Breaking Down the “Best” Pictures at This Year’s Oscars

This year’s Oscars are not going to be exciting. That might be like telling you that tonight is going to be dark, but trust me, it’s going to be worse than usual. I can’t remember if the Oscars have been called the “gay Superbowl” (because of the fashion and hot people) or the “nerd Superbowl” (because of the movies ), but in either case, it is an event I look forward to every year.

But this time around? Not so much. The slate of nominees this year for the most part ranges from tame at best to dull at worst, and the safest of safe hosts, Billy Crystal, likely won’t be creating any controversies to be talked about the next day.

I want to quickly break down the nine best picture nominees this year, and you might get some idea of why the ceremony isn’t exactly going to be riveting. Ever since they opened up the nominations to up to ten films, there have always been one or two that elicit a “really?” This year, there are several, if not the majority. Let’s take a look.

1. The Artist


We’ll start with the best, and I’ll say up front that The Artist’s slew of nominations are perhaps the most deserved out of the group. Yes, it’s kind of a gimmick, being a silent film in a modern era, and many are dismissing it as such. But the performances, the filming and the story make for undeniably one of the best quality, most entertaining films of the year. That said, other than those who have gone out of their way to find the one theater near them playing the movie, not that many people have seen it. And if it does win the night, I think it will have been one of the least watched movie to do so, as it’s only grossed $28M to date.

2. Hugo


Here we have example number two that Hollywood is absolutely in love with itself. The Artist is entirely about the medium of film, and it creates an effective story around that. Hugo is all about film as well (though you wouldn’t know that from the preview at all), and it’s even more of a blatant love letter. But I know very few people that have seen the film and have actually been wowed by it. Yes, the moments that show the creation of old films by a former director are well done, but the overall story is awkward, and it is not the “vindication of 3D” that everyone says it is, as you stop noticing the format about ten minutes in. If this was directed by anyone but Martin Scorsese, there is no way you would see it here, and with 11 nominations no less. It’s pure politics.

3. The Help


If we were cutting the Best Picture list down to the usual five, I would have no problem giving The Help a spot. It’s a rare case of box office success meeting critical praise, and it really is a powerful story about racism in the South during the civil rights era. And the best part is that it wasn’t necessarily trying to be Oscar bait, it just so happened to be good enough to be recognized all on its own. The film and its cast deserve the nominations, one of only a few films that does so this year.

4. The Descendants


One of the more perplexing picks this year for Best Picture has to be The Descendants, starring George Clooney as a slightly more emotionally confused version of himself, which apparently warrants him a Best Actor nomination to boot. He has to deal with his two daughters when his wife falls into a coma, and the revelation that she’s cheated on him. Despite the heavy subject matter, it’s a film that lacks any sort of impact whatsoever, and I forgot it practically the moment the credits rolled. It’s like a quirky indie comedy with heart, minus the comedy, and minus half of the heart as well.