Greg’s Ramblings, 02/13/13:  The Awards will be broadcast Sunday evening, February 24, at 7pm on ABC, so I have a great excuse to talk about the movies …

Prepping for the Academy Awards

Oscars_2013While I love the Super Bowl and all the excitement that surrounds it, I get equally excited about the Oscars. I’m obsessed with movies and see more than my fair share, usually alone. Does that sound sad? Not to me — I love heading off to the movies, picking out exactly what I want to see, then relaxing in the dark and enjoying the film without having to worry about what other people think or whether or not everyone in our group is having a good time.

I especially like having the theater to myself: it feels like a private screening, just for me. I try to see films when the theater isn’t crowded — nothing ruins a movie for me faster is someone sitting behind me talking to the screen as if they were part of the movie. I think people get used to talking to the TV and can’t help themselves.

Every year I try to see as many of Oscar-nominated films as I can. Here’s my take:

Best Picture:

And the nominees are: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Lining Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.

Several years ago the Academy changed the rules and made the list of “Best Picture” nominees more flexible—up to ten films can be nominated. The talk at the time was that few “popular” movies were getting nominated, and that the Academy was hopelessly out of touch with what people really wanted to see. I think the Oscars must perform a balancing act between acknowledging good films that are also popular at the box office, while also highlighting smaller films that people outside the industry might have missed…

“Argo” was quite good: a throw-back to the old style of movies, when they actually told riveting stories from beginning to end with little fanfare or artsy-ness. The story is solid, and Ben Affleck did a great job of recreating the costumes and mood of the late 70s.

“Lincoln” was excellent — you know it’s a good film when you come out of it wanting to read an biography on Lincoln. Spielberg is a master at managing a film of this magnitude, but it’s Daniel Day Lewis that sets this apart. Moments into the film, you forget you’re watching fiction. To me, if felt like the actual Abraham Lincoln was up there on the screen, somehow captured by a glorious digital time machine.

I just saw “Silver Linings Playbook” on Friday, and I can see why it’s gained so many accolades — the acting is amazing, and the script tight and punchy. Bradley Cooper (I’ll see just about anything he’s in — one of my favorites from last year was “Limitless”) plays a damaged man just out of a mental hospital, trying to work past a breakdown precipitated by the breakup of his marriage. And Jennifer Lawrence (“The Hunger Games”) is excellent as the odd and frustrating Tiffany, a woman he meets who’s dealing with her own issues.

“Zero Dark Thirty” felt like a very slickly produced show on the History Channel about the research and hard work that went into catching Osama bin Laden. While the story and acting are riveting stuff, I kept waiting for more — much of the film revolves around people sitting around conference room tables, talking about other people.

And My Pick is:

Of the “Best Picture” films I did see, I’d have to go with “Lincoln” — it was moving and huge and made me want to learn more about history — or “Silver Linings Playbook.” I don’t have any interest in seeing Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Les Miserable, or Life of Pi — call me selective. Sorry. I will probably see Django Unchained when it comes out on DVD. Just as I did with Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” I’m assuming the movie will be fascinating — and ultimately disappointing. I know I should be seeing it, but I can’t make myself go. Tarantino has to earn back my respect after “Kill Bill.” Sorry, Diana!

And there were several great films that came out in 2012 that didn’t make the cut. I liked “The Avengers” better than anything nominated for Best Picture. “Chronicle” was an excellent superhero origin story, “Skyfall” brought Bond back (again), and “The Dark Knight Rises” wrapped up the superior Christopher Nolan-directed Batman trilogy (although I thought “The Dark Knight” was the better film). I also heard that “End of Watch,” “Arbitrage,” and “Moonrise Kingdom” were excellent.

Next Time

Next time, I’ll talk about the other nominations and my secret to guessing whether or not I’ll like a film, even before I know much about it. The Awards will be broadcast Sunday evening, February 24, at 7pm on ABC. Feel free to drop me an email at or use the “Contact Me” page on my website if you’d like to tell me about the Academy Awards. And hopefully I’ll talk to you soon!