As celebrities in Hollywood count the hours until they either win an Academy Award or are once again able to eat carbs, Grantland film critic Wesley Morris breaks down his predictions for Sunday night's Oscars.
Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Les Misérables, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
This is the best collection of movies since the field expanded four years ago. The gamut they run is wide, but their quality is high, too. The two best of the nine are Django Unchained and Amour. One is a historical epic that was made by someone who doesn't care for the retrospective neatness of history, but it's shocking how Quentin Tarantino mastered schlock that doesn't tip into abject tastelessness. It's easy to assume that Amouris here because so much of the voting membership is older than 60. But this is the most unflinching movie ever made about accepting the return on several decades of marital investment.
Six weeks ago most people were talking about Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty as the front-runners and merely whispering about how the enthusiasm for Argo, in which Ben Affleck leads the charge, with Hollywood's help, to free Americans in 1979-1980 Iran, had kind of peaked and stalled. But then the nominations came out, and Affleck wasn't on the Best Director list, which shocked Hollywood. Neither was Kathryn Bigelow, who made Zero Dark Thirty. At the time, that was actually the bigger shock. The matter of what the movie was arguing or not arguing about torture seemed to overwhelm the movie itself, and what seemed like a snub began to seem like something more flagrant: It's as though Bigelow were being chastened. Now the movie, which is a hit, feels like something no one wants to touch, despite how well made it is. It went from the heroic tale of how the U.S. got bin Laden to a declassified memo that distorted the truth of how bin Laden came to be gotten. The movie doesn't have political-party politics, but the liberal voters among the Academy's 6,000 or so members might prefer something that makes them feel less queasy.
Read Wesley Morris' entire piece at Grantland.
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