Notes from members of awards committee:
2011 was not a great year for movies, and was considerably less impressive than 2010. Few of the major releases had the Big Screen visual impact of previous years. Many 2011 Oscar favorites resembled garden variety made-for-TV movies. In fact none of the 2011 films were as impressive as the first two seasons of The Game of Thrones – with its intelligent dialogue, deep world-building, world-class acting talent, clever plotting, epic set-pieces worthy of Hollywood at its best, memorable soundtrack, all spiced up with tits and dragons and genuine surprises.
In a repeat of last year, not one of the Academy’s Big Three 2012 award winners are even nominated for a Simpson award. Our top two movies were War Horse and The Descendants; almost an even split on votes. War Horse won due to the emotional punch and aesthetic Big Screen panache. You have to love the kinetic energy displayed with grace and beauty by Joey, the war horse. We liked The Descendants so much that we awarded the Best Actor award to George Clooney, but agreed that the shoddy look of the film was far out classed by War Horse. In fact we have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of movies with no impressive visual quality. We hope to see this trend reversed. Michelle Williams is awarded the Best Actress Simpson award for her nuanced, touching performance in My Week with Marilyn.
Kill List – The film does a terrific job of building a mood and layering suspense aided by an immensely talented cast who are believable and hit the right notes. The violence is intrinsic to the film and to its protagonist, but that doesn't make it any easier to watch. It is grim and intense. You have been warned.
Ironclad - good old fashioned Medieval combat – up close, personal, and gruesome. This movie did not win awards, but it delivers a couple hours of escapism with plenty of action and some important history. The production design and acting is far superior to most other medieval sword and shield flicks. The cast includes well known and respected actors, all of whom put on a good show.
The biggest letdown for us had to be The Artist. Talk about not living up to the hype. Black and white and silent for the most part, it’s a film school type experiment with a couple of clever touches, but the best film of the year AND best actor? Please get real. OTOH if you want to watch a movie with your grandma — you can’t miss with The Artist.
Iron Lady, with Meryl Streep portraying British PM Margret Thatcher, was a big miss. The director chose to set the film during Mrs. Thatcher’s declining years when she suffered from dementia, and carefully avoided her much earlier, glory days in forcefully leading her country through some challenging times. Meryl Streep did the best she could with what she had to work with, and in a year of weak competition, won the Academy Best Actress Oscar. Many film connoisseurs consider Streep’s 2012 Oscar a consolation award for being cheated out of the Best Actress award for her 2007 knock-out performance as Amanda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.
Midnight in Paris – We expected Woody to direct a clever, funny film, but no, he has increasingly loss his magic touch. The movie was absent of humor and bloated; I struggled to stay awake to the credits.