I always like to do my best movies of the year so far list before the awards season starts to see how the spring/summer movies stack up against those that studios groom for Oscar success. So far this year has been okay. There have been a few movie that I think will remain in my top 10 of the year, but it hasn’t been that bad. There are a few movies that have been released but haven’t seen even though I’m looking forward to them (Adventureland, Public Ememies, District 9, Ingrorious Basterds, Julia, The Girlfriend Experience, and others). Along with a short take on the list in the movies, I have included what the Oscar chancer for them could be. Some have none, but still.
Now, here’s my list of the best movies of the year so far.
10. I Love You, Man
Directed by John Hamburg
I Love You, Man stands apart from the rest of the so-called bromantic comedies thanks to its sharp and clever writing, and the chemistry between the two leads. It is the most satisfying comedy that I’ve seen since In Bruges way back in the summer of 2008.
Oscar chances: Best original screenplay if and only if every single movie that come out during awards season fail, which is unlikely
Directed by Alex Proyas
Nicolas Cage finally gives the good performance everyone knows he is capable of giving. It turns out that all he needed was to work with a good director. The movie its self has flaws, mostly the script. However, thanks to Alex Proya’s work it turns into a thrilling and brave sci-fi movie, of which there are not many now a day.
Oscar chances: Marco Beltrami’s score is great, as well as the visual effect, but it has been outshined already, which means none.
8. Drag Me To Hell
Directed by Sam Raimi
In a world where horror movies are being remade left and right, it is nice to see someone take on an original story and not holding back on the scares. That is what Sam Raimi has done with Drag Me to Hell. The movie did not need excessive amounts of gore or people cutting off their limbs to be effective. All it needed was a good story, good performances, a good score, and a director that was not willing to dumb it down for the entire family. DMTH is the second-best horror movie of the decade.
Oscar Chances: Make-up is very likely
7. Star Trek
Directed by J.J. Abrams
I’ve never been a fan of the franchise, but I had a lot of fun with this one. J.J. Abrams made a movie that is accessible to non-fans with a story that is easy to follow, intense action, and great music that still feels like it belongs to the “Star Trek” universe.
Oscar chances: Visual effects and sound are two likely places where it will score. Michael Giaccino’s score is the best of the year so far, but it will likely be snubbed. Best Picture is a possiblily with 10 nominees, but who knows how much Academy members will like it.
Directed by Henry Selick
Had it been made in another form of animation, Coraline would have failed. The stop motion animation gives it the right feel that the story needs. Thanks to it, and a great job from Selick as writer and director, the movie is entertaining, creepy, and sometimes very scary.
Oscar Chances: Focus will give it a Best Picture campaign, but the bias agains animation will remain strong, although I think one will definitely make it. Therefore, its only chances are animated feature (I’d say it is a lock by now). Also score and art direction if the year-end products turn out to be weak.
5. The Hurt Locker
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
War movies rarely focus on the life of the soldiers rather than whether saying if the war is right or wrong. This is that kind of movie. Thanks to Bigelow’s direction (the best of the year so far) and great performances from the entire cast this is an intense experience that makes people feel for the soldiers despite their views on the war.
Oscar Chances: A Best Picture and Best Director nominations are almost locks based on the critical acclaim it has received, but there aren’t really any locks. There’s also possiblities for best actor (Jeremy Renner), original screenplay, cinematography, editing, and sound.
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Directed by David Yates
David Yates’s direction manages to takes a deeply flawed script and work with his actors (who are at the top of their game) and his production team to make the best Potter movie yet.
Oscar Chances: Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is a very strong contender to be nominated. Also, I could see it getting an art direction and visual effects nod. If there was any justice in the world, Michael Gambon would get a supporting actor nomination.
Directed by Duncan Jones
Even though it only cost about 10 million dollars to make, it managed to be better than any action blockbuster of the summer.
Oscar Chances: In a perfect world Sam Rockwell would be a lock for a best actor nomination, maybe even a win. However, since this is not a perfect world, I’d say the there is about a 1% chance the visual effects will be part of the pre-nomination short list.
2. Watchmen: Director’s Cut
Directed by Zack Snyder
While the acting lacks in some places and Snyder’s signature slow montion action scenes makes this movie drag a bit, the power of the original story still makes it a memorable experience.
Oscar Chances: Only visual effects if the voters feel generous, but this a very divisive film, which hurts its chances.
Directed by Pete Docter
The first 20 minutes had me crying my eyes out. The rest is an exhilarating adventure about redemption and being able to keep moving forward even after we experience something tragic. It is also hilarious and features one of the best characters Pixar has ever created.
Oscar Chances: If there is one animated movie that deserves to be nominated for best picture it is this. Pixar has been making masterpiece after masterpiece and they continue to be snubbed for the big prize. With 10 nominees, it could make it but it will be hard. Other possibilities include original screenplay, sound, score, and editing.
And here are the 3 worst:
3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
I love the first one because it had a somewhat believable story and enough action scenes. This one is a about 90% explosion with horrible humor and a story that seemed like it was written as they went along.
Oscar Chances: Visual effects and sound.
2. The Pink Panther 2
How can a movie with Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Andy Garcia, Emily Mortimer, Alfred Molina, Jeremy Irons, and Lilly Tomlin be so unfunny and painful to watch.
Oscar Chances: None
Horrible script… horrible direction… horrible final 20 minutes…horrible movie.
Oscar Chances: None, unless they have an award for worst voicemail