I’m a filmie. It’s true. It says so right on my customized Starbucks card. (See photo. Thanks, Daron.)
Today I just finished watching all of the Best Picture Nominees for tomorrow night’s Oscars. The big glitzy night with the little golden man is pretty much my Super Bowl. I prep for this event all year long, watching movies and making predictions. And I often get asked what movies I’ve seen, or what I’d like to see win an Academy Award. I worked hard this year seeing these movies, just so I could report my thoughts to you here.
So, here you go. Here are the Oscars, from me to you.
Amour: It’s the story of an elderly man taking care of his wife who just had a stroke. And be warned, there’s a twist you don’t see coming. The acting is brilliant, and the scenes are long and slow so that you feel the stress and pain of the couple. I don’t think it’ll win any top awards, but it’s sure to have Foreign Language Film in the bag.
Argo: Victor Garber back in politics and semi-spying under the direction of Mr. Jennifer Garner—yes, please! It was a terrific movie, and even knowing the outcome, I was holding my breath at the end. If a movie says based on a true story, go see it. Even if you don’t want to, go. It’s an amazing cast, from the small to the big to the quirky parts.
The word on the street has this one picked as the winner, and it would be well-deserved.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Interesting. Well done for the budget. I can’t say I really liked it, but I get the praise, and QW packs a lot of talent into that little body. So does the father, especially considering he’s not an actor but the owner of a local bakery who got talked into auditioning. I do think it’s a long shot for any awards, but an absolute honor being nominated. Cool that it ended up on the radar. Hopefully we’ll see more from these actors, writers and producers.
Django Unchained: It’s definitely Tarantino. Actually, the first two-thirds was pretty tame for him, and I really enjoyed that part. The latter third is Quintin to the max, lots of blood and violence. But kuddos that he took on such a serious subject in such a clever way.
Les Miserables: It really was beautiful, and fun to see on the big screen. The singing wasn’t Broadway-worthy, except Hugh who is no stranger there, but the performances nonetheless were all wonderful. Nothing beats the stage show, but this may be the closest it could ever come. Genius production, and so glad that Cameron Mackintosh was part of the team to keep it close to the Great White Way. And I gotta say, I’m excited to see what Tom Hooper will tackle next. After this and The King’s Speech, he’s on a roll with me.
Life of Pi: There almost aren’t words for how gorgeous this movie is. No one could’ve tackled it but Ang Lee. I never read the book, but it must have seem to readers that it would never translate to screen. I’m not sure what I expected from this flick, but it was so much more. Loved the story, and a little disappointed the main character wasn’t nominated for Actor in a Leading Role. He was outstanding. One of the characters notes that two things would come as a result of hearing Pi’s story. The first is that it would be a story worth writing and sharing, and the second is that anyone who hears it would believe in God. Agree with the character’s decision: check, check.
Lincoln: This is more than a movie. It is a work of art. I’ve seen A LOT of movies, but Lincoln goes into that special category that only a few ever do. Inspiring seems like too small a word. I will add this one to my all time fav’s, and ask everyone I know to see it. The cast is awesome, as you’d expect from Spielberg, but DDL yet again claims his place in film history. I think my jaw actually dropped from the first frame of him as Lincoln. (Someone give that makeup team an award!) Of course, the subject matter is near and dear to me, so that helped. But it really is nothing short of extraordinary. Lincoln is revered as one of the most loved and admired presidents of all time, so it was a lot to live up to. But DDL is, in my opinion, the Lincoln we’ve all dreamed of. After recently finishing a biography about The Great Emancipator, I have even more respect for him. But knowing the growth in his opinions and values over his lifetime that led to the final four months depicted in this film, I am more deeply saddened than ever before about his assassination. I, like so many others I imagine, found myself dreading the final moments of the film and wishing that it could end another way. I wonder what would’ve happened had he lived. Still, it made me more grateful for what he accomplished in his four years as President. Compassion at any level is never a small thing.
Keeping my fingers, toes, legs and eyes crossed that this one racks up the goods, including the top prize.
Silver Linings Playbook: A terrific ensemble cast, and I love the fact that it tackled mental illness which should be given more attention everywhere. Thanks, Hollywood, for stepping up. Bradley Cooper did a remarkable job with this role. Jennifer Lawrence seems to be getting more of the attention, but I personally think he did the heavy lifting. He’s just so darn pretty and talented. (Hearts for Will Tippin!) The use of humor in the movie is also incredible. Not only needed, but deserved, particularly the dining room dinner date. Everyone plays off each other so effortlessly, and it’s it clearly deserves attention.
Zero Dark Thirty: I probably wouldn’t have seen this if it wasn’t in the Best Picture lineup. It’s just not my thing. I even took my friend, Raechel, who knows a lot about current events and politics in case I had questions. 😉 But it was more intriguing than I would’ve thought. Of course, you never know what is based in reality and what isn’t, but still a good portrayal overall. And it always helps for me to see the events rather than just hear them reported. Somehow makes it more real—as wrong as that probably sounds. (PS—I just heard the term “zero dark thirty” on Homeland so perhaps it’s a real phrase. I didn’t hear it in the movie. However, I still think it sounds more like a Michael Bay summer blockbuster.)
And the winner is…
Well, personally, I hope the winner is Lincoln, but I think it will be Argo.
Actor in a Leading Role: Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix* and Denzel Washington
I want DDL to win, and I think he will.
Actress in a Leading Role: Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhane Wallis and Naomi Watts**
I’d give it to Emmanuelle or Quvenzhane, but the buzz is all about Jessica Chastain.
Actor in a Supporting Role: Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro, Philip Seymore Hoffman*, Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz
Tough call, but I think I’d chose Christoph Waltz. This may be the tightest race of the night. All performances were quite note-worthy.
Actress in a Supporting Role: Amy Adams*, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt* and Jacki Weaver
Anne Hathaway’s “small” part was incredibly moving. I think she’s got it in the bag. And I hope she has a sandwich in there, too, because she still needs to put on a few pounds.
Director: Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg and David O. Russell
I feel confident the stars and I are aligned on Spielberg.
*I haven’t seen The Sessions or The Master.
**The Impossible is a terrific movie. I highly recommend. Lots of tears will be shed if you’re anything like me, but it is a phenomenal true story and puts a face to the tragedy. It would’ve also been fitting to see the oldest son get a nomination. He was tremendous.