn’t work well enough to justify the times it wasn’t working.
The Impossible – Best Actress
A family of five struggles to survive one of the most devastating tsunamis of all time. The film does an amazing job recreating the disaster. The visual effects and sound design during the tsunami sequence are riveting. It’s kind of like Flight, after the inciting incident the film has few places to go. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor turn in fine performances, and young Tom Holland is very impressive. The plot is thin with no commentary to speak of, but the film still has a big emotional climax. It seems to be the only reason the film exists and at that it succeeds. It’s little more than an anecdote but a well told one.
Kon-Tiki - Best Foreign Film
Les Miserables - Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Song
Life of Pi - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
Lincoln - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Score, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing
The Master - Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress
Mirror Mirror - Best Costume Design
Moonrise Kingdom - Best Original Screenplay
No - Best Foreign Film
ParaNorman – Best Animated Feature
This is easily my favorite animated film from last year. Norman can see ghosts and this makes him a loner and target for bullies. When zombies descend upon his town, it’s up to the weird kids to save the day. Everything in this beautiful stop-motion film works. The voice acting is great and cast to perfection. The story is sweet, funny, and a little shocking. The design and attention to detail is obsessive and enriching. Mostly I just love it for managing to mix ghosts, zombies, and witches in a clever and sophisticated way. All that and it’s still accessible to children with an important and potent message.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Best Animated Feature
Prometheus - Best Visual Effects
A Royal Affair - Best Foreign Film
The Sessions – Best Supporting Actress
I didn’t care for this movie. John Hawkes plays a disabled virgin who enlists the help of a sex surrogate played by Helen Hunt. Hawkes and Hunt are good actors and they are perfectly fine in the movie. They’re good but not great as is William H. Macy as Hawkes’ preacher and confidant. The movie has nothing of interest to say. It’s pointless and what’s worse is how ineptly it’s presented visually. It’s not funny, it’s not dramatic, it just is. It’s a greeting card exploiting sex and disabilities for its own self-importance.
Silver Linings Playbook – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing
Skyfall - Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, Best Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
Snow White and the Huntsman - Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects
Ted - Best Original Song
War Witch – Best Foreign Film
Wreck-It Ralph - Best Animated Feature
Zero Dark Thirty - Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing