As "The Oscars" awards ceremony prepares for its moment Sunday night, it's time to recap, and award, all the movies nominated for some of the big categories. Some films are the silent indies that surprise the masses by their unexpected charm and genius, while others talked about blockbusters that have been anticipated long before their premier. Here's the list of the films that should take home the gold.
"Amour" is the latest film from Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke. Every so often a foreign film is nominated for best picture, but it usually has zero chances of winning. It has never happened before and it's doubtful that it ever will. Haneke's films typically fall under or blur the line between everyday life and disturbed reality. "Amour" falls into the everyday life category so don't go in expecting "Funny Games" or "Cache." The film works well with Haneke's slow pace as a great deal of segments deal with the old couple's daily routine. Emmanuelle Riva gives one of the best performances of the year. The beauty of her performance is in her ability to slowly transform herself from completely healthy being to bedridden. The change happens very gradually and is completely believable. Jean-Louis Trintignant is perfectly cast as the caring husband who tries his best to take care for the woman he loves. "Amour" very well may be one of Haneke's most successful narrations. The story is simple yet carries so much emotional weight. "Amour" will win Best Lead Actress, Best Foreign Film and Best Original Screenplay.
"Argo" is the most talked about film this award season which began with "The Oscar's'" surprising omission of Ben Affleck in the Best Director category. Since then, "Argo" has quickly gathered a storm by winning the all Best Picture and Best Director awards at the "Golden Globes," BAFTAs, SAGs and DGAs. With this huge surge in momentum it is hard to ignore the fact that "Argo" very well may win Best Picture. "Argo" certainly does deserve the award as it was far and away one of the most thrilling films of 2012. The film successfully educates and well as entertains much to the same effect as Ron Howard's "Apollo 13." "Argo" runs perfectly throughout its running time without a bit of excess. This film will without a doubt win the Best Editing award. You should also expect "Argo" to win Best Picture.
"Django Unchained," is the seventh film on Quinten Tarantio's résumé, and it defiantly has his stamp of approval. The story has a similar structure and feel as "Inglorious Basterds," and that isn't a bad thing because "Inglorious Basterds" is a great film. The problem with "Django Unchained" is that it could have used more time in the editing room. Christoph Waltz is fantastic as Dr. Schultz and carries the film through its exaggerated running time. Without Waltz, the film would have not worked the same way. One overlooked performance is Samuel Jackson's portrayal of Stephen. His whole demeanor, from the way he walks, talks and scowls is very well done. Another performance that was flat out ignored was Don Johnson as Big Daddy. Don's best role in decades put his southern charm to good use and definitely had many viewers smiling. "Django Unchained" does have good chances of winning the Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor categories, but it will likely go home empty-handed.
"Les Miserables" is Tom Hooper's big screen adaptation of the stage production of the same name. The film's soundtrack was recorded live while they were performing, which gave the film an authentic feel, like one was enjoying a Broadway production. Hooper really takes the audience on a redemptive journey that feels credible despite the fact that every spoken word is in song. Despite the hefty running time, the movie manages to flow without any hiccups in the narrative. The real spotlight of "Les Miserables" belongs to Hugh Jackman who plays the main character. Jackman is so natural at singing and performing that he sometimes overshadows the performers around him. Unfortunately, Anne Hathaway is where all the awards are going to. Hathaway is good, but she doesn't really give a better performance than her competition in the Best Supporting Actress category. What should win is the incredibly impressive production design that really added validity to "Les Mis." Don't be surprised when this film wins Best Supporting Actress, Best Production Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Life of Pi
Ang Lee's artistic eye for visually appealing imagery is what sets apart "Life of Pi" from its competition. It is not to say that "Life of Pi" belongs among Lee's best work, but the film's visual flair makes it an unforgettable experience. How the ocean water is manipulated to act like a mirror or gateway into another world is especially jaw-dropping. Another CGI wonder was the tiger named John Parker. John Parker acts so natural one forgets that they're watching a computer image. The 3D element in "Life of Pi" was strictly used to create an atmosphere and help transport the audience into the plight of Pi. All the visuals in "Life of Pi" help progress the story instead of hindering it. Despite all the positive feedback there are many issues with the film. Lee does have a good shot at taking home the the Best Director award, but Spielberg has the 16th president on his side. "Life of Pi" will receive the awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.
"Lincoln" is the latest biopic from Steven Spielberg. The film takes place during the final months of the Civil War, but the war is not the focus of the story. The central narrative is the creation and adoption of the 13th Amendment. Slavery is not new territory for Spielberg, but while "Amistad" showed the horrors of the slave trade, "Lincoln" is solely about the people in the U.S. government who were responsible for the passing of the 13th Amendment. Daniel Day-Lewis is great as the lead role, but it is Tommy Lee Jones who actually steals the show with his hair piece. His wig is so insane most will not be able to keep thier eyes off of it. Other than the wig, Jones gives another good supporting performance and helps the film find its balance between humor and drama. Don't be surprised when "Lincoln" leaves with the Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score awards.
Silver Linings Playbook
"Silver Linings Playbook" is a worthy edition to David O. Russell's great portfolio of films. The best thing about "Silver" is the screenplay: it's an absolute winner. This is the second book adaptation by Russell, and he takes this rather simple story and completely makes it his own. Russell's ability to write natural dialogue and quirky characters is used so well. Bradley Cooper is in the best role of his career and makes one hope that he chooses better projects in the future, because the guy can act when he has the script to do so. Jennifer Lawrence plays it very smart and doesn't overdo it. Robert De Niro has never looked older, but he manages to shine through making this one of his best role in years. Jacki Weaver plays the exact opposite of her last Oscar nominated role; she goes from being the scariest mother on the planet in "Animal Kingdom" to mother of the year in "Silver," a transformation that is as alarming as it is funny. "Silver Linings Playbook" should go home with the Best Adapted Screenplay award.
Zero Dark Thirty
The latest film from Kathryn Bigelow is another movie about war in the Middle East, but this time it's focused on the search for Osama bin Laden. The chance of "Zero Dark Thirty" winning any Oscar award sank down to null after critics started complaining that the film was glorifying torture tactics. This was an absolutely asinine accusation that causes one to wonder if they had even watched the film. Jessica Chastain is a great actress who deserves more credit for her role. The film's progression through time is handled beautifully. They use historical events in chronological order to progress the story from point A to point B. "Zero" is certainly a quick two-and-a-half hours. The editing in the film was phenomenal. "Argo" and "Zero" were both edited William Goldenberg, but unfortunately, "Zero Dark Thirty" will leave with nothing but the satisfaction of being nominated.
The Academy Awards ceremony airs at 8:30 p.m. this Sunday on ABC.