Surprising Oscar Nominees

I am not a big film watcher, but I like them when I see them, so the nominations this morning were interesting. You can see the full list here, and there are plenty more engaged fans than me (see @johngilpatrick, among others) , but here are my initial thoughts.

Best Film

With 12 nominations, I get that Lincoln is now the heavy favorite. And I might go that way when I have to fill out my ballot for my friend Carol’s Oscar night pool. But … but … I really want to go for Beasts of the Southern WildAnd I say this all having not seen Zero Dark Thirty. But it is hard to imagine it winning when Kathryn Bigelow didn’t get a best director nod (hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves). Happiest moment: When I realized The Impossible, which I really didn’t like, didn’t make the list. Saddest moment: When I realized Moonrise Kingdom, which I adored, hadn’t, as well.

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis. Next.

Best Actress

Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain? Like I said, I haven’t seen ZD30, but I’m going that way regardless. I loved Hushpuppy, but you don’t get an Oscar when you’re 6 years old.

Best Director

Haven’t seen Life of Pi, but I usually think that seeing the movies only screws up my picks. So I’m going Ang Lee. He’s an Academy favorite, the movie is generally well-received (with 11 nominations) and this is the place to honor it. Sorry, Steven Spielberg. Kinda shocked Bigelow didn’t make this list, and Wes Anderson, too. Michael Haneke, David O. Russell, and Benh Zeitlin surprised me. I really liked Silver Linings Playbook, but it was not directorially amazing, I didn’t think.

I’ll offer up some thoughts on the rest of the list when we get closer to the big night, and we’ll see where I land on Best Picture, so that’s it for now. I guess I need to see ZD30 and Life of Pi, pronto.

Daniel Day-Lewis Was Lincoln

Lincoln was ungodly long and not a whole hell of a lot happened through the middle portion, but, gosh, Daniel Day-Lewis sure was good and, honestly, who besides a Stephen Spielberg makes a movie about passing a Constitutional amendment anyways. Put DD-L in the best actor mix for his portrait of the 16th president, which he nailed—right down to Abe’s shambling gait. And don’t forget Sally Field, who gave a great performance as Mary Todd Lincoln.

The movie certainly appeared to want to speak to us about our bitterly divided government, but I guess I found it cartoonish. And the Democrat congressman who joined the cause of emancipation, by and large, were moved by pretty base reasons. Maybe that’s how it was, but it certainly felt like a grubby path to a noble goal. And perhaps that’s the lesson here, as we approach our Fiscal Cliff.