Film Review: Winning Performances

 

Film Review: Winning Performances

 

Date: February 24, 2012
by: Pam Nadon | Film Critic

 
 

 

Everyone loves the Academy Awards, especially the nominees. They get to strut their stuff and, most importantly, add the most coveted designation to their resumés, “Oscar-nominated.” This year’s race could be quite interesting in testing the academy’s ability and desire to honor true excellence in filmmaking. Let’s hope it doesn’t digress into a popularity contest and that Mrs. Streep doesn’t forget her glasses. My picks for this year’s recipients of the elusive golden statuette are as follow.
 

BEST ACTOR
Demian Bichir, “A Better Life”
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Because Ryan Gosling (“Drive”), Michael Fassbender (“Shame”), Michael Shannon (“Take Shelter”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar”) didn’t get the recognition they deserved, I’m going with Clooney. His performance is utterly flawless because he has the uncanny ability to wear his heart on his sleeve.
 
BEST ACTRESS
Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

Rooney Mara’s portrayal of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was so boldly riveting that it cut to the quick. Her ground-breaking and brave performance as a severely damaged woman is shocking to behold. I’m looking forward to her two sequels with bated breath.
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, “My Week With Marilyn”
Jonah Hill, “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Max von Sydow, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Once again, why isn’t Ryan Gosling on this list? His work in “Crazy, Stupid Love” was so superior to Jonah Hill’s in “Moneyball” (as was Albert Brooks’ in “Drive”). My choice is Christopher Plummer whose soulful portrayal of a man who embraces his homosexuality late in life is as touching as it gets. At age 82, Plummer is the poster boy for “hope.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Bérénice Bejo, “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain, “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

Hands down, Janet McTeer’s gender-bending, cross-dressing Hubert (a woman), who’s blissfully married to another woman is mind-blowing. Her nuanced and joyous performance is a scene-stealer each time she occupies the screen with the brilliant Close. How Melissa McCarthy was allowed to share this category with the other nominees is preposterous.
 
BEST DIRECTOR
Michael Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”
 
One of the best directors in filmmaking history, Martin Scorsese, most assuredly deserves this award. In “Hugo” he formulates the most poignant and insightful analysis of why we love films ... “they capture our dreams.” And through the eyes of a child he celebrates the adult child in all of us.
 
BEST PICTURE
“The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
“The Help”
“Hugo”
“Midnight in Paris”
“Moneyball”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”


 It’s “The Descendants” because it’s magnificently directed, scripted and cast. It’s intimate, mischievous and marvelous. It’s not sentimental, but there’s no controlling the tears as you identify with every actor in this insightful film. It’s personal, and it’s perfect.

 

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