Tag Archives: zero dark thirty

Oscar Recap

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Wellp, it’s over. The 85th annual Academy Awards have come and past. I figured, since I spent so much time thinking about the Awards before they happened, I should do a quick wrap-up post to summarize the experience and, of course, my take on the ceremony.

I have to say, doing this Best Picture project made the Oscars A LOT more interesting to watch. I found myself getting really into categories that I never would have cared about before. For example, when the visual categories came up– cinematography and visual editing, both of which Life of Pi took the award for–I was able to cheer on the winners and be excited for them because I had experienced the film myself (and commented on the cinematography…look at me reviewin’ like the Academy.)

I didn’t see every film that was nominated for an award, but I did see the nine tremendous films (excluding you-know-who) that were nominated for Best Picture. So I had a pretty good background and was able to have an educated opinion in almost all of the categories. I should have bet on some of them or something. Just kidding, I’m not much of a gambler. But I wouldn’t have bet on Argo winning. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the film, but I sort of saw it going to Lincoln or Beasts or Zero. But it was pretty awesome that Argo pulled it off. It was a great moment to watch, and must have been very validating for Mr. Affleck.

Perhaps the biggest shock of the night for me was how poorly Zero Dark Thirty did. They went pretty much unnoticed at the Awards. I still though it was a great film, and I think the political outrage points more toward the movie being true than it not.

Life of Pi did well, taking home awards in music and the visual category as well as Best Director for Ang Lee. I think this is fitting since, before making the film, Life of Pi was believed to be “unfilmable”. Lee took this challenge on and nailed it. So I’m happy for him.

Amour won Best Foreign Film, which was a completely obvious choice. Still glad they picked that one up though 🙂 (Almost cried when they showed the brief clip.)

I totally called Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting AND Christolph Waltz. So glad my picks won here. Daniel Day Lewis was winning from opening day. We all knew that one. I was up in the air between Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain though. J-Law falling up the stairs– best moment of the night?

Seth MacFarlane did a pretty good job I think. Just enough inappropriate to not be boring. What a great singing voice! And speaking of which…Adele killed it. And looked GORGEOUS. J.Huds rocked her solo out as well. (Could have done without the les mis thing but whatttttever)

I’m not going to pretend that I’m a movie critic AND stylist, so I’m gonna skip the best dressed section.

All in all I thought it was a great show and I’m really glad I took on my Quest for Best Picture.

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Here’s my Best Picture review for Zero Dark Thirty. Two more to go and we’re all set for the Awards tomorrow!

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The beginning of Zero Dark Thirty was difficult for me to watch. Wincing, shifting my eyes to the side, and thinking this was going to be tough to get through, I felt immensely uncomfortable watching the torture and complete vulnerability of a human being.

Interestingly enough, by the end of the film, Jessica Chastain sitting alone in the back of a plane, a single tear rolling down her cheek, overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the fact that an intense eight-year chapter of her life had closed, you kind of forget about all that torture in the beginning.

The film follows Maya, played by understated powerhouse Jessica Chastain, who works on and ends up taking the lead in the CIA’s mission to find Osama Bin Laden. Her character is young and confident to the point of borderline naivety. But she is smart, she is dedicated and outspoken, and eventually she completes her mission. Chastain really makes this movie. Her sweet looks and demeanor coupled with the no-nonsense attitude of her character and the grim and grueling ranks of her work, create an intriguing and believable protagonist.

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Seeing the background story, that was happening all around us and right under our noses, of the hunt for Bin Laden was sort of haunting. I like seeing the behind the scenes stuff, “what really happened”, and it was certainly fascinating to watch through the lense of this film. But it was incredibly dark, and at the end it left me feeling a kind of emptiness (much like Maya experiences in her plane ride home.)

Eight years she was on the case. Looking at all of her teammates on this endeavor, all of the money and manpower involved, all of the hours of sleep and number of lives lost…it makes you question whether it was worth it. Tucked away in a compound in Pakistan, was Bin Laden still heading Al Qaeda? Did he still have the access and plight to call the shots? Do we, in 2012, accept American government-sanctioned assassinations as valid channels of justice? And did this decade-long manhunt deliver us the justice we sought?

Zero Dark Thirty displays the answer of how we got Bin Laden, but the questions is provokes are far greater.

Viewing torture, assassination without trial, and the killing of unnamed women and children leaves you wondering about the integrity of our belief system. In our doctrine of democracy, these things are denounced, and yet, when it suits our needs we throw procedure and principle to the wayside and do what we feel is necessary. Is this case-by-case basis the right way to run the show? Or should we be strictly interpreting our codes?

Does this film, this story, make it worse for us as Americans facing a fed-up world?  It’s funny how we consider ourselves the good guys but partake in activities that are so out of line with who we think we are… and all in the name of justice, morals, and democracy. Or was it all about vengeance?

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Writer Mark Boal and Director Kathryn Bigelow do a wonderfully careful job not to glorify this hunt and seizure, and I really appreciate the honesty.

Every American should see Zero Dark Thirty.

A Quest for Best Picture

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By the time the Academy Awards roll around on February 24th, I will have seen each film nominated for Best Picture, reviewed, rated, and picked my preferred “best”.

So I’ve never done this before. I like movies but I am by no means a film critic. I am not trained in film at all, other than my Australian Film class I took while studying abroad. But I’ve been seeing a lot of movies lately and I had a lot of fun with the Cosmopolis review I wrote for Literary Traveler. Alas, movie reviews I shall write.

This year I decided to see each of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This decision was really made because I happened to have already seen Lincoln and Argo and figured I may as well continue through the list (which contained many of my “I really want to see that” picks.)

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I got pretty into this idea, and on my birthday, which was last Sunday, January 27th, I decided what I wanted to do was to see some movies. Kate and I hit one movie theater for an early afternoon showing of Silver Linings Playbook (which my mom and little brother joined us for), drove to the other local theater for a late afternoon showing of Les Miserables, and then hit up a Red Box on the way home and watched Beasts of the Southern Wild from the comfort of my bed. It just so happens that Monday is my day off, so the following day I saw Zero Dark Thirty with my dad.

I’ve put quite a dent in my list. Just three more to go.

Seen:                                                                  Not Seen:
Argo                                                                     Amour
Beasts of the Southern Wild                            Django Unchained
Les Miserables                                                   Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

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I have to say thus far I’ve been really impressed (with all but Les Mis, which I am decidedly rooting against.) Lincoln I loved for the historic factor. I’m pretty into politics and law now, so it was fascinating for me to see the making of an amendment, the struggles of a nation at war and what it really took to end political stagnation and put something together that was just, right, and for the people. (Ummm…hello Congress.)

I heard great things about Silver Linings Playbook, so I had pretty high expectations. It was a really nice story. The character development was great and it was easily accessible for audiences. I enjoyed it a lot.

Argo and Zero Dark Thirty I liked for the same reason: that they found a way to make “true” stories into entertainment. The Iran Hostage Crisis and the hunting and murder of Bin Laden. Argo may have been more fun to watch, more entertaining on a superficial level, but this could be because throughout the movie you’re rooting for a group of people to be saved, rather than rooting for one person to be caught and killed. Grim if you look at it that way, eh?

Beasts of the Southern Wild was beautiful, moving, and disturbing all at the same time. An emotional film, the story takes place on an island off the coast of southern Louisiana and portrays a family, and community’s struggle through Hurricane Katrina. I went in with no expectations, but I can certainly see why it has been nominated.

Les Mis did nothing for me. Other than checking one more movie off my list.

I’ll have more in depth reviews of each of these films, and I’m planning on getting to the ones I haven’t seen in the next week or two. I’m probably most looking forward to seeing Life of Pi, although Kate said she loved Django.

Stay tuned for more of my Best Picture Adventure!

And please share your thoughts on any these films in the comment section. I’d love to hear! 🙂

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