Best Picture -- Now and Then
I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to this year’s Oscars. I’ve seen very few of the nominated films. Friends and family have told me about some of the movies, and I’ve looked up information on my own. The nine films up for Best Picture are quite diverse, ranging from historical to fantasy to military to musical to western.
Now I will admit up front that I’m cheating a little on this blog. I looked up the plots for most of the films. And as I read, I couldn’t help being reminded of past Best Picture winners.
Amour – This French language film gives us a moving, unflinching look at aging and illness and the effect they have on an elderly couple. Other movies such as Terms of Endearment (1983) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) have shown us the despair when a loved one falls ill, while Driving Miss Daisy (1989) gave us a portrait of aging and loss of independence.
Argo and Zero Dark Thirty – Both of these movies involve covert operations in foreign lands. For previous winners about military operations, check out The Hurt Locker (2009) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). And for a look at desperate measures to save lives, try Schindler’s List (1993).
Beasts of the Southern Wild and Life of Pi – These films feature young people and their efforts to survive harsh circumstances – and there may or may not be more than a bit of fantasy thrown in. While fantasy is a very rare winner in the Best Picture category (The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, 2003), stories of children and young people have been featured in Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and How Green was My Valley (1941).
Django Unchained – Set in the time before the Civil War, this film gave us the story of an ex-slave determined to free his wife from a vicious plantation owner. Part western, part revenge drama – and part love story – this movie has much in common with past winners such as Gladiator (2000) and Unforgiven (1992).
Les Misérables – Victor Hugo’s classic tale of redemption, obsession, and love won and lost has been filmed several times and finally became a hit musical on stage. This version of the story brought the musical to the screen. Other musicals have won, from An American in Paris (1951) to My Fair Lady (1964) to Chicago (2002). But this story might have more in common with West Side Story (1961).
Lincoln – World leaders have been a part of cinema since the silent era. This movie about the 16th President of the United States gives us a look at the private man and his strengths and weaknesses. Very much like past winners The King’s Speech (2010), Gandhi (1982), and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
Silver Linings Playbook – If there’s one thing the Academy Awards voters love, it’s a love story. From It Happened One Night (1934) to Marty (1955) to Shakespeare in Love (1998) to The Artist (2011). But this nominee probably shares more with romantic comedy-drama The Apartment (1960) than the other films.
So this year, which movie will receive the Oscar? Love story? Epic? Drama? Which one are you betting on?