Valdosta Daily Times

February 24, 2013

Oscar Gold: The Times critic makes his picks for the year’s best movies

By Adann-Kennn Alexxandar
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Academy Awards will present Oscars live 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. Nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards are:


Best Picture:

“Amour “(Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz, Producers)

“Argo” (Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers)

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers)

“Django Unchained” (Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers)

“Les Misérables” (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers)

“Life of Pi” (Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers)

“Lincoln” (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers)

“Silver Linings Playbook” (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers)

“Zero Dark Thirty” (Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers)

Surprisingly, the quality of movies this year has not reached the quality of previous Oscar years. These films are good in their own accord. However, the performances of certain actors in each movie are much greater than the films. The front-runners are “Argo,” “Lincoln,” “Les Misérables” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”  

Three of these movies are political in nature. “Argo,” “Lincoln,” and “Zero Dark” deal with political reality, a covert mission in a revolutionary Iran, one of the United States’ best presidents during the Civil War, and an insider’s take on the hunt for Osama bin Laden. These three films are all better than “Les Misérables,” but Hollywood likes giving awards to musicals that do not always live up to the hype. Such is the case here. This leaves “Argo,” “Lincoln,” and “Zero Dark” as the true leads as the other films in this category had limited audiences or lesser excitement. “Argo” has won several awards, including the Golden Globes. It has the best play out of all of these films. It is riveting. “Lincoln” rests upon the mantle that is the great presence of President Lincoln. "Zero Dark Thirty” plays more like a good documentary-type drama. They are all memorable, yet “Argo" is the one that has remained intriguing throughout.  

Selection:  “Argo”     


Best Actor in a Leading Role

Daniel Day-Lewis — "Lincoln"

Bradley Cooper — "Silver Linings Playbook"

Joaquin Phoenix — "The Master"

Denzel Washington — "Flight"

Hugh Jackman — "Les Miserables"

Day-Lewis is playing the legend that is Lincoln. This sentiment helps any film, only a few actors could make Lincoln this appealing and believable. The clear choice here is Day-Lewis, although the others are just as clever. Washington and Jackman are close behind, but Day-Lewis is unbeatable. Phoenix’s role is the lesser known of the roles here, and Cooper's character was not as consistent as the others in this category. Easily, Day-Lewis is the first choice.

Selection:  Daniel Day-Lewis


Best Actress in a Leading Role

Jessica Chastain — "Zero Dark Thirty"

Jennifer Lawrence — "Silver

Linings Playbook"

Emmanuelle Riva — "Amour"

Quvenzhane Wallis — "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Naomi Watts — "The Impossible"

This category is neat in that it features the first Academy Award nominee who was born in the 21st century and the youngest actress nominated for the category, Wallis. She was 5 when she auditioned for her role, and she is now 9. She is also the first Academy Award nominee who was born in the 21st century. She competes against four adults who are very talented actresses. However, Lawrence easily leads the pack for her out-there character in “Playbook” with Chastain and Watts following.

Selection: Jennifer Lawrence


Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

Philip Seymour Hoffman — "The Master"

Tommy Lee Jones — "Lincoln"

Robert De Niro — "Silver Linings Playbook"

Alan Arkin — "Argo"

Christoph Waltz — "Django Unchained"

Waltz’s role feels familiar, although he plays it well. Arkin is the least intriguing of this group, and Jones, while potent as always, looks funny in a wig, although he is one of Lincoln’s highlights. De Niro is at his best in “Playbook,” but Hoffman proves why he deserves another Oscar for his performance.

Selection: Philip Seymour Hoffman


Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

Amy Adams — "The Master"

Anne Hathaway — "Les Miserables"

Sally Field — "Lincoln"

Helen Hunt — "The Sessions"

Jacki Weaver — "Silver Linings Playbook"

Field is superb as Mrs. Lincoln, and her scenes with Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln could not have been easy. Field easily holds her own, making Mary Todd Lincoln as potent as her husband. While it is easy to be in Field's corner on this one, one cannot deny Hathaway’s performance in "Les Miserables." While she is in the film for a short time compared to Field in “Lincoln,” Hathaway’s chances are good that she will take the Oscar home. However, this is one category where a tie would be beautiful. Field and Hathaway both deserve this one, but look for Hathaway to win.  

Selection: Anne Hathaway


Best Director:

Michael Haneke — "Amour"

Steven Spielberg — "Lincoln"

David O. Russell — "Silver Linings Playbook"

Ang Lee — "Life of Pi"

Benh Zeitlin — "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

It is a shame that “Argo” has won several awards and garnered an Oscar nomination, yet Ben Affleck is not in this category. Also, missing from this list is Kathryn Bigelow, who directed "Zero Dark Thirty.”

"Amour" is touching. "Lincoln" is grand. "Silver Linings Playbook" is entertaining. “Life of Pi” is a grand adventure with dazzling visuals via artistic technological feats. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" stars one of the youngest actors nominated for an award and is a moving tale. Each director helms his film with an unmatched, brilliant skill. Of the five directors noted, it is hard to see how any of them can match Spielberg’s vision to bring a part of the Lincoln era to fruition.  

Selection: Steven Spielberg


Best Foreign Language Film:

"Amour" — Austria

"Kon-Tiki" — Norway

"No" — Chile

"A Royal Affair" — Denmark

"War Witch" —Canada          

“Amour” also has a nomination in Best Picture category. If this Austrian film was good enough to receive a nomination for Best Picture, it is good enough to be the best film in this category.   

Selection: "Amour"


Best Animated Feature:



"Wreck-It Ralph"


"The Pirates! Band of Misfits"

Selection: Frankenweenie


Best Animated Short Film:

"Adam and Dog"


"The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare"



Selection: “Paperman”


Best Live Action Short Film:


"Buzkashi Boys"


"Death of a Shadow”


Selection: "Curfew"


Best Cinematography:

Seamus McGarvey — "Anna Karenina"

Claudio Miranda — "Life of Pi"

Roger Deakins — "Skyfall"

Robert Richardson — "Django Unchained"

Janusz Kaminski — "Lincoln"

Selection: Claudio Miranda work — "Life of Pi"


Best Costume Design:

Jacqueline Durran — "Anna Karenina"

Paco Delgado — "Les Miserables"

Joanna Johnston — "Lincoln"

Eiko Ishioka — "Mirror Mirror"

Colleen Atwood — "Snow White and the Huntsman"

Selection: Paco Delgado — "Les Miserables"


Best Documentary Feature:

"The Gatekeepers"

"How to Survive a Plague"

"The Invisible War"

"Searching for Sugar Man"

"5 Broken Cameras"

Selection: “The Invisible War”


Best Documentary Short:

"Mondays at Racine"


"Kings Point"

"Open Heart"


Selection: "Mondays at Racine"


Best Film Editing:

William Goldberg — "Argo"

Michael Kahn — "Lincoln"

Tim Squyres — "Life of Pi"

Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg — "Zero Dark Thirty"

Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers — "Silver Linings Playbook"

Selection: Tim Squyres — "Life of Pi"


Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane — "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell — "Les Miserables"

Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel — "Hitchcock"

Selection: Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane — "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"


Best Original Score:

Alexandre Desplat — "Argo"

Dario Marianelli — "Anna Karenina"

Mychael Danna — "Life of Pi"

John Williams — "Lincoln"

Thomas Newman — "Skyfall"

Selection: John Williams — "Lincoln"


Best Original Song:

"Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice" — Music and Lyric by J. Ralph

"Suddenly" from "Les Miserables" — Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

"Skyfall" from "Skyfall" — Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

"Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi" — Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri

"Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from "Ted" — Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane

Selection: “Skyfall”


Best Production Design:

Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer — "Anna Karenina"

David Gropman and Anna Pinnock — "Life of Pi"

Rick Carter, Jim Erickson and Peter T. Frank — "Lincoln"

Eve Stewart and Anna Lynch-Robinson — "Les Miserables"

Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent and Simon Bright — "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Selection: Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent and Simon Bright — "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"


Best Sound Editing:


"Life of Pi"


"Django Unchained"

"Zero Dark Thirty"

Selection: “Life of Pi”


Best Sound Mixing:


"Les Miserables"


"Life of Pi"


Selection: "Les Miserables"


Best Visual Effects:

"Marvel's The Avengers"

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

"Life of Pi"


"Snow White and the Huntsman"

Selection: “Life of Pi”


Best Adapted Screenplay:

Tony Kushner — "Lincoln"

Chris Terrio — "Argo"

David O. Russell — "Silver Linings Playbook"

David Magee — "Life of Pi"

Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar — "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Selection: “Argo”


Best Original Screenplay:

Mark Boal — "Zero Dark Thirty"

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola — "Moonrise Kingdom"

Michael Hakeke — "Amour"

Quentin Tarentino — "Django Unchained"

John Gatins — "Flight"

Selection: Quentin Tarentino — "Django Unchained"


Nominations of films by numbers:

“Lincoln”: 12

“Life of Pi” 11

“Silver Linings Playbook”: 8

“Les Miserables”: 8

“Argo”: 7

“Skyfall”: 5

“Zero Dark Thirty”: 5

“Amour”: 5

“Django Unchained”: 5

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”: 4

“Anna Karenina”: 4

“The Master”: 3

“Flight”: 2

“Snow White and the Huntsman” 2

“Moonrise Kingdom”: 1

“Marvel’s The Avengers”: 1