Preview Looks at Oscar 2013
by Phil Boatwright
Best Picture Nominees
Click on the film's name to read the full Preview review if available...
I understand this is a gut wrenching tale of a loving elderly couple having to deal with her declining health. I lost my dad this year and just couldn’t bring myself to see this story. I’m at peace knowing where my dad is and that he was excited about getting to Heaven. My parents were married 71 years and he was 90 when he passed. I don’t have to see a film about a parent’s declining health. I just lived it. Sorry I couldn’t see it for you. (Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, including a disturbing act and brief language.)


The dramatic thriller about a covert operation to rescue diplomats from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis contains one of my favorite cinematic lines. Assessing the state of the world as reported on the nightly news, one character responds in disgust: “John Wayne is in the ground six months and this is what happens.” (R for several depictions of brutality and for profane and obscene language throughout.)

Beasts of the Southern Wild
I was saddened by this movie, but after viewing it, I realized that it’s not poverty that drains the soul, but the feeling of hopelessness. (PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language, including both profanity and obscenity, and brief sensuality as we see men and women in a brothel)
Django Unchained
I missed it. Even film critics get sick. I know, I know, I could pay to see it. But who’s got $10. (R for nudity, strong graphic violence throughout, including torture, and a whole lot of profane and obscene language.)
Les Misérables
The most powerful component of the book/the plays/and past movie versions has always been Jean Valjean’s conversion once he experienced God’s mercy. Great news – this same spiritual truth remains intact in this rather extraordinary rendition. (PG-13 for a few bawdy remarks, four or five obscenities; two misuses of Christ’s name; some sexuality and several violent acts, including the depiction of a revolutionary battle scene.)
Life of Pi
Whatever the moviemaker’s intent, the film causes spiritual reflection. I get excited about a picture like Life of Pi because while we are mental, physical and spiritual beings, most films dwell on the here and now. This one causes us to ponder that which will last. (Warning: I felt this PG-rated film deserved a PG-13 for its jolting action sequences. This isn’t a Sinbad-like adventure meant for kids, as the film’s poster might suggest. Along with the reflective and ethereal subject matter, there’s substantial violent content (a hungry tiger and a defenseless goat, a vicious hyena and a downed zebra, etc. – get the picture?), none of which are suitable for little ones. But I think the symbolism and parables that make up this resonate tale will challenge teens and up, as well as spellbind.)
Hard call, this one. Should we support a resonate salute to a historical figure who helped change the world? Or, do we refrain from attending a movie that profanes God’s name twelve times? (PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage, around 10 obscenities; the opening scene takes place on a battlefield; we see combatants go hand to hand, with several gory killings by bayonets; we see amputated limbs dumped into a huge grave – the visual is sickening. several minor expletives, the use of the N-word by bigots, and 12 profane uses of god’s name.)
Silver Linings Playbook
After a stint in a mental institution due to an obsessive/compulsive/fluctuating behavior, former teacher moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. There’s so much bickering and arguing, not to mention 60 uses of the f-word (yes, let’s mention it) from the four leads that it becomes an ordeal to sit through. It’s often funny, but it’s also like being stuck in a cuckoo’s nest. (R for some sexual content/nudity and for language – including 60 uses of one particular obscenity.)
Zero Dark Thirty
It’s a manhunt for Osama bin Laden action war drama. A long, sometimes nonlinear film, Zero Dark Thirty is a magnificent production that realizes the darkness that surrounds us. But if you are hoping Hollywood will present such a story within a PG context, forget it. Those days are long gone. (R for strong and graphic violence and language throughout.)

Actor in Leading Role

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master. Mr. Phoenix gives the most intense, concentrated portrayal since Brando in On the Waterfront (still the greatest cinematic performance I’ve ever experienced). One scene between the two male leads had an astounded collection of critics at a recent screening uttering “Wow” as many wiped away a tear. It is without question the most moving, compelling screen moment you’ll experience at the movies this year. (Rated R. Remember, I said to check out the review, first. I would definitely not recommend this for your viewing, due to the sexual content, nudity and abundant obscene language.)
Denzel Washington, Flight

Actress in Leading Role

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible


Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Michael Haneke, Amour
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Actor in Supporting Role


Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Actress in Supporting Role

Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables. Anne Hathaway’s Oscar-worthy performance as Fantine, a degraded woman struggling to support her child, may be the best-written, best acted female role ever! It is difficult to sit through her ordeals, as the little she has (her hair, her teeth, her virtue) are systematically taken away from her in order that she might get money to keep her child alive. Hathaway’s I Dreamed a Dream was a shared audience moment I’ll never forget. As the song ended, many in the audience were in tears while everyone burst into applause.

Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln – Ms. Field is humorous in some scenes, morose in others, and word-wealthy in each, her screen presentation of this complicated historical figure may be the finest performance given by an actress this year. So I believed until…
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook