Every year nine films are nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and every year we all choose one to root for and watch as it gets beaten by one of the other eight films we didn't actually see. That's just how this works. But if you want to at least have an inkling of which films are in the running, either so you can quickly go out and watch them this weekend, or so you can oppose them with a more informed fervor, then I present to you a quick review of the Best Picture nominees by someone who has seen them all and has a ridiculous amount of ticket stubs in her purse.
Silver Linings Playbook
This one's funny and sad and frustrating and wow. In my theater, people actually burst into applause at one point that WASN’T the end (they clapped then, too, but it was that awkward, halfhearted "should I clap? Is everyone going to clap? I’ll bring my hands together once or twice" kind of things, because we had clapped once already). Whatever faults this movie might have had, it culminates in the end. And I’m a sucker for a movie that culminates. Watch out for J-Law, because she was fantastic and I love her.
Best quote: "There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself."
Argo is about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980, and the secret "Canadian Caper" operation that was set to extract six Americans that escaped it. I went in relatively unenthused about this one, and going in I thought, "This better wow me, because I'm missing Criminal Minds for it," and somehow I came out thinking, "MY LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW, HOW DID YOU DO THAT?" A+, Ben Affleck. A+.
Best quote: "This is the best bad plan we have... by far, sir."
The violence and controversy in this one will probably work against it. There’s one rule, guys: don't kill the horse. Never kill the horse. And what did you do in the first ten minutes? You killed the horse. Haven’t you ever been in a classroom of high school freshmen watching The Patriot for the first time?
Best quote: "I like the way you die, boy."
It's a tear-jerking tale of redemption, misery, revolution, and France. Either you loved it or you hated it, or you didn’t realize everyone was going to be singing the whole time and you left halfway through. The fact that I absolutely loved this one will probably work against it. (I apologize in advance.)
ALSO: the Les Mis cast is performing at the Oscars! GET EXCITED, BECAUSE THIS IS HAPPENING.
Best Quote: "Do you hear the people sing?"
Zero Dark Thirty
What to say? It was dramatic, as hunting down Osama bin Laden is prone to being. It was gasp-worthy. I gasped a lot. I also whisper-shouted "WHAT" quite frequently, which is typically frowned upon in a public theater setting, but everyone else was doing it too, probably.
Best Quote: "All right, fair enough. How about a new V10 Lamborghini? How's that for friendship?"
Lincoln details our sixteenth president’s attempt to force through the thirteenth amendment by any means necessary. This movie just furthered my suspicion that Daniel Day-Lewis is a beautiful unicorn man we spot every now and again doing something spectacular, like grazing in a field under a rainbow or eradicating slavery in the South. Also, Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks sexy in his Civil War-era hat and Yanks' uniform, and Tommy Lee Jones is a badass.
Best Quote: "The greatest measure of the nineteenth century. Passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America."
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts is that movie that sneaks in the backdoor and nobody really knows what it’s about. And in truth, it’s about a lot of things. Some might say that the first half is a snorefest. They wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But the ending will smack you over the head with a feelings stick. Let me just say that if Quvenzhané Wallis doesn’t win an Oscar, I will make one for her myself, and it will look horrible, and then I’ll feel really bad.
Best Quote: "The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right."
If Beasts hits you with a feelings stick, Amour will run you down with a feelings bulldozer. This is another of those "where did that come from" films. It’s about, as the title would suggest, love—but it’s about a love that’s being tested and strained by the hard truth of old age. Warning: it’s hard to watch, and the ending will ENRAGE YOU, or make you weep, or there will be some anger-sobbing.
Best quote: "Things will go on, and then one day it will all be over."
Life of Pi
Let me get this out of the way: I didn't read the book. I have no idea how it compares. But the movie was enjoyable enough. At the very least it gave me the realization that if I were in that situation (boat sinks, stuck on a life raft with a hungry tiger), I probably would have just sighed, plopped myself down in front of the tiger, and said, "Let’s get this over with." Also I've watched like fifteen interviews with Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi, and whoo, boy. *fans self*
Best Quote: "I can eat the biscuits, but God made tigers carnivorous, so I must learn to catch fish. If I don't, I'm afraid his last meal would be a skinny vegetarian boy."
So who should win? I have no idea. Normally I'd LOVE to be part of the Academy, but this year everything's basically fantastic, so I think I'll pass. Thanks for asking, though, guys. I know I'm a hot commodity in the film world. (But next year? Hit me up. I'll wield so much influence and I'll be DRUNK WITH POWER and NOTHING WILL GO WRONG, I SWEAR.)
Which movie will you be rooting for this Sunday?