Category Archives: Oscars

The Oscars: Who Will Win

Best Picture

Who knew that Ben Affleck’s Oscar snub would be the best possible thing for him? Ever since his name was not included on the Best Director list, Hollywood has rallied around “Argo.” Lately, I have been rooting for Affleck, because I love a good redemption story. However, the fact that Affleck still doesn’t have an Oscar isn’t as bad, considering Scorsese just won his first one less than a decade ago. Affleck is still young and he has a long career of Oscar nominations ahead of him. But that won’t stop the Academy. “Argo” is a good, old-fashioned thriller about Hollywood. And if Hollywood loves anything, it’s congratulating themselves. Expect “Argo” to be the first film since “Driving Miss Daisy” to win Best Picture without a nominated director to accompany it.

Best Director

“Life of Pi” was lauded nearly across the board for its visuals. “Amour” is a critical favorite and Haneke could score a surprise win from that. But I doubt it. Spielberg certainly doesn’t need any more praise heaped his way. However, that won’t stop Spielberg from winning this year for bringing an era to life with precise detail. This will be Steven Spielberg‘s third win for Best Director. I don’t think it will be long until he gets a fourth and ties John Ford’s record.

Best Actor

There are some fine performances in this category. Any other year, Bradley Cooper would have walked away with the award. But when Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated, no one can compete.

Best Actress

This race started off as a duel between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. For a while, I thought Chastain had it in the bag for her challenging and commanding performance in Zero Dark Thirty. There is a slight chance that veteran Emmanuelle Riva could score a late-in-life sympathy vote. This race though seems like a clear victory for Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence may only be 22, but she is one of the most likable stars working today and her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” was so good that she even took Robert De Niro to school.

Best Supporting Actor: 

Tommy Lee Jones held his own against Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” which is no easy task. Alan Arkin was a joy to watch in “Argo” as always, but he just won a few years ago. Seeing Christoph Waltz win again would be great, not only because he’s a terrific actor but also because that guy can rock any stage he steps on. This is the toughest race to call, but I think I’m going to have to settle with Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook.” There’s nothing wrong with honoring a good, heartfelt comeback.

Best Supporting Actress

No analysis needed. Anne Hathaway (for “Les Mis,” not “The Dark Knight Rises,” in case you were confused) has this one in the bag.

And the rest:

Best Original Screenplay: Zero Dark Thirty
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Best Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph
Best Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man
Best Foreign Film: Amour
Best Editing: Argo
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Best Costume Design: Les Miserables
Best Production Design: Les Miserables
Best Makeup: Les Miserables
Best Original Score: Lincoln
Best Original Song: Skyfall
Best Sound Mixing: Les Miserables
Best Sound Editing: Argo
Best Documentary Short: Open Heart
Best Animated Short: The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare
Best Live Action Short: Asad

Oscars 2013: Who Should Win

Best Picture: Django Unchained

I probably don’t need to bring this one up again. But this is my blog so back off! Anyway, Quentin Tarantino continues to push the form forward more and more as others try to resist change. More than anything, “Django” was the most interesting, and often the funniest, film of the year. By embracing inaccuracy, it provided a more accurate satire of backwards southern nobility than any serious historical film could ever dream up. The fact that “Django” both balanced a somber condemnation of slavery with farce on the level of “Blazing Saddles” is still a marvel to me. As the Academy voters grow younger and younger, one day they will embrace Tarantino for the master he is, and his films for the masterpieces they almost always are.

Best Director: Michael Haneke (Amour)

Maybe “Amour” went on a little too long for my taste, but I cannot overlook Haneke’s haunting work. Sometimes, the emotions behind “Amour” are too overwhelming for me to even think about. Haneke presented aging and old age in such a removed way that it actually draws us closer to the characters. By stepping back, all of the small details and actions are allowed to unfold.

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoneix (The Master)

Phoenix was the unsung hero of cinema in 2012. After his surreal performance art hoax that culminated in the documentary “I’m Not Here,” Phoenix shows why he is secretly one of the best actors working today, in a performance that could define his career. As self-destructive outsider Freddie Quell, Phoenix had to take on the task of both being the observer and the weirdest guy in the room. He roams around with slouched posture, almost resembling an alcoholic caveman. And in a film so dark and difficult to interpret, he provided some very overlooked comic relief. If you didn’t laugh at that fart, then you’re not human.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

As Tiffany, Jennifer Lawrence is masterful at controlling the character’s turbulent mood swings, and channeling all of the right emotion at the right time. That is why the most unforgettable scenes of this film, including one that takes place outside a movie theater on Halloween, and one in which Lawrence basically gets to dig in to Robert De Niro, revolve around her outstanding performance.

Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)

I was tempted to put Christoph Waltz here for his eloquence and being able to basically be a living embodiment of Tarantino dialogue. However, it wasn’t until I watched Robert De Niro’s return to form in “Silver Linings Playbook” that I realized how much I missed his presence on screen. Unlike his classic performances in “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” De Niro, while tough, actually provides some of the film’s most moving moments. While he manages to steal the spotlight from the two fantastic leads every time he asks that someone hold the remote, he never tries to dominate the screen. In that, he does what every supporting actor should. Only someone with as much experience and talent as De Niro could strike that perfect balance.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)

While I never reviewed, anyone who knows me knows that I wasn’t necessarily taken by “Les Miserables.” However, I have just as many good things to say about Hathaway’s performance as I do bad things to say about the film.* In just one scene, she combined acting and singing in a way I’ve never seen before. My biggest complaint about musicals is that big musical numbers can often distract from the emotional core of a scene. However, this was not the case for Hathaway’s big solo. After she finished singing “I Dreamed A Dream,” my only thought was, “Anne Hathaway just won the Oscar.” I stand by that thought.

Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained

Yes, I’m giving out more “Django” love. Tarantino really does belong near the top of the greatest screenwriters of all time. Some would think that he would have never been able to top his early career Oscar win. However, he keeps getting more and more ambitious with every film. Besides twisting history, “Django Unchained” hits a perfect balance of hilarious absurdity and dead serious historical social commentary. Plus, now that Tarantino has figured out how to write for Christoph Waltz, he was able to create one of his best characters ever. Some scenes might feel like they go on for so long, but I always felt like I could keep watching and listening. Also, Quentin is a man so gifted and knowledgeable that he knows how to create violence that is sometimes silly and other times realistic (listen to his recent Fresh Air interview. He also talks about his mom dating Wilt Chamberlain. Seriously.).

Best Adapated Screenplay: Argo

I was tempted to give this one to “Silver Linings Playbook.” But as well written as that one is, I think it is overwhelmingly a triumph of acting. While “Argo” mostly could have done without the backstory of Mendez’s son (“I just wanna go home and read to my son!” should be a new movie trope), the rest of the film is a classic thriller. The Hollywood scenes are fun and self-referential, but the film also splits equal time with the seriousness of the hostage crisis. “Argo” serves as a study of the fascinating politics of both the U.S. government and the film industry. Mainly, “Argo” delivers the most memorable line of dialogue written in any film this year: “Argo f**k yourself.”

Oscars 2013: What I Liked

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning. I was prepared to go on yet another tangent about the awards and cover all that I thought were snubbed. Then I realized that noting that absence of Jack Black in “Bernie,” Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone,” and Leonardo Dicaprio in “Django Unchained” would just feel like preaching to the choir.

Instead, I’ve decided to keep things a little more positive. As much as there was to hate in the nominations this year (and there certainly was a lot *cough* “Les Mis” *cough*) there was also a lot to like in a particularly strong year for film. So, why not give the Academy credit for once, even if they don’t need it? Here are my favorite nominees for this year’s Oscars:

Django Unchained (Best Picture)

No one was surprised this morning when it was announced that “Django Unchained” was nominated for Best Picture. While a film as vulgar and brutally violent as “Django Unchained” won’t win Best Picture, it is pretty incredible that it is nominated for those same reasons. Acknowledging a film that broke this many rules alongside traditional Hollywood fare is a small victory worth celebrating.

Joaquin Phoenix (Best Actor)

After dissing the Oscars a few months back, it seemed as if Joaquin Phoenix had burned a tremendous bridge. For giving him the nomination anyway, voters went against the usual politics of Hollywood for good reason. Phoenix’s performance in “The Master” was his best yet. With a constantly bent posture, Phoenix disappeared into this role as a mentally troubled alcoholic. He gave a performance that was mysterious and also deeply funny. Most importantly, in such an ambiguous film, Phoenix provided a beating heart.

Jennifer Lawrence (Best Actress)

This isn’t just because I am somewhat in love with her. Jennifer Lawrence had the best year of her still nascent career. She headlined “The Hunger Games” and then chewed up the scenery of “Silver Linings Playbook.” In the film’s first half, she is quiet yet you always know where she stands. By the second half, she has taken over control from everyone else. Bradley Cooper might have been the main character, but Jennifer Lawrence took every bit of screen time she had and made it her movie.

Anne Hathaway (Best Supporting Actress)

As much as I wasn’t a fan of “Les Mis,” it is impossible to not have been blown away by Anne Hathaway. In a few brief minutes, she brought tears to my eyes. She created a bond with her character and combined acting and singing for incredible emotional results. Once she departs, the film is never quite the same. After she finished her big solo, the first thought that came to my head was, “Anne Hathaway just won the Oscar.”

Moonrise Kingdom (Best Original Screenplay)

I would have really liked if “Moonrise” also got a Best Picture nomination, but I’ll take what I can get. “Moonrise” was one of the most exciting and original films of the year. The script showed how Wes Anderson’s confidence as a storyteller has completely evolved. The dialogue is like listening to music. And like any great film, repeat viewings only reveal more and more layers.

Seth MacFarlane to Host the Oscars

This morning, it was announced that Seth MacFarlane will be hosting this year’s Oscars. While my thoughts on MacFarlane are always a little mixed*, for once I can say that the Academy made a smart choice.

I like MacFarlane as a person, and have a lot of respect for him. I cannot even fathom how he has three shows on television and still has time to write and direct a feature film. Also, he did a fine job hosting “SNL” this season, because the guy just looked like he had a blast being there.

In recent years, the Academy has seemed to have trouble figuring out what kind of host they want. With MacFarlane, they get it all: he can sing show tunes, dance around, do impressions, and tell jokes. While he connects primarily with a younger audience, he will also keep the older voters and guests entertained with his Sinatra-like singing.

I can now anticipate that the show will be less of a drag to watch this year. MacFarlane will certainly be more lively than James Franco, and fresher than Billy Crystal. Maybe this will open some doors and in the future we will get other multi-talented hosts such as Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon (who had to back out from hosting duties). Still, I am going to take this time to complain, because this is the Oscars, and the Oscars always come with something to complain about. Can the Academy ever get a host who will be sharp, funny, and a little provocative in the same way that Jon Stewart was? Could someone like Louis C.K. or Patton Oswalt ever host? Only in my wildest dreams.

People Who Could Make Great Hosts in the Future: John Mulaney, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Donald Glover, Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Neil Patrick Harris

*On the one hand, Seth MacFarlane created “Family Guy,” which had three of the best seasons of any animated show ever. On the other hand, Seth MacFarlane also ruined “Family Guy.” And again, on the other hand, he created “American Dad,” a show which is consistently underrated.

Here’s MacFarlane’s Spot-On Ryan Lochte Impression:

One of my favorite “Family Guy” moments ever. I can only imagine this is how MacFarlane felt upon hearing the good news:

How to Deal with Losing: Steven Spielberg

After this past Sunday’s ceremony ended, I promised everyone I was done with the Oscars for at least the next few months. But as they say in just about every action movie ever made: “just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.” What I have today is a great clip I was sent this morning of Steven Spielberg reacting to the Oscar nominations in 1976. In the previous year, “Jaws” took audiences by storm. In this clip, Spielberg is none too pleased to find out that despite a Best Picture nomination for “Jaws”, the Academy failed to recognize his directing.

Spielberg blames his snub on commercial backlash. That is a possibility, as most of the nominations in the past few years have been for lower grossing movies. But then again, no one is going to nominate “Transformers” or “Breaking Dawn” for Best Picture. I am guessing the real case is that Spielberg just missed the shortlist, given that the nominated directors were Milos Forman, Sidney Lumet, Stanley Kubrick, Robertrt Altman, and Federico Fellini. That’s a hard group to compete with.

Anyway, this is a great video to give you some insight on what filmmakers think of the Oscars. It will also give you a hint of what the 1970s was like. Its an especially different Spielberg than we were used to, a man who was fighting the system before he ultimately became it.

Watch the video after the jump:

Credit to Ben Silverberg for sending me the video. 

Now That The Oscars Are Over…

…I can finally start talking about important things again, such as the return of “Mad Men” on March 25. The show has been on hiatus for almost two years ago, and that unbearably long time almost made me forget how great this show is. “Breaking Bad” has taken over the spotlight as AMC’s best show, but one does not simply forget about “Mad Men.”

I bring this up because today, a very provocative teaser poster was revealed for the next season. Usually, teasers don’t mean much to me, but “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner can brilliantly tell the story of the entire upcoming season in just one image. From what I can tell, we will be entering a much less sheltered era. Things will become much more exposed, including Don Draper (Jon Hamm) himself. Weiner ambiguously says that by the end of this season, we will know what the show is really about. This fifth season could be the show’s best one yet. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves yet. For now, take a look at the new poster. Discuss:

Read more over at The New York Times.

Oscars 2012 Wrap Up: Let the Dog Speak

And now, I conclude my incessant takeover of your Social Media newsfeeds with my very last blog post of awards season. As predicted, “The Artist” took home the top prize and a few more. Most surprisingly, Meryl Streep beat out Viola Davis for Best Actress, because apparently people were outraged that she only won two. Most disappointingly, George Clooney lost Best Actor to Jean Dujardin. I have respect for Mr. Dujardin and he gave a great performance, but his transformation was nothing like Clooney’s.

For now, Clooney will just have to live with the fact that he’s George Clooney.

The Oscars can be called many things: lavish, glorious, and a waste of time and money. It would be great if it could be called entertaining, hasty, and innovative instead. To be fair to Billy Crystal, he is not the world’s worst host, but a very safe choice. However, he has already stirred up some controversy for putting on black face in order to play Sammy Davis Jr. during the show’s introduction. The highlight though was when he tried to read people’s thoughts. It was a simple idea that was pulled off with perfect execution.

Like the host, this year’s ceremony certainly wasn’t terrible. It was something that could be considered even worse than terrible: it was meh. Nothing very memorable happened, and many of the winners and nominees will not stand the test of time. How is it that both “50/50″ and “Young Adult” were totally shut out? How is it that “War Horse” walked home empty handed? The real Oscar winners are the ones that stand the test of time, and I have a feeling that some years down the road, “The Artist” will feel artificial. This is not to say that I didn’t like “The Artist,” as my review will show. I just feel that its achievements will seem less impressive in the future. It will just be another silent movie. A very entertaining one at that, and one that manages to fall apart towards its ending.

Should we stop valuing movies just because they win awards? Probably. Awards don’t mean everything, especially when they are only voted on by a small group of old white men who probably ask their grandchildren if they should open every email in their spam folders. However, no matter how little the Oscars mean, I will never stop watching them. They unite everyone, from all walks of life, to come together  and root for movies that they may or may not have seen. If they tune in, they could actually learn something. The most moving part of tonight’s ceremony for me was the Best Editing category, in which each editor got to speak about the methods behind their madness. If the Oscars want to win everyone back, this is what they should be like: less of a night of politically driven competition, and more of a night of film education and enlightenment. With a good host. I vote for Zach Galifianakis.

Three More Things:
1) After last year’s Oscars, I declared Natalie Portman as my future wife. Now, that honor will have to go to Emma Stone.
2) Next time I watch “Community,” I will smile, knowing that Dean Pelton is an Oscar winner.
3) For anyone who tried out my Oscars Drinking Game, I hope you are still alive.

It is also important to know that the guy in this image is the cinematographer of “Hugo”:

Thank you as always to FilmDrunk, the source of just about every funny image I get.

The Oscars: The Drinking Game

Given my age, I cannot officially endorse any drinking of any sort. So I will say that this game is for the 21+ readers out there (or if you are overseas, 12+ most likely). If you’re underage, then I guess you’ll just have to have a fun night with grape juice or something. Use your imagination. Many people have made Oscar drinking games in the past, but I would like to think that mine is at least slightly original. Here are the cues to drink. Feel free to add in any of your own: 

  • Billy Crystal makes a joke about how old Christopher Plummer is. 
  • Sean Penn addresses a humanitarian crisis.
  • A montage honoring old movies.
  • A montage honoring a bunch of movies that came out in the past year that nobody liked but still get a mention at the Oscars anyway. 
  • In their acceptance speech, an award winner tells their kids watching at home to “go to bed.” 
  • Someone makes a joke about George Clooney.
  • George Clooney says something really funny and charming.
  • George Clooney makes a reference to a humanitarian crisis or a political cause in his acceptance speech.
  • Someone makes a joke about Meryl Streep.
  • Someone appears on stage in a “War Horse” costume.
  • A dance number dedicated to silent movies.
  • Someone makes a joke about how many movies Ryan Gosling has been in this year.
  • Sean Penn goes on stage saying the previous joke about Ryan Gosling wasn’t funny, and that he is a talented and valued actor.
  • A nominee mouths something at the camera, or makes a Jim Halpert face
  • Two talented actors get on stage and perform a terrible bit of scripted publicity for their upcoming movie.
  • Someone makes a joke about the amount of Jews in the room. 
  • Someone makes a joke about Republicans, to which the entire audience cheers.
  • Fox News runs a new story about liberal bias in Hollywood the next day (this one is for the morning after). 

The Oscars: Who Will Win

Best Picture: The Artist

            Thanks to a strange new voting system, there are nine Best Picture nominees this year. “War Horse” might have won in a different year, and “Hugo” merits much consideration for transforming 3D into a viable art form. This year, the nostalgia of “The Artist” has been contagious in various awards ceremonies. Look for it to be the second silent movie ever to win Best Picture.              

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)

            With just a few rare exceptions, the Best Picture and Best Director choices go to the same movie. Hazanavicius will be victorious along with his movie for bringing the art of silence to typically noisy 21st century movie theaters. Plus, he already picked up the Directors Guild of America Award. So far, only 6 directors who have this honor have not gone on to win the Oscar. Hazanavicius will not be a part of this statistic.

Best Actor: George Clooney (The Descendants)
            Jean Dujardin could capitalize off of the success of “The Artist” and the SAG Award he won. However, George Clooney shed his A-list persona for the most vulnerable and human performance of his career. For that, he will pick up his first ever Best Actor trophy.

Best Actress: Viola Davis (The Help)

            Meryl Streep seems like the obvious pick here. She has already won two Oscars, but some claim that isn’t enough. The weak reception of “The Iron Lady” overall will hurt her chances of winning. Instead, Viola Davis, who has swept the precursors, will pick up her first Oscar.

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

            Christopher Plummer has an iconic acting career that has lasted over 60 years. It is perplexing that he has not won an Oscar to this day. Consider his win for “Beginners” to be a long overdue Lifetime Achievement Award.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (The Help)

            She has won just about every other award she was nominated for her performance in “The Help.” This win is basically a shoo-in.

And the Rest:

Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Editing: The Artist
Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Costume Design: The Artist
Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Art Direction: Hugo
Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Foreign Film: A Seperation
Animated Feature: Rango
Makeup: Albert Nobbs
Original Score: The Artist
Original Song: Man or Muppet
Sound Editing: Hugo
Sound Mixing: Hugo
Animated Short Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Live Action Short Film: The Shore
Documentary Short Subject: Saving Face

Horrible Decisions: The Ten Best Movies That Weren’t Nominated For Best Picture

As I get older, I feel that I get more and more pessimistic about award ceremonies, especially the Oscars. Unlike sports-related competitions, the Oscars are not about which movie is best, but rather which movie had the most lavish ad campaign. The recent revelation that Academy voters are none too diverse certainly did not help. To think that some of the most revered movies of all time weren’t even nominated. They are the bold outsiders. Some were completely overlooked, others were just too damn “hip.” Many on the proceeding list would be chosen by many, and a few I exclusively would have chosen had I been a voter. I present with you the ten best movies that deserved a Best Picture nomination, arranged by year of release:

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

“Singin’ in the Rain” is more than just an old-fashioned Hollywood musical: it is about the movies themselves. Think of it as “The Artist” without the Act Three problems. As someone who puts musical just slightly above romantic comedies starring Ashton Kutcher, it is hard not to fall under the spell of “Singin’ in the Rain,” from “Good Morning” to the titular musical number. “Singin’ in the Rain” is about why movies needed sound, and it’s also about why we need the movies in general. The Oscars have a reputation for awarding musicals that became stale with time, so why didn’t it nominate one that has become an everlasting part of popular culture?

Rear Window (1954)

Most of Hitchcock’s best movies were dissed by the Oscars. Even “Psycho” and “Vertigo” didn’t make the Best Picture shortlist. His “Rear Window” is his most entertaining, most satisfying movie. “Rear Window” is the master in his absolute element. It crams as many stories as it can into one movie without actually cramming them in. “Rear Window” is suspenseful in any scene, even if it is just a couple seen fighting through a window, and not Grace Kelly running from the murderer. On top of that, it displays Hitchcock’s genius black comedy. In the scene in which a husband and wife have difficulty moving a mattress into their apartment, Hitchcock switched the headsets feeding instructions to the two actors, so they would move in the wrong directions, and create a brief sigh of slapstick relief. Oscar winners should be influential in any year, and I can’t even count the amount of sitcoms who have knocked off this plot.

The Searchers (1956)

It seems unbelievable that John Ford’s greatest movie didn’t get a single Oscar nomination, and the winner for Best Picture that year was “Around the World in 80 Days” (which was later remade into a movie with Jackie Chan). For the time, “The Searchers” was a change of pace from the typical Western, and Oscars are all about tradition and stability rather than change. Monument Valley has never looked this stunning, and John Wayne never felt as racist and as human in any other role of his career. “The Searchers” would not only fo on to inspire future westerns. Without it, there would be no “Taxi Driver,” “Saving Private Ryan,” or even “Star Wars.” “The Searchers” figured out that the western hero (or in this case, anti-hero) can exist in anytime, in any place, but will always remain an outsider.

Touch of Evil (1958)

Yet another masterpiece that went totally unnoticed by the Academy. “Touch of Evil” will leave you in a speechless state of thrill from the moment the camera first pans through a busy street, to a bomb going off. You know it’s going to happen, but the best part is that you don’t know when. “Touch of Evil” contains some of Orson Welles’s best work as both an actor and a director, and it was the last truly great film noir of the classic era. Its greatness cannot be dampened by the fact that it includes Charlton Heston playing a Mexican.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

It is actually understandable why “Once Upon a Time in the West” was a flop when it first came out. Paramount chopped down its epic running time for its US release, and American audiences were not treated to the masterpiece they deserved to see. I will argue that “Once Upon a Time in the West” is better than any western either John Ford or Howard Hawks ever made. Its opening conveys so much without saying a single word. For its regard for silence, sweeping score, and the pure scope of it all, “Once Upon a Time in the West” will be one of the greatest movie viewing experiences you’ll ever have. It even has Henry Fonda, doing a flawless job going against-type, ruthlessly shooting a child in the face. Tom Joad, no more.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Oscar voters had no interest in taking a trip into another dimension. Their loss. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is essential viewing not just for any film buff, but for any human being. Stanley Kubrick probably knew that this movie wouldn’t answer the question of what the meaning of life is in one simple word. I like to think that Kubrick truly knew and hid it in any frame of this movie, and after a certain number of viewings, maybe it can be found. But until that happens, let the jaw dropping visuals unfold before you. After the credits roll and the star baby has faded, you might cry, you might throw a fit, or you could do anything else in between. Best Picture seems to be about the movies with mass appeal. It’s about time to pick a nominee that not everyone can get behind.

Easy Rider (1969)

Understandably, the Academy wasn’t too pleased with a movie about hippies taking over. The motorcycle riding outlaws of “Easy Rider” was the New Wave coming in to save Hollywood from a crumbling studio system. The rednecks, meanwhile, were the cranky old voters, minus the shotguns. “Easy Rider” proved that filmmakers no longer needed the system; all they needed was a story, a camera, and maybe a good weed hookup. This movie broke ground in so many ways, perhaps most memorably for its soundtrack, which started off with Steppenwolf’s attention-grabbing “Born to Be Wild.” The messy, handheld camerawork actually adds to the movie. Never has imperfection seemed so perfect. But most importantly of all, “Easy Rider” includes a very high Jack Nicholson talking about aliens. It is just as good as it sounds.

Animal House (1978)

This might not be the pick you were expecting, but “Animal House” really deserved the love. Unfortunately, Best Picture is never kind to comedy but had this one been nominated, it would have set a great precedent. Think of some of the funniest things in the movie. Could you ever watch them and not laugh? The most important question here may be as to why John Belushi himself didn’t get a nomination. The dining hall scene, in which he takes at least one of every food item (and takes bites of some, and leaves them behind), is the model for quiet, subtle comic brilliance. Comedies suffer when they are over-analyzed, so just watch this clip and you’ll understand:

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Hollywood loves message movies, but for some reason they only enjoy the preachy ones. “Crash” won in 2005 for informing the world that racism is bad, and it makes a few rich white people living in L.A. feel sad. Sixteen years earlier, Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” was released amidst a storm of controversy. It earned ecstatic praise from critics, but it barely made a ripple at the Oscars. To this day, it remains the most provocative, daring, and funny movie about racism that I have ever seen. The best part about it is that it is not necessarily about racism, but a movie about situations in which race may or may not have been the ultimate cause of them. Of course, the Oscars want definitive answers, not ambiguous ones. And especially not ones with this much energy pumping through them.

Children of Men (2006)

Some movies that earn respect over time might take over two decades to do so. “Children of Men” elevated itself in just a few years. “Children of Men” is the most realistic portrayal of a dystopian future ever to be put on film. It strikes so many emotional chords and in the end, it is a movie about life, not death. It also has some cinematography that is downright groundbreaking, with the camera moving at the nonstop and unpredictable pace that mankind’s fate is headed in. The world may very likely be approaching the future “Children of Men.” But until now “Children of Men” is your’s for the darkest futuristic road movie you’ll get to see.

And a Few More: Night of the Hunter, Pan’s Labyrinth, Kill Bill (1&2), Rosemary’s Baby, The Wild Bunch, Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, Magnolia, Blade Runner