Director Ben Affleck, center, and producers George Clooney, right, and Grant Heslov celebrate in the press room after winning the trophy for Best Picture for Argo during the 85th Annual Academy Awards on Feb. 24.
Though it didn’t seem like it, Argo swept the Academy Awards. Winning best picture, best adapted screenplay and best film editing, Argo fared better than its other high profile counterparts, such as Silver Linings Playbook, which accepted only one award for its eight nominations, or Lincoln, which took two of 12.
In all, the Academy largely granted recognition to the films that deserved it, if in an egalitarian manner where the best woman doesn’t necessarily win (see my best actress analysis). While the winner’s circle seemed to represent the large number of quality films at the 85th annual Academy Awards, there were obvious overlooked films — Zero Dark Thirty and Beasts of the Southern Wild — which easily could have stolen the top honors from Argo.
Except Argo director Ben Affleck got his own snub in the best director category, making best picture a necessary apology for the film that had moviegoers in full applause when I saw it last weekend.
Category by category, here’s my analysis of last night’s ceremony based on the movies I saw: Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Lincoln.
Best picture: Director drama aside, Argo was a solid choice in a category of nine well-received films. True to the undercover operation itself, every single element of this production came through, from performances to editing to screenplay. The focus is on the story, not the actors, and it will have you on the edge of your seat even though, like Zero Dark Thirty, you know how it ends.
Best actress: Jessica Chastain was robbed. That said, this category featured such powerful performances from strong, defiant leading ladies, the measure of difference between them was so small that the award could have been anyone’s. Go watch Quvenzhané Wallis, for instance, who had no real chance in this category — she’s nine and the star of an independent film — but performed with such naked vulnerability that I wouldn’t object to her taking home the gold. In the end, Jennifer Lawrence’s interpretation of Tiffany was memorable and I was glad to see Silver Linings Playbook get something.
Best actor: Daniel Day-Lewis was this year’s single best performance in film, bar none. Anyone who would like to argue can go watch My Week With Marilyn. Michelle Williams embodies Marilyn Monroe as perfectly as Day-Lewis captures Abraham Lincoln, and I contend that, like Chastain, she was deservedly awarded at the Golden Globes if passed over for a higher profile pick (Meryl, anyone?) at the Oscars. Plus, Day-Lewis needed to take this award home for Lincoln, the movie that had everyone predicting Steven Spielberg for best director but only got one other award: best production design.
Best director: Having read and loved the book, Life of Pi was not on my list of films I wanted to see. I remained skeptical that it could pull off Yann Martel’s allegorical story. But when Ang Lee beats Spielberg and a director who got a best actress performance out of a nine-year-old, I’m all eyes.
Best adapted screenplay: Talk about a loaded category. I could hardly predict how the Academy would fall. Argo is a commendable choice — its witty dialogue and dramatic scenes propel the narrative forward and I’m especially happy it beat out Lincoln. Personally, I thought Lincoln was made for history buffs and not the general public. Historically accurate sure, but the movie missed an opportunity to tell a story audiences could fall in love with. Lincoln’s wife was crazy — why not give the facts through the lens of family struggle, instead of a Doris Kearns Goodwin history lesson? Other notable screenplays certainly include Silver Linings Playbook, which had me laughing as much as it had me thinking about mental health in the United States, and Beasts of the Southern Wild, which perfectly embodied the voice of a child narrator, while prompting discussion about problems adults face, such as climate change.
Powered by Facebook Comments