Monday, January 30, 2012


JER: It is early morning on January 26th 2012 and the 84th annual Academy Award nominations for  2011 have been officially announced. There is a wave of excitement and enthusiasm in the air as we begin the race to the coveted spot on Sunday February 26th, 2012. Let’s dive right into it…
Too early for you? Here are the announcements made that morning

BEST PICTURE: (nominations) over the last few years, the controversial decision to move the Academy’s usual five nomination slots to ten was an outrageous and an obvious financial choice for lucrative reasons! I feel the Academy is not being completely true in focusing on five great films, but now a feeling of some good mixed with great nominations to help as fillers. This year, however, only nine slots were announced:


Our pick: THE ARTIST
 If you have been a regular reader of CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT then you know that my choice has been and always will be THE ARTIST. Period. The film is so appealing and speaks more than dialog can ever present on the screen! It is lavish yet heartfelt; touching yet funny, without words yet translates clearly. It is the kind of film Hollywood needed to be kicked in the ass with to get it rethinking about today’s loud and obnoxious presentations of Computer Generated- filled crude! IS someone paying attention here? Less is and always means MORE! Can any actor today take on the challenge of communicating through expressions sans dialog as well as actor Jean Dujardin did? So, why wasn’t a tenth slot filled this year? Did the Academy feel satisfied with only nine or could a tenth not be produced or even drummed- up?

Here’s my tenth submission: What about THE IDES OF MARCH? How did this film fall off the radar when it was touted so heavily in its initial release? Moreover, how did Clooney’s other film THE DESCENDANTS end up on the list over THE IDES OF MARCH? This feels like an unjust slap in the cinematic face. Clooney co- wrote, directed and starred in THE IDES OF MARCH and was the kind of film that sucked you into its political web and slowly weaved a story of intrigue which quickly turns into a high- end thriller! I was not expecting that and the chain of events that occurred. Sounds interesting? Please see this film!

Alongside with THE ARTIST, the following are the other nominees I have had the pleasure to have seen and my individual takes on them. They are as follows:

WAR HORSE is an exceptional film! Beautifully photographed and worthy of both the Best Picture nomination and its accompanying nominations for Best Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski) and Best Art Direction (Rick Carter)… the film may tug too roughly on the soft spots in the old ticker. You know what you are gonna get when you make films mixing animals and parlous journeys… not a dry eye in the house is an understatement! Spielberg masterfully takes this story to both a visual and heartfelt level that only he can successfully accomplish.
The second Best Picture contender of the year...WAR HORSE

THE HELP reflects on racial tensions within the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s and the brave undertakings of writing a tell-all book from the hired help’s point of view. Controversial topics are seasoned between humorous moments to help soften the blow slightly, but although it is worth the view it just doesn’t have the legs to carry it through the finish line for a win. An excellent ensemble cast with strong performances from nominated actress Viola Davis and supporting actresses Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, is by far one of Woody Allen’s more resent better films since 2002’s HOLLYWOOD ENDING. The native New Yorker comes at you with typical Allen topics and conversations about: art, museums, culture, love, sex, relationships and the desire to transport ourselves to be amongst objects that only be admired and longed- for but can never be claimed. The story of a romantic American writer with his fiancé in the ‘City of Lights’ imagines what the evenings of the 1920’s were like bustling with artists, musicians and writers of the time… only to find himself literally transported to the era at the stroke of the midnight bells! Superbly written by Allen with both a flair for sophistication and humor followed by his uncanny eye for direction makes this film a loving addition to the nine nominations, but alas, still not strong enough to win the coveted. If it’s any consolation, Allen may walk away with a Best Screenplay award, though.   

Jean Dujardin: THE ARTIST
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Could this be the year of George Clooney? It might be or at least present himself as a threat for his role in THE DESCENDANTS. My personal choice is leaning on Jean Dujardin’s flawless performance as the lovable silent film actor George Valentin in THE ARTIST. I am not worried about the other nominations posing a dark horse win, but performances still note worthy are:

Demian Bichir: A BETTER LIFE

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Much is being said about Meryl Streep’s uncanny physical and audioable transition into the role of Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in THE IRON LADY. Could her win for Best Actress (Drama) at the Golden Globes be a deal- sealer? Is there a guarantee that Ms. Streep has this in the bag? Strong talk and a win for Best Actress (Comedy or Musical) went to Michelle Williams for MY WEEK WITH MARILYN at the Golden Globes might make this category tough to choose. Personally, I believe that Viola Davis’ nomination for THE HELP was strong and deserving to be recognized! The other nominations are:


Director Michel Hazanavicius: THE ARTIST
Snubbed...but not forgotten
BEST DIRECTOR: It would seem the obvious conclusion that if a film receives a Best Picture nomination that the logical next- step would be to nominate its Director…right? Although Steven Spielberg was won two Oscars (SCHINDLER'S LIST, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) he has been snubbed from nominations in directing, the first was for 1986’s THE COLOR PURPLE and again for this year’s WAR HORSE. So, now that I had the chance to mention the 'should've,' let’s talk about the nominated instead. French director Michel Hazanavicius, having just won the Director’s Guild of America award for Best Achievement by a Director, may have catapulted his Oscar chances for THE ARTIST. Why, I could not tell you, but an opposing threat may come from director Alexander Payne for THE DESCENDANTS and there is this year’s Best Director Golden Globe winner Martin Scorsese for HUGO! The two other directors in this category are:

Terrence Malick: TREE OF LIFE

I believe I have done just enough pot- stirring to get my buddy JOHNNY CHAZZ all revved- up and ready for his take on the road towards the Oscars…take it away, JC!

SNUBBED as well???
JOHNNY CHAZZ: Films such as "We Bought a Zoo", "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", "Drive" or perhaps your previously mentioned "Ides of March" were probably all deserving of filling the tenth (10th) spot in the nominations. Even based on popularity and marginal box office success, where was "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?" Nonetheless, we have nine to work with this year in the category of Best Film. Why the Academy refuses to consider foreign films in this category (read-on to see a film that should have filled the tenth slot) is beyond me.

All right - let's examine how this year's awards should pan out:

BEST FILM: I recall having posted a topic many months ago titled "The Art of the Possible" highlighting "The Artist" as quite possibly being the best film we would see this year. Simply stated, other than perhaps "A Separation", "The Artist" is the most impacting and unique film of the year containing all of the winning ingredients necessary for the top award. Thus, with recent success at the Critics Choice and Golden Globe Awards, "The Artist" is without a doubt the favorite for this year's Best Picture.

Possible Upsetter? "The Descendants" or "War Horse"

BEST ACTOR: As wonderful as Dujardin was in "The Artist", George Clooney for "The Descendants" probably gets the nod here considering his veteran status in movie-making, acting,etc. I know that your choice in this category, Jer, is Jean Dujardin, but as you stated this may well be the year of George Clooney....well, at least in the option of Best Actor.

Possible upsetter? If not Dujardin, then perhaps Brad Pitt for "Moneyball," which was actually a decent performance.

BEST ACTRESS: True, Jer - this category looks primed for a mild upset and certainly has a grab-bag feel to it. Viola Davis will be the trendy pick here, but Meryl Streep remains the main danger in this category for "The Iron Lady". Still, the feeling here is that this category may take a small spin on itself and land on Michelle Williams for "My Week With Marilyn" whose performance was gripping and classy.

Possible Upsetter? None other than these top 3.

Christopher Plummer: BEGINNINGS
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Plummer wins this for "The Beginners" (you may recall that he was overlooked just a few years ago at the awards for "The Last Station"). Plummer's performance was honest, understated, witty and quite emotional - that is what it takes to win here.

Possible Upsetter? Kenneth Branagh ("My Week With Marilyn")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Octavia Spencer for "The Help". Here is a film only deserving of an award in the female performance categories and it may win both Actress and Supporting Actress if Viola Davis comes through. Octavia was quite convincing in this role and should win hands down here.
See the incredible female cast at their best in THE HELP

Possible Upsetter? Berenice Bejo ("The Artist")

BEST DIRECTOR: Michael Hazanavicius is the lone threat in this category and with a recent recognition from the Critics Choice is a strong sign that he will take this award. True, he did fall to Scorsese at the Golden Globes, but Scorsese's chances of winning here are much slimmer - one only needs to take a close look at both films and use some common sense.

Possible Upsetter? Scorsese ("Hugo") or Alexander Payne ("Descendants")

Writer/ Director: Woody Allen
BEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL): It won't be easy topping Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris" in this category. With two prior victories, Woody should earn his third this year. One must take note however: The casting for this film was sub-par, the story was too long and it likely falls in the bottom 30% of Woody Allen's overall film portfolio......

Possible Upsetter? "A Separation" - a tremendous foreign film that is not receiving much attention.....look out as it could surprise with two Oscars in both this category and in the Best Foreign Film Category as well.

A very riveting and moving trailer for nominated A SEPERATION

BEST FOREIGN FILM: "A Separation" out of Iran should take this award combining exceptional performance, dramatic moments, tension in scene and formidable writing. One again, here is a film that should fill our 10th slot in the Best Picture nominations - there is no reason why foreign films should not be considered.

Possible Upsetter? "In Darkness" (Holland)

JER: There you have it, two very different and opinionated ‘critics’ actually coming together to support and defend many similar choices here. I'll say it again, this is a bizarre year for films with many ‘good’ movies but lesser ‘great’ films. Will a time ever come in which the Academy would just have to throw its hands up in the air and say, “No Academy Awards this year” simply because films are not holding up to such a prestigious honor or caliber?

Returning Host: BILLY CRYSTAL!
The Academy Awards ceremony is still an honored institution, but continues to fail on many levels. For many, it is far too lengthy a presentation with too many none- interesting categories being recognized.  For others, it’s a constant turn-stile of hosts changed out from year to year. There was a time when it was understood that Johnny Carson or Bob Hope were the expected hosts for the umpteenth time and no one complained about it… most recently, Billy Crystal was performing repeated duty as well... until NOW! Crystal has been confirmed to return to host this year! Another gripe were the big lavish numbers produced to present and highlight Best Song for many years…this year we are reduced to an embarrassing two forgettable nominations that no one seems to really be holding their breathes about this year. So what’s happened? Too many Producers ruining the soup? Maybe they have their own turn-stile as well! This year's show will be produced by first- timer Brian Grazier (APOLLO 13, A BEAUTIFUL MIND) and his promise? His goal is to try to keep the presentation at to hours! I'll have my stopwatch in hand!

Look for your local presentation time for Sunday February 26th as the 84th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcasted. Make sure you keep it locked right here as we continue our own coverage of the Awards and present our annual reaction to the ceremonies shortly thereafter.

What are your favorite moments every year? What do you think of the nominations and what are your hopefuls? Share with us and return back for our comments in return! JOHNNY CHAZZ will have the chance to select a topic of his choice when we return back with a brand new entry on Wednesday February 15th , 2011!

Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!


  1. I do tend to agree with both of you on this year's top film nominations. Can we really make a strong case for ten films - actually 9 this year that deserve to win for the best picture? I just don't see it and until movies start having more interesting and convincing plot lines, I just cannot cast my vote for anything out there this year. Thanks, and enjoying the blog every week.

    Richard - PHOENIX, AZ

  2. HI Richard and welcome back! Yes, I believe that your comments are our points exactly! Did we need 10 or 9 this year? NO...could we have done with 5? Possibly...I would have gone with nominations like THE ARTIST, WAR HORSE and HUGO and not know where else to go from there...

    Thanks for checking on us...see you next time!

  3. I really thought that Viola Davis would win. What a huge letdown that Merryl Streep won again and I really do no think her role was that great. The Artist was definintely a strong movie and got the recognition it deserved. Chris Rock to me really is not that funny and i do not know why he was part of the show. Thanks for taking my comments. (Brad, San Jose, CALIFORNIA)

  4. Hi Brad and thank you for your comments:

    It's hard to argue why Meryl Streep should not get an Oscar, but I agree with you that it seemed Viola Davis had this one secured.

    Yeah, what was the deal with Chris Rock??? I forgot all about it!