cinecist vs. oscar 2012

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I realize an apology is in order.I did my very best this year to see as many of the nominated films as I couldóand I didnít do badly!But unfortunately, seeing them is only about 10% of the work.Writing about them...well, itís a different story.In the end, I was brought low by that most pedestrian of adversaries:Being too damned busy and/or too damned tired.Spare time being a scarce commodity, and spare energy being even scarcer, I was compelled in the late innings to admit a sort of half-defeat.Much as I relish this opportunity to hold forth publicly on the relative merits of the nominees in, say, Sound Mixing and Costume Design, it was simply not meant to be this year.No, this time, I had to pare things down.Way down.Try to contain your grief.

 

So the ďgoodĒ news is that I am still able to deliver to you, loyal readers, my annual brain-spasm on things Oscar.And it will surely be as enjoyable (??) and instructive (?!!) as ever.

 

The ďbadĒ news is that it only covers the Big Six Categories.So if you were looking for help winning the office Oscar pool...sorry, not this year.

 

Oh, and no list of Top Ten or Favorites or Really Good Films this time, either.But if the truth be told, there was really only one movie I saw all year that really excited me, and it will quickly become very clear to you which one that was.

 

© 2013 dondi demarco

 

 

Before we start, the usual notes, definitions, and disclaimers:

   Prediction:The nominee that will win.In red, for your convenience.

   Pick:The nominee that should winóand in fact would win, if the universe were just.It is not.

   Percentages:My arbitrary, inexact, self-designed means of assigning probability to certain outcomes.Not statistically usefulóor, really, useful in any way at all.

   Nominees in short-form categories:I always exclude them from my discussion, and I say this is because neither you nor I have seen them, will see them, or have much desire to see them.This year, I could credibly claim to have excluded them for a whole different reason.But why bother?

 

 

ďLetís all go to the lobby, letís all go to the lobby, letís all go to the lobby, to get ourselves a treat.Ē

 

Enjoy the show.

 

 

____________________________

 

Best PictureDirector Actor Actress Supporting Actor Supporting Actress

________________________________

 

 

Best Picture

Nominees:

 

Prediction:

Argo

 

Pick:

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Amour

--

Argo

40%

Beasts of the Southern Wild

--

Django Unchained

--

Les Miserables

10%

Life of Pi

--

Lincoln

35%

Silver Linings Playbook

10%

Zero Dark Thirty

5%

 

Letís start the discussion with my personal pick.Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film of ravishing vision and imagination, acted and directed with wild gusto but still somehow ending up at a place of sublime calmness.It is both raging and meditative, sometimes simultaneously.And it looks like nothing youíve ever seen.It is, in fact, not only the best of these nominees, but was indeed the very best movie of 2012 (my full review is here).As is usually the case with my personal picksóand perhaps even more frequently the case with the actual best movie of the yearóit has no chance of winning. But kudos and thanks to the Academy for nominating it.Every other nominee on this list, down to a one, was released in the November-December Oscar-baiting window.Beasts came out in June, which for Oscar purposes was about 20 years ago.But they remembered it and they nominated itónot just for Best Picture, but for several other awards as well.Well done, AMPAS.

 

Now, on to the real race.

 

A month and a half ago it might have seemed frivolous or contrary to predict a win for Argo.Sure, everyone likes it, and itís a lot of funóa classic CIA nail-biter that tells the (mostly) true story of an absurd plan to rescue some Americans stranded in Iran during the hostage crisis, and how against all odds it is actually set in motion by a small collective of heroes, cynics and Hollywood types.Itís confidently directed, gamely scripted (X: ďAll we have are bad ideas.This is the best one.ĒY: ďYou donít have any better bad ideas?ĒX: ďNo sir, this is the best bad idea we have.Ē), and expertly edited for maximum seat-squirming.But that all really just goes with the territory in these covert-action thrillers, doesnít it?Not really a compelling case for winning The Big Oneóespecially since Ben Affleck wasnít even nominated for Best Director, and movies virtually never win Best Picture if the director isnít nominated.A couple of months ago, to my eyes at least, Lincoln was looking like the favorite, with strong challenges coming from Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook, maybe Les Miserables.But then against expectations Argo just started winning everything:Golden Globe, SAG, Directors Guild, Producers Guild, BAFTA, Critics Choice, you name it.Essentially out of nowhere, it has quickly become the overwhelming front-runner, and Iím not fool enough to put myself in the path of that juggernaut.I predict a win for Argo here too, though with some degree of befuddlement.

 

So what of those erstwhile contenders?They may have shrunk considerably in stature of late, but they havenít disappeared entirely.Lincoln is at the front of the trailing pack and not terribly far behind the lead, I would say, given its twelve (twelve!) nominations and likely wins in some other major categories.Personally, I place it somewhere in the top, say, 25th percentile of Spielbergís oeuvreówhich is not faint praise, considering just how high his highs actually are.Lincoln feels perhaps a bit bloodless for a Spielberg work (and Iím not referring to an absence of battles scenes), but it does have its affecting moments, courtesy of Daniel Day-Lewisís committed-down-to-the-bone central performance and the beautiful handling of a small character revelation in the last act.But it focuses on the political rather than the moral imperative for abolishing slavery, and isnít afraid to show us how the sausage gets made.That may dilute the immediate emotional impact a bit, but it effectively engages usómore deeply than we might notice at firstóby implicating us in the compromises and shady machinations that Lincoln understood are often the only way to get anything done amid bitter ideological division.We all get that, now perhaps more than ever, and Lincoln slyly persuades us to root for favor-trading, prevarication, threats and bribery in the service of an ultimate moral good. Itís a smart, mature, technically impeccable film by one of our greatest directors (and most beloved by Hollywood), with rich writing and several outstanding performances.How is it not the favorite to win among these nominees...?

 

After Lincoln, the next most likely upset would come from either Les Miserables or Silver Linings Playbook.Les Miz is, in its way, quite a film.If youíre in the market for a grand rousing musical historical epic, and hoping to shed some tears along the way, I donít think youíre going to do better than this one.It is overwhelmingly affectingóoverbearingly, one might even say.Even the cinecist, much to his own annoyance, spent about half the length of the damn thing choked up.Fortunately, that sorry display went entirely unnoticed by the other movie-goers bawling unabashedly around him.In all seriousness, though, itís a good film.Yes, oneís enjoyment of the music itself is ultimately dragged down over the course of the 160 minutes by its relentless, inescapable sameness.And yes, one has to be prepared to forgive the hokeyness and histrionics that accompany any project of this type.But Tom Hooperís unexpected directorial choice to have characters (repeatedly and at length) stare directly into the camera and sing at it, in tight close-up, and his ambitious (potentially foolhardy) decision to record all the vocals in real time rather than overdubbing in post-production, actually come together with surprising effect and pay great emotional dividends.And it doesnít hurt that with one notable exception (sorry, but Russell Crowe is the sore thumb in this ensemble) the key players are all excellent musical performers.There were times when a movie like this would have easily walked away with Best Picture.It has to settle for dark horse status this year.

 

Silver Linings Playbook is another dark horse that once looked like a serious contender.This one is a little harder for me to figure.I really like the first two thirds of the movie, much more than I ever expected to, having braced myself for some romantic-comedy-with-a-twist tedium.Instead, it quickly develops a jagged, off-kilter sensibility that teeters knowingly between comedy and tragedy as it explores how maybe mental illness and addictive behaviors are not symptoms of individuals, but rather of whole families and social groups.It works, and it does so with the kind of flair director David O. Russell has always demonstrated for tricky interpersonal dynamics.Plus, Bradley Cooper, Professional Sexy Guy, is surprisingly effective as the lead nut caseómore on that in the Best Actor discussion.But then in the final act, things take a well-telegraphed turn into conventional rom-com territory.The rough edges get smoothed out, everyone seems to get better-looking, and there are tears and laughter and none of them feel real or deserved...and the yawning commences.Itís a shame, most notably because the film doesnít stay true to the difficult nature of the characters it takes such pains to create in the beginning.I understand why I like the first part of the movie, and I understand why other people like the last part; but I donít understand why anyone would like the whole thing, at least not enough to nominate it for an Oscar.Nonetheless, itís the only movie to score a nomination in every major categoryóPicture, Director, Screenplay, and all four acting categories.So clearly I donít know anything.

 

What about Zero Dark Thirty?Thatís a good question.Sometime in December I probably would have pegged it only a little behind Lincoln in the race.A technically superb, fact-based CIA procedural by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, who practically specializes in sharp military thrillersóand with a satisfying ending already baked in, no less.But after getting out of the gate very strong, with countless critics naming it to their top ten, it just seemed to lose momentum.There was the minor political backlash against it for (erroneously) implying that some vital intelligence in the hunt for bin-Laden was gained through torture, but that hardly seems enough to derail it.Maybe it implicitly has to compete in peopleís estimation against the other high-profile CIA flick this year, and Argo is simply more likable, human and appealing than the cool, cerebral, tough-as-nails ZDT.If pressed on the subject, I suspect many people would say they admired Zero Dark Thirty more than Argo, but enjoyed it less.That matters.

 

The remaining nominees can safely be considered out of the running.Life of Pi is a thing of beauty, to be sure, charming and even beguiling at all sorts of levels. I donít have any big problems with the film.I will say that it kept making me want to go read the book, which I assume was able to devote more time and words to fleshing out the ideas at the heart of the story.But thatís not much of a criticism. And while the narrative framing device of an incredible adventure story told in flashback is clearly modulated at a low key to keep the ideas from spinning into tiresome philosophizing, for which Iím grateful, I do think it finally mutes some of the potential magic of the story.Pi was nominated for eleven Oscars, making it second only to Lincoln, which would seem to make it formidable.Ang Lee was even nominated for Best Director, which is something Affleck couldnít manage.But none of its nominations were in acting categories, a clear sign that Best Picture is probably not in its future.It will probably have to settle for technical awards.

 

Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantinoís take on slavery by means of spaghetti western, saw its chances undone by just a little too much controversy and a little too much criticism from the wrong quartersóand also probably the general Tarantino-fatigue that seems to underpin most discussions of his work.And finally Amour, the latest and many would say best from Austrian filmmaker-provocateur Michael Haneke, has a great shot at Best Foreign Language Film, but itís not going to bring home the top honor.

 

 

 

Best Directing

Nominees:

 

Prediction:

Steven Spielberg

 

Pick:

Benh Zeitlin

Amour, Michael Haneke

--

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin

--

Life of Pi, Ang Lee

20%

Lincoln, Steven Spielberg

65%

Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

15%

 

Obviously, the absence of Ben Affleck from this category is rather confounding, given the apparent likelihood that Argo will win Best Picture and the extreme rarity of such a win happening without a Director nomination.But then...there might be an easy explanation.†† Argo is a late favorite, one whose early momentum faded, seemingly dooming it to also-ran status on Oscar night.At the time of the nominations, it wasnít a real contender, so Affleck didnít get the nod for Director.But then as Argo starts winning everything, Academy voters who were undecided before start to view Argo as their favorite, too.Voters who havenít seen the movie yet, not considering it a top contender, decide to see itóand a lot of them like it.And, of course, some voters just change their minds, because everyone likes a winner.So Argo builds new momentum for Best Picture, but itís already too late for Affleck to get nominated for Director.Itís unfortunate for him, but we wonít bring out the violins just yet.It has become clear in his three impressive directorial efforts to date (Argo, Gone Baby Gone and The Town) that this is ultimately how heíll make his lasting mark in Hollywood, not as an actor.So his time will come.

 

In the absence of the upstart Affleck, the early favorite in this category remains the favorite still.I never tire of proclaiming (though some may tire of hearing me proclaim) that Steven Spielberg is quite possibly the best technical film director in history, in spite of his proven unreliability at choosing/developing vehicles that are worthy of his talents.In short, he often seems to be a genius with questionable taste.But Lincoln doesnít suffer in that regard; it may delve into some unseemly political territory, but the film itself remains a model of tastefulness, eminently worthy of Spielbergís directorial prowess, which is brought to bear with remarkably little of his signature sentimental nonsense.As always, he is able to create compositions and find textures that tell stories before, and after, any words are spoken.†† If thereís anyone who understands the language of cinema better than Spielberg, I donít know who it is.Heíll be recognized for it again this year, I believe.

 

If for some reason itís not Spielberg, I would put Ang Lee as the next most likely for his gorgeous Life of Pi, which at times becomes a kind of cinematic poemóin 3D, no less.Beyond the visual beauty, thereís also the fact that he managed to elicit/capture such a wonderful performance from young Suraj Sharma, who had to play most of his scenes against a CGI tiger that obviously wasnít there, or a real tiger that also wasnít there because they couldnít risk having them on set together.Iím not sure how, as a director, you create anything recognizably human out of a situation like that, but Lee managed to do it with room to spare.

 

Could David O. Russell win for Silver Linings?He could, I guess, if voters are really turned off by the obvious, conventional choice of Spielberg and decide they want to do something Ďhipí instead. And again, this movie was nominated in every major category.Thatís a lot of love out there among the voters.Finally, lest we forget, the Harvey Weinstein Oscar-Gathering Machine was fully mobilized a couple of months ago and continues to troll the streets of Hollywood collecting stray votes.It ainít over Ďtil itís over....

 

Michael Hanekeís Amour, as before, is likely out of the running hereóas is my personal pick, deserving though it may be.

 

 

 

Best Actor

Nominees:

 

Prediction:

Daniel Day-Lewis

 

Pick:

Daniel Day-Lewis

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

10%

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

70%

Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables

15%

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

--

Denzel Washington, Flight

5%

 

Letís get the also-rans out of the way firstóby which I mean anyone who isnít named Day-Lewis.

 

Denzel Washington has won before and will in all likelihood win again one day.He gives a terrific performance in Flight, as an ace commercial airline pilot who spends most of his time off the job, as well as a fair amount of his time on it, as a falling-down drunk propped up by cocaine.He surfaces out of haze on one flight to pull a genius maneuver that saves hundreds of lives, but that just proves to him that heís a better pilot when heís half in the bag than all the rest are when theyíre dead sober, and itís this super-competence that keeps him in denial.He knows heís a drunk, he just doesnít really think itís a problem.No one can play an arrogant a**hole as perfectly as Washington can and still make you root for him.Another year, the award could have been his.

 

As I mentioned before, I was also very pleasantly surprised (which is a kind way of saying ďshockedĒ) at just how good Bradley Cooper is in Silver Linings Playbook as a former history teacher who has struggled most of his life with bipolar disorder and rage issues, and now finds himself (perhaps prematurely) released from a mental hospital and wanting to repair his very, very broken marriage and life.His performance (at least for the first two-thirds of the movie) is awkward, off-balance, harsh, a little goofy.Itís just right.Heís a person who is smart and self-aware, but lacks filters and impulse control, making all social interaction precarious for him.Looking into his eyes, itís easy to believe that at any moment he might pose a threat, whether he means to or not.Itís not a complete performance, given the direction his character is required to take in the weak third act, but whatís there is very good.

 

The most likely upset (though itís not really very likely at all) would come from Hugh Jackman for his mighty turn as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.I confess that Hugh Jackman dwells somewhat outside my world.His sweet spots seem to be musicals and supernatural/superhero vehicles, neither of which is exactly in my wheelhouse.But watching him belt out the tunes and bring the anguish in Les Miz, I was duly impressed.The guy sings the bejeezus out of song, and also manages to act while heís doing it.Itís an entirely different sort of talent than Day-Lewis or Washington bring to the table, but itís not to be dismissed.And Iíll say this:If the people in the theatre with me when I saw this movie were able to vote, Jackman would win by a landslide.

 

So, on to the winner.A question for you:Who are The Great Film Actors?Everyone agrees on Olivier, Brando, De Niro, Pacino, Duvall, Nicholson.Most would probably agree on Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Sean Penn, a few others.Can we all maybe agree on Daniel Day-Lewis as well?Itís true he doesnít have nearly as many credits as the others on this list.But let me mention just four:My Left Foot, Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln.The scope of what Day-Lewis does in just these four performances, and the eerie perfection with which he does it, put him so far ahead of nearly everyone else that you almost have to call it something other than acting.Itís more like...becoming.Or maybe dissolving and resolving.He disappears, he eradicates himselfóhis literal selfóand in its place creates an entirely new being.So even in tight close-up, the touchstone of film acting, you find no trace of Daniel Day-Lewis.You find only Christy Brown, or Bill ĎThe Butcherí Cutting, or Daniel Plainview, or Abraham Lincoln, painstakingly built from the particles that once made up Daniel Day-Lewis.Look, I donít understand what he does, and I certainly donít want to do it myself.But I will watch him do it all day long.

 

 

Oh, did I forget to discuss Joaquin Phoenix?Hmm.Go figure.

 

 

 

Best Actress

Nominees:

 

 

Prediction:

Jennifer Lawrence

 

 

Pick:

Quvenzhane Wallis

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

20%

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

50%

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

10%

Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

20%

Naomi Watts, The Impossible

--

 

As we all know by now, Quvenzhane Wallis (apparently, mercifully, you can call her ĎNazieí) is the youngest nominee ever in the category, at the ripe old age of 9-and-a-half.She auditioned and won the role when she was 5, and gave the performance at 6 or 7.At this point, numbers cease to matter.The question is:Is Nazieís performance really that good?The answer is:You bet it is.She isnít just the thematic focus of the film, she is in every way the lead actor.She carries nearly every scene in the movie squarely on her shoulders; if she fails, the scene fails.But it never does, because she never does.She is a little force of nature, preternaturally wise when she needs to be, but still able to convey real fear and sadness and humanity.Her performance is jaw-droppingly natural, accomplishing everything it needs to without straining for any of it.Itís simply great acting, and it would be amazing if the Academy decided to recognize it with more than just a nomination.Iím not particularly hopeful thatís going to happen, but itís not out of the question.

 

Much more likely is a win by Jennifer Lawrence for her portrayal of a recovering sex addict and all-around loony chick in Silver Linings Playbook.Iím a little ambivalent here.I became a Lawrence fan a couple of years ago when I saw her tough, no-nonsense performance in the best movie of that year, Winterís Bone.It was a killer.But since then, I find myself wondering whether sheís going to choose the path of starlet or serious actress.On the strength of her talent and attractiveness, both are now open to her; itís simply about what she wants to do.Her performance in Silver Linings doesnít give any clear indication of which direction sheís headed in.Itís a perfectly good performance, quirky and challenging, fiery but vulnerable, Ďseriousí but still pretty cute:well within the bounds of what either a Jennifer Anniston or a Renee Zellweger might have delivered at the same point in their respective careers.Lawrence is capable of Oscar-caliber work (sheís already done it once) but this isnít it.This is a transitional performance, and we need to see whatís next.However...this is the Academyís best opportunity to deliver a top-tier award to this movie, and I donít think theyíll pass it up.

 

Jessica Chastain only really showed up on the Hollywood radar two years ago, but what an appearance it was:Her 2011 credits included The Help, The Tree of Life, Coriolanus and Take Shelter.She ďannounced her presence with authorityĒ as Ebby Calvin LaLoosh might say, and Iím a believer.Sheís the real thing.But her nomination this year for Zero Dark Thirty is, I suspect, primarily about recognizing the need for strong female leads in American cinema, and secondarily about acknowledging the stunning volume and variety of work Chastain has done in the last couple of years.She is as good as anyone could be in ZDT, so sheís not out of the running, but itís not a role that requires all that much.

 

Emmanuelle Riva would have a shot at winning this one if more voters had seen Amour, but most of them havenít, so there it is.Naomi Watts is, I guess, this yearís stand-in for Nicole Kidman, because whatís an Oscar ceremony without a blond Australian on the red carpet?

 

 

 

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

 

Prediction:

Tommy Lee Jones

 

Pick:

Tommy Lee Jones

Alan Arkin, Argo

25%

Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

25%

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

--

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

40%

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

10%

 

Thereís rarely a sure thing in this category, because itís where you tend to find the most interesting, varied, and entertaining performances of the year.That being said, I think we can rule out a couple from this list.Philip Seymour Hoffman was, Iím sure, as wonderful as he always is in The Master (to my shame, I didnít see it).There was early Oscar buzz around all the main performances in The Master, but it was always considered a ďproblematicĒ film.Then once the movie went into wide release, the audience response was a marked indifference.So the actors did get their nominations (Hoffman, Phoenix, and Amy Adams) but I canít really see any of them winning.Christoph Waltz, for his part, did win the Golden Globe, and he was directed by Tarantino to an Oscar win in this category once before for Inglourious Basterds.But my gut tells me itís not in the cards for him this year, and sometimes I just have to go with that.I wonít count him out completely, but Iíll make him a long shot.

 

I think the contest here is really between Arkin, Jones and De Niro.Alan Arkin is enjoying a heck of a third act, having made a whole late career out of playing cynical, wise-cracking old coots.Itís always fun to watch, and itís already brought him one Oscar (for Little Miss Sunshine).Will it bring him another?†† Itís a possibility.His is the only acting nomination for Argo, which could provide the extra push he needs.

 

As for Robert De Niro, his work in Silver Linings isnít classic, top-shelf De Niro, and itís not the performance heís going to be remembered for.But one does have the sense that he really connected with the material in a way that he doesnít always do these days.Itís a heartfelt, genuine, and moving performanceóand one more opportunity to make good on all the acting nominations for this movie.He has a solid chance at it.

 

But in the end I think the favorite is SAG-winner Tommy Lee Jones, who is also my personal pick.He gives a crowd-pleaser of a performance in Lincoln as the aging Thaddeus Stevens, a nasty, arrogant, sarcastic, self-righteous bully, redeemed only (but quite completely) by the fact that he has committed his entire political life and every fluid ounce of bile inside him to the single absolute moral good of ending slavery.Heís the kind of guy you just hope and pray agrees with you, because if he doesnít, your life will be miserable.Jones has the stature and the craggy exoskeleton to make Stevens a formidable physical and psychological presence, but he can always find those little notes that make you feel the humanity underneath.This is one of his best performances, and I think it will be recognized.

 

A couple of post-scripts:First, itís not surprising but itís still regrettable that Dwight Henry wasnít nominated here for his amazingly strong work as the young Hushpuppyís raging alcoholic father in Beasts of the Southern Wild.Before making the movie, Henry was a New Orleans bakery owner who had never acted in his life.Youíd never know that from watching this performance.Some might say it veers into caricature in its over-the-top ferocity.But take it from a former bartender:Drunks can be cartoons, and they can be horror-movie monsters.Thatís just the truth of it.Nothing in Henryís performance felt false to me.

 

Second, does anyone else think James Spader got the shaft?His turn as the shady, shameless political operative W.N. Bilbo in Lincoln was not only flat-out hilarious, it was also exactly the air valve needed to prevent this closely contained drama from becoming too claustrophobic.He should have gotten a nomination, if you ask me.

 

 

 

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

 

Prediction:

Anne Hathaway

 

Pick:

Anne Hathaway

Amy Adams, The Master

5%

Sally Field, Lincoln

30%

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

60%

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

--

Jackie Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

5%

 

I think this race sounds closer than it really is.Anne Hathaway and Sally Field give high-profile performances that set up what would seem to be a classic opposition:the young, beautiful, warm, heart-wrenchingly sympathetic Fantine vs. the older, harsh, difficult, and most assuredly UN-sympathetic Mary Todd Lincoln.The stage is set for a tough little battle pitting the red-carpet starlet against the hard-knocked veteran, youth against age, sentiment against artistry, etc. etc., in which weíll just have to wait and see which side the Academy comes down on.

 

All well and good, but really I just think Anne Hathaway is going to win.And I think sheís going to do it handily.And I think she deserves it.

 

In Lincoln, Sally Field conveys very effectively the difficult character of Mary Todd, her anguish and her mental instability and her selfishness, and how she uses them all to manipulate the people around herówhether she understands thatís what sheís doing or not.Thereís no doubt itís a strong performance.But does it at any point create a moment of intimacy, a point of connection between the character and me, so that Iím not just watching a performance, but actually experiencing something within myself because of that performance?It does not.

 

Hathaway, on the other hand, does.And it happens at exactly the moment you think it does, when she sings THAT SONG.Whatever other renditions of that song youíve heard in the last couple of yearsóand we all know there have been plentyówhen Hathaway sings it in Les Miserables, it belongs entirely to her.Not to the actress, but to the Fantine that is being created and lived by her in that moment.That song, as she performs it, connects the character and the audience in a way that Sally Fieldís performance is just not able to do.Is it sentimental?Sure it is.But what works, works.If I had to choose between watching Fieldís Mary Todd and Hathawayís Fantine, I would choose the latter every day of the week and twice on Sunday.And on this particular Sunday, Iím pretty sure the Academy will concur.

 

The other nominees here seem like distant trailers.Helen Hunt, bless her bland, likable little heart, was as certain to be nominated as she is to loseóa tough hand to be dealt, but Iím sure sheíll persevere, and look fantastic doing it.Jacki Weaver has a slightly better chance of winning, but I think sheís here mostly just to prove that, yes, the voters really, really do like Silver Linings Playbook, for whatever reason.And Amy Adams, with her fourth nomination in this category in seven years, would really seem to be due for a win; but not this time, I think.I would almost feel bad for her, if I werenít 99% certain that she will win an Oscar in the next five years.

 

 

© 2013 dondi demarco