Pundits Align Around Certain Films as Season Speeds Towards End

Over at InContention, Kris Tapley — who had been predicting Argo — went for Les Mis in a big way last night, writing:

And the Best Picture landscape will be shaken up one more time this season. Is this the one to take it all the way, two years after Hooper did precisely that? I’m thinking it might just be, but I’ll get into my own thoughts on it in due time.

Hollywood-Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells has finally dropped his advocacy for Silver Linings Playbook in a grand lament, though remains solidly what he calls “ABL” — Anything But Lincoln:

The Universal release is going to win Best Picture apparently, and hats off to Tom Hooper and the gang if it does. If it’s over, it’s over. I can live with this, and perhaps I’ll celebrate it. The proof is in the pudding.

Dave Karger, for his part, remains, what he calls, “bullish” on Silver Linings. Karger took heat from Jeff Wells the past two seasons for being called “safe Dave” and always going for the Big Weinstein Co. movie. He’s heading for a threepeat of that this year as he remains the last man standing on Silver Linings at the moment.

I suspect some will align behind Les Miserables because they feel Lincoln can’t win.  They may think it’s too dry, too talky, too cerebral, not feelgoody enough. Les Mis might be that movie that puts smiles on the Oscar voters faces and renews their faith in humanity, a la The Artist, a la The King’s Speech.  A pundit who shall remain anonymous said about Les Mis, “It wouldn’t be what I voted for on my ballot but I could see it winning.”

In terms of Lincoln vs. Les Mis it is really about the actors. Both are giant ensembles. Lincoln has more vets, more character actors and generally a more well known ensemble, which makes it a force to be reckoned with on that count. Les Mis is more of your typical actor’s wet dream. They all love Les Mis, many have acted in Les Mis at one time or another, and it represents “the theater” in many ways.  Actors divide themselves into two groups (I know because I trained to be an actor many moons ago) — serious stage actors and musical theater actors. Lincoln represents the former and Les Mis the latter, which makes it a really intense competition between the two.

Lincoln has a couple of more things going for it at the outset – it has the best script of the year, by Tony Kushner, and is directed by a beloved Hollywood icon who hasn’t won since 1998. By contrast, Hooper won two years ago. That means the movie has to be really really really really all that and a bag of chips to overcome Hooper. Some will likely predict a split, as happened with Spielberg on Saving Private Ryan versus Shakespeare in Love. And that would not be an outlandish prediction.

Moreover, Argo and Lincoln are so far the only two that have passed the critics + box office test and both have passed with flying colors. You don’t necessarily have to have both but it helps in a tightly competitive year. Les Miserables didn’t compete on the festival circuit so it won’t enter the race with the same running start as The King’s Speech, which had won two audience awards by the time it rounded the first curve of Oscar season. It passed both the critics and the box office test with flying colors. The Artist’s buzz started in Cannes and no other film was big enough to beat it. Its box office didn’t matter but it helped that it was a low budget production to begin with. The voters often like low budget/high return best and they hate high budget/low return most. Hugo might have beaten it were it not for its loss at the box office. Les Mis will make bank. But we have to wait for the critics to hear what they think of it. That’s my take anyway.

Either way, it’s an exciting year for Oscar’s Best Picture with many many great films in the running. Passion will likely be Les Miserable’s best poison. If it has that it can easily go all the way.

89 Comments on this Post

  1. The euphoria is still new, I’d believe Les Mis would steamroll the competition if it had been a few weeks and the talk was still this high on it.

  2. “I suspect many will align behind Les Miserables because they feel Lincoln can’t win. They think it’s too dry, too talky, too cerebral, not feelgoody enough. Les Mis might be that movie that puts smiles on the Oscar voters faces and renews their faith in humanity, a la The Artist, a la The King’s Speech.”

    This is Social Network vs King’s Speech again! Interesting that it’s Spielberg who made the cerebral film, not the feelgoody one. Les Miserables has more than a feel-good vibe though. It’s got some heartbreaking emotion that The King’s Speech didn’t have. Les Miserables is gonna be a formidable contender.

  3. Hey Sasha – hope you enjoy the screening of Les Miz today and REALLY REALLY REALLY hope that you can have an open mind for it. So far its very clear Lincoln is your front-runner, so its going to be interesting to see your reaction! I’m so hoping we dont’t get a TKS/SN scenario – its still tastes bad in my mouth!!!!!

  4. @Squasher88 I wouldn’t classify “Les Miserables” as a feel good film. I have only seen the play and not the movie, but the storyline is anything but “feel-good.” Hell, the title of the movie translates to “The Miserables.” I wouldn’t call “Lincoln” feel-good either exactly, but of the two I believe “Lincoln” would be more likely to have that title.

    I don’t see this being another Social Network vs. King’s Speech ordeal. The last two years remotely unknown films have taken the prize, and I find it interesting that we will have two big films go against each other. I loved “Lincoln” and I loved the play of “Les Miserables” but reserve judgment for the film when I see it.

  5. Jack Traven II

    And yet I remain to be (maybe the only one) predicting Lincoln to win big. Whether Les Misérables turns out to be a critics and crowd pleaser or not, I still believe the Academy – with all its elder members (who might have taken a trip down memory lane ;-)) – would choose Lincoln over Les Mis, if they had to. They might just feel more connected to the story about their own legendary president than to a revolution they only heard about once in their lifetime (in contrast to us Europeans who were taught the French Revolution). I know, I know, I’m exaggerating now. But, well, … And I somewhat don’t see Zero Dark Thirty or even Django Unchained being the killjoy here, however good or great they are. ZD30 might be too Hurt Locker-ish and Django will probably be, well, too Tarantino-ish. Or not? But what about Argo? Maybe dying buzz? Or The Hobbit? Maybe …, gee, I don’t know. But that’s what’s so great about predicting the Oscar winners, right? No one knows the outcome. But what’s clear, a cheer to film’s big year.

  6. If Les Mis is great, I can start to forgive Tom Hooper for taking Fincher’s gold two years ago since he doesn’t win this time again. Les Mis is one of the riskiest projects (Lincoln also) of the past decade. It will be so amazing to see both of the most awards-anticipated films of the year really delivering (Lincoln already did so). I cant remember when was the last time this happened. And lets be honest: we, film fans and awards followers all deserve an amazing awards season to recover from 2011’s bore and with so many not-so-good films.

  7. So, in short, Tom Hooper will have two Best Director Oscars (for consecutive films), and Scorcese will have one. Got it.

  8. God, how long it is till Christmas. Are there any scalpers at future screenings? Ha! I’m really on Cloud Nine. I have adored the Broadway production for years, and I dreamed the dream.

  9. This is different to me than TSN vs. TKS. TSN won everything. No film has ever won that many awards heading into the race and lost BP. I was offended that such a weak film took the top prize at a time when the Academy really was rewarding better films. We all know how they work but for a brief moment there with The Departed, No Country and Hurt Locker it felt like things were changing. TKS was a good film. It was fine – not bad. Just not the best of the year. Les Mis might be Ms. Right Now. I just don’t feel the same sting.

  10. I was pulling for TSN too Sasha, but TKS was very, very well reviewed.

    As far as no film having won that many awards and losing before….didn’t that same damn thing basically happen to Brokeback Mountain. I won EVERYTHING.

  11. I= It in the last sentence.

  12. If Lincoln wins, I won’t be upset as it is an excellent movie, but my heart does totally belong to Les Miserables and I do believe it is one of those once in a generation classic films. None of the other movies theoretically in contention have the power and true insight into what motivates the majority of people. They are simply examples of one aspect or another of the human condition. Lincoln and Les Mis are the whole ballgame in two films. In a world dealing with big issues, they are the image of what is deeply important.

  13. Guy Lodge

    “Speeds”? We should be so lucky.

  14. And yet I remain to be (maybe the only one) predicting Lincoln to win big.

    As of now, I’m still with ya.

  15. TSN won everything. No film has ever won that many awards heading into the race and lost BP. I was offended that such a weak film took the top prize at a time when the Academy really was rewarding better films.

    You know I’ve had a theory about those 3 years of substance for a while. But I’ve had trouble putting it into words.

    How about this: From 2006-2008, Hollywood ran out of vanilla pudding. So for 3 years the Academy had to eat meat. Finally from 2009-2011 they were once again served dishes they didn’t have to chew. They choose the pudding whenever it’s on the menu.

  16. If Les Mis wins Best Picture, I think it will win Best Director. A lot of people are assuming a Les Mis BP/Spielberg BD split, but I think they will follow the last two years and place all their eggs in one basket.

  17. Maybe I’m in the minority, I just can’t get excited about Les Mis it’s so darn depressing…I’m still on the good ship Argo, but I’m seeing Lincoln Tuesday!

  18. Tero Heikkinen

    I’m still in Camp Lincoln as well, but it’s been a two-way race for a couple of weeks now (after Lincoln’s raves Argo dropped). Les Mis was always going to be at least good enough, now it sounds like it will be at least great.

    Both are AMPAS films, and it would be great if we didn’t know the winner until Oscar night.

  19. Interesting that the “some movies you feel” turned against the Weinsteins this year. LOL

  20. Jack Traven II

    @ Ryan Adams

    So, obviously someone seems to have fired the Maitre de Cuisine this year. Unless a Well informed guest effs and Jeffs and calls for a Silver Linings Pudding. ;-)

  21. Matt O'Callaghan

    I think you’re basically right Ryan, and there’s a lot of pudding on the menu this year. Lincoln may be the black pudding but it’s still easily digestible. Argo, SLP, Les Miz and Pi are all vanilla.

    There’s nothing wrong with this year’s pudding, nothing wrong with the meat either.

    Either way, the Acadamy will choose the pudding this year, rather than run the risk of getting meat caught in their dentures.

  22. I still think that the four years wherein the Academy honoured The Departed, No Country for Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker were repentance for fucking up major with Crash. Then, when the critics led them in the direction of The Hurt Locker, the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner in Academy history (adjusted for inflation), they had enough and ignored The Social Network; the industry was re-asserting its influence, which, in turn, caused the critics to shit their pants and end up floundering, and since then they haven’t rallied strongly behind any American film at all.

  23. If Lincoln is black pudding, I’ll be allll over it.

  24. Matt O'Callaghan

    Black Pudding doesn’t go down quite as easily as vanilla pudding. It causes some to pause for a moment, before being digested.
    Then sit on it for a moment and eventually …crap out an Oscar

  25. Jack Traven II

    Whoops! It seems I completely misinterpreted the pudding thing. So, forget about my failed joke!

  26. Matt O'Callaghan

    Hunger Games, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are the Gluten-Free options. A few will choose those, but most won’t and believe it more suitable as a Razzie menu option.

  27. John Flake

    People forget The Hurt Locker swung in late during the fourth quarter. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ can’t be ignored. Don’t underestimate Kathryn Bigelow.

  28. I won’t go as far as Jeff Wells (whom I don’t particularly like, actually, given his past views on certain actors not deserving Oscars because they wouldn’t whore themselves out for them), but I don’t think Lincoln is as big a threat as people are making it out to be. I also don’t think Silver Linings Playbook is, either. The buzz from Telluride should have carried it through, and it looks like a lot of that excitement has disappeared (understandably, because it wasn’t as good as people made it out to be). I’m thinking the big prize will be between Argo and Les Miserables, and, maybe, hopefully, Zero Dark Thirty, if the film is as good as the second trailer makes it out to be (although I’m not really expecting this).

  29. Terometer

    And so the take down job on Les Miserables begins. Those who loved Lincoln shifting to another team really upset some people.

  30. This isn’t really like TSN vs TKS at all. The only thing common in between them in this year’s scenario. Tom Hooper isn’t bringing an episode of Masterpiece Classic this time, he actually has a beloved musical that he has packed with stars and filmed in a revolutionary way for a musical. And Lincoln is nothing like TSN. Lincoln is made by THE director or our generation. It is not populated with a cast of unknown like TSN: the cast could fill cases with their trophies. This is a battle of two period epic heavyweights. It should make for the best awards season since 2007 – one amazing year in film and the last time I feel they truly got it right (even though Zodiac was my personal favorite that year).

  31. Indeed, Victor Hugo is vanilla pudding? And Lincoln is a vanilla pudding type film as well? The history behind Les Miserables and Lincoln is important and not fluff and not weak. The years beginning with NCFOM followed by SM,and the HL were the anti-big studio picture years. The Hurt Locker was DOA at the domestic box-office and then went overseas where it made even less box-office.Hollywood decided it was time to give an Oscar to a female director and not Cameron and not Tarrantino and so it did.The Social Network was about Fincher and Sorkin and a cast of okay performances, nothing that set my heart on fire. The King’s Speech was successful because it was a small movie that plays like a big movie and a wider world-wide audience related to all its strengths.Masterpiece theater and vanilla pudding indeed.

  32. Indeed, Victor Hugo is vanilla pudding? And Lincoln is a vanilla pudding type film as well?

    Did I say that? Nope.

    I said in 2009, 2010, 2011 there was pudding available. If not vanilla, then maybe banana pudding. Whatever the flavor, it was warm, creamy, homogenized and easy to digest.

  33. So, obviously someone seems to have fired the Maitre de Cuisine this year.

    Your joke works fine, Jack. I didn’t include 2012 because I’m seeing 2012 possibly shape up to be a year when there are so many other tasty delicacies on offer, pudding could be left off the BP plate altogether– and that’s what happened in 2006, 2007, 2008.

    That’s the point. I feel 2012 offer plenty of meat and veggies — same as the isolated years in the past that we’re all pretty happy about. Pudding was in short supply in the Oscars if the mid-1970s too.

    Pudding du Jour is probably Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or Hyde Park on Hudson — both fine films, honorable films (we’re talking pudding not poison, right?) .

    I’m happy to see there are so many movies of substance this year, doesn’t leave any room for soft sticky sweets.

  34. I’m commenting without reading the other comments. I’ll get you guys later.

    But I gotta say again, the race is far from over. Let’s pretend that all the other movies beside LINCOLN, ARGO, and LES MISERABLES that have already come out sucked and had no place in the race. Not true, but just pretend. You still have Peter Jackson, Kathryn Bigelow, and Quentin Tarantino charging over the horizon. They don’t come to play. They’ll be in it to win it and might kick our butts in the process. So with the stupendous films that have already been released this year we’ve already got an embarrassment of riches. But let’s not make a mistake and end the party before the cake is served.

    Let’s hug all of our movies and keep talking all of them up. People are going to be getting screeners of movies they missed and the current behemoths. Let’s do our best to make sure all the Academy peeps have as much fun as we have had this year and push them to see everything. :D And let’s have a lot more fun before it’s over.

  35. Jack Traven II

    Merci, Ryan!

  36. unlikely hood

    The pudding analogy works well – and summarizes many of the chats going on around here for years – including ones where I tried and failed to add anything new.

    The trick is not – campaigning as though your pudding is pudding. Tell enough people that your pudding is filet mignon, and voters will start to believe you.

  37. Les Mis takes BP.
    As far as nominees go its obvious that: Les Mis, Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Silver Linings Playbook are Getting nominated.

    And there are these that could surprise on nominee morning: The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, and Django Unchained.

    Theres no stopping Les Mis.

  38. “Les Misserables” is about the lowest class of French life at that time. Basically, it’s a musical about homeless people. The Miserable Ones. And ones that are just one step away from being homeless. And the ones(The Thernadiers)who prey upon the lower classes.

    It couldn’t be darker. It’s more like an opera than a musical and it’s logo has always been a starving orphan.(The baby Cossette.)

    Ecstatic about these reviews. Interesting that Eddie Redmayne is getting wonderful notices in a thankless part. Why? He’s considered one of the best young actors in England. He’s starred in tons of films and TV series AND did “Richard II” to great acclaim in the West End last year.

    PLUS he has this absolutely devastating tenor.

    He AND Anne Hathaway could do a George Chakiris/Rita Moreno two-step at the awards this year. For those of you who remember that they BOTH won Supporting Oscars for the Big Film of that year, “West Side Story.”

    Redmayne is the big surprise, because NO ONE has ever stolen the show from THAT ROLE.

    And Tom Hooper could win his second Oscar in three years. It feels like the Academy is ready to shower it with glory.

    I hope Hugh Jackman can compete in this VERY competitive year.

    Thrilled. Can’t wait to see it!

    Congrats to Annie and Eddie, the year’s new Photoplay Couple.

    For those of you who remember Photoplay…

  39. alan of montreal

    Sasha, in the past several months I’ve seen you laud a number of different films for different reasons, so I’m curious–whom do you want to win at this point? It seems like it might be Lincoln, but you may have changed your mind after interviewing Ang Lee. Or is it Argo? Amour?

  40. @DaneM “This isn’t really like TSN vs TKS at all.”

    No Dane, believe me, this IS TSN vs TKS all over again. Hell, last year was TSN vs TKS. That TSN loss was so devastating for many AD readers that every year will be TSN vs TKS here!

  41. Looking forward to Les Mis because I love Hathaway and Redmayne…
    But I just can’t see it surpassing Lincoln with older Oscar voters. Sure, it’s classic, it’s got that musical theater cache Oscar loves….
    It might be the closest we have this year to a good old fashion Oscar Favorite. With the talent involved I’m fairly certain I’m going to enjoy it, maybe love it.
    But does it have the relevance of a Lincoln or even Argo? It’s timeless in a sense but like someone pointed out in a post above-Lincoln connects to something powerful in Americans….It has that epic feel of a great film that will last beyond Oscar season.

  42. Bob Burns

    Thanks Stephan Holt.

    “Les Miserables” is, or was, an idiomatic phrase that translates best to “the scum of the earth”.

    Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have been inspired by the story to give their lives for freedom and equality, including many of Lincoln’s soldiers, who carried the book into battle. It’s deserving of respect if not reverence.

    The play made the book into an opera, appropriate because of Hugo’s long career in opera and because he was a romantic artist who wrote to create emotional responses. Although the play works on an emotional level it does not make narrative sense for those not immersed in the story…. when it was first staged in France the audience did not need the narrative.

    If Hooper has succeeded in shaping a worthy story/narrative out of the opera/play he is deserving of great praise and awards recognition.

    ….. as is the excellent Lincoln.

  43. I’m still in the Lincoln-camp, for now I think it will win and it will win BIG, but I can’t help but wonder that Spielberg will be the Annette Bening to Hooper’s Hilary Swank : the beloved and highly acclaimed veteran losing to the promising ‘new’ talent’s second big Oscar-bid even though latter clearly hasn’t paid his dues like most two-time winners usually do.

    Anyway, though the early word is definitely a VERY promising sign, Les Miserables is not there yet, not even close. In my opinion, it can ONLY take down Lincoln if it pulls off these :

    1. Rave reviews (82+ on MC…for now I think it has 90s potential.)
    2. Spectacular Box Office (150M+, considering less-known musical Chicago made 170M 10 years ago, it might have a decent shot at 200M+.)
    3. 12+ nominations (Lincoln could have 12 AND I think it could also WIN all 12; but Les Miserables could potentially do 14-15 nominations, and if that happens, perception might favor LesMis from then on, ESPECIALLY if it breaks the Titanic/All About Eve record (14).)
    4. At least one of the PGA/DGA/SAG Ensemble trio (Les Miserables could easily win the PGA/SAG and still lose the Oscar to Lincoln IF Spielberg wins the DGA…if Hooper takes it, the race will be OVER, just like it was the last time he pulled off an upset at the DGA.)
    5. At least 3 acting nominations INCLUDING Best Actor (It has to appeal at least as much to the dominant Actors Branch as Lincoln which already has 3 locks in acting categories. Les Miserables could easily pull off 3 (Jackman, Hathaway, Crowe), mainly because it has potential for 4 (Barks or Seyfried), maybe even 5 now that Redmayne is getting so much unexpected buzz. Also, if Hugh Jackman doesn’t make the top5, Les Miserables will NOT win even if it has director, screenplay blahblahblah nominations. How could the Academy fall in love with the film enough to give it BP if they didn’t consider the LEAD playing the baity legendary role top5-worthy ? Same goes for Lincoln – no BP win without a DDL-win.)

    IF Les Miserables bests Lincoln in these in a big way (90+ MC vs. 86; 200M+ US BO vs. 120-150M; 14/15 nods vs. 10-12; 4-5 acting nods vs. 3) then it will have probably no problem taking the crucial PGA/DGA/SAG Ensemble trifecta, either, or at least 2 of 3, which would be enough for BP.

    But I think the keyword is ‘POTENTIAL’ : Lincoln has already proved itself to be the strong contender Les Miserables – for now – only has the potential to become. I guess all this hoopla is about the fact that Les Miserables also has the potential to surpass Lincoln in most areas (critics scores, Box Office, acting nominations, number of nominations).

  44. I’ve never seen a year where pundits jump at the first movie they’ve seen as the Best Picture frontrunner. We ALL knew Les Miz was coming. Same with Lincoln. Argo was good, compelling, solidly made, and has the Ben Affleck actor-turned-director continued-comeback story. But it’s nothing great. It never had the scope of your typical Best Picture. Of course Lincoln could win because it’s just so damn well done. But frankly it’s too smart and talky rather than visual to be your typical winner. I don’t know the dramatic plot twists in SLP, but contemporary films don’t usually win and the trailer makes it look like nothing more than your Little Miss Sunshine comedy nominee of the year.

    My point being I’m surprised people who are paid to blog about the Oscars ever thought Argo was a realistic Best Picture. I expected Les Mis from the start, just as Anne Hathaway was so obviously the sight-unseen winner the minute it was announced she would be playing the part that sings the Susan Boyle song. Anything can happen, but it’s not that hard to play the Oscar game.

    Now I’d like a real Oscar twist and that’s Sally Field in lead for Lincoln because that category frankly needs some star power. She’d be a worthy winner for the performance even though she’s less likely to win a 3rd Oscar than DDL. And please nominate Adele for Skyfall. The Best Song category and the Oscar telecast need her star power.

  45. I have to say this…as an actor…that there are ones who can do/love both. I am always fighting against the idea that there are two separate and divided entities in the acting community. Maybe I am the independent voter.

  46. Jack Traven II

    No doubt that Les Mis will get lots of nominations, maybe more than Lincoln. But I doubt that the Academy will give Tom Hooper another BD Oscar after two years. I just don’t see that happening, however successful the film itself might become. I think Hooper doesn’t belong to that illustrious circle. Not yet at least.

    If I researched correctly there are 12 directors to have received two BD Oscars. Some of the last were Clint Eastwood in 2005, Steven Spielberg in 1999, Oliver Stone in 1990, Milos Forman in 1985 and Billy Wilder in 1961. So, pretty large time gaps. Although in the early days they were sometimes much shorter. Frank Capra, for example, won his three Oscars within four years.

    Furthermore there are only three directors who won more than two BD Oscars. One of them was William Wyler. And there’s an interesting cross-comparison to the present. Wyler received his 1st Oscar in 1943, his 2nd in 1947 and his 3rd in 1960. If Steven Spielberg received his 3rd Oscar next year, the respective time gaps would be pretty similar: 5 years after the 1st one and then 14 years after the 2nd one.

    But that, of course, is just Oscar math.

    Beyond that another possibility, of course, might be a BP/BD split. Les Mis winning lots of Oscars without BD. In that case I would predict Ben Affleck to receive his 1st Oscar as director (which would be very well deserved by the way, IMO). But to be honest, the split is something I don’t see happening next year as well. So, that supports only one conclusion: Les Mis won’t win BP. What would give Lincoln “his” chance to rise and shine again. ;-)

  47. Sasha, in the past several months I’ve seen you laud a number of different films for different reasons, so I’m curious–whom do you want to win at this point? It seems like it might be Lincoln, but you may have changed your mind after interviewing Ang Lee. Or is it Argo? Amour?

    I want Lincoln to win and I believe it will. Still have to see Zero Dark Thirty but nothing can top Lincoln imo. And it isn’t just blind love talking there are actual factors that put Lincoln in the winner’s circle. People are underestimating it for the same reasons they underestimated No Country for Old Men. And those reasons will not hold water, I don’t think. It is the best film of 2012…

  48. “Serious stage actors and musical theater actors”: Yikes! I hope you mean “straight play” and not that musical theater folks aren’t “serious.”

    Also, isn’t Lincoln a film that makes one feel good?! It’s about the recognition that we’re all human and necessarily equal (even if TLJ doesn’t quite say that out loud)!

  49. I predict a split: Lincoln takes Best Picture and Ben Affleck takes Best Director. Since Best Actress is kind of weak this year I could totally see the Academy giving it to Anne Hathaway.

  50. Oh good, Sasha finally bailed out on Argo. Lincoln is a worthier choice. And like I said, even if this year it’s Lincoln vs Les Miz, it really is still TSN vs. TKS!

  51. Silver Linings Playbook is an instant classic. For me, it’s the best movie of the year and one of my personal favorites of all time. Watching this movie tonight made me forget I was watching a movie. Does that make sense? It was as if I was drawn into the movie itself, the characters themselves seemingly so close that you could speak and be a part of whatever conversation they were having on screen. Authenticity, genuineness, intimacy, vulnerability, … I’m lost for words …

    My favorite movies of past years have included TDK, Avatar, The Fighter, Black Swan, and Inception. I would’ve never guessed that a love story would turn out to be my favorite movie of 2012 and one of my favorite of all time.

    Mr. Quick, thank you for writing a book about people often overlooked in cinema yet so present in everyday life. Mr. Russell, thank you for writing such an absorbing sand witty screen play and for directing such a wonderful and life-affirming film. To Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Deniro, and all the cast … Bravo, your performances were individually and collectively outstanding.

    I wanna go see it again! : )

  52. Ive never seen Argo as a BP winner! Its to slick and speedy, not enough scope. Lincoln has the period piece factor, larger scope, its 2 1/2 hours, and a biopic on the most beloved president, but even Lincoln cant beat out Les Mis, Large scope, long running time, dramatic acting, PERIOD PIECE, touching,heartwrenching story, epic musical, and the director of TKS.

  53. Daniel B.

    I don’t think that it is TSN vs TKS, Reno, as much as you want it to be. There is nothing light or “feel-good” with Les Mis and if Hooper has pulled it off, he needs to be awarded. After all, it may turn out that he is very consistent which can’t be told about Spielberg. “War Horse” was an atrocious soapy movie. It would be great to see Afleck steal away the Oscar for Director but it seems that the competion will be very stiff with the likes of Hooper, Speilberg, Bigelow and Ang Lee and maybe Tarantino. I fear that Argo might fall off come Oscar time.
    But the fact that there are such great movies this year has to be acknowledged, the lineup at the end might be one of the best lineups in the recent years. Reminds me of the incredible 2010 lineup (Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Up in The Air, Ingl Basterds etc.)

  54. Question Mark

    It’s a race between Lincoln and Les Miz at this point, with LM moving into the favourite position if it lives up to even 90% of its potential. Only possible spoiler could be Zero Dark Thirty, but even if it’s great, I can see the Academy not going nuts about it just because awarding two Kathryn Bigelow Middle East war movies within a four-year span seems like overkill. (Yes, I realize that ZDT and Hurt Locker are very different films but I’m just giving the devil’s advocate perception of the average Academy voter.)

    If Tom Hooper actually does win a second directing Oscar, can he finally get some respect around here? ;)

  55. CasianoSalazar

    Hobbit? I wanna know how it will bode in this race! It won’t win, but will it be nominated? And will a hobbit film win?

  56. Greg Robinson

    I have not seen any of the major contenders so what I am about to say is based on reviews and comments read. It is going to be tight race between Lincoln and Les Miserables. Both will get a lot of support from the acting, technical and directing branches. I don’t mention the writing branch because here I feel Lincoln has a huge advantage. It would seem that Kushner’s script is by leaps and bounds the best of the year. It is a shoo in for a nomination and probably the win. Les Miserables with so little dialogue is not even guaranteed a screenplay nomination which kind of handicaps its chances of winning the Best Picture Oscar. The difference between the two could well lie in the votes of the acting branch. Unless of course the voters get behind any one of the two irrespective of what I have just said. Saving Private Ryan probably did not win Best Picture because Shakespeare in Love got more support from the acting and writing branches, notwithstanding Ryan receiving acting and writing nominations. The King’s Speech won because it had more support than The Social Network from the acting branch. These kind of considerations should be taken into consideration in my most humble opinion. What does everyone else think? I just think this year’s winner is going to need big and consistent support from all branches of the Guilds and Academy.

  57. Greg Robinson

    I meant Kushner’s script not Owner’s script above. Apologies!

  58. Sasha,
    Since you have watched Les Mis, can you please post your opinions regarding the film on the site? I know reviews are embargoed, but at least do a rundown on the films chances in various categories, especially Best Picture.

  59. The Great Dane

    The Academy could easily give Hooper another Oscar. People keep saying “they won’t give him a second one already”, but that’s NOT how they think. If they thought about who SHOULD be getting an Oscar, Scorsese would have had one earlier, Streep would have gotten a third earlier, Hooper would have lost to EVERY SINGLE ONE of the four guys he was nominated with, and so on. Roger Deakins would have had an Oscar now, had they been ‘thinking’ about it. But they FEEL.,

    They give Oscars to the people who feel RIGHT at the moment, regardless of who they might be. That’s how Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Hudson and Sandra Bullock won acting ‘competitions’ over Streep, Blanchett and Streep again.
    And that’s how Hilary Swank won two leading Oscars at such and early age. If was because of movies and performances that made people ‘feel’ and being surprised. The ‘feel’ factor made Precious win Screenplay over Up in the Air in one of the biggest upsets in recent history.
    And: Awarding Hooper AGAIN would also make them feel like “see, we were right about the first time – he IS a world class director”.

    These 6,000 people don’t sit down and discuss what and who to vote for. It’s organic.

  60. Having just seen it a few hours ago, I’m firmly on TEAM SLP. I believe that, in a big bombastic competition between two juggernauts, a smaller film, a lighter film could pull ahead of both.

  61. I hope the LA Film Critics pick Life of Pi as best film to confuse everyone.

  62. Daveylow, I think that could happen. Last week on the Oscar Podcast, Craig and I both guessed the LAFCA might go for The Master, but now I see Life of Pi is a good possibility too.

  63. Jack Traven II

    And to really confuse everyone they should pick The Master.

  64. SallyinChicago

    Sasha, here’s a story idea: When did movies start running long, more than 2 hours? This year’s top movies are running at least 2-1/2 to 3 hours long. When did that start happening?

  65. rufussondheim

    Forever ago. Gone With the Wind was over 3 hours wasn’t it?

  66. rufussondheim

    I’m not trying to be mean here, but I can’t understand why people are liking Silver Linings Playbook. I found it to be one of the most insincere movies I’ve seen of late, you could see the machinery clicking early on and the pre-destined ending was never in doubt. And that it came in such a hokey envirnoment as this dance competition and an Eages Win! was too much for me to bear. I mean, there was a good five second pause before the big lift and then they muffed it (pun intended) and they get the scores they did, 5.0 exactly! It was just so stinking artificial.

  67. SallyinChicago
    Some silents ran 4 – 5 hours (Abel Gance loved making epic length movies); in the 50s and 60s, event movies (esp Lean) would be about 3.5 – 3 hrs with an intermission, plus an overture and entre act.

    The ADD effect in audiences is recent (in the couple of decades or so). We want in now, we want it short, we want to move on quickly.

  68. @phantom

    I would not call Spielberg “Annette Bening” and Hooper “Hilary Swank”.
    Spielberg has 2 Oscars, Hooper has one, Swank has two, Bening has none. (hey, that rymes!)

    Poor Annette…. I wonder if she could someday pull of a win.

    Lincoln is a biopic and the Academy LOVES biopics (not all of them, see J.Edgar…), so I still think it’s in the better position to win.
    But who knows? If the Academy is “wowed” of Les Miz, it could be the winner.
    Or what if “The Hobbit” surprises? Or Zero Dark Thirty?
    There are still a few possebilities open.
    Last year The Artist was pretty much unbeatable because it was something special (the first silent movie poised to win BP since 1929!).
    This year we have an epic biopic and an epic musical. Not bad at all.

  69. Antoinette

    FYI – They’re talking about LINCOLN on “Meet the Press” with Ken Burns.

  70. I haven’t seen Les Miserables (the show or the musical) but I have seen Lincoln and I have a really hard time seeing Lincoln most likely winning Oscars for Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Screenplay and who knows how many more techies then losing Best Picture. Here is my crazy theory:

    Would the Academy give Hooper another Oscar this early in his career when he very clearly will have many more opportunities to be rewarded again? Doubtful.

    Would the Academy give Spielberg a 3rd Oscar then vote something else Best Picture again? Absolutely not.

  71. “Actors divide themselves into two groups (I know because I trained to be an actor many moons ago) — serious stage actors and musical theater actors.”

    WOW. As an actor currently on Broadway for a play, I find this comment ludicrous. So the musical theater actors across the street is not considered “serious” simply because they’re singing during their performances when I don’t? That comment is almost insulting to actors everywhere.

    I’ve yet to see the film “Les Miserables” but I have seen “Lincoln” (which you’re referring to as the preference of said “serious stage actors”, but if the adaptation of the former holds any merit to the stage/novel incarnations, then I’m sure it’s no less”serious” than Spielberg’s latest great film.

    While I agree the competition between the two will be intense, I seriously doubt the reason is that the actor branch of AMPAS consider ‘Lincoln’ to be more serious than ‘Les Miz’ because it’s a musical or that ‘Les Miz’ is more theatrical than ‘Lincoln’… seriously.

  72. “People are underestimating it for the same reasons they underestimated No Country for Old Men.”

    Did people underestimate No Country? I don’t remember that being the case at all. Some hoped for an Atonement, Juno or There Will Be Blood upset, but I feel like this time in 2007, we knew where the wind was blowing.

    And I think this is different because it sounds like, if anything, people are overestimating Lincoln’s chances. Strong box office numbers don’t always guarantee a victory (i.e. Avatar). Day-Lewis is probably getting a nod, but he’s not a lock for a win. I could see Phoenix beating him. I also don’t think Sally Field is a shoo-in for a nomination either.

  73. .terometer

    Poor team Lincoln! When straight male oscar bloggers want to turn from Lincoln to a musical, you just know something is happening, and it’s inevitable.

  74. Chris “Would the Academy give Spielberg a 3rd Oscar then vote something else Best Picture again? Absolutely not.”

    I guess that’s why the Academy gave John Ford 4 Oscars for directing, but voted three of those times for a different Best Picture.

  75. Omigosh, I don’t know where some people get the idea that this film is a happier, cheerier option for Academy voters. Les Miserables is NOT a feel-good choice by any stretch of the imagination. The book is tragic; the Broadway production is tragic; the movie is tragic. All the main characters die in the end; many are killed in the battle at the barricade. There is only a ray of light in a hopeful future for those few who do survive.

    Please – do your homework (and see the darn movie) before issuing blanket statements about a film’s genre, emotional impact, narrative gravitas, or even appeal to Academy voters.

  76. Terometer / November 24, 2012

    Goodbye to team Lincoln and team silver linings. It will be Argo vs. Les Miserables.

    Terometer / November 24, 2012

    And so the take down job on Les Miserables begins. Those who loved Lincoln shifting to another team really upset some people.

    .terometer / November 25, 2012

    Poor team Lincoln! When straight male oscar bloggers want to turn from Lincoln to a musical, you just know something is happening, and it’s inevitable.

    For your sake, I hope Les Miz wins.

  77. @rufuss
    Regarding Silver Linings Playbook and movie preferences in general …

    Movie preferences are surely unpredictable. Take me for example. My list of all time favorite movies ranges from the likes of Gladiator, Unforgiven, Carlitos Way, Tombstone, TDK, and Heat to Revolutionary Road, Manhattan, Titanic, The Reader, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Incredibles, and Wall-E.

    In my humble opinion, the liking of films is depends on how a person processes the world around them as they move through life. Some people believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, what a movie-goer experiences while watching a movie is more important than any one part of the movie. Therefore, a movies ability to draw the viewer into the film and experience strong emotions can be a powerful determining force of whether a film is likable or not. Relevance also plays a big part as in the case of Silver Linings Playbook. Anyone suffering from mental illness would find this movie to be encouraging and life-affirming. It creates something that some of us want to experience but have felt unable to attain due to the stigma of having a mental illness. It normalizes and gives hope, allows us to feel emotions we don’t often feel but want to feel. Perhaps most importantly then, Silver Linings Playbook gives some of us hope to find love amidst the chaos of our lives. Therefore, the liking of Silver Linings Playbook by movie-goers is a purely subjective experience. Furthermore, emotional films such as SLP stimulate thought as well, but the thinking aspect is related to understanding the relationships between people, and has little to do with objectively rating the film in terms of its structure.

    Bottom line, if there isn’t anything in SLP that you can relate to, then it’s just another movie and the experience of watching the film will be rather dull and boring.

    In sum, a good movie or bad movie is for the most part dependent on the subjective experience of the movie-goer. When you look at it from that perspective, you’re opinion of the movie is spot-on, as is the opinion of someone who absolutely loved the movie.

    : )

  78. Unlikely hood

    Vince Smetana is underrated. Another great comment sir

  79. Hipper, my thoughts exactly.

    Jonathan, you gave words to what I was thinking. And I’ll add: take away the last ten minutes of Lincoln and you have a very happy, inspiring film. Even with the last ten minutes, I felt inspired to be my best self.

  80. Well I finally made it too see Argo today. It’s been on my “too see” list for a long time and today was the day. I truly enjoyed it and I can see it as a contender for Best Picture. It will surely get a nomination for Picture but I’m still in the Lincoln camp and doubt seriously that I will move out of that camp.

    There two things that drive Argo and that’s the directing and the screenplay. The performances are controlled as they should be for a film where the story is the centerpiece but sometimes during the film the performances seem to become pedestrian. Affleck has moments where you can see the anquish over the success of his plan but he is in complete control of his emotions. I don’t personally think this is one of Affleck’s best performances but it’s pretty damn good. If Affleck gets a nod in the Best Acting category I think it will be based a great deal on the nature of the story rather than the performance. The standout in this film is a character almost similar to the character type of Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln and that’s Alan Arkin. Goodman is good but his screen time is limited and the best lines with the best reactions really go to Arkin.

    The directing however is top notch. Affleck weaves a story without a great deal of emotionally upheaveal and keeps you for the most part caught up in how it will all play out. He’s kept his film feeling a little bit gritty and dirty which actually helps the film because of the back room wheeling in dealing. The other aspect of this film that also helped it with the audience was the unflattering way that the government handled this whole situation. It pretty much underscores how many of us felt or feel about our current status. I remember at the end thinking to myself that here we are thirty years later and now we’re all trying to figure out how to keep Iran from getting a nuke.

    The dialogue is top notch and Affleck manages to keep you interested in the rescue rather than diverting your attention to the emotional struggle of the captives.

    I don’t see this film garnering a lot of Oscar nominations. But I do see it garnering at least three very important ones and that being Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. I’d add to that a nod for Arkin. And all well deserved nominations at that.

    And excellent film with a great turn by Affleck who is proving step by step that he may be the next Eastwood if he continues to grow as a director as he seems to be capable of doing.

    As for Les Miz on my list of “must see”. Life of Pi has lost a little of my attention because it feels to me a bit like Ang Lee’s Tree of Life. Also I keep getting this feeling that I’ve seen this film before in the nature of Bertolucci’s Little Buddah and Kurosawa’s Dreams. Although both of those were quite interesting to me they didn’t rock my world. The more I see the Pi trailer the less likely I am to buy a ticket.

    Zero Dark Thirty holds no interest for me at all. I couldn’t wait to see Hurt Locker and maybe because it was of the prospect of Bigelow. This time out I feel like I’ve seen enough of the “middle eastern politics” to make me what to push them all into a closet and lock the door. I have to say this there has been little response from audiences who saw the trailer in the theater. You didn’t hear people whispering to each other that “they had to see that”. I wonder if maybe the public has had enough of Bin Laden and middle eastern mess. Zero could possibly make as little as Hurt Locker. I could be wrong but I dunno.

    I heard someone and I think it was Jeff Wells claim that Django couldn’t figure out what it wanted to be on an early morning talk show speaking about the “must see” films during the holiday season. I have too admit seeing the trailer of Django prior to see Lincoln I kinda got the same feeling.

    Hitchcock looked good and would have that this weekend but it’s release was limited so it hasn’t opened here yet. Anna Karenina looks like the bore of the season to me and I loved the review where the author said “this is the first time you rooted for the train”.

  81. rufussondheim

    Nic. V.

    Nice thoughts on Argo, but I am way more enthusiastic about Ben Affleck’s performance than you seem to be. It’s not flashy, obviously. But some say it is dull and lifeless. I find it anything but. I think it’s brilliantly restrained, I believe you can see the emotion there, but he’s always fighting to keep it under wraps. You can see by his actions what he is feeling and it’s all so well done. I was blone away by his trip home at the end of the film.

    He is easily my number 1 pick for Best Actor at this point (were I voting.) Although I have to say Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master would probably get my vote if I learned he was being campaigned for lead.

  82. rufussondheim

    brian, thanks for your considered response, it was probably nicer than I deserved :)

    One of my main issues with the film though is that it shifts midway through. The first half is very much concerned with the mental illness of Patrick. And much was made of him not wanting to take meds because of the negative side effects. (This is something I’ve heard amongst numerous friends)

    So events occur and he decides to take the meds. But after that, no mention is made of the issue again. It’s like everything is hunky dory. If anything, I feel this is a great disservice to the first half of the film. The movie, after this point, got so caught up in getting to the ending that it seemed like the really strong first half was almost a different film entirely.

    I wanted to enjoy the fulfillment of the promise of the first half of the movie, instead I got drek.

  83. I couldn’t agree more about Affleck’s performance. It is completely restrained and controlled. I think that’s what helps make the film a success in that Affleck really lets the story shine and uses Goodman and Arkin as focal points for acting. Everyone else in the film except the Director of the CIA is completely under control. Even the Iranians although during riot scenes are shown as out of control for the most part are portrayed not nearly as over the top as they could have been and I think that Affleck made a decision that it was a story he was telling and not performances he was making. I still don’t think it’s his best performance to date because I really liked him in The Town but I think it’s certainly a performance he can be proud of.

  84. unlikely hood > thank you.

  85. Good take on Terometer, Helios. :)

  86. Arghhhhh still no news from Sasha re her “thoughts” on Les Miz!!! Come on!!!!!

  87. Astarisborn

    I saw Lincoln and Life of Pi ( both excellent films ) over the weekend and I still, 2 days later, can not get Pi out of my head.

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