Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 Oscar Nominations PT 1

Well, the Academy Award Nominees have been announced and it is no shock that Lincoln got the most nominations. It's a Spielberg movie, it's Daniel Day Lewis, and it's historical drama. Sally Field doesn't hurt your chances either...

I'm not going to run the list of all the nominees, but will give my take on the Academy's picks.

Here are the Best Picture nominees and the number of nominations they received:


Lincoln - 12
Life of Pi - 11
Les Mis - 9
Argo -7
Silver Linings Playbook - 7
Django - 5
Amour - 5
Zero Dark Thirty - 5
Beasts of the Southern Wild - 4

First of all, I have to applaud the selection of the startling performance of Quvenzhané Wallis, the young girl in Beasts of the Southern Wild. She was amazing. She went from joyful to sad to thoughtful to triumphant over the course of the story. She may be a natural, but she was great and the movie was good. She is the youngest Best Actress nominee ever. Coincidentally, Quvenzhané happens to be 76 years younger than one of her fellow Best Actress nominees, Emmanuelle Riva from Amour, who at 85 is the oldest nominee ever.

The pundits will cry "SNUBBED!!!" for the exclusion of Argo, Django, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty from the Best Director category, but when you have 9 Best Picture plus 5 Best Animated Feature nominees and only 5 Best Director nominees, there are going to be 9 people 'snubbed'. Not to mention the thousands who weren't nominated for anything...

The snub that I will decry is the utter exclusion of Cloud Atlas, especially in the Hair and Makeup category. I mean really. This wonderful film of interwoven stories spanning time and space has multiple actors playing multiple parts and there were times when the makeup was so well done that I had no idea it Tom Hanks or Susan Sarandon or Halle Barry playing the part. The ambition and variety of the character makeup is astonishing and well done. Actors play multiple ages, genders, and ethnicities. In addition, Cloud Atlas should have received nominations for editing, makeup, costumes, and production design. Instead, they got zero. Conspiracy theorists—get busy...

I thought this film about the Iranian Hostage Crisis was great. While I remember the events of the Embassy standoff well, Argo tells a true story of an amazing rescue that no one had ever heard of (classified for decades) and it involved an epic science fiction film that was never made... Ben Affleck made a great movie and his third film shows that he is not a one (or even two) trick pony. He is a real director. I guess he'll have prove it to the Academy by not starring in his next movie, although I understand why he casts himself... He's a movie star!

I was thrilled to find this is not a biography, but rather a Congressional thriller about the passing the 13th amendment and Lincoln's struggles with the war as well as his government. Lincoln is Steven Spielberg's best movie in years and the opposite of the cloying, vacuous, and frankly terrible War Horse. Lincoln will be seen in schools for decades to come as both a history lesson and a primer on how difficult it is for our messy government to get anything done. Daniel Day-Lewis is very good as Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones is his man that gets things done in the houses of government.

Not surprisingly, this is another great film, but Beasts is the wild card of the Best Picture choices, The Little Engine That Could, the underdog indie film that somehow achieved enough noise to get noticed. The movie is a little rambling, but the story is good and the performances exemplary. It is a bit fable, a bit magic realism, and wholly charming.   Quvenzhané Wallis as the adorable, plucky Hushpuppy carries the film and anchors it with her mesmerizing force of will.

Tense. Dramatic. Dangerous. ZD30 is by far the most talked about film of the year with the news and the election forcing the release date to be delayed until after the election. The film is a wonder of making the mundane thrilling, and the nominated performance of Jessica Chastain is well deserved. Kathyrn Bigelow has delivered a unflinchingly raw, engrossing thriller.

Part two of this series will follow...

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