For the past few years, Kurt and I have tried to see all of the best picture nominees for the Oscars; unfortunately, we’ve always missed one of the bunch. This year, we finally managed to see all of them. Here’s my breakdown from my least favorite to my most favorite.
9. Amour – This is a French film about an elderly couple and what happens when one of them gets sick. It’s sweet, emotional, and sad. There is no soundtrack, so what you see happening feels more like real life. I put it as my least favorite not because it is a bad film, but because although it was heart-wrenching and real, it also dragged in some places. It almost felt too real, and I personally don’t want to be depressed when I’m trying to watch a fantasy tale. Also, I don’t like the idea that it’s a French film and was nominated in Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film. It feels like double dipping, though it probably deserves the win for Best Foreign Language (I didn’t see any other ones).
8. Les Misérables – This film was beautiful visually with wonderful vocals, but I feel like it is severely overrated. At least 20 minutes could have been shaved off the film for a tighter script and less dragging. Anne Hathaway was the best thing in the film, and Russell Crowe tried his hardest to match the singing of Anne and Hugh Jackman. Some of the camera angles should have been opposite; for example, don’t pan in on Crowe’s face, but rather zoom out to display the depth of the scene. Personally, I wouldn’t have included it in the Best Picture nominees at all.
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild – This one definitely hit home, given that it was set in coastal Louisiana after a hurricane. Quvenzhané Wallis was very good as Hushpuppy, but I personally think her father, Dwight Howard, aka Wink, was more powerful. She played off him beautifully. In fact, I would have given him the Best Actor nomination over Hugh Jackman. This movie definitely shows the struggles of extremely rural people who don’t know nor care to know about life outside of their immediate area. I shudder to think of the bigots who will watch this and think poorly of the people and culture that’s different from their own, because this is a very true-to-life movie about a subset of people living in a bigger culture. Great movie, and yet, there are still better ones.
6. Zero Dark Thirty – This movie could have definitely benefited from some additional editing. It ran excessively long and Joel Edgerton did not even enter the movie until the last 45 minutes. Some of the movie was just flat and lifeless, though the exciting and intense parts certainly were. Jessica Chastain was as superb as could be, though I did get tired of her off-in-space stares that got a little overdone sometimes.
5. Life of Pi – I hate that this one is at number five, because it was beautiful, touching, and really made me think. Visually, it was amazing. Suraj Sharma, who’s only role thus far is this, was amazing. I felt his pain and heartache and tears of sadness and was moved to tears myself. This truly was a spectacular film and everyone should see it.
4. Argo – This was another great film. It is a shame that Ben Affleck was not nominated as Best Director, because I could truly see him winning that award. I wouldn’t be surprised if Argo won Best Picture as some sort of retribution for his lack on nomination. It was very interesting to see such a trying point in history, and it really made me think. I could see how this might be called propaganda, because it does make you question things about America and whether what we do is right or wrong.
3. Silver Linings Playbook – This movie was like watching my life. It affected Kurt and I profoundly. When Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, told Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, “Thank you. I love you. I knew it from the moment I saw you. I’m sorry it took me so long to catch up,” it felt like I was having Déjà vu. Cooper did some of the best acting of his career, and Robert De Nero was equally impressive. Jennifer Lawrence is still young so I think she has some more great acting ahead of her.
2. Django Unchained – I adore this movie. I adore Quentin Tarantino. I ADORE Leonardo DiCaprio. And Christoph Waltz isn’t too shabby either. Neither is Jamie Foxx. Or Samuel L. Jackson. Dang, I just love this movie. It was funny. It was well acted. It showed the triumph of good over evil. I could watch this over and over again. Kurt even won me a Leonardo DiCaprio poster as Calvin Candie turning the trivia between movies. In all, fantastic film. If you don’t mind blood and the liberal use of curse words. Which I don’t.
1. Lincoln – This deserves the number one spot for many reasons. Daniel Day-Lewis was Lincoln. This is pretty much the only time we will see Lincoln as alive as possible. I’m not sure it’s possible to bring history more to life than this. To see how the 13th Amendment was passed (dramatized or not) was like taking a time machine back and watching real history. I really was in awe. I understand how some people might say it is too long, and they could have shaved some of it down, but I thought it was nearly flawless.
Here’s some other predictions, just for fun:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
Best Achievement in Directing: Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Argo: Chris Terrio
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Wreck-It Ralph: Rich Moore
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Amour
Best Achievement in Cinematography: Life of Pi: Claudio Miranda
Best Achievement in Editing: Life of Pi: Tim Squyres
Best Achievement in Production Design: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright
Best Achievement in Costume Design: Anna Karenina : Jacqueline Durran
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: Skyfall: Thomas Newman
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: Skyfall : Adele, Paul Epworth (“Skyfall”)
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing: Les Misérables: Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes
Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Life of Pi (2012): Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton
Best Achievement in Visual Effects: Life of Pi (2012): Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott