×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Canvas of past shows today

Eye on the Oscars: Best Picture 2012

The list of high-profile pics of 2011 includes several that looked back to the past — not with nostalgic longing for what used to be but with curiosity as to how much where we were can reveal about where we are.

The roots of things modern were a major preoccupation. “A Dangerous Method” sourced psychoanalysis’ beginnings in the sort of professional jealousies and love triangles we still cope with today. With “Hugo” celebrating the dreamcatching birth of our preeminent art form, “The Artist” went on to chart its movement (if not ascent) from blissful silence to raucous sound. In representing WWI’s unprecedented butchery, “War Horse” presaged greater horrors to come. And once the doughboys returned, said “J. Edgar,” a wave of “Red scares” set the stage for governmental abuses in subsequent decades.

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” tracked the intelligence game from WWII’s “Good War” to the Cold War’s moral uncertainties, with a nod to our own geopolitical chaos. Jim Crow’s demise was heralded when the characters in “The Help” affirmed together, “No, this will not stand.” A capacity to shed light on contempo conflicts — women struggling in a man’s world; managers torn between data and instinct — lent “The Iron Lady,” “Albert Nobbs” and “Moneyball” more than merely retrospective interest.

Certainly some important work remained of our day. “The Ides of March” examined the gray area between personal and political ambition. Three pics with punchy one-word titles — “Drive,” “Shame” and “Carnage” — took on our culture of narcissism, dramatizing self-love’s assault on traditional notions of decency and community. So did the comical “Bridesmaids” and “Young Adult.”

Yet even films operating in present tense still tended to look over their own shoulder. The ancestors of “The Descendants” provided constant pressure to do the right thing for Hawaiian culture. A years-old cold case created here-and-now heat in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Sean Penn’s anomie in “The Tree of Life” dated back to his 1950s Texas childhood (and even further, to the dawn of time). And recent disasters provided the essential backdrop for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and “Margin Call.”

The year’s most enchanting time-bender offered hope. Much as we’d love to schmooze with Hemingway and Gertrude Stein in the 1920s, “Midnight in Paris” reminded us they longed to visit La Belle Epoque, 1890. But once Owen Wilson emerged into dazzling Parisian daylight, we couldn’t help wondering whether the best of times might, after all, be now. As Papa himself put it: Isn’t it pretty to think so?

RELATED LINKS:
TV producers applaud film producers

More Film

  • Cannes The Square Winner

    SF Studios Acquires Nordic Rights to Ruben Östlund’s 'Triangle of Sadness'

    SF Studios has acquired the Nordic distribution rights to Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness,” the Swedish filmmaker’s follow up to the Palme d’Or winning “The Swquare.” A contemporary satire taking place in the world of fashion, “Triangle of Sadness” is set on a luxury yacht and ends up on a deserted island where hierarchies are [...]

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi displays

    Narendra Modi Wins New Mandate in Indian Election and Divides the Film Industry

    India has returned the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance coalition to power for a second term, with a huge mandate. In doing so, it polarized the film industry. The NDA won 351 seats out of a total of 542. The biggest democratic exercise in the world, more than 600 million Indians voted across six weeks. [...]

  • Director Dean DeBlois and online game

    'Dragon' Director Dean DeBlois and PUBG's CH Kim to Keynote 2019 VIEW Conference

    Dean DeBlois, director and executive producer of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and PUBG Corporation CEO CH Kim are the first keynote speakers announced for the 2019 VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, in October. Since it began 12 years ago, VIEW, which stands for Virtual Interactive Emerging World, has continually [...]

  • 'The Cordillera of Dreams' Review: Poetic

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Cordillera of Dreams'

    Rounding out his sublimely meditative, deeply personal documentary-essay trilogy on time, memory and the relationship of Chile’s breathtaking landscapes to its troubled human history, Patricio Guzmán delivers “The Cordillera of Dreams,” a haunting and allusive exploration of the cultural impact of the country’s most spectacular geological feature: its snowcapped mountain spine. Coming after the exploration [...]

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala

    Inside amfAR's Cannes Gala: Mariah Carey, Kendall Jenner and Tiffany Trump

    Kendall Jenner caused a commotion when she arrived. Tiffany Trump went unrecognized until a member of the press pointed her out as she made her way down the carpet. And Mariah Carey flew in to perform a couple of songs. Welcome to this year’s AmfAR Gala Cannes, the AIDS organization’s annual — and largest — [...]

  • 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo' Review: Abdellatif

    Cannes Film Review: 'Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo'

    A simple but somehow atypical shot opens Abdellatif Kechiche’s new film: a serene closeup of a young woman’s face, as seen through the camera lens of Amir, a budding photographer still finding his perspective. Her expression is ambiguously tranquil, her long hair lightly rustled by a humid breeze, all softly lit by a sinking afternoon [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content