by Sam Juliano
The Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday morning, and true to form there were some outrageous snubs courtesy of the Director’s branch, that again have us questioning the legitimacy and worth of an annual spectacle that has little to do with the art of film, and much to do with politics and timing. While some of us always have fun in discussing the various possibilities and inherent drama, none one in our fraternity has ever believed the awards were worth remembering even days after the late February telecast. It has always been a guilty pleasure, but this year with the snub of Kathryn Bigelow – who may well have achieved the best directing of any other person this past year for the film Zero Dark Thirty – the voters have embarrassed themselves and have attracted scathing editorials in the news sections of papers from both the left and right. A further snub of Argo’s Ben Affleck (who was touted for weeks as a “lock” by prognosticators) had many others crying foul, and the dubious nomination of director David O. Russell of Silver Linings Playbook has many convinced that studio mogul Harvey Weinstein had once again wined and dined voters to win political support for the films his company produced. Likewise, some acting omissions and the complete shut out of some worthy films made the 2012 award listing as predictably lacking, even with the deserved naming of a number of worthy pictures and artists. Dennis Polifroni and I may well do our annual talk for the site in the coming weeks, where we will elaborate on our complaints. In any case, AMPAS did make some excellent choices – heck, every awards groups gets some of it right annually – by showering attention on the foreign made Amour by Michael Haneke in five categories including Picture, Director and Actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and by handing 11 nominations to Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi, 8 to Les Misérables, 6 to Zero Dark Thirty and 12 to Lincoln. I have not reached the stage of Oscar nihilism that some at this site have approached (one where even alluded to it is a sacrilege) but let’s just say I am not pleased with so much of this annual sideshow.
The Golden Globes, however reversed some of the Oscar slights by naming Argo Best Picture and Ben Affleck Best Director. The nights BIG winner was Les Miserables winning Best Comedy/Musical, Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, Hugh Jackman and Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway. The total of 3 was tops for the evening! Needless to say I was smiling as these awards were announced! Daniel-Day Lewis and Jessica Chastain for Drama leads, while Jennifer Lawrence won in comedy/musical lead. Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for Django Unchained and Quentin Tarantino was a surprise winner for Best Screenplay for the same film. Michael Danna’s lovely score for The Life of Pi was a deserved winner in the music category.
Unusually mild weather for January in the northeast has giving most of us the chance to conserve on heat bills, but we sure better not count our chickens just yet. At least our very good friends Jaimie Grijalba and Tony d’Ambra are enjoying summer Down Under, though some scorching heat is making things more than uncomfortable. Looks like Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Raven fans are on Cloud Nine this week with their respective teams’ advance to the Final Four in the NFL playoffs.
A candle remains lit for Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, the new school in Monroe, and for the valiant principal Dawn Hochsprung, her courageous staff colleagues and the 20 angels who left us on that fateful Friday in mid-December.
Lucille and I saw two new releases this past week, though we also saw one repeat and I managed the first few installments at home of the stupendous The Story of Film by Belfast critic Mark Cousins. I plan to proceed with vigour in the coming days to get through this remarkable series. We saw:
Quartet **** (Saturday night) Paris Theater
56 Up **** (Friday night) IFC Film Center
QUARTET is a far “happier” old age exploration that what we saw in Amour, but apples and oranges here. Dustin Hoffmann’s feature film debut is actually a charming film about a late life re-union of a music team who strut their stuff in a magnificent English rural estate, belting out some celebrated operatic arias in an effort to rekindle the old magic. Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, Billy Connolly, and Pauline Collins are all wonderful in a film of irresistible nostalgic shadings and the beauty of opera and classical music.
Michael Apted’s latest installment in his landmark series that follows British citizens from children to adults and through middle age is 56 UP, and again his exploration of these 14 people is fascinating and revelatory, with a narrative arc to seems to focus on what really matters most. Apted’s labor of love swings back and forth to the earlier footage to establish perspective and metamorphosis.
Last week’s links are re-posted. I was watching the Golden Globes during the time I would have completed updates:
There is a fabulous new site trailer from Tony d’Ambra up at FilmsNoir.net: http://filmsnoir.net/articles/new-filmsnoir-net-trailer.html
Judy Geater is leading up at Movie Classics with her superlative review of Vincente Minelli’s “Meet Me in St. Louis”: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/meet-me-in-st-louis-vincente-minnelli-1944/
Jon Warner’s fantastic ‘Re-cap of 2012’ is leading up at Films Worth Watching: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-recap-of-2012-old-releases.html
John Greco’s lead post is the enthralling Twenty Four Frames’ 3rd Annual 10 Best Classic Films Watched during 2012: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/24-frames-3rd-annual-10-best-classic-films-watched-for-the-first-time/
Sachin Gandhi has posted a spectacular ‘Best Films of 2012’ post at Scribblings and Ramblings: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2012/12/best-films-of-2012.html
At Speaking From The Heart Laurie Buchanan offers up an incomparable look in the ‘rear view mirror’: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/a-glimpse-in-the-rearview-mirror/
Richard R.D. Finch offers up a wonderful year-end post at that northern California mecca for cineastes: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/12/yearend-odds-and-ends.html
Roderick Heath has posted his brilliantly comprehensive “Confessions of a Film Freak,” which sizes up the year, at Ferdy-on Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2013/confessions-of-a-film-freak-2012/17230/
David Schleicher has a terrific review up on “Zero Dark Thirty” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2013/01/06/no-ruth-my-love-in-zero-dark-thirty/
Pat Perry speaks eloquently about the ‘unspeakable tragedy’ at Doodad Kind of Town: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2012/12/this-is-not-post-i-had-planned.html
Samuel Wilson has crafted a terrific essay on Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti western “Companeros” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2013/01/sergio-corbuccis-companeros-vamos-matar.html
At Vermillion and One Nights Murderous Ink has posted a spectacular piece on “Evangelion After Fukushima” (Part 2): http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/12/evangelion-after-fukushima-part-2.html
At Lost It at the Movies Movie Man Joel Bocko offers up a splendid screen capo display of “Leap of Faith”: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2012/12/leap-of-faith.html#more
Shubhajit Lahiri has penned an extraordinary capsule on Rivette’s “Celine et Julie Goes Boating” at Cinemascope: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2013/01/celine-and-julie-go-boating-1974.html
Fimmaker Jeffrey Goodman has several updates at The Last Lullaby, including his latest a splendid quartet of capsules that includes “The Breaking Point,” “Senna” and “The Edge of the World”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/12/beau-travail-1999.html
David Schleicher has written a creative essay on Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/12/23/evolutionary-melodrama-and-triumph-of-the-human-spirit-in-rust-and-bone/
Richard R.D. Finch is leading up with his spectacular comedy countdown essay on “Sullivan’s Travels” at The Movie Projector: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/12/sullivans-travels-1942.html
Ed Howard’s magnificent review of Jean Rollin’s “Fascination” is leading up at Only the Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2012/12/fascination.html
Craig Kennedy has posted one of his greatest interviews ever at Living in Cinema, with Samantha Barks, the lovely young actress who plays Eponine in “Les Miserables”: http://livingincinema.com/2012/12/20/samantha-barks-flies-the-flag-for-eponine-in-les-miserables/
At Overlook’s Corridor Jaimie Grijalba continues his intricate study of Chilean cinema: http://overlookhotelfilm.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/chilean-cinema-2012-16-stefan-vs-kramer-2012/
Terrill Welch’s fabulous new post “Reef Bay Morning Experienced – West Coast Seascape Oil Painting” leads up at the Creativepotager’s blog: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/4163/
Weeping Sam’s latest post at The Listening Ear is a terrific combined piece comparing similar aspects in “Lincoln” and “Django Unchained”: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2013/01/lincoln-django-unchained.html
At The Blue Vial Drew McIntosh is leading up with a superb screen cap presentation of Otto Preminger’s “Whirlpool”: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2012/12/whirlpool.html
At Patricia’s Wisdom the ever-spirited proprietor offers up “10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place-My Gift to You”: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2012/12/10-steps-to-finding-your-happy-place-my-gift-to-you/
At Radiator Heaven J.D. La France offers up a fantastic essay on “On the Road”: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-road.html
Dean Treadway’s new post “Cinema Gallery: 30 Scenes of Loneliness” is essential for all passionate film lovers. It’s over at Filmicability: http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post_6.html