Oscar Potential - Reviews of the 2011 Nominees

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo
in "The Artist" - nominated for 10 Oscars
For the first time in the Academy Awards, there are nine films nominated for Best Picture. If you haven't seen them all, don't worry. AMC Theatres is doing its annual AMC Best Picture Showcase where it will screen all nine of these features back-to-back over the final two weekends in February. AMC Theatres started the showcase in 2007 with 79 locations in 35 markets. Now, the showcase is in 123 locations across 48 markets in the United States and Canada. If you don't know what the Best Picture candidates are by now and what they're about, here's a rundown.

Midnight in Paris is about a man who travels back to his literary past, while The Tree of Life is about a man who literally looks into his past. The Help focuses on a young girl who opens people's eyes about disenfranchised African-American maids, while Hugo focuses on a young boy who opens people's eyes about a pioneering magician. Moneyball gets its protagonist to look at America's past-time differently, while The Descendants gets its protagonist to look at his wife differently. The Artist is about a man who doesn't want to speak, while Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is about a man who can't speak, as well as a little boy who won't shut up and finally War Horse is basically about a... war... horse... yeah, I know.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN - Nominated for Best Original Score, it's one of two nominations for John Williams this year and in the same category. Williams now has a total of 47 nominations, making him the second, most-nominated person in Oscar history, the first being Walt Disney.

ALBERT NOBBS - Nominated for 3 Oscars, including Best Makeup, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress, it's the sixth nomination for Glenn Close, and the second for Janet McTeer.

ANONYMOUS - Nominated for Best Costume Design, it marks the third movie directed by German filmmaker Roland Emmerich to get an Oscar nomination. It follows The Patriot (2000), which got three nods, including one for John Williams, and Independence Day (1996), which won for Best Visual Effects.

THE ARTIST - Nominated for 10 Oscars, it's also the tenth black-and-white film to be recognized in the Cinematography category. The Oscars used to have a separate category for color films and a separate category for black-and-white films, but the black-and-white category was eliminated in 1967. Since then, In Cold Blood (1967), The Last Picture Show (1971), Lenny (1974), Raging Bull (1981), Zelig (1983), Schindler's List (1993), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Good Night, And Good Luck (2005) and The White Ribbon (2009) are the only B&W films to be nominated for Best Cinematography.

BEGINNERS - Nominated for Actor in a Supporting Role.

A BETTER LIFE - Nominated for Actor in a Leading Role.

BRIDESMAIDS - Nominated for 2 Oscars.

THE DESCENDANTS - Nominated for 5 Oscars, Alexander Payne is a three-time nominee as the writer, producer and director of this film. It's his first as a producer, his second as a director and his third as a writer. He won for writing Sideways (2004). It's also George Clooney's fourth acting nomination.

DRIVE - Nominated for Sound Editing, it's Lon Bender's third nomination who won previously for Braveheart (1995).


THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - Nominated for 5 Oscars, it's the one major nominee that I haven't seen yet but I did review the Swedish version. It's also worth saying that all of the nominees here worked with David Fincher on The Social Network (2010).

HELL AND BACK AGAIN - Nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

THE HELP - Nominated for 4 Oscars, it is the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee this year at $169 million domestic box office.

Asa Butterfield in "Hugo" - nominated
for 11 Oscars, the most of any movie this year
HUGO - Nominated for 11 Oscars, this is the seventh directing nomination for Scorsese. He's also a double nominee as producer of this film.

THE IDES OF MARCH - Nominated for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), it also marks the second time that George Clooney has received nominations in two different categories for two different feature films in the same year. In 2005, Clooney was nominated for Syriana, which he won, and for Good Night, And Good Luck.

IF A TREE FALLS - Nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

THE IRON LADY - Nominated for 2 Oscars, it's Meryl Streep's 17th nomination, making her the most-nominated actor in history.

KUNG FU PANDA 2 - Nominated for Best Animated Feature.

MARGIN CALL - Nominated for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - Nominated for 4 Oscars, this is Woody Allen's 14th as a writer. It's his 7th as director. With his single acting nomination for Annie Hall (1977), it makes 22 nominations total. Allen also surpasses Billy Wilder as Allen is now a double nominee in a single year for the seventh time.

MONEYBALL - Nominated for 6 Oscars, it's the other major nominee that I skipped in reviewing.

THE MUPPETS - Nominated for Best Original Song, it falls in the tradition of previous Muppet movies singled out in this category, including The Muppet Movie (1979) and The Great Muppet Caper (1981).

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN - Nominated for 2 Oscars.

PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY - Nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

PINA 3D - Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, it's the first 3D film recognized in this category.

RANGO - Nominated for Best Animated Feature.

RIO - Nominated for Best Original Song.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - Nominated for Best Visual Effects.

A SEPARATION - Nominated for 2 Oscars, including Best Writing, it's the first screenplay in Farsi to get a nod.

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Nominated for 3 Oscars, including Best Actor for Gary Oldman, it's the last major nominee that I skipped reviewing but it's worth noting that it's the first nomination for Oldman, a veteran British actor.

THE TREE OF LIFE - Nominated for 3 Oscars, it's the second directing Oscar nod for Terrence Malick, the 68-year-old filmmaker who has only made 5 features in his life.

Jeremy Irvine in Steven Spielberg's "War Horse"
nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture
WAR HORSE - Nominated for 6 Oscars, Steven Spielberg, as producer, shares the record for most Best Picture nominations with seven total. He shares this record with Kathleen Kennedy who also produced this movie.

WARRIOR - Nominated for Actor in a Supporting Role, this is Nick Nolte's third nomination.

Follow me on Twitter as I live blog about the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 26th.


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