Before I start in on my very decided opinions about the 85th Academy Awards, I would like to draw your attention to the poster for that year. Designed by artist Olly Moss, it shows 85 Oscar statuettes, each one made to represent a best picture winner. My personal favorite? 2001. An empty pedestal for A Beautiful Mind. I highly encourage you to Google “Olly Moss Oscar Poster” to find a version that is not too pixelated when you make it big enough to admire each individual statuette. See how many best picture winners you can name based simply on the statuette. It’s amazingly fun. I love this poster so much that I tracked one down, had it sent from England, and got it custom framed—and I have no regrets about any of that, even though it’s probably the most money I’ve ever spent on anything outside of my car.
Now on to the movies! When I chose to watch the movies of 2012, I was thinking mainly of two movies that I really wanted to watch: Zero Dark Thirty and Argo. I hadn’t thought about all the movies I had no desire to see, but I had to watch Life of Pi, Django Unchained, and Les Miserablès some time, and now I’ve gotten them over with. Also, I never have to watch them again if I don’t want to, and now I have solid reasons to not like them. In other words, I can legitimately make fun of Les Miserablès, because yes, I have seen it. And no, I didn’t like it. Having a third of the movies be movies I didn’t want to see didn’t make for the best viewing experience, but I also got to see some brilliant movies, so that makes me happy.
2012 was a tough year if you were an actor hoping to win an acting award. I might have given Bradley Cooper the Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook if he hadn’t been up against Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. That performance was so masterful that nobody else stood a chance. The same goes for Christoph Waltz’s performance in Django Unchained. Yes, I loved Alan Arkin in Argo, and Tommy Lee Jones was fabulous in Lincoln, but Christoph Waltz carried his movie. I don’t think he could have been replaced by anyone else. He made Django Unchained work.
The best actress field was similarly crowded. Every performance was Oscar-worthy. However, I think the award was wrongly given to Jennifer Lawrence. In fact, I would say her performance in Silver Linings Playbook was the weakest of the five nominations. Don’t get me wrong; I love Jennifer Lawrence, and she did a great job, but Emmanuelle Riva’s performance in Amour was the best of the year. I literally forgot that she wasn’t really a stroke victim. Riva was completely convincing; she definitely deserved the Oscar that year.
I don’t agree with the best supporting actress decision, either. Anne Hathaway did a fine job as Fantine in Les Miserablès, but Sally Field did a better job as Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln. I would even have been happier to see the award go to Samantha Barks, who wasn’t even nominated for her role as Èponine in Les Miserablès. Hers was the stronger performance in that movie. People may not agree with me on that, but that’s what comments are for.
There are a couple more issues I have with the Oscars this year. I would have liked to see Lincoln win a couple more awards. I think it deserved awards for its makeup and for its costume design. The famous actors were all practically unrecognizable. To me, that’s what great makeup is. Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin should have been nominated for their score for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The music was beautiful and haunting and fit the movie perfectly. And maybe it’s because I didn’t think much of the movie, but it kind of bothers me that Ang Lee was named best director. I would have been fine with any one of the other four nominees winning, but that one rankles.
I also don’t think the Academy gave the best picture award to the best movie of the year. I liked Argo immensely, but it didn’t hold up in repeat viewings like Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln did. I personally would have given Lincoln my vote, because I liked it just a little bit more than Zero Dark Thirty, but I would have been just as happy if Zero Dark Thirty had actually won. Again, I’m not a film critic, so maybe I can’t judge the “best” movie of 2012, but for me, Argo was not it.
So how do I rank the nominees?
9. Les Miserablès
8. Life of Pi
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
6. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Django Unchained
2. Zero Dark Thirty
Side note: Silver Linings Playbook probably would have been higher on my list if I hadn’t read the book after watching the movie, but before ranking them. The book was incredible, and I didn’t like some of the changes that David O. Russell made to the story. Beasts of the Southern Wild might have been higher if the ending hadn’t been so off kilter. And while I personally didn’t care much for Django Unchained, I can recognize it as a good movie. Ranking movies can be hard sometimes.