Every year Mrs. Greenbean and I watch all of the Academy Awards best picture nominees. It is a fun little thing we do. Once upon a time there were only five nominees, but of late there have been nine. NINE! that is a lot of popcorn and Skittles. These are just my takes on the movies. I will post my thoughts on the other four later. Later in the week I will try to post some of my collected thoughts regarding over all themes and my predictions for winner (possible winners).
Amour–Gritty realism underlies this intimate and emotional portrayal of love. I think I liked this film more than my wife, because it connected with the pastor in me. Many times I have visited in homes and situations like the one depicted in Amour. What was missing from the film, though, is hope. Maybe that is where my faith differs from the French nihilism of the film. For me death, dying and disease are not the last paragraph of our lives. The film gives nothing of spirituality or of faith in the midst of George and Anne’s tribulation. I recommend the film but be warned–it is not a happy tale.
Argo–I loved the movie Argo. Ben Affleck captured the feel and mood of the 1970’s perfectly in the film. I am aware that the movie takes great liberty with the actual events of the rescue from Iran, particularly the downplaying of the Canadian and British role, nevertheless, the movie is a triumph of storytelling. Alan Arkin was spectacular and Affleck should win an Oscar for best beard.
Beasts of the Southern Wild–For me personally, this was the most trying movie of the lot. I don’t know if it is because I grew up so close to Louisiana and so the novelty misses me, but I did not enjoy this film and its portrayal of nearly feral human beings. Yes, the acting was strong. Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy was beyond mesmerizing and Dwight Henry as her father Wink was absolutely believable. Nevertheless, I just couldn’t get to the place where the film connected with me.
Django Unchained–-I almost did not go see this one because of my aversion to Quentin Tarantino. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The movie is good and it does a spectacular job of portraying the awful and disgusting inhumanity of slavery in the antebellum American South. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz are great together and Samuel L. Jackson is chilling in an almost Hannibal Lecter kind of way. However, Kerry Washington is wasted and the story is cartoonized (think I just invented that word–cartoonized) in Tarantino’s hands. This is a good movie, but in the hands of a better director it could have been a great movie. I am still at a loss as to how it was nominated for best picture, though.
Les Misérables–The surprising thing is that Les Mis and Django have very similar themes of oppression, freedom, release, and destiny. The key difference of course is music! I loved this movie and Anne Hathaway should win an Oscar. Russell Crowe, however, cannot sing. He almost torpedoed the whole movie all by himself. The problem this movie will have in winning the Best Picture award is that it is not really that new of a story. Even though it is done so very well it will lose votes due to lack of originality.
Of these five movies, the one I liked most was Argo.