Unless you’ve been far removed from any type of media whatsoever for the last month, you’ve seen the countless ads, trailers and interviews regarding the biggest movies of 2012 all in anticipation for awards season. So which movies are up to par? What makes a good movie? Are the critics and Award governing bodies in touch with the people?
There are plenty of worthy films this year and one of particular interest is the political and espionage drama, Argo. What film could be more apropos given current events in the Middle East? It involves espionage, Iran, and the U.S. scoring an all important win on the international scene while saving American lives. These awards have long-favored political dramas and films delving into the darker side of life, so it is refreshing to find an exciting, well-acted movie that doesn’t leave you depressed. Granted there are darker moments of Argo, but it pales in comparison to the torture in Zero Dark Thirty, or the torments of addiction expertly portrayed by Denzel Washington in Flight. There is of course, the highly acclaimed musical, Les Miserables, which has become an awards season staple since Moulin Rouge arguably re-launched the genre.
Musicals may be lighter fare, but this year’s addition is one of the most tragic and, admittedly, expertly acted; it is primed to take home gold for its lead actors. However, Hugh Jackman will have plenty competition for lead actor at the Academy Awards with Daniel Day-Lewis poised for another Oscar win. The Academy Awards are indeed different from the trends set from the other award shows and they do seem to value making a statement. This year’s statement could be in the form of Bradley Cooper winning Best Actor in the much lauded Silver Linings Playbook. Again, this film has dark subject matter but it is one that was able to bring humor to the subject of personal struggle and mental illness, which has been done before with Oscar success in As Good as it Gets.
It appears that all of these films appear fairly consistently in all of the award shows of this season from the Screen Actors Guild Awards to the Golden Globes. The Academy Awards on the other hand, are notorious for major snubs and this year did not disappoint. The most notable snubs are for Best Director category with both Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck noticeably absent. Of course after the big wins for Best Picture and Best Director at the Golden Globes for Argo, the most buzzed about Oscar contest is that of Affleck’s film.
The politics of Hollywood are known to everyone while being a complete mystery to us all. It is common knowledge that there is campaigning for awards and bias for and against every actor and every film. Nonetheless, these awards hold value to the public in some sense as they still represent the best of something. Often we find ourselves with a group of friends or family justifying one Netflix or Redbox option over the other, solely based on its critical acclaim or the awards it has won. Yet we all hold a dichotomy in our minds that these awards are too political and the critics always go for the same over dramatic fodder and ignore what ‘real’ people truly enjoy. Regardless, we seem to enjoy awards and I for one will be glued to Oscars, if for no other reason, than so I can informatively vouch for or against a film in the next friendly group movie debate in my living room.