Sunday, February 26. 2012
I figured the eve of the Academy Awards would be as good a time as any to catch up on the movies I mostly didn't see in 2011. We wound up seeing less than twenty, even counting a couple picked up on TV well after the fact. (Laura may have seen more of the latter, since she controls the TV and I rarely notice what she's watching.) In past years we've seen upwards of 80% of the Oscar-nominated films, falling short mostly in the crash-and-burn categories, but lots of things held us back in 2011, including short runs. (I caught The Skin I Live In on the last day of a one-week run, but more often than not things just slipped by -- I can't recall movies like Beginners and A Better Life ever appearing here, while Albert Nobbs waited until the week we had to go to Detroit.)
Seems like an exceptionally shallow year, even taking account of my light sampling. One indication of how far the industry has dumbed down is that nine of the ten highest-grossing films were sequels: Harry Potter, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Twilight Saga, Mission Impossible, Kung Fu Panda, Fast Five (as in Fast and Furious), The Hangover, and Cars -- the sole exception, at number nine, was another well-known franchise, The Smurfs. Three are animated. Most of the rest are non-stop action trysts. This may not prove we're sinking into the new Dark Age -- although the Republican primaries are hard to dismiss in that regard -- but if not we're sure suffering from a nasty case of ADHD. (Curiously, television, which has long seemed culpable as the prime destroyer of our attention spans, has rarely produced so many smart series and specials -- not that the dreck hasn't increased apace.)
The trend I hate the most is 3D, which pretty much spoiled Hugo for me until I was later able to reconstruct it without the diversions. Curious that the two most Oscar-nominated pictures are nostalgic tributes to the silent film era, as if the Academy is desperate to escape from the world the industry has created. I was underwhelmed by The Artist, occasionally flashing back to films like Modern Times showing that history itself offered better resolutions.
My own favorite movie limited its nostalgia to the 1950s, which is all I can remember anyway. Nothing wrong with my top five movies, but I doubt I could find a year in the last fifty that yielded less. No time to research that. Let the lists follow.
Movies I saw but that didn't get nominated for anything:
Movies that looked like they might be worth seeing: The Adventures of Tintin, Anonymous, A Better Life, Contagion, A Dangerous Method, Drive, J. Edgar, Jane Eyre, Margin Call, The Muppets, The Tree of Life, The Way.
Less sure about: Carnage, Cedar Rapids, The Conspirator, The Debt, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, In the Land of Blood and Honey, The Iron Lady, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Melancholia, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Shame, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Super 8, Thor, War Horse, Warrior, Water for Elephants.
Also seems like some day I should see the Harry Potter movies.
Above lists come from perusing Wikipedia's 2011 in Film list. The list doesn't include some things, like any of the Foreign Language Film nominees (Bullhead, Footnote, In Darkness, Monsieur Lazhar, and A Separation).
Academy Awards by category:
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