Ever wondered what it would be like to see “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” ... at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday? The sunrise showtime of the 9/11 heartstring-puller concludes the marathon Best Picture Showcase, which screens all nine nominees beginning Saturday morning with “Hugo 3D.”
If you intend to make it through all nine of the films, which screen consecutively for nearly 24 hours, you’re going to need the commitment of a Buddhist monk, eye drops, sustenance beyond a tub of popcorn and probably a nap or two. To help you plan your viewing/snoozing itinerary, I’ve assigned each of the scheduled films a nap factor rating, from low to high.
11 a.m. – “Hugo 3D”
“With its gorgeous sets and superb camerawork by Robert Richardson, “Hugo” splashes across the screen with elegant, visually vibrant flair - although it’s not entirely clear what 3-D brings to the enterprise, other than the truly terrifying stunt of Cohen’s leering face looming into the audience.” — Ann Hornaday
Nap factor: Low. What would be the point in spending $60 for an all-day pass if you were just going to sleep through the first film? Stay home. And while widely viewed as a needless excess, the 3D animation should keep you on your toes.
1:20 p.m. – “The Tree of Life”
“At its best, ‘The Tree of Life’ makes the viewer lean forward, eager to enter [director Terence] Malick’s own dreamy, poetic consciousness. At worst, it leads to the vague feeling that we’re listening to the meanderings of someone who’s not sure we’re smart enough to keep up.”— Ann Hornaday
Nap factor: Medium. It’s still probably too early to doze off, but the seemingly boundless stretches without dialogue, combined with Malick’s left-field, screensaver-like animations don’t help..
3:55 p.m. – “The Help”
“Fans of Kathryn Stockett’s folksy, ingratiating novel can rest easy: The director, Tate Taylor -- a childhood friend of the author, who, like her, grew up in Jackson, Miss., where the story is set -- has preserved the book’s story line, characters and confiding tone with loyalty worthy of any best friend. Fair warning: “The Help,” which Taylor wrote for the screen as well as directed, isn’t likely to win any converts among those who couldn’t abide Stockett’s dialect-heavy writing and earnest but vaguely self-congratulatory tale of a young white writer who strikes up a Jim Crow-defying friendship with black domestic workers in 1963 Mississippi.” — Ann Hornaday
Nap factor: Low if you read the book; high if you didn’t.
7:20 p.m. – “The Artist”
“The fact that “The Artist” is itself a silent movie -- in black-and-white, no less -- shouldn’t deter viewers from giving it a whirl. They’ll discover the sublime joy to be had simply in letting images and music dance across the screen in an infectiously spirited tableau that’s as involving as it is intoxicating.” — Ann Hornaday
Nap factor: Medium. With the film’s chances of winning Best Picture sitting at 89.4 percent on the trading Web site Intrade, this is one you’ll want to pay close attention to if you haven’t yet seen it. If this isn’t your first time, however, the film’s buoyant soundtrack and wordlessness could serve as a jolly lullyaby.
9:20 p.m. – “The Descendants”
“Is ‘The Descendants’ a laugh-out-loud comedy? Or a multi-hankie melodrama? An escapist star vehicle or scruffy indie road-trip movie? Larger than life or completely true to it? The answer, gratifyingly, is yes.” — Ann Hornaday
Nap factor: Low. You just don’t sleep through an in-form George Clooney.
11:30 p.m. – “Midnight in Paris”
“As an exhilarating valentine to the luminosity that gives the City of Light its name, “Midnight in Paris” is sheer pleasure to watch, full of rich visuals and felicitous comic turns. ... But there’s also substance beneath the glossy veneer and fanciful high jinks: a wistful meditation on nostalgia, self-deception and commitment that reminds viewers of the philosophical heft that has always characterized Allen’s strongest work.” — Ann Hornaday
Nap factor: Low if “Manhattan” is among your favorite Woody Allen films, medium if you’re more of a cerebral Allen in “Broadway Danny Rose” kind of fan. But with as many surprising cameos as there are winding alleyways in Paris, you’ll be happy to welcome midnight with “Paris.”
1:20 a.m. – “War Horse”
“If ‘War Horse’ errs on the side of overkill -- from composer John Williams’s insistently sweet string music to [director Steven] Spielberg’s ludicrously romantic lighting -- it acquits its central mission with the strength and assurance of its phenomenal equine protagonist.”
Nap factor: Medium, particularly if you like horses with moxie, in which case you’ll barely be able to contain yourself.
4:00 a.m. – “Moneyball”
Nap factor: High. A captivating performance by Brad Pitt aside, there’s simply no room for sabermetrics or Jeremy Giambi at 4 a.m.
6:20 a.m. – “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“There’s a fine line between precocious and insufferable, and it’s a line continually crossed by ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,’ Stephen Daldry’s extremely labored and incredibly crass adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel.”
Nap factor: Incalculable. Blame the Academy’s nominating process for making you decide whether to try sitting through the ninth and final screening of the marathon (hey, you’ve made it this far...) or retire to the comfort of your own bed. Intrade gives the film a 0.1 percent chance of winning, so the only thing you’ll miss by skipping out early is the chance to make a pithy remark (“More like extremely slow and incredibly boring!”) or two at your Oscar party, if you wake up in time.