The Nominations for Best Picture are:
MOON - Directed by Duncan Jones - Starring Sam Rockwell. This is one of the best films to come out of the sci-fi genre in decades. An Instant classic.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS - Directed by Quentin Tarantino - Starring Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender, and Eli Roth. In the closing moments of this film, Aldo says "This might just be my masterpiece". I can only assume that Tarantino is speaking through him. This is probably his best film. Trailers would have you believe this is some sort of action vehicle for Brad Pitt, but it's hardly that. It's often slow (but in a good way), full of subtitles, and focuses a great deal on foreign film history. An intensely enjoyable film.
A SINGLE MAN - Directed by Tom Ford - Starring Colin Firth, Matthew Goode, and Julianne Moore.
A SINGLE MAN was more than just a mild surprise. This is Tom Ford's debut as a director and he created a stylish, visually impressive film and though a lot of the credit must go to Firth himself, Ford deserves some credit for capturing his career-defining performance. This film is about love, loss, grief, and life itself and it treats all of these things with the great respect they deserve.
STAR TREK - Directed by J.J. Abrams - Starring Chris Pine, Leonard Nimoy, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, and Karl Urban.
For all of its fanfare, I still contend that STAR TREK is under appreciated. Most film snobs won't give it any respect because it's a fun, big-budget film, but it's so much more to me. I already went over this in the Best Writing category, but the way this story is told and its relation to the original Star Trek timeline is huge. I was never a Trekkie, but this film made a Star Trek fan out of me, just because I love how its universe works. Abrams used its budget well and made a well-crafted film and despite the bitching/moaning about his lens flares, they too have their purpose. This was one of those rare cinema experiences that transcends the viewing. I will always remember it in a similar vein to how I remember first seeing Jurassic Park as a child.
THE WHITE RIBBON - Directed by Michael Haneke.
This is probably Haneke's best film to date. It's just done so well and shot so beautifully, even though the subject matter is grim. There is an element of mystery in the film, but that is overshadowed by Haneke's true purpose; to make a film about the generation that would grow up to serve Hitler and the upbringing that lead them to such a fate. Powerful filmmaking to say the least.
THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX - Directed by Wes Anderson - Starring George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Defoe and Michael Gambon.
Anderson certainly has his detractors, but I'm not one of them. This guy consistently puts out great films. They are all different, but they each possess his signature. Nobody makes film's like him. When I heard this was being made into a movie, I thought "that's cool", but I just assumed it would be a straight adaptation from the Roald Dahl classic. In retrospect, I can only assume that such a film would have been a little bland. Anderson's take is funny, poignant, and visually impressive. Despite its seemingly light material, the film carries with it some heavy themes about life, aging and devotion to family and community. With each repeated viewing I come to understand more about the film. Those are the films I like most.
FISH TANK - Directed by Andrea Arnold - Starring Katie Jarvis and Michael Fassbender.
AN EDUCATION was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year. It shares with FISH TANK numerous themes and plot points, but it doesn't even approach the quality Arnold's film. Jarvis gives a terrific debut performance and Fassbender is at his best. Their chemistry is intense, which certainly contributes to the uneasy feeling I felt throughout the film. This is a heavy film with so much tension that it spills out on screen throughout. Behind each character is something raw and animalistic that is a rare sight in cinema. Very bold filmmaking reminiscent of British Kitchen Sink dramas of the new wave. In a fight between FISH TANK and AN EDUCATION, FISH TANK would beat AN EDUCATION to a bloody pulp.
UP - Directed by Pete Docter - Starring Ed Asner
Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of Pixar films. I liked FINDING NEMO and I really liked this. There was definitely an uphill battle for this film to win me over; it most certainly did that. Anyone who's seen the film knows why it's great. Whimsical isn't a word I use too often, but I'd use it to describe this surprisingly emotional film. Pixar's best film.
A PROPHET - Directed by Jacques Audiard - Starring Tahar Rahim.
I wasn't sure how much I was liking A PROPHET while watching it, but once it was over I knew I'd seen something special. You have to be patient, like Malik, biding your time until everything finally comes together. The plot takes its time and keeps you waiting and therein lies the film's strength. The closing scene of the film is one of the best endings I've ever had the privilege of viewing.
THE HANGOVER - Directed by Todd Phillips - Starring Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis.
That's right, THE HANGOVER completes my list. I don't need a whole lot of justification for this, just that it's one of the funniest films of the decade. It would be easy to make a film about a night in Vegas where four friends go nuts, but this film is about the day after. There is such easy material in the night before, but THE HANGOVER makes comedy gold out of the mystery of the following day when three of the four friends are waking up out of the fog. A comedy classic.
And the Golden Schmoo for Best Picture goes to - All of the films are in order from first to tenth place - MOON wins.