Monthly Archives: February 2013

That’s a wrap

Wait a minute, The Oscars are tonight?
Fail. I still have four best picture nominees to see, not to mention a handful of the films with nominated actors and actresses and the whole lot in the documentary, foreign and animated categories.
I’ll still watch the big show tonight and try to get to all the nominees after the fact. Better late than never, right?
Before I get to the predictions I can make, I did recently see the final best picture noms I would get through before the airing of The Oscars.

Today I watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which is also nominated for best director (Benh Zeitlin) and best actress Quvenzhane Wallis for her role as Hushpuppy.
Some of the effects would have been more fitting to see at the movie theater, but my small screen showing didn’t take away from the film.
It has been showing at the theater I work at since the Oscar nominees were announced and a few people left the auditorium because they couldn’t handle the hand-held camera style.
I hardly noticed the camera work over the plot of the film.
Hushpuppy, who is 6 in the film, and her father Wink live in a southern land surrounded by water that they call “The Bathtub.”
The film was shot in Louisiana and mixes some reality in the relationships between its characters with the fantasy of how they are surviving in a world that could be washed away by the effects of nature at any second.
I think it’s important to use your imagination while watching the film and just let it take you away.
It’s enjoyable and certainly a respectable first film by Benh Zeitlin. He collaborated on the screenplay with Lucy Alibar, who wrote the stage play “Juicy and Delicious” that is the basis for the film.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was released in theaters the first time last summer after buzz around the film festival circuit like Sundance and Cannes.
While I am supportive of the predictable rat race between “Argo” and “Lincoln,” (maybe “Amour” too, although I haven’t seen it) for best picture – it is films like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” that make one wish for the surprising wins that rarely happen at the Academy Awards.

Moving on to “Lincoln,” I should clarify that I can see why the film is in the mix with the other best picture nominees, I just don’t think it’s deserving of the award.
I’ve honestly had a draft of my review about Steven Spielberg’s hyped-up baby in the works for a month but I couldn’t get the words out just right.
It’s not that I didn’t like “Lincoln,” I just I left the theater wanting something more. This may be a story Spielberg felt needed to be told in a film, using Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book,”Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” as a backdrop, but I honestly would have been satisfied with a lesser-known tale about the president or even something completely fictional.
Daniel Day Lewis’ acting was one of the high points of the film but there was too much attention on his physical likeness to Abraham Lincoln over his ability to play the part.
The teaser trailer released in September 2012, to me, was only a reason to show viewers the profile of Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.
The visual turned into a distracting fault of the film rather than one of its favorable points.
The plot of the film centers on Lincoln’s push for the emancipation of slavery as well as some of his family life and persona as a president.

The U.S. Senate approved Lincoln’s amendment to abolish slavery and the conflict turns to securing enough votes from the House of Representatives.
Turns out, according to Wesley Morris’ Oscars preview on Grantland, that Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner switched the votes of two Connecticut congressmen to be against the amendment. The facts were changed for dramatic effect and it’s been requested there is a correction when the film is released on DVD.
I won’t judge the film for that because Morris also points out some inaccuracies in the depiction of the true story “Argo” is based on. However, I wish “the” film to be made about Abraham Lincoln was more out of the box and didn’t leave me with the feeling it was made, well, just to be made.
“Argo” seems to be the leader for best picture after it continued to sweep some of the post Golden Globes awards

I think it will, and should win, based on what I have seen.
Affleck was snubbed for a best director nomination by the Academy, as was Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty.” It did get honors in the best picture category, but I hear the criticism from the political world may have hurt the film’s chances. It is definitely next on my list, and then I just need to see “Life of Pi,” “Amour” and “Les Miserables.”

Emmanuelle Riva, from “Amour,” is getting more buzz to win the best actress award with Jessica Chastain for her role in Bigelow’s picture as a challenger.
I can’t make many educated statements about best actor, having only seen “Lincoln” and Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook,” but it is obvious Daniel Day Lewis is the critics’ “should-will” selection here.
Denzel Washington seems to be a runner-up for “Flight” but I think Cooper needs to cut is teeth a little bit more in dramatic roles before winning.
The supporting role nominations, at least for the actors, still make me cringe a little bit due to Leonardo DiCaprio’s name not being on the list for his performance in “Django Unchained.” I am happy overall that the film is recognized among the best picture nominees and for Christoph Waltz’s performance.
Jamie Foxx should have been in the mix as well, and what about any nominations for “Moonrise Kingdom?”
It did make it into the screenplay category, but the Wes Anderson film and cast needs more recognition Lastly, I understand “The Master” is a snub for best picture, but it did make quite the sweep in acting with nominations for Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Surprise surprise, I also need to see this film.
I certainly have gone on long enough about this Hollywood popularity contest, but it is the culmination of award season and exciting nonetheless to think a few underdogs might get their moment on stage tonight.
If they don’t, there is still the opportunity to look at the overall appreciation of film throughout the whole year.  Festivals are ongoing from Texas to Toronto and France to Utah and don’t forget the pre-Oscars Independent Spirit Awards to honor anything and everything cinema. 
And by tomorrow the buzz about films that could be the next contenders on that circuit will begin. (I’m thinking Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects,” which I am seeing this afternoon.)
Before I sign off, I recommend watching David Carr and A.O. Scott banter about their Oscar picks from the offices of the New York Times
Enjoy the show!