The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced its nominations for the 2013 Oscars celebrating 2012 in film.
Here are the nominees for Best Picture and my thoughts:
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Django Unchained
- Les Miserables
- Life of Pi
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Zero Dark Thirty
That's a total of nine out of a possible ten nominees, but really, there are only two contenders here, Lincoln and Beasts of the Southern Wild. You may know plenty about Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's latest popular success about one of the most famous and revered presidents in U.S. history. You may not be as familiar with Beasts, which was recently released on home video. I call it the best shot at winning because it follows the Academy's recent pattern of success perfectly. Firstly, it's a small release. Since crowning The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2004 it's been extremely rare for a popular success to win. The Academy tends to award films that fit its particular definitions for artistic merit and topical relevance, and Beasts fits both about as well as last year's The Artist or The Hurt Locker (as with Zero Dark Thirty directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and the main reason why won't Zero won't win). What's compelling about Beasts is that it's both clearly an indy drama but also an innovative genre flick, but what helps distinguish it is that the filmmakers were clearly drawing on the continuing memory of Hurricane Katrina. What's more, youngest-ever Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis is herself reason enough to root for the movie, regardless of whether or not she wins an individual honor.
By the way, this is to take nothing away from the other nominees. They're all achievements of one form or another. Yet I feel that Best Picture all but already belongs to Beasts of the Southern Wild. The Oscars will be handed out on February 24.