2012 Best Picture Nominees

At this point I’ve watched all of last year’s best picture nominees except Amour (which is inexplicably unavailable on Netflix) and Les Misérables (which is a musical). My thoughts on each in order, starting with my favorite.

1. Django Unchained – The most entertaining of the nominees as long as you like what Tarantino does. The violence is not as salient as people tend to say or assume about his movies though it is of course the most violent movie of the bunch.

2. Lincoln – You should obviously watch anything with Day-Lewis. Spielberg distills out a clear, strong narrative which is probably bad for the murkier history but good for movie-making. It is telling that I was able to keep track of the innumerable older white Congressmen, which is not typically the case in movies like this.

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild – The most underrated of the group. It’s a lot like what Life of Pi seemed to want to be but better-executed: tighter, subtler, and less romantic.

4. Silver Linings Playbook – It’s really just an unusually well-written and well-acted romantic comedy, but the inclusion of some mental-illness-related themes adds some seriousness that helps it keep its focus and gives it a little extra weight.

5. Argo – Fun but a little milquetoast. Full of actors who are entertaining enough while acting exactly like they always do.

6. Zero Dark Thirty – I think we were supposed to find it more compelling because it was about OBL, but knowing how it turned out sucked a lot of the tension out of it. I barely remember the movie except for that guy from Parks and Recreation and when she writes on the glass. Watch Homeland instead.

7. Life of Pi – A nice filming of a story that is not as deep as it thinks it is. I kept feeling like I was watching Forrest Gump but with more squishy new-age spiritual relativism.

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