It’s awards’ season again! It seems as if the nominating committees don’t even bother with the movies during the first half of the year and instead focus on the last couple of months for their picks. Is it because the quality films are held for release until fall/winter so they are fresh in the committees’ minds? I suspect that’s the case, but regardless, it works out quite well for me being on Thanksgiving and winter breaks while those movies are released.
The Golden Globes were last weekend. I’m a little late to the party, but here’s a
quick rundown of the movies I’ve seen this winter…
Argo – I’ve already posted on this one. Excellent and intensely exciting film. It won the GG for best picture and Ben Affleck received the best director. After seeing it I predicted it would be nominated. I’m kind of surprised it won the GG with all of the others that have received rave reviews, but it deserved the award.
Silver Linings Playbook – Oh my goodness, one of my favorite movies of the year, maybe even ever. I had NO expectations of this film when I was invited along to see it. I’m so glad I went. A man tries to get back to “normal” when returning home from a mental institution after a breakdown. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of Bradley Cooper, and the only time I’d seen Jennifer Lawrence was in The Hunger Games. Both actors were wonderful. The movie took mental illness and brought it out to the forefront, showing both the difficult and amusing sides of it. I found it just about life in general, and despite the main character’s few month stay in the “looney bin” everybody is actually a little bit crazy. Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver play his parents. All four actors mentioned received Oscar nominations, and Jennifer Lawrence won the GG for best actress in a musical or comedy.
I liked the movie so much, I chose the book it was based on as my book club pick. The book, of the same name, was excellent as well, but as usually happens, the booked was changed quite a bit in the movie. However, I’d still recommend both.
Parental Guidance – This was our Christmas day movie. If it had been my choice, I would not have gone to see this. The previews looked a little corny. However, it is a cute film. Billy Crystal, who after all these years is still a riot, and Bette Midler play a pair of grandparents who get a chance to babysit their grandkids while their daughter and her husband take a much needed weekend away. Of course, chaos ensues, and some of it IS corny. But it is also a film about loving your family despite its flaws. It wasn’t nominated for any film awards nor should it have been, but if you’re looking for an easy, lighthearted, feel good film, Parental Guidance fits the bill.
Les Misérables – Let me start off by saying that Les Mis is my FAVORITE stage production ever. EVER! I’ve never been much of a fan of musicals on the big screen – Chicago, Rent, and the previous Les Mis bored me to tears. I did not have any desire to see the new version when it came out on Christmas day. Their PR people did a good job though in showing how it would be different than past movie musicals. The actors sang the songs on set to piano music rather than lip-syncing prerecorded versions. The orchestra‘s music was then added to the film in post-production. In interviews, all the actors said this allowed the singing to match the acting since they were happening at the same time, rather than trying to match the acting up to the singing which might have been recorded months earlier.
Anyhow, back to the film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Les Misérables has always been such a good story, and the movie did it justice as far as I’m concerned. All the singing was beautiful and powerful, and I cried at the end. At the GG last week, it won best musical/comedy and Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway both earned awards in their categories as well. The film, Jackman, and Hathaway are also nominated for an Oscar.
Django Unchained – Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx star in this film about a white bounty hunter who rescues a slave (Django) from traders. The bounty hunter intends to use Django to help him identify some ruthless killers. He tells the slave that once the job is done, he’d be a free man. Over time they become partners and Django sets out to find his wife who was purchased by a crazy plantation owner – Leo Dicaprio.
Quentin Tarentino’s movies are always controversial. They are rarely politically correct and often cross the line into gratuitous violence. Django was no exception, but the writing is so very clever. Half the time I was chuckling, and the other half I was hiding my face in my shirt trying not to be sick. Christoph Waltz, who was a riot, was nominated for best supporting actor by both the GG and AA, and he won the GG. I’m kind of surprised that he was nominated for best SUPPORTING actor as he was in the entire film as a main character, not a supporting character. Leo DiCaprio was fantastic as crazy Calvin Candie so it’s a shame he didn’t get nominated – they keep snubbing that guy! Tarentino was nominated by both for best screenplay, but ignored for best director.
Zero Dark Thirty – Controversy about its accuracy has been flying around this movie - The story about the 10 year manhunt to find Osama Bin Laden. I’m not going to debate the controversy because, really who can debate a covert operation besides the people who were actually involved in it. As for the movie, it was interesting and depressing, but very well done. If correct, the people who found him worked tirelessly on nothing else for years, and torture was a factor – which is spurring the controversy.
A couple of months ago I read this article in Vanity Fair. I found the story about the behind the scenes decisions at the Pentagon and the White House fascinating. The movie dealt more with the people doing the work in the trenches so to speak, not the decision makers. Jessica Chastain plays the CIA agent who, with a team, ultimately finds the house where Bin Laden was hiding. While others were uncertain he was there, she was unwavering. Chastain was nominated for best actress by the GG and AA, and won the GG. The film was nominated for best picture by both the GG and AA as well.
Gangster Squad – This film came out after the first of the year, so is not up for any awards this go round. It is based on the LAPD’s secret “Gangster Squad” that was formed to stop famed gangster Mickey Cohen in the 1950s. The squad of officers and detectives is a motley crew of sorts who come together and take down the ruthless gangster. It is a highly stylized film, very film noir in its cinematography. It is violent, with a lot of gun firing – ya know the kind where there is so much shooting but no one gets hit. The reviews have not been great, but everyone I know who has seen it enjoyed it. It was a fun movie.
The Academy Awards are set for late February. There are still a few best picture nominees that I have not seen yet – most never even opened nationwide like “Amour” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” which I heard is fantastic. Now that they’ve been nominated, they may come back out again to take advantage of the accolades.
Did you see anything worthwhile in 2012?