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Archive for the ‘Oscars’ Category

Great Expectations (1946)

Great_expectationsDirected by David Lean

I read Great Expectations, the Dickens novel this movie was based on, when I was fifteen. I had to read it for my English class. And guess what? I hated the book. However, I was blown away by the opening scene of this movie when my teacher showed it to us during class. It was so moody and so perfect. It was proof to me that they could make a good movie from a not-so-great book.*

So what’s the story? Young Philip Pirrip, called Pip,  lives an uneventful life with his sister and her blacksmith husband, Joe, until one day when they hear that a convict has escaped from a nearby convict ship. Pip meets the convict in the graveyard and feeds him until the convict is recaptured. A year later, Pip’s  interesting life continues when he is asked to come to the home of the mysterious Miss Havisham, a recluse living in a great house. There he meets the beautiful, yet horrible, Estella, with whom he immediately falls in love even though she treats him so terribly. He continues to visit Miss Havisham and Estella until one day he is informed that someone has set up an annuity for him so he can live like a gentleman in London. Who is his mysterious benefactor? What is Miss Havisham’s secret? Why is Estella such a brat?

The Good: Great Expectations is a movie filled with light and shadow, both figuratively and literally. The cinematographer, Guy Green, did a remarkable job painting the book’s theme of the impossibility of judging good from bad simply from appearances with his choices of when to use bright lights and when to use darkness and shadow. Miss Havisham’s house is dark and brooding, rather  like the lady herself.


I couldn’t find an example of the chase scene online, so I took a screenshot while watching Great Expectations on my phone. I heartily apologize to the copyright owner if this is a violation, but I did it in admiration and I’m not making any money from this blog. 


Pip’s rooms in London are generally filled with the careless light of a young man finding himself wealthy for the first time in his life, yet when a menacing figure comes into the room, it is suddenly filled with shadow. The best part, though, is when Pip, Joe, and the policemen are chasing the convict over the marshes. The men are shadows against a slightly lighter background. No words are spoken; it’s a pantomime of shadows set to music. I honestly don’t remember if I saw the whole movie in my English class, but I remembered that particular scene for twenty years.


Estella, Miss Havisham, and Pip in the ruined mansion.

The movie is so well cast. The actors not only do an amazing job in their respective roles, but they also have really good chemistry together. Even the actors in small parts are great. Tony Wager shines as young Pip. John Mills is excellent as Pip in his later years, even though he looks waaaay too old to be a young man just starting out in London. Alec Guinness has the enthusiasm and carelessness needed for the character of Herbert Pocket, while Francis L. Sullivan plays the solicitor Mr. Jaggers to world-weary perfection. Bernard Miles is sweetly humble as Joe, and Martita Hunt is fabulous as the cold, haughty Miss Havisham. Finlay Currie brings a goodness to the role of Magwich the convict while still retaining his rough edges. I just realized that I basically listed the entire cast, so that just goes to show how brilliantly the movie was cast.      

Historical costuming is often a challenge. Many, many costume designers feel the need to bring the clothes “up to date” by using contemporary hairstyles or completely decide to ignore the time period altogether and put the characters in whatever they think looks good. The designer here managed to resist the temptation; the clothes are both period- and class-appropriate.  

The screenplay is a good adaptation of Dickens. Some Dickens adaptations I have seen are much too sunny when compared to his books (I’m looking at YOU, “Oliver!”[1968]). Others have been so bleak. But Dickens himself was a master of of striking the balance of showing the bleakness of his times while celebrating the wonderful things and odd characters in life. The writers of this adaptation of Great Expectations did an excellent job finding their own balance.

Bad: Besides John Mills looking too old to play Pip as a young gentleman, it is never explained why Pip has a high class accent when he was raised by a blacksmith. It’s such a tiny thing, but it bothered me throughout the movie.

The Ugly: I waited in vain for an explanation of why Pip loved Estella. She was always, always mean to him and to everyone else. She was pretty, but there was literally no other reason for Pip to love her beyond her beauty. I don’t think it’s completely the movie’s fault; Dickens didn’t explain it, either. But I would really love to see any glimmer of a reason for a good soul like Pip to spend his life wanting a thoroughly unpleasant person. (Although I did just realize that maybe he thinks that is how men should be treated based on how he sees his sister treat Joe. Still, I want a better reason.)

Oscars Won: Best cinematography, black-and-white; best art direction-set decoration, black-and-white.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best director; best writing, screenplay.

*(Don’t worry, though. I reread Great Expectations ten years later, and realized that it’s actually an enjoyable book when a) you’re reading it for pleasure rather than because you are forced to, and b) when you have enough life experience to be able to relate to it.)

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

downloadDirected by Henry Koster

Happy Christmas Eve! I decided that there is no better way to celebrate Christmas Eve than in reviewing an Oscar-nominated movie that ends on Christmas Eve.

The Bishop’s Wife is a Christmas classic that I did not grow up watching, which is actually kind of strange, come to think of it; we watched so many in my family when I was growing up. Anyway, I saw it for the first time a few years ago, and I thought it was kind of creepy. Yes, it has some familiar Christmas movie elements – someone who has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, an angel sent to help, a moment with a lovely carol – but in a normal Christmas movie, the angel is not trying to seduce the wife of the man he’s sent to help.

So what’s the story? Episcopal bishop Henry Brougham has decided that his purpose in life is to glorify God by building a huge cathedral, but he can’t raise the money. In his obsession to build the cathedral, he has started to neglect his family, his parishioners, and his relationship with God. One night, desperate to get the money for his cathedral, Henry prays for help. Help comes in the form of angel Dudley, but it’s not the kind of help that Henry was expecting.

The Good: Most of the cast are excellent. David Niven makes a fabulously stuffy bishop. Loretta Young does a wonderful job as Julia, the distressed wife who can’t seem to get her husband to see past his plans for his cathedral. James Gleason is delightful as always in his role of Sylvester, the comedic taxi driver. Monty Woolley plays atheist Professor Wutheridge with charm and sympathy. Gladys Cooper in her role of Mrs. Hamilton is the epitome of the wealthy society dame who always gets her way in the end. There is good chemistry among the cast; they just work well together as a team.

Other film elements work together well, also. The music is just right, jolly and Christmassy at times, dramatic and sad when needed. There are some fun editing tricks that showcase Dudley’s angelic powers. The design of the bishop’s house (the rectory? I’m not sure of the right term) – nice, but old-fashioned – contrasts perfectly with Mrs. Hamilton’s fashionable mansion and Professor Wutheridge’s tiny apartment in a poorer part of town. 

The Bad: Whoever decided to cast Cary Grant as an angel had a lapse of judgment. Don’t get me wrong; I love Cary Grant, but this role just doesn’t fit him. His calm angel’s demeanor comes off as smarmy half the time. The “angel knows best” attitude doesn’t work with him. Grant seems supercilious rather than sympathetic.

The Ugly: The story and screenplay make me so uncomfortable. I have no problem with an angel coming to help someone remember what’s truly important in life, but an angel should not make a woman fall in love with him in order to make her husband feel like he has to literally fight for her in order to keep her. It’s underhanded and gross and a little misogynistic. Dudley uses his powers to keep a woman’s husband away so that Dudley can take her on a date? Creepy! The fact that Dudley makes the women around him feel better about life by charming them seems to say that women will be happy as long as they have a little attention from a handsome man. The screenplay is quite funny in places, and the idea of an angel falling for a human woman is fine, but the rest of it is just plain wrong.

Oscar Won: Best sound, recording.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best director; best film editing; best music, scoring of a dramatic or comedy picture.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

miracle on 34th streetDirected by George Seaton

It’s December 1st! For me, today is the day that I can hear Christmas music on the radio without being annoyed by how early it has started. I can justifiably watch Christmas movies, and I can start eating my daily piece of advent calendar chocolate. I’ve decided I’m going to start this Christmas season with a review of a Christmas movie. Have a happy holiday season!
(Also, yes, I am completely aware that this is not the first movie alphabetically. I had some availability issues, so I’m going backwards this month.)

Miracle on 34th Street is a movie that I grew up with. We watched it at least once every Christmas season. I loved it so much as a child that I was angry when it was remade in 1994. I was twelve, and could see no reason why there needed to be another version. The excuse that kids wouldn’t want to watch a black-and-white movie or an old movie made me so mad; I was living proof that kids were, indeed, capable of enjoying things besides the latest movies. Now I’m an adult, and I still don’t see that there was any need for a remake. I absolutely love this movie.

So what’s the story? Macy’s Department Store hires a man to play Santa at the last minute, not realizing that they have hired the real Kris Kringle. Although he is sad by how commercialized Christmas has become, Kris decides he will not only do his best to help everyone have a happy Christmas, but will also help no-nonsense Doris Walker and her young daughter, Susan, believe in Santa again. But when a jealous coworker accuses Kris of insanity, will Kris’s new lawyer friend be able to prove to the court that Kris is actually Santa Claus?

The Good: I would honestly not be surprised if it came out that Edmund Gwenn were truly Santa Claus. His performance as Kris Kringle is fabulous. He’s a jolly, twinkly-eyed man whose only sorrow in life is the unhappiness of others. Each of his scenes is a delight to watch because he truly embodies the spirit of Santa.

The rest of the acting in the movie is good, too. Maureen O’Hara plays Doris Walker perfectly, showing her growth as she changes from a bitter, jaded divorcee to a woman who believes that good things might be possible after all. Precocious seven-year-old Susan Walker is played wonderfully well by Natalie Wood. Besides showcasing these marvelous actresses, Miracle on 34th Street is also the film debut of one of my favorite character actresses: Thelma Ritter, who plays the exhausted, exasperated mother whose little boy wants a special fire truck, the catalyst for Kris’s shocking idea of helping people find what they want for Christmas, no matter where it is for sale. I adore Thelma Ritter in all of her roles, and even though her role is tiny in this movie, I am still happy to see her.

Miracle on 34th Street is a bit of an oddity in that it was released as a book and a movie at the same time. I’m not sure if the screenplay is wholly based on the book, or if the writers worked on both at the same time. I have read the book, and bits of it are word for word the same as the screenplay, but I’m not sure exactly how the dynamics worked. However it worked, though, the screenplay is perfect. The story of how Santa would fare in the modern Christmas season is simple and sweet, but the screenplay elevates the basic story to really make the characters come alive. There’s heart and humor and love without being too sickly sweet; it’s really just delightful.

The Bad: John Payne doesn’t do a bad job of playing Fred Gailey, per se, but Fred is such a flat, bland character that anyone could have played him. There’s just not much for him to work with. It’s a little bit sad that a movie with such dynamic characters has such a boring man for the leading lady to fall in love with.

The Ugly: Like One Hundred Men and a Girl, Miracle on 34th Street is much too sweet of a movie to have anything really ugly in it.

The Major Disappointment: I had always thought that the real Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel played themselves. However, I learned this year that they were played by actors. It’s obviously not a huge deal, but it feels like I’ve been lied to my whole life.

A Satisfying Fact: Even though Macy and Gimbel weren’t really themselves, Edmund Gwenn really was Santa Claus for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The film of him being Santa in the parade is real, not staged.

Oscars Won: Best actor in a supporting role (Edmund Gwenn); best writing, original story; best writing, screenplay.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture.

The 62nd Academy Awards: My Verdict (Now with mini reviews of Glory and Do the Right Thing)

62nd_Academy_AwardsOh, Academy members of 1989, what were you thinking? I shake my head at you. You got so much right, and yet you got the most basic thing – Best Picture nominees – wrong.

The 1989 Oscars are the first ones I remember, and until I started doing this project, I knew which five movies had been nominated for best picture: Born on the Fourth of July and My Left Foot I remembered for their enigmatic titles; I watched Driving Miss Daisy and Glory (with certain parts fast-forwarded) with my family all the time; and although I didn’t remember the title from my childhood, we had talked about how much better Do the Right Thing was than Driving Miss Daisy in a film class, so I assumed it was the fifth nominee. I was completely confident in this. If I had been on Jeopardy, I would have bet all my money; if I had been on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, I would have told the host that is was my final answer before he asked.

But the Academy was so off that year that two of the best movies of 1989 weren’t even nominated. Trying to remove two nominees from the actual list isn’t easy; Field of Dreams can definitely go; I think it’s the weakest of the true nominees. As for the other one? Personally, I would leave Dead Poets Society there and take out Born on the Fourth of July, but that’s just because I didn’t particularly enjoy the latter. Seeing as how Oliver Stone won the Best Director category for Born on the Fourth of July, people who are better at film than I am might disagree with me. Anyway, this is the list of nominees as I personally think it should have been:

Dead Poets Society
Do the Right Thing
Driving Miss Daisy
My Left Foot

“What are these movies?” you ask. Why did Glory and Do the Right Thing deserve to be nominees? I will give you quick rundowns of these excellent movies and urge you to watch them yourselves, and then tell me if you agree with me that they should have been at the very least on the Best Picture nominees list.

gloryGlory is a movie based on the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry Regiment, an all-black regiment fighting for the Union during the American Civil War. So we’re starting off with an amazing historical story, but let’s look at the cast. In perhaps his only serious role ever (I exaggerate, but not much), Matthew Broderick plays Colonel Robert Shaw, the man chosen to train and lead this new regiment. Denzel Washington gives an Oscar-winning performance as Private Silas Trip, a former runaway slave who is choosing to risk everything to fight against slavery. Add Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, and Andre Braugher, and you’ve got some serious acting ability in this movie in addition to the great story. The production design and costuming is spot-on, the cinematography is beautiful, and James Horner’s score is so great that he plagiarized himself twenty years later when he “wrote” the “original score” of Avatar (2009). It’s even still watched in middle school American history classrooms across the country as a way to help students understand the Civil War and race relations. It’s so good that my mother, who literally only let me see one movie that was rated PG-13 before I was 13 (Jurassic Park, for those who are wondering), had no problem with my dad’s watching Glory over and over, as long as he fast-forwarded the Battle of Antietam and muted the racist’s sergeant’s serious profanities. I have been watching this movie since I was seven years old, and I find that I still see new things every time I watch it. To me, that is the definition of any great work of art: something that is meaningful on different levels as you age and view it through new eyes.

dj_simsa_do_right_thing_640Do the Right Thing is also about race relations in America, but of the three race relations movies on my list, Do the Right Thing is the only one written and directed by an African-American and told from the perspective of an African-American. The story that writer/director Spike Lee is telling is a contemporary one, not one from history. It’s a simple premise: on a hot day in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, underlying tensions between community members surface and then explode, causing a riot with tragic circumstances. But it’s a comedy. And it works. Everything about it is different. The movie is filmed from all different angles, giving an off-kilter feeling at times. Sometimes the characters directly address the camera as if it were a documentary. Think The Office, but in this case, it’s groundbreaking. There are conversations that are edited in a way that make you feel that you are both of the characters at once. There isn’t a beautiful, sweeping score; the soundtrack is the music around the characters. (And since it’s the late 1980s, yes, there is a boom box.) So many little scraps of characters’ stories are told that you are able to see how the neighborhood keeps its balance until it suddenly doesn’t. The clothes are, again, 80s clothes, so they are bright and colorful, belying the dark tensions running underneath. I know I’m not doing very well at describing what makes this movie so great, but please watch it anyway. It blew my mind; nobody talks about stories like these (definitely not in 1989, and not very much more now), and nobody tells a story this way.

Now that I’ve made my case for which movies should have been nominated, which do I think should have actually won? This is where another question comes up: what makes a movie “the best” of any given year? If a historical movie gets everything right surrounding the event but has a shakier story, is that a good movie, or does it need a good story to hold up everything else? If you have a good story, good actors, good direction, can bad costuming or a horrid soundtrack keep that movie from being “the best”? Does something have to be inspiring to be the best? That’s a conversation that can go on forever. Like I said above, though, I think for something to be truly great, it has to give us something every time we experience it. It doesn’t have to be profound or life-changing; Muppet Christmas Carol, for example, can always make me laugh, so for me, that’s a great comedic movie, even though it has some issues (flying baby doll. Come on, Henson!). That’s where Field of Dreams fails, in my opinion; I have seen it many times, and it has good things about it, but it fails to register anymore. Does a great movie (or any work of art, for that matter) need to inspire? I would say yes, but what does that mean? Glory and Driving Miss Daisy, My Left Foot and Dead Poets Society and Field of Dreams are positive-inspirational movies. “Look at what we have done!” they say. “A black man and a white woman made friends in the South. We can, too! These young boys followed their dreams! We can, too!”  But Do the Right Thing and Born on the Fourth of July are a little bit more negatively inspirational. “Look at these horrible things in the world. Some of it may be in the past, but it’s still happening. We need to talk about this.” This negative, eye-opening approach can open conversations to lead to bettering the world we have instead of letting people believe that since something good has happened in the past, the negative thing is conquered. Because of this, I’m going to give my fake Oscar vote that has no weight behind it whatsoever to Do the Right Thing. It has a good story. It has excellent production values. If people watch it with an open mind, it can start a conversation that can lead to harder accomplished, but longer lasting, real changes for the better.

So how do I rank the nominees?

Real Oscar Nominees:
5. Field of Dreams
4. Born on the Fourth of July
3. Dead Poets Society
2. My Left Foot
1. Driving Miss Daisy

The Better List:
5. Dead Poets Society
4. My Left Foot
3. Driving Miss Daisy
2. Glory
1. Do the Right Thing

Driving Miss Daisy only barely edges out My Left Foot, but because I have never in my entire life been able to get over the detail put into the production design, I have to go with Driving Miss Daisy.

PS  The only other big beef I really had with the Academy decisions was that Glory wasn’t even nominated for best soundtrack.

The 10th Academy Awards: My Verdict

luise rainer

Luise Rainer with her statuette for Best Actress.

There are pluses and minuses to watching the all best picture nominees for a given year when there are ten nominees that year. It gives you a chance to see more of the Oscar-nominated elements, especially (usually) great performances. You get a better idea of what movies were like at the time, and you also get a bigger historical view of the year as a whole. But ten movies take a lot of time to watch, and sometimes you get tired of watching movies from that year, so that when you  are done watching all those movies, you are glad to be able to move away from that year. So yes, while I enjoyed most of the movies from 1937, I’m ready to move on, especially since, while there were one or two egregious wrongs in the awards presented that year, I agreed with most of them.

What were the worst wrongs? The very worst in my eyes was Spencer Tracy’s win for best actor. Even though I didn’t see all five of the nominated performances (which I can’t quite figure out, because again, ten movies), both Frederic March and Paul Muni gave better performances in their nominated roles (as Norman Maine and Emile Zola, respectively) that Tracy did. Even Muni’s un-nominated role in The Good Earth was better than Tracy’s in Captain Courageous. I don’t quite understand what happened there.

A smaller gripe is that Andrea Leeds’ performance in Stage Door deserved the supporting actress award much more than Alice Brady’s in In Old Chicago. It was a harder, more nuanced role, and her performance brought me to tears. While many actresses could have played Brady’s role well, I can’t think of another actress that could have taken Leeds’ place.

1937 was the year that Walt Disney’s groundbreaking first animated feature film was released: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It was nominated for one award (best original score), but it was otherwise not recognized in any way until the 11th Academy Awards. I can’t figure that one out. My best guess is that no one realized how much it would change film forever. It was given its due recognition eventually, but later than it should have.

I also don’t agree with the Academy’s decision for best picture of 1937. The Life of Emile Zola is a great movie; I’m not arguing with that. But both A Star is Born and The Good Earth are better than Emile Zola, even with The Good Earth’s not quite so ideal ending and uncomfortably racist casting. I will admit that I am not a movie professional, but Emile Zola had some minor flaws, and The Good Earth was just fantastic. So while most of the nominated movies were good, I don’t ultimately agree with the final choice.

So how do I rank the nominees?

10. In Old Chicago
9. Lost Horizon
8. One Hundred Men and a Girl
7. The Awful Truth
6. Captains Courageous
5. Stage Door
4. The Life of Emile Zola
3. Dead End
2. A Star is Born
1. The Good Earth

Join me next week for the most family-friendly Oscar nominees since the 1950s. Bonus: It’s also the first Academy Awards I remember watching!

Bonus trivia: With her win for best actress in The Good Earth, Luise Rainer became the first person to win both two acting Oscars and two back-to-back acting Oscars.

The 51st Academy Awards: My Verdict

51st_academy_awardsThe nice thing about the 51st Academy Awards is that I didn’t have a dog in the fight before I started watching the movies. There was no beloved movie that I was rooting for to win everything because it was the greatest movie ever made. Yes, I had seen Heaven Can Wait often, but it’s not one of the movies from my childhood that makes me feel warm and cozy. I enjoy it, but I have no strong emotions about it. Because of this, it was much easier for me to evaluate the merits of each movie in its own right. Seeing something without knowing much about it prevents disappointment and allows me to catch the full impact of the movie.

What really surprised me about the offerings from 1978 was how good they all were. Like I’ve said before, I’ve seen lots of old movies (that sounds bad; we will say classic movies), but there is a huge gap in my knowledge when it comes to the 1970s and 1980s. With this particular set, the movies kept getting better and better. I watched An Unmarried Woman first, and couldn’t understand how any woman could have done a better acting job than Jill Clayburgh and couldn’t fathom a better screenplay. Then I saw Coming Home, and I understood why Jane Fonda won over Clayburgh. Clayburgh was indeed wonderful, but Fonda was simply better. Midnight Express was a bit of a letdown after seeing An Unmarried Woman, Coming Home, and Heaven Can Wait, but there still was a lot to admire in it, including John Hurt’s performance as Max. However, his acting, along with Jack Warden’s in Heaven Can Wait and Bruce Dern’s in Coming Home, was eclipsed by Christopher Walken’s performance in The Deer Hunter, which is phenomenal. (I have a really great story about how much his performance affected me, but since I’m trying to avoid spoilers, I won’t tell it here.) I thought Coming Home was a fabulous movie about how Vietnam affected people, and I didn’t think anyone could make a better one. Then I saw The Deer Hunter, and I knew that the Academy had made the right choice for Best Picture of 1978. I really don’t have any disagreements with any of the awards given in that year of excellence.

So how do I rank the nominees?

5.The Midnight Express
4.Heaven Can Wait
3.An Unmarried Woman
2.Coming Home
1.The Deer Hunter

The 85th Academy Awards: My Verdict

olly mossBefore 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
5. Amour
4. Django Unchained
3. Argo
2. Zero Dark Thirty
1. Lincoln

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.