2011 Film Scorecard: One Home Run, 3 Doubles

August 15, 2011

As we (thankfully!) come to the end of the summer movie season, we can now look forward to the last third of the year when almost all movies of any substance are released.

As usual, the first 8 months of the year produced some very slim pickings when it comes to quality movies that might make it onto the list of the ten films that will be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

For me, the year’s only true standout (home run) film so far is The Tree of Life. Terrence Malick’s mind-blowingly original and poignantfilm  is certainly going to be on my nominating ballot. The film is so majestically and subjectively emotional that seeing it feels more like a deeply personal and spiritual experience than it is the viewing of a film. One gets the sense that each one of us in the theater embarks on our own internal journey during the film and, as such, we experience the images on the screen in a completely individual manner. Contrary to some other reviews, while the style of the film is indeed groundbreaking and dazzling, there most definitely is a story at the core of The Tree of Life. In it, Brad Pitt plays the father of three young boys growing up in Waco, Texas in the 1950s. His relationship with his sons (and his wife, played with great humanity and compassion by Jessica Chastain) is one of extreme complexity, love, strict discipline, affection, reproach, fear, respect, and rebellion. Mr. Pitt’s performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button firmly established him as brilliant actor. Now, in The Tree of Life, Mr. Pitt has elevated his craft to a new league of brilliance as he gives one of the most nuanced, frightening, evocative, and haunting portrayals of a father in recent memory.

Oscar nominations for the film itself, Mr. Malick’s direction, Mr. Pitt, and several tech categories like editing and cinematography seem likely.

Other than The Tree of Life, I think there were 3 other notable films so far this year, none of which are certain even to be remembered at Oscar time but which I found to be solid “doubles”, to use baseball parlance.

Coming Wednesday: those 3 films.

What are your favorite films so far this year?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Asha Hawkesworth August 15, 2011 at 9:15 am

We don’t get to the theater for first-run movies often enough, but we really liked “The Help.” (We were slightly worried at first that we’d be stuck with a superhero film or Cowboys and Aliens, but we were glad this one was out!)

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Stephen Simon August 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm

While I was blown away by the performances in the The Help, I found the film to be way to be really, really depressing. That being said, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, and Bryce Dallas Howard should ALL be nominated for Oscars. As always, Asha, thanks so much for your comments. You and Ahnna should consider going on the road as stand up comics. I would be the first in line to pay to see you!!

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M. Abby Joseph August 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

You’re right Stephen, The Tree of Life was just spectacular! Here’s my guess as to the other 3 you will like: Beginners, The Help and … The Beaver! I’m guessing there’s no way Hollywood will forgive Mel Gibson with an Oscar nod, but he seemed to be playing himself, filled with regret, darkness and depression. I hope Beginners is at least mentioned at Oscar time. Lovely performance by Plummer and McGregor!

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Brian Mills August 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

The Tree of Life, The Tree, Trust, Point Blank, Source Code, The Adjustment Bureau.

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