If you read my February 10 column – here – you know I’ve been eating a lot of popcorn lately. I wrote about six Oscar-nominated movies and what they tell us about the time in which we live.
Shameless dilettante that I am, I’ve actually seen eight of the nine films nominated for Best Picture – “Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
I liked them all, which doesn’t alway happen. “Lincoln” and “Argo” are terrific – if conventional – movies. “Django Unchained” is pure Tarantino – wild and violent and provocative. “Amour” is sad and poignant.
But if I had a ballot to cast, I would vote for “Zero Dark Thirty.” Notwithstanding the controversy over the movie’s torture scenes, here was a movie about our time – about a dangerous and shadowy world and the people who do the hard and anonymous work of trying to keep us safe.
In my column, I didn’t mention two of the eight films I’ve seen.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a movie that demonstrates how independent film makers can now find an audience. The movie was made for a fraction of the cost of other nominated films.
Then there is “Les Miserables.” If nothing else, you should see this movie for the four minutes and 38 seconds that will win Ann Hathaway the Oscar for best supporting actress.
Over all, I found the movie a jumble of high and low points, good songs and bad songs. (You shouldn’t see it if you think musicals should be inhabited only by actors who can actually sing.) At the end, I decided “Les Miserables” was just over-cooked.
If the Oscar competition for Best Picture was a horse race, “Lincoln” would be leading, but “Argo” would be coming up fast on the outside.
“Argo,” which seemed like a long shot a couple of weeks ago, keeps winning awards that often provide the best indication of which movie will win Best Picture. The film directed by and starring Ben Affleck has won the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award, among others. On Sunday, it won the Writers Guild Award for best adapted screenplay. (“Zero Dark Thirty” won for best original screenplay.)
Film critic Roger Ebert has been predicting since last September that “Argo” would win the big prize, but until recently, not many believed him.
We’ll know more on Sunday. Let the Oscar parties begin!