Saturday, January 5, 2013

Critics' Choices (and Mine) for the Early Oscars

"Moonrise Kingdom" had all the charm in 2012.
It is interesting this morning to compare my choice of good movies from 2012 to the Academy Award nomination suggestions from three of the NY Times' top critics: A.O. Scott, Manohla Dargis and Stephen Holdren. I was especially delighted that a couple of movies I adored ("Silver Linings Playbook" and "Moonrise Kingdon") got a lot of love. "Moonrise Kingdon" was certainly the most charming and engaging movie I saw in 2012, if not the best. "Silver Linings" took me completely by surprise.

On the down side, I was astonished that "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was a big favorite among these boys. It was one of the two worst movies I saw in 2012 (the second being "Lay Miz"). But, hey, it's the differences of opinion that make this all interesting.

"Silver Linings Playbook" was a delightful surprise.
Two movies I haven't seen yet--because they haven't been here--are "Amour," a French love story about two old people and "Zero Dark Thirty," which could be the best of the best (though it'll be awfully hard to beat the estimable "Lincoln," which I suspect will get between five and eight Oscar nominations.

The favorites for these critics:
  • Kathryn Begelow ("Zero Dark") and Michael Haneke ("Amour") were named on all three lists for director; 
  • "Amour" and "Zero Dark Thirty" were unanimous as top movies; 
  • Joaquin Pheonix ("The Master"), Jean Louis-Trintignant ("Amour") and Denzel Washington ("Flight") were unanimous for best actor, a category most have thought was being led by Daniel Day Lewis' "Lincoln" portrayal;
  • Nobody was unanimous among the Best Actresses, but a couple of my faves, Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone") and Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings") were listed on two;
  • Best supporting unanimity for the actor went to the estimable Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master") and Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln");
  • Amy Adams ("The Master") was the lone unanimous choice among supporting actresses, but this is a very strong field of veterans whose performances were outstanding. One note: Anne Hathaway got a little love here, but not for "Lay Miz". She was singled out for "The Dark Night Rises" (two votes).

"Lay Miz," in fact was pretty much ignored by these three guys, as I think it should be--unless we're getting into the technical Oscars. The look was great.

My two favorites in this group ("Moonrise" and "Silver Linings") were both unanimous picks for the two screenplay categories (along with "Amour")


  1. Moonrise was one of my favorites as well as The Artist. wonderful!

  2. oops i guess that was last year on the Artist, but I still love it!

  3. Beasts was one of my favorites as well

  4. Moonrise Kingdom was the one I enjoyed the most

  5. Some critics (not the ones you mentioned) are adding Life of Pi into the mix. Thought that was a very good (my top pick along with Beasts) film this year!

    I recently watched "Beasts" and was astonished at how most people didn't get the allegory here. Maybe, the pure shock (and ensuing repellent "middle class" guilt) of the film sends people running from the theater, but the themes of modernity and self-reliance really showcase the film for what it is--a questioning of an industrialized society that dams another people's creativity and their self-reliant strength. As a raging liberal, I was very uncomfortable with this theme, but then what right do I have to impose my societal values and wants on a culture that lives a very different way? It's the story of Avatar, but told in a post-Katrina, post-apocalyptic way. I think the director wanted to showcase this, and he told a very compelling story. Too bad you didn't like it.

  6. I had high hopes for "The Master." It was probably the WORST movie I've ever seen in a theater.

    Afterwards, I said to my wife, "Well, that was excruciatingly bad.

    "You thought so, too?" she replied. "I was going to suggest we leave half way through, but I thought you wanted to see it.

    Two thumbs down!