I always feel the compulsive need to remind readers that there is a different between a bad movie and a movie that I don’t like. A prime example of this is my review of the English Patient. It took extreme talent to create the film and was very well done; I just didn’t enjoy watching it. The 1985 Oscar Best Picture winner Out of Africa is another example of a good film that I just did not like.
The film follows Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), a Danish woman who is dealing with the death of her lover when the films opens. Forced into a marriage of convenience to Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke (Claus Maria Brandauer), Karen moves to Africa, to a colony in what is now Kenya, to be married and live on a farm. What should have been a very profitable dairy farm quickly turns into a risk when Karen’s new husband decides to plant coffee instead opening a dairy farm. Struck with wanderlust, Bror spends all of his time on safari leaving Karen home to work on the farm, meet the natives and get to know Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford), a war veteran. As Karen is left alone more and more, she gets more involved with members of a neighboring tribe (helping as much as she can), her farm (annoying the man who actually runs it) and Denys. The film focuses on Karen’s life on the farm as she deals with person tragedy, interacting with the natives and a budding relationship with Denys.
Shot on location, nearly every shot and frame of this film is a work of art. Peppered with shots of natural wildlife, the beauty hits its peak during a biplane safari, showing sweeping shots of the wilderness from the plane. Mixed in with this beautifully shot film is the uncommon love story that exists between Karen and Denys. Meeting at odd times and in odd places, the two slowly grow to know and love each other. While the slow moving, fictional biopic film did not grab my interest it is almost impossible not to be enthralled by Meryl Streep and Robert Redford whenever they are on screen. The film features two charming leads but also dances through and touches a number of issues including social classes, racism and gender roles.
Out of Africa received seven Oscars out of its eleven nominations, beating Kiss of the Spider Woman, Prizzi’s Honor, Witness and surprisingly (for me at least) the Color Purple for Best Picture. The beauty of and artistic skill that went into shooting the film was recognized as David Watkin won for Best Cinematography. Sydney Pollack, the film’s director, won Best Direction and the film also earned writer Kurt Luedtke an Oscar for Best writing. Its other three wins were in Best Music, done by John Barry, Best Art Direction-Set Direction and Best Sound. I found the film’s plot and story to be somewhat dry but the two lead actors as well as the stunning set worked to hold my attention throughout the two hour movie. I give this film a 7 out of 10, another film that I appreciate immensely but can’t really say that I like.
Alright, I have officially mulled over the nominees long enough to finally make my Oscar predictions. I am far from fulfilling my goal of posting about every nomination and for that I apologize but I have seen the majority of the nominees. The following post looks at each of what I call the Big 6 categories at the Oscars. Within each category I am going to list the movie or role that I think will win and the movie or role that I think should win. The “will win” choices will be based off my research (how the public and critics have reacted to the film) and past award winners (what won this year’s SAG, Golden Globe, ect.). The “should win” choices are the movies and roles that I would vote for to win. Critics and the public may not agree with me but my “should win” picks are what I believe to be the best in that category this year.
Best Supporting Actress
- Will Win: Octavia Spencer in the Help. A brilliant performance in the Help earned her an Oscar nomination as well as a Golden Globe in the same category. If you’ve read the book, Minnie is a fairly iconic character but Spencer does a great job bringing her to life.
- Should Win: Jessica Chastain in the Help. Octavia Spencer gave a truly outstanding performance in this film but I believe that Jessica Chastain’s performance was even better. I do believe that Octavia Spencer deserves all of the praise and acknowledgement that she is receiving but Chastain deserves the award. Not to be cynical or rude but the only reason I don’t think she will win it because, as one of my good friends so eloquently put it, they are not going to give the award to the white girl from the Help over the black girl from the Help. Though I hope Chastain gets the award, I would be very happy if either of them won.
Best Supporting Actor
- Will Win: Christopher Plummer in the Beginners. Not only was his performance great but the public and the critics seem to favor Mr. Plummer this year.
- Should Win: Christopher Plummer in the Beginners. As much as I would like to cast my vote for Jonah Hill, his performance was not quite Oscar winning. He deserved the nomination but no the win. I really believe that, given the nominees, Plummer has the strongest, most Oscar worthy performance.
- Will Win: Jean Dujardin in the Artist. Words, or lack thereof, cannot hold this man back. Bringing to life a character trapped in a world with no words, Dujardin has managed to charm audiences and critics alike.
- Should Win: Jean Dujardin in the Artist. This is the final category that the “should win” and the “will win” choices match up. Dujardin gives an outstanding performance that beyond a doubt deserves to win him the 2012 Best Actor Oscar.
- Will Win: Meryl Streep in the Iron Lady. Judging by reviews and critics, Meryl Street will be the year’s Best Actress.
- Should Win: Rooney Mara in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My mind is boogled, BOOGLES, that Rooney Mara has not swept the awards this season. I was absolutely awestruck by Mara’s portrayal of the dark, damaged Lisbeth Salander. There is no doubt in my mind that she deserves the Oscar win this year.
- Will Win: Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Marty (man I wish I was on a first name basis with Scorsese) has proven his directorial skills time and time again. This time, he captures the audiences heart by bring the novel Hugo Cabret to life.
- Should Win: Michel Hazanavicius for the Artist. Hazanavicius used every tool at his disposal brilliantly to creature the Artist. I do not think Hazanavicius should win because he chose to direct a silent film; in fact that choice could have easily been his downfall. I think Hazanavicius should win because he directed a truly amazing film. He not only used every tool at his disposal but he managed to make the lack of sound a positive aspect of the film rather than allowing it to become a cheap gimmick.
- Will Win: The Descendants. With the collection of performances, reviews and support this film has received, I think (much to my dismay) it may edge out the Artist for Best Picture.
- Should Win: The Artist. I mean no disrespect to the Descendants, it is an outstanding film, I just think the Artist is better. In my review of the Artist, I called it a dense film and I meant that as the highest compliment. There is not a wasted aspect of the film, everything words towards building the story and the characters. The film was enthralling from beginning to end and has Best Picture written all over it.
There you have it, what I think is going to win and what I think should win. I hope that most of my “will win” picks are incorrect and that I am much more accurate with my “should win” choices. Let me know what you think of my choices and tune in this Sunday to see if I was right.