The Descendants (winner)
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
As is often the case, I’m generally unfamiliar with the source material of these adapted screenplays and with many others that may be qualified to be nominated. So, instead, I go with the story as presented on screen. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo seems to be a miss right off the top. I’d also throw out The Skin I Live In as a significant miss. I’ll be pilloried by Nick Jobe if I don’t mention Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 here somewhere, and while it had no chance, I don’t think it’s a terrible nomination. If we need any others, how about Coriolanus?
Weeding through the Nominees
5: I’m launching Hugo immediately as the film here that definitely didn’t deserve a nomination. I like Scorsese and my kids loved the book, but I’m still of the opinion that this film was a complete failure at what it wanted to do top to bottom. It’s pretty, but it’s a film that resolves halfway through, presenting a great mystery that simply ends without much in the way of actual resolution. Maybe it’s accurate to the book. I don’t care, because I don’t think the story works at all.
3: Here’s where we start to get into a tough spot, because I genuinely like the three films that are left. I’m sticking The Ides of March here for no reason aside from my liking the other two movies better. This is a smart screenplay, and one that has a number of good twists to it. If I did have to make a complaint about it, it would probably be that a political thriller really only has a few places it can go, and so there are times when the twists feel like something we should have expected. Still, it’s a solid screenplay and a nomination I like.
2: I’m not a sports guy, so placing Moneyball in second place might seem out of character for me. This is a hell of a good movie, though, and one that is fascinating in spite of its subject matter rather than because of it. This is a movie not so much about baseball but about statistics and clever problem solving. Sounds dull, but it’s absolutely not. I was engaged with it the entire time it was on, and I like that it sticks to the actual truth. I came very close to putting this as my winner.
1: Ultimately, this is one I think Oscar got right. It seems like forever since I’ve credited the Academy with a correct decision, which may ultimately be why I chose this year and category for today. It would be easy to write off The Descendants as rich white people problems, but it’s a lot more than that. This is a very human movie for all its tropical paradise landscape and focus on financial issues. Finally, it feels like I get to pat the Academy on the back for not screwing it up yet again.