Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top Films of 2011

I felt that I should distinguish what I think will be the winners in each respective Oscar category from what I believe were the best films of 2011. As we all know, the Academy is far from perfect. Hence bamboozling nominations of films like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
and War Horse over films like Drive and Win Win. I should add in a qualifier: this list is subject to change. I have not seen every movie from 2011, that's impossible. I haven't seen every movie up for Best Picture (I've seen most of them). This list is based on the most critically acclaimed films that I have seen. So, while the moniker may be "Top Films of 2011," it's really the "Top Films of 2011 I've Seen." But, that just sounds lame.

As I mentioned before, it being a weak year in terms of caliber of films, it's not surprising that my list, for the most part, includes Oscar nominees. However, there are a couple of notable differences I will explain after I present them to you:

5. Win Win
4. The Tree of Life
3. Beginners
2. The Descendants
1. The Artist

Two inclusions that may spark surprise are Win Win and Beginners.

Win Win is an independent film by Thomas McCarthy, the same exceptional director that made The Station Agent. It was a really well done, realist film (typical of McCarthy) with great performances from Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, and Bobby Cannavale, who rejoins McCarthy after also starring in The Station Agent. While it is up for a couple Independent Spirit Awards, for some reason it escaped the Academy. But, it was undoubtedly one of my favorites of the year and definitely worth seeing.

Beginners got a nod for Best Supporting Actor in Christopher Plummer, but, puzzlingly, that was it. I'm really not sure why. There has been a reluctance, in recent years, from the Academy to take romantic films seriously (as was the case with Blue Valentine last year). But I believe this film was far more exigent than the usual romantic film. Plummer was undoubtedly fantastic and well worthy of the Best Supporting Actor nomination. Ewan McGregor did what he had to do very well, but was not worthy of a nod. But, I do feel that Melanie Laurent was overlooked for Best Supporting Actress. It was a great performance by the French actress. Beginners can be looked at as this year's The Kids Are All Right, but it stands on its own. Mike Mills (director of Thumbsucker) did a great job and deserved more recognition for his work.

I would love to give reviews and more explanation as to my other 3 choices, but I feel the point is moot given all the talk surrounding those three great films. My hope is to review films more regularly, and in a somewhat timely manner in relation to their popular theatrical release.

What do you think of my top 5? Missing anything? What are your top films of 2011?

Oscar 2012 Predictions

It's been a long time since my last post, but what better time than the so-called "Super Bowl of Cinema," the 2012 Academy Awards. With my predictions for winners of the most notable categories, I am hoping to broaden the scope of what POK will be covering; going beyond the political and economical realm and into a more cultural blog. By covering not only issues of politics, but also of film, literary works, music, philosophy and other mediums, I hope to give a hardly objective viewpoint on today's culture.

So, without further ado, here are my predictions for this years major Academy Awards categories.

Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay: Hugo

Best Cinematography: The Artist

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Best Actress: Viola Davis (The Help)

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Best Picture: The Artist

There you have it. We'll see how I do in a matter of hours. Please know that these are not necessarily my picks for each category, but how I can most objectively guess each winner to be.

I will shortly be posting my personal best films of 2011. It'll either be a top 5 or top 10. Depends on how tough it is. Shouldn't be too bad, considering the weakness of the field this year compared to last.

Would love to hear your thoughts on my picks or even what you think may be a big winner.