“Life. Camera. Action.”
In honor of the 2012 Academy Awards, we managed to collectively watch every film nominated for Best Picture.
“I think it was a year of movies where most of the components were really good, but there was one that didn’t live up to the rest, so you’re just left not satisfied.” ~Alisha Noles, Production Designer
These mini reviews explore the aspects that we know best, be it the acting, directing, design, or music.
My Week with Marilyn: No film in recent years has been able to capture the inner workings of a star as brilliantly as this film. Williams’ manages to capture the essence of the icon while simultaneously developing her own character. She deserves her nomination and could easily take the prize. It’s disappointing the film is not more represented at this years big night.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: This film was in fact extremely loud and incredibly close to being wonderful. It has Stephen Daldry’s overly dramatic style and lack of restraint all throughout. Under another director the film may have been able to reach it’s potential. That said, Tome Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and Max von Sydow offer beautiful and heartfelt performances.
The Help: Flawless acting compliment a polished screenplay with moments both moving, and unforgettable. You’ll gain a new respect for Emma Stone as an actress, and see why Viola Davis more than deserves her Oscar nomination.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Not since Heath Ledger as The Joker has there been a performance so captivating as Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander. A thrilling, if dense, mystery with unmatched cinematography & editing, though the screenplay fails to capture the intensity of the novel’s end revelations.
Moneyball: The sound design was subtle and added a unique feel to the movie. Their use of silence created dramatic moments in which the audience could respond emotionally to the situation, especially when the drama was at it’s highest point. Two Thumbs Up!
War Horse: The music was written by John Williams and you could tell without looking it up on IMDB. It was as if he took the score from “The Patriot” and mixed it with the score of “Jurassic Park”. In all honesty, the score just felt lazy.
Hugo: Visually it delivered exactly as hoped. There is a theatrical quality to the design of the film that supports the whimsical storyline. The attention to detail and historically accurate information provided a lot of room for the production design to play with reality.
Midnight in Paris: It was surprising to see this nominated for “Art Direction”. Although the storyline was refreshing, the design of the film did not deliver – ultimately leaving you dissatisfied with flat, obvious design decisions that were nothing more than average.
Winnie the Pooh: You’ll love the simplicity of this movie, and how they stuck to the true nature of the original cartoon. From a Graphic Design perspective, the way they used & interacted with typography was also really interesting. Honestly why wasn’t this nominated?!
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: This was an incredibly stunning film; the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous, and each shot regardless of length was beautiful to look at. It should be every cinematographers goal to make something that inspired for the big screen.
The Descendants: A very satisfying movie, with every element of it done perfectly. The cinematography was simple but amazing and fit for what the movie was. The Director of Photography knew how to use restraint in order to drive the story forward. One of the best films of the year.
The Artist: In the wrong hands this black & white, silent, and analogue film may have relied on its “artsy” attributes to get by, but it doesn’t. The “old style” film making moves the thoughtful plot and well rounded characters forward in a way that modern film techniques could not have done. A truly enjoyable film.
The Tree of Life: It was a really pretty movie, and actually certain shots looked straight out of National Geographic. But the story felt really disjointed, with random shots of random things placed sporadically. At one point, there’s dinosaurs…dinosaurs. It felt artsy on purpose. There are some truly beautiful interactions between the main family, but overall, it lacked focus.