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Academy Awards

At the Movies

THE OSCARS—and other stuff

 Movies

If you have not seen a movie recently, then you have missed some excellent entertainment. This past year was one of the best for films in many years or perhaps decades.

I did not make my usual Oscar predictions this year because it was impossible to choose from the many excellent films and performances. A lot of the movies are still playing at your local theater complex and others are either on DVD or will be released soon.

If you are looking for a good movie to see you can’t go wrong with any of the ones nominated for best picture. They are:

 

 

Best Picture

  • American Hustle—Not since The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford has such a con game played out on the screen. Set in the ‘70s, this movie is worth it just to see the outrageous fashions of the day. I can’t believe that we proudly wore those wide bell bottoms and polyester leisure suits. The plot will keep you guessing till the end.
  • Captain Phillips—Although we know how this one ends, you can’t help but get caught up in the tension. High sea drama in a tiny little boat. Be sure to take your Dramamine.
  •  Dallas Buyers Club—You will see why Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor in his role as an AIDS patient. He gives a powerful performance as someone who refuses to give up. Jared Leto, who won Best Supporting Actor, is convincing as a transgender struggling for acceptance. Although, on the surface this movies looks as if it could be depressing, it isn’t. This is a very uplifting story.
  • Gravity—Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are stranded in space—but this is not a love story. Another story focusing on the power of the will to survive. I was exhausted at the end of the movie having gone through all the physical and emotional trauma right along with the main character. See this in 3D if you can.
  •  Her—A love story of a man and his computer operating system. Is this what the world is coming to?
  •  Nebraska—An old man falls for one of the many scams today and thinks he has won a million dollars. Since he no longer drives, he sets of walking to Nebraska to collect his prize. This movie is both funny and sad at the same time. This movie produced two award nominees—Bruce Dern for Best Actor and June Squibb for Best Supporting Actress. Don’t let the fact that it is shot in black and white discourage you from seeing this masterpiece. The stark surroundings help intensify the emotions.
  •  Philomena—This small movie has not received the publicity it should. Judi Dench turns in an award nominated performance as a staunchly religious person who never loses her faith even though the church is responsible for her great loss. Another movie that runs the gamut of funny to sad. A cynical reporter helps a mother search for her son and you will never guess the outcome.
  •  12 Years a Slave—This is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. There are scenes that are so vivid that they refuse to be erased from my memory. If you think you know what life was like as a slave, think again. This movie portrays the emotional toll it took on the slaves and even the owners and overseers. What makes the story even more impactful is that it is taken from the book written by the man who lived it. This won Best Movie of the Year and is one that everyone should see.
  •  The Wolf of Wall Street—Here we see the obscene excessiveness of the very, very rich. They have so much money they throw $100 bills around as it is paper money. But eventually we must all pay for our abundance, especially if is gained unethically. This is another true story and gives us a peek into the world of the ultra rich where money, prostitutes, drugs, and fancy cars are the norm.

 

 

 

Here come the Oscars

 

 Oscar

If you are a movie fan then this coming Sunday is the night of all nights, the super bowl of talent, the parade of fashion, the Academy Awards!

There were many good movies this year but unfortunately most of them came at the end of the year. Those nominated for best picture are: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.

Although any of the nominated movies are good enough to win, I think Argo will win the prize. I think the Academy voters will award Argo to make up for the snub by the Academy of not nominating Ben Affleck for best director. In addition it has already won many of the other awards leading up to the Oscars.

For Best Actor I think Daniel Day-Lewis will win for Lincoln.  He doesn’t just portray Lincoln, he is Lincoln.  He is one of the most remarkable actors of our time and his portrayal of Lincoln is a jewel in his crown of achievements.

Jennifer Lawrence of Silver Linings Playbook seems to have the edge in the Best Actress category but I think Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty also has a very good chance. Also, Quvenzhane Wallis in The Beasts of the Southern Wild is the youngest actress to be nominated. She was six when she did the role and is very mature for her young years. I don’t think she will win but the movie is worth seeing just to witness her performance. However, I think Jennifer Lawrence will win for her great on-screen chemistry with Bradley Cooper and for her funny, quirky, touching, and sad portrayal of a young widowed psychiatric patient. She captures a range of emotions.

In the Supporting Actor category it is a toss-up between five excellent actors. Alan Arkin is snappy and funny in Argo, Robert DeNiro is tough and a little touched in the head struggling with his OCD son in Silver Linings Playbook, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is fiery and dynamic in The Master. I think DeNiro will win for the sensitive and vulnerable side he shows in Silver Linings Playbook.

We also have four outstanding actresses vying for Best Supporting Actress. Amy Adams is a steadying force in The Master and Sally Field holds her own against Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln; however, I think Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables will walk away with the honors. She gives a heart-wrenching portrayal of Fantine, a single mother working hard to provide for her daughter.

For Best Director I think it is between: Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) who coaxed amazing performances from two novices—a six year old girl and a baker; David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) who told a touching story about a taboo subject (mental illness) with dignity, pathos and humor; and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) who managed to keep the audience intrigued with a subject that is not only controversial but also one that could be stuffy and academic and one which everyone already knows the outcome. My vote is for Spielberg because his attention to detail made the viewer feel as if he is sitting in Washington watching the events unfold in current time.

 

The Nominees Are:

 

Best Picture:
  • Amour,
  • Argo,
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild,
  • Django Unchained,
  •  Les Misérables,
  • Life of Pi,
  • Lincoln,
  • Silver Linings Playbook,
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Best 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
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
  • Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Best Director:
  • Michael Haneke, Amour
  • Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Ang Lee, Life of Pi
  • David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
  • Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Actor in a Supporting Role

 

Actress in a Supporting Role