Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and other best picture nominees

tn_extremelyloudI don’t see as many movies as critics who get paid, so I’m allowed to take pride in seeing all the best picture nominees again this year. Most of them I had already seen when the nominations came out, but I had to see this EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE to finish off the check list.

This is the one nobody expected to get nominated. It got pretty bad reviews and didn’t make up for that by being a big hit or anything. I think it was Mr. Beaks who pointed out that it might be the first ever best picture nominee that was certified Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes. I honestly wonder if it will be the cause of a rule change next year. There must be some kind of mathematical fluke that caused this to happen, and they better clear that up before YOGI BEAR 2 or something gets a nomination. I don’t know what caused this or who those women were who shrieked with glee when it was named at the nomination announcements. I blame them for this. I think they were up to something.

Not that it’s the worst thing ever. I definitely liked it much better than director Stephen Daldry’s last best picture nominee, THE READER. It’s another literary adaptation that uncomfortably mines real life atrocity for entertainment. This time instead of a Holocaust/sleaze combo (kid has sex with Nazi and teaches her how to read) it’s 9-11/mystery (kid with Asperger’s scours New York trying to find the purpose of a key belonging to his dad that was killed in the World Trade Center).

mp_extremelyloudActually, he doesn’t say he has Asperger’s, he says the tests were inconclusive. Obviously his doctors aren’t familiar with Idealizedperger’s Syndrome, which is a much more adorable affliction. It’s similar but the tics and obsessions are full of whimsy and quirk. You create cute scrapbooks full of maps and pictures and crafty little pop-ups. And you do odd things like shake a tambourine whenever you’re scared or invent your own swear words.

This kid sees the word “Black” on the envelope that the key was in, decides it’s a last name, creates a complex grid on a map of New York, finds the addresses of every Black in the New York phone book, devises a schedule for meeting each one of them and a fancy filing system for compiling data about them. At times it feels like a Wes Anderson movie by somebody with no sense of visual style.

He goes to the homes of these people, including Viola Davis, they are mostly nice to him and he says strange things to them like “Do you need a hug?” See, it’s cute because he doesn’t understand that you’re not supposed to say that to a stranger, even if she let you into her home for some reason. He spouts random facts about elephants or what have you, but not so much in a “just bear with him, he has Asperger’s” type of way, more like an “I’m a novelist and I read some interesting facts in a magazine one time and this is the best forum to share it.”

The idea that this kid would and could successfully do all this is complete fantasy, and gets even more far-fetched as more information is revealed. You obviously have to be willing to accept certain things that are not very believable, that’s the type of story it is. To contrast that type of story with real life tragedy so fresh on our minds is a real challenge, and Daldry is not the guy to pull it off. It sometimes comes off kinda creepy when it’s supposed to be cute, exploitative when it’s supposed to be moving. But the story is still compelling, especially when the kid meets and decides to bring along Max Von Sydow as a mute shut-in who communicates with a notepad and hands that say “Yes” and “No” on them.

Von Sydow is as good as you’d expect. The one who surprised me was Sandra Bullock as the kid’s mom. It’s a pretty small role, but she’s very good as a woman who’s been emotionally crushed.  I don’t think I’ve seen her play a role like that before. The kid (a non-actor who was asked to audition after being on Kid’s Jeopardy) is not entirely convincing, but mostly gets away with it since he’s supposed to talk weird and have odd reactions anyway. He doesn’t process emotions the same way we do, and I guess that’s the point. How does anybody process losing their dad, let alone losing him to that?

So I was okay with it, but Daldry does one shitty thing real late in the movie that chipped away some of my good will. The kid is convinced that his dad is one of the people who jumped out of the building, and for one very brief shot, he imagines it: Tom Hanks moving toward the camera, flailing his arms and legs around. The tastelessness is magnified by how goofy the shot looks. I just keep imagining Hanks hanging on a harness in front of a green screen, asking, “Are you sure about this, guys?”

I mean shit, if they had to do it they might as well have done it in slow motion, re-create that shot of Hans Grueber falling. That would’ve been almost as classy.

My reaction to EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is not really extreme or incredible. It’s a mixed bag. Not as bad as I expected, but questionable in many areas, and obviously only nominated due to the theorem Previous Academy Award Winners + 9-11 = Important. Oh well.

* * *

APPENDIX A: Other 2012 Best Picture Nominees I have already reviewed


APPENDIX B: Comments on the 2012 Best Picture Nominees that I haven’t reviewed


I liked this movie quite a bit, although it didn’t really stick with me too strong, so I don’t really remember most of what I would’ve mentioned if I had reviewed it months ago when I saw it. It felt like an authentic portrayal of non-touristy Hawaii, although let’s be honest, the place still looked like the paradise that the characters keep denying it is.

I like the theme of them being “descendants” and how these white people feel entitled to reap the benefits of the land they inherited even though they don’t offer in return any respect for its importance to their ancestors, the indigenous culture or future generations. Like other Alexander Payne movies it does a good job of making all the feelings messy – sad and dark but also funny, sometimes sweet, maybe a little angry. Clooney is still handsome Clooney but also kind of a dork, because of the way he tucks his shirt in and the way he runs. He’s very flawed, but probly a better person than most of the other Payne protagonists.

The girls that play his daughters are excellent. The idiot boyfriend is this generation’s Chris Klein. There’s a minor character I liked for his undeniably authentic surfer dudeness, not realizing that he was the famous surfer Laird Hamilton. In case you forgot from the trailers like I did I won’t mention the artistically disgraced actor who appears in the cast later on, but it’s great casting for a guy you would be insulted to have your woman cheat on you with. It would’ve been funny if his part was bigger and he got an Oscar nomination.

It’s a good movie. There are over 200 words for Aloha in the Hawaiian language.


I would love to have a quote on the poster for THE HELP. This is what it would say:

It’s a well made movie. The actors are all good. It’s making a sincere attempt to deal with racism and classism. I think the way people treat the people who work for them is a big issue even when you can separate it from racism.

Of course this story has the classic White People Dealing With Race weakness that it has to take place half a century ago in a world we’re far removed from, where white people are so superstitious that they consider it a health hazard for a black person to use their bathroom. On one hand it’s a bizarre enough example of outmoded racism that it does stand out from other civil rights era movies. On the other hand it’s hard to imagine a single white person seeing this and relating enough to the racism to be inspired into self-examination. We all will just be outraged and glad we’re with the good guys.

The story is about a white girl (Emma Stone) who starts noticing that her fellow rich ladies treat their black maids like shit and decides to interview the maids and write an anonymous expose about what they go through. The lead maid is Viola Davis, who is great, but we all knew she would be because we’ve seen her in the Jesse Stone movies with Tom Selleck. Octavia Spencer also deservingly got a nomination for supporting actress. She has a compelling relationship with TREE OF LIFE mom Jessica Chastain as the crazy white lady who has become socially ostracized in the town for stupid bitch reasons. Chastain in my opinion steals the movie so it’s nice that she got nominated, but also it would be pretty awkward if the Academy gave the Oscar to the white boss instead of the titular help. Pretty fitting, though.

Bryce Dallas Howard deserves some credit for playing a completely despicable character who looks like normal pretty Howard but thinks, says and does ridiculously hateful things. I thought she was good. I hated her. Emma Stone also does a respectable job in her new duty filling in for Lindsay Lohan in the movies she would’ve done if she’d stayed on track.

But of course the problem I have with the movie is that I don’t like how these types of stories always have to be from the point of view of the understanding white person. Aren’t these black women so dignified, so strong, don’t they have rich emotional lives, don’t they deserve better, isn’t it great that I noticed? You watch the parts with “the help” at home and you wonder why the story can’t just be told from their perspective. Wouldn’t that be more interesting? It would definitely be less condescending.

And what to make of the ending, in which the white heroine leaves town and becomes a successful writer on the backs of the maids, who are left behind still cleaning toilets, their jobs and possibly lives in danger because of the secrets they revealed to her? It seems like it’s meant as a happy ending. Maybe I misinterpreted it.


Like THE ARTIST this is a very inconsequential but perfectly enjoyable movie. And like THE ARTIST and HUGO it’s nostalgic, but interestingly it’s also critical of nostalgia. Owen Wilson plays a Woody-Allen-Surrogate screenwriter-turned-novelist who, through some unexplained magic (similar to peeing in a fountain to switch bodies like in THE CHANGE UP) finds that he can travel back in time to meet his literary and artistic heroes: F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Cole Porter, Salvador Dali (who he finds hanging out with Luis Bunuel and Man Ray), etc. He even gets Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein to take a look at the novel he’s working on, which is a pretty good use of time travel. It’s not like he got a chance for the ol’ Hitler assassination deal so I respect that he did this.

He also meets Marion Cotillard as the ultimate dream girl of his most romanticized historical period and place, and he starts to fall for her. The only problems are 1) he is already engaged to marry Rachel McAdams and is currently on a trip to Paris with her parents and 2) he can only visit this other girl at night during his time warp. So it would be a difficult relationship to pull off.

The great joke of the movie is that when he travels to what he considers a better time period than the one he lives in he then travels with Cotillard further back in time to a period that she considers better than hers. You get it? There is no golden period. Things were never that great. Or they are always that great. I’m not sure. But it’s interesting.

My favorite thing in the movie though is Michael Sheen, who gives a spectacular performance as the blowhard douche that McAdams seems to have a thing for. He’s the professor who she worships and always talks about, he delights in always being the center of attention and thinking he has some incredible insight or bit of knowledge to share about everything, to the point where he starts correcting tour guides and shit. I wanted to punch him even worse than I did in TRON LEGACY, but this time he was that annoying on purpose. An all time great villain, which is important because you hate him so much that you cut undeserved slack to the comparitively less obnoxious protagonist and the movie’s own tendencies to bask smirkily in its knowledge of literature and culture and what not. (Admittedly that stuff is probly great fun for people who studied it in college or whatever.)

Good movie. Nice photography and music. Good job, everybody. Looking forward to MIDNIGHT IN PARIS’S BOGUS JOURNEY.


I think director Brett Ratner sort of gets a bad rap, he’s not the shittiest director ever, X-MEN 3 is not so bad, I will go to my grave thinking that MONEY TALKS is still hilarious and RUSH HOUR is pretty funny. But he is for sure a hack. TOWER HEIST is an adequate movie with an enjoyable enough (but never better than that) stick-it-to-the-man heist story, like the modern equivalent of the original FUN WITH DICK AND JANE. But not quite as good probly.

I remember reading about this movie, at one time it was gonna be The Black OCEAN’S 11, ’cause it was gonna have Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Chris Tucker and others all teaming up to get back at their rich employer, and probly entrenched systematic racism. As actors fell through and things got rewritten it eventually got Ben Stiller in the starring role instead, so it turned into The White Black OCEAN’S 11 (in the tradition of WHITE BLACULA). And then Casey Affleck joined the cast. How you gonna have one of OCEAN’S 11 in The White Black OCEAN’S 11? It’s getting confusing here.

I think the racial version of this would’ve made more sense, but they still have a populist message where the loyal staff of a hedge fund asshole (Alan Alda) lose their life savings to his scams and decide to get it back. They still got some color in there, to represent a real hotel staff, including the always enjoyable Michael Pena and PRECIOUS herself, Gaboure Sidibe, who is very likable but probly didn’t need the Jamaican accent.

Ratner likes to have more racially diverse casts than anything outside of the FAST AND FURIOUS series, but sometimes he leans heavily on stereotypes. This one has this ridiculous idea that white people have to go find a black person (Eddie Murphy) to show them how to commit a crime. He’s okay but not really that funny and his character ends up not really helping much in their planning, I’m not sure why he was needed. Also, Sidibe knows how to crack safes (because she’s from Jamaica [?]) and both characters are the only ones that carry guns. White people don’t, except in the south, or in the mob.

Another pretty recent comedy, HORRIBLE BOSSES, had the same idea, that white people have to go find Jamie Foxx in a bar to learn how to kill somebody. (At least in that one it turned out he was [SPOILER for HORRIBLE BOSSES – bet you didn’t expect that in my Oscar preview] bullshitting them.)

I like most of this cast and never got bored with the movie, but the parts I laughed at were mostly pretty obvious jokes. Also I was kind of offended that we’re supposed to be okay with Stiller smashing an awesome car that they say was owned by Steve McQueen. Sure, avenge your boss by defiling his beloved material possessions, but don’t fuck with Steve McQueen’s car. That belongs to the world now. If your boss owned the Mona Lisa would you wipe shit all over it? I don’t think you would. And that was just Leonardo da Vinci. This is Steve McQueen.

HORRIBLE BOSSES was way sloppier and stupider, but had bigger laughs at least. What Ratner is missing, actually, is Chris Tucker. MONEY TALKS isn’t all that different in its construction, but Tucker is constantly there adding laughs with his performance and the shit he decides to say. Like a saxophonist going crazy on a standard.

Speaking of music, this one doesn’t have a Lalo Schifrin score like most of Ratner’s movies, but they obviously told the guy they got to make it sound like Lalo.

In conclusion, TOWER HEIST is very mediocre, also come to think of it it might not have been one of the best picture nominees – there were only 9 this year, weren’t there? I was thinking this was the tenth one. No time to look it up now thanks

APPENDIX C: Has anyone pointed this out?

John Goodman is in both THE ARTIST and EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE. Viola Davis is in both EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE and THE HELP. Jessica Chastain is in both THE HELP and TREE OF LIFE. Brad Pitt is in both THE TREE OF LIFE and MONEYBALL. Am I missing any?

APPENDIX D: One final comment

Wouldn’t it be crazy if THE TREE OF LIFE won? Nobody would see it coming, like when CRASH won. But it would be a reverse CRASH. It would set the universe straight. I don’t know. I wish it would win. But I’m resigned to not be bitter about THE ARTIST or whatever does win. Most of them are pretty good movies. I’ll do my best.



This entry was posted on Saturday, February 25th, 2012 at 1:35 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

99 Responses to “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and other best picture nominees”

  1. I love everything about this post, Vern, but you’re crushing my soul (and possibly Mr. Subtlety’s soul) by not mentioning Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, the most fun badass character in years.

  2. Mouth’s award show nominees (a.k.a. Oscars for a movie-loving votership that isn’t all pathetic old people)
    (Nomination for performance does not mean endorsement of movie.)

    Best Actress: Pollyanna McIntosh (THE WOMAN)
    Best Actor: Byung-hun Lee (I SAW THE DEVIL)

    Best Supporting Actress: Elle Fanning (SUPER 8) (This is by far the easiest category in which to award a winner for 2011. Elle Fanning wins by several miles here.)

    Best Supporting Actor:
    Clovis Fouin (MOZART’S SISTER)
    Michael Parks (RED STATE)
    Colin Farrell (FRIGHT NIGHT)
    Albert Brooks (DRIVE)

    Best Art Direction: MYSTERIES OF LISBON
    Best Costume Design: MYSTERIES OF LISBON

    Best Film Editing:
    Best Visual Effects:


    Best Director:
    Christopher Smith (BLACK DEATH)
    Takashi Miike (13 ASSASSINS)

    Best Foreign Language Film: Fuck this category.

    Best Picture: MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
    also acceptable: TREE OF LIFE
    dark horse choices: ELITE SQUAD 2: ENEMY WITHIN and TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL

    It’s my imaginary awards show. Anything can happen!

  3. Vern, you rule, etc.

  4. Midnight In Paris sounds cool, I’ll check that out one day when it hits blu ray

    it might be the first Woody Allen movie that I’ve actually seen, I think I might have seen Play It Again Sam once, but it was so long ago I don’t really remember it

  5. “it might be the first Woody Allen movie that I’ll actually watch”

    that’s the more correct way of saying that because I haven’t seen it yet

  6. Fuck the Foreign Language Film Category? How dare you, Mouth? Especially after nominating the great Lee Byung-Hun, Elite Squad 2 and 13 Assassins.

    Go watch A Seperation, then come back and apologise.

    Also, I’d give Best Screenplay to The Descendants. I love Midnight In Paris, but there’s just such a wonderful use of subtlety and subtext in The Descendants. Would be pretty happy for either one of them to win, though.

  7. What ShootMckay said.

  8. I’ve read a lot of critics bitching about the Oscars this year. Of course, they do this every year, but it seems more apparent with this new crop of nominees. I’m of two minds with regards to complaining about the Oscars. On the one hand, they’re right. The Oscars do in fact suck. They nominate pap like Extremely Loud and Close Up or whatever. They’re more interested in promoting the movie making business than they are in recognizing truly great films (although sometimes truly great films do get recognized, if only by accident). On the other hand, it’s sort of pointless to bitch about now. These complaints come up every years. Everybody knows the Oscars are kind of crappy. Unless you have some new angle on this old information, then don’t bother writing that piece where you expose the Oscars for the crass commercial that it is. You’re not surprising anyone. In fact, I would argue that critics bitching about the Oscars in order to prove their own great taste in film has become even more obnoxious than the Oscars themselves.

    In fact, Vern’s is probably the best Oscar retrospective I’ve read. There’s an implicit understanding that the Oscars have plenty of faults, but there’s also no need to restate that. Instead, let’s just talk about the movies. With ten nominees there has to be a couple of good ones, right?

  9. It´s not that I hate the Oscars, I just don´t give a crap. Deep down it could well depend on what RBatty mentioned, that the Awards is a marketing tool for movies and as such doesn´t mean jack shit if it´s a good movie. The cynical bastard inside me refuses to see it as some sort of quality seal of approval. They even use nominations on the box-covers on dvd´s to make it look like an official “this shit is good” seal much like the ones Nintendo put on their NES games back in the day. (I don´t know if Nintendo does it anymore though.)

    Anyway,word of mouth is more important to me than what the marketing tells me. And the Oscars are a marketing tool, nothing to be angry about really. that´s just the way it is.

  10. so my “Fuck the Oscars…” was more of a laidback fucktheoscarsIdontgiveacrap…. rather than an angry; Fuck.The.Oscars! Tone of voice does not travel well in written text. I just need to clarify what I wrote.

  11. ShootMcKay – Sorry, my post wasn’t aimed at you, and I don’t want to give you the impression that I was singling out your comment. As I mentioned, I pretty much agree that the Oscars are crap. My post was aimed more at professional critics who spend time writing long diatribes on websites and in newspapers about how terrible the Oscars are, when they’re really just repeating what we’ve already heard. And what really bothers me is when they argue that so and so nominee is terrible and what the Academy should have nominated is this obscure Botswanan film that is so much better. It becomes a way of showing off how much better your tastes are than the general public.

  12. I think this is one of the few sites where Sandra Bullock is not dismissed as merely that “one who does all the chick flicks.” It’s nice to see when her talent is recognized.

    But she should never again do sequels. It doesn’t turn out well. (See: Any of her movies with a “2” beside them.)

  13. RBatty – I didn´t think it was, either. I was just expressing myself…

  14. And if you’ve never seen a Woody Allen film, I would personally start with Radio Days. It is light on the Allen quirks and tics that may tuirn off some people, and it has a neat nostalgia that parallels the feelings many of us have about our favorite childhood movies and TV shows. It’s also fun to see a young Seth Green in it and watch a sweet performance by Wallace Shawn.

  15. I have my own neuroses to deal with without having to watch Woody Allen movies, thank you very much. But someday, I will watch at least one of his movies in its entirety.

  16. …and Mouth´s middle finger to the Best Foreign film category is just too damn funny to ignore.

  17. As Woody Allen movies I would also recommend BANANAS (of his early silly slapstick phase), ZELIG (Best mockumentary ever?) and PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (Touchy and funny fantasy story about movie magic).

  18. “Also, I’d give Best Screenplay to The Descendants.”
    Me too. Not because I like it(I’ve not seen the movie), but because it was written by Jim Rash, who plays the dean on COMMUNITY, and I just like the image of him accepting the award. Also maybe being able to promote having an oscar winner will help the show stave off cancellation.

  19. Griff and Shoot: ANNIE HALL, MANHATTAN, ZELIG and THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO are magic. And I like his science fiction film SLEEPER more than STAR WARS.

    2012 is actually a good time to watch old Woody Allen films; the ubiquity of his style (and parodies of his style) pretty much stopped in the 1990s, so you can go into these movies without all the baggage that surrounded his films in the 1980s.

  20. BTW, am I the only one who thinks it’s annoying that since 20 years or so (at least since MIGHTY APHRODITE, I guess) every new Woody Allen movie is hailed by critics as “a return to his old form and his best movie in years”?

  21. Holy shit, I was looking at the cast list of THE DESCENDANTS to see who this “disgraced” actor was (didn’t find him) but instead saw:

    Michael Ontkean (aka Sheriff Harry Truman from TWIN PEAKS)
    Judy Greer
    Robert Forster

    If the marketing fuckers would have made a bigger deal about that cast I would have seen this shit in the theaters.

  22. At this moment in time I´d catch a Woody Allen film as much as I would catch gonorrhea. Not very much, but I probably will at some point in time ( not gonorrhea, but Woody Allen films.)

  23. CJ: I remember the critics saying the same thing about HANNAH & HER SISTERS, and the three films that preceded it were PURPLE ROSE, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE and ZELIG.

    And, like you said, MIGHTY APHRODITE was preceded by BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTER and HUSBANDS & WIVES, all of which were well regarded.

  24. There’s some non-badass movies up there, so can I put in for one that beats most (if not all) of the nominees? Right up there in Drive territory is – ulp – Margaret. No lie. Every single character is incredibly well-realized, which might bug any of y’all not up for a teen girl developing in all kinds of directions (not all noble) after having a role in an excruciating traffic accident.

  25. Shoot: Well, fair enough. But it’s strange that people still talk about “a Woody Allen” film as if its a different species, as if you have to bring a different set of expectations to the theater with you, as if he was producing work as challenging as Terrance Mallick or Guy Maddin. I’m not sure I’m able to identify exactly what it is in Allen’s films that some viewers find such a hurdle.

  26. Jareth – I guess I´m just a sack full of Woody Allen-prejudice. But the guy has himself to blame for that. I wash my hands from that. Maybe I sound like a stupid dick, but´thats how I feel. Out there are SOOO many films waiting to be discovered I don´t feel I have time to deal with my Allenophobia.

  27. …but Terrence Malick made a damn fine film with BADLANDS. However, THE THIN RED LINE was horseshit crossed with babypuke!

  28. I have a real soft spot for Stardust Memories, Deconstructing Harry, Sweet & Lowdown and Bullets Over Broadway.

    Fuck man, Allen really is a phenomenon. He’s been making movies for more than 4 decades and is still making a new film every single year. I can’t think of many other filmmakers with such a good batting average after making nearly 50 movies.

    My brother and I have ths tradition where we watch the new Woody Allen every year and then go out for a beer and some calamari afterwards (We live in Cape Town, okay? The calamari here is really fucking good). Sad to think that one of these days we won’t be able to do that any more. Allen’s nearly 80.

  29. Jesus! I was so hyped to watch that movie, seeing BADLANDS on TV and it turned out like…the way it turned out. Fuckin douchebag filmmaker….

  30. THE THIN RED LINE is bar none the most disapointing cinematic experience of my life!!

  31. THE THIN RED LINE horseshit? Them’s fightin’ words, McKay.

  32. I’m not trying to cause you grief, Shoot. It’s difficult for me to motivate myself to watch Spielberg films, despite the fact that I know I’ll be watching a very well made film. There’s just something about his sensibility that bothers me. There’s no reason why Woody Allen should be immune from such whims of taste.

  33. Knox – I felt watching it at the cinema that it was just another war-movie. I may have been a tad harsh with my choice of words. But if you are making a war-movie you should make something the audience care about. And I did not care. I felt cheated and bored out of my skull. Big fuckin sin in my opinion!

    Jarteh – I guess your beef with Spielberg is as big a mine with Allen. Can we shake hands on that? Because Spielberg is (almost) a guarantee for MY enjoyment…

  34. BTW Shoot, I hope you don’t refuse to watch Woody Allen’s movies because you belong to those people who think that he is some kind of Roman Polanski-esque pervert, who married his own underaged daughter. Because that’s not what happened. (Even though I won’t sugarcoat the fact that cheating on your wife with her adopted daughter, is a real shitty movie. Even if she was 21 at that time.)

  35. CJ – It has NOTHING to do with that! I don´t care what Allen is doin in his own time. In fact I have little qualms about what any person do in his/her free time.
    I still watch Polanski films.

  36. My first post was better, but since the shitty server keep fucking up, I had to write something else….

  37. I think Mouth’s “Fuck you” to the Best Foreign Film category has been misunderstood. I think he’s calling bullshit on the segregation of foreign language and English language cinema by saying that they should be get their shot at the Best Picture category just like real movies by Hollywood professionals.

    Does THE ARTIST get a pass because it’s silent? What if the placards had been in French with English subtitles? Would it be stuck in the Foreign Film ghetto (which is really crowded but has good, cheap restaurants)?

  38. But hasn´t foreign movies been nominated in the Best Picture before? Am I completely wrong about this? But your thoughts on this is spot-on otherwise,Mr Majestyk.

  39. Thank you, Vern. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AMD INCREDIBLY PRETENTIOUS is horrible. Someone told me that 9/11 survivors really do imagine their loved ones falling from the towers. It’s still sleazy to put that in the film. And parents of Aspergers kids have told me its a very realistic portrayal. Still cloying to play him to push buttons and milk sympathy.

    I thought DESCENDENTS was meh. The thing about THE HELP is it really is a profound idea the role of maid as surrogate parent. But we never see them with their kids except the three pivotal plot moments with Vola Davis and Bryce D Howard’s kid. Good for giving Davis and Spencer juicy roles but always feels like Hollywood playing at the era. The details are right but it just doesn’t feel like the ’60s south.

    I disagree that THE ARTIST is slight. I think it’s a good movie making good use of a cinematic technique.

    Here’s how weak this years nominees are. For the past five years I’ve gone to an Oscar party where we dresss up as nominees. Last year I was Aron Ralston with my hand stuck under a rock. I’ve been The Wrestler (with staples), Eastern Promised (with only a bathhouse towel) and the piece de resistance was when I was Precious (no black face. That would be wrong. But stuffed fat in black lady clothes with a bucket of fried chicken.)

    This year absolutely none of the nominees have inspired me to dress up. Shame on you, Academy.

  40. Shoot, yes CROUCHING TIGER, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and I’m sure others got both foreign and best pic noms.

  41. Griff, I think you’d like a lot of Woody Allen movies. EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTEF TO KNOW ABOUT SEX and TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN are flat out hilarious. ANNIE HALL really did deserve best picture in ’77. It’s so meta. PURPLE ROSE is a movie buff’s dream. MIGHTY APHRODITE is so immature and if you studied Greek tragedy in high school it all pays off. The musical is great too. I also like RADIO DAYS and recently I thought VICKY CRISTINA BATCELONA was an edgy love triangle and WHATEVER WORKS had some great one liners. Start with e early funny ones tho.

  42. oh wait a minute, I have seen some of EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX

    the thing is, I’ve got nothing against Woody Allen, but there’s literally dozens of other classic films that I’ve yet to watch, so it’s hard to also worry myself about the dozens of films Woody Allen has made

    it’s kind of weird how Woody Allen has been coming out with a movie a year since before I was even born

  43. Only seen MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and THE HELP out of those. The former of course is one of the best from Woody in years like everybody and their mother has exhaustedly parroted on the net since last summer. The latter was disgustingly obvious oscar bait that tries too hard to reach for sentiment by injecting as much false pathos and obvious & tired civil rights conflicts as possible to the point of giving me nausea.

    Jessica Chastain was excellent in it though. I’d argue that if it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t have made it through the damn thing; but between this and TREE OF LIFE she has honestly become that new actress that I will always be on the look out for. She’s the real deal. Unlike the Carey Mulligan’s and other wooden bitches that they’ve been trying to shove down our throats as the “next great starlet”.

  44. Oh yeah and as cliche as it may sound this blurb

    “Emma Stone also does a respectable job in her new duty filling in for Lindsay Lohan in the movies she would’ve done if she’d stayed on track.”

    really did make me spit out some of the shit I was drinking when I read it. Well played as usual Mr. Vern.

  45. Once again, the real life encounter & mind meld between Mr. Majestyk & Mouth pays off, this time in the form of him understanding my “Fuck this category” utterance.

    And once again, no one follows my lead in listing personal awards faves & winners. You all must intimidated by the infallible perfection of my nominees. Very well.

    As several talkbackers have mentioned, whining about the Oscars is indeed cliche, annoying, & almost pointless these days. However, it can still be fun & useful to complain about them if you do it in a way that is a thought experiment, an intellectual prompt, rather than a self-echoing bitchfest.

    Consider: Should INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS not have won both Best Foreign Language & Best overall Picture for 2009? What silliness it is to ignore multilingual hybrids, or to pigeonhole them. And what, are most movies from UK, Australia, Canada, & the US judged through the same prism, but not movies requiring subtitles for Americans? I get why the separate criteria exist, but I don’t like it.

    CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON should have been politely embarrassed for its fellow Best Picture nominees of 2000 when they were even mentioned in the same breath with Ang Lee’s far superior film, but instead it got the Foreign Language award so everybody thought it was okay to say fucking GLADIATOR was better overall. I get it, but I don’t get it. I’m tracking, but I ain’t buying.

    I know my complaints are not unique, and I know the answers & solutions are not easily explicable, with many factors & voting quirks & politics & Weinsteins & nuances involved, most of which are possibly not directly based on the fact that my taste is superior to that of the Academy. Obviously, Tarantino doesn’t ever have an eye on awards when he does his thing, so it’s kind of cool of the Oscar just to nominate him. I’m always disappointed in most of the Oscar nominees & the hoopla that accompanies it, but I’m not impotent with rage & bile as a result of it. Vern’s approach, as is so often the case, seems healthiest — acknowledge, give praise where due, say your piece when THE DARK KNIGHT & WALL-E get unjustly shitted on, and move on with more serious business.

    And the Foreign Language category is, on balance, actually a source of excellence in cinema, a movie poster/dvd’s blurb-generator that leads many people to see great movies they would never realize existed otherwise, and that’s awesome.

    This is of course the case Academy apologists make — that at least that Oscar brand seal of approval on a promotional blurb will attract more people to see more quality films. Striving for excellence? Not always, but at least striving for better-than-average most of the time.

    Unless we’re talking about THE READER.

  46. *be intimidated

    Yes, there’s a typo in the same sentence where I allude to my “infallible perfection.”

  47. If a guy like Terence Malick is up for an Academy Award, he´ll probably win due to “honorary work”. I don´t have a better word. But because he´s been in the industry for so long, he will probably win.

  48. Gorô Inagaki probably deserves a Best Supporting Actor nom, too, even if it’s passe to honor evil sociopath villain roles. Actually, the whole cast of 13 ASSASSINS deserves that category.

  49. As I see it, if a foreign film is due to Best picture it should be there. Not as a seperate catagory! Stupid shit!

  50. if The Artist really does win then it’s obvious from now on that whatever gets released by the Weinsteins is what’s gonna win

    this reminds me though, I sure wish I had Tree of Life on blu ray

  51. I have yet to see TREE OF LIFE. Some people call it pretentious horsehit. I wish Terence Malick would make a movie like BADLANDS again….

  52. Shoot – TREE OF LIFE is pure unadulterated visual poetry. It’s not a visceral experience like BADLANDS was but it’s one that is also pretty fulfilling for your soul. Especially if you’re inebriated.

  53. I´ll give TREE OF LIFE a shot….I guess.

  54. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 25th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Mouth’s list is pretty good. I prefer my own (it’s in the Potpourri thread somewhere) on account of “Third Star”, “Ides of March” and “Kill List”, but what the hey.

    And at least “Margin Call” got a look-in. It definitely has a claim to “best picture”. (Oh wait… it wasn’t nominated for that particular award. Well never mind then.)

    I read something on the Internet somewhere about how the Oscar votors are predominantly white, male, and over fifty years old. Sounds about right.

    The good thing is that there’s sites like this one to make up for those idiots.

  55. I don’t know how I feel about TREE OF LIFE. The childhood stuff is amazing, full of little details that make it feel so right in ways most other movies about kids never even approach. And I obviously enjoyed just zoning out and gawking at the old school analog space effects. But everything with Sean Penn was just embarrassing. Not only did those segments’ bookending structure make an epic tone poem about one family’s place in the grand scheme of time and space feel like a pissy rich middle-aged dude’s whining over his long-lost childhod, it also felt stylistically like an allergy medication commercial, all people wandering on a vaguely metaphorical beach wearing loose white summer dresses. Everything else felt concrete and real, but all of those sequences just seemed like desperate symbolism. I spent my time trying to decode them instead of watching them, dragging me right out of the movie so I never got that emotional response a lot of people had. I was glad to hear that Penn didn’t know what the hell he was doing in the movie either.

    Still, there’s so much amazing shit in there that I won’t write it off. But it’s the only one of the nominees I’ve seen so, sure, it should win, why not.

  56. Majestyk – Ha ha now that you mention it; those Sean Penn segments definitely reminded me of those “I have genital herpes but that’s ok” scenes in the VALTREX commercials from a stylistic POV. I also agree that they pretty much throw the rhythm of the picture of when they appear. They seem so out of place at times that it almost feels like they came from a completely different feature and were spliced in at the last minute even though it’s supposed to be the same kid we followed early on.

    Even Penn himself doesn’t know WTF the point of his role in the movie even was in the end. But that’s just a part of a whole and definitely not enough in my opinion to hinder the rest of that feature. Like you said there is still so much mind blowingly awesome shit all over that film that such a flaw could be easily forgiven.

  57. *off not of

  58. I didn’t say it could be easily forgiven. The movie was designed to sweep me up in a wave of sight and sound and memory, and those sequences prevented that from happening. So I’d say it’s a pretty major flaw to the movie as a whole, because it stopped me from getting into the good shit as much as I should have. But I’m not prepared to go all internet and call it a total piece of shit because of one misstep. That would just be ridiculous.

    Also, is your new avatar Kickboxer’s brother? If so, that’s a bold move.

  59. Good point about the Penn segments, Majestyk. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest when I watch the film, but I can see why someone would feel that way.

    That’s why The New World is still my favourite Malick film (and a serious contender for Best Film of the Decade). No heavy-handed symbolism there. It’s also his most story-driven film since Badlands. Hell, in two and a half hours that film runs through more plot than your average six part mini-series, and it’s done so effortlessly and gracefully that one hardly even notices. The editing and photography in that film is simply masterful.

  60. Majestyk – Indeed it is. I had a KICKBOXER 1 – 3 marathon recently and came to the conclusion that Eric Sloane is indeed one of the greatest movie characters of all time. You have to be if being paralyzed when your profession is kickboxing is still not enough to kill your confidence. If I was in a wheelchair I’d be grabbing women’s asses left and right too. What are they gonna do? slap me?

  61. Broddie – Your new avatar…?……Awww…I give up! Fuck it… do what you want….

  62. I once posted this joke comment imagining what it would be like if fanboys spewed obscene invective about Terence Malick like they do about George Lucas. Little did I know that all we had to do was wait for Mr. McKay and his outrage over seeing Thin Red Line at the “cinema”. I never thought I’d actually encounter somebody who really does yell about how “Badlands was awesome but Thin Red Line fuckin’ sucks!”, but, hey. It means Malick is finally, truly a mainstream filmmaker reaching a mass-audience, I suppose.

  63. Tree of Life is the only Malick film I really enjoyed. Well, not enjoyed, but was affected by. I always felt his other movies had plots that got in the way of Malick being Malick and Tree of Life freed him from needing a coherent plot or anything. It’s my choice for the movies that were nominated.

    My favorite film of last year was Melancholia. As a Jewish guy I understand why Melancholia was largely shunned, but, man, I love that film.

    And, Griff, man, don’t take this the wrong way but if you can find time to watch your animes you can find time to watch a Woody Allen movie.

  64. Sorry, but i haven’t bothered to read any of the comments here, because I don’t relly see the point of The Oscars at all. When i was younger (and even more stupid) I used to stay awake all night to watch it (it runs between 2 and 6 AT NIGHT here in Norway), but now I don’t see the point. I think what put me off was the tendency to give the Oscar to some 20 year old American former comedian who ran against four 70 year old English Shakespear veterans, just because he/she did something different.

  65. pegsman: Every year the gulf between my tastes and those of the Oscars seems to get wider. Yesterday I asked a friend why she thinks MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE wasn’t nominated, and she looked at me as if I had suggested that we invite the mutants from THE HILLS HAVE EYES over for brunch.

    But I’m glad that Vern comments on the awards every year, even when I haven’t seen any of the films (like this year). Can you imagine how excruciating all the hype surrounding the awards would be if we didn’t have a place to read the perspectives of outsiders?

    Casey: I liked MELANCHOLIA too. I was worried that Dunst and Sutherland would be the weak links in an otherwise stellar cast, but they acquitted themselves nicely.

  66. Speaking of stupid categories:

    Can we get over the Best Actor/Best Actress thing already? Why not Best Female Director and Best Male Director categories? Best White Actor? Best Heterosexual Actor? Retire that bullshit.

    Also, why Best Director anyway? Is it somebody other than the director’s fault when a movie is good? Hows about separating it into Best Character and Best Actor categories as well?

  67. They should also rename Best Picture into Best Producers since that’s essentially what that shit is.

  68. Oh man, internet again won’t let me post my ramblings. Perhaps if I break it into smaller pieces. . .

    Knox Harrington’s contributions here indicate that we are muy simpatico.

    **”Fuck man, Allen really is a phenomenon. He’s been making movies for more than 4 decades and is still making a new film every single year. I can’t think of many other filmmakers with such a good batting average after making nearly 50 movies.”**

    Yup. Chris Rock said pretty much the same thing in the recent PBS Woody Allen documentary. Not sure why, but for some reason the fact that Chris Rock articulates something like that with which Knox & I agree makes it solid. That’s, like, an expert opinion in my opinion.

    For any Woody Allen doubters or newbies out there, let it be known that the guy is responsible for *AT LEAST* 7 (seven) (motherfucking SEVEN!) masterpieces or near-masterpieces:


  69. Love and Death is damn good too.

  70. Chris Rock also managed to condense the needs of man into three simple words: Food. Sex. Silence.

    “Feed me, fuck me, shut the fuck up.”

    Truly a wise man.

  71. My previous comments about Malick were caused by alcohol. Therefore the rage. However, i still don´t like RED LINE when I´m sober either. Some beutiful imagery and Nick Nolte. Those were the positives I took from my experience with the movie. I have not seen it since it came out, so if I go back to it I might like it a bit more. But I do feel the urge to go see TREE OF LIFE, just for the experience.

  72. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 26th, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Holy fucking shit guys.

    You may have noticed a distinct lack of reviews from me recently, after managing EIGHT (!) reviews of films I’ve seen in the cinema between January and the start of February.

    That is because there is LITERALLY NOTHING ON AT THE CINEMA except for Oscar-nominated films that weren’t released until weeks AFTER the Oscar “year” ended. And sorry, but I refuse to see that shit on principle. I’ve been burned far too many times before.

    Oh, and “Ghost Rider” and “Man on a Ledge”. Which I also feel obligated NOT to give my money to on principle (although Ghost Rider is supposed to be ok, I guess. I just don’t want to encourage more of this stuff getting made.)

    Yep, it’s a pretty boring month, film-wise. You’d think there’d at least be some decent arts films out, but there’s not even anything on there to pique my interest.

  73. Shoot: that’s how I feel about ENTER THE VOID. Not sure I like it, but I’m glad I saw it. 20 years from now kids will be so jealous that I experienced Noé’s barf-o-vision on the big screen. Man, the old folks at that screening were pissed off.

    Griff: If you need further encouragement to watch a Woody Allen film, ANNIE HALL does in fact have animation in it. It’s put to even better use than the animation in KILL BILL.

  74. Paul: Does this mean you won’t be reviewing ALBERT NOBBS for us?

  75. Vern, would you consider reviewing Take Shelter, it’s a pretty interesting movie from last year with a typically solid performance from Michael Shannon.

  76. I really dug Take Shelter. It was, in my opinion, the most suspenseful film released last year. Every frame is so fucking…pregnant, you know? I wonder if people who have had personal experience with mental illness find the WTF ending unbelievably offensive, and wondering that makes me more intrigued and fascinated by the movie.

  77. The Fred Topel Awards (in honor of Mouth)

    Best Picture: RUBBER, THE MUPPETS or LIKE CRAZY would be acceptable. But if it must be something awards-y, then I’m actually good with THE ARTIST. or HUGO.

    Best Director: Quentin Dupieux regardless but should have nominations for Drake Doremus, Refn, Miike…)

    Best Actor: We would accept Gosling, Fassbender or Harrelson (but really, the tire in RUBBER)

    Best Actress: Brit Marling in ANOTHER EARTH

    Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks

    Best original screenplay: Brit Marling and Mike Cahill, ANOTHER EARTH

    Adapted screenplay: X-MEN FIRST CLASS. Really, making a comic book another DARK KNIGHT level real world story.

    Foreign Film: well, yeah, 13 ASSASSINS, but also fuck this category

    Best song: “Life’s a Happy Song” (they still nominated the wrong song from MUPPETS)

    Editing, cinematography, sound: DRIVE

    FX: I guess SUCKER PUNCH because it’s the only way to get that movie any love. The effects weren’t 100% good though. Maybe GREEN LANTERN? They really did pull off the comic book effects, and aren’t the tech categories always for an otherwise lousy movie (GOLDEN COMPASS)

  78. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 26th, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Jareth – I won’t be reviewing what now?


    No. Just no. Not even the presence of the great Brendan Gleason could make me see that film.

  79. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 26th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    And just to make it clear, Brendan Gleason makes bad movies bearable and good movies great. I literally have never seen him in any role at all that I played badly. I can’t even say that about P. S. Hoffman (yeah, I’ve seen “Twister”).

  80. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 26th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    That “HE” played badly. Damn, that sentence got mangled.

  81. Attaboy, Fred. I also enjoyed RUBBER quite a lot. Lot of exploding heads in that movie.

    At first, the movie’s early direct address monologue threatened to annoy me & turn me off, but then the guy had some very interesting things to say, and I like the other 4th wall stuff in that movie.

    So, I nominate RUBBER for the prestigious Best Monologue Scene Award of 2011.

    I’m in a location where we shall have NBA All Star game on one tv, Oscars on another, and girls blending drinks in the kitchen. It’s going to be a good evening.

  82. Mouth, that opening monologue pretty much summarizes my whole attitude towards movies. I always say the priority should always be to be awesome. If you’re awesome, it doesn’t matter if you make sense or not. (Obviously choosing to make sense is a valid aesthetic decision, but not a necessary one.) He calls it “no reason” and he’s right. Everything in a movie happens because there needs to be a reason. No other reason, just that it’s the story of the movie.

    (This really irritates LORD OF THE RINGS fans when I say the only reason this ring is so powerful is because they said so. And the only reason there’s only one fire that can destroy it is because they said so. And the only reason Frodo is the only one that can carry it is because they said so. They start telling me all the explanation and I say, “Yeah, I know that’s what they said. But that’s just because they wanted that to be the mythology.”)

    I love how he throws THE PIANIST into there too, takes the piss out of himself by citing a true story. And then I just love how meta the whole film questions what we take for granted about a viewing experience. It’s hilarious to my gut and to my intellect. And I know it’s just a riff, not really supposed to be analyzed that deeply, but that’s what I do and it works so well it’s easy.

  83. so guys, The Artist won, as we all knew it would


  84. And good for THE ARTIST. It’s a really good well done movie.

    It’s ok if you don’t like it tho. Lots of movies I didn’t like have won awards too.

  85. it”s not that I have a problem with the movie itself, it’s just that the Oscars have become so predictable no

    but I had a lot of fun in CJ’s hangout, shame on you guys for not more of you showing up

  86. Just as I predicted they gave the supporting actor Oscar to some youngster called Christopher Plummer!

  87. The ceremony last night was pretty awful. I know that’s the norm, but it seemed even more lifeless. I was at the point where I actually felt bad for Billy Crystal. I remember him being funny at one point in his career (of course it could also be that I was a kid and thought a lot of lame stuff was funny). I didn’t even make it through the entire show. I know a lot of people really hated last year’s performance, but I kind of liked watching James Franco give up in the middle of it. It made Anne Hathaway overcompensate in some rather embarrassing ways. It was a nice bit of Schadenfreude that you only get these days with live, or almost live television.

  88. My issue was that it seemed to all be about reminiscing about “the good old days”. I haven’t seen The Artist or Hugo but I’m allergic to this notion that things were good before and now suck. People probably said the same thing when music transitioned from the baroque period to the classical.

  89. LOL I could picture people back then saying shit like “These fucking kids and their stupid Mozart.” Every generation feels that everything was “better back then” though I will say in terms of the direction pop culture is now taking I don’t blame those people that are bitching so much about things now a days. For the first time in history the old farts may actually have a valid point.


    I mean come on, Lady Gaga > Britney Spears. Things improve.

  91. Things took a turn for the worse in about 1995, and since then we have actually become the first generation that’s cooler than our kids.
    Gaga and Britney? Are you kidding me?

  92. Yeah, I thought it was interesting that three of the Oscar nominees were nostalgic period movies, but one of them (Midnight in Paris) sort of had an anti-nostalgia subtext. Also I was kind of amused that two movies about silent cinema cleaned up all the awards because as old as the voters apparently are I don’t buy for a second than any one of them has any interest at all in classic cinema. (Except Scorsese, he’s probly a voter.)

    I know I’m alone on this but I thought people were too hard on Franco and Hathaway. Yes, some of the bits were terrible (I seem to remember something about Franco in drag being the worst) but this is the Oscars, they always have some terrible jokes. I guess the thing that bothered me most was that people kept complaining that Franco was dumb or stoned, which only meant that he had done a good job if they accepted his comic persona for real life.

    I guess this year didn’t have as many groaners, but I missed the whole opening song and everything so I probly was spared the worst jokes.

  93. The whole thing about Franco being stoned, started when during the 2nd half of the show, Hathaway seemed to do all the talking, while Franco just stood next to her, staring blank into the audience and smiling dumb. Even I believed that he was high.

  94. I don’t think Franco was stoned, I think he choked. He was not only hosting a massive awards show live that millions of people were watching, but he was up for one of the top awards. I saw an interview with him from right before the show, and he looked terrified.

  95. I mention Gaga and Britney because they are a good general litmus test for the status of mega-pop-star culture. Whereas Britney was a vapid slut because it’s what the world demanded of her, Gaga is a vapid slut because she’s an utterly calculating cultural savant. I could go on at great lengths as to why her celebrity is a promising sign as to the tides of lowest-common-denominator culture.

    1995 huh? Are we in one of these discussions where it’s assumed that punk rock died in the 70’s, rap in the 80’s, and rock n’ roll with Cobain’s suicide?

  96. Extremely loud & incredibly close… Almost feel your undermining the backbone of the film, of which in mind is the comprehension of overcoming severe autism to feel in a state of control that be considered ‘normal’ to the majority? And yes the flaky falling pics & clips were tasteless but the use of 9/11 was just. How does a mind that needs to understand everything in relation to there life make sense of the most inconceivable event in recent history?
    Needless to say I thought the film was worth viewing in serious manner.

  97. I thought Asperger’s was specifically a MILD, as opposed to “severe”, form of autism. Severely autistic people can’t do the stuff Vern describes this kid doing, at least without close supervision…

  98. Filmski – Isn’t that pretty much what I said at the end of the review? “He doesn’t process emotions the same way we do, and I guess that’s the point. How does anybody process losing their dad, let alone losing him to that?”

    I don’t feel like we’re disagreeing on anything based on what you said, but I appreciate that you liked it better than I did.

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