119 nominees (distributed over 24 categories – if I counted correctly that is, but I think I did) were announced on the 10th of January, and I have finally come around to start and contemplate some of them. I have never before done an Oscars-discussion, and usually I would just parrot someone who sounded knowledgable. But for both my sake, as well as yours, today I will pretend to be that knowledgable one! Let’s start with the nominees for Best Picture, shall we? The track record of the Academy in this category has been very interesting to follow. Only compare the 90s to the 00s. It seems to me that the first include at least seven definite classics, while the latter only amounts to four. Of course, this is a matter of personal opinion, as well as time probably, but I am definitely curious what the 10s are going to bring!
First of all, the number of nominees is very interesting: nine. While the maximum allowed number for this category is… ten! I can’t believe there was not one other picture out there that couldn’t have qualified. But let’s talk about the various possibilities that could’ve fit there in another post, or sound off in the comments (note that NextMovie has already included an interesting Honorable Mention)!
Out of those nine, I have so far actually seen two: Life Of Pi and Les Miserables. Which is terrible of course. I believe that last year I was at the same number, and then I managed to watch two more before the actual Awards-ceremony. I am deeply ashamed of myself. Every year I tell myself: “This is it! My time to shine! I WILL watch them all!”, but it never happens. Very sad indeed.
Both these movies are worthy contenders in my opinion (as also explained here), but I don’t think that either will actually go home with the golden statuette. My problem with Les Mis was that my expectations were very high up front. This because of the amazing cast, with a huge number of Hollywood-quality (i.e. Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman – both also nominated: for Best Actress In A Supporting Role and Best Actor. I personally believe Hathaway’s nomination is entirely based on her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream, which was heartbreaking. Even more astounding is the fact that the scene is a continuous shot! The emotions she displays in that one shot, it is just plain unbelievable that one human being could feel all that… This nomination is definitely deserved, and I fervently hope she wins! – Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, and Eddie Redmayne – who I have had a crush on ever since he appeared in the mini TV-series Pillars Of The Earth (2010), which I have revisited after watching Les Mis).
On top of that, the film includes a number of less well-known talents, but you can bet your ass that they will not remain less well-known for much longer. Take Samantha Barks as Éponine or Aaron Tveit in the role of Enjolras. If your film career is kick-started (Barks was cast because of her depiction of Éponine in the theater/musical adaptation of the book, this is her first time appearing in a film) with a role in a movie that is nominated for Best Picture, well, I think it’s fair to say you’ve basically made it.
So with such a cast, the beautiful trailers, and the very interesting looks Behind The Curtain (showcasing the live-singing), naturally expectations were high. And for me, the movie didn’t live up to it. First of all, Les Miserables as a story is quite difficult to adapt. It’s an ensemble piece, with a very big ensemble. This caused characters to sometimes fall short of what they might have deserved. For instance, I never really truly believed in the love between Cosette and Marius (probably mainly because I am not a big fan of Amanda Seyfried). More screentime might have helped to develop that. On the other hand, in a film that is already 2,5 hours long, you can’t really afford more screentime! As actors, you then have to make do with what you get, and make it the best. Which is what Anne Hathaway did. This raises the question that has existed since primary school: should something be judged according to expectations (so, if it falls short, that’s not good enough?), or should it be judged on the actual result (which here is very good as well)? Let’s discuss that one when the Oscars are in, shall we? I think it might make for a VERY interesting discussion.
I also enjoyed Life Of Pi a lot, but at some times it just felt slow to me. I think they could’ve cut in the introduction, where Pi as a child is introduced to us. Furthermore, I think it could’ve been fascinating if some hints linked to the twist at the ending were put in place earlier in the film. I have no idea how that would’ve gone about, but I am sure there are some creative people out there with very good ideas on the matter. That twist also left me with a question that I have not yet found an answer to: what does the meerkat-island mean in the context of that twist?
By the way, if you are getting annoyed with this continuous mentioning of a twist in the story, please go and watch/read the story, because it is one of the best twists I have come across lately! In my opinion, Suraj Sharma (for who this is also his first film) here delivers an amazing performance, and I am very interested in what will come next for him (I am rooting for a lead role in this!). Also, the CGI in this movie was perfect, which is also acknowledged by the Academy (i.e. the film is nominated for Best Visual Effects, but it does have some tough competition there as well).
So how do you guys feel about the nominees for Best Picture? What do you think of the open slot? I have come to believe that the Academy does it on purpose, just so all those film fanatics out there can create endless Honorable Mention-lists. Else I honestly don’t see the point, but it just gets them a lot of complaints as well. In other posts I will definitely cover Best Score (what happened to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey here???), Best Song (and the possible upset over the inclusion of Skyfall), Best Director (I found it very interesting to see that this category is only ninth on the list), Best Cinematography (I am shocked that Les Miserables is not found here!) and possibly some other categories as well. Most of these are often viewed as minor categories, but I believe they deserve just as much attention. Order and choice of discussion for these categories is all determined according to whim, unless I receive some requests. Let me know!