Notes from awards committee:
The year 2019 was the very best year of the 2010 decade for movies made for a grown-up target audience. I am hard pressed to name another year with so many great motion pictures featuring the most memorable male performances in recent times. How did this bounty come upon us in 2019? Movie Magic and serendipity is the only explanation; just smile and be grateful. And surprisingly as far as the 2020 Oscar Best Picture nominations are concerned, the Academy nominations were, as we target shooters say, on the paper, but nowhere near the bull’s eye. We agreed with 5 out of 9 noms, and those 5 were really, really good films. The best picture of the year was undoubtedly Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; Quentin Tarantino’s best-ever film with a clear social reflection of the 1960’s while rejecting the 60’s cultural celebration of moral decay. Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt set a new standard for Buddy Films.
Somebody has to say it – the Academy Best Picture winner, Parasite, is the most grossly overrated movie of the decade. We were appalled by the film’s immoral justification of violent class warfare as per the likes of mass murderers Stalin, Lenin, Mao, and Pol Pot. Is this a wet dream of woke Hollywood? It is strangely both dumb and naïve that woke Hollywood would jump on the class warfare bandwagon because that bandwagon will be driving them straight to the Guillotine near their exclusive, gated neighborhoods.
Both Ford vs Ferrari and Midway are celebrations of American greatness, and would have won a Best Picture Simpson award any other year. It is an honor to award Christian Bale a much deserved Best Actor award for his outstanding portrayal of Ken Miles, the ace race car driver in Ford vs Ferrari. It was perfection.
The biggest surprise of the year had to be JoJo Rabbit – it takes a certain genius to make Nazism LOL funny, and Roman Davis as JoJo is the best child actor I have seen since the outstanding debut performance in 2010 by Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. Best Actress of the year, Scarlett Johansson, as JoJo’s mother is filled with wisdom, compassion, humor, grace and courage in a truly memorable performance.
The Highwaymen - This is an extremely engaging, entertaining and true myth-busting of the “legend” of the Bonnie and Clyde bloody robbing and murder spree in the 1930’s. After Hoover’s FBI team fumbles their pursuit of Bonnie and Clyde, it was old fashioned police work by two veteran Texas lawmen that put an end to their violent spree using the maxim: “Mustangs and Outlaws always return home.”
And for you horror fans, no monster movie, vampire nor mad slasher flick can build the tension and creeping dread and suspense better than Chernobyl – the HBO mini-series about the Russian class 7 nuclear reactor disaster in 1986. It is a true masterpiece of the docu-dramas.
The standout documentary of the year was Apollo 11 – the hands-down winner. Relive the glory days of the NASA manned space program. We will never see its likes again.
The Irishman was yet another mafia-worship movie with annoying, unlikeable characters that leave a sour taste. I am not saying the film is unwatchable, but rather just not worthy of the big accolades.
Notes from awards committee:
2018 was a great year (at the Box Office) with Marvel superhero flicks and animated cartoons for children raking in the big bucks. The year was good, but not great, for films directed at grown-up adults. This was also a year of hype. I often heard the praise of “Best Picture of the Year” on many mediocre films – and some were nominated for Academy awards. Roma had the most camera panning shots I ever watched, but not much of a story. We were unimpressed by Green Book, another dreary car tour of the Jim Crow South, and confess to being downright annoyed by Bohemian Rhapsody, while Black Panther oddly celebrated childish tribalism.
Our two top motion pictures of the year were A Star is Born and First Man. It was a tough call, but A Star is Born edged out First Man for Best Picture Simpson award. First Man is a good film but not great because Ryan Gosling was miscast in the lead to play Astronaut Neil Armstrong. Gosling failed to portray the High I.Q. warrior persona of the real Neil Armstrong. In fact he seemed a little dumb at times. Determined, but dumb. We loved everything else about the film, and don’t give me that silly bitching about not waving the American flag on moon. Don’t care.
In April, with zero fanfare, John Krasinski dropped the year's most devilishly effective horror film, A Quiet Place. He also wrote and directed the movie. John Krasinski is a lucky guy: He's married to Emily Blunt, and is the first actor to win two Simpson awards for Best Actor (13 Hours and A Quiet Place).
Vox Lux – A dark fairy tale about the rise and fall and comeback of a musical star. American Pop Culture at its most raw.
Lady Gaga in A Star is Born – What a debut movie performance for the star rock singer! She was perfect and won the Best Actress Simpson award in the most competitive year since 2015 for strong female characters – from Claire Foy in First Man, to Shailene Woodley in Adrift, to Amy Adams in Vice, to Emily Blount in A Quiet Place, to Natalie Portman in Lox Lux, to Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween.
Mandy – Bold, inventive, full of kick-ass surprises, and a visual feast for the eyes.
Halloween - Young and naïve, Karen Strode scolds her mom, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) that it is needless to have a closet full of firearms for self-defense because, “The world is not a dark and evil place. It’s full of love and understanding!” HA! Queue another Michael Myers rampage. This film expertly and hilariously trolls the anti-2A Left wing gun grabbers.
The Favorite – smutty, loveless girl-on-girl porn disguised as fake British royal history during the reign of Queen Anne.
Gotti - There should be a law against movies like this that glorify violent criminals.
Notes from awards committee:
Bad movies were in abundance this year; more so than usual, as 2017 set a new record for big-budget bombs. Hooray for Hollywood. Not! From The Last Jedi to The Shape of Water to Three Billboards to Call Me by Your Name, to Get Out much of the year-end, award-season rush simply failed to move the needle above zero. We were also completely underwhelmed by Phantom Thread and The Post despite the famous Big Stars above the title. With so many disappointments, it should come as no surprise that summer attendance was the weakest in a quarter century, and US box office (inflation adjusted) was the lowest since 1995. But the poor numbers were not the worst news for many of the Hollywood Big Shots as the #MeToo movement exploded all over the internet with wave after wave of sexual harassment charges and lawsuits.
Of course, it wasn't all bad. Our most memorable films of the year – Only the Brave and I, Tonya are great films with wonderful acting, striking visual impact and emotional punch. Both movies were snubbed for Best Picture nominations and the Oscar was awarded to a dreadful movie about a strange romance between a cleaning lady and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. So it brings great pleasure to correct that injustice and award the Best Picture Simpson to Only the Brave – a stunning film about heroic white males fighting dangerous wildfires to protect their fellow American citizens. Yeah, we know – it is too Pro-American for the Marxists of Hollywood. HouseClark may be a bit Old Fashioned for the times, but at least NOT ridiculous.
We disagreed with the academy on nine out of ten Best Acting nominations and awarded the Best Actress Simpson to Margot Robbie – for her unforgettable performance of a lifetime in I, Tonya. Jason Clarke wins Best Actor award for his spot-on portrayal of Teddy Kennedy in Chappaquiddick. Clarke nails Kennedy’s entitled, cowardly, clueless behavior, and delivers a hard punch in the mouth to Kennedy’s false reputation as a noble crusader. And who would have thought an Australian could perfectly nail a Bostonian accent?
Many critics panned Blade Runner 2049 as a totally unnecessary sequel, but you can probably say that about all or most sequels. We liked the big screen visual impact and the imaginative Sci-fi story. The film was memorable – in a good way.
Death of Stalin – This satire of the Soviet Union had the best ensemble cast of the year, and we loved Jason Isaacs as Marshall Zhukov – he stole every scene he was in at a felony level.
Wizard of Lies - Bobby De Niro delivered his best performance in decades as Bernie Madoff, the Jewish Hedge Fund manager who ran the biggest fraud in Wall Street history.
Logan – the year’s best superhero movie and only one worth watching. BrutaI, powerful and sad.
The Post - Somehow, in spite of the super expensive acting payroll, the movie managed to be boring. And to top it off – the movie is based on a lie. Richard Nixon did not start the Vietnam War; he ended it with a peace treaty. How stupid can the writers/ director get?
Notes from awards committee:
There is No room for disposable and unmemorable awards bait on the HouseClark Best Picture list, I’m afraid the same goes for lame message movies. We went with the pictures that stuck with us, that inspired repeat viewings and left indelible impressions - in a good way. 2016 was a great year for grown-up movies; there were many fun surprises and great performances – all ignored by the Academy. HouseClark changed every Academy winner and all nominations save one - the great postmodern-western Hell or High Water, our Best Picture winner. In fact every movie on our list is far better than the Oscar winging Moonlight; another dreary dirge of African failure in the land of opportunity.
John Krasinski won Best Actor for his outstanding performance in 13 Hours – as a brave, determined warrior in a desperate battle against anti-American terrorists in Benghazi, Libya. The film has a lot in common with the 2001 film Black Hawk Down, bringing to the big screen another example of the failed Imperialistic foreign policy of Rome on the Potomac.
Love and Friendship is not the sort of movie we expected to really enjoy, but the wit and wisdom of the excellent screenplay was amazing. The failures by the Academy to acknowledge Kate Beckinsale’s brilliant performance as man-eater Lady Susan, and Tom Bennett's comic turn as Sir James Martin is one of the year's great crimes. Inexcusable snubs.
Passengers is a fun romance-adventure in outer space that co-stars Jennifer Lawrence, the most delightful young hellion on the big screen in some years, and winner of the Best Actress Simpson. Passengers “triggered” a dumb PC backlash with snarky comments like "masculine privilege" and "the male gaze", but the key lesson of Passengers, insofar as explained by esteemed film critic, Sonny Bunch, “Jim was totally right to wake up the hottest woman he could find on the space ship and get her to hang out with him. Not only does this save the day, she falls in love with him and forgets about her silly feminist plans in order to spend her life with a real man. Now that is Great Cinema and we need more of it.” Enough said.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a fun collision between a zombie apocalypse and the country gentry of Georgian Era England. Jane Austin’s famous tale of husband hunting is followed beat for beat and includes much of the original dialogue interspersed with impressive sword fight scenes and deadpan silliness. Excellent performances by Lily James, as Elizabeth, and Sam Riley as the redoubtable Mr. Darcy.
Nocturnal Animals has The Worst Opening Scene in movie history - First you get hit with the first 3-5 minutes of grossly obese females in full nudity dancing and throwing their flabby ass at you and then see them as flabby nude models in an art show! In about five seconds, I understood that I am light-years away from the target audience. Full Stop. Amy Adams leads an all-star cast, but this flick is another example how a film is ruined before the actors show up. It is unsalvageable.
Hacksaw Ridge – The first half of the film is boring and totally predictable. The sudden shift from army boot camp to combat in the Pacific was seismic. The battle scenes of 1945 Okinawa were some of the most intense ever seen on the big screen and saved the picture from the dustbin.
La La Land – Miscast leads (especially Ryan Gosling) with average singing and dancing skills, and NO memorable show tunes you will be humming to yourself the next day.
Arrival – Not a bad “academic” sci-fi flick, indeed, it is very watchable, but far from a “Best Picture”. The film totally lacked all the elements of great sci-fi, for example; the humor of E.T., the noirsville atmosphere of Blade Runner or Dark City, the horror of A Quiet Place, the shoot-em up fun and cool twist ending of War of the Worlds, or trippy dream sharing of Inception. So what does Arrival have new to offer the sci-fi genre? Answer: A white-board and class room for aliens to learn proper Queen’s English.
Notes from awards committee:
HouseClark remembers the 2015 movies for having so many memorable strong female characters. So many lovely, talented ladies in so many good movies with so many good roles! From Charlize Theron riding shotgun in the furious shoot-em-up Mad Max: Fury Road, to Lake Bell risking her life to protect her family in No Escape, to Jennifer Lawrence starting a small business and fighting for success in Joy, to Helen Mirren, Katie Holmes, and Antje Traue in a story about a Jewish family (Bloch-Bauer) in Nazi occupied Austria and Gustav Kimt’s masterpiece, The Woman in Gold. In a very competitive year for female performances, Best Actress award goes to Lake Bell for her physically demanding Mamma Bear portrayal in No Escape.
As we have in past years, HouseClark agreed with a few Academy Best Picture nominations, but none of their Best Actor/Actress nominations or awards. For Best Picture we selected No Escape, the most tense and exciting action – adventure film of the year. It was also the best family oriented movie. Since the film had the dumbest PC backlash of the year, it brings us special pleasure to present the Best Picture Simpson award to No Escape.
Mad Max: Fury Road. I wasn't expecting a belated entry into the Mad Max franchise to be in my list of favorite movie for 2015, but the return to the postapocalyptic desert with monster trucks and girls and homicidal maniacs was extreme, quirky and exciting. And Tom Hardy deserves his Best Actor award for escorting a scantily clad harem of leggy models (redhead Riley Keough is an interesting one; turns out she's the eldest granddaughter of Elvis!).
Spotlight - A feature film that could’ve just as easily been a stage play, or a low budget, made-for-TV movie. It is about an interesting topic, but the presentation is dull with people perusing spreadsheets. Hard to make that interesting.
Equally boring was the bloated western The Revenant.Looks good; tastes bland.
Notes from awards committee:
2014 was not the most impressive year for “great” movies. There was a surplus of message movies - prestige dramas with serious points and even more serious actors – overacting with gusto. The Imitation Game, Unbroken, Selma, Theory of Everything and Birdman: all of them aesthetically on par with a decent television movie, yet featuring few, if any, inspiring performances and no memorable images. Hell, I’d rather watch a Godzilla sequel. With so many forgettable releases, it not surprising that year-on-year box office receipts were down over half a billion dollars. We want the motion pictures that stick with us in a good way, that inspire repeat viewings and leave indelible images of high visual impact. And asking; When can I buy the DVD?
HouseClark disagrees with the Academy on all three top awards, and agreed on only two or three nominations. American Sniper, the latest anti-war, drama-adventure about war in Mess-of-potemia, drove the U.S. box office but did not scream, “Movie of the Year” to us, or most other cinema fans. We did present Brad Cooper the Simpson Best Actor award for American Sniper. The movie would have suffered without him, so we corrected a glaring Academy mistake. We liked Nightcrawler for Best Picture award; it is so much better and memorable than the boring, navel gazing Birdman. Alicia Vikander as Ava, the sexiest and most dangerous robot of the year in Ex Machina, took Best Actress award and vaulted sci-fi movies to new level. Ava has the ability to engage in human-like conversations (Turing Test), and also learned to manipulate the people that created her or think they control her. Vikander was convincing in a challenging role with a cool twist on humanoid A.I.
The rom-com Blended with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler was LOL funny, and scored the best comedy of the year.
Katie Holmes in Miss Meadows shows spirit and attitude as she declares, “I change my style for nobody.” She also shoots a few bad guys.
Chef, a movie about a food truck business operated by a professional cook and his son, put Cuban cuisine on the American table.
The Raid 2 – a kick-ass martial arts action movie set in Jakarta, Indonesia.
John Wick – One internet guttersnipe quipped, “Just because Reeves stopped shaving doesn’t mean he can act.” To which we reply: But he sure can handle a pistol like a pro. Reeves is one of the few professional actors who has learned basic & advanced weapons skills and has trained with World Champion shooter, Taran Butler. Outside the movie biz he also spends range time to enjoy his own recreational shooting. He can actually do those quick mag changes you see on screen. When you see him manipulating weapons on screen, that's practiced skill, not acting. Two scenes stand out in the movie – Wick ensures each foe is shot once before getting a second round; and we also see him keep eyes on the threat as he reloads. Those are tactical skills taught in every defensive pistol course. (Footnote in 2022) Keanu Reeves is the last actor in Hollywood you have to worry about mishandling a firearm and shooting his camera director.
No one was more annoying than Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas in the terrible, cringey, not funny rom-com, And So It Goes. Another not funny comedy was Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight. You know something's wrong when you see another pervy Geezer – Gidget romance, but what do you expect from Woody Allen?
Our biggest letdown was Interstellar. We watched it on the big screen in a sold out theatre. Here’s the fatal flaw of the movie – It took FOREVER to get our hero off the Kansas corn farm and into the rocket to save the world. I was surrounded by people dozing off – and that’s never a good sign in a big budget adventure film. It was all over for me when the crew made it through the Worm Hole only to get confused about how to select the new planet Earth. I am pretty sure that would have been settled by the brain trust on Earth before blast off. What a joke!
Notes from awards committee:
Again we veered far away from Academy choices, with only the high regard for Gravity being the common denominator. But only at House Clark did Gravity & Sandra Bullock make it to the winners circle with both Best Picture and Best Actress awards. Two very well deserved honors that correct two of the poorest Academy choices of the decade. Gravity is a rare bird – the film exceeded the hype. The ingredients are there – big name star power, a space adventure, and a famed young director behind the camera with a flair for visual impact. Also I confess to be a sucker for believable, beautifully made, white-knuckle suspense epics about brave people in the middle of a hostile environment battling overwhelming odds to survive, but rarely have I seen one that can hold an audience hostage like Gravity. Every element is so perfect.
Many of my favorite movies of the year were comedies. Good, funny comedies. James Gandolfini was amazing in the best rom-com in years in Enough Said, and earned the Best Actor Simpson award. I recall several good belly laughs watching We’re the Millers, a fun crime-comedy about a fake family smuggling drugs from Mexico in an RV. Bad Words was the most offbeat comedy of the year, and the scenes with Jason Bateman & Kathryn Hahn are comedy gold.
The low budget, independent film Coherence once again proves that a clever script and solid acting (by an unknown cast) can trump Big Budget, Big Star power, especially in the horror genre.
While the dreary, vicious 12 Years a Slave badly overplays the “Race Card”, the sports movie 42 provides a positive tale of morality and social change during the integration of Major League Baseball in the late 1940’s. It was a joy to watch the scenes with Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) work together with intelligence and courage and devoid of race-hustling. Another solid, honest grown-up film shamefully snubbed by the Academy.
We saw a few formulaic blockbusters this year, and their appeal to their core target audience — wide-eyed teenagers — is perfectly understandable. Pacific Rim stood out for us as the rare one that was just plain fun, and awoke our inner teen.
Captain Philips starring Mr. Hollywood, Tom Hanks, is a hugely overrated movie that gave the big screen treatment to a single, insignificant pirate event and oddly sympathies with the criminals. It is a lame PC melodrama for the so-called modern audience that studiously avoids the more fundamental questions about dealing with high seas piracy. The weak attempts of create some tense drama and excitement is laughable – all I saw was an absurd spectacle of multiple billion-dollar US navy warships and SEAL teams doing battle with four pirates in a little dinghy. There is no substance here. BTW You Tube has several interesting videos about proven, simple, and cost effective methods to combat piracy: hire a handful of mercs with high-power rifles and open fire at the pirate boats at long range. Don’t even have to shoot the pirates – just fire a few warning shots across the bow. If they still threaten to board, aim for the outboard engines and gas tanks. It is 100% effective and cheap and approved by maritime law and insurance.
The Academy darling of the year, Twelve years a Slave, was panned by Armund White, the esteemed, black movie critic and three time chairman of the New York Film Critic Circle, as “downbeat and anti-American torture porn that overplays the race card.” Enough said.
I wanted to like The Wolf of Wall Street, but the world-record 571 F-bombs ruined it for me. And American Hustle was just plain boring and too talky.
The Counselor – immoral, disgusting crime tale with a fancy, philosophical dialogue that aimed for profound but instead screamed Fake.
Notes from awards committee:
Zero Dark 30 was by far the best motion picture of the year. Unfortunately ZD 30 was snubbed by the academy for the top honors due to a clueless PC controversy. This is an intelligent, well-constructed film for grown-ups. And we award ZD 30 a well-deserved Best Picture Simpson, and Jessica Chastain wins the Best Actress Simpson award. But make no mistake; as the supreme CIA Tribute nothing beats ZD30
For best actor Tommy Lee Jones starred as Douglas MacArthur in Emperor, a forgotten film about the American occupation of Japan, which BTW is the only foreign policy success by State and Defense departments in the last seventy years. Tommy Lee Jones does an excellent portrayal of Douglas MacArthur, copying the style and mannerisms that we have seen in 1940s news reels. He could have easily overacted the part, but stayed low key and perfect.
Gambit - a very funny crime–comedy with a whip-smart Coen brother’s screenplay and a stellar cast.
Sightseers is a perfect example of offbeat, dark British humor. We loved it. Not as bold and imaginative as Kill List, but certainly another score for ace British indie director, Ben Wheatley. And congratulations, Ben, for winning the “WTF did I just see” Simpson award two years in a row.
The Impossible is a well-crafted adventure/ disaster film based on a true story about a family vacation rudely interrupted by a series of tidal waves. Naomi Watts received well deserved praise for her role as the strong mother, and young actor Tom Holland was a pleasant surprise and carried a large part of the film. A stark reminder of the indifferent power of Mother Nature.
Room 237 – Best documentary in the past several years featuring a series of stunning visual montages and an offbeat, fun journey into the land of conspiracy theories.
Skyfall was the weakest JB movie to date. When I started rooting for the assassins to kill off M, I knew the fun had gone out of the franchise.
Silver Linings Playbook failed my 15 minute rule – if a “comedy” cannot start off with a few good laughs from the beginning, forget it. My wife wanted to see it, so we plodded (painfully) ahead. The flick was a jumbled mess and never figured out what it wanted to be: comedy, quirky love story, Cuckoo’s Nest, family healing story, concern for the mentally or emotionally ill? One thing for sure – it is not funny. And mixing mental illness with a dancing contest also reeks of Oscar bait.
Lincoln - Daniel Day-Lewis portrayal of Honest Abe is flawed by the fact that the sixteenth President’s screen presentation has now reached mythic proportions; we are not seeing a real person but a deity. Also annoying were the too-modern, token black actors, and the film does not play to Spielberg’s main strengths – that being his total grasp of capturing dynamic movement on film. Instead we get talk, talk, and more talk about the 13th Amendment, with not even a dash of suspense or emotional punch.
Argo brought back bad memories of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, and tried to spin a real life shit-show into a happy story. I am not buying it.
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.
Notes from awards committee:
The jaw dropping strangeness of the 2011 Academy Awards was a big reason why we wanted to do the Simpson Awards in the first place. So it goes without saying that every winner of the Big 3 Academy Awards was changed for the 2011 Simpson Awards. In fact, not one of the Oscar winners was even nominated for a Simpson. We liked a couple of Academy nominations, namely Inception and True Grit, but only one film, Secretariat, a behind-the-scene look at the GOAT Triple Crown winner, screamed "Best Movie of the Year!" Unfortunately that excellent film was snubbed by the Academy. We are proud to correct that mistake with a Simpson Best Picture award for Secretariat, as well as, the Best Actress award for the star – Diane Lane, in the performance of her life. She was not only a strong female character, but also a very classy lady with brains and plenty of heart. John Malkovich was also terrific in Secretariat, but was edged out by Leo Di Caprio in a photo finish. Leo starred in Inception; the sci-fi, crime movie would not have worked without him. He centered a strong cast and was brilliant in the bittersweet, tragic romance story that was surprising and touching.
We were slow to figure out this Academy gang, but gradually came to the unfortunate conclusion that the pseudo-cool, hipsters of the Academy had shifted to a decidedly anti-American attitude. Any film that celebrates American Greatness, such as Secretariat, is shunned. Why? Blame the Iraq War, blame Obama, blame Reverend Wright, but the social climate shifted to negativity, sneering satire, or ridiculous parody on the topic of the Mother Country. So now we are faced with the sad but true fact that the Oscar awards have lost their meaning and validity. It is now time to correct that mistake.
Winter’s Bone – A teenage girl, well played by Jennifer Lawrence with quiet determination and strength, struggles to save her family. Tight emotional substance with sympathetic insight for poor, rural Americans.
Heist film The Town stars Ben Affleck in his role as the head of a team of bank robbers hailing from Charlestown, Massachusetts. Sure, we have all seen plenty of gunplay in cops and robbers movies, but nothing was more impressive and realistic than one of the final handgun exchanges in The Town that took place with no more than 15 feet between combatants. While both characters dumped an entire magazine, they only managed about a 50 percent hit rate. Most movie directors utilize “magic bullets” that only hit what needs to be hit and miss what doesn’t. However in real life people miss close-range targets like this all the time, especially when those close-range targets are shooting back!
Disappointments of the year
Most over hyped movie was The Social Network, a Facebook origin story focused on tech nerd, Mark Zuckerberg and how he zucked his partners. Not a bad subject for a low budget made-for-TV feature, but the big screen treatment was a waste. I watched it on an airline mini-screen during a cross country flight and never once did it occur to me – “this one should be enjoyed on the big screen.”
Likewise for the overrated (Oscar winner) The King’s Speech, yet another mediocre, pity-party film with minimal visual impact and a boring story about a British Royal overcoming a speech handicap. A talented troupe of actors made it a watchable movie, but not the year’s best film effort. In fact neither of the two above mentioned Academy darlings made our cut-off for Best Picture nominations.
I had high hopes for The Tourist, but the beautiful, romantic settings of Venice and Paris could not save this drama-crime-romance flick. There were zero sparks between the two big stars – Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Then again, when it comes to letting the designer gowns, glam shots and make-up do the acting and work of character building, Angelina Jolie is your girl.
Black Swan is a psychological horror movie that just happens to be set in the world of ballet. This film went off the rails. Forget Black Swan; Inception is the real fever dream movie of all time.