Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Completely Uninformed Analysis of Tonight's Best Picture Race

Since my son arrived, I have seen exactly two movies in a theater. The first one was Joss Whedon’s Avengers, which lived up to every single insane and unnatural expectation I had for it AND had Robert Downey Jr. The second was Les Miserables, which lived up to its name in that it made me very miserable. But we’ll get to that in a second.

Never one to let a complete lack of knowledge and experience slow me down, I would like to offer up my assessments of tonight’s Oscar races, based solely on hearsay and fabrication, which should give you some idea of why I never went into the practice of law.

Here we go:

Several times now, I’ve driven by the theater where Amour is playing and based on the empty parking lot, I’m giving this one less than half a percent chance of winning Best Picture. I heard this movie is super depressing so I’m guessing it's only been nominated because the Academy feels guilty for wishing they could have nominated Avengers. This is their cinematic penance for secretly loving when Hulk smash things.

I heard a review of Argo and 10 minutes of a Ben Affleck interview with Terry Gross on NPR, so I feel pretty solid with my assessment of the picture. Terry Gross and the NPR critic both seemed close to wetting themselves in enthusiasm over this movie, so I think it's got a really got shot at winning. Plus, Affleck gave Alan Arkin a role in a movie, and should win based on that alone. 

I know nothing about Beasts of the Southern Wild aside from the fact that the title makes me think of The Lion King, although I am 100 percent certain it does not feature a humorous performance by Nathan Lane. The art house theater where this movie played had a very full parking lot during its run, so I’m thinking it will finish well ahead of Amour in the voting. There was, however, a new restaurant that opened next to the theater during the run, so I may be giving it too much credit.

I so wanted Django Unchained to be about legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt turning into a giant King Kong-like monster who gets accidentally unchained and let loose on Bonnaroo. It is not about this at all apparently. I do look forward to seeing it and being equal parts entertained and horrified as I am with any Quentin Tarantino movie. But I don't think he'll pull out the win tonight. Maybe if he'd listened to my original idea...

You should know this about me and Les Miserables. I love the book – I’ve read the unabridged version twice and cried each time at Jean Valjean’s demise (sorry, spoilers). I’ve seen the stage version twice in Detroit, once in New York and once in London. Loved them all, so you can imagine how excited I was to see the movie version, directed by the man who helmed another favorite of mine, The King’s Speech. So I settled into my seat a few weeks ago, popcorn in hand, ready to be dazzled – and of course, I hated it with a fiery passion. Hugh Jackman was a terrible, whiny, Lifetime Channel version of Jean Valjean and I wanted Anne Hathaway’s Fantine to die before she even opened her mouth. Even the production quality was terrible – why was every extra made up to look like they’d wandered off the set of The Walking Dead? (Poverty makes you poor; it doesn't give you leprosy.) And why was Sacha Baron Cohen the only actor to French it up with his accent? Shouldn’t they all have gotten on the same page with that one before production started? As someone who has seen Manos: The Hands of Fate multiple times, I have sat through (and exited) worse movies but few have been as disappointing to me as this one.

That said, I’m putting my money on it to win Best Picture because in my heart, I know this is Shakespeare in Love versus Saving Private Ryan all over again.

My husband owned a paperback of Life of Pi but lost it in a move before either of us had a chance to read it. Based on the commercials, though, it looks pretty cool. How is the guy in the boat going to feed that tiger? How?? I am intrigued but obviously not enough to go to the trouble of seeing it. I give this low odds of Best Picture success.

Wow, did I want to see Lincoln but I chose Les Miz that day instead. I read the book upon which Lincoln is based, though, and can say with absolute certaintly that it should win the Oscar for Best Writing of a Book That Spielberg Will Totally Want To Turn Into a Movie. Seriously, if you haven’t read Team of Rivals and if you have even modest interest in government and the Civil War, go read this book. Right now. And then let me know if you end up having just the slightest crush on William Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state, or if that’s just a weird thing I’ll have to cope with on my own. As great as the book is, I don’t think Lincoln will win Best Picture because I have a feeling Hollywood is all like, “Yeah, Spielberg, we know you’re great. Just shut up about it already.” I hope I’m wrong though.

Everyone I know who has seen Silver Linings Playbook says this is an amazing movie, and I’m willing to believe those high marks despite the presence of Bradley Cooper, who has baffled me in his popularity since the first days of Alias. I’d love to see a movie like this take the big trophy home, if only to reward what sounds like a pretty original idea.

I keep getting Zero Dark Thirty confused with the new Anthony Edwards/X-Files rip-off on ABC that likely will be canceled by the time I finish this sentence. (No? Maybe tomorrow.) My husband was supposed to go see Zero Dark Thirty but it never plays during nap time so he couldn't go and now I don’t have a reliable opinion on this entry. I heard it was fairly brutal, possibly inaccurate, has enraged at least one Navy SEAL and features an actress who has been contracted to play the lead in apparently every Hollywood movie made from here on out. All of which makes it too controversial, I think, to win the big enchilada.

So there it is. I predict Les Miz as Best Picture and also predict that Seth McFarlane will make penis jokes. I’m only going for sure things here… 

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