Oscar Checklist

As we wend towards the end of January, it's almost time for the Academy Award nominations to come out. In preparation for this, Entertainment Weekly has put out its "25 Movies You Need to See Before Oscar Night" article. Let's see how I'm doing:

1) The Artist - Done!

2) The Descendants - Done!

3) War Horse - I'm wrestling over whether to see this at all. I kind of already get the gist of the story, and I know it'll be incredibly depressing. We'll see.

4) The Help - It's on the Netflix queue. I suspect I won't like it as much as everyone else does, but I do love Emma Stone.

5) Hugo - Speaking of not liking as much as everyone else. This movie was admittedly beautiful, and the back third, about the history and evolution of cinema, was wonderful. Everything having to do with the title character and his adventures living in the train station, however, was annoying, bordering on obnoxious. Grade: B-

6) Midnight in Paris - On the Netflix queue. I'm looking forward to this one.

7) Moneyball - You can tell that 2011 was a fairly weak movie year, because a lot of films that were perfectly fine - but not stellar - are getting the awards buzz. Here's another example. I'm sure it's tough to make a movie about baseball statistics compelling, and they pulled it off. That's impressive. I enjoyed the movie, and think everyone involved did a nice job with it, but it in no way deserves an Academy Award in any category. Grade: B

8) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Saw the Swedish version (Grade: B), and have no interest in revisiting this story.

9) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Ew. No.

10) The Tree of Life - I've heard from two vocal camps on this one. The first says that this is a beautiful, deep, though-provoking film. The second says that it's pretentious claptrap. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground between them, so I'll have to see for myself.

11) Beginners - On the Netflix queue. My fear is that it'll fall into the trap I've been seeing a lot recently, where there is a masterful performance in an otherwise tepid movie.

12) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 - A good way to wrap up the franchise, with dazzling special effects and a reasonably tight script. I doubt it can pull off a Return of the King type of win, though. (Grade: B+)

13) The Iron Lady - Done! Feh.

14) Rango - I would like to see this at some point, but question whether it's really necessary to get it done by the Oscars, nomination for Animated Feature or not.

15) My Week With Marilyn - Michelle Williams just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. Frankly, I think she's being over-praised, as is the movie as a whole. Monroe was a fascinating woman, but this film didn't dig deep enough below the surface for me. (Grade: C+)

16) Shame - I'm going to wait for the DVD for this one.

17) Albert Nobbs - No, thanks.

18) The Ides of March - Really? I don't remember this generating that much excitement when it came out. The plot seems intriguing, though, so I'll probably check it out at some point.

19) Kung Fu Panda 2 - I think the first one was plenty for me. It was good, I just don't feel the need to continue with the series.

20) Bridesmaids - I hope this does get nominated, just to put a giant crack in the ceiling of the Oscars' silent ban on comedy. If it can't get through as a picture, then at least let Melissa McCarthy get an acting nomination, because she stole that picture right out from under the rest of the cast. (Grade: A-)

21) J. Edgar - I'm not in love with Leonardo DiCaprio's acting. I liked him in Inception, but aside from that, he leaves me cold. I just never really buy him in the other Big Important Films he likes to make (The Aviator, Revolutionary Road, etc.) and J. Edgar looks like a chore.

22) We Need to Talk About Kevin - I read the book, and like War Horse, I can tell that I'll be an emotional wreck after this movie. Unlike War Horse, I still want to see it. I love Tilda Swinton, and I'm curious to see how they adapted the source material.

23) Drive - This is one of those movies that I know other people love, but am just going to let pass me by. I can't even fully articulate why it doesn't appeal to me, but every time I read about it, my brain gives a little mental shrug, and I move on.

24) Young Adult - Now this, I'm looking forward to. I'm not positive I'll be able to catch it in the theater, but it looks great, and I'll be sure to watch it at some point.

25) Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory - I'm picky about my documentaries, and this one, about three teens who may have been wrongly convicted of murder, falls far outside my topics of interest. Let me know when documentarians make another Spellbound.


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