Evaluating the Nominees

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Uri » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:08 am

Johnny Guitar wrote:Hugo - weak first half & a decent second half. I have mixed feelings about Scorsese generally and mixed feelings about this film, but I'm willing to overlook them happily for the simple fact that highlighting this movie is a de facto gesture towards film history & preservation.


The problem for me was that these gestures are so cinematically inorganic – and now folks, let's have a break with our regular narrative and hear Uncle Marty illuminating course about early cinema, and please pay attention to the public service bit about the importance of film preservation we put in, thank you. And while we're at it – is it ok, in the name of campaigning such film oriented issues, to apply what might be conceived as a total disregard of the true, historic progress of the way Cinema was publically and culturally perceived and appreciated. I have no problem with rewriting historical facts or using real people in a fictional narrative, certainly when it's in a fantasy context. But I always feel uncomfortable with an attempt to rewrite the history of human and social state of mind. Anachronistic planting of current sensibilities and notions into a piece set in another period (which is different than looking at the past with a contemporary p.o.v.) - unless done for parody effect – is an illegitimate artistic tool in my book. It's not only hinder the ability to understand historic process but too often used as a way to correct the past so the creator and the consumer of his or her creation would feel better about themselves. Maybe if Hugo was not such a self important (and long, o so long) film I was willing to give it a pass.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Johnny Guitar » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:01 pm

Well I haven't seen all the nominees because life is short and there are tons of good films, or bad-in-interesting-ways films, still to see. But of the four I've seen -

Tree of Life - a masterpiece, and as such, I'd say it's in the highest echelon of films nominated for Best Picture. Kind of shocking that it even got nominated, but I suppose there are a lot of Academy voters still who enjoy Malickian lyricism. But this is another case of "the Oscar goes to Jean-Luc Godard," i.e., it honors the Academy more than the Academy honors it.

The Descendants - moderately interesting middlebrow pablum. Seems roughly like a typical BP nominee.

Moneyball - moderately interesting middlebrow pablum. Seems a bit "lightweight" for a BP nominee.

Hugo - weak first half & a decent second half. I have mixed feelings about Scorsese generally and mixed feelings about this film, but I'm willing to overlook them happily for the simple fact that highlighting this movie is a de facto gesture towards film history & preservation.

As for the others -

Midnight in Paris - even though it seems like its theatrical run went on forever, I kept missing it - something that often happens when there's a movie my wife also would like to see, but neither of us is passionate enough about going to see it to actually, you know, make an effort to see it. I will probably catch up with it sometime in this calendar year, though.

War Horse, The Help, The Artist - haven't seen them, and though it's feasible I will one day, I'm in no hurry.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - I will probably spend my entire life having not ever seen this movie.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Uri » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:42 pm

I saw Hugo today in an advanced screening, so here is my revised picture and director lists.

Picture
1. The Artist – C.
2. Moneyball – C.
3. The Tree of Life – C.
4. The descendants – D.
5. Midnight in Paris – D.
6. Hugo – D. Probably the most geriatric film ever aimed at and/or dealing with children. Heavy handed, over didactic lecture of a movie. Unfortunately, this piece which was meant to be a celebration of the magic of Cinema, turned out to be a self celebratory, magic free cinematic mammoth.
7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – F.
8. The Help- F.
9. War Horse – F.

Director
The same ranking and the same reasoning as with their respective films, so it's Hazanavicious(C), Malick(C- but please, please, get a grip), Payen(D) and Allen (D – and please, please retire). And last, alas, is Scrosese - F. I admire his devotion to Film history and conservation, but these passions couldn't have been translated more clumsily into an actual film.

p.s. I saw Hugo a few hours after seeing The Kid with a Bike, which is probably the best film of the year, so maybe I'm a little bit harsh in judging it, but at list in comparison, Hugo looks like a huge waste of creative resources when one is being aware of the transcendent impact which can be achieved by restraint yet visionary and most of all humanistic film making.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:22 am

No, it's not a remake of Forrest Gump. Eric Roth's screenplay allegedly follows the novel closely. It is a remake of The Wizard of Oz, which is the only way the narrative makes sense. Like most people I was having a problem with the film's structure until I realized that. The kid, though, is a big fan of Forrest Gump - you can watch him say it in his Jimmy Kimmel interview on YouTube. And although I'm not in the habit of referencing other Oscar websites, Sasha Stone does have a nice article from two days ago on seeing the film through the eyes of an autistic child over at Awards Daily. Apparently autistic kids love the film and catch on very early that Oskar is one of them.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Uri » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:33 am

Big Magilla wrote:Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - get over the kid - he has undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome, he's supposed to be weird. Accept that it's a modernized version of The Wiard of Oz and a thousand times better than the "official" remake called The Wiz and you might actually enjoy it.


Actually, once I saw in the end credits that it was written by Eric Roth, I got it - it's a remake of Forrest Gump (this is why they hired Hanks and not Garland to play the father, you know). Think about it – it's another triumphant story of how in America, a white male, no matter how flowed he is, will be a success thanks to the legions of women and countless of ethnic people who're so happy to to just be there to enable him fulfilling whatever whacky notion he has. This "Oz" he was roaming through was all about this politically correct anonymous fake diversity as a background wallpaper. With Forrest Gump, at least, the sarcasm of the satiric source material managed to shine through the sentimental treatment. Here everything is so fucking EARNEST it's really unbearable.

And I'm sorry, but declaring a character is having an Asperger syndrome shouldn't give an artistic license to attach to it whatever unrealistic behavioral trait which will conveniently enhance the narrative, since, you know, these freaks are, you know, weird.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby bizarre » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:15 pm

I have not seen much.

BEST PICTURE:
"The Tree of Life" - B
"The Help" - C+

In my personal awards any film with a grade of B+ or higher qualifies for a Best Picture nomination.

BEST DIRECTOR:
Terrence Malick: I find the film's overearnestness tiring but it is still an immense technical achievement and an effort that should be rewarded - here more than anywhere.

BEST ACTOR:
Demián Bichir: A surprising nomination for a solid, empathetic performance. To his credit he doesn't make his character a cliché of nobility, but shows how his sentimentality approaches naivete. The scene in the holding centre probably netted him the nomination but I was more interested by other parts of his performance.

BEST ACTRESS:
Glenn Close: Bizarrely incompetent! I'm starting to think that Ms. Close may not be very clever - this is your passion project? And when you can't get a script written this is what you write? And this is how you play it? If this had been made 10 years earlier it could have made a convincing audition tape for LOTR's Gollum, however.
Viola Davis: Convinces as a real person, an immense feat considering her role on the page. Her dramatics can fall flat - I didn't buy the scene where she talked about her son - but the tangible sense of danger in the inspirational-as-written final scene is all hers, and her performance is peppered with small but perfect details, such as her walk, or the way she can barely hold the book given to her in church at the end.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
-

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Jessica Chastain: Is funny, but never grasps the tragedy of this character in the cause-and-effect of this woman's personality and behaviour. The camera likes her a lot but her performance is too studied and too broad - the wheels are always visibly turning which is a no in comedy, and with a character like this looseness needs to segué into something truly dark and traumatic, Chastain never manages this.
Melissa McCarthy: Watching someone beg so desperately for laughs is uncomfortable and embarrassing. To be fair, she's given a blip of a character, but her po-faced shtick would barely be funny if she had better lines. On paper this is a cool nomination but, truth be told, I really don't understand her trajectory this past awards season.
Janet McTeer: Lively and fun but amateur. This is affable repertory theatre work, a welcome distraction from Albert Nobbs' inert weirdness but being a dim bright spot in an awful film shouldn't be rewarded with a 'Best of the Year' label.
Octavia Spencer: The Help's effectiveness as a film is wholly due to its actors' commitment to psychologising stereotypes. Spencer's role is the most cardboard of these - what I call the 'Shug' (Sassy, Helpful Urban Girlfriend), a type that has attracted awards attention for other supporting and supportive roles such as Goldberg's in Ghost and Avery's in The Color Purple. With that said it is a miracle that Spencer creates such a rich portrait out of what is, as written, psychologically neutered comic relief. Her role is at the same time the most overwritten and underwritten - she's in most of the film, getting all the 'good lines' and sharing one-on-one scens with most of the major characters, yet she has multiple subplots that go nowhere and her core character arc is forgotten for scenes on end as she is relegated to dropping pithy one liners from the background. Spencer is genius in bridging these gaps and doing what McCarthy didn't - creating a real person out of a plot device. She focuses on the basic attributes of her character type - the sassiness and sarcasm - and shows how they give Minny a way of eking out a sense of power from a powerless social role. Spencer's awareness of Minny's inner world gives the dynamic she shares with Celia real interest and bite, and it makes the 'black eye' scene the film's most affecting moment for me: Spencer showing a woman accustomed to taking care of everybody suddenly finding the roles reversed, her pain and confusion finally allowed to show, expressed in a wordless closeup, simple yet fathomless.

Perhaps I am responding to Davis and Spencer because they do so much with so little material, but they are both worthy nominees and certainly will be worthy winners.

If anyone remembers StinkyLulu's 'hearts' rubric, I'll grade the performances I've seen by it:

FOUR HEARTS
1. Spencer
2. Davis

THREE HEARTS
3. Bichir

TWO HEARTS
4. Chastain
5. McTeer

ONE HEART
6. McCarthy
7. Close

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby mlrg » Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:40 pm

flipp525 wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:But what exactly does Vanessa Redgrave have to do to get another Oscar nomination?

Getting gang-raped in Auschwitz would probably do it.


best line I've read in a long time.... ahahahahahahahahahah

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby ksrymy » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:33 pm

flipp525 wrote:Getting gang-raped in Auschwitz would probably do it.


Because of this statement, I'm cleaning spat water off my screen thank you very much.
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:24 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
But what exactly does Vanessa Redgrave have to do to get another Oscar nomination?


This was the one nomination I think the Weinstein Company really blew this year. Had Coriolanus opened in September or October, I find it hard to believe that Vanessa Redgrave's powerhouse would have been denied. But even with strong buzz for her work, that one-week December qualifier really limited her ability to get much traction, I think.

She, along with Carey Mulligan and A Separation's Sareh Bayat, wipe the floor with the actual supporting actress nominees, I feel.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby flipp525 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:10 pm

Big Magilla wrote:But what exactly does Vanessa Redgrave have to do to get another Oscar nomination?

Getting gang-raped in Auschwitz would probably do it.
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:31 pm

Best Picture

Sould Win - The Artist
Will Win - The Artist

It's no great movie, but it's a lot of fun, at least the first half hour or so is, which makes the rest of it easy to take. More importantly, though, it is what it is, a light entertainment that doesn't pretend to be someothing more than it can possibly live up to and as such is a breath of fresh air amongst these nominees. It's also the only one of the nominees I would actually nominate.

The remainder in order of preference:

Hugo - combination children's fantasy and history lesson doesn't quite meld but is great fun most of the way.

Midnight in Paris - if only they had ditched the set-in-the-present sequences and played the whole thing in the 1920s with a flashback to the 1890s. It's half-baked, but pleasant enough.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - get over the kid - he has undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome, he's supposed to be weird. Accept that it's a modernized version of The Wiard of Oz and a thousand times better than the "official" remake called The Wiz and you might actually enjoy it.

War Horse - a crash course in war movies of the last ninety years or so. At least you won't be bored.

The Help - ludicrous as history, but compelling when it isn't trying to be funny.

Moneyball - A few nice scenes, but overall a glorified HBO TV movie.

The Descendants - A Lifetime cable TV movie with unreal characters and the lamest ending of any film this year.

The Tree of Life - A museum piece masquerding as a movie.

Shoudl have been nominated: Of Gods and Men; A Separation; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Drive

Best Director

Should Win - Michel Hazanavicious
Will Win - Michel Hazanavious

Best Director goes with Best Picture more often than not and there's no reason to believe this year will be different.

The remainder in the same order of preference as their films, although, again, I wouldn't nominate any of them: Scorsese; Allen; Payne; Malick.

Should have been nominated: Xavier Beauvois (Of Gods and Men); Asghar Farhadi (A Separation); Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy); Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive)

Best Actor

Should Win - Gary Oldman
Will Win - Jean Dujardin

Oldman's performance is probably too subtle of the majority of the membership. Dujardin's is the most fun and far more preferable than either George Clooney or Brad Pitt who really don't do anything new in their respective films. Demian Bichir is bacially along for the ride although his schmoozing of the membership and the media is probably the most blatant since Adrien Brody nien years ago and we all know what happened there.

Should have bene nominated: the two Michaels, Fassbender (Shame) and Shannon (Take Shelter) with Clooney, Pitt and Bichir fighting for that fifth slot along with Ryan Gsoling (Drive) and Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men).

Best Actress

Should Win - Meryl Streep
Will Win - Viola Davis

A Bafta win and a great acceptance speech by Streep could shift the momentum but a Davis win would clinch it. Streep gives an amazing performance in a pretty lame film while Davis elevates a modiocre one to an OK viewing experience.

Of the others, Michelle Williams is fine in a film with an underbaked screenplay and Glenn Close's back-story about how she struggled for years to get her film made may have bene enough to snag a nomination but it's not nearly enough to get her the award. Rooney Mara is just along for teh ride in a slot that should have gone to Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin).

Best Supporting Actor

Should Win - Max von Sydow
Will Win - Christopher Plummer or Max von Sydow

This one really is too close to call. Plummer has been the leading contnder for so long now it almost feels as though he's already won. Besides, there seems to be more of a feeling among the membership that if tye're going to give someone a career achievement award in this category this year von Sydow by virtue of his more impressive career is the one who ought to get it. That plus there are people who genuinely love his performance. Really.

Without those two in the race it might have been an easy victoy for Nick Nolte who is basically playing the role James Coburn played when he won in Nolte's Affliction thiteen years ago.

For Kenneth Branagh, the nomination is enough. For Jonah Hill, it's more than enough. It's actually a bit ridiculous considering he stole the slot that should have gone to Albert Brooks (Drive).

Best Supporting Actress

Should Win - Jessica Chastain
Will Win - Octavia Spencer

As I said in another thread, I didn't know who Chastain was when I saw The Help even though I had seen her in other films. I thought she was playing one of the other blondes and thought to myself while watching the film that the one playing the character Chastain was actually playing was a far more interesting one. I think she'll actually get more votes than the prognosticators are predicitng, but I'm resigned to the likliehood that it won't be enough to overcome the avlanche of support for her co-star who is quite good in what is basically the Butterfly McQueen comic relief role to Viola Davis' Hattie McDaniel/Ethel Waters' dignifed suffering one.

Janet McTeer has no chance and Berenice Bejo will at least have her husband's (Hazanavious) Oscar to look at. Jessica McCarthy has her Emmy.

But what exactly does Vanessa Redgrave have to do to get another Oscar nomination?

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby ksrymy » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:53 pm

Using Gebert's system, my choices are...

***** - The perfect choice for that award, and essential viewing.
**** - A well-deserved honor, and well worth seeking out.
*** - A perfectly respectable (and watchable) choice.
** - They could have chosen better then; you could do better now.
* - An outright blunder -- and to be avoided.


Best Picture

*****
The Artist

****
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Descendants

***
Hugo

**
War Horse
The Tree of Life

*
The Help
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Best Director

****
Michel Hazanavicius

***
Woody Allen
Alexander Payne
Terrence Malick
Martin Scorsese

Best Actor

****
Jean Dujardin

***
George Clooney
Gary Oldman
Brad Pitt

**
Demián Bichir

Best Actress

****
Meryl Streep

***
Michelle Williams
Glenn Close
Rooney Mara

**
Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor

***
Christopher Plummer
Kenneth Branagh

**
Nick Nolte
Max von Sydow
Jonah Hill

Best Supporting Actress

****
Janet McTeer

***
Jessica Chastain
Bérénice Bejo

**
Octavia Spencer

*
Melissa McCarthy
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Sabin » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:20 pm

Hrm. I like how Michael Gebert did his rundown.

***** - The perfect choice for that award, and essential viewing.
**** - A well-deserved honor, and well worth seeking out.
*** - A perfectly respectable (and watchable) choice.
** - They could have chosen better then; you could do better now.
* - An outright blunder -- and to be avoided.


Best Picture - The Tree of Life or Moneyball
The Tree of Life is clearly the better film, or rather the better piece of filmmaking. I've only seen it the once, and I said I would try to watch it again. Moneyball though is a pleasure to rewatch, and perhaps more successful in its modest sandbox. Either one would make me happy, but The Tree of Life is the greater achievement by far.

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


Best Director - Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
No question here. Malick is a visionary and The Tree of Life is some of the best stuff he's ever done. Scorsese pulls off a similar hat trick, but the story he brings to life becomes such a chore. Alexander Payne is one of the worst nominees for directing in ages.

****
1. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
**
2. Martin Scorsese, Hugo
3. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
4. Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
*
5. Alexander Payne, The Descendants


Best Actor - Brad Pitt, Moneyball
If Dujardin or Oldman won, that'd be fine. None of my problems with The Artist have anything to do with Jean Dujardin. Likewise, Oldman is very fine in his role but the film tends to suffocate him a bit with its breakneck pace. I say give it to Brad Pitt who had an incredible year and has done some of the best work of his career here in Moneyball and in The Tree of Life.

***
1. Brad Pitt, Moneyball
2. Jean Dujardin, The Artist
3. Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
*
4. George Clooney, The Descendants
H/S - Demian Bichir, A Better Life

Best Actress - Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Haven't seen The Iron Lady or My Week with Marilyn. Really don't want to. Probably will eventually. Mara is a fascinating camera study and gives the film a charge whenever she's on screen.

****
1. Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
***
2. Viola Davis, The Help
*
3. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
H/S - Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams


Best Supporting Actor - Christopher Plummer, Beginners
I should probably give Plummer only three stars because the film never quite gives him a scene or two that would demonstrate his incredible talents. But it's a lovely performance full of warmth, and really he's in a class above Nolte and Hill.

****
1. Christopher Plummer, Beginners
***
2. Nick Nolte, Warrior
3. Jonah Hill, Moneyball
H/S - Kenneth Branagh, Max von Sydow


Best Supporting Actress - Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
I like this lineup for the most part. Bejo just isn't a supporting performer in The Artist and should have been replaced by...well, Shailene Woodley is fine, I guess. Carey Mulligan from Shame would have been a better call. As the lone defender of The Help's relative merits, I'll say that I loved how Spencer started off as a pair of very funny eyes that I expected to see pop up once or twice throughout the film, and was pleasantly surprised to see her get a larger arc than I anticipated. Chastain fared much better in other films this year, but she's pretty amusing in The Help and unlike Melissa McCarthy she didn't turn the film into something else entirely. McCarthy is good but it's a performance that upends the rest of the film. Considering that Bridesmaids never really had its feet on the ground to begin with, that's not a problem.
One of the classier things that voters could do would be to give it to Janet McTeer whose character is so completely fascinating that everything else seems a bit afterthought by comparison.

****
1. Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
***
2. Octavia Spencer, The Help
3. Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
4. Jessica Chastain, The Help
**
5. Berenice Bejo, The Artist


Best Original Screenplay - Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
The best nominated screenplay in almost a decade.
*****
1. A Separation
**
2. Midnight in Paris
*
3. The Artist
4. Margin Call
5. Bridesmaids


Best Adapted Screenplay - Moneyball
I think the screenplay to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is pretty ambitious and just required a bit more breathing room than Tomas Alfredson allowed. But the narrative itself is pretty compelling stuff. Moneyball though is the clear standout in this lot though.

****
1. Moneyball
***
2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
*
3. Hugo
4. The Ides of March
5. The Descendants


Best Original Score - Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The score to Hugo is pretty lovely, but Iglesias has been doing great work for ages now and this is one of his best compositions.

****
1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
***
2. Hugo
3. The Artist
*
4. War Horse
H/S (H?) - The Adventures of Tintin


Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubeszki, The Tree of Life
Watch as Robert Richardson takes it for Hugo.

*****
1. The Tree of Life
***
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
3. Hugo
**
4. The Artist
*
5. War Horse
Last edited by Sabin on Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby Uri » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:12 pm

ITALIANO wrote:
Uri wrote: But – one (YOU know I'm talking to you) is not allowed to root for him come Oscar night unless one is rooting for Viola Davis too.



:)

I don't know whom you are referring to, but in case it's me, no, of course I'm not rooting for Max Von Sydow - sadly, it's impossible for this performance. Read what I wrote about this movie in its thread.

Great evaluation though - as usual. Mine will come later - I still have to see some movies. Including, unfortunately, War Horse, but if it's really worse than The Help and Extremely Loud, I hope I will be forgiven if I miss it...


YOU know me too well, as I you.

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Re: Evaluating the Nominees

Postby ITALIANO » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:58 pm

Uri wrote: But – one (YOU know I'm talking to you) is not allowed to root for him come Oscar night unless one is rooting for Viola Davis too.



:)

I don't know whom you are referring to, but in case it's me, no, of course I'm not rooting for Max Von Sydow - sadly, it's impossible for this performance. Read what I wrote about this movie in its thread.

Great evaluation though - as usual. Mine will come later - I still have to see some movies. Including, unfortunately, War Horse, but if it's really worse than The Help and Extremely Loud, I hope I will be forgiven if I miss it...


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