Oscar noms and my top movies of 2012, or: “Success walks hand-in-hand with failure along Hollywood Blvd…”



So they announced Oscar nominations this morning, which I suppose is a big enough deal for me to comment about it here, but let’s be frank: as much of a pop-cultural milestone the Academy Awards are to film nerds, movie dorks, cinema snoots, or just gay men in general, they’re pretty much functionally useless in terms of recognizing great movies. To put it in bluntly: does anyone, anywhere, even think about 2008’s total shitbag of a movie Slumdog Millionaire? Hollywood’s knee-jerk, PC, self-congratulatory reaction to a grossly insulting and utterly patronizing take on Indian ‘culture’… like it was some homogenized entity ready for cultural colonization.  Lots of “Look! we love brown people too!!” pats on their own backs for being so worldly wise. Eeucch…

Aaaand there we have it, I couldn’t even make it out of the first paragraph without already falling into a rant. Thanks, Danny Boyle. You’re still not forgiven for The Beach, either.

ANYWAY… so they announced the Oscar noms today, and I haven’t seen most of these movies, which, for someone who considers himself quite cinematically-aware, is a bit surprising. But I see maybe 5, 6 movies a year, tops, in theaters, and those are your basic uber-blockbusters. AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises, The HobbitBrave, etc. Stuff that probably should be seen on the big screen. I still love that whole darkened theater, movie-going experience, but for smaller-scale material I’m more than OK with my home theater setup.

So anyway, I’m not gonna rattle off endless lists of who’s up for Best Sound Editor or Costume Designer or Finest Alpaca Shaver or whatever. Just a quick glance at the Best Pics:

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Miserables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

I’ve seen exactly two of those movies: Beasts of the Southern Wild (really good movie, 8/10) and Django Unchained (sadly flawed but still entertaining, 6.5/10). I have Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty on my list of films to watch this month. Les Miserables I have little-to-no interest in; I saw the stage production once about 19 years ago (8th row orchestra, no less!) and pretty much hated it, and this is from someone who generally loves musicals. Life of Pi I’ll get to eventually, but it’s not on my radar anytime soon. Silver Linings Playbook is a David O/ Russell movie, which means I’ll really love some parts of it and be stoically unmoved by much of the rest (Three KingsFlirting With Disaster, I Heart Huckabees). And finally there’s Amour, which has been much acclaimed, but the one Michael Haneke film I’ve seen (2005’s Caché) frustrated me so damn much I’m in no hurry to see another one.

"You mean I gots to THINK??"

“You mean I gots to THINK??”

What’s missing from that list? Absolutely zero freakin’ love for Wes Anderson’s brilliantly tragic/wickedly funny/altogether awesome Moonrise Kingdom, which more than deserves to be included on the list of nominees. For my money, the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer’s ambitiously stunning Cloud Atlas was a monumental achievement, exhilarating as cinema and absolutely satisfying as entertainment. For a generation expecting Michael Bay-styled editing and dumbed-down plotting, proudly flaunting a stark refusal to be challenged in ANY capacity, the movie was labelled was “confusing”, “messy”, or “boring” by the masses and promptly abandoned. What a shame.

Anyway it’s all arbitrary, and as such I thought I’d share my list of the all the 2012 films I’ve seen thus far, and how I’d rank them accordingly. Depressingly mainstream, I’m afraid:

  1. Skyfall
  2. Moonrise Kingdom
  3. Cloud Atlas
  4. The Cabin In The Woods
  5. Dredd
  6. Looper
  7. The Dark Knight Rises
  8. The Avengers
  9. 21 Jump Street
  10. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  11. The Raid: Redemption
  12. Killer Joe
  13. The Hobbit
  14. Wreck-It Ralph
  15. Brave
  16. Men In Black 3
  17. Django Unchained
  18. The Hunger Games
  19. Ted
  20. Amazing Spider-Man
  21. Dark Shadows
  22. The Woman In Black
  23. The Dictator
  24. The Expendables 2
  25. Cosmopolis
  26. Prometheus
  27. John Carter
  28. The Five Year Engagement
  29. The Campaign
  30. Snow White and the Huntsman
  31. Total Recall
  32. Rock of Ages

Don’t get me started on that last one… Eeucch.

Incidentally, in case anybody’s remotely interested, here’s my Top 10 Non-2012 Films What I Saw For The First Time In 2012 list:

  1. The General — 1926, Bruckman & Keaton
  2. The Masque of the Red Death — 1964, Corman
  3. Samurai Rebellion– 1967, Kobayashi
  4. Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia — 1974, Peckinpah
  5. The Grapes of Wrath — 1940, Ford
  6. The Ox-Bow Incident — 1943, Wellman
  7. Ugetsu– 1953, Mizoguchi
  8. All About Eve — 1950, Mankiewicz
  9. Knife In The Water — 1962, Polanski
  10. Stagecoach — 1939, Ford

According to my Letterboxd film diary, I watched 137 new movies (or old movies that were new to me) last year, and only 32 were from 2012. Interesting. This included a ton of John Ford, Vincent Price, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, John Boorman, Boris Karloff, Sam Peckinpah, and the lesser Planet of the Apes flicks. The sheer amount of great/fun/fascinating/bizarre/riveting older material out there and limited free time that life provides makes it absolutely impossible to sit through some Ashton Kutcher monstrosity or yet another “found footage” crapfest. Life’s just too darn short. Here’s the video:

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