I've gone on this rant before, but what the hell. The worst thing about the Oscars, which I care way too much about, is that they tend to get bogged down in consensus as opposed to sparking an actual debate about the best movies of the year. In other words, too many people talk about what will win rather than what should.
This is understandable in light of the fact that the average moviegoer (which for the purposes of this discussion means anyone who pays for their own tickets) doesn't see every movie and so can't have a truly fully informed opinion about what should win. However, the same attitude does seem to pervade much entertainment journalism, and that is inexcusable.
Below I present the movies I would nominate for the Oscars if I had a say. It is a flawed list because it is limited to the 30 or so 2011 releases I have seen. There are many notable 2011 films I have not seen, including likely nominees Moneyball, Ides of March, War Horse, Hugo, My Week With Marilyn, and The Iron Lady.
But I'm offering the best in my year of movie-watching in the hopes that it will engender a conversation about what other people really liked in 2011. Winners listed at the top of each category.
Best Supporting Actor:
Albert Brooks, Drive
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
John C. Reilly, Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris
Honorable Mention: Alex Shaffer (Win Win). Haven't seen Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), Ben Kingsley (Hugo), or Jonah Hill (Moneyball). Plummer will win, but Brooks really should.
Best Supporting Actress:
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Amy Ryan, Win Win
Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
All of these actresses would be worthy winners. I don't think Woodley will get the nomination, but she absolutely should. Spencer will probably win.
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Paul Giamatti, Win Win
Ryan Gosling, Drive
George Clooney, The Descendants
Paul Rudd, Our Idiot Brother
I liked Rudd better than Dujardin, who will definitely get nominated and may win over Clooney. Haven't seen Pitt, Dicaprio, Fassbender, Shannon, or Bichir.
Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Viola Davis, The Help
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Knightley was fantastic in an otherwise boring movie, which probably means no nomination. Wiig gave a winning performance that is miles better than her work on SNL. I haven't seen Michelle Williams, Glenn Close, or Streep.
Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Tomas Alfredsson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
I don't really buy the idea of an absolute connection between Best Director and Best Picture. Some movies are director movies, others are more influenced by screenwriters or the cast. Haven't seen Scorsese's Hugo, or Spielberg's War Horse.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Four of these have no shot of getting nominated, which is a shame. I didn't absolutely love The Descendants, but it was well done and will probably get better with time, like Up in the air.