Its Oscar time again. Tomorrow morning (early on 27th Feb in India) the biggest Hollywood event will unveil last years’ stalwarts in various aspects of movie making. The Oscars, despite all its detractors, still remain the most famed certification for movies.
And it so happens each year that the Oscar fever rises only after the nominations is announced. Movies, unheard of until then are downloaded and viewed. Whether Oscars make a movie famous or a famous movie makes it to Oscar are two sides of the same coin.
Nine movies have been nominated for Best Movie. They are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse.
I have on the penultimate of the Oscars completed viewing all the movies. A few of them I had watched a few months earlier.
They are as disparate and diverse as it can get. A silent and black and white movie (The Artist), a contemporary family drama (The Descendants), a 9/11 story (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close), a movie on the colored nannies (The Help). Then there is one on grit of a young boy (Hugo) by Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen’s take on a dreamy yesteryear take (Midnight in Paris), a movie on baseball’s tryst with money (MoneyBall), Terence Malick’s tangential abstract (The Tree of Life) and Spielberg’s war movie centered around a horse (War Horse).
The individual movies in a nutshell:
The Artist: Jean Dujardin plays a silent movie artist who is unable to deal and cope with the advent of change in movie. With no dialogues and being a black and white movie, it stands apart. The actor is a serious contender for the Best Actor category.
The Descendants: George Clooney plays the father role perfectly with the highlight of the movie being the father-daughter relationship. The transition in the emotions of the family over the death of Clooney’s wife has been portrayed beautifully in a contemporary set up.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: One of the two Oscar nominations which has a child artist as a protagonist. Though it is to be noted that The Descendants, The Tree of Life, and The Descendants do have important child actor roles. How a child copes up with the loss of his father on 9/11, his relation with his mother and how they come to peace with it is portrayed in the movie.
The Help: A movie on the colored nannies which formed an important part of an American home has strong character sketches in the movie. Violet Davies role has been critically acclaimed.
Hugo: Martin Scorsese has given us a movie with a child protagonist and has used special effects to perfection in a grand portray of clock and early movie making. It is a movie which deals with travails of an orphan and his grit in finding answers which helps an early movie maker find his lost answers.
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen is back with what he does best, portraying characters strongly and he does that this time in a medieval set up. With his characteristic background scores, Midnight in Paris is an interesting watch, though a little prior knowledge on Hemmingway could help.
Moneyball: A movie on baseball and the money involved in it is shown in the movie, especially how calculations and mathematics has taken over instincts and traditional knowledge in selection of players. Brad Pitt’s angry manager role is portrayed beautifully.
The Tree of Life: It could not get more abstract than this. With camera work and cinematography reaching great heights, it is a movie on Life in a bigger scheme, shown in a family’s handling a death in the family. It is more an arty a movie and palatable for serious movie watchers.
War Horse: Steven Spielberg’s war movie, which revolves around a horse and shows the World War on both sides. Many sub plots of the movie disparate in their own means works perfectly in the end for the movie.
For a successfully movie, there has to be many ‘moments’ in the movie which uplift it. There are plenty of them in the above mentioned movies.
The climax scene of The Artist where Dujarin wants to kill himself, German and American soldiers helping the horse to get out in War Horse, the love portrayed in Midnight in Paris, Brad Pitt’s dinner table scenes in Tree of Life, the father-daughter interactions in The Descendants, the outburst in The Help, and the list is a long one.
We come to the pivotal question. Which movie will be crowned the Best Movie in less than 24 hours?
Every movie could be a winner. They have the potential. The factors which could work for them are: the ‘different’ movies like The Artist and The Tree of Life, one silent, black and white and the other abstract. Contemporary family drama in The Descendants. America’s turnaround moment 9/11 in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and its past, not so glorious, in The Help. Grit and reforming ending in Hugo. Dreamy movie making in Midnight in Paris. Another obsession of US, baseball, in Moneyball. Movie making reaching nadir in The Tree of Life and a trusted Oscar formula, world war, in War Horse.
If I am to put my money on a movie, with a lot of apprehension, I would go with – Hugo !
Best Director: The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life. My Guess: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
Best Actor: Demián Bichir, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt. My guess: Jean Dujardin for The Artist.