The Little Movie that Could and Might

I thought it was worth mentioning that, though it might seem ludicrous that a film like Silver Linings Playbook — feelgood, light romcom – could beat the best lineup of films we’ve seen in a long, long time it might do just that. As I was listening to actors chatter next to me at the SAG screening I attended yesterday, the film they were buzzing about was Silver Linings. But it isn’t just idle talk, it isn’t just that it’s the Weinstein Co., it’s also that in times of strife people might embrace the one movie that makes them feel good and soothes their aching bones about our conflicted world. In other words, it fits the lyrics to this song pretty well:

Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy
The land lord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don’t worry, be happy
Lood at me I am happy
Don’t worry, be happy

And there’s a lot to be said for that. The one movie I thought might take some heat from it would have been Les Miserables but that might be the most emotionally intense of the bunch and far from uplifting. Many think it’s beautiful and deeply moving but the last thing it’s going to be telling you is, don’t worry, be happy. It’s about the French Revolution Paris Rebellion of 1832.

Zero Dark Thirty is not only about the hunt for Bin Laden but about the difficult relationship we have with war and not just any war, war on an impoverished group of people who live in mostly broken down old shacks. Lincoln is about ending slavery and yet many southern red states have, impossibly, filed petitions to secede – why? Because they fear “the other” is leading the country. For the second time in our country’s history the south wants no part of progress, certainly if it means being led by a black man. It’s horrifying, scary and depressing to look back at our past to try to understand our present. Life of Pi fits the feelgood but it isn’t a “sit anybody down in front of it and they will like it if not love it” movie. It requires a certain level of letting go, of trusting the story to tell you what it needs to tell you.  When the theme of your movie is what the Buddhists teach, that “life is suffering” you are never going to come out of that humming “Don’t worry, be happy.”

There is only one that does that. This means Jennifer Lawrence is going to go head to head with Chastain. Lawrence’s character is a fixer, a woman who wants nothing more than to have the male lead fall for her and when he does he rescues her right back, as Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman. It invigorates men and women alike because it is a romantic fairy tale for both. Chastain has the much harder job – she plays a woman who is being dismissed by her male counterparts throughout – like the esteemed Bigelow, Chastain’s Maya is a simmering pot. She has two key moments where the pot boils over but she doesn’t expose herself the way Lawrence does. She can’t. The safety of the free world is at stake. I can’t explain human beings, especially when you are talking about a consensus vote. But no one in the Oscar race ever votes for anything they think they “should” vote for. They vote for what they like.

The only other movie that might share some of the feelgood vote would be Argo. Though it’s about the freeing of hostages it is  a story of success and redemption. Like Zero Dark Thirty, though, it also doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war. But Argo takes a lighter approach. It is still a pulse-pounding drama but with comic relief. What it doesn’t have that Silver Linings has  is this idea of washing away all of your troubles because everything will work out in the end. Everything does work out in the end of Argo except that the Iran conflict rages on with no happy end in sight, not for the Iranians especially.

I used to think Dave Karger was out of his mind but now I’m starting to see why he continues to predict that movie to win. Therefore, watch out for Silver Linings Playbook.

96 Comments on this Post

  1. Christophe

    Les Miserables is NOT about the French Revolution!
    It’s about the June Rebellion of 1832 that is 40 YEARS AFTER THE REVOLUTION!
    Please show some respect toward one of the greatest works of French literature despite your obvious contempt for the musical it has spawned.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables

  2. Well I didn’t know that! As I said, I am a self-confessed KNOW-NOTHING when it comes to Les Mis. Now you see why I was silent? Respect is earned and that movie didn’t earn mine.

  3. Christophe

    No big deal — also I was talking about respect for the book, not the movie which I haven’t seen yet.
    Hope I didn’t sound too rough (as I often do on Film blogs), I just get all worked up because I read everywhere on the Internet Les Miz is about the French Revolution, and these days even the French barely know the difference, even though we’re supposed to learn about it at school, but I guess most of us just slept throuh it.

  4. I’m a musical theater performance major at Wagner College, and I am surrounded by people who LOVE “Les Miz”. I don’t. I never have. I never will. I’m sorry. It does nothing for me. The music is “poppy” and “sachrine”, and the story has never moved me to tears the way it has so many of my counterparts. Give me Sondheim any day…

    BTW, I’m so bored at work, and i would love to listen to the latest podcast, lol

  5. It’s about the June Rebellion of 1832 that is 40 YEARS AFTER THE REVOLUTION!

    So can you explain to me why they all spoke in British accents and a kid appeared who sounded straight out of Oliver Twist? What am I missing? Is that deliberate because the production originated in England? Aren’t they supposed to be French?

  6. I went to see Silver Linings this weekend,but I ended up not loving it that doesnt mean I didnt like it. I like the film; I thought Bradley Cooper was the standout.

  7. Christophe

    “So can you explain to me why they all spoke in British accents…”

    I have to agree with you on this and add that the big exterior scenes shot in London look nothing like Paris! Even though the small streets recreated at Pinewood studio look pretty cute.

    Nevertheless I like it a lot when Hollywood makes movies about France or based on French works, so I understand they somehow have to make it more relatable to english-speaking audiences.

    ps: sorry for hijacking your thread on SLP – won’t mind you deleting my posts.

  8. rufussondheim

    Eric P. is my hero!

    If SLP wins it will go down in history with Gladiator and Forrest Gump and Braveheart as one of the shittiest winners.

  9. Sasha… What? I can’t believe you are so easily persuaded by others opinions… SLP may win some critics awards but the Oscar it will never win. And I truly believe by your experience that you should know that at this stage of the game. This is not a Weinstein year, I guarantee it.

  10. enotS ahsaS

    Best Director Prediction:
    1. Ben Affleck – Argo (Has the ‘damn good movie’ vote, see The Social Network, Munich, The Aviator)
    2. Paul Thomas Anderson – The Master (Has the arthouse vote, see Tree of Life, City of God, Diving Bell & the Butterfly)
    3. Tom Hooper – Les Miserables (Has the event movie vote, see Chicago, Avatar, Shakespeare in Love)
    4. Ang Lee – Life of Pi (Has the Sentimental vote, see Hugo)
    5. Steven Spielberg – Lincoln (Has the veteran and ‘safe movie’ vote, see Frost/Nixon, Master & Commander, Vera Drake)

    Not sure if there’s any room for ‘feel good’ in the best director race this year. But I expect it to appear in the best picture race.

  11. Les Mis is an excellent musical. However, anyone trying to compare it to Victor Hugo’s masterpiece cannot be taken seriously. The musical is a wonderful recreation in another art form and did great in its way. It’s like comparing all kinds of adaptations of War and Peace, Crimes and Punishment and Anna Karenina to the literature masterworks. It’s just silly.

  12. julian the emperor

    Isn’t it your job to get the facts right, though, Sasha?

    Musicals isn’t your ballgame (mine neither), ok, but history? That’s not your ballgame, either? Or, literature?

    Victor Hugo is one of the great masters of Continental European literature, I would expect that someone like you would be curious to know what his classics are about and what historical circumstances they refer to.

    You seemed to get pretty worked up about the factual history of Lincoln. You even claimed that you cannot really “get” that movie without having a thorough knowledge of the actual historical events, which the movie revolves around.

    You owe yourself – and your readers – to grant Les Miserables (the book and the master behind it, not the musical as such) the same measure of respect that you granted the source material for Lincoln, the movie.

  13. Rodrigo JP

    I think SLP will be nominated but won’t win, just like little miss sunshine. The bp award will go to 0D30, Lincoln or Django Unchained.

  14. Knew you would enjoy that one @rufussonsondheim!
    And I just cannot see “Silver Linings Playbook” going all the way. I can see it taking Best Actress for Lawrence. And in five years we will all view that win the same way we view Reese Witherspoon’s win (a supporting performance hiding out in the lead category). She will win because she has a lot of goodwill going for her (i.e. “The Hunger Games”). And I generally believe she is a decent actress (I thought she was great in “Winter’s Bone” and “Like, Crazy”), I just don’t think she deserves the Oscar for THIS particular performance. Now, I haven’t seen Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” yet, but by the way the performance sounds (in the reviews), I don’t think this is going to do it for her. I think Lawrence will win and Chastain will have a giant IOU stamped across her forehead for a future date. She’ll get her due someday, but for now she will have suffice with hearing Lawrence’s name called out at every award’s show.

  15. theothermike

    every year, Sasha finds a film that must be taken down.

    2009 it was Avatar.
    2010 it was The Kings Speech

    this year its Silver Linings Playbook. just read between the lines of what she says. she does not like this movie

  16. I don’t see ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ coming even close to a Best Picture victory. Although it could overcome both, there are two big obstacles in its way : it NEEDS a Best Actor nomination and the category is very competitive this year, and even IF Cooper makes the cut, then it will still need spectacular Box Office, at least Sideways-Descendants (70-90M) numbers. It is a contemporary romantic comedy that is also a Weinstein-crowdpleaser starring hot, young franchise all-stars and an acting legend, so a 50M US total just won’t cut it. It needs to pick up some steam during the Holiday season, because so far it hasn’t met BO-expectations.

    I think the Best Picture category looks something like this right now :

    1. LINCOLN (It has it all : raves, stellar Box Office, great appeal to the Actors’ Branch with three locks in acting categories, gravitas, relevance, Academy-friendly genre and collaborators. With one word : FRONTRUNNER.)
    2. LES MISERABLES (Definitely has the potential to upset, but it needs AT LEAST Lincoln-reviews and Box Office first. Without either of those two, it won’t stand a chance.)
    3. ZERO DARK THIRTY (If it becomes a THL-kind-of-critical darling, it might overcome its limited BO-potential and daring, realistic approach that might scare away a few voters.)
    4. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (It might be a top5 BP-player, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Russell didn’t make the cut in the end in BD. For the record, I think Affleck is stronger in BD.)
    5. ARGO (It is a solid BP/BD contender, it will probably lose the race because it won’t be as appealing to the dominant Actors’ Branch as its rivals will. It could easily end up with no acting nominations at all. Having said that, the rave reviews+excellent BO combo could go a long way.)
    6. LIFE OF PI (Ditto, also, I think Ang Lee could easily knock out Russell in the end…especially if ‘Pi’ turns into an international sleeper hit, I think it has 300M WW potential.)

    and then if this tendency of late entries making splashy debuts continue, we could have two yet-unseen contenders in the category, too :

    7. THE HOBBIT (The Academy went apeshit over the LOTR-trilogy, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do the same this time around, as well. Jackson could be also a serious threat for Russell and Ang Lee.)
    8. DJANGO UNCHAINED (They went for Tarantino’s previous film in a big way, and this one seems surprisingly Oscary for his taste, so who knows ? Then again, it could turn out to be a hot mess just as well as a masterpiece.)

    I also think we are underestimating one contender :

    9. THE IMPOSSIBLE (It is a family tearjerker with excellent early word, great actors and apparently fantastic production values. I still consider this one the most likely to surprise.)

    and then, I REALLY hope at least one of the underrated risktakers will make the cut in the end.

    THE MASTER (Most likely to succeed, unless Weinstein abandons it for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. It will need that famous Weinstein-push, because the Academy screening reportedly didn’t go well.)
    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Last chance to make up for the infamous TDK-snub…will they bite ?)
    CLOUD ATLAS (Exactly the type of divisive, risky, daring piece, that could be helped A LOT by the 5% No1 rule.)
    ANNA KARENINA (Ditto, plus the Academy surprised with both previous Wright/Knightley films : P&P got 4 nominations including Best Actress, Atonement got 7 including picture, screenplay, supporting actress, all that without a single PGA/DGA/WGA/SAG mention.)
    AMOUR (As great as it is, not one foreign language film made the cut since they expanded the BP category.)
    MOONRISE KINGDOM (It might have a shot, the Box Office was fantastic and it is a critically acclaimed prestige film with Academy-friendly cast & crew.)
    BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (The combination of damaging factors like lack of star power, early release date, SAG-ineligibility, mixed Academy-screening, will probably translate into zero Oscar-love.)

    No guts no glory ? QUARTET, the well-received crowdpleaser with the Weinstein-company in its corner, an acting legend behind the camera and SEVERAL in front of it.

    The highest profile film with basically non-existent buzz ? PROMISED LAND.

    Best Disappearing Act ? THE SAPPHIRES.

  17. just read between the lines of what she says. she does not like this movie

    Why is it so wrong if there’s a movie Sasha doesn’t rave about?

    Are there any movies you don’t like this year? This thing you do where you refuse to love every movie — is this a chronic problem you exhibit year after year?

  18. I just saw Silver Linings Playbook yesterday and though I thoroughly enjoyed it I am surprised this is being considered Best Picture material at all. The actors are wonderful and the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is lovely. But the script is often obvious and repetitive and the direction amazingly unsubtle. If this movie had been released over the summer I don’t think anyone would be throwing Oscar talk at it. How it won the TIFF Audience Award puzzles me, too.

  19. While I really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook, I don’t feel like it has what it takes to win Best Picture. I think the comparison to Little Miss Sunshine is very apt. In fact I kind of got the same feeling watching SLP as I had with watching Little Miss Sunshine. They are both light, feel-good comedies that dealt with very serious issues. They’re fun to watch, but I don’t think the Academy likes seeing such issues being dealt with so frivolously, compounding their existing disdain for comedies. Little Miss Sunshine had won the top award at both the SAG and the PGA, but I don’t remember ever feeling that it was the film to beat, and naturally it lost the Oscar to The Departed.

    I’m surprised nobody has bought this up (and it may be because I’m the only person that thinks this) but I feel that an X-factor that may push the advantage towards Argo’s side is the portrayal of the film industry. Sure, they take some light-hearted ribbing, but the scenes in Hollywood were arguably the best in the movie, and having the industry play an important role in the operation’s triumphant outcome has got to be pretty uplifting for them.

  20. Is this a hit job on SLP Sasha? I get the feeling you have TKS level of hate for this film. Seriously after the near orgasmic response to Les Mis in New York and L.A. I’m betting on it as the final winner. Yes it’s sad but it’s a tale of redemption that moves people. It has universal themes that will appeal to U.S. and foreign AMPAS voters. It will make a shit load of money. The religious overtones will appeal to the middle west and the south. The screenings prove that the two coasts are already falling for it. I don’t think it will sweep (Director is out for example) but it stands to take home a lot of trophies because it will give voters the same emotional release as SLP and it’s weightier so they won’t feel guilty voting for it.

  21. I also got a chance to see SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK over the weekend and I must say that I found this to be one of the most overrated films of the year. As Daveylow stated this is a film where the script is incredibly obvious and repetitive and surprisingly Russell’s direction is unsubtle. It would be a relatively forgettable film in my opinion if not for the two outstanding lead performances from Lawrence (truly a wonderful actress that is playing a role here that really is beyond her years) and Cooper. It reminds me in some ways of how I felt after seeing THE SESSIONS in that the films themselves are surprisingly lightweight but the acting from the leads are just flat out awesome. I personally think THE SESSIONS was a slightly better film (using the old Siskel & Ebert grading curve it gets a slight thumbs up as oppose to SILVER LININGS which I give a slight thumbs down), but I group both films together in terms of the similar tones that I felt both had.

    That being said, I still find LINCOLN to be the best film of the year. Despite its flaws, it just was a beautifully made film that I feel deserves the praises and awards it probably has coming its way (though LES MIZ is on its way).

  22. Bob Burns

    I have no desire to push a response to any film or play or art form onto Sasha or anyone else.

    but it’s unbecoming to be defensive of historical ignorance.

    Sadly Americans, even very good ones, often take pride in their ignorance of French history and in conflict wield that ignorance like a sword.

    It’s worth as much effort as one can give it to learn a little or a lot about a heroic historical struggle of world import, 1789 – 1875 – certainly seen as of world import by contemporaries…. even Americans.

    Hugo, as great an artist as has ever been, chose the June Revolution as his subject because he thought it the most sublime, people giving their lives purely for their republican principals, citizens not subjects was the fight.

    Haven’t seen the movie, but knowledge of the subject of Les Miserables is cultural competence, not film commentary.

    Oliver my ass. Hugo wrote a 30 page digression on the gamin in Les Miserables.

    I am not pushing Le Miz for BP. Honestly, I could care less…. have a hard time imagining I will be rooting for anything but Lincoln, even with The Hobbit coming up, so don’t discount these comments as partisan. They aren’t.

  23. steandric

    And yet another hyping article…..

  24. Is this a hit job on SLP Sasha? I get the feeling you have TKS level of hate for this film.

    No, I genuinely feel it is the biggest threat to win…as I said, because it’s a feelgood movie and it’s the only one of its kind. You don’t see that?

    Seriously after the near orgasmic response to Les Mis in New York and L.A. I’m betting on it as the final winner.

    No reviews yet. You can’t bank on a winner that hasn’t been reviewed by major critics. You just can’t no matter what anyone says. the reviews need to be there, the box office needs to be there. Sure, you can have your flukes, like Extremely Close and War Horse that get nominated but have no shot to win, but a best picture winner has to be critic-tested and audience-tested. This is premature on the part of many of my fellow pundits to call it this soon.

  25. @theothermike, I am not “taking down” anything, least of all Silver Linings. I just wrote a nice post about it, for chrissakes.

  26. You wait and see, TB. I just had that sense listening to those actors talk about it and the buzz I hear from people “out there” is that Silver Linings is one of their favorite movies. I hear people talking about that and Lincoln, mostly, for now.

  27. but it’s unbecoming to be defensive of historical ignorance.

    It might be, if Sasha was indeed being defensive. Where do you see defensiveness? Instead Sasha is being honest about suffering from a misunderstanding shared by millions and millions of people.

    I’ll have to have say it’s a little unbecoming to accuse someone of “cultural incompetence” just because we somehow sneaked through college without reading this book.

    Am I going to need a lawyer to fight these charges of your-blog-job-of-knowing-every-fact fraud?

  28. Okay Bob, I hear that. But the musical Les Mis is a love story primarily. If it wants to be about history, fine, I will learn about the history but the musical is about the musical. It’s about the songs. Full stop. Maybe if it was really a film about what happened back then, even to us dumbo Americans, many of us would take the time to learn about it, as I’m sure audiences are going to do with Lincoln and Argo. The same cannot be said for Les Miz.

  29. Saw Silver Lining Playbook. You know how there’s that one flick that season which so many love that you don’t? That’s this flick. There’s some strong performances and good humor, but in the end I felt like it was a Hollywood picture disguised as a indie flick with a prestige and talented filmmaker like David O Russell attached. It feels like the Hollywood depiction of bi polar disorder. There’s one too many subplots and because of that, most feel underdeveloped. I love Shea Whigham and Tucker was surprisingly decent, but the kind of characters they were playing….were movie character. They didn’t feel like real people. The last 30 minutes too is kind of a predictable and tidy dud. It’s fine. It’s charming and innocent enough. No need for this to be in art house theaters. Aside from some f-bombs which turn off some older audiences, this is pretty accessible for a wide audience and for those who like their endings with no ambiguity, Silver Linings Playbook is for you.

  30. Bob Burns

    I didn’t read Les Miserables in college either. Saw the play and decided that it was high time to learn more…. in part so I could speak with some knowledge….ended up reading 30 plus books of French history and biography, so far.

    I recommend Graham Robb’s award winning Hugo biography. Most of the rest of the books on the still controversial era have such strong left-right slants they lose credibility. Robb’s section on Les Miserables is a great source, if yo are interested. You could read it in an hour.

  31. I’d be very surprised if SLP would win BP. Not that it can’t.
    Everything’s quite possible.
    I just think Academy voters love rarely something else more than a big (history) epic drama these days.
    It’s still hard to win with a comedy, crowdpleaser or not.

    But yeah, we’ll see how things will turn out.
    I personally wouldn’t mind seeing comedy more winning this year.

  32. People are ripping on Dave Karger for continuing to predict SLP, but the same thing happened in 2010 with The King’s Speech. I never discount Dave’s opinion.

  33. @Sasha, I agree SLP is a feel good movie but Les Mis is kind of too (at least the book and musical are) in that the redemptive aspect lifts up your spirits at the end. It is a crowd pleaser type even with the numerous stories of woe. However, you have seen the film but weren’t moved so maybe only fans of the musical will enjoy the film.
    @Bob Burns: gees no need to get your panties in a bunch. It is a common misconception that Les Mis is about the French Revolution. Intelligent and well-read people from all around the world make this mistake. Not just Americans. Sasha has said multiple times she is not familiar with Les Miserables. You bitching her out is not helpful.

  34. Victor Hugo is one of the great masters of Continental European literature, I would expect that someone like you would be curious to know what his classics are about and what historical circumstances they refer to.

    You guys are gonna love hearing my contribution to this week’s Oscar Podcast in which I’m unable to name a single song from the musical except the one that goes,

    dream dream dream your boat,
    gently down the stream,
    miserably miserably miserably,
    dream a dream a dream.

    Isn’t it your job to get the facts right, though, Sasha?

    Sometimes the job of a blogger is to write and speak like a normal person who’s honest about having different interests than other normal people’s interests.

    julian the emperor. I have little doubt that you’ve read Team of Rivals, Cosmopolis, Les Misérables, Anna Karenina, Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi, The Hobbit, and Great Expectations. Less confident that you’ve read Silver Linings Playbook, The Wettest County, Cogan’s Trade — but wouldn’t be surprised if you have. So you’re all set to be resident expert on Adapted Screenplay this year.

    If this really brutal scorn I’m seeing for a gap in reading experience is typical of the attitude of the Les Mis fan club, I wonder how it’s going to fly with the Academy voters who usually eschew movies that outsiders try to be snotty about, belittling choices on the grounds of intellectual superiority.

  35. Sasha. I saw Silver Lining’s yesterday and I absolutely loved it! I thought it was well written/acted! Do you think it will receive adapted screenplay? I thought Cooper and Lawrence was magnificent! Especially Jennifer, I would be okay if she wins Best Actress, yet I have yet to see Chastain in ZDT! I thought Jackie Weaver was amazing too! And Robert DeNiro!

  36. Christophe

    @Ryan Adams

    One thing you have in common with Victor Hugo, he would also be unable to name a song from the musical, because he did NOT write it! He wrote the book whose storyline was the basis for the musical, but except a few lines here and there, the songs from the musical did not stem from his genial mind.

  37. Tero Heikkinen

    Does everybody know that this is the second Les Misérables to be nominated for an Oscar. It was news to me until yesterday.

    Back then it lost to Mutiny on the Bounty which was later nominated again (the most famous version that lost). So, this time it could be the other way around, and now this new one wins.

    And yes, I know it’s not the same thing, but based on the same novel anyway.

  38. Sorry for the double question Sasha. I read your reply on the recent ZDT article you wrote. I haven’t seen Lincoln yet, for some reason, I don’t find Spielberg films that entertaining except for ET and Schindlers List. But I will eventually check it out.

  39. Good for you, Bob. I am still trying to finish Team of Rivals. Nothing in the movie Les Miz made me want to go back and learn about what it’s based on because it didn’t appear to be based on anything except a love story in times of poverty. It wasn’t like it was about the Hugo book – the characters are, perhaps, loosely based on that. But imagine if they did a musical about the Titanic (they didn’t do one did they?) and the whole thing was about Jack and Rose and the ship sinking was only in the background. That is what Les Miz is like, or for me anyway.

  40. The more I think about Silver Linings Playbook the more I can’t picture it winning Best Picture. I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel like a BP winner next to Lincoln, Les Miz, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty being in the race as well. The feelgood aspect is certainly there and it has it way more than any other film including Lincoln and Argo, but there’s a few things that still make me think that won’t be enough to push it over.

    1. Last year’s winner was also based on feelgoodism and came from Weinstein. I think this year the Academy will try to shake it up a bit with something more weightier.

    2. Weinstein pulling off a hat trick will be extra tough and with a film like Silver Linings that’s not doing so great box office wise, I don’t think he has the kind of firepower he had with King’s Speech and The Artist.

    3. The majority of the voting block are the actors, and it’s great that we have insight from Sasha about what film seems to be on everyone’s minds, but if it’s going to come down to that Lincoln is surely a much stronger actor’s film and for a respected director who isn’t known for being an actor’s director, that’s a feat. I might be wrong but I see actors swaying towards films like Lincoln and The Master moreso than Silver Linings Playbook.

    Another point to consider is this notion of feelgood. Where is the line drawn between going to the cinema to escape (i.e. your life is shitty, the economy sucks, someone just broke up with you, you’re having family issues, so you go see Silver Linings Playbook to feel more optimistic about life) and going to the cinema to feel connected with the times (i.e. the sticky sides of an ongoing war that’s shaping and destroying lives every day, watching one of the greatest Presidents of the US change history as history keeps changing with the current one, and so much more that the films like Lincoln, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty seem to be drawing your attention to)

    When does feeling good become too much of a good thing and you start thinking, “Feeling good after a movie is mostly an illusion that breaks a few hours after you’ve left the screening. I wanna learn something instead”?

    I really hope it’s this year.

  41. They did a “Titanic” musical in 1997, right before the movie came out. It has nothing to do with Cameron’s film, and is in a way a much better story. The music is fantastic as well. It won the Tony in ’97 for Best Musical.

  42. They did a “Titanic” musical in 1997

    Egads, is nothing sacred? Broadway is a wasteland.

  43. I won’t dispute you on that one^

  44. You’re doing it right this time, Sasha. Go, go, go. :D

  45. Christophe

    @Sasha

    Indeed, Les Miserables in its novel form is not “just” a love story. However does that mean we should discard a work of art when it is primarily a love story? Should Romeo and Juliet be considered unimportant or not a serious work of art because it is “just” a love story? I don’t get it…

  46. You’re going to compare Romeo and Juliet to Les Miz?

  47. Maybe someone who likes musicals and Broadway could post a review of Les Miserables on Awards Daily?

    And gosh, I loved the musical Titanic. It has some of the most moving choral music ever written for Broadway.

  48. I don’t understand the love for the overrated Silver LInings Playbook. To be fair, Bradley Cooper is the only actor in the cast that truly gives an Oscar caliber performance. And, I don’t even see Bradley being nominated for SLP.

  49. My bottom line on Les Miz and then I’m going to shut up: there is a specific language to this play and that language is the songs, many of which are beautifully written. But stage sing-acting is a tough sell to translate to screen. If those songs and that musical is already in your DNA you will really appreciate this purist’s version of it – live singing and actors filmed mostly in closeup. But if you have no point of reference for it (since it’s not really about the history, only in terms of its setting) it is a tough way in. The beginning of it is the best part with Anne Hathaway, who seems to be the one who best knows that film acting is very different from stage acting. Her emotions shine through and you understand what’s happening to her. So then she leaves. The rest of it is alienating if you aren’t familiar with it. Unless you are the kind of person who really just enjoys listening to actors sing pretty sad songs, in which case, you will love it. But as I said, some will love it and some will hate it. It is a bold move, a brave risk, an interesting experiment – but the one thing it isn’t is a general audience crowdpleaser.

  50. “…but except a few lines here and there, the songs from the musical did not stem from his genial mind.”

    Exactly, Christophe. That’s why I feel this disdain we’re getting for not have read the novel has no justification in terms anyone’s ability to simply say the movie doesn’t float their boat. If a movie can’t be appreciated without first having read or seen all its previous incarnations, then I think that will present a problem for a lot of people.

  51. Christophe

    I’m not comparing it to Les Miz the musical, but to Les Misérables the novel (hailed around the world, apparently not in America, as one of the greatest books in history).

    And my question was actually not just about Les Miz but about love stories in general. I sensed from your previous answer, that a love story might not be an important subject enough to make a great work of art in your mind. So I’m asking for an explanation, because I’m not sure that’s what you truly meant.

  52. Intellectual superiority is the basis for not liking SLP, am I correct? It’s not different enough.

  53. Christophe

    @Sasha

    Ok then, now that is a substantiated and completely understandable answer. I’m going to shut up too, because I have to go make dinner.

  54. I’m confused, although I read Les Miserables a decade ago, I don’t see how it is a love story. I can only recall one romantic subplot in the third act of the story, the one revolving around Marius, Eponine and Cosette, three supporting characters. To me, a subplot like that doesn’t define the story. It’s like saying Argo is about filmmaking : is it a prominent theme in the story ? Yes. Is it the center of the story ? Most certainly not. Also, how could Les Miserables be a love story when its lead doesn’t have a romantic interest ? It’s like saying The Help is a love story because of the Footes.

  55. Intellectual superiority is the basis for not liking SLP, am I correct?

    You’re incorrect.

    Who knows? I’m sure there a lots of people who feel intellectual superiority about everything everywhere.

    Weird claim, actually, if you’re trying to say every negative reaction to a movie is a form of intellectual superiority. Bizarre.

    Are you saying we’d all like the movie better if we read the mediocre book first. I tried that. Or am I now acting intellectually superior in your eyes for thinking the book is mediocre? And the script tarts up the dreary book with excess salacious silliness.

  56. Ahh classic Sasha. Using reverse psychology to get people to hate on a film she doesn’t like. She doesn’t think it will win, she’s just doing a proper, firstclass hitjob. Well done.

  57. This isn’t a negative reaction, if you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it. That’s fine.

    This, however, feels like a takedown similar to Jeff Wells with Lincoln.

  58. Also, I saw SLP along with TIFF without all the awards buzz and stuff and loved it. Now I’m getting crapped on by people for loving the most overrated movie of the year. This is the problem with awards, SLP wouldn’t be seen as overrated if there wasn’t awards buzz following it, plain and simple. Nor you or Ryan can say otherwise, because it simply isn’t true. Films get judged by how many statues they’re being set to win. This is the problem with modern film. Is it lightweight? Sure. Did I care? Not particularly, I saw 30 films and most were heavy. Within its own limitations it gets everything right.

  59. Some of you guys smoked extra crispy crack this morning. In the whole history of me being on the internet, I’ve never been to a site where people read so much crap that isn’t there. She said it might win. So what if she doesn’t like it? If she pretended it was awesomesauce, that’d be phony and it would seem off.

    If those songs and that musical is already in your DNA you will really appreciate this purist’s version of it – live singing and actors filmed mostly in closeup. But if you have no point of reference for it (since it’s not really about the history, only in terms of its setting) it is a tough way in.

    That’s interesting to me, because I’ve assumed all along that it would be the other way around. I guess I’ll find out some time after Christmas. I’m not an uber fan but I’ve seen a couple of versions and know a couple of the songs by heart.

  60. Or some of us are just reading between the lines. This is an obvious takedown, no one actually thinks it has a shot at winning. It’s a stand-in nominee because there’s nothing else like it in the race (I’ll give her that part). It’s classic Sasha.

  61. Matt, I promise you I am not trying to “take down” Silver Linings. That is not my style. Do I think it’s good enough to win Best Picture? No. Do I think it can win Best Picture? Yes. And I didn’t used to think so. But after seeing Les Mis and Zero Dark Thirty in one weekend it convinced me that there is really only one flat out feelgood movie and that’s Silver Linings. It reminds me of Chicago in that way.

  62. Now I’m getting crapped on by people for loving the most overrated movie of the year. This is the problem with awards,

    Yep. :-(

  63. This, however, feels like a takedown similar to Jeff Wells with Lincoln.

    That’s all in your head.

  64. Good to know. I don’t think I could take anymore of those articles.

  65. “Maybe someone who likes musicals and Broadway could post a review of Les Miserables on Awards Daily?”

    If Sasha thinks that would be appropriate, I’d be on board. But my feeling right now is that we’re able to read dozens of fond appreciations of Les Mis on the site already. Right here in the comments.

    I understand what you’re saying and I think I understand why, Daveylow. At the same time, that’s a slippery slope.

    What next? Invite somebody who hates American history and has a Confederate flag decal on the window of their pickup truck to post his review of Lincoln on the main page? In the interest of “fair and balanced.” No.

    When we post guest reviews, most often those guests don’t have opinions diametrically opposed to Sasha’s own judgement. What movie site does that? None.

    What I see today is a really reasonable and genial difference of opinion. Nobody is getting slapped down and ridiculed for loving Broadway. But not everybody loves Broadway musicals to the same degree. And it’s a little repulsive that we’re treated like pariahs and philistines if we don’t.

    Nobody is trashing Les Mis. But can we please allow for the possibility that not everybody will get goosebumps about it?

    Let’s hold off on the Paris Rebellion of 2012 until more actual civilian citizens have had a chance to see the film, ok? Right now almost everybody who’s seen it or is thrilled by the prospect of seeing it is already motivated and already inclined to like it.

    The silence you hear from people who aren’t first in line? That silence is the shrug of people who haven’t seen it and may never see it.

    If Sasha wants to feature a guest review of Les Mis, it will be because Sasha decides which opinions should serve as official Awards Daily headlines.

    My advice* for the moment, is that it might be an interesting idea for another angle — as we sometimes do for any important film — more suitable post the week after Les Mis premieres to the public, so that more people can participate in the discussion than the select few who are longtime Les Mis fans.

    *(my advice doesn’t carry much more weight than yours, David)

  66. I love movies and in theory think that an awards season is a great way to get attention to good and worthwhile movies and promote movie criticism and discussion. However, unfortunately people online feel the weird need to attack movies they don’t care for or people who disagree with them. There’s also an annoying team mentality where people supporting a movie or an actor feel the constant need to tear ‘the competition’ apart. Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean it’s not worthy to win an award you are not voting for.

    Secondly, I appreciate what Sasha does here and even if we disagree with her opinions, there’s no need to be rude or hostile about it. People will take your comments much more seriously if you don’t berate Sasha or other posters. Demanding Sasha to write about something you want to read about just reeks of entitlement. I used to like reading the comment section here but the standard of commentary has sunk severely in my opinion. [End of rant]

    Concerning best picture race, I believe it’s between Lincoln and Les Mis with Life of Pi, Argo and SLP in second tier. ZDT will get a BP nomination and maybe BD but I really don’t see it winning either. Altogether it has been a fabulous year for movies in different genres and I’m specially delighted that critically acclaimed movies seem to be doing well at the box office. I’ve been reading how studios aren’t really making those mid-budget pictures anymore but hopefully the financial success of many of those movies this year will change some minds.

  67. Bob Burns

    1832

    the Beatles were from England.

  68. In my opinion, the status of Les Miserables is simple :

    – If it gets raves (82+ MC) and becomes a BO-hit (100M+ US), it has a shot against Lincoln. Until it pulls off BOTH, it’s Lincoln’s to lose.
    – If it doesn’t pull off BOTH, it most certainly doesn’t stand a chance and it will be still Lincoln’s to lose
    – If it bests Lincoln in both by a wide margin (90+ MC vs. 86, 200M+ US vs. 120-150M), THEN we can consider it the frontrunner, until then, it’s Lincoln’s to lose.

    Silver Linings Playbook won’t win, maybe if it became a huge BO-hit, but that doesn’t seem to be a realistic possibility at the moment. I think there are at least 4 (Lincoln, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Argo), maybe even 5 (Life of Pi) more viable BP/BD-contenders at the moment, not to mention The Hobbit and Django Unchained, both could be still major spoilers in BD.

  69. Sasha,

    I am always interested in what you have to say. I think people tend to take reviews personally and are immature about the process. I would like to know what did you think of Barks and Seyfried in Les Mis. I’m not going to tear you down I’m just generally interested in what you have to say.

  70. ” However, unfortunately people online feel the weird need to attack movies they don’t care for or people who disagree with them. There’s also an annoying team mentality where people supporting a movie or an actor feel the constant need to tear ‘the competition’ apart. Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean it’s not worthy to win an award you are not voting for.”

    Shhh! The Streep cult is everywhere, and they are always watching to defend Your Highness.

  71. “Maybe someone who likes musicals and Broadway could post a review of Les Miserables on Awards Daily?”

    Funny, I almost went on Twitter and asked someone to send me something I could post. I am not allowed to post reviews but if anyone knows anyone who would like to write up the movie I would happily post it (though not as an official review since those aren’t allowed yet)

  72. For the 21st anniversary of the show, BBC Radio 2 did a broadcast of the main numbers from the show with a full narration so that it is easy to follow the story. For anyone not familiar with the work, it is a very easy way to learn it rapidly by downloading that show here: http://www.mediafire.com/?elhwq1yq4hqymhx

  73. Terometer

    Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) & Les Mis (Tom Hooper movie)
    Double reunion of nightmares for some I guess?
    What if they both took away all the awards?
    I bet we’re going to see someone become very intense and desperate in the following weeks.

  74. I didn’t like SLP that much but lover Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. And what is all this talk over her age? That’s what actors are supposed to do. Act older or younger. Did you know Sally Field is 10 years older than Daniel Day Lewis and 20 years older than what her character is supposed to be in Lincoln yet she nailed it. I thought Jennifer was amazing and believable in her role. Though we were supposed to hate her character, she made me fall in love with her charm, vulnerability, and sense of humor

  75. RE: The Titanic Musical
    I think Sasha’s question “Is nothing sacred” is a fairly relevant one. I mean, would you go and watch “9/11: The Musical”? Some of you would, and that’s sick, but most of us wouldn’t.

  76. Also, I find the notion of people on this board discouraging “mob mentalities” when it comes to certain films or actors to be a little bit stupid. The inner workings of the Oscars that we love-hate are rife with this mentality, back door campaigning and deals, public campaigning and deals too… All to decide who is “best”! It’s not only Sasha’s right to have an agenda, its her responsibility as someone with some influence to have one. I agree with her most of the time, but when I don’t (I’m not a huge Hurt Locker fan), I respect her opinion as she respects yours. The only thing she seems to disrespect are these out and out criticisms of her, which get out of hand. It makes me wonder why those people keep visiting her site. But whatever, the trolling helps her site traffic and furthers her agenda. In other words, trolling here fails on every level.

  77. I won’t be seeing Les Miz until Christmas Day but I will be happy to share my thoughts when I do. I’m actually rooting for Life of Pi though I know it won’t win. At least there are a lot of good movies up for best picture this year. There were years when even five contenders were hard to find.

    Les Miserables is far from my favorite musical but I have no trouble watching people sing for hours on screen with no dialog. One of my all-time favorite movies is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg which is completely sung and was conceived for the film medium, not for the stage.

  78. julian the emperor

    Ryan: I didn’t really get your comment to my post. So much for my intellectual capabilities, I guess.

    I shouldn’t scorn Sasha’s ignorance of French history (we cannot know everything, I have HUGE gaps when it comes to basic biology, physics, chemistry etc. that I am NOT proud of).
    Sasha’s been quite busy lately – LOTS of posts most of the time – I salute that productivity. She deserves respect.

    And, you are right about one thing: She isn’t being defensive about her “ignorance”. Good on her.

    Two more things:

    Yes, I have read most of the books you mention. Right on. You seem to know me well, by now.
    Yes, I will readily admit to the position of resident expert on the Adapted Screenplay category.

    Now, bring some extra scorn on me. As ever, I probably deserve it…:)

  79. BTW, when I was suggesting that someone familiar with and appreciative of the stage version of Les Miserables post a review of this new adaptation, I didn’t mean right now. I meant when the film was in the theaters. This is a show that has been around for decades already and has played all around the globe. It will be interesting to see if it attracts a lot of movie goers. Already from the clips, though, it looks much more promising than say Nine or Rock of Ages or Rent.

  80. “Ryan: I didn’t really get your comment to my post.”

    My tone was probably hard to gauge because I’m having a worrisome cranky day, but I was trying to disguise my ill mood by being uncharacteristically non-confrontational — since we’re pals. But I didn’t bother to disguise it too much — since we’re pals.

  81. I will back up the person that said Les Mis is not a love story. The Marius/Eponine/Cosette triangle is a side show. Jean Valjean is the central figure, his encounter with the Bishop’s kindness and grace guiding him to be a better man. He completely reforms his ways as a criminal while helping others. Victor Hugo was trying to highlight the plight of the disenfranchised in his society: the poor, prisoners, prostitutes, etc. Saying not to judge them prematurely, there is more to us all than our station in life. Redemption is possible for all. Of course one can see it as a story of love but of all degrees that exist in society: maternal love, paternal love, brotherly love, God’s love, young love, same-sex love, etc.

  82. SeattleMoviegoer

    gosh…is this website going to be all about Stone’s rant against LES MISERABLES and how she trashes it so as to build up her other favorites for the next couple of months? i don’t mean to be offensive, but Stone’s take on the show is rather ignorant. it’s been around for 26 years. we’re not talking some obscure piece of work. to be authoritative on the arts (and film is an art), one must be familiar with all the arts that contribute to film (and most do in terms of design, sound, acting–which comes from THEATRE, dontcha know). Roger Ebert is a good example of that. Penelope Gilliatt, Judith Crist, Kaufmann, etc.

  83. I saw SLP finally, and although I really liked most of the acting, the movie just didn’t hang completely together for me, b+ is my rating.

  84. So much tension on AD.

    I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…

  85. For goodness sake, a quality film is not determined by it’s subject matter or genre – it is determined by quality storytelling.

    So what if SLP is a feel-good? What’s important is whether it is successful within it’s own parameters. If this is not how Academy members are approaching the voting process, then comedies and dramas should never be forced to compete against one another in the same category – it is simply an unfair fight. The more sombre, philosophical and challenging material of a drama is always going to make a comedy seem frivolous. And I refuse to believe that comedies are inherently inferior.

  86. @Katie But one could argue that The Silver Linings Playbook is not even a well-crafted or well-constructed comedy. It’s not even a top-notch romantic comedy. I’m not saying it’s not good, though, because it is. But it’s sloppy.

  87. Interesting, these responses to Silver Linings Playbook …
    The case for Silver Linings Playbook is not about whether it was well-crafted or well-constructed … it’s how it makes you feel. When I left that movie I was happier than I’d been in weeks. Feeling good, feels good … especially good after a year of living in fear of a republican becoming president, gas prices over $4 bucs a gallon, and a host of other crap. Sometimes, the greatest gift a film can give is hope, feeling like love is possible, and a good laugh or two. It’s definitely my favorite movie of the year …

    It reminds me a little of a movie I used to like years and years ago (back in 1985) .. a little movie called “Secret Admirer” with Lori Loughlin, Kelly Preston and C. Thomas Howell. Total guilty pleasure.

  88. @Daveylow Then that’s fine. At least that’s a rational objection. If you believe it fails within it’s own parameters, then that’s a genuine problem.

    I can’t even comment as I haven’t even seen it myself – it hasn’t been released in my country. I just object on principle to people claiming lighter fare is inherently inferior to serious drama.

  89. Unlikely hood

    Just to say something that no one has said:

    Biggest nightmare for team SLP?

    “this is 40″ significantly out-performs it at the box office. That’s very unlikely, yes. But if it happens SLP loses a lot of cachet – it couldn’t even be the season’s hit dramedy.

  90. rufussondheim

    I suspect that SLP will hang around enough to get a couple of major nominations, but I think it’s falling fast as all of the films seem to be anything but disappointing.

    But I think it’s #6 at the moment, which means it will fall behind in the BD category. We’ll see.

  91. Film Fatale

    I’d really like tO know exactly what is “unsubtle” (did it need to be subtle for this material anyway?) about the direction of Silver Linings Playbook — one of the most human and c

  92. Film Fatale

    Sorry for the double post — silly iPhone got ahead of me…

    I’d really like to know exactly what is “unsubtle” (did it need to be subtle for this material anyway?) about the direction of Silver Linings Playbook — one of the most human and compassionate movies in many a moon. And “repetitive” on the screenplay? Exactly, how? Can you provide examples or just sweeping generalizations? There is nothing repetitive about this original and unpredictable film.

  93. The only unpredictable thing about Silver Linings is how predictable it is in the end.

    That’s all I’ll say Film Fatale, and let the one you’re addressing answer your question.

  94. The little movie that can and might, but shouldn’t.

    Let’s not forget the last part.

  95. What would be worse: getting “Hoopered” for the second time in 3 years or getting “Weinsteined” for a third straight year? The latter might be the final blow to the Academy’s reputation. The former doesn’t thrill me either. If his picture wins, at least throw us an Affleck win.

  96. To the guy who keeps insisting Sasha’s article is a “classic” “takedown” – please lower your dosage.

    She’s expressing an informed opinion, you should try it – the former that is.

Leave a Comment

Warning: Do not abuse your right to comment here. You will be deleted.