It’s awards season, and it’s time for the brand new Movie Bummys to make their debut. The Movie Bummys are a prestigious new award given to movies, actors, actresses, and directors for outstanding achievement in their respective fields. The Bummys are highly coveted, and campaigning this year has reached a new level of nastiness as everyone jockeys for a historic position in the Bummy record books. People from Michelle Williams’s camp have accused Meryl Streep of “not actually being British,” which Streep’s camp has vigorously denied. Rooney Mara’s people slipped a quote into the New York Times yesterday claiming that Viola Davis is white, but Viola Davis’s people responded, “We’re 98% sure that’s not true.” George Clooney and Brad Pitt have been overheard arguing over whose significant other is more attractive (George Clooney eventually conceded, but only out of fear that Angelina would drink his blood or something).
I love the Oscars, but honestly, they don’t mean anything outside the industry. What matters is getting good movies seen, so I want to highlight movies that I loved that came out this year. Ideally, I would have seen every movie that came out (actually, that doesn’t sound too ideal- no one wants to be have to see Zookeeper), but I’ll make do with what I have seen. The last one in each category is my pick for the best. Also, I’ll throw in my predictions for who’s gonna win tonight.
Best Supporting Actress:
Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life: The Academy nominated her for The Help, and she’s flashy and fun in that movie, but her full-of-life mother in Malick’s masterpiece was her best performance of the year.
Mélanie Laurent, Beginners: She’s part of what makes this movie more than just a quirky vehicle for Christopher Plummer. Half of this movie is about Ewan McGregor’s Oliver’s newfound relationship with Laurent’s Anna, and she makes it romantic and real.
Winner — Octavia Spencer, The Help: No actress showed the range in a supporting performance that Spencer showed. If Aibileen was the heart of The Help, then Spencer was the soul. The humor and the gravity behind her performance solidified The Help as a standout movie of the year in terms of great casts.
Key performances I haven’t seen: Berenice Bejo, The Artist; Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Carey Mulligan, Drive, Shame; Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Best Supporting Actor:
George Clooney, The Ides of March: Clooney’s charming, idealistic politician has condemning secrets, and Clooney’s performance is perhaps more convincing than any American citizen would like to admit.
Jonah Hill, Moneyball: Jonah Hill is usually annoying (outside of Superbad), but he plays it straight here for a homerun (goodness I hate sports puns, don’t you?). It’s a natural performance, lending brilliant support to Brad Pitt.
Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life: Speaking of Pitt, his stern father in this movie shows his versatility and natural ability.
Winner — Christopher Plummer, Beginners: Plummer seems poised to run away with the Oscar tonight, and you won’t hear me complaining. His out-and-proud father walks the line between finally accepting who you thought you always were and coming to terms with your impending death.
Key performances I haven’t seen: Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn; Albert Brooks, Drive; Armie Hammer, J. Edgar; John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene; Nick Nolte, Warrior; Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Winner — Viola Davis, The Help: I didn’t see another performance last year that was even worth nominating, but even if I have, I doubt they would have taken Davis’s place at the top of this list. Hers was the best performance in 2011 by any actor, not just the female ones. The scene where she confronts Bryce Dallas Howard’s Hilly is the best-performed scene I’ve seen in a long time.
Key performances I haven’t seen: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia; Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene; Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin; Charlize Theron, Young Adult; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Demian Bichir, A Better Life: If this doesn’t get Bichir some bigger, meatier roles, I don’t know what else will. Bichir plays a Mexican father trying to raise his son in America. He doesn’t have any papers, and the desperation Bichir conveys is enough to make even the staunchest Republican empathize with him.
Michael Fassbender, X-Men: First Class: A great actor in a comic book movie? Before Heath Ledger and Robert Downy, Jr., no one would have heard of it. But Fassbender continues the tradition, giving a conflicted performance as Erik Lensherr (aka Magneto).
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March: Gosling has been a great actor ever since he got into movies, and he keeps getting better. He goes from idealistic politico to conniving desperation, lending equal weight and intensity to both ends.
Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Someone has to give him credit at some point for his string of great, motion-capture performances. His ape, Ceasar, is believable as a character precisely because Serkis is the performer behind the computer-generated mask.
Winner — Brad Pitt, Moneyball: The movie star performance of the year. Pitt and Clooney may be the only true, old-school stars left at their age who can actually act. Pitt’s performance is the peak of a great career. See: his scene at the end, driving in the car, listening to his daughter sing. Hold those tears in.
Key performances I haven’t seen: George Clooney, The Descendants; Leonardo Dicaprio, J. Edgar; Jean Dujardin, The Artist; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50; Ryan Gosling, Drive; Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Winner — Rango: This is the best movie of the year, because it was the most inventive and the most entertaining. It always left me guessing, even as it played with cliches. Can’t wait to see it again.
Key movies I haven’t seen: 50/50; The Artist; The Descendants; Drive; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Hugo; J. Edgar; Martha Marcy May Marlene; Meek’s Cutoff; Melancholia; A Separation; Take Shelter; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; War Horse; Warrior; We Need to Talk About Kevin
Animated Short Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Live Action Short Film: Raju
Documentary Short: Incident in New Baghdad
Sound Editing: Hugo
Sound Mixing: Hugo
Costume Design: Hugo
Makeup: Albert Nobbs
Art Direction: Hugo
Original Song: “Man or Muppet”, The Muppets
Original Score: War Horse
Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Film Editing: Hugo
Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball
Original Screenplay: Margin Call
Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Animated Feature: Rango
Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Actress: Viola Davis, The Help
Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Directing: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Picture: The Artist