SUPER SPECIAL ACADEMY AWARDS RUN-DOWN

So, we didn’t quite reach our goal of seeing all of the Oscar nominated movies, but we got a lot closer than either of us have before.

Here’s what we saw:

  1. Amour
  2. Argo
  3. Life of Pi
  4. Lincoln
  5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  6. Silver Linings Playbook
  7. Django Unchained
  8. Zero Dark Thirty
  9. Les Misérables
  10. The Master
  11. Flight
  12. The Impossible
  13. The Sessions
  14. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  15. Wreck-It Ralph
  16. Skyfall
  17. 5 Broken Cameras
  18. How To Survive A Plague
  19. The Invisible War
  20. Searching for Sugar Man
  21. Ted
  22. Adam and Dog (short)
  23. Head Over Heels (short)
  24. Paperman (short)
  25. Fresh Guacamole (short)
  26. Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” (short)
  27. Asad (short)
  28. Buzkashi Boys (short)
  29. Curfew (short)
  30. Death of a Shadow (short)
  31. Henry (short)
  32. The Avengers
  33. Prometheus (I saw it, Chris didn’t)
  34. Moonrise Kingdom

Here’s what we didn’t see:

  1. Brave
  2. Frankenweenie
  3. ParaNorman
  4. Anna Karenina
  5. Mirror Mirror
  6. Snow White and the Huntsman
  7. The Gatekeepers
  8. Inocente (short)
  9. Kings Point (short)
  10. Mondays at Racine (short)
  11. Open Heart (short)
  12. Redemption (short)
  13. Kon-Tiki
  14. No
  15. A Royal Affair
  16. War Witch
  17. Hitchcock
  18. The Hobbit
  19. Chasing Ice
  20. Prometheus (I’ve seen it, Chris hasn’t)

So, we’ve seen much more than half, which is pretty good. Now it’s time to watch the actual awards!

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HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (2012)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION:

  • Best Documentary Feature

Christopher

I was definitely dreading this film. Yes because it is about something very scary and sad but also because I was scared it would be too much like The Invisible War. About something important but not really a good movie. That is not the case with How To Survive A Plague. It’s terribly sad but it’s shot well and keeps you interested.

The film was pretty much all archive footage, both media and home footage, with voiceovers by some of the activists that are still alive today. They did an excellent job of showing the personal and public effects AIDS has on people. It’s too bad I was only 5 or so when this was going on cause I would have protested with them! It was kind of funny, one of the people that shows up a lot in the protest footage was this girl and her title was “Teenager.” It seems like she grew up to be involved in some great things but in my mind I just imagined everyone there wondering why she was there, I’m sure that wasn’t the case though.

I think the saddest part to me involved the internal working of the main AIDS group who were called Act Up. They did some fantastic stuff but eventually split into different factions due to their inability to work together. I guess to me it was kind of sad to see people working towards something great and having difficulty even being on the same side.

All in all I though this was a good movie. I definitely like Searching For Sugarman the most in the Best Documentary category but if this won I think that would be fantastic as well.

Elizabeth

I was nervous about watching How To Survive a Plague because I wasn’t much in the mood for feeling really bad, and I knew it was a documentary on AIDS. Luckily, though, it was much more interesting than that, and though it was upsetting, it wasn’t like watching Philadelphia or something.

What makes How To Survive a Plague so interesting was how much it focuses on the chemical aspect of HIV and AIDS, and what can be done to prevent or make it better; it took a more scientific approach. Along with the scientific approach, it focused on what AIDS activists in the 80’s and 90’s did to try to attack HIV and AIDS using that scientific approach, by protesting ineffective regulations for testing and distributing drugs.

AIDS isn’t a new topic for documentaries, and it was nice to see one look at it from a different point of view.

THE MASTER (2012)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS:

  • Best Actor – Joaquin Phoenix
  • Best Supporting Actor – Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams

Elizabeth

I had already seen The Master in theaters, but Chris hadn’t, so I was glad to get an opportunity to see it again. When I saw it the first time I really wasn’t sure how I felt about it; I was so excited to see it, but I was also sort of sleepy when I saw it and wasn’t expecting it to be as slow-moving as it was, and it was a little difficult for me to focus on certain parts. When I came away from it, my first thought was that I needed to see it again.

I’m really glad I did. Even though it’s slow-moving, there’s a lot to take in in The Master. Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Peggy Dodd (Amy Adams) are all pretty big personalities, and I think the conflicts made by all of them being around each other are at least as interesting as the whole cult element. And while there was a lot of hoopla about The Master being based on the beginnings of Scientology, to me it was just much more about all of these personalities trying to control each other. The fact that it’s against the context of a cult makes it that much more interesting.

I would really like to see Joaquin Phoenix win the Oscar for Best Actor; he just really transformed himself into the super strange character of Freddie Quell in a way that was completely believable. I think he’s overdue for an Oscar, anyway.

Christopher

This move was a MASTERpiece, get it? But really I loved it! Elizabeth had seen this before and wasn’t quite sure what she thought about it so that made me a little nervous about watching it. I was obsessed with There Will Be Blood when it came out and I wanted this to be as good or better. I feel like it wasn’t but I didn’t really have a problem with that. I was drawn in from the very beginning.

Joaquin Phoenix was outstanding. I think he needs to win Best Actor tonight. He deserves it more so than anyone else, except maybe Daniel Day-Lewis. Phoenix’s character was so interesting to me and I loved every minute of camera time he had. He truly transformed into this character. Also he made his own alcohol/mix drinks? I need to start doing that, I think I saw paint thinner on sale at Walmart.

The film was long but that really didn’t bother me like it did with Les Misérables. I assume that it was because I actually enjoyed watching this but I also think that this film was just so much more thought-out and engaging than some of the other films we have been watching for the Oscars.

See this soon! #ifbradleycooperwinsbestactortherewillberiots

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012)

Quvenzhané-Wallis

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actress – Quvenzhané Wallis
  • Best Director – Benh Zeitlin
  • Best Adapted Screenplay – Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin

Christopher

This film was pretty good. I definitely didn’t love it as much as I originally thought I would but I can see why it’s up for Best Picture. I thought it was shot very well and I really enjoyed the scenery, even though I guess it was pretty depressing if you thought about it too much.

I have to say though, what I liked the most about this film was the score. It’s crazy to me that it wasn’t nominated for that. I feel like it earns that the most. I also really liked the magical element of the film, the giant boars. The way it was filmed really reminded me of parts of Time Bandits, a movie I know Elizabeth hates but in my mind truly is something special. I kind of wish the whole part with the boars was a short film on its own (with a little more story).

It will be interesting how this does tomorrow. I really don’t think it will win anything but I would like to see some of the actors out of character and in real life. If nothing else this film showed me what Louisiana is truly like….right?

Elizabeth

Well so I’m not generally into movies with a precocious child as the main character and/or narrator or movies that portray Louisiana as some kind of magical place, all qualities that Beasts of the Southern Wild has.

To clarify, I was born and raised in New Orleans until Katrina, when I was forced to move to Illinois with my mom and sister. It’s a complicated situation, but made easier for me given the fact that I always hated New Orleans. I hated feeling scared all of the time because of the crime, I hated how dirty it was, I hated how drunk everyone seemed all the time, I hated all the drug use in my high school, I hated the crowds at Mardi Gras. The food is amazing, of course. But for the most part, I left Louisiana and never looked back. Particularly in a post-Katrina environment, film and television seems to do nothing but write valentines to how magical New Orleans or Louisiana seems to be, and it drives me crazy because I find it hard to see it as anything but a dangerous place I don’t have much of a desire to go back to.

So, I didn’t find the landscape or characters of Beasts of the Southern Wild to be magical or particularly special or compelling. I feel kind of cold saying that, considering the main character, Hushpuppy, was played by Quvenzhané Wallis, who is 9 and was 5 when she first auditioned for the role. But she did a fine job in terms of acting, I just wasn’t that interested in watching what I considered to be the tragic relationship with her sick, alcoholic, abusive, kind of crazy father (Dwight Henry). I also wasn’t that interested in watching people too stubborn to see the obvious and refused to accept honest help.

I know these are not popular opinions, especially from people from Louisiana. And though I thought the story was original, the acting was good, and the music was amazing, it just really didn’t do much for me.

LES MISÉRABLES (2012)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor – Hugh Jackman
  • Best Supporting Actress – Anne Hathaway
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Best Original Song – “Suddenly”
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Sound Mixing

Elizabeth

So I feel like it’s worth mentioning that before seeing Les Misérables I had no idea what the story was about, who the characters were, or what any of the songs were. I seem to be the only person in the world in this situation, by the way. So I knew the French Revolution was involved, and that is pretty much it. Also worth mentioning: I’m really not a big fan of musicals. Especially musicals where it’s not just full of songs, the dialogue is mostly sung, rather than spoken . . . like Les Misérables. Soooooo . . .

Yeah, Les Misérables was long and it was sort of boring. I could hear Chris storing at the other end of the couch. While it’s not even 3 hours long, it sort of felt like the movie was closer to 4 hours long, mostly due to the aforementioned amount of singing. Now, I liked some of the songs, especially “I Dreamed a Dream,” sung by Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a character so tragic she borders on being absurd. Despite that, and despite not even being in the movie very much, Anne Hathaway did a very nice job in her role.

As a whole, Les Misérables felt so bogged down in characters, storylines, and most of all, SONGS ALL THE TIME (which, yes, I know is the point of a musical) that watching it felt more like trudging through it.

Christopher

LES MISERABLE (I mean am I right?)

Not really the movie for me. I remember miserably sitting through the Liam Neeson version of this in college, so add all the long songs and you have a movie where I fell asleep multiple times. I’m falling asleep thinking about the movie. So this is the end of my post.

WRECK-IT RALPH (2012)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION:

  • Best Animated Feature

Christopher

So so good!! It was certainly pretty cheesy but I found this movie to be very engaging throughout. I think this film did an excellent job with their video game references. It was clever but not over the top. It definitely made me want to go to Pinballz today!

As of now this is my front-runner for Best Animated Feature. I can’t imagine I’ll like the others as much but I guess we’ll see today, as Elizabeth and I try to cram as many movies in at the end as possible.

Watch this! And bring your kids and parents!

Elizabeth

I liked Wreck-It Ralph a lot, but it sort of pointed out some issues I have with big-name animated movies, particularly using actors’ voices that I’m really familiar with. As compelling as the animation was, it was nearly impossible for me to see their characters and not John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, and Jane Lynch. And since this is technically a kids’ movie, maybe that’s just not a huge concern for the filmmakers, but it was distracting to me.

Another issue I had was there seemed to be too many stories and conflicts going on. Everything came together neatly in the end, but before that I was feeling bogged down and it was sort of hard to keep track of everything, which I can’t imagine is a great quality for a kids’ movie.

But, all of that being said, I really loved the animation. Because Wreck-It Ralph deals with so many different kinds of video games, the characters’ animation changed depending on what kind of game they came from, which I thought was a really cool touch. It’s certainly a fun (and not devastating as so many Disney movies seem to be) movie.

ARGO (2012)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Supporting Actor – Alan Arkin
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Sound Editing
  • Best Sound Mixing
  • Best Adapted Screenplay – Chris Terrio

Elizabeth

Friday at work, Chris ran across a signature block from someone that said, “Lest We Forget: April 24, 1980.” Since neither one of us knew what that was about, I looked it up and found that it was referencing the giant failed attempt by the United States to rescue 52 Americans being held hostage in Iran, which didn’t work but left 8 American servicemen dead. I wondered if Argo was about this, because my post-World War II American history knowledge (or any American history knowledge . . .) isn’t exactly top notch. And while Argo is only about an aspect of that hostage situation, it was still interesting to get a bit of background right before we watched it.

Being an historical movie, Argo is extremely well-paced and doesn’t get too hung up on political speak. It gives just enough context and background, especially by using a really effective opening of storyboards showing the political history in Iran from about the 1950s up to the late 1970s. It not only sets a tone for the movie, by using storyboards, but sets the stage enough to where the characters’ dialogue isn’t completely bogged down in exposition.

I think it’s been talked a lot in the media, but although as a producer, Ben Affleck is nominated for Best Picture for Argo, he was noticeably left out in the Directing and Best Actor categories, which I thought was disappointing. Given how incredibly tense Argo is, Ben Affleck’s performance was appropriately subdued, which I thought really worked; it would be a lot harder to believe a flamboyant attention-getter was tasked with sneaking 6 Americans out of Iran.

Argo also perfectly employed the tricky after-the-movie exposition that ends up being cheesy in so many movies; instead of putting text on the screen, they showed photos of the characters in the movie next to the actual people they played. This touch really showed how much attention the filmmakers put into the details. There was also an interesting few sentences from Jimmy Carter at the end, talking about how important the rescue was and how hard it was to keep it a secret.

And I have to say, it was such a great moment when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon won for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, I think it would be pretty cute for an equally celebratory Ben Affleck and George Clooney to win as producers for Argo.

Christopher

It was nice to finally watch this. The only reason I wanted to watch this was because John Goodman was cast as a minor character. And he come through as my favorite character but Argo was actually pretty good.

I guess I’m still not convinced that Ben Affleck can do good work (I think I still just see him as Gigli), but as the lead actor and director in Argo I think I now have a new image of him. I would gladly see any movie he directs. Especially if he keeps casting JG!

One thing that is bugging me and know it’s just because I don’t know how it works exactly but how is it that Alan Arkin is up for Best Supporting Actor when John Goodman had just as big a role?? It’s not even about wanting JG to get the Oscar, of course he really does need one, but how did they choose Arkin? Why not Brian Cranston? He was in it as much if not more. One day I’ll need to get some movie big shot to inform me on how the Best Supporting Actor category is picked.