The 84th Academy Awards


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Courtesy of allmoviephoto.com


On Sunday, Feb. 26, the red carpet will roll out again to grace the feet of filmmakers and celebrities. The stars will all be in attendance at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., for the most prestigious award ceremony in the film industry: The 84th Academy Awards. In honor of such a momentous occasion, members of Inside Beat’s staff share some opinions on their favorite nods and snubs of 2011.

Nods

Michelle Williams (Best Actress): My Week with Marilyn

Being the "sexiest woman in the world" is no easy feat — and Michelle Williams, as ’50s bombshell Marilyn Monroe working on the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, reveals the insecurities and instabilities behind the famous curves and satin evening gowns. Williams nails Monroe’s girlish giggle and preening, as well as the desperation inherent in all of her actions. Williams dominates each scene she is in and serves as an object of every male character’s fantasy; of course, as she explains to production assistant Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), she’s simply playing “Marilyn Monroe.” The fact that Williams is able to show multiple layers of a woman’s identity, including the knowledge of self-construction, is an amazing feat. She is 2011’s Best Actress.

Youtube: Oscars Trailer: "Off the Grid"

–Zoe Szathmary, Inside Beat Editor

Moneyball

In some of his best work to date, Brad Pitt plays Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane, who is tasked with building a competitive baseball team in a sport that is dominated by big money goliaths like the New York Yankees. The film is powerfully acted, with Pitt managing to put a lighthearted spin on the somewhat dry subject material. The writing is exemplary; the screenwriters manage to construct compelling dialogue while avoiding the complex and alienating lingo of sabermetrics. As such, Moneyball is accessible to non-baseball fans and could be considered one of the finest sports movies ever made.

–Ryan Surujnath, Associate Editor

 

Gary Oldman (Best Actor): Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

He was once a punk-rocker, an intergalactic smuggler, a drug addicted crooked cop, a disfigured serial killer and even Count Dracula, but Gary Oldman has most recently adopted the role of British MI6 agent George Smiley in Tomas Alfredson’s masterful film adaptation of John le Carre’s classic spy novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Gary Oldman is one of the most multi-dimensional character actors of this generation. Like a chameleon, he adapts to each new persona he portrays, completely absorbing all the mannerisms and personality traits of the character. In Tinker, Oldman plays a middle-aged Smiley, who is called out of retirement to investigate a potential mole in British Intelligence. Oldman is able to showcase Smiley’s meticulous planning, his self-assuredness, , his composed strategic method and even his vulnerabilities. Gary Oldman is more than deserving of the Oscar nomination. It’s a shame he wasn’t acknowledged earlier.

–Alex Natanzon, Film Editor

Michel Hazanavicius (Best Director): The Artist

Few could make a black-and-white silent film as endearing to modern audiences with the skill that Hazanavicius does. With a natural affinity for the style of silent era cinema as well as a fantastic eye for detail, Hazanavicius makes The Artist a visual pleasure. One particular highlight of the film involves a nightmare sequence in which the main character, George Valentin (a silent film star), dreams that he is unable to speak. Up until this point in the movie, the only sounds are those of the score, but as the protagonist slowly becomes aware of his loss of speech the Foley in the scene can be heard for the first time. This surprises Valentin as well as the audience, making it one of the most memorable scenes in a film filled with them.

–Jason Pearl, Online Editor

Midnight in Paris

City dweller Woody Allen makes made it to Paris in his 2011 gem, Midnight in Paris, one of this year’s Best Picture nominees. The film follows a Hollywood writer on vacation with his fiancé, where they begin to struggle with differing life views. Inez (Rachel McAdams) is content with a diamond ring and a guided tour, while Gil (Owen Wilson) is a romantic, infatuated with the life he never had — that of Lost Generation writers in 1920’s Paris. This all changes when the life he desires comes to pick him up in a carriage for a midnight stroll in time. The film’s emphasis on nostalgia and appreciation for art is it clearly executed in its masterful scenic design and hilarious character adaptation. If not a Globe-winner, this is a film that will surely remain in the hearts of its viewers for years to come.

–Saskia Kusnecov, Art Editor

Hugo

When it was announced that Martin Scorsese was directing a PG-rated film based on a children’s novel, more than a few people imagined a Boardwalk Empire-esque scenario with tame language and juice smuggling. However, his film adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not just the best kid’s movie this year but possibly the best film overall. With stunning visuals and wonderful performances by both the child actors and Ben Kingsley, it is also a treat for movie lovers with its proper tribute to film pioneer George Méliès, showing that dreams never have to be just that.

–Elena Georgopoulos, Staff Writer

George Clooney (Best Actor): The Descendants

The Descendants is about the life of Matt King, a man who does his best to put his family back together after his wife suffers severe head trauma. George Clooney is clearly not in his usual framework of character in this film, and he does well to break new ground in his acting. Here, he is superbly genuine, both realistic and touching. Though he is usually not portrayed as a family man, his chemistry with his two daughters in the film comes off with no effort. He deserves to win Best Actor for his role in this gem of a film.

–Jessica Espinosa, Staff Writer

Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting Actor): Beginners

In the heavily promoted summer indie Beginners, Christopher Plummer plays an aging widowed father who comes out to his son (Ewan McGregor) at the age of 75. The entire film has a sweet yet melancholy tone, as themes of mortality and purpose are constant. However, the scenes which depict Plummer as he navigates through the modern gay scene and embraces a previously hidden part of him are nothing less than charming and truly lift the entire film up. For such a gentle and subtle role, Plummer brings so much life to everything that he becomes the one to always watch.

–Elena Georgopoulos, Staff Writer

Terrence Malik (Best Director): Tree of Life

Malik’s film Tree of Life features a scene in its first few minutes with an interaction between two dinosaurs. An injured herbivore lies on the bank of a river, waiting for its death at the hands of a predator. Just as the latter is about to kill its prey, it stops, shows mercy and flees. The theme surrounding Malik’s film is that life can either be lived through the way of nature or grace, and he conveys this brilliantly through the plot, use of dinosaurs and awe-inspiring camerawork. Malik’s direction is as about as good as humanly possible.

–Spence Blazak, Staff Writer

Snubs

A Dangerous Method

David Cronenberg abandons the body horror genre and explores the twisted workings of the mind in the costume drama A Dangerous Method. Michael Fassbender excels as Carl Jung, the Swiss physician intent on using "the talking cure" — psychiatry — on Sabina Spielrein, a troubled Russian Jew (Keira Knightley). Fassbender captures a wide range of emotions, including lust, curiosity, repulsion and guilt concerning his tumultuous intellectual and sexual affair with Spielrein. Knightley, unfortunately, mopes around using awkward mannerisms and a Dracula accent when Jung refuses to keep spanking her. An avuncular Viggo Mortensen sits in the shadows, happily puffing away on cigars as Sigmund Freud. Overall, the film should get more recognition for its captivating protagonist and crisp art direction showcasing 1890s Vienna.

–Zoe Szathmary, Inside Beat Editor

Senna (Best Documentary)

For many, Ayrton Senna was more than a mere Formula One driver; his on-the-track success and off-the-track philanthropic work made him one of the sport’s most admired figures. Asif Kapadia’s masterful documentary tells a raw and emotional story that accurately portrays the intensity of Senna’s character. Though it has received numerous accolades at the 2012 BAFTAs, including a nomination for Outstanding British Film, the Academy chose not to nominate Senna for Best Documentary, perhaps reflecting American disinterest toward Formula One and robbing this story of the recognition it deserves.

–Ryan Surujnath, Associate Editor

Drive

Nicolas Winding Refn’s highly stylized thrill ride Drive steers away from the typical Hollywood blockbuster in the best possible way. Ryan Gosling unearths another layer of his acting talent as the silent protagonist simply referred to as the Driver, who is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name. The Driver takes on various odd jobs involving dangerous driving missions until his routine lifestyle is interrupted when he takes a liking to his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan). The film is a breath of fresh air, as the unneeded, generic dialogue typical of blockbuster films is avoided and replaced by exquisite visuals. The story is simple yet embraces and excels in its simplicity. The cinematography in this film is unique, comprised of intense graphic visuals and sharply effective angles, as in a memorable scene in which Gosling and Mulligan’s characters share a passionate kiss in an elevator.

–Alex Natanzon, Film Editor

50/50

This semi-autobiographical comedy penned by newcomer Will Reiser features the perfect combination of levity and sentimentality. 50/50 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a radio journalist diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. Throughout his ordeal, his best friend, played by Seth Rogen, provides some of the most hilariously obscene lines heard in a movie theater this past year. The break-up scene between Levitt and an unscrupulous girlfriend is one of the best in recent memory, mainly because it consists of Rogen unleashing a tirade of comical insults at the offending woman while a mostly dumbfounded Levitt watches on. Unfortunately the Academy’s failure to recognize 50/50’s sharp and witty screenplay, or any other component of the film for that matter, is one of the most egregious snubs of this year’s nominations.

–Jason Pearl, Online Editor

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Best Actor): 50/50

In 1999, Joseph Gordon-Levitt entered our hearts with his performance as the endearingly awkward teenager in 10 Things I Hate About You. In 2005, he challenged our wits as the teenage detective in the bizarre mystery Brick. He grew up in 2009 to break hearts all across the country as sappy and romantic cardmaker Tom, in 500 Days of Summer. By 2011, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s sad-puppy presence inherently brought us all to tears in the dark comedy, 50/50. It’s good to have actors who can make you swoon, scream and swear, but it’s very rare to have a male actor that can make you cry — every time. While not a nominee, Levitt is a gem that will haunt our teenage hearts forever.

–Saskia Kusnecov, Art Editor

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class follows the lives of mutants and the struggles they face trying to fit in with human society. This is a prequel to the other films in the series and does an amazing job at giving new insight to the already extensive mythology of the X-Men movies. First Class takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis and focuses on the very important relationship between Erik and Charles before they became Magneto and Professor X, respectively. The star-studded cast does not disappoint in this exciting, informative prequel.

–Jessica Espinosa, Staff Writer

Arthur Christmas

Christmas movies come and go and usually audiences don’t bat an eye, yet Aardman Animations’ latest endeavor sticks with its viewers long after the Christmas decorations have come down. Arthur Christmas follows one of Santa’s sons as he tries to deliver a toy that was forgotten at the North Pole before Christmas morning arrives. It’s an astounding movie in nearly every way: It has personal voice acting, beautiful animation, themes that are heartwarming but not vomit-inducing and a satirical hilarity that portrays Christmas as so commercial that even Santa struggles to make it through the holidays.

–Spence Blazak, Staff Writer

 


Spence Blazak

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