Every year my goal is to watch all of the Best Picture Nominees for the Oscar. This year I met this goal on Sunday night, a week before the Oscars, on a red-eye flight from San Jose to JFK Airport in New York by watching Tree of Life on my iPad. 

There were some very good movies this year and surprisingly some bad ones as well. Here is my take on the 9 nominated films in the order I watched them.


Money Ball

I enjoyed this movie a lot. Part of that might be because it was about my local team the Oakland As. Great performance by Brad Pitt and and solid performance by Jonah Hill. Good solid A.

The Descendants

This was a slice of life movie about a slice of life I don’t really care about. There were A LOT of scenes that were just 30-50 seconds of George Clooney’s face, looking sad, looking pensive, looking lost, no dialog, just George’s face. The first one went a bit too long and caught my attention, I was then distracted throughout the entire movie whenever it happened again and as I said it happened a LOT. Besides this the acting was all good, but as I said I found the story not that interesting. I am very surprised by all the accolades this movie has received. C+

The Help

Very well done movie, I think it was the best of the bunch. Good story, good acting, not much more to say. A+

The Artist

This movie pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t think I would enjoy a silent movie, but after 10 minutes I didn’t even notice that it was a silent movie. The story and acting was so well done it kept me engaged and sucked me in, the sign of a good movie.

This was the first of the movies that I watched this year that relied a little too much on coincidence in the plot. Coincidence is a common plot device, but I felt it was a little overdone in this movie. In spite of that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. While a good movie I believe that a lot of the awards it has been receiving is do to the novelty and not because it truely is the best picture. Solid A

Midnight in Paris

I knew nothing about this movie when I went to see it except that it was directed by Woody Allen and I was surprised that it wasn’t a typical Woody Allen movie. I enjoyed the references and portrayals of the great historic writers that I recognized, but I felt stupid about the ones I didn’t. That part is typical Woody Allen, throwing in references that only a small part of the audience is going to get. I really enjoyed this movie at the time I watched it, and I have warm fuzzy feelings about it, but it didn’t stick with me. Now 4 weeks later I couldn’t tell you how the movie ended, again typical of Woody Allen movies. So perhaps it was more of a Woody Allen movie that I initially thought. A-


I put off this movie because it just didn’t sound that interesting to me, but it was much more interesting than I anticipated. The best part of this movie were the elaborate sets and scenes. It is a visually rich movie and even though I did not see it in 3D, I really enjoyed the visuals. This was the 2nd movie of the group that I felt relied too much on coincidence. There was not just 1 or 2 coincidences there were dozens and I felt it detracted from the overall story. I was entertained, but felt a little cheated at the end. B+

War Horse

Another visually rich movie with way too many coincidences. Less than Hugo, but enough to be unbelievable. I enoyed the time period this movie was set in and the portrayal of World War I life and times. I recall another movie I’ve seen from that time period and I found that aspect of the movie fascinating. I was a little disappointed by how the horse seemed to be more intelligent than a normal horse, like it could read the minds of the people around it. This is probably a result of interpreting the book, which was written from the horse’s perspective, so it’s understandable.  An entertaining film. B+

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

This was another movie I put off because I really had not interest in a movie about 9/11. But while integral to the story, it really wasn’t a movie about 9/11. The boy in this movie was fantastic, and really carried the movie. Like some of the other movies, this one had a little too much coincidences. A good movie, but not a great movie. B+

Tree of Life

I put this one off until the end because I had heard so many negative reviews about it from friends. People who said they got up and walked out of the movie. After seeing it I can certainly understand wanting to walk out. You could cut out the first 20 minutes of this movie and the last 10 and make this into a fairly decent movie, but those 30 minutes ruined it. The visuals were stunning, deep space, churning water, volcanic lava, etc. but they did absolutely nothing to move the movie along. I’m sure the director thought there was some deep meaning in these scenes, but there wasn’t, he was just full of himself and too proud to cut it out. I’m guessing the Academy members that selected this didn’t understand it either and just didn’t want to admit they weren’t smart enough to figure it out so they decided it must be brilliant. Either that or the director sent them all free hookers and blow. The story jumped around a little too much for my taste, and the parts with Sean Penn could also have been cut from the movie without losing much. By far the worst movie I’ve seen in the last 2-3 years. D


So there it is, my take on this year’s Best Picture Nominees. I think the Help should win, but suspect that The Artist will win because of it’s novelty.