For the 85th consecutive year, I wasn’t invited to the Academy Awards ceremonies. And that’s OK: I didn’t have to deal with the red carpet, paparazzi or Joan Rivers. To make it up to my readers, here are my pre-Oscar predictions for Best Picture.
The winner: Les Misérables
I admit that I’m a rube. I haven’t come close to seeing the Broadway production of Les Mez. I didn’t read the novel, either. And my friends always corrected my pronunciation of the title. I’m also quite certain that if I had an 18th-century novel in my possession, my biggest concern would be whether it match my house’s contemporary Texas décor. (Also, it’s 2,738 pages for crying out loud; like we’re going to read that.) So, when my wife and I decided to see the movie, we went into the movie with, literally, empty brains.
Gotta say, it wasn’t bad. We had to get used to the constant singing. (In fact, upon my popcorn refill, I might have sung something to the cashier. It took me weeks to shake “Master of the House” out of my head) Watching Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) belt out show tunes was interesting. You know, the working class would have won the 1832 June Rebellion had it not focused so much on singing and rhyming all the time.
The runner-up: Lincoln
Let me say why it didn’t connect with me, and I could say the same for Les Mez — too many mainstream actors. Like I wrote in an earlier review, I couldn’t get the idea of actors here playing former roles — Daniel Day-Lewis wearing a stovepipe hat like his previous role of Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in Gangs of New York, Sally Fields as the Flying Nun, Jackie Earle Haley as Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears or James Spader as Robert California in The Office.
But, I gotta say, it wasn’t half bad. In grade school, we were taught the basics of Lincoln’s term. Later, as adults, we were even told that he killed vampires. Steven Spielberg’s version told how Abe’s skill in wheeling and dealing in getting enough votes to pass legislation that would abolish slavery.
Second runner-up: Life of Pi
We saw it in 3D. But that almost seemed like a distraction. It’s one of those movies in which you have to concentrate beyond the flashy special effects. You have to focus hard on the symbolism of everything. By the end, you kind of got what the tiger was about. But what about the meerkats? Had the story veered into a Madagascar cartoon? The plot twist was something to talk about on the way home. Again, it had two things going for it — Ang Lee’s in-your-face effects and the storyline.
Third runner-up: Argo
It had kind of a Mission Impossible feel to it, which is why I believe it won’t win. Ben Affleck took way too many liberties with the real story. He manufactured too much pulse-pounding drama, like maybe Tom Cruise should have been orchestrating the escape from Iran. Ben even tried to throw us off of that fact by going shirtless at one point, but it didn’t work. I really liked the use of John Goodman and Alan Arkin as the Hollywood types. I’d like to see a spin-off on that one.
Fourth runner-up: Zero Dark Thirty
This was edge-of-the-seat drama that you don’t get from watching the numerous MSNBC documentaries on how we took out Osama Bin Laden. Jessica Chastain was relentless as the CIA agent whose job was to find Bin Laden. For me, the only drawback was, again, recognizable characters such as Kyle Chandler (or Friday Night Lights‘ Coach Taylor as Joseph Bradley) and Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation‘s goofy Andy Dwyer as Justin the Navy SEAL). I’m guessing that the portrayal of torture might have the liberal Hollywood media backing off a bit on this one.
Fifth runner-up: Django Unchained
I’m a sucker for Quentin Tarantino movies. I even like his bad ones, such as Grindhouse. In fact, that’s why I liked this one — it had a grindhouse feel to it. Tarantino is predictable. You know what you’re getting into: Lots of dialogue, some foul-mouthed comedy, ridiculous violence and cartoonish bloodbaths. The liberal use of the N-word and the Mandingo fights will make you uncomfortable. But that’s Tarantino … trying to get attention the easy way. That’s my rationale on why it won’t win.
Sixth runner-up: Silver Linings Playbook
I didn’t see it. My wife says it’s an unconventional love story that’s touching yet not too chick-flicky.
Seventh runner-up (tie): Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild
I didn’t see them either. I bet they’re good.