Oscar predictions: take two

Oscar season is here for the 85th time, and it brings the usual criticism with it. Around this time each year, many people ask why their favorite movie isn’t nominated, usually without seeing the actual nominees.  Last year, I reviewed every nominee, and correctly predicted the winner (“The Artist”), even though I believed “Moneyball” to be the most deserving.  This year, I hope to extend that into a winning streak.  Here are the nine nominees for Best Picture, reviewed by yours truly.

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Heartfelt, yet depressing, “Amour” is about an older man who must take care of his ailing wife.  This subtitled French film is sure to get overlooked by many people, and honestly, you are not missing much if you do.  “Amour” is not an easy film to watch, therefore it is not for the casual movie-goer.  But if you enjoy film-making in its rawest form, you may be able to enjoy it.

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Argo

It’s been 10 years; I think it’s finally time to forgive Ben Affleck for “Gigli.”  With his third full-length movie in the director’s chair, Affleck tells the true story of the rescue of U.S. ambassadors during the Iran hostage crisis, by means of the CIA disguising themselves as a film crew.  “Argo” is filled with truly intense moments, where you find yourself anxiously waiting as they go through each step in their plan to escape an uprising of American-hating Iranians.  Affleck plays Tony Mendez, the operative responsible for planning the mission, and is supported by a strong script, supporting cast, and historical accuracy that makes “Argo” the frontrunner for Best Picture.

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Beasts of the Southern Wild

Hushpuppy.  This movie is about a girl named Hushpuppy.  You might want to dismiss this film after you hear that name, but it’s through this girl’s imagination you will see devastation in a different way.  The plot may be a little convoluted at times, but the dynamic relationship Hushpuppy shares with her father, and the way she deals with heavy themes such as loss, hunger, and violence, are refreshing from the other cardboard copy protagonists we see in most movies.

 

 

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Django Unchained

This might be the craziest movie I’ve seen all of 2012, but it also might be the best.  “Django” has it all: brutality, comedy, romance, and controversy.  There is even a hidden message in the madness, as well.  But where Django Unchained truly succeeds is in it’s pacing.  There is no lull in the story.  Director Quentin Tarantino makes every twist and turn on this roller coaster of a movie feel seamless.  The entire cast does an amazing job, but the standout was “Inglorious Basterds” alum Christoph Waltz.  He simply steals every scene with the perfect mix of nonchalance and cleverness. “Django Unchained” deserves to win the Best Picture Oscar.

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Les Miserables

“Les Mis,” one of the most famous musicals ever, returned to the big screen at the end of 2012, and didn’t disappoint.  The talented cast, starring Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, and Anne Hathaway, sing through the French Revolution in magnificent style.  Hathaway stole the show during her brief onscreen performances, and Jackman and Crowe’s back and forth singing and fighting was exciting.  While the movie clocks in at 158 minutes, the soundtrack alone is worth the time.

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Life Of Pi

I didn’t quite know what to expect going into “Life of Pi.”  I knew there were glowing whales, tigers, and a “Cast Away” situation.  But to sum up this movie by those three things would be a great injustice.  “Pi” is a film of unbiased spirituality, self-discovery, and survival.  Pi is trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger, but he realizes that he needs him to survive, and visa-versa.  “Life of Pi” succeeds in portraying a message without coming off as preachy.  And if you don’t like movies with messages, there’s always the glowing whales.

 

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Lincoln

Is there any role Daniel Day-Lewis can’t master?  This time, he steals the show as the titular Abraham Lincoln himself.  However, despite what the title may suggest, this film is not so much about Lincoln, as it is about the road to passing the 13th amendment.  Get ready to spend a lot of time in the 19th century U.S. Congress.

 

 

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Silver Linings Playbook

The marketing campaign for “Silver Linings” may seem as if it’s a sassy romantic comedy with some sports thrown in.  In reality, this film is about a man’s struggle with his bi-polar disorder, and a widow who is trying to get over the loss of her husband.  They both help each other to take back their lives.  Often funny, often sad, yet totally engrossing, “Silver Linings Playbook” is a must-see film.

 

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Zero Dark Thirty

My expectations for this film were high after director Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning debut “The Hurt Locker.”  However, I was left wanting more after viewing “Zero Dark Thirty.”  It’s not an awful movie, but it is a long and drawn out road that you have to travel to arrive at the exhilarating assault on bin Laden’s compound.  However, credit should be given to Bigelow’s accuracy, so much so that the government wants to meet with her about it’s content.

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