Posts Tagged ‘drama’


Every year, brilliant movies are utterly ignored by the Oscars. The Searchers, Groundhog Day, Persona, Breathless, Hoop Dreams, King Kong, Caddyshack — the Academy has a long history of overlooking comedies, action movies, horror flicks, artsy foreign films, and documentaries that aren’t about World War II. While it makes a lot of great decisions, often it overlooks certain genres or stories that don’t appeal to them. This year, we’ll be taking a closer look at films that were too small, too weird, or perhaps simply too awesome for the Academy Awards.

With that in mind, here are the five major films that the Academy undervalued in 2011. Although some of the films on this list received a few Oscar nominations, overall the Academy did not give them the credit they are due. Instead of a nod or two, these films deserved much greater recognition and appreciation from the Academy.

50/50

50/50 received zero Oscar nominations this year. The film tells the story of a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is diagnosed with cancer and given a 50/50 shot chance of surviving. Yes, the film includes some crude humor and off-putting jokes, but it’s a great film with its heart in the right place.

In a lesser year, Gordon-Levitt would have been nominated for Best Actor for his performance, but the abundance of strong male performances in 2011 ruined his chances. Regardless, I still believe that either Anna Kendrick or Anjelica Huston should have been nominated for their brilliant supporting performances. And without a doubt, Will Reiser – who faced cancer in real life – should have been nominated for his honest and heartbreaking screenplay.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART II

Unlike a few of the films on this list, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II did receive a few Oscar nominations. It was nominated for Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects. But this epic finale to the “Harry Potter” series deserved more. It was an elegant and visually-stunning conclusion to a masterful series of films.

Many have argued that Alan Rickman deserved an Oscar nod for his supporting performance. His performance wasn’t nominated and I can understand why in this year of great supporting male performances. I can’t, however, understand why this film wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. It was a critically-acclaimed blockbuster that appealed to adults and children alike. To not give it a best picture nod is an insult to those who loved the film as much as I did – and ignores the epic achievement that the series, as a whole, represents.

DRIVE

Drive, a dark film about a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver, was a thought-provoking and brilliant film. Instead of relying on a lot of dialogue, its story was mostly told through great performances and unique direction. Critics will be talking about this movie for years to come. But how did the Academy recognize it? With one single nomination for Best Sound Editing.

This is the most surprising film to be on this list because not only did I think that it should be nominated for more awards, I also thought that it should win a few of them. Nicolas Winding Refn directed this film with an awe-inspiring fierceness and intelligence, Albert Brooks delivered a brilliant performance as the story’s malicious villain and of course, Ryan Gosling who delivered a splendid low-key performance. All these men should have been nominated and in my opinion, all three should have returned home with statues. May be the movie was too stylish for the academy voter where most of them are past their 60s. The lack of nominations is beyond disappointing.

SHAME

Shame, Steve McQueen’s haunting drama about a tortured New Yorker named Brandon Sullivan (a revelatory Michael Fassbender), a sex addict whose life begins to unravel even more when his equally self-destructive sister Sissy (a fragile Carey Mulligan) arrives in town. Yes, there are explicit sex scenes (plenty of them) and yes, there are shots of the breakout actor’s highly-publicized package (plenty of them), but it’s the harrowing story of a man struggling with his demons and an unforgivably snubbed performance by Fassbender that made it one of the most talked-about films of 2011.  Fassbender’s performance will be remembered by everyone for a long time in the future. But this engaging drama was applauded with how many nominations? – NON.

Shame is a great, though by no means a perfect film, but there’s one big reason that this movie will stand the test of time and that’s Michael Fassbender’s… star-making performance. At least the academy voters should’ve nominated him.

WARRIOR

Every so often you’ll come across a combat sport movie that manages to find just the right balance of drama and action – that is, more drama than action. When fights are justified with backstories full of crushing emotion, they become all the more intense and gratifying. Warrior is one of those amazing movies. The fighting was almost an extension of the drama and connected the dots of this film beautifully. The combat that takes place in the ring was brutally real, vividly authentic, and in your face genuine.

Through the incredible acting talents of Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte, this confused and passionate chemistry really comes alive. All three actors put up some of the most convincing and heartbreaking performances of their careers; and seeing as how The Fighter garnered so many Oscar nominations last year, I was sure this one too would get at least get nominated for many categories or even win in some. But to my disappointment, only Nick Nolte got nominated for the best supporting actor (thank god for that)…At least some more nominations would’ve brought little gem of a movie a little more attention.

So though the show, as boring as it was, a round of applause to all the winners but don’t forget that some of the best films of the year weren’t recognized at all. Perhaps next year, the Academy will be better. Let’s keep our fingers crossed…


As much as blockbusters can thrill us, beyond the well-tended flowerbeds and spacious corner offices of Hollywood there’s a world bubbling with creativity, free spirits and up-and-coming talent. Some of the heroes of American indie cinema have gone on to try their hand at multiplex fodder; some have stayed resolutely outside the mainstream. The list below ranked according to their greatness, celebrates both, as well as some of the names that didn’t achieve the acclaim they deserve this past year.

 6. Another Earth

Director:

Mike Cahill

On the night of the discovery of a duplicate planet in the solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.

When someone is being truly honest you get a film like Another World.  It is someone like you and me, bringing up thoughts and concerns that we all feel in a cinematic way. Questions about identity, life, its meaning and purpose as well as all the things the film elicits from you: the watcher. The core of the movie is largely philosophical. Forgiveness. Rebirth. The first time director Mike Cahill has beautifully woven the two opposite genres sci-fi and drama. An odd little sci-fi-leaning tragi-drama that would possess nothing worth noting at all if not for star/co-writer Brit Marling and her breakout performance.

 5.  Pariah

Director:

Dee Rees

Writer:

Dee Rees

Stars:

Adepero OduyeKim Wayans and Aasha Davis

Genres:

A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

I don’t think it’s fair to say that PARIAH is this year’s Precious, but I don’t blame those who try to make the comparison. PARIAH does have themes about staying strong in the face of adversity, but just like Brokeback Mountain and Albert Nobbs, this film is also about being true to oneself and about acceptance. PARIAH is a bold, courageous feature debut by writer/director Dee Rees and a noteworthy performance by lead actress Adepero Oduye. This independent movie is not worth missing out.

4.  Melancholia

Director:

Lars von Trier

Writer:

Lars von Trier

Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with the Earth.

A planet called Melancholia is nearing planet earth, and it is feared it might hit the earth, or it might just fly by. In this back-line story the family tensions unfold between Justine, her sister (and husband) and her mother. A brilliant movie by Lars von Trier. While not for everyone this is a challenging film that gets what depression is really like and takes us on a thought provoking and unpleasant ride with it   and I for one was really glad about that.  Kristen Dunst is marvelous.

3. Martha Marcy May Marlene

Director:

Sean Durkin

Writer:

Sean Durkin (screenplay)

Stars:

Elizabeth OlsenSarah Paulson and John Hawkes

Genres:

Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.

Atmospheric and unpredictable, “Martha” was the clear standout among Sundance’s narrative features. Starring Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of Mary Kate and Ashley) in a stunning breakout performance as Martha, a young woman who escapes from a dangerous cult, the movie also marks an incredibly assured feature debut for writer-director Sean Durkin.

Shifting effortlessly between Martha’s experiences with the cult (led by Oscar nominee John Hawkes in a sinister turn) and her difficulties adjusting to a “normal” life with her older sister (a magnificent Sarah Paulson), the film emerges as a slow-burning psychological thriller of the highest order.

2.  Project Nim

Director:

James Marsh

Stars:

Bob AngeliniNim Chimpsky and Bern Cohen

Genres:

Tells the story of a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child by a family in a brownstone on the upper West Side in the 1970s.

Oscar-winning “Man on Wire” documentarian James Marsh finds another incredibly true story from the recent past—this time the tale of Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who was raised by scientists like a human child for the first few years of his life. The purpose was to determine whether or not animals could be taught to communicate with and live like humans. The results are fascinating, funny and frightening, but the power of this excellent documentary comes from Marsh’s interviews with the colorful characters involved in the (mis)handling of Nim.

1. Midnight in Paris

Director:

Woody Allen

Writer:

Woody Allen

Stars:

Owen WilsonRachel McAdams and Kathy Bates

Genres:

A family travel to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple who are forced to confront their differing views of a perfect life.

Continuing his Euro flavored adventures, Paris seems to have brought Woody Allen to life in one of his best efforts in years. Opening with sweeping shots of Paris from morning to night set to jazz, the latest from Allen almost seems spun from his own dreams and inspirations.  This one has a great lead in Owen Wilson, who can deliver Allen’s dialogue without turning himself into a caricature. It’s a nostalgic valentine to Allen’s greater films, to a long-gone Paris, to an intellectual fantasy, to everyone’s youth and ambition. Delicious.

After all these said, movies listed above are all brilliant in their own way. Along with these, there are also other Indi movies that came out last year like “Win Win”, “Take Shelter”, “Terri”, “Like crazy” and many more. Though most of them are low-budget, released with limited prints, low-grossing in the box-office, that will definitely not change the fact that these are some of the best movies Hollywood has ever produced. I will not recommend these movies to everyone. But to those who are into drama and indie movies, these movie are definitely not less than a treat.