Every year come Oscar time I am always very angry that some of my favorite performances have been overlooked. So, as my return post back to Film Misery after computer meltdowns and a vacation, here are 3 choices in each of the main categories that I feel shouldn’t be put to the side.
For Best Picture we are unsure how many nominees there will actually be. We could be looking at 5-10 nominees, the way the new rules are set up. For your consideration I will add 3 names into the hat, which I think represent the finest film I have seen all year.
It would be a true shame if this film is ignored come Oscar time. And I am almost positive it will be. As it stands on this first week of December, it is still the best film I have seen all year. Director Lars Von Trier has made another masterpiece. Everything is solid here, which is why it more than merits Best Picture consideration. The direction (as with every Von Trier piece) is rock solid – this is a man with a vision. The acting is top notch, the cinematography is breathtaking, the script is magnificent – I could go on and on. I beg all the Academy award voters to give this film second thought. Out of the 6-7 big contenders I have seen, this blows them out of the water.
Drive suffers from its release date I believe – I fear it may be forgotten by this point. At its release it was a huge critical success, but all of the buzz has about died down (except perhaps for Albert Brooks in a biting supporting performance). What a shame this is, as Drive is an exceptional film. There are moments of terror, violence, and extremely moving and tender mercies. From the performances to the directing to the soundtrack – this film is one of the years best. With some run of the mill films in the running, this is another that deserves a spot.
3. The Muppets
Call me crazy, but The Muppets is a staggeringly-good film. I haven’t felt so pumped and excited in the theatre in a very long time. When the car pulls up to the decrepit Muppet mansion and we get a glimpse of Kermie for the first time – the hairs on my neck stood still. And those moments didn’t end (don’t tell me I am the only one that almost teared up during Rainbow Connection). Jason Segal and his writing staff have brought new life to perennial favorites. This is one of the most touching and most hysterical films of the year. I love a good comeback and this year – it’s all about the Muppets. So have a heart Oscar voters and throw your support behind Kermit, Piggy, and the gang!
For BEST DIRECTOR it’s looking pretty up in the air as far as a pull-ahead winner at this point. However there are 3 directors who are more than deserving of recognition. 1 is a controversial auteur, 1 a classic favorite, and 1 powerful voice. Each are more than deserving and sadly all 3 seem to be out of the race entirely.
1. Lars Von Trier – Melancholia
Yet again Lars has inserted foot into mouth and perhaps killed his chances at an Oscar nomination this year with his controversial statements at the Cannesfilm festival. What a shame – because no matter his comments (which were taken terribly out of context) his film is a true masterpiece. He is a director who never disappoints, and with Melancholia he has made his most watchable film to date for the general masses. That is not to say he has lost any of his edge, as the entire world as we know it explodes within the film, killing everyone and everything. But there are moments of true brilliance to be found at every turn. Could this be his crowning achievement.. I think it could.
2. Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Allen has made a slew of fantastic and sometimes iconic films. He has also made a few missteps along the way. However with this film it seems things are right back on track, as Paris is one of his most fun outings in years. Witty and smart, it’s clear Midnight in Paris worked so well because of Allen’s script and his superb direction.
3. Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
A lot of pundits are predicting Malick to be nominated, so this may not be as left field as some of my choices, however it’s my plea that he not be overlooked. A lot of people had a lot of different thoughts on this film. It has the largest amounts of walkouts in years, it angered some, and inspired many. It surprised me. And I think a director who sticks to his guns in the way that Malick did with this film – deserves recognition. He made his movie his own way, and I admire that so very much.
BEST ACTOR is shaping up to be a competitive field, as some frontrunners (DiCaprio) seem to be losing steam and some newcomers (Fassbender) are really coming on strong. How very exciting. Here is a list of 3 that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Woody Harrelson – Rampart
As Vincenzo recently wrote in his review – this movie is basically all about the Harrelson performance, and boy is it a doozy. I have always liked Woody and have always admired his off-the-wall choices and his list of great performances, however this just may be the one to get him nominated again. As far as male performances go this year, Woody is at the top of my list.
Ryan Gosling – Drive
What a year its been for Gosling. He has excelled all over the place. I, personally, couldn’t have been angrier last year when he was not nominated for Blue Valentine, which was perhaps his best performance to date for me. And this year were looking at seeing him snubbed for 2 films. Both Drive and Ides of March contained 2 strong Gosling performances, but its Drive that I liked the most. Gosling proves that so much can be said with so little words. Exceptional performance in an exceptional film (that more than likely will be overlooked in every category).
Michael Shannon – Take Shelter
Shannon has always been a favorite actor of mine, I saw him onstage in Chicago years before his breakthrough film roles (Bug, Revolutionary Road). He has been nominated before, yet somehow Take Shelter has been all but ignored by these early independent awards. Very sad, as Shannon’s take on Curtis is one that it would be a real shame to overlook.
This years BEST ACTRESS race is set to be the most competitive in years. We do not have a clear cut winner, or even a clear cut top 3 at this point. However I will admit these 3 performances are the ones I may be most passionate about. I haven’t seen Iron Lady or Dragon Tattoo, but I have seen almost everything else being buzzed about in this category and nothing tops the following 3 performances for me.
Ellen Barkin – Another Happy Day
Something miraculous happens in Another Happy Day, and that is the return of Ellen Barkin. As Lynn, Barkin turns in the performance of her career. There isn’t one false note to be found as she struggles to keep herself together as everything flounders around her. This is a performance that shook me to my core because you could just see the passion in Ellen’s eyes to get this character onscreen (she acts as a producer as well). She is at once hilarious, desperately heartbreakingly sad, pathetic, manipulative, loving, weak, and strong. It’s going to be a long fight to get a nod for Barkin – but if were looking solely at performances – dammit she deserves one!
Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia
Other than Cannes, no one has rewarded Dunst yet, and that’s a shame. This is a performance that it seems only she could have given. After seeing the film I thought of who else I could see in the role – and there was no one. Within the first 30 minutes of the film we see the happiness sucked right out of Justine’s life right in front of our eyes – and we don’t doubt a moment of it. This is an actress that I think is being judged more on her filmography than her performance. After seeing the film I thought the Oscar would surely be hers. Now it seems that (perhaps due to comments stemming from its director) Dunst is primed to be ignored. What a shame!
Tilda Swinton – We Need To Talk About Kevin
If you would have asked me a month ago, I considered Tilda a frontrunner for a nomination. Now I am more and more concerned that she is going to be left off (AGAIN! Did anyone see Julia?!). This would be a big mistake. Swinton is fantastic in everything she attaches her name too, however this is her crowning achievement. What she does in this film is nothing short of miraculous. I am just hoping that I am wrong, and she is still in that top 5.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR seems to belong to Plummer at this point, but otherwise there are so many wild cards. For your consideration – here are my 3 favorites that shouldn’t be overlooked:
John Hawkes – Martha Marcy May Marlene
They nominated him last year for his fantastic turn in Winter’s Bone, so surely they won’t forget his performance in MMMM which is even better, right? With so many of the precursors looking over Elizabeth Olsen (who could just as easily be in my top for actress), its looking like Hawkes will be forgotten as well. He is downright chilling in this film in all of the best ways. Taking a different approach than many would with the role, Hawkes comes off as loving and psychotic all at once. A brilliant performance.
Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
It looks like Moneyball will be the ticket to a nomination for Brad, however I hope I am not alone in thinking that his finest performance this year (and one of the finest of his career) was as the stoic father in Tree of Life. There was a lot I liked about this film, but it was Pitt who I feel walked away with it all. Although he is considered a big star, I think its about time he was rewarded for what he really is, and that is a solid actor who continually turns in solid performances.
Ezra Miller – We Need To Talk About Kevin / Another Happy Day
What a stellar year for Miller, a newcomer to film. In these two films he plays a rather similar character prototype, the troubled son. In one film he shoots up the school and in the other film he shoots up himself (with drugs not bullets). And although the 2 could have been played very similarly, they were not. Miller is a scene stealer in both films, and holds his own with 2 of my favorite actresses of the year (Swinton and Barkin).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS is always a sneaky category to predict, as it usually contains one of the years biggest surprises. There are many performances that could fit into this category, however there are 3 that shouldn’t be overlooked. I do believe one of these has a shot at a nomination, where the other 2 are nowhere in contention (a crying shame).
Ellen Burstyn – Another Happy Day
I think we all can agree Burstyn was robbed her second Oscar for her stunning work in Requiem for a Dream. Since then she has not received a role where she could play up to that caliber of performance. Here, she gets it! As Doris, the perhaps sociopathic grandmother, Burstyn chews every scene she is in. Her screen time is rather limited, but each moment she has she gives it all she’s got. It’s one of the performances I won’t likely forget. Much like Jacki Weaver last year (in Animal Kingdom), it’s one that I am rooting for all the way to the end.
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Melancholia
It’s no secret I loved this film. And Kirsten Dunst in it is one of my favorite performances of the year, but one of the things that makes that performance so superb is the fantastic support she receives from Gainsbourg in her second outing with Von Trier. Her performance as Claire is heartbreaking. Gainsbourg and Von Trier are onto something with their partnership, that much is certain.
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
This is the one performance that I believe may get a nomination, even though I know some of you may call me crazy. Its been a great year for this comedienne and she does serve up one of the funniest and most memorable performances of the year. I think good comedy is overlooked by the Academy, but this is a performance that I think can stand with the dramatic ones this year.
We shall see how it all comes down. I am certainly hoping that some of my choices will find their names being called come Oscar time. What do you think? Do you have any choices you’d like to add?