For Your Consideration: Moneyball

Original concept art for Hugo.
I have been immersing myself in all the best picture nominees the past week and I've come to find out that my assumptions were correct: it's a pretty awful list. I've seen Hugo and The Artist and I'm guessing the main reason these movies were nominated is because they celebrate Hollywood's early years. I won't say the films were bad, it's just that they're not very good, either. In fact, I hazard a guess that most of the movies this year will be largely forgotten. Hugo was okay - I don't see why people were calling it "magical" because it lacked a soul. In the movie, the characters talked about having an adventure, but the only real adventure they have is hiding from the train inspector. As for The Artist, it was a good movie, I enjoyed my time with it, but will I fondly remember it? Probably not - it's got a gimmick (no dialogue or sound! Just music!), but as for character development or depth, it's sorely lacking. Both movies are very romantic in their notions of Hollywood - all the characters are essentially good people and everyone comes to love each other in the end. I usually don't mind movies like this, but it's all too forced and insincere. That aside, I did find only one movie on the Academy's list to be in line with my own: Moneyball.


For Your Consideration: X-Men: First Class

6. X-Men: First Class (PG-13) - 132 minutes
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Matthew Vaughn is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. I loved Kick-Ass from 2010 and he previously directed Stardust, so it comes as no surprise that I absolutely loved X-Men. It's a rare feat for a studio to take this big of a risk on rebooting a solid franchise, but Fox decided to go ahead and it paid off beautifully. It's a great starting point for a new series of movies and the cast is absolutely brilliant, except for one sore spot, which I will get to later on.

First Class tells the tale of the original X-Men and how Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr became Professor X and Magneto, respectively. It's a great origins tale that also has a lot of heavy-handed metaphors flying around. But despite this thick layer of allegory, the movie is endlessly entertaining and smart. The backdrop of the 60s and the Cold War are perfect for the relationship between these two giants of comic book lore. The movie also does a good job of highlighting other mutants without overloading the audience with too many characters (X-Men: The Last Stand crossed the line of introducing way too many characters). There's a boat load of interesting characters to mine in this universe and I appreciated them sticking to a handful of them. In fact, I loved the other big relationship/love triangle between the Beast, Magneto and Mystique. The movie brings up a lot of different questions about morality and equality and they're handled with grace. I find it refreshing to see a superhero movie tackle these issues.

The cast is really, really superb. I have loved James McAvoy since his leading role in Wanted and he's really close to becoming a break out star, which has already happened to his rival, Michael Fassbender. They're both really good actors and they have good chemistry, balancing that delicate line of mutual respect but deep-seated disagreement on their own worldview. The rest of the crew is great - Jennifer Lawrence already proved herself in Winter's Bone and here she plays a different kind of woman, someone who doesn't know who she really is or what she really wants. Nicholas Hoult is great as the Beast, I just wish he had more screen time. And Kevin Bacon as the villain was a great stroke of genius. The only weak spot? January Jones. Uggghh, she has this dead-behind-the-eyes vacant stare that gets really annoying after awhile. It's great that she's the villain because you really hope that she gets offed every time she's on screen.

A lot of people complain about superhero movies and how that's all Hollywood wants to churn out nowadays, but last year had some pretty solid hits with Thor and Captain America and X-Men. If they keep up this quality, I won't complain. I know Vaughn is interested in doing a sequel and I know I'll be thoroughly excited to see what adventures they'll have cooked up for this new (but old!) generation of X-Men!


For Your Consideration: Bridesmaids

This is the dream, people.

I don't know what gods I angered today, but it was a terribly frustrating one. You know those days - everything seems to not be in your favor - like driving to work you get stuck behind a pile of cars that decide it's a good idea to go 15 mph below the speed limit because you can never be too careful. But I like to live on the edge - I've been trying to beat my record coming home and there's this one light that always, always, gets my goose. And I hate it. It's the worst light in the world. No matter how fast or how strategically I drive, I can never beat that light. And if I beat that light, the rest of my trip home is cream cheese, folks. Because when I get stuck at that particular light, I get stuck at the next one and then I end up behind those douchebag pile of cars (I swear it's the same Dodge Stratus and Toyota Tercel everytime!). But the other night I was thisclose to victory. I had timed everything perfectly. I even had the light beat, but it changed to yellow one second too soon and I chickened out and applied my brakes viscerally. Of course, the next light I was stuck and then I got behind a tow truck hauling a ginormous old people bus out of a parking lot. I only have a week and a half to get this done for undisclosed reasons, so if you don't hear from me in a few weeks that means I'm working three different jobs to pay my enormous speeding ticket. Ahhhh, life in the fast lane. And now for a jarring segue into my number 7 pick for best picture!


Most Anticipated Addendum

It's with great sadness that I've come to deliver bad news. Three, yes three (!), movies have been pushed back from 2012 to 2013. That doesn't really bode well for those movies (anything getting pushed back more than 6 months is a sign that the studio has absolutely zero faith in the movie). So, of course I have to get off my lazy ass and make sure to fill in the number 41, 30 and 29 spots on my list. If you really want to know how much I loathe doing this, this brief clip from the greatest movie of all time sums it up:

This time, however I made sure to pick movies that I know have no reason to be delayed. Well, actually, no I didn't, but whatever, there's a slightly better chance we'll see these three movies in 2012 as opposed to 2013. If this happens to any more movies, I might have to go fondle my sweaters. I mean, make fondu with cheddar.

For Your Consideration: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Out of the 9 movies that I've selected for Best Picture nominees, only 6 were on my most anticipated list last year. That means a third of the movies I didn't have on my radar going into 2011. I don't know what that says in my selection, but it's painfully obvious that I should not be waging any bets. I really don't know how this year is going to shape up, but I still have high hopes, although 3 movies on my most anticipated list - Jack the Giant Killer, Warm Bodies and Hansel & Gretel - all got pushed back to 2013. My confidence is fading fast, but I still believe in the movies that I picked. And that brings us to number 8, a movie that was my number one most anticipated movie last year. Expectations were clearly high and it certainly delivered.


For Your Consideration: Drive

Have any of you seen the list for Best Picture nominees? It's abysmal. Granted, I've only seen 1 and 1/2 movies on the list, but I'm pretty sure that the rest are going to be either okay or awful based on what I've read and heard from people. This has been a pretty bad year (something I was completely wrong about) for movies. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed a healthy amount of films this year, but there wasn't a whole lot that I loved. I feel like with this year's nominees, the list is incredibly narcissistic. What I mean is that one movie is about Hollywood itself (The Artist is going to win - it almost has to by law) and the rest of the list (excluding The Help) are directed by or starring Hollywood icons - George Clooney, Scorsese, Spielberg, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks. I am planning on watching all these movies in the next two weeks, so my mind might change. But for now, I'm making my own list of 9 nominees.