There are giant bags under my eyes and my fingers are stained orange, which can mean only thing: I stayed up way too late to watch The Oscars last night. (The orange stains come from Cheetos. That’s not really because of The Oscars, my fingers are usually stained orange. Cheetos are delicious.) There were winners (Argo), losers (maybe that Seth MacFarlane / Kristin Chenoweth duet idea wasn’t a good idea afterall), and then there was Kristen Stewart’s trainwreck appearance as a presenter. Say what you will about the ceremony, but I think we can all agree on one thing – it was long.
21 of the 39 movies that received nominations are available to check out at SJCPL, including the Best Picture winner, Argo, Best Animated Feature, Brave, and Best Documentary, Searching For Sugar Man. The vast majority of the other nominees will be released in the next two months. (As always, several of the foreign and documentary nominees are not released until later in the year, if not next year. For example, last year’s Best Documentary winner, Undefeated, was just released on DVD last week.)
The official cutoff date for Best Movies lists is today* so I thought I should try to sneak my picks in just before the deadline. As always, these are just one four-eyed, big-nosed man’s opinions. What are yours? (Click on any of the links to check on the DVD’s availability at SJCPL.)
* This is a totally arbitrary cutoff date that I just made up. I have to confess that I haven’t seen all of the big movies of 2012 – most notably: Life of Pi, Django Unchained, Amour, and Zero Dark Thirty – but by the time I see all of them it will be 2014. There was a time in my life when I saw all of the nominees in time for The Oscars, but then I had children and ducking out to the movie theater became a dream. A wonderful, wonderful dream. Maybe I’ll look back at 2012 when I start making my 2013 list.
Perfectly acted. Perfectly directed. Perfectly written. Silver Linings Playbook was a perfect movie. (Well…almost perfect. It would have been perfect if they had focused on baseball instead of football.) It’s the kind of movie that has you laughing out loud one second and wiping away tears the next while dealing with some very heavy issues. The best movie I’ve seen in a while.
I’m fascinated by Ben Affleck. Good Will Hunting was a touchstone movie for my generation and Affleck and Matt Damon were guys we looked up to. But Affleck absolutely destroyed that, ahem, good will by starring in bomb after bomb (after bomb after bomb after…). Forces of Nature. Reindeer Games. Bounce. Pearl Harbor. Daredevil. Gigli. His IMDB page is littered with the bloated corpses of some of the worst movies in recent history. It’s painful! And even worse was the tabloid lifestyle he lived, galavanting around the world with Jennifer Lopez. It finally reached a point where Affleck might have been the most disliked person in Hollywood – which is really saying something! (It didn’t help that Damon made a stellar run of movies. We couldn’t help but compare the two.) And then, amazingly, Affleck re-invented himself. Just like that. He moved behind the camera and made three top-notch movies – each one better than the one before. The move to directing even helped his acting. We’ve reached a point where we’re all looking forward to the next Ben Affleck movie. It’s a Hollywood miracle!
(Looking through his IMDB page I realized something – all credit for the magical return o’ Affleck should go to Jennifer Garner. They were married in 2005 and everyone was shocked. Garner was a golden girl – beloved by fans and critics. Why would she marry Affleck? Shortly after their marriage, Affleck began production on Gone Baby Gone, the movie that resuscitated his career. That’s not coincidence. That’s Sydney Bristow! She took down SD-6 and she made Ben Affleck an award winning director! She’s amazing! Speaking of Sydney, I think it’s high time for an Alias reunion.)
I’m a huge James Bond fan and Skyfall is one of the all time best. Pretty impressive considering how bad Quantum of Solace was. (And it’s bad. Really, really bad.) Almost as bad as last night’s “tribute” to James Bond. Yes, I used quotes on tribute. The only thing I made a tribute to during that video montage was Charles Elmer Doolin, the man who invented Cheetos, as I left the room to go find another bag.
Daniel Day Lewis was great. Tony Kushner’s screenplay was great. Everything else was a prime example of a movie desperately trying to earn Oscar nominations. It’s a testament to the story, the script, and Lewis that Lincoln was still so good despite the cliché-filled direction and overacting performances.
Yes, this is a cop-out, but I couldn’t pick just one. There were so many great documentaries released in 2012 that I could do a blog post on just the Top 5 docs of the year and still leave out some wonderful films. (And that’s not even considering the great television docs of the year – most notably ESPN’s outstanding 30 for 30 series.) Right at the top of the list is last night’s winner for Best Documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, but there is also Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Marley, Al WeiWei: Never Sorry, Under African Skies, Queen of Versailles, Bully, Ballplayer: Pelotero, The Other Dream Team, and those are just the ones that are available at SJCPL now! There are many more still waiting to come out on DVD. And keep in mind, NonFiction DVDs are free for three weeks at the world’s greatest library. Run, don’t walk, to your closest branch!