Guest Post: “The Oscar . . . race?”

The Oscar… race?

Written by: Erik Anthony Bendoyro

Is it really, ever a race? Most of the time there is a clear-cut Best Picture winner, from last year’s The King’s Speech to 2005’s Million Dollar Baby. Quite frankly, it’s usually a very predictable evening of Hollywood basking in the films it wishes to recapitulate in years to come. Every once in a while, though, a film eeks its way through and to the amazement of critics and film buffs alike, there is a revitalization of hope in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. When Moulin Rouge was up for a Best Picture nod in 2002, my inner nerd was proud of an organization that had seemed to proclaim art, yet espoused conservativeness and reflection of public morale. Maybe they were actually coming around, but alas, it was not so. Yes, a number of abstract and independent films have been popping up on the Best Picture front over the years, and this year is definitely not the exception, but it’s still not tough to figure out what types of films the Academy is going to nominate and especially present the Oscar to.

This year’s brave choice of a nomination is easily The Tree of Life. Though the other films are (in rare form) all quite strong, the one that breaks the mold in regards to classical film constructs and sheer audacity is by far Terrence Malick’s opus of life and redemption. I root for this film, not because it was my personal favorite (though I highly enjoyed it), but because it is the one that seems to define what art is and should always remain to be: Daring. Barely twenty minutes in to the film, I could easily say that I had never seen anything quite like it. It echoed the abstract nature of Stanley Kubrick, but remained a completely original work on a substantial amount of levels. It’s that rare sort of film, where your mind can’t help continually processing it even days after watching it. The Tree of Life is what the Academy should be all about, and it’s nomination vividly reminds me of it’s full potential.

Again, this is not to say that the other nominees are not deserving of their attention, as they are great works by some of the most accomplished filmmakers of our time (and that is not an understatement). With that said, what follows is one Film Nerd’s break down of the ranking of the Best Picture nominee’s in regards to artistic contribution to the medium of film.

  1. “The Tree of Life”
  2. “The Artist”
  3. “War Horse”
  4. “Moneyball”
  5. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
  6. “Hugo”
  7. “Midnight in Paris”
  8. “The Descendants”
  9. “The Help”

Prediction- “The Artist”

The film’s lighthearted nature and “Drive-the-Point-Home” ending makes it a shoe in for voters. In all fairness, it is a unique and quite fun film. My personal annoyance is that it allows the Academy to remain in its comfort zone of nominations that are daring, but winners that are safe. As mentioned, why even call this a race, if the end results are consistently predictable?

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Thanks once more to Mr. Bendoyro for being a visitor scribe for the Phoenix Tree blog!

Side note: I am so thrilled that you enjoyed “Tree of Life” so much, Erik. The next time you watch it, you should watch all the way through the credits; you just might see a familiar name appear under the “Interns” category . . . ;)

Only one day left till Oscar night. Let’s see what chya got this year, Hollywood!

with passion & gratitude — jennifer

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