Tag Archives: Oscars

Argo (2012)

21 Feb

I probably would have never bothered to see Argo at all if it weren’t for all those darn award nominations. And I fully intended to write this post about how Ben Affleck is all talk and no walk, and the movie is totally overrated, and the academies don’t know what they’re doing and give totally predictable nominations and bla bla bla.

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Then I saw the movie.  Argo is excellent.  Even though I am fully gung ho on the Beasts of the Southern Wild bandwagon, I would not fret one little bit if Argo swept the Oscars this weekend instead.

Although I love spy movies, I am consistently bored with movies focused on the retelling of historical events.  That’s a weird way to describe a genre, because isn’t almost every movie a retelling of a historical event in a way? But you know what I mean.  Telling me that a film is about the Iranian hostage crisis is a surefire way to get me to not care about it, hence my complete lack of interest up until award noms were handed out.

argo_ver7Argo is full of suspense. And it’s exciting. And it’s got a million actors I love in it (Alan Arkin! Brian Cranston! That woman who played the girlfriend of the reporter in American Horror Story:Asylum!) Even though you have a general idea of how the whole thing will play out since it already happened, I was on the edge of my seat and biting my nails every moment of the way.

Touche Ben Affleck, touche. You really can make a film.

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OSCAR SEASON!

10 Jan

Seriously, you have no idea how much I love the Oscars. No idea. The Oscars are my Superbowl.

Oscar nominees are out now, THE ANTICIPATION IS KILLING ME!!

Since this is serious business, here are my hopes and my predictions for several categories of the 2013 Academy Awards:

Best Picture: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

My Hope: Beasts of the Southern Wild

My Prediction: Silver Linings Playbook

Actor in a Leading Role: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)

My Hope: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

My Prediction:  Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

Actor in a Supporting Role: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffmann (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

I have absolutely no idea who will win that category.

Actress in a Leading Role:  Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

My Hope:  Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

My Prediction:  Toss up between Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Actress in a Supporting Role:  Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

My Hope: Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

My Prediction: Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

Animated Feature Film: Brave, Frankenweenie, Paranorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph

My Hope: Wreck it Ralph

My Prediction: Brave

Directing: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

My Hope: Beasts of the Southern Wild

My Prediction: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

My Hope:  Beasts of the Southern Wild

My Prediction:  This is a really hard call.  I think Life of Pi, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook are all equally likely.

Writing (Original Screenplay):  Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty

My Hope: Moonrise Kingdom

My Prediction: Amour

southern wild

My favorite film for the year is Beasts of the Southern Wild, but I have a pessimistic feeling that it won’t get the Oscar attention I think it deserves.  I also think that Django Unchained will be largely passed over.  On the other hand, I think Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln are all going to get lots of love for the Academy.

What are your predictions for the 2013 Academy Awards?

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

3 Dec

How do I even explain this movie? It’s kind of a post-apocalyptic type drama, kind of a fantasy, kind of a coming of age story. Even without reviewing a list of the best movies of 2012, I can easily tell you this is my favorite. It is unique, accessible, and beautiful. This film fully deserves the Best Picture Oscar.

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Beasts follows the Lord of the Flies style survival of families roughing it in “the Bathtub”– a former land mass that has since been flooded out and cut off from dry land by the levees. Six year old Hushpuppy is all but abandoned by her parents, starving and struggling, but she has astounding grace and maturity. There is one scene where she accidentally starts a terrible fire, and instead of evacuating, she hides under a paper box. I was practically screaming at the television “GET OUT OF THERE!” and then realized that wait, she is six. Of course she would hide under a paper box, she is terrified and has no idea what is going on. I was so distracted by her maturity and self-sufficiency that I forgot what a child she truly is.

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Beasts is amazing. Truly amazing.

A Separation (2011) and Network (1976)

25 Aug

I’ve been down lately about my Netflix movies, because everything I’ve picked has been bo-ring.  I’ve been working on the AFI Top 100 list, and many of the movies have failed to catpture my attention.  Often the plot is dated, and while the film technology may have been cutting edge at the time of the release, it is also long since dated.  My enthusiasm about the list, however, was rekindled with Network.

Network is the dawn of trash television.  As an aging nightly news anchorman has a total mental breakdown on air, ratings-starved network execs exploit his insanity as television takes its turn from dignified to sensationalistic.  Decrying the erosion of morality in popular culture is a beloved topic for letters to the editor and message boards, but Network confirmed my inkling that there never was any “golden age” when everyone was polite and classy.  Sesationalism, violence, sex, betrayal all of that make entertainment.  It always has (for goodness sakes, go pick up the Canterbury Tales!)  Culture isn’t devolving, there was never any “high” culture to begin with.

Network was skillfully acted, and brings to mind how drastically acting styles and appearances have changed since, say, the early 1990s.  In the 1970s, actors still had imperfections.  Sure, Faye Dunaway is rail thin and beautiful, but her teeth are yellowed and her hair kind of frizzy.  Those imperfections make the actors feel more real.  Nowadays, those teeth would have been bleached and her hair treated, homogenized and purified.  And boring.  Films in the 1970s are also not afraid of awkward silences.  They pop up here and there in such films, just like they do in real life.  I feel like films today iron out all the awkwardness of real life, to streamline the content for impatient audiences, but it no longer feels as human.

A Separation is also an intense drama, but a totally different kind of film than Network.  Since the Oscars, I’ve been waiting for A Separation to hit DVD.

A Separation is an Iranian film that won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Foreign Feature Film.  That award was well deserved.  A Separation portrays family struggles, love and loss, tensions between economic classes.  It follows a husband and wife, with a 12 year old daughter, who are trying to find their way after separating.  After 18 months of bureaucratic red tape, the wife obtained visas for her family to leave the country.  But the husband won’t leave, because he needs to care for his father, who is suffering the late stages of Alzheimers.  The husband hires a woman as a caretaker for his father.  She leaves his father unattended one afternoon to run an errand.  The husband and the caretaker get into a fight, and he kicks her out.  Later that evening, he is informed that she was tragically injured.  The caretaker and her husband decide to press charges.  The film then follows the ensuing court battle, and attempts to figure out the facts of what exactly happened.

It’s obvious this film is hard to adequately summarize, because the film is amazing and my summary was really really boring.  I loved seeing everyday life in Iran.  Little things like seeing what Iranian kitchen appliances look like, or  what a typical drive down the street is like are fascinating to me.  Films about the American court system usually bore me to tears (I don’t want to spend my entertainment time re-living my workday), but I was fascinated to see how legal proceedings work in Iran.  If this film is at all accurate (I know American films often botch law related stuff), Iranian courts are much more informally structured, and a proceeding is determined by one judge, who has great leeway in ordering testimony and examining evidence in order to get to the bottom of the issue.  Although in American law, all the formalistic evidence rules are designed to narrow the evidence to that which is central to the issues.  However, I feel like the Iranian approach, with one person who is educated in the law making all the calls and given broad investigative leeway, is more focused with getting to the bottom of the facts.

A Separation is available now on DVD.  It is well worth a bump-up on your Netflix queue or a trip to the Redbox.