Jacques Tati

Playtime Movie

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they get lost in the whirling modern wonder of Jacques Tati‘s fictional Paris to revel in whimsy, caprice and noisy angst. In the #43 (tied) movie on the list, the doofy Mr. Hulot (Tati) bumbles around the labyrinthine steel and concrete of a tech-addled city while tourists bounce around station to station and the background eventually comes to the foreground. Honestly, writing a plot synopsis for Playtime is a self-defeating purpose. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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There’s no secret that the certified sub-sections of “best picture” are not only somewhat backhanded, they’re getting increasingly more robbed of any shred of surprise at who the potential winner is as the Academy expands the number of films qualifying for the biggest prize. Increasing the number of nominees to ten whilst retaining the sub-categories of, generally, the same award (best animated *film*, best foreign *film*, best documentary *film*…) seems nearly needless; especially in this particular category because Pixar has removed any degree of competitiveness the past two years.

It isn’t because Pixar has a stronghold on the award of Best Animated Film itself (despite their current 4 for 6 record and running on 3 consecutive), but mainly because now that the Best Picture category has been extended to 10 films they’re more likely to have already announced the winner of a sub-category film by having announced the nomination of one (and only one) of the sub-category films in the larger category.

It is still nice to see as many films as possible get deserved recognition even though there’s about as close to a guarantee that they will lose as can possibly be without actually being able to guarantee a guarantee. Though, assuming the illogical can actually occur it would be interesting to see the black hole in the Oscarverse that would develop if Toy Story 3 is not announced as the victor.

As such, the Winner and two “Waydagoers” are…

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