The Academy Awards, the pinacle of movie-dom. This year, I was able to watch ALL of the best picture nominees, as well as all the nominated performances in the best actor and best actress and best supporting actor and best supporting actress categories! Below you will find mini reviews on all of these and my picks for tomorrow's ceremonies!
Best Picture Nominees -
The nominees in this category cover every base: musical, drama, foreign language film, and even a bit of comedy. It's a tough group this year and I think it will be a tight race.
Amour - The story of love and age and how they relate to each other. The movie was emotionally powerful and simplistically filmed. The characters were beautifully played and incredibly believable. The lack of background music (save for a few sequences of brilliant piano playing), really drives the reality of the story, but leaves a lot to be desired in the masking of chewing noises.
Django Unchained - This is an unconventional tale of a freed slave and his journey to find and free his wife while in the company of an intriguingly hilarious German bounty hunter. While it should be noted that this is a Tarantino film and with that comes lots of blood, violence, and spectacular explosions, the performances and story telling are well worth the gore.
Lincoln - The story that needs no introduction. It might not technically be the longest film on the list, but it felt like it. Daniel Day-Lewis does a good job at personifying the 16th President of the United States of America. Though the characterization and portrayal of Lincoln was well done, the length and pacing of the film as well as some of the creative choices really effected the overall impression of the whole thing for me.
Argo - One of two films nominated about daring military escapades, this movie is fast paced and very well put together. The casting, in relation to the real life people, was spot on and the cinematography brilliant. The supporting cast did a great job keeping the feeling light when necessary and the editing really brings the tension home.
Les Miserable - The struggles of Jean Valjean in 19th century France and the toll of the French Revolution on the people. An excellently cast, costumed, and put together film for anybody that likes period pieces or musicals. A truly moving performance by Anne Hathaway made this movie worth it for me.
Silver Linings Playbook - After completing mandatory facility treatment for bipolar disorder, Pat Solatano, superbly brought to life by Bradley Cooper, sets out to try and convince everyone, including himself that he is better and ready to get back to normal life. Just about everyone in this movie dove into their roles with such fervor and enthusiasm that it's not hard to understand why so many got nominated. The story was compelling, the filming done well, and the roles perfectly brought to life.
Beasts of the Southern Wild - A movie about life, love, and difficulties in the deep south of Louisiana the "bath tub". While I, personally, did not appreciate the filming style (I get motion sick pretty easily so the lack of a steadicam was not my favorite choice) I can understand why it is being praised. The mix of realism with the imagination of the youngest to ever receive a nomination for Best Actress was endearing and interesting.
Life of Pi - A shipwrecked Indian boy trapped on a life boat with a large Bengal Tiger...how can you go wrong? A beautifully crafted film with spectacular use of CGI and cinematography. I will say, though, why can't they ever get the motion of CGI animals right? With that being pretty much my only complaint, though, this movie would not completely surprise me if it took home the big award.
Zero Dark Thirty - The second of two war-time movies nominated, this film is incredibly tense and keeps you on the edge of your seat. While the drama is there, and the pacing definitely keeps you interested, the story itself left me a bit confused. It was hard to determine if this was the story of one particular person within this huge operation, or if it was the story of the operation itself.
My Pick - My favorite movie of the above would definitely be Silver Linings Playbook. I'll see it again and will probably own it.
What will win - This is tough, I feel that Argo, Les Mis, & Silver Linings have a shot but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if any of the films took it home; it truly is a tough category this year.
Best Actor Nominees -
From a prisoner in 19th century France, to the 16th President of the United States, to a man suffering from bipolar disorder, to a drunk pilot, to a veteran of World War II caught up in a fantastical cult..this category is quite diverse.
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) - I've seen Bradley Cooper in numerous roles over the years and, honestly, never been terribly impressed. It's not that he wasn't good, he just wasn't ever on my "oh, I need to see that movie because he's in it" list. His performance in this movie changed that for me. I feel that he truly submerged himself into the role and definitely deserves this nomination.
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) - I saw a lot of movies preparing for this post but this was the weirdest. Despite my being really confused for a lot of the film, I have to give props to Joaquin Phoenix for his ability to pull off such a strange character. I understand the nomination and, though I would be surprised simply because of the film itself, I wouldn't be upset if he won.
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) - Ready your pitchforks...I wasn't that impressed. Call me crazy, but I feel that part of the job of an actor is to make me forget that I'm watching an actor play a part. While he did a great job, especially considering the whole accent thing, I still caught myself "seeing" DDL throughout the movie. With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if he won; he's a critics' fav (just not this one).
Denzel Washington (Flight) - I'll say this, good job on playing high and drunk. There was probably a lot that went into achieving that. At the same time, as with DDL, pretty much the whole movie I was thinking "he's really good at pretending to be drunk" and, if I'm thinking that, doesn't that sort of negate the compliment? I'm not sure. And I'm really not sure why this, of all the performances out there, was selected.
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserable) - Talk about a transformation for a role. The people in this movie went all out and they got rewarded for it. Hugh Jackman brought a frailty to this role that I think is what draws people in. While there were definitely aspects that I didn't necessarily like, the performance on the whole was incredible.
My Pick - Again, I think my favorite performance came from Silver Linings Playbook and Bradley Cooper.
What will win - I think it's a close race between Hugh Jackman and Daniel Day-Lewis but I wouldn't be that surprised if Bradley Cooper ended up with the statue.
Best Actress Nominees -
A war hero, a young girl, an emotionally troubled widow, a mother in the face of immense tragedy, and a wife struggling through illness...all these characters had quite the emotional toll on the audience and, I'm sure, the actors alike.
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) - I'm not quite sure what to say here. I get this nomination, politically, but I'm not sure that I get it from a performance stand point. The entire movie I was trying to figure out if this was a movie about Jessica Chastain's character, or if this was a movie about capturing Osama Bin Laden. I'm still not sure. Part of that unsureness stems from the fact that there was only one truly emotional scene with this actress in it...and it was at the end and the emotion portrayed was rather confusing.
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) - Seeing as how she was six when she was cast, and could barely read...I understand this nomination. She was adorable and played her role well. Do I think it was an Oscar-worthy performance? Not really.
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) - I will admit that I first saw Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, but after that I saw her other major role in Winter's Bone and I was impressed. Going into this movie, I didn't think I was going to buy that she and Bradley Cooper's character were right for each other (I have weird age-related relationship "rules")....but I was convinced. I bought it and I'd buy it again.
Naomi Watts (The Impossible) - I honestly don't understand why this entire cast and film weren't nominated but that's beside the point. An incredible performance on such an incredibly large scale. I cried several times in this movie and I try not to do that (in public, at least)...it was unavoidable. This is another movie that I will buy simply so I can watch the special features and listen to commentaries. Highly recommended.
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) - This actress made me believe she was a stroke victim and that she was miserable. But, that's easier to do when I've not seen her in anything prior, nor have I seen any interviews. She's the oldest person to be nominated in this category, though, and I do think she did a great job.
My Pick - Super tough for me, actually. As you might have guessed, Jennifer Lawrence tops my list but Naomi Watts was so incredible that I honestly can't choose.
What will win - Unfortunately, I think Jessica Chastain has a good shot at this but I really think Jennifer Lawrence could take it as well. I'd be really surprised if a different actress took it home.
Actor in a Supporting Role -
This category covers slavery from two viewpoints, the life of a cult leader, and the obsessive compulsion of an Eagles fan.
Alan Arkin (Argo) - A witty supporting character that played his role well. The issue I have with this nomination is how little screen time he actually had and how similar of a role he played to John Goodman's (who was not nominated).
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) - For a character that basically just sat around Grumpy Catting (yes, I just made that a verb) for almost 3 hours..I'm a bit confused. His role was, technically, pivotal for the story but I'm not so sure that another actor couldn't have done the same thing he did.
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) - As much as I love SLP, I'm not gonna lie...I was kind of surprised by this nomination. Don't get me wrong, he did a great job and I'd much prefer him to win than most of the rest nominated, I'm just not sure if this was that excellent of a role for him.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) - Again, this was an incredibly weird movie that I do not wish to see again (not even to attempt to figure out what exactly happened). That being said, with what he was given, he did a great job. He was creepy, believable, and when on screen you couldn't ignore him.
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) - This man is just so talented. He brought a lightness to the role that I'm not sure anybody else could pull off. I wanted him to succeed in all his murderous plots and was moved by his performance.
My Pick - No question: Christoph Waltz.
What will win - I think it's almost no question: Christoph Waltz.
Actress in a Supporting Role -
The wife of a cult leader, the wife of a president, a down-on-her luck mom turned prostitute, a sex therapist, and the mother of a bipolar and unstable son....these are the nominees.
Amy Adams (The Master) - As much as I like Amy Adams...I don't know. She did a good job with what she was given but I will be really surprised if she wins. She wasn't on screen all that much and spoke even less. There was maybe one or two scenes where her character said something really important and while her delivery was good and her acting convincing, it just wasn't Oscar-worthy to me.
Helen Hunt (The Sessions) - It took me forever to find this movie and I only just finished watching it a couple of hours ago. I give her props for playing such a...vulnerable role. I believed her emotions and her performance was compelling.
Sally Field (Lincoln) - This nomination truly confuses me. Maybe it's one of those "we're nominating you for this role, technically, but really it's a salute to your past work"? I could buy that. She did play crazy well, I guess.
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) - Much like Robert De Niro's nomination, I understand it but I'm not convinced it was that fantastic. She played stressed and concerned very well and I totally bought her in this role.
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserable) - Give this girl her Oscar. I'm not a fan of musicals and I'm not that big of an Anne Hathaway fan but...come on. That scene...worth the entire movie. Her role might be considered somewhat small, based on total screen time, but the performance was worth as many nominations as they can throw at her.
My Pick - Do you have to ask? Anne Hathaway.
What will win - Anne Hathaway.
This was definitely a challenge, seeing all these films in time, but I'm really glad I did it. Tune in tomorrow to see how wrong I am about it all!