Friday, February 24, 2012

FoW MTR: Oscars Edition

By David Hammock & Stephan Rabbitt

Editor's Note: It's Oscar week and by now, you should know all of the nominees. You've read the reviews, seen the actual movies, and filled out your Oscar ballot. Rather than write more essays about this year's nominees or make predictions, we decided we should revisit the trailers with our two favorite trailer aficionados.

War Horse

Rabbitt: I had pretty low expectations for War Horse, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. Nearly every major scene seems to be represented in the trailer, but the trailer can't capture the outstanding interactions the horse has with a number of different characters. I suppose since it has been nominated, it can't technically have a 0% chance to win best picture... but that's about right for War Horse (and many of the other nominees).

Hammock: Before I can comment on any of these nine Best Picture nominees, let me say that I think it's a travesty that Drive isn't one of them. Gosling and gang got shafted by the Academy. It's like, "Hey girl, where's my Oscar nod?" Anyway, I never saw War Horse though I hear the horse in the movie is a great actor. The film didn't interest me much, but I had a feeling it was well-made and judging by your account, Stephan, I was right. But does War Horse have a shot at taking home the hardware? Neigh.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Hammock: Cue Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." I haven't seen this one either, but I think Extremely Loud is probably incredibly close to being nothing more than mediocre Oscar bait. It got a tepid reception from audiences and subpar reviews from critics, which leads me to think the entire production was satisfied with being a maudlin affair that heavily relied on an inherent emotional response to 9/11 rather than to the movie itself. This is undoubtedly George W. Bush's fault.

Rabbitt: I will be the first to admit I have a terrible memory, but I, like most, remember 9/11 like it was yesterday instead of over 10 years ago. I don't need nor want to watch a movie to remind me about it, especially one that isn't a true story. It's sort of like the love triangle inPearl Harbor. Enough happened at Pearl Harbor that I feel like we could have done without passing Ms. Beckinsale around. Also, I'm pretty sure the key search story line was stolen from the pilot episode of Wings.


Rabbitt: If you watch the trailer and also have a little knowledge about the real life story, you really don't need to see the movie. I watched Moneyball over the weekend as part of AMC's Best Picture Showcase. While I'd rather have watched 1991 Atlanta Braves Miracle Season, it was an enjoyable movie. Pitt and Hill both give nomination worthy performances. It was a much funnier movie than I anticipated... still no chance to win, though. But, next off-season when you are missing baseball, it's not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.  

Hammock: Hey, Moneyball or 1991 Worst-to-First Braves... either way, you get to see David Justice. I thought Moneyball was solid. I love baseball so it's no surprise that I enjoyed it, but I'm a little surprised at how well it did at the box office and with critics. I didn't think Billy Beane's story would appeal to that broad of an audience. I definitely didn't think it would get Oscar buzz. Guess that just proves that baseball is still alive and well in America. My one criticism of Moneyball would be that the film failed to mention that the 2002 A's boasted thebest pitching staff in baseball, AKA the real reason they were good that year. Anyway, unlike Barry Zito, who won the Cy Young Award that season, I don't see Moneyball taking home a trophy.

The Descendants

Hammock: This is the first of the films we've covered so far that I wouldn't mind taking home the Oscar for Best Picture and maybe the only one that has a chance at beating out The ArtistThe Descendants is masterfully acted and though the plot may seem convoluted, the film is subtle and simplistic. Clooney seems to have a fighting chance at Best Actor and his performance is most definitely worthy of it. Suck it, Noah Wyle. Despite revolving around death and infidelity, there's a lightheartedness to the film, which ultimately values forgiveness over contempt. Throw in the beautiful Hawaiian scenery and The Descendants makes my Top 5 for 2011.

Rabbitt: Well-said, David. The scene of Clooney running like a duck through down the street is definitely one of the classic scenes of 2011. This one has a chance in Best Actor, Director, and Picture. All are deserving. I think Clooney wins actor and the others come up a bit short.

 The Tree of Life

Rabbitt: This actually isn't the nominated silent film you've been hearing about. After watching it, I'm a little surprised that Tree hasn't been given more of a chance to win by critics. It's artsy and ambitious. It doesn't appeal to the masses, including the majority of the viewing audience that saw it in the same theater as I did. If I hadn't read anything about the Best Picture race, I would give Tree of Life more than a puncher's chance... but that is one of the many reasons no one cares which film I think will win.   

Hammock: There's only one movie theater within 50 miles of my house and it chose not to carry The Tree of Life, so I'm out of the loop on this one. (So was Sean Penn apparently.) I seem to remember a time when it was the front runner for Best Picture, but it seems that tree has wilted. I guess the movie just had too much talking and too many colors to win this year.

The Help

HammockThe Help shines a light on a truth that I've been proclaiming for years: white people are evil. No, actually, I liked The Help, much more than I thought I would. Unlike The Tree of Life, which never played at my local theater, I think this movie is still there. My theory is that my town is a little like the town in The Help and people keep going to see the movie to prove they aren't like the racist people in the film. Even though I enjoyed the film, I don't quite think it's worthy of an Oscar nomination. I would go as far as to say that Harry Potterdeserves the nod over The HelpThe Help, however, did do one thing that Harry didn't: avoid completely botching Voldemort's death scene.

Rabbitt: So, The Help has no chance of winning Best Picture. The trailer doesn't do it for me, but I'm at least interested in seeing it. Supposedly, you are looking at your best actress winners, both supporting and leading roles. If that happens, it will only be the second time that two black actors/actresses have taken home the hardware in the same year since Jamie Foxx (Ray) and Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) in 2004. Sounds like a good time to jump on over and check out David's Black History Month countdown on TKAA!

Midnight in Paris

Rabbitt: My favorite movie of 2011. The trailer is intriguing and mysterious, but the movie takes you on an adventure that you never see coming. There were definitely a few jokes that went way over my head. I maintain that your movie ticket should come with a brief recap of literary and art history, so that those of us who don't read so much can get more of the jokes.Midnight likely comes up short in the Best Picture race, but I'm sure Woody can take solace in the fact that he gets my vote.

Hammock: I'm with you, Stephan. I wish I knew a little more about 1920s Paris, then maybe I would have gotten even more out of it, but Midni**t in Paris was another 2011 favorite of mine. I had no idea what the movie was about going in... heck, I wasn't sure what it was about until Owen Wilson's character met F. Scott Fitzgerald... but it's a neat concept. It's likeNight at the Museum for adults... except, you know, it doesn't suck. Woody Allen films are usually hit or miss with me, but this one was exceedingly smart and charming and won me over very quickly. I also agree that Midni**t in Paris will fall short of the Oscar, but I'm glad it was nominated. Too bad the nomination field is so bloated now that that doesn't mean as much as it did in the past.


Hammock: Who would have thought that Scorsese + Borat + Hit Girl + 30 Seconds To Mars = a kids movie? I wanted to see Hugo, but I never got around to it. I heard great things and I fully expect it to be great, but alas, I have little to offer in analysis. I've read that it has an outside shot at Best Picture, but I really don't see anything taking down The Artist. I just hope Hugo has a happier ending than The Departed.

Rabbitt: I love Hit Girl. Who the )*#$ is Jude Law!?! And the last time I saw Hugo he was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas... so this one has to turn out better than that (and The Departed). This looks like a fun movie to watch. In a related story, I get to watch it this Saturday morning in 3D, which I'm told is approximately 50% more exciting than in 2D. Approximately. 

The Artist

Hammock: An entire movie with virtually zero dialogue and in black and white and I didn't hate it... color me surprised. The Artist is the odds on favorite to win Best Picture and I guess I can see why. It's very, very different from anything else you saw last year and it's highly stylized. It wasn't my favorite movie of 2011 by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have its charms and Dujardin was excellent in the main role. Sadly, I think he'll edge out Clooney for Best Actor. I'd rather several of the other nominees win Best Picture, but I don't have qualms with The Artist winning either. Maybe if Drive had featured a cute little dog who does tricks, we'd be talking about it's chances of winning. Nah, that would have ruined it... I'm a cat person anyway. 

Rabbitt: And at guard...6'6'' from the University of North Carolina... we have the favorite. The Artist. I have never seen a silent film before, so I am more than a little bit interested in seeingThe Artist. It is the odds on favorite to win it all, and I have no idea how to judge it on its trailer. I look forward to watching it, but I'm not sure that I have the mental capacity to appreciate it as much as the academy would like. We shall see. It is always a pleasure to hear David's thoughts on the trailers, and seriously people, check out TKAA for David's black history month person of the day. Pure genius.