If this film was judged on gravitas alone, its nomination would easily be validated, but voters should also consider the completeness of the film. Costumes, lighting, hair and make-up, script and camera angles, all are worthy of recognition. And beyond technical accomplishments, the movie is entertaining and insightful.
Steven Spielberg’s version of the U.S. 39th congress has a veiled Shakespearean aura, with its cadence and emotion feeling a little like it is a rendition of Julius Caesar. A motif present also in the platonic devices used in the backroom meetings of procuring votes to free America’s slaves.
This is the story of a man who is singular in rationality, fending off both racists and abolitionists for the weighed and balanced good of a nation. Because this movie is one of meaning, not entertainment, and is still able to integrate Spielbergian sprightliness I will be surprised if it does not take the Oscar for best picture.
With one of the most stunning performances by an actress to date—Emmanuelle Riva’s portrayal of terminally ill Anne Laurent is mesmerizingly pitiful, while sustaining beauty in dignity behind elderly eyes. The French film Amour about managing the suffering of loved ones shows humanity at its best, vulnerability at its worst and the strength and experience of the elderly.
A simple film made on a budget of US$9 million, it is able to share, without direct dialogue, full understanding of the characters lives and personalities from youth to age within a few early scenes. Rooms in the home seemingly represent sections of their life, with two chairs in the salon opening the door to the spring of their youth.
Excellent performances and astute directing should guarantee this film an Oscar for best foreign film. That is if the Academy wishes to share in the high culture that exists in this meaningful film.
A film of beauty in a world of suffering, Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yan Martels’ 2001 novel “Life of Pi” shows early cinemagraphic prowess in its opening sequence with a beautifully designed tromp through the animal kingdom using slow, kinetic motion. I’m not sure who gets credit for that—director or editor—but I know it is a preparation for the story that is this movie. “A story that would make you believe in God.”
The screenplay which is full of life affirming maxims like, “how can you find your way if you don’t choose a path?” is made alive with CGI effects of immense proportions. None of them are overkill. And though the disclaimers of “for your consideration” running across the bottom of the screen gave a feeling of providence while critiquing these films to preempt the Oscar’s ceremony it is one movie I would have liked to see in its full 3D glory.
It is full of magical impossibilities, but because Lee is able to make it so believable he should win for best director.
“Time is the greatest thickener of things,” Daniel Day-Lewis says as Abraham Lincoln, which is a good representation of his own method of role preparation. He is famous for allowing his characters to take over his life, and he requested a year to prepare this one.
It may seem that a character this well known would be an easy part. But no lead role this season held the nuances Day-Lewis layered within his performance. He is embarrassed by the attention but motivated by principles. He is a president, husband, father, leader, martyr, simple man and a complex one, a man with the answers and the one asking the questions, both conniving and honest.
His moments of sober thought speak more than his public addresses. He listens until he speaks and everyone watching wants nothing but to hear.
It is easy to lead through force, it is another to lead by convincing your opposition to change. Both Lincoln and Day-Lewis are able to do this, and thusly this role should win the Oscar for best actor.
As it is with the entirety of this film Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in “Silver Lining Playbook” is unassuming. While watching this film about chemically imbalanced characters there are less than clinical elements, but the people and their diseases portrayed maintain a level of believability.
She portrayed an unguarded yet strong young women resolved in her insanity, and while her character is well in the background of Bradley Cooper’s, within a single close-up scene the audience can recognize who it is that they are rooting for, and sometimes against. She is falling through life like a new born lamb.
Because of this stellar performance it is not until the 3rd act that the film is recognizably a romantic comedy and not solely an introspective piece on the difficulties of living life with mental illness.
Though the Oscar for best actress should go to Emmanuelle Riva, due to Hollywood politics it will likely fall to Lawrence in a deserving second place performance.