oscar race 2012

How to Think Positive About This Year’s Underwhelming Oscar Nominees

Smile! Photo: The Weinstein Company

The Best Picture nominees were announced this week, and you seem a little … unenthused. Are you just not feeling it for The Artist? Did you find The Descendants, Moneyball, and Hugo to all be simply “fine” and not superlative? Are you offended by the shamelessly effective tear-jerking of The Help, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and War Horse? Well, since these are the nominated films we’re all stuck with for the next month until the Oscarcast, Vulture wants to help you learn how to force yourself to be enthusiastic about them! Here are several upbeat talking points for each of the films nominated for Best Picture. Repeat them every morning for a simple pick-me-up!

The Descendants
- Any movie that uses Judy Greer well deserves all the awards!
- We appreciate Alexander Payne’s continued insistence on dressing movie stars in normal-people clothes and casting ordinary-looking, age-appropriate women as their spouses!
- Why not set more movies in Hawaii, the birthplace of our president? Such a good setting!
- George Clooney ran around in flip-flops!
- Alexander Payne made Election! Give him a belated Oscar just for that!

The Artist
- It’s fun to watch smiling people tap-dance!
- A black-and-white movie might win Best Picture, and that’s kind of novel!
- We have to support Uggie in what may be his swan song!
- It’s a well-made love letter to a bygone era of Hollywood!
- How kind of them to let Malcolm McDowell come in and randomly appear in about 30 seconds of the movie! Keeps him off the streets!

War Horse
- All those blue eyes are so pretty!
- Who doesn’t like Emily Watson?
- This movie is kinda like The Incredible Journey, your favorite movie from when you were 7!
- Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch are in the film! Women with Tumblrs love Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch!

- It is good to see a movie where Brad Pitt lets himself be handsome!
- It’s a sports movie that plays well even if you know nothing about sports!
- Bennett Miller was working from an Aaron Sorkin screenplay and he resisted the impulse to have everyone talk at top speed while walking! Instead, the characters sat around and actually paused a lot between sentences! Commendable!
- Remember that scene with Robin Wright as Pitt’s ex-wife and Spike Jonze as her new husband? How marvelously, uncomfortably funny was that scene?
- Because of Moneyball, Jonah Hill is promising to make more good movies and less movies like The Sitter!

The Tree of Life
- Dinosaurs!
- That cinematography, so beautiful!
- All the kids were so good!
- This movie made Sean Penn angry, and doesn’t that kind of make you fonder of the movie?

Midnight in Paris
- This movie has Marion Cotillard, and any movie is improved when Marion Cotillard is onscreen! Even Nine!
- Paris is the best city!
- It would be nice to reward Woody Allen for the biggest hit of his career!
- Corey Stoll as Hemingway: so funny and handsome! (Try to concentrate on him and forget that Adrien Brody was also in this movie!)

- Scorsese uses 3-D like a master, employing depth of field on those incredible sets to make us feel like we’re really in that train station!
- Other 3-D movies that have been nominated for Best Picture include Up and Toy Story 3, and you liked both of those!
- That moment where Sacha Baron Cohen slowly leans into the camera and says, “It seems Maximilian doesn’t like the cut of your jib!” … well, we support campy quotability in our Best Picture nominees!
- The extended Melies flashback is really terrific!
- This movie had a robot!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
- That scene where Sandra Bullock fights with her kid after he tells her, “I wish you were the one that died” … well acted!
- Max von Sydow has no dialogue, and you liked that in The Artist!
- Jeffrey Wright is so good in that scene in his office where he talks about his father. So good!
- Casting former Jeopardy winners (like young star Thomas Horn) is a good thing! It brings us closer to the Ken Jennings/Watson buddy-cop comedy of our dreams!

The Help
- Even if its racial politics are iffy, this is a movie with several great performances from terrific actresses, so it can’t be that bad!
- If you squint, this movie feels a little bit like Steel Magnolias!
- Isn’t it kind of great that the biggest hit of all these nominees is the period drama starring women?
- Viola Davis!
- More Best Picture nominees ought to prominently feature characters eating shit pies!

How to Think Positive About This Year’s Underwhelming Oscar Nominees