We’re delighted our favorite Movie Critic – Paul McGuire is back to share his 2012 Oscar reviews and predictions. He also shares his tips on hosting a memorable Oscar party – too fun! I’m busy creating some sweet and savory popcorn toppings for the must-have Oscar viewing snack…
“For Your Consideration” is a common phrase used throughout the Oscar season as studios try to promote their films for Oscar votes. One of my favorite parts of the Oscar season is not only watching the movies but hosting our annual Oscar party. We invite anywhere between 20-30 people over to our townhouse and have a grand time. Various appetizers, dishes, and beverages are served as well as Oscar ballots and trivia games for prizes. One of our guests tends to bring a dish based on one of the nominated movies. It is a fun time to be creative and try new recipes. Silver Linings Playbook is up for numerous awards this season, including acting nominations for its four main actors. If you have seen the movie, you will remember how “crabby snacks and homemades” were a big part of the Robert DeNiro’s character’s football game watching. You could make your own version of “crabby snacks and homemade”, and it would be one easy way to incorporate a theme to your Oscar party. It has been a phenomenal year for movies with so many exceptional movies to see. There are some clear frontrunners like Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway, but there are other categories that could go in a multitude of directions. Here are some reviews of the celebrated movies as well as my predictions on some of the major categories:
Ben Affleck is back to the director’s chair with a remarkable true story. In 1979, The US embassy in Tehran, Iran is taken over by Islamic militants. While many of the staff were taken hostage, six people evade capture and are taken into hiding in the home of the Canadian ambassador (Victor Garber). Now the US must figure out how to bring those six people out of hiding and bring them back to the US safely. Tony Mendez (Affleck) is the CIA agent that takes control of the situation and comes up with a brilliant plan. His plan is to go to Iran and claim they are making an exotic sci-fi picture and they are looking for shooting locations. The ruse will include the escapees as members of the film crew. The plan is very risky and can only be done if it is planned and executed down to the smallest minute detail. Mendez hires movie producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and Oscar winning make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) to help shape their plan. They rummage through unproduced scripts and find a winner called “Argo”. They meticulously plot out everything from a fake studio, storyboards, design concepts, and they even have a fake table read of the fake script. Like any good thriller, not everything can go smoothly to plan for Mendez and his crew. Sharp story-telling and editing keep the momentum going at a quick pace to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. There are plenty of witty lines allowing some laughs in between all of the suspense. I was consistently eyeing the costume and hair design. The look seemed authentic and real without it feeling to “costumey”. Arkin and Goodman are fantastic supporting actors and bring out the humor in each of their characters. Argo is another prime example of the skill Affleck is showing as a director.
Director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner focus their film on Lincoln’s (the incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis) battle to pass the 13th amendment to abolish slavery. Lincoln was opposed to slavery and needed to get enough votes in the house to have the amendment pass. At the time, there was a sharp divide between the people regarding the equality of the races. Lincoln must also deal with the timing and outcome of the Civil
War as the results of each have a drastic impact on the other one. He did not have it easy dealing with his family life back inside the walls of the White House. His wife Mary Todd Lincoln (Goddess Sally Field) was having a hard time dealing with the death of their middle son William. She was a strong supporter of her husband’s politics and was always a presence at the house hearings. Their oldest son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has left school and returned home to fight in the war against his parents’ wishes. They are far too fearful of him perishing in combat. The film is based on a small portion of the epic book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The screenplay is smart, intelligent, and funny without feeling too high brow or too smart for your standard movie going audience. I found myself on the edge of my seat as if I did not already know how it was going to end. Spielberg has gathered another fine company of actors that all bring their A-game to their characters. Lincoln is his best film since Saving Private Ryan. It is one of the most important films to see in theaters right now not only to see how one of the greatest presidents shaped history, but to see how it resonates with the politics we face in today’s society.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has been released from a psychiatric facility. His mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) picks him up and brings him back to their house. Pat comes back to realize his life is not the same as it was before the incident happened. He no longer has his job as a teacher and is determined to get his wife back. His traditional Philadelphia Eagles loving OCD dad Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro) is not even aware that he was released early. Pat seems a little clueless about his mental state of being diagnosed as bipolar. He thinks he has it all together and it will be no time before he gets his wife back. He cannot seem to shake his short temper and anger management. Even the ending of “A Farewell to Arms” sets him over the edge. During a dinner with his wife’s sister (Julia Stiles), he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). She is a firecracker along the same lines as Pat. She has a history of baggage having previously been married and a reputation of being crazy and promiscuous. Their friendship blooms the more they interact and challenge each other. Pat helps Tiffany enter a dance competition in exchange for her helping him reach out to his wife. I always thought Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence were good actors, but even I did not expect them to be so fantastic and sharp in this movie. Silver Linings Playbook is the perfect example of a movie that seems pretty simple and full of standard rom-com fair on the outside, but in the inside it packs a wallop of a punch and takes you by surprise. David O. Russell directed and wrote the movie based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. He has cast a superb ensemble of actors that play outside their comfort zones, but are perfect at playing these characters.
Best Picture: Argo
Best Director: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actresses: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Best Original Screenplay: Michael Haneke, Amour
Best Adapted Screenplay: Tony Kushner, Lincoln
Will there be any upsets or surprises? Sure! There always seems to be someone. Do not be surprised if Robert DeNiro or Christoph Waltz win over Tommy Lee Jones. Quentin Tarantino could win for his screenplay for Django Unchained over Michael Haneke’s screenplay for Amour. Who are your predictions to win? I’d love to hear your responses and see what kind of “crabby snacks and homemades” you came up with. Feel free to leave them in the comments section. Don’t forget to check out my Oscar Watch 2013 page on my blog as we get closer to the awards for my updated predictions!
Paul McGuire, Movie Critic http://paulstriptothemovies.blogspot.com/