The 2011 FMR MAJOR Award Winner for Best Picture

Here it is Everyone.

The major award of the MAJOR Awards.

The Best Picture of 2011.

It’s the biggest question of the week. Which movie is the best? In order to help frame my decision, I asked myself this question… If I could make sure every visitor here saw one movie, which would it be? Because basically, this award equals my TRUE highest recommendation. I gave the trademarked FMR A++ three times this year, but I can only give the Best Picture Leg Lamp once.

Your nominees are: “50/50”, “The Descendants”, “Drive”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”, “The Help”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Moneyball”, “The Muppets”, and “The Tree of Life”.

Click through to find out which of these ten worthy motion pictures won!

This was an incredibly tough decision for me. I kid you not.

It really boiled down to two movies neck and neck down the homestretch, and I agonized over the choice between them. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a high-octane, adrenaline charged, shock filled rush of a movie experience.

“The Descendants”, most assuredly, is not.

For the most part, it’s a gently paced family story that gets some REALLY big laughs along the way, but I wouldn’t call it a comedy. It’s a story about love and loss that has some VERY sad moments, but I wouldn’t call it a tearjerker. It’s a lot of things… It’s a very funny movie, it’s a very touching movie, yes. But it’s also a movie with a lot to say about family, fidelity and forgiveness. Much like life, the movie takes you through a wide gamut of feelings. You’ll laugh, you may cry, you’ll feel sympathy, you’ll struggle with some of the difficult decisions the protagonist has to make. The movie is about stewardship and the choices we make, and how the lives we lead today have ripple effects on future generations.

This is a very entertaining movie, but it’s also a very subtly meaningful movie. I’ve heard more than once already, “I didn’t see what the big deal was”.

Well, the fact that it can be extremely entertaining, get its emotional expressions across, and impart some greater themes… all without being heavy-handed or every once trying to be a big deal or make a big splash… that IS the big deal. With so many movies out there which flash gigantic cue cards when you’re supposed to laugh or cry, it’s wonderful to watch a movie that paints solid characters, lets a believable (but weighty) situation play out, gets you invested in it, and then lets the emotional requests it makes of you come naturally.

Here’s an example. Whereas a movie like “War Horse” blares this huge orchestral score, and drenches the screen in an unnaturally orange sunset, “The Descendants” simply chooses to have the movie that’s on tv be “March of the Penguins”. It’s a totally tiny detail, but far from insignificant.

It’s a movie with a “deft hand”.

That “hand” belongs to writer/director Alexander Payne. Payne is the filmmaker behind “Election”, “About Schmidt”, and the sublime “Sideways”. Here, he populates the film with well written, multi dimensional characters. Honestly, there isn’t a single flat character in this movie. Each of them have a backstory, and each have more than one “note” to hit. Then he takes these characters and lets them express a variety of emotions during the midst of a very trying time. To top it all off, he sets the film in Hawaii, which serves many ingenious purposes… it gives the soundtrack a unique and special flavor, it allows for occasionally lush cinematography, it provides contrast to some of the mundane and/or emotionally difficult moments, and it provides stakes for the greater themes by representing our wonderous planet so nicely.

I find his work here genius.

Most of the credit and accolades will probably go to the cast however. I think Clooney is a mortal lock to take home the Oscar this year. I haven’t seen “The Artist”, so I don’t know how good Dujardin was, but personally, I’m betting that Clooney’s popularity, combined with his extraordinary work here, carry the day. I’d love to see Woodley at least get nominated, too, her performance here was remarkable as well. Not to sell the rest of the cast short, Forster and Krause add so much. But the heart of the movie really does mainly come from Clooney getting to know his daughter, and his daughter learning to love her Dad.

This is a quiet, unassuming type of movie. It won’t “blow anybody away”. But I think it’s going to resonate emotionally with a LOT of people. I know it did with me. And it’ll stay fresh forever, there isn’t anything here aside from family and the future, and those are pretty timeless. It features phenomenal performances, a fantastic script, a great soundtrack full of Hawaiian music, a gorgeous setting, and top notch direction. It’s totally enjoyable at face value, but if you want to mine it for meaning, it’s there for the taking. A rich, deep ore of it.

This is a movie that says SO much, while “speaking” so little.

And that’s probably why I love it so much.

“The Descendants”

The 2011 FMR MAJOR Award Winner for Best Picture.

34 thoughts on “The 2011 FMR MAJOR Award Winner for Best Picture

  1. I liked The Descendants, I really did but when it comes to best flick of the year, I think that comes down between Young Adult and 50/50, with me probably going with the latter. It was funny, dramatic, heart-breaking, and just everything that a great dramedy should be. Great job once again my man.

    • Thanks Dan. I think the only one mentioned there we disagree a lot on is Young Adult. Charlize was awesome, but that flick had some big problems (for me).

      50/50 was a nominee here, so basically that’s like my top ten. I just had to put this one up on top.

  2. I totally agree! Best. Picture. Ever. I wouldn’t call it a comedy nor a drama. Not even a dramady. This movie is in a whole another category, maybe in the same category as 50/50. I don’t know.

    Like I said before on a previous post, this movie is so accurate to Hawai’i that’s it’s kinda scary.

    • Well, cool! Thanks Jen 😀

      Really thankful for the support on this one… I think (unfortunately) we’re going to get a lot of people who haven’t had a chance to see it, and then I already know a couple of people who are going to be disappointed. LOL.

      But I had to go with my heart… This movie was fantastic.

    • Thanks PG, have a feeling you’d have been more psyched if it wound up GWTDT… but I had to go this way in the end. There’s really no one simple reason, it really was down to the wire up to the last second. I had a hard time making up my mind.

  3. Well, I guess that’s another to put on the to-see list… you and others have been talking that up quite a bit, and doing a good job of selling just why it’s worthy of such acclaim.

    Good job with all the awards posts, as well. I know the good awards were probably less painful than the bad ones, but even so, it’s a lot of work to go through and figure out where you rank individual bests and then do a write-up on why.

    • Uh… well first off, thanks, yeah I did work hard. But on the bad ones… at least it was an obvious choice. I mean. No churning my guts on that one, it was like HERE I AM!

      This rented a lot of space in my head the last week or so. Yet another thing to add to my list of things I didnt fully anticipate before launching headlong into them LOL

  4. I’m so disappointed in you Fogs. You had to pick the film I haven’t seen yet LOL. At least you were heavily considering TGWTDT, that got you a reprieve from my wrath. 😉

    • Ha! I know that feeling too well. Castor at Anomalous Materials picked “The Artist” and raved about it, and I was like SON OF A BITCH!!


      Yeah… GWTDT and this, I was pulling my hair out, banging my head against shit, I even considered a tie. I know it would have been a more popular choice.

      I just think this one is more accesible, will hold up better to repeat viewings, it doesnt have the “remake” stuff to deal with (if I get told to see the original one more time, I may scream).

      So there were really only a couple of tiny factors. I loved them both, theyre very different flicks… in the end the brighter one won.

      • Good explanation, Fogs! I will say that I have a tendency to gravitate toward darker films, so usually my favorite films of the year have violence in their DNA. Nevertheless, I really dig your site and reviews. Keep up the good work, and I will continue visiting. 🙂

  5. I’m not a Clooney fan, so I wasn’t going to see this movie. However, reading your review makes me want to see it now.

    • Well. It’s a sure thing to get nominated… there’s no doubt about that. But from what I hear, everyone is thinking “The Artist” is going to win BP. Which sucks in the regard that 99.95% of the U.S. hasn’t been able to see it yet…

      But you know how it goes.

  6. Just wanted to say I’ve enjoyed all of the major award posts. I know you’ve put alot of work and dedication into each one and it really shows. Great job, Fogs!

  7. I concur the sentiments about your FMR Major Awards, so much thought, work, and feeling has gone into each one of the awards, it was a joy for us readers! In most cases I would agree with your selections and reasonings. It is also enjoyable to read all the comments from all you bloggers out there. Keep up the good work and comment often.

    That said I would have to disagree with your final best movie selection. I have seen the Descendants, 50/50, The Muppets and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and all of these movies fit into this category with out a doubt. But I recently saw GWTDT, and I loved it. Maybe it is the fact that it is the most recent movie I’ve seen or that I’m not that intellectually savvy. My choice would have been GWTDT.

    Can’t wait to see whats on the horizon! Keep up the good work.

    • “I’m not that intellectually savvy”

      Yeah, bad news Ray, your IQ test came back and you’re not allowed to post here anymore.


      It’s cool, I expected to have to justify my decision, I know I went with the light rock favorite vs the heavy metal hit.

      I really did sturggle with it, those two were both movies I loved, I gave them both the vaunted A++… I could have easily written a winners post regarding GWTDT that was just as enthusiastic.

      To me, Descendants won out due to the more hopeful tone, the lack of “qualifiers” (its a remake, its very brutal, etc) and one that really came to me at the last minute is I wonder how well GWTDT will hold up once the shock value is gone. Now that I know what I’m in for, how will it age? I dont know if it will pack the same wallop down the road.

      But keep in mind, those are tiebreakers for me. It was a very close race, and thats why GWTDT didnt win… my reasons why The Descendants DID win are in the post.

      And yeah, good stuff coming, stay tuned!

  8. I like the pick.

    As Fogs says, it’s an accessible story with multidimensional characters about actions that affect lives of family for years. The fact that this movie doesn’t try to be sentimental and is powerfully so only as an afterthought- well that’s just movie magic.

    • BOOM.

      LOL Thanks S. Grateful for your support. You summed it up nicely. It really doesn’t “try to hard” at any point. It just is and then has a really nice way of staying with you.


  9. Haven’t seen The Descendants but heard so much good things about it. I’m seeing it next week, when I have to drop my car for an oil change 😉 Oh by the way, you are wrong. The Tree of Life is the best movie of the year ah!

    • Yeah… saw you put that there.

      How about you can have it Best, T can have it as the worst, and I’ll have it somewhere in the top ten.

      I eliminated it from Best Picture consideration almost instantly. I can’t give that to a movie that’s going to go right over 80% of the audience’s heads. Even the highly intellectual, willing to work for it, open minded to experimental films crowd is going to have like a 10% fail rate with this one. LOL 😀

      Has to be taken into consideration… here. For me.

  10. Just watched this and Moneyball last night (Gotta love the ‘academy screeners’ season… Thanks Dad!) and loved both. Descendants was definitely the superior film, although the chuckles were much less than expected. Very powerful film and some great performances all around. I was especially impressed with the 2 child actors who were very convincing. (It’s been a good year for child actors, between this, Harry Potter, and Hugo) (Do the HP actors still count as child actors? Guess not, really)

    Moneyball was also a great film, although it was much more of an ‘inside baseball’ film than I thought and my wife didn’t care for it at all, so it may not have had that universal appeal that a ‘best film’ truly needs.

    Good pick Fogs!

    • Cool man, glad you enjoyed them!

      Yeah, “The Descendants” is just like a “life movie”. It’s not a laugh a minute comedy, but they’re not trying to be a tear jerker and spend all their time building up to the “big cry”. I think it has a lot to say about how we handle our affairs and how that impacts the future, too.

      You’re right on “Moneyball”, I’ve already seen a couple of people who aren’t baseball fans saying they couldn’t connect with it. I had thought it might be able to clear that hurdle, but apparently its not… Glad you liked them both though!

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