My turn now. I still haven't seen My Week with Marilyn and The Ides of March, but as I doubt I will get to see them during this week, here we are:
1. The Tree of LIfe
By today's standards, an absolute masterpiece, definitely. I guess we should be glad that it was nominated - though being in a list with War Horse and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close doesn't feel like such a great honor.
2. The Artist
A joy for anyone who loves (and isn't just "interested in") movies. Not perfect, but sincere. Not profound, but are the other movies on this list - with the exception of The Tree of Life - THAT profound? At least this is intentionally so. A divertissement, as the French would say, and a very nice one.
For a movie about the magic of cinema, there could be more magic actually, and it is a bit heavy going at times. But it's also visually amazing and obviously deeply-felt, which makes its (many) flaws almost forgivable.
Professional in every department (including writing and acting) and intelligently made - something rare in American movies these days.
5. Midnight in Paris
Here the problems start. A nice little and not very original comedy which shouldn't have got all this attention, and probably wouldn't have if it hadn''t been directed by Woody Allen.
6. War Horse
A waste of talent(s) and money, but at least it's just an (overblown) movie for children, and doesn't try to deal with "important" issues.
7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
A piece of kitsch - watchable only in an almost perverse way, as kitsch always is. Americans should be especially offended for the way it treats one of their major tragedies, but, again, I can't deny that it's strangely entertaining.
8. The Help
A country which produces a thing like this - and likes it - is a country in trouble, a country which will never change. There could have been interesting ways to treat this dreadful material (for example by having the main female roles played by men in drag), but they chose a totally reverential approach and the result is grotesque soap opera.
9. The Descendants
Maybe not really the worst of these nine movies, but in terms of expectations, the biggest disappointment. Flat and uninspired, it doesn't even provide trash the way The Help does. And it's not very well-acted.
1. Terrence Malick
2. MIchel Hazanavicious
3. Martin Scorsese
4. Woody Allen
5. Alexander Payne
1. Jean Dujardin
An extremely pleasant surprise: true to the period and to the style of the movie he's in, expressive but never forced, with a naturally charming presence that's made for movies and that movies, not only French movies, in the next years will certainly use often.
2. Brad Pitt
The best American actor of the year - in this movie and in The Tree of Life. Unfortunately the Academy seems to think that he still has to pay for having being young and sexy (he would lose even without Dujardin in the race), but if he keeps choosing such right projects, his moment will come soon.
3. Demian Bichir
A honest and very believable performance.
4. Gary Oldman
Technically perfect but a bit too low-key for my tastes. Still, he's good and the movie he's in is even better.
5. George Clooney
He's better and more convincing in the (many, too many) tv ads he appears in in Italy.
1. Meryl Streep
Great as always, maybe better than she's been in these recent years, and charismatic in a way that honestly Thatcher never really was - except for the British people. The problem, and is a big one, is her movie.
2. Glenn Close
The result may be only partly successful, but at least this is the kind of performance - and approach to the character - that one can expect from an intelligent, daring, challenging actress. And she's very effective in some scenes.
3. Rooney Mara
The character is too strong to be ignored, and I always like when American actresses get naked in movies. But is she a very good actress? I still don't know.
4. Viola Davis
She doesn't have just one expression, true. She has two: noble and very noble. The way she absolutely refuses to do anything original or unexpected (and not only in this movie) is almost fascinating. Only a collective hallucination can explain why Saint Viola is seen as a sort of Eleonora Duse in the US. Mediocre actress, mediocre performance (and I think that she has less screen time than Octavia Spencer).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Christopher Plummer
Not the most difficult, taxing role ever - but he does it well, in a pleasantly effortless way.
2. Jonah Hill
Extremely well cast, and even good. I should see him in other movies, though, to really see if he's a very talented actor or just one lucky enough to be given a perfect (for him) character.
3. Nick Nolte
He has one or two good scenes, but his character doesn't develop, doesn't go anywhere. And nobody from Warrior should be allowed to win an Oscar.
4. Max Von Sydow
Both his movie and the Academy itself get from him much needed dignity, and he's, of course, a superb actor. But this role is clearly beneath him - he doesn't even have to act.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Janet McTeer
The only really good performance in this group: subtle and spontaneous at the same time, the best thing about the movie she's in.
2. Berenice Bejo
Too contemporary for the role she plays, but, I'd say, acceptable.
3. Octavia Spencer
One more close up of her round face and her bulging eyes and I would have left the cinema - but she probably isn't a bad actress, it's just the way she's directed that I found annoying.
4. Jessica Chastain
A depressingly predictable turn.
5. Melissa McCarthy
Difficult to say. Very difficult.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. A Separation
There's more truth in just one page of this script that in most American (and Italian) movies of this year. A wonderful screenplay, really.
2. The Artist
Not the most important aspect of its movie, maybe, but full of authentic warmth and sympathy.
At least it made me laugh a few times.
4. Margin Call
Talky - which can explain this nomination. It's not as revelatory and biting as I expected, and the actors are so good that they make their lines seem better than they really are. But I was never bored.
5. Midnight in Paris
Here I was a bit bored honestly - and this writer, of course, has done much, much better things.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Also talky, but in this case the lines are REALLY good, and this is a script which doesn't insult anyone's intelligence.
A very "well-made" screenplay - which means, not a work of art but expertly and efficiently written.
Many weak spots, but still better than
4. The Descendants
And The Descendants will obviously win...