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2012 Oscars - Best Picture Nominee Ratings & Short Reviews By A.D.Harris

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Hey guys,

I've finally managed to watch all nine of the best picture nominees for this Saturday's Oscars, and I have ranked them all below and written a short review on each. Let me know which ones you liked/didn't like and the reasons why as well.

I have to admit, this year hasn't seen as many "classic" films as we have had in recent years, but there are definitely a few worthy of a watch. They're in order of preference, so 1 is the best and nine is the worst.

1. The Artist
A magical, funny and timeless classic with exceptional performances from Dujardin and Bejo. In a year short on masterpieces, The Artist comes closest with a touching tribute to the old ages of film in a way which Hugo failed; it is full of love and heart. You'll find yourselves smiling throughout, and at times wishing you were alive during the times it so passionately takes you into. If there is any justice, The Artist will be the Best Picture winner. It deserves it. It is that good.

2. Moneyball
Brad Pitt has never been better in a film about mixing Baseball with maths. It can't be easy to invest a worldwide audience in a sport that has no appeal outside the US with a school subject everyone hated, but Moneyball manages to find a high level of drama and emotion constantly thanks to Aaron Sorkin's quick paced and intelligent script. You'll find yourself cheering along, and leaving the cinemas with a smile on your face. If the Oscars were braver and (perhaps) wiser, this could walk away with the top prize.

3. The Help
An important story about an important time in recent history is told with grace and plenty of passion and as a result The Help has to be seen as one of the biggest triumphs of last year. Acted to perfection by its largely female cast, the film will undoubtedly walk away with at least one of the acting awards on Sunday, but whether it can take the top prize remains to be seen. Regardless, The Help leaves you with a surprisingly uplifting ending that is only matched by The Artist and The Descendants in terms of leaving an imprint on your mind long after the screen fades to black.

4. The Descendants
Sombre through and through, The Descendants is perhaps not as much of a comedy as the promotional elements suggest, but it boasts an Oscar worthy performance by George Clooney and gives you a real life experience of a man trying to pull back together his broken family. I've seen that some people found its ending sad whilst others were uplifted but I feel that it is left to the viewer to take what they wish from its ending. I personally found myself smiling rather than tearing as the credits rolled, and I felt blessed to have been given a small insight into the personal lives of some characters who could quite easily be living next door to you. It's small, dark and slow, but it's an experience that is worthy of your time.

5. War Horse
War Horse suffers from second-act-itus, as a brilliant opening hour and a powerful final thirty minutes are separated by a wishy-washy tale which is epic in scope but miniature in emotion. You follow Joey from character to character but find yourself longing for him to return to his original family so you can see the relationships Spielberg has already built up rather than having to invest into new ones. This loss of focus is disappointing, as once the film finds its big crescendo, it is a poignant and powerful sequence of events. Spielberg's message is that we're all only human, and we all can find things we all believe in, we all hope for and we all want. He is trying to say we are all the same, we all want a family, we all want peace and we all don't want to see suffering. He uses Joey as this symbol, but it's shame that this human element gets lost somewhere in the middle.

6. The Tree of Life
A large pseudo concept that is quite self-absorbed and at times uneven, bookends a fascinating in-depth study into the character of Jack O'Brien and his dealings with life, love and loss. The middle ninety minutes are a highlight; brilliant, fascinating and powerful with Hunter McCracken, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain putting in stunning performances. Unfortunately Sean Penn's role as the adult Jack is disappointing when compared. The films concepts of love, loss are expertly executed, yet it's main focus on conceptualising life itself falls slightly short when you view the film as a whole. It's certainly a film you should think about long after the credits roll, and perhaps the more you think about it, the better it becomes. It is a film that will forever be a mystery, hard to truly understand and difficult to explain, but perhaps that is the conclusion director and writer Malick was trying to reach. In that case, even though he hasn't quite found the masterpiece he was hoping for, perhaps to try to define "life" would always fall slightly short.

7. Midnight in Paris
Lacking in depth and very niche with its subject, Midnight in Paris will undoubtedly delight viewers with similar interests to Owen Wilson's character. However to a more casual viewer it is little more than a cute, entertaining but ultimately thin film. There is nothing wrong per se, but there is very little beyond its beautiful visuals to truly be called a classic.

8. Hugo
Slow, meandering and full of itself, Hugo disappoints on almost every level. When the magical mystery unravels, it emerges that there was no magic at all; the illusion being nothing more than a history lesson. Whilst it looks beautiful, the visual treat on the eyes shouldn't hide the films short-comings. Hugo promised so much but sadly, despite the almost always brilliant Scorsese throwing in his heart, it failed.

9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
It's certainly not worthy of its best picture nominee status and is seriously lacking in conviction, drive and vision. However, it has a message worth telling and packs in a bunch of characters who, if they existed, would make the world a brighter place. Sombre? Incredibly. Disrespectful? Close. Emotional? Extremely.

Remember to let me know whether you agree/disaree in the comments.

You can email me at adamdharris@spoilertv.com with any questions!

Twitter: @AdDHarris


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