Whenever it comes to awards-giving, there is always that moment when someone cries outrage, especially this Oscars season, where we have plenty of reasons to be mad about this year. For example, American rapper Kanye West made headlines when he interrupted everyone's sweetheart Taylor Swift during the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) back in 2009 with his infamous line, "Imma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time, of all time!" Of course, his reputation took a dive after that, so we at Cinema Online would not resort to such madness about Oscars snubs, but list all our choices out like gentlemen and ladies, which you can read about over a cup of coffee or tea. Have at it to find out what and who we loved and see if there is anything else you would add!
Best Picture - "Shame"
This almost rivals "The Artist" as that movie with no dialogue, with little to almost no talking, and what words that are said are so explicit that it is almost better off not said. Steve McQueen of "Hunger" fame has pushed the bar for movies even higher by crafting an unsettling story in "Shame" where the quiet atmosphere speaks volumes. Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a successful, handsome man in his mid-thirties, who is also trapped by his sex addiction, although he manages to keep it a secret day after day. When his neurotic young sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) comes to live with him, Brandon's otherwise orderly world is turned upside down as their meeting also causes the skeletons in their closet to come stumbling out. It is a raw and scorching look into sexual addiction and the consequential deterioration of emotions and rationale that explains its Oscar nomination snub, because the critics are too scared of being burned. Anyone else who does not get this, that is why "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close" is in the list.
Best Picture - "Drive"
Classic is the new in, with films like the colourless and soundless "The Artist" and Scorcese's "Hugo" about the golden age of cinema, similarly, Nicholas Winding Refn's "Drive" harks back to days of LA noir, with a nameless protagonist only known as the Driver (Ryan Gosling), and his no-nonsense attitude a la Clint Eastwood in "The Man With No Name". A loner by nature, Driver soon falls for his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), who has a young son Benicio (Kaden Leos). When Irene's good-for-nothing husband is released from jail, a series of events is set in motion, and Driver will have to make a sacrifice for the greater good. In this movie, you will see some of the finest performances, especially by Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks, culminating in a tense showdown that will have you gripping the edge of your seat. Although the movie's pacing and violence may not be for everyone, it is sad that the Academy would not even give it a chance to compete at all.
Best Actor In A Leading Role - Michael Fassbender ("Shame")
These days, there is hardly anyone who has not heard of Michael Fassbender yet. With films like "Hunger", "X-Men: First Class", "A Dangerous Method" and "Shame" under his belt, it is an injustice to see that he has not been nominated for an Oscar this year for his performance as Brandon in Steve McQueen's "Shame". No man has ever bared more than Fassbender, physically and emotionally, as he gives his turn as a sex addict, whose constant bouts of intimacy are juxtaposed by his inability to be intimate. Through Fassbender, it is becomes uncomfortable to watch Brandon's attempts to have a normal life by striking up a long-term relationship with a woman, yet he cannot stop but think about the next hit. It is not often to find a man of his looks that can emote more than an emotion at any given time (Gerard Butler, we're looking at you) that as movie connoisseurs, it is only appropriate that we move to give him an Oscar nomination of our own.
Best Actor In A Leading Role - Leonardo Dicaprio ("J. Edgar")
If anyone has a bad case of the phrase "always the bridesmaid, never the bride", it must be eight-time nominee Leonardo Dicaprio. Every since James Cameron's sweeping epic "Titanic", the 38-year-old has been breaking hearts with every role he takes on, for he has never gotten an Oscar award even for roles like Edward 'Teddy' Daniels in Scorcese's "Shutter Island" and Dominic 'Dom' Cobb in Nolan's "Inception". To make things worse, he was not even granted an Oscar nomination this year for his turn as the alleged closeted homosexual, J. Edgar Hoover, who is also the director of the FBI in Eastwood's "J. Edgar". As J. Edgar, Dicaprio once again delivers noteworthy performance as a tortured but driven man much like his previous roles, but it never feels recycled or old because of its subtlety, hinting at more under the surface of the man, especially his internal struggle to live up to everyone's expectations by suppressing his urges.
Best Actress In A Leading Role - Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia")
Lars von Trier's movie may not have been for anyone, but everyone should recognise one of the best performances given by an actress, as Dunst weaves between a bride who is pretending to be happy to a severely depressed young lady who is incapable to doing anything on her own to a woman who has calmly accepted her doomed fate. Her role as Justine is unlike anything Dunst has ever attempted, and the result is a troubled, fierce and serene savant, who demonstrated that although depression can be seen and felt, it is impossible for anyone to fully understand it until you have experienced it and even more so for the depressed to not feel as they did. Everything Justine does feels real as opposed to scripted, because it is indescribable, and we feel for her; whether it is frustration and pain at watching her intentionally ruin every chance she has to be happy, or marvel at her ability to remain calm in spite of her depression in the stressful situation.
Best Actress In A Leading Role – Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlene")
A dark horse among this year's contenders for the Oscars' nominee list, Elizabeth Olsen may not have made it in, but she has definitely made it in our list. Best known for being the younger sister of Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, and Trent Olsen, it is understandable that no one thought that this Olsen sister has the acting chops to give a groundbreaking performance in the independent psychological thriller "Martha Marcy May Marlene" by Sean Durkin, only that she did. Elizabeth Olsen played a young woman who suffers from delusions and paranoia after returning to her family from an abusive cult in the Catskill Mountains. It is a haunting yet mesmerising performance of a damaged psyche as we see both the subtle and extreme sides of her condition; her eyes silently darting back and forth as she recalls her previous life, her quivers of fear as she looks around for Patrick, the cult leader that may or may not be watching her every move, and we become equally less and less sure whether the events shown are real or imagined.
Best Animated Feature Film - "The Secret World Of Arietty"
Also known in Japan as "The Borrower Arietty", "The Secret World Of Arietty" may lack the punch that "Spirited Away" delivered, but it is definitely one of the better Ghibli films out there. Based on the book by Mary Norton titled "The Borrowers", follows the tale of a group small people, called "The Borrowers", for they 'borrow' their daily necessities and food from humans in order to survive. Arietty is one such "Borrower", and she lives with her family in under the floorboards of a house where a young sickly boy, Sho, inhabits. When Sho spots Arietty one day, an unlikely friendship is struck up. But the Borrowers have a rule of never associating with humans, much less being seen, and Sho's friendship with Arietty eventually brings about the consequences. It should be made a law that whenever a Ghibli film is released, that film should be nominated for an Oscar. Studio Ghibli is one of the few animators that have been consistent with their quality of films yet manages to maintain their signature childlike storytelling and traditional style of animation. Make no mistake, "The Secret World Of Arietty" is a film for kids, but there is something so compelling, gentle and pure about watching drops of rain falling and the race of minuscule beings scurrying about their daily lives that adults are certain to fall for its charm as well. If anything, "The Secret World Of Arietty" deserve a special honour for its beautifully detailed animation.
Best Animated Feature Film - "The Adventures Of Tintin"
It is incomprehensible of "The Adventures Of Tintin" would garner a Golden Globe yet missed out on an Academy Award nomination because it is one of the more exciting 3D motion-capture animated films ever made. At least, the 3D label does not feel like it was tacked to cater to the masses, but was actually used as an enhancement of 2D. Directed by Steven Spielberg, "Tintin" is "Indiana Jones" for the younger audience, remaining largely faithful to its comic book source as it tells the tale of Tintin, a young journalist who stumbles across a model of a three-masted sailing ship, the Unicorn, which holds the clue to the location of the real Unicorn and its sunken treasure. Enthusiastic and unpretentious, "The Adventures Of Tintin" more than makes up for its uninspired character performances with its grand atmospheric adventure across land and sea and its brilliantly executed technical aspects. If Oscars were given out based on the latter level alone, "The Adventures Of Tintin" may just be one of the best animated films to date.
Cinema Online, 22 February 2012