Best Picture and Director 2011

What are your picks for Best Picture and Director of 2011?

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
No votes
The Help
No votes
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse
No votes
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Total votes: 60

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Heksagon » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:15 am

This is an unimpressive lineup, compared with the previous two years - and this in spite of the fact that I like The Artist and The Descendants a lot more than most people here.

The Artist gets my votes. It’s a rather obvious and maybe a bit heavy-handed at times, but yeah, it was still impressed by it. Concerning Alexander Payne, my opinion of him is pretty much the opposite of Okri’s - I feel that Payne has constantly improved as a filmmaker.

And while it’s definitely true that Midnight in Paris is heavily built on just one clever idea, it delivers its idea a lot better than most of the one-idea films in this lineup, so I’m generous towards it. I’m also sympathetic towards Hugo and The Help even if both of them felt half-baked to me. Scorsese’s great direction covers up a lot of the weak spots in Hugo’s screenplay, whereas The Help would have desperately needed a few re-writes to make the characters more believable and a better director to really bring the 60s era to life.

But all the rest of the films in this lineup just felt phoney. They don’t get anywhere. Tree of Life was a huge disappointment for me, it’s a great shell, but no substance.

Nominees ranked:

1. The Artist
2. The Descendants
3. Midnight in Paris
4. Hugo
5. The Help
6. Tree of Life
7. War Horse
8. Moneyball
9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I don’t usually like discussing shouldabeens in this context, because there are other threads for it. But this time, I will join many others in agreeing that A Separation was easily the best picture of the year, and while it’s always a hurdle for foreign lingo films to get a Best Picture nomination, I’m hugely disappointed that it didn’t make it even in this exceptionally weak year.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Okri » Sat May 17, 2014 7:06 am


This Oscar year was a disappointment. In virtually every slate, a more interesting achievement that seemed fully in play up until the nominations was left out in favour of something really mediocre. Before the critical derby, there seemed someone that might actually be a strong contender that got negligible attention. Even the writers, who normally can be counted on to avoid a lot of mediocrity, got mired in it. I kind of want to erase 90% of the nominees and start fresh.

I remember my mom raving to me about Midnight in Paris, and she basically thought that Woody Allen was the squickiest guy ever. Honestly, though, I thought it was borderline unwatchable. A one joke premise that basically reiterates the punchline over and over again (TS Elliot?) with some terrible characterization (everyone in the modern segment, but Rachel McAdams fairs the worse with just an odious character), Owen Wilson at his most punch-me-in-the-faceable and perhaps the lamest denouement in Allen history. I find Match Point compulsively brilliant and that this is movie that they choose to recognize.... a profound disappointment.

I’m probably a Payne-hater. I loved Election and Citizen Ruth, but I massively soured on him during About Schmidt – and this is more of the same. The Descendants really makes me question whether I actually liked Payne’s early films.

I never saw Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I found The Help hit okay about half its running time. Moneyball and The Artist hit their marks with aplomb, but are nothing special.

Only in this line-up would I rank War Horse third. It’s not a great film by any means, but it’s a very effective film. Yes, I prefer the stage rendering. Yes, it’s mawkish as all get out. But I won’t deny that its sentimental conviction goes a long way with me here. I doubt I’ll revisit it, but I don’t think it’s the bomb everyone wanted it to be.

Hugo’s my runner-up. But even now I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. But I loved Scorsese’s invocation of cinema lost and found. I love the visualization of the whole thing. Yes, it’s oddly paced with narrative slips, but it’s just so beautiful and charming that I remain a convert even in the lesser moments. Scorsese is the only other direction who I’d even think about voting for.

But it’s a straight Tree of Life/Malick ticket here. It’s simply operating in another realm. At times overwhelmingly powerful, always stunningly beautiful. The use of the Moldau is remarkable. The acting is perfect, the cinematography gorgeous.

But this year had A Separation, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Skin I Lived In, Drive, Beginners, Certified Copy, How I Ended This Summer, Uncle Boonmee Recalls His Past Lives, Rapt, Tuesday After Christmas, Shame, Coriolanus, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Weekend. They they entered the ceremony with a combined total of five nominations is a frickin’ shame. I’d rank all above War Horse. I was particularly annoyed that Sony Pictures Classic and Focus Features had dropped the ball distributing A Separation and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – I think both would have massively benefited from earlier releases and don’t get why that wasn’t done.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby dws1982 » Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:38 am

An easy vote for The Tree of Life and Malick, one of the most substantial films ever nominated for Best Picture.

I think Moneyball and War Horse would've been very solid winners. War Horse gets a lot of flak, and it's true that it might have been more at home on the Best Picture lineup of 1952, but I think that was very much design. This was Spielberg's tribute to John Ford, and as a huge John Ford fan, I loved it. It was wistful and moving. Moneyball is probably the most rewatchable film of this lineup. I saw it two or three times in theaters, and I've seen it four or five times on DVD. I'm not a huge baseball fan (although I enjoy seeing some of my students play), but I like Moneyball a lot.

Now, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It's not exactly a "good" movie, and it definitely had no business on this lineup. But I think it's also by far Daldry's most interesting film. Yeah, it was mostly made to win Oscars, but I like that it's not afraid of a big emotional mess; like that the kid is so abrasive.I think that it takes some genuine risks, even if they don't pay off. I definitely prefer it to The Descendants. Payne is a very good satirist; I'm not sure who convinced him to tackle difficult feelings and emotions, because it obviously scares him away. The film quite literally runs away from it at one point. The hospital scene with Judy Greer is probably the worst offender--when he's unsure how to navigate a difficult emotional terrain, Payne always resorts to a cheap laugh.

Midnight in Paris, The Artist, The Help and Hugo are all easily digestible, but nothing I ever have to see again. I loved Hugo when I first saw it, but it didn't really hold up on a second viewing. The Help is clearly problematic in more than a few ways, but at times you can see a better, more interesting movie fighting to get out, and I'll give it credit for that.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby nightwingnova » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:34 pm

Quick thoughts I want to share:

The Artist - agree that it pales next to the silent classics. But, wow! It is such a joyous, loving and well done homage to the silents.
The Descendants - decent enough familial drama; badly handled, grandstanding environmental message at the end.
Hugo - technically gorgeous, fine story that goes off too much on a tangent on early film history at the end - edit!
Moneyball - loved Brad Pitt's strong performance but felt that the story didn't have a good structure.
The Tree of Life - sorry, guys; was one of those that was bored by this.
War Horse - story was good enough, didn't think it was as sentimental as others did...but did gag at the ridiculous ending.
Last edited by nightwingnova on Sat May 03, 2014 2:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:10 am

Every once in a while, a year comes along where the majority of my favorites are way off-Oscar. Although my favorite film of the year did okay, my other favorites were Shame, A Separation, Certified Copy, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Margaret, which collectively received a grand total of two nominations (for only one of them). And even though I had issues with the movie's content (or lack thereof), I probably would have cited Nicholas Winding Refn for Drive under Director, simply for giving his movie such a singular look and feel -- that was another film which barely made a blip with Oscar that I thought deserved better.

So on the whole, I wasn't terribly excited about the actual nominees.

Given my enthusiasm for Spielberg in general, I had high hopes for War Horse, but I was pretty thoroughly disappointed. Of course, the play on which the film was based was no great shakes either -- it was mostly notable for the hugely imaginative puppet work rather than the writing -- but even there I thought the play resisted some of the worst aspects of sentimentality that plagued the film version. From the early scenes in which Joey is referred to as a "special" animal for literally no reason, to that ludicrous finale where the hero uses his Scooby Sense to save his horse just in the knick of time, so much of the material struck me as really overly earnest. The movie definitely LOOKED good -- no surprise, given the pedigree -- but I thought it was a lot closer to Amistad territory than Spielberg's more impressive historical works.

I saw Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close very early, at a pre-release screening. And I immediately doubted its much-heralded Oscar chances, simply because I didn't think the movie was very good. Yet there it was on nomination day, simply because it had been part of the conversation so long, it was that difficult to dislodge despite bad reviews and even worse box office. It's another movie I found mostly ridiculous -- the mystery has a totally random payoff, Max von Sydow's character just had to be mute AND a Holocaust survivor (AND there's that other ludicrous revelation about his character to boot), and the reveal about Sandra Bullock's actions at the end of the movie struck me as laughable. And of course, there's Stephen Daldry's usual blandness that Oscar salivates over seemingly by rote.

The Help is a bit of a schizophrenic movie for me. I find portions of it actively bad -- especially anything involving Bryce Dallas Howard and her similarly cartoonish racist cronies (and that goddamn PIE!) But I also think there are portions that are strong, mostly involving Octavia Spencer's spitfire Minny, and especially Viola Davis's Abilene, a deeply moving creation that seems to have walked in from a far darker, more complicated movie than a lot of what surrounds her. And though I'm in no position to tell other people what they can and can't find offensive, I never understood the critique that telling the stories of black women who happen to be maids is somehow demeaning, not when the characters played by Davis and Spencer are so fully dimensional. (And, you know, many black women in the 60's South in America WERE maids.) In the end, it's far too milquetoast for Best Picture, but it's no Blind Side.

Visually, Hugo is amazing -- the production design alone is just about the gold standard for recent years. And it's exciting to see a director as glorious as Scorsese tackling something so new for him: a 3D children's fantasy, with tons of cool effects and other bells and whistles. I thought he successfully took a project that, in other hands, could have come off as hum-drum (see: the Harry Potter series), and turned it into a deeply personal, resonant work about the history of filmmaking. I didn't think Hugo's script was as strong as its images though -- there are way too many subplots that could have been completely excised, and I sort of felt like the tone required more of a sense of whimsy than what we ended up getting. It was certainly eye-popping, though not quite as rich in its ideas as I felt its biggest partisans claimed it was.

Moneyball tackles two subjects -- baseball and math -- that don't intrinsically hold much appeal for me. But, I found the movie engaging nonetheless, thanks to the relaxed, witty script, and the likable performances by Pitt and Hill. I thought it was pretty solidly made too -- not DAZZLING in any way, but with a handsome look and a pacing that suggested a lot of attention to rhythm and detail had gone into its creation. Overall it's more of a solid effort than great art, but I was glad the movie was a decent enough success.

The polarized reaction to The Descendants was one of the more puzzling splits in recent years. I don't quite understand why the online gang just loathed the thing -- I thought it was a well-acted family drama with both laughs and heart, and I just don't get what the movie's detractors found so offensive. That said, I also don't quite jump on board with the print critics' great enthusiasm either -- I think this is a step down from Alexander Payne's other efforts. Given that I'm quite a fan of his work, that means I still found things to enjoy in The Descendants, but both narratively and tonally the movie doesn't seem as tightly controlled as his better films. And, here above all, Payne seems a little lazy in the director's chair, coaxing a good familial vibe among his actors, but seeming indifferent to things like the placement of his camera and the juxtaposition of his cuts. It almost feels like somehow else trying to do an Alexander Payne movie, and coming close, but just not quite close enough for Best Picture.

Even just a few years after its win, The Artist seems more like a curio that somehow managed to snatch up Best Picture than the kind of typical winner that film history will at least remember. I found the movie very charming, with a winning central performance by Dujardin, and some genuinely impressive visuals from Michel Hazanavicius. You can definitely tell how much fun the cast and director are having making this movie, and Hazanavicius seems to delight in his stylistic tricks without seeming gimmicky. All of that said, I was completely baffled by the movie's hype. It seemed to me that most people I know who found it so fresh just hadn't really seen that many silent movies -- certainly it pales by comparison to the great works from that era. But even its plot was so shopworn -- basically the umpteenth version of A Star is Born, only this time with a happy ending. I enjoyed the movie well enough, but I found it to be pretty lightweight. In twenty years will people even still be watching this?

Midnight in Paris would be my clear runner-up in both categories. I found Woody Allen's central conceit delightful, and I loved the way he kept expanding on it as the movie went on (i.e. when Marion Cotillard got to jump back to the era she idealized). And while the film is very funny -- full of great lines, performers having a blast, and witty period detail -- it also manages to be a sensitive exploration of humanity's desire for nostalgia, in way that sometimes values the rose-colored past above the present. I find this to be one of Woody Allen's most successful films over the past two decades, and I think the intelligence and joy that he brings to his material are what made the film such an infectious hit with audiences.

But my votes in both categories go without question to The Tree of Life, by far the most ambitious movie on this list, and one that works, like so many of Terrence Malick's films, less as a narrative to be understood and more as a dream-like experience to savor. There are portions that don't quite work for me -- I wasn't bored by the creation of the universe segment, but I also felt like it could have been lifted without sacrificing much. But those are minor quibbles when dealing with a work so grand, which dabbles in big themes about life, death, and our place in the universe in the manner of a great piece of literature. And of course, the visuals are sublime, with Lubezki's roaming camera a lyrical and entrancing guide to the story of one family, and by extension, us all. Terrence Malick is a director I've been so fond of over the years, and I think that here he has crafted a mysterious, haunting, and dazzling work of film art, that explores his favorite themes (relationship between man and nature! destruction of the Garden of Eden!) in ways that feel fresh and yet of a perfect piece with his filmography. Picture and Director to The Tree of Life, with enthusiasm.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Reza » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:53 am

Voted for The Tree of Life and Malick.

My picks for the best of 2011:

Best Picture
1. The Tree of Life
2. A Separation
3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
4. We Need to Talk About Kevin
5. Drive

The 6th Spot: The Artist

Best Director
1.Terence Malick, The Tree of Life
2. Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
3. Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
4. Lynne Ramsay, We Need to Talk About Kevin
5. Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive

The 6th Spot: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby ksrymy » Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:04 pm

Best Picture
01. The Artist
02. Melancholia
03. A Separation
04. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
05. Drive
06. Take Shelter
07. Midnight in Paris
08. Shame
09. The Descendants
10. We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Director
01. Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
02. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
03. Lars von Trier, Melancholia
04. Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
05. Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

06. Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:57 pm

Greg wrote:Even if the nine Best Picture nominees are, for the most part, not great, here is the list, per Box Office Mojo, of the nine biggest-domestic-box-office-grossing films of that year:
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
4 The Hangover Part II
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
6 Fast Five
7 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
8 Cars 2
9 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

This was also the year where 18 of the Top 20 films were adaptations or sequels...only Bridesmaids and Rio were original screenplays.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Greg » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:15 pm

Even if the nine Best Picture nominees are, for the most part, not great, here is the list, per Box Office Mojo, of the nine biggest-domestic-box-office-grossing films of that year:
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
4 The Hangover Part II
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
6 Fast Five
7 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
8 Cars 2
9 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Sabin » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:13 am

I'm glad that The Tree of Life is winning because I never quite got around to seeing it a second time. I liked it well enough to place it head and shoulders as a directing achievement over pretty much everything that came out that year, but I never quite grasped the entirety of it (although I'm not sure that's possible). Anyway, Moneyball is a movie I've become rather addicted to watching again and again. It has this wonderful This American Life quality, which is to say it is as modest as The Tree of Life is vast.

Any lineup with Moneyball and The Tree of Life can't be called a bad lineup per se, but were this a five movie lineup consisting of The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, and Midnight in Paris it would be. Midnight in Paris' present day scenes are the laziest bits that Woody Allen has ever shot. Roundly misogynistic. But Owen Wilson is perfectly cast and it's pander bear lumbers close enough for me to ride. Of those films, I enjoy it the most. Hugo is a stunning piece of work that starts magical and ends BAF (boring as fuck) due to the ruinous casting of Ben Kingsley as Georges Melies. At the end, I asked myself "Hey, wasn't that about a kid at one point?" Until it becomes Martin Scorsese masturbating in 3D, yup, and it turns out that's not something you want to see. The Help is much better than it has any right to be mainly because it moves so quickly, it is well-acted, and (as I've said many times) I had no idea the movie was going to give that funny-looking face in the crowd, Octavia Spencer, her own storyline. Not good, but I couldn't muster the hate, unlike The Descendants which goes crazy wrong. Alexander Payne might be a teense overrated in some parts but The Descendants goes beyond that. The reviews read like a reading of a TIFF brochure and not the hungover tug-of-war between comedy and drama I was watching. Almost nothing positive I can say about it at all. And it's been said, The Artist is not even a very good silent film, but it is watchable. This was a long Oscar season with one highpoint: Asghar Farhadi, on-stage, accepting his trophy.

Top Ten
1. Nader and Simin, A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
3. Beginners (Mike Mills)
4. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
5. Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
6. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
8. 13 Assassins (Takeshi Miike)
9. Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
10. The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev)
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Eric » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:22 am

Top 10
01. The Tree of Life
02. Certified Copy
03. Margaret
04. Weekend
05. The Interrupters
06. A Separation
07. Drive
08. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
09. We Need to Talk About Kevin
10. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Anti-Top 10
01. The Iron Lady
02. Shame
03. The Future
04. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
05. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
06. The Help
07. Straw Dogs
08. House of Boys
09. The Way
10. Albert Nobbs

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby mlrg » Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:48 am

The Tree of Life is one of my Top 3 films of all-time.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:17 am

1. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Snowtown (Justin Kurzel)
3. The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Robert Guediguian)
4. The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
5. Elena (Andrei Zvyagintsev)
6. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsey)
7. The Help (Tate Taylor)
8. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
9. We Were Here (David Weissman & Bill Weber)
10. Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press)

Needles to say I voted for The Descendants & Alexander Payne.
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Best Picture and Director 2011

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:43 pm

This was one of the worst years in the history of the Oscars - easily the worst in the modern post-1965 era.

The two films I was most looking forward to, War Horse and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close proved to be disappointments. Well reviewed films I was late in getting to, The Ascendants and Moneyball left me cold. The Help had its moments but was kind of simplistic. The polarizing Tree of Life had me among those with their thumbs down.

Hugo was highly entertaining but went on too long. Midnight in Paris was wonderful in its flashbacks but a dud in its modern scenes. No wonder the charming French made silent film The Artist won. It was the best of a rather dull slate, but not the best film of the year. Ironically the best films of the year were also foreign made, but Oscar wasn't quite ready to honor a sub-titled film with its highest prize. Neither the Iranian A Separation which won Best Foreign Film; the French Of Gods and Men nor the South Korean Poetry were nominated. Neither was the Danish In a Better World, the previous year's Best Foreign Film winner which was ineligible. Among the better English language films which were overlooked were Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Of the Best Director nominees, only The Artist's Michel Hazanavicius was deserving of a nomination, let alone an award.
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