Sasha Stone has been around the Oscar scene since 1999. Almost everything on this website is her fault.
Heard Spielberg ruined LINCOLN’s chances last night with that Bill Clinton number. Didn’t go over well at all!
It’s what I want and what I think will happen.
Was it Spielberg who bagged Clinton for that gig?
I thought it went over very well indeed! Maybe my finger’s not quite on the pulse.
They’re gonna unleash Jennifer Garner. She’ll be witness to Ben Affleck’s character.
Who are the other 4 bright sparks who picked Amour? High five
Heart goes Haneke’s way. Guts are having a battle over “Lincoln” and “Argo”. Let’s just wait for what the guilds have to say.
Still Lincoln. As Fleetwood Mac sings to AMPAS: “You can go your own way….”
The King’s Speech, The Artist,Lincoln.
repost: You guys think Tim Hooper might have a chance to win as a write-in??
I mean what the fuck, did LES MIZ direct itself?!
Argo – likable, not divisive and most of all tells a Hollywood story!
Zero Dark Thirty – Life of Pi – Amour – usually the best film, the masterpiece doesn’t win.
Beasts – not one single chance to win too bizarre for a large consensus
Lincoln – call me crazy but I think that – in the secret of the ballot – a lot of people doesn’t want to award a Spielberg movie.
Django – not BP material, and it doesn’t mark a big step forward for Tarantino… great cinema from him but already been there before.
It seems between Argo and Lincoln, and god I hope Lincoln takes it
Life of Pi is the safest bet right now.
Les Miserables… well, I din’t know what to say about it. I don’t find nothing against or for it
I find precursor awards have a way of wanting to predic who will win the Oscar. This year with the changes and ballots being sent earlier, and films not coming out before those ballots were sent, it has been difficult for anyone to really predict the outcome. Precursor awards are now an independent opinion than that of Oscar. And that’s the way it should be. Every awards should have it’s own politics, it’s own reasons to award a particular film or actor. Instead of trying to predict the Oscar winner, just award the winner your organization deemed worthy. That’s happening this year, and I really really like it. Oscar now have nominated their selections and it’s its own thing. So with that, I’m going with Lincoln. In Lincoln, Oscars have all the political bait they usually go for to award it. It’s about a HUGE and very important American historical figure, it’s doing amazingly well at the box-office, it has critics and fans on it’s side. And regardless of all that, it was a really really good movie fraught with such hard work,dedication, and the execution was great. And in a year where films were so fantastic, I wouldn’t be upset at all with an organization picking Lincoln.
Though I love the fact that Ben Affleck and Argo is getting this current support, I simple wouldn’t want Argo to have been awarded “Best Picture” over other many worthy pictures in this year’s category. It was good, but it wasn’t THAT good.
And let’s be honest: The Master was the best of the year (loved that Affleck spoke of PTA last night…)
What are you talking about? Clinton got a 30 min standing ovation.
I also think Lincoln will King Speech its way to a win. Nothing so far but it needs just one or two to be unstoppable. Besides, it’s the safest choice. All the others are missing major nominations here and there. There will be backlash for every winner except Amour. Allez Amour!
I find The Master less interesting and well done than Argo. Actually I think that The Master didn’t deserve a BP nom.
Django Unchained just happy to be there? Boo madam… Boo…. Lincoln will win though despite the the Clinton “endorsement”.
Rumor is Academy members secretly despise LINCOLN, and I mean the real Abraham Lincoln. Go figure how that affects Spielberg’s chances.
Stick with the original plan…Argo
So how many guilds has Argo won? Let’s tally!
Bruce Foriestri. I need to start singling this guy’s posts out to read more often. Even more comedic than those of PaulH. I hope everyone writes in “Tim Hooper” so I could find out who the fuck Tim Hooper is.
Two indicators point to “Lincoln”:
1. Very strong showing in nominations, snagging them where “Argo”, “ZDT,” and “Les Mis” (more seemingly director-heavy movies) missed out.
2. Box Office juggernaut
One strong indicator would point against it in relation to “Argo,” “ZDT,” “Les Mis,” and “Amour”:
-It has not won a major Best Picture award yet.
But that last point will only be significant after the DGA, PGA, and SAG. “Lincoln” would seem to be in a very strong position for at least 2/3 (especially SAG and PGA in my opinion). If it indeed wins 2/3 of those, it will be much clearer who to predict Oscar night.
I put down ZDT simply because it’s the best film of the year and I, ever the optimist, think that Hollywood will come to its senses.
‘Tim Hooper’ is a very distant relative of that other unsung director ‘Michelle Havana-Another-Oscar-Vicious’.
I think Lincoln my 5th choice will win. Beast is my favorite film of the year but I still think my 2nd choice zero dark thirty could still win.
“The King’s Speech, The Artist,Lincoln”
Cross the last one out. That doesn’t look right.
ARGO is going to win. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t really understand the oscars
Very hard to pick against Lincoln considering all the history and all the statistics that are in its favor. But Lincoln is more a film to admire than it is to love, and if the Academy is all about tugging the heartstrings, then Silver Linings Playbook is the clearest example of playing into that kind of Oscar perspective.
However, given what happened with the BFCA and the Golden Globes, I wonder if the desire to make it up to Affleck will become the motivating factor behind the majority of voters’ decisions, hence leading to an Argo win. I myself am not ready to go that far until I see what the guilds decide. Until then, I’m sticking with Lincoln for the win.
I think if anything, Clinton helped Lincoln. It’s already a heavy movie, but I think Clinton’s words confirmed the gravity and importance of the film. The whole thing about it hurting Lincoln is just typical dirty Oscar pool.
Lincoln- A movie everyone respects but no one loves (save this website). Went in to the Critics choice w/ record 13 noms, won 2. GG w/ 7 noms, won 1. In both instances, won as much as Life of Pi. Comes to Oscar night w/ the most noms….same fate? (The BAFTAless director nom should be indicative of the broad but shallow support for this film)
Life of Pi- the pussycat that’s clawed its way to a $450M gross worldwide (most of any of the best pic nominees) and counting. What the publicists need are cute Richard Parker LOLcats ‘for your consideration’ ads. They gave it to a (essentially) a dog last year, this year is the year of the cat.
Argo- What’s the largest voting block in the Academy again? Watch them flex their muscle come Oscar night. (Lots of BAFTA love indicative of the broad support for the film).
Amour- Will win all (maybe) of their noms except for picture.
ZeroDarkThirty- Feinstein and the other senators (all of who did not stand idly by and allowed US operatives to use enhanced interrogation…and have successfully shuttered guantanamo) has made this a winner…in the box office.
Mattoc, it may not look right – but right now, it seems to me that is where they are heading. No Country and The Hurt Locker were anomalies, rather than a new Academy looming. Sentiment and the traditional are still front and centre of AMPAS’s choices with some convenient blindspotting in regards to performances in Shame, Julia, Take Shelter etc, and in final tallies on recent best picture and leading performances (Jeff Bridges, Colin Firth, Jean Dujardin, Sandra, Meryl – notwithstanding Natalie Portman’s tour de force)
Seems like people are falling into same precursor trap again. Both awards that were handed out finished voting before Oscar noms. They don’t reflect current buzz. Only way I will take Argo seriously is if it makes impact at PGA and SAG. Till then it is a pipe dream.
I’m one of those rooting for Argo, and it’s amusing to read people who state “Argo i okay, but ZD30 is a Masterpiece, and Masterpieces don’t win” as if there is an objective way of judging these things. It’s also my opinion that the term Masterpiece is thrown around yearly as if it was candy. Having seen hundreds of films in the past years, there are very few that can be called Masterpieces.
1) The Lives Of Others
2) A Separation
3) The Diving Bell and The Butterfly
4) There Will Be Blood
5) Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring
6) Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
7) A Prophet
8) District 9
And very few others, no more than perhaps 15 pictures in my opinion. Zero Dark Thirty is no more a Masterpiece than Lincoln or Argo. They are all well done for different reasons.
A discussion that has been going on in this country I live in is that too many reviewers in publications give glowing reviews of ordinary films. So much so that a lot of people are suspicious when a film gets high marks. Praise has become diluted. It’s the same problem with people who support one movie over another. In an effort to one-up all others the term ” Masterpiece” is thrown around.
Masterpieces don’t grow on trees, even though we would like to think so. That said, Argo is a “MASTERPIECE” yo.
I hope everyone writes in “Tim Hooper” so I could find out who the fuck Tim Hooper is.
Tim Hooper is Jodie Foster’s husband. Unless you meant the other one who makes shitty movies.
To my recollection, there were only a handful of films that people lost their shit over. SLP, lesser Argo and to an extreme lesser extent Les Mis. But they still did.
I would go with the middle one, but they obviously really really like SLP.
Lincoln has got the same level of support from the nominees list, but I don’t think it will have the same ” I don’t care if it’s garbage, I fucking loved it” support that SLP may have.
Will these use their heads or their hearts? The nominee list shows they are using some sort of intelligence…but maybe that only appears once a year – at nomination time.
A tasty little article that discusses the real identities of some of the major players in Zero Dark Thirty.
Cometh the hour, Lincoln will be too “important” and ‘prestigeous” not to give it Best Film.
Even if it is Argo, that’s perfectly fine. If it pulls a Driving Miss Daisy, at least it will be a better film (not that DMD isn’t good, its just not BP-good). Lincoln the. ZDT/Argo tied for 2nd for me. If anything other than these 3 wins, I’ll be pretty angry at Oscar (but that’s an annual occurrence anyway).
“Rumor is Academy members secretly despise LINCOLN, and I mean the real Abraham Lincoln. Go figure how that affects Spielberg’s chances”
I’m not how they felt about Ed Gein either (anyone have the numbers?) but that film cleaned house.
DRIVING MISS DAISY > ARGO
Who’s with me?
I’m with you bryce!!! It doesn’t even compare. I love driving miss daisy and it deservedly swepy (except for freeman) in 1988.
It’ a great story of friendship amd growing old.
Sorry i meant “swept” and 1989.
1st-round voting system (picking nominees for all categories):
Critics Choice – ranked
Golden Globes – ranked
Oscars – ranked
2nd-round voting system (picking winners for Best Picture):
Critics Choice – not ranked
Golden Globes – not ranked
Oscars – ranked
The 1st-round outcomes of the Critics Choice, GGs and Oscars are more reflective of who will win the Best Picture Oscar than the 2nd-round outcomes of the Critics Choice and GGs. That’s because of the ranked voting system, which favors movies with broad support. That’s why in 14 of the 15 years that the Oscars used ranked 2nd-round voting, the Best Picture winner ended up being among the nomination leaders.
Lincoln received the most nominations from all of these. So thus far, ranked voting heavily favors Lincoln.
Statistically speaking, the films that win best picture are the films I don’t want to win best picture.
Why mention the box office numbers of Lincoln, but not the ones of by far the biggest box office hit of that list, Life of Pi?
Argo is good, but if it wins it’ll be considered undeserving like Chicago, Crash and The Artist in a few years.
Please not Silver Linings!!!!! Not good enough.
Life of Pi is great and worthy of it.
Les Mis is not as bad as a lot of people say.
The rest are good.
But Lincoln is the best of them all! It will stand the test of time and is made by the greatest living director and ditto actor!
“the greatest living director” would have never ever made things like The Terminal. I love a lot of Spielberg’s movies including Lincoln but he has made a few shitty shitty movies too.
While Lincoln’s box office is healthy, it’s really not that impressive. Life of Pi is much more impressive. 150 Million is great, but tons of movies make that much. And I just don’t think it plays into Lincoln’s chances at winning the big prize. It’s a Spielberg movie about the most popular president of all time. Did anyone really think it wouldn’t be successful?
Shiiit now I know what the 8 masterpieces are thanks yo!
Not sure if those thoughts after the film’s title in the opening poll are Sasha’s, about what she thinks are the reasons behind winning or not winning, but it feels weird having to agree with them if you want to put your 2c. in.
I picked Lincoln because it’s the most Academy friendly film of the whole lot, has the weight of all importance on its shoulders and if people forgot that, Bill Clinton was there to remind them last night. Mixing politics and movies like that really left a bad taste in my mouth and it just felt wrong, kinda desperate from Spielberg’s/studio’s part. Just my opinion, hope it’s cool to say it even though I know that Sasha thinks the whole Clinton thing was the best thing that happened last night, at an entertainment awards show.
That said, Lincoln isn’t winning because of its tremendous box office success (Life of Pi or Les Miz would be considered the major competition if that was the case) but because it’s beginning to feel like a vote for anything other than Lincoln is a vote against America and don’t you love your country?
If it was just about cinematic/artistic merit, the choice would be a tough one between Amour, Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi, easily the greatest cinematic experiences from the whole bunch and all three deserving of a three-way tie for Best Picture. Amour leaves you a bit cold, isn’t the kind of film that wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it’s more like the kind of film that wins Palme D’Ors at Cannes and that distinction between the two awards bodies should remain. So I’d respectfully put Amour aside and give Haneke the directing Oscar and Riva the acting Oscar as a salute to their beautiful film.
Then comes Zero Dark vs. Life of Pi. Zero Dark is just as important for Americans to know about and understand as Lincoln is, but the COMPLETELY ASININE torture issue has hurt its chances with the narrow-minded voters drastically and, like Amour, is a bit too dark and detached for the Academy Awards (No Country for Old Men and Hurt Locker were definitely an anomaly, but it seems they went back to their old ways after that…) which leaves them with Life of Pi. A film that has it all and in 3D too. Would be a strange kind of consolation prize for Avatar, a wonderful way to salute Ang Lee after messing up Brokeback Mountain, a film that is for everyone, a universal story not specifically designed for Americans, and far and away the most cinematic of the whole lot.
So my heart says Life of Pi would be most deserving, even though I actually like Zero Dark and Amour more (but that’s cause I’m into darker shit) but the brain, which calculates in all of the politics that permeate Oscar season like a viral infestation, says Lincoln (not because of box office, again I have to stress this because of the strange addendums to the titles in the poll)
As for dear Argo, I fear that all of this much deserved love it’s getting is just a sign that the film is loved and appreciated a bit more than the bigger guys in the room, considering who it came from. Come Academy Award time, a vote for Argo would be a vote against America as Bill Clinton’s appearance implied yesterday.
“Statistically speaking, the films that win best picture are the films I don’t want to win best picture.”
I think I’ll have that stitched on a pillow, Mattoc.
Given the stature of the subject (a la Gandhi) and the performances, Lincoln is the obvious smart guess right now, but Affleck being left off the BD list was a shock – his appearences (and wins) at the Globes and the Critics Awards has gained him tremendous sympathy and respect. If the rumor is true that Argo is going to be re-released, I think the crowdpleaser could overtake Lincoln with the voters, if only because they’ll think that Lincoln is so far ahead that their little vote for Argo (and Affleck) won’t hurt. Talk about karma.
Nik G – I like your comments about Zero Dark Thirty, Amour and Life of Pi. They are easily the best of the bunch.
And I agree that unwarranted controversy and fear of old age will prevent the first two from serious consideration, which is too bad. One consolation is that one of these two hopefully will pick up Best Actress for Riva or Chastain.
That leaves Life of Pi. Someday, people will realize that this was the most challenging and artistic work done by any director this year. Lee had no rule book or formula to translate this story into film. From the visuals, sound, music and FX to the emotional subtext and carefully subtle balancing of ideas, the damn thing positively shimmers.
The only thing that could have been more challenging for Lee would have been if he had received a message that said, “Ang, bad news – FX can’t get the tiger right. You’ll have to use the real one, sorry. Oh, and keep this under wraps – insurance and all.” Bet he’d win the Oscar then.
Thanks steve! Not surprised that we see eye to eye on what’s the best
“Ang, bad news – FX can’t get the tiger right. You’ll have to use the real one, sorry. Oh, and keep this under wraps – insurance and all.”
There’s an SNL skit in there somewhere. Haha, brilliant!
I’m almost certain Weinstein has played far dirtier pool than getting Clinton to introduce his movie. It’s just all behind closed doors. Unless everyone really believes Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient, The Artist & The King’s Speech were the greatest films of their years. For Christ sakes, Harvey is practically considered a saint by the French government. At least half the Oscar season is in the campaigning. To that end, it was a brilliant campaign move to secure Clinton and keep it a surprise. And I’m sure competing campaigners are quite bitter that their films were not fit to ask for such endorsement. To me, if this is what it takes for someone to keep The Oscars from becoming an annual showcase of Weinstein movies that win everything, then its worth it.
I clicked Lincoln (and I saw 400-60-something other majority votes — 42% — as a result). But for now I wouldn’t be surprised if BP goes to Argo or Life of Pi, or even SLP, in the end.
“Lincoln” will probably win the OSCAR or at least has the best chance to win best pic. The OSCAR members ego and pride will not allow them to admit they made a mistake in omitting Affleck and Bigelow as directors and then look stupid by turning around and choosing”Argo” or “Zero Dark Thirty’ as best picture to make it up to them because if they did choose these two as best pic that is what they would be shouting out loud and that is not going to happen. That leaves “Life of Pi” and “Silver Lining Playbook” as challenger to “Lincoln. Now we have five weeks of banter to discuss all the possiblities.
Zero Dark thirty because I will go down with this ship!!
IMO five film still have chance to win: “Lincoln”, “Argo”, “Les Miserables”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Life of Pi”. All others (including “Zero Dark Thirty”) should be happy to be there, I suppose.
But if other awards are any signs of who will win – then we should narrow these field to only three pictures: “Lincoln”, “Argo” and “Life of Pi”. This are the only movies that are nominated for ALLMOST all important awards except ONE: “Life of Pi” isn’t nominated for SAG (though it shouldn’t be suprising, considering that this movie is allmost entirely about one actor and the tiger – so they could not nominate Lee’s movie for “best cast”, I suppose – the probelm is that so far only one movie has won without SAG nomination: “Braveheart”), “Lincoln” isn’t nominated for BAFTA award for best director (and in in the last 20 years only one movie has won Academy Award for best picture without being nominated for direction at the BAFTAs: Clint Eastwood for “Million Dollar Baby” which also wasn’t nominated for best picture – because of the late premiere of the movie in Great Britain, I suppose) and ARGO isn’t nominated for best director at the Academy Awards (and only one movie in the last 80 years won without it: “Driving Miss Daisy”).
“Silver Linings Playbook” isn’t nominated for DGA – and there was never a movie that won without being nominated for this award, except “Driving Miss Daisy”, obviously, AND for BAFTAs for best director and best film (and in the last 15 years [so more or less – since BAFTAs are rewarded BEFORE Academy Awards] only “Million Dollar Baby” won without being nominated for best film at the BAFTAs (and this is because its late premiere). “Les Miserables” isn’t nominated for best director at the Academy Awards and for best director at the BAFTAs. Both movies weren’t also nominated for best director at the Globes and in the last 20 years only “Crash” won whithout being nominated there. So I would say that there are more obstacles for “Les Miserables” and “SLP” than “Lincoln”, “Argo” and “Life of Pi”.
The amazing thing is that $152mil (so far) only makes LINCOLN Spielberg’s 12th highest grossing film. Crazy. He certainly has made a lot of moolah.
I’ll feel better about “Argo” winning Best Picture, if it does well at the Guilds and BAFTAs, but at the moment, you have to narrow down the list to Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi. All three were nominated for picture, director, writer, and editor, and last time I checked, “Titanic” (1997), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Ordinary People” (1980), “Annie Hall” (1977), and “Sound of Music” (1965) were the only films to win BP, but not get nominated in the directing, writing, and editing categories.
Another fact you have to look at, is the fact that Best Picture winner gets coupled with other major awards, like director, writing, best lead performance, and best editing. “Gladiator” for example failed to win Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, but it won for Best Actor. “Chicago” won Best Picture without winning in the directing and writing categories, but it won in the editing categories. For Argo to win, it will need to win Best Screenplay and/or Best Editing in order to have a shot at winning Best Picture.
So anyway, at the moment here are the front-runners in my order:
1. Lincoln – most nods, nominated for all the major non-acting awards
2. SLP and Life Of Pi – reasons discussed above.
4. Argo – Won the Globe and Critics Choice award, and has the potential to win Best Screenplay and Best Editor.
4. ZD30 – Has the potential to win Best Actress, Screenplay, and Editing.
6. Beasts and Amour – Nominated for director and screenplay.
A vote against Lincoln would be a vote against America – I couldn’t agree more. Plus: Spielberg, Daniel, Tommy Lee, Sally. When the voting comences, I feel Academy members will gravitate towards this film in most “main” categories. Patriotism and safety in choice is what made me pick Lincoln in this poll.
That being said, can’t stress out the brilliance of Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty. For me, no other movie, not even Argo, come close this year. If I had to pick the number one, as a voter, I would pick Life of Pi. But in prediction territory, I feel it has almost no chances of getting there – unless it takes the script category by surprise and wins it (it is a wonderous adaptation).
“A vote against Lincoln would be a vote against America – I couldn’t agree ”
If a film can win this year without a Best Director nomination, it should be Zero Dark Thirty. That, along with Amour, was the best this year. (not counting Moonrise Kingdom since it’s not nominated)
But I think Lincoln win Best Picture and Haneke will win Best Director.
““A vote against Lincoln would be a vote against America”
I couldn’t agree less. It’s so much easier patting oneself on the back for something that happened in a previous century than it is to recognize the bravery of a project that confronts a contemporary issue that needs to be exposed and talked about. The true patriotic move would be to honor Zero Dark Thirty, if that’s the way you want to vote.
Speaking of slavery, anybody else been watching series, The Abolitionists, on PBS? Fascinating stuff.
Argo is the best film of 2012… My vote goes to Argo! ^^v
Lincoln is a very “American” movie. So it has a very good advantage over the competition. But the Academy changed its mind over the last few years. They do not like the idea to award a “Blockbuster” or a main stream movie any more. They want to do this more cinematically. That is why Benh Zeitlin got the BD nomination and Affleck did not. This is an important move and could well be an advantage for films like Amour.
No, Steve, I haven’t even heard of it, hopefully it will stream on Netflix soon like most of PBS’s stuff.
The true patriotic move would be to honor Zero Dark Thirty, if that’s the way you want to vote.
Tell that to everyone who creamed their pants when they saw Bill Clinton talk about Lincoln and how super important of a movie it is because without Abe, none of us would be here tonight…also, a lot of voters will think that a vote for Zero Dark Thirty is a vote for torture, hahaha.
Bill Clinton was a political chess-move by whoever made it (don’t want to point fingers at Spielberg, but that wouldn’t surprise me).
It’s officially getting dirty now.
You know when you look at this list of films being considered you really have to step back and think they really did have a damn good year in Film. Then consider some of the films that audiences loved and most of us liked that didn’t even make the group like Looper or Perks of Being a Wallflower. Then there were the audience films like The Hobbit and Skyfall. It’s really a bounty of good cinema. I’d switch only one film in that list and even that’s arguable because it reflects my own personal opinion and taste.
The heading of this thread was ‘what film do you think will win’ so that kind of limits me because I know what I want to win but that isn’t the topic, and if anything has been proven this year it’s that this is one of the most unpredictable years for awards in film. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if Argo, Silver, or Pi won Best Picture. I think Zero has baggage. It’s difficult to argue the production values of a film genre you really can’t wrap your mind around completely. A scenario where Marie Antoinette is dragged through the streets of Paris in a donkey driven cart singing lyrics about a date with a guillotine I just can’t wrap my mind around. However that doesn’t mean that I can’t see something like Moulin Rouge or Chicago and love it. Go figure. I don’t see Les Miserables winning in this category. They got their Golden Globe so they can state that Les Miserables won a Best Picture award in their advertising. But hey if the votes go all over the place they might even be able to advertise they got an Oscar for Best Picture. That just makes me shudder and I was behind Tom Hooper all the way for The Kings Speech.
So I guess I just shrug and pick one.
On a side note, went to see ZDT a second time last night. The theater was mostly filled with 20-something muscley guys with a few stray girlfriends. I’m guessing the families all went to the earlier show.
Anyway, everything I thought about the first viewing was more or less confirmed. Caught some details a little better about the investigative trail and got a little better with understandng the lingo they use along the way.
A quick note about the controversy. I can see how people think this endorses torture. I get it if that’s the conclusion you want to draw. I think it’s a weak and sloppy conclusion that’s not based on what’s presented. It assumes, falsely, that just because torture was used that it was effective. There’s no evidence of that. Not once in the film did someone say “Golly, glad we waterboarded that muppet, or we’d never gotten that piece of info.”
The film merely acknowledges that these techniques were used. It doesn’t mean they were effective, it means they were used. But if you want to conclude that they were effective, go ahead.
One thing the film does is expecting the audience to be intelligent. Very little is dumbed down. Yeah, there are the lines like “Once you get on the list, you’re always on the list, you know that” but such lines are rare and they fit contextually rather than come off as exposition. I think that’s one of the great aspects of the screenplay. It’s not hard to follow, but it’s smart.
And I think that’s where the confusion comes in. Because the film allows one to draw conclusions, it doesn’t tell you how to think, people do make conclusions. It’s frustrating for me, as a person trained on the scientific method, who has studied cause and effect, to see people make intellectual shortcuts simply because it’s possible to do so. Smart people have made unscientific conclusions.
And it’s a shame, because at the core of the film is one of the most exciting character arcs I’ve ever seen in a film. Maya is an extraordinarily complex character for a movie that’s not really thought to be a character piece. I think she gets so caught up in what she’s doing, it’s everyday life for her, she loses the bigger picture along the way. No she never underestimates the importance of bin Laden, she just never internalizes the enormity of what she’s accomplishing. And what she’s done. And how it effects her. The final sequences with her are stunning and it’s a smart decision that we see no reactions outside of what’s going on inside that tent.
It’s a strange feeling those last five or ten minutes of the film, as we process what we’ve seen and what we experienced and how we felt. We went on the same journey as Maya. From sadness at the events of 9/11, to anger at the people who committed that act, to disappointment in our leaders for losing sight of bin Laden, and then finally triumph at hearing bin Laden was dead. But then when Maya (and we) go into the tent and see the dead man, there is nothing but an overwhelming feeling at the enormity of what she just experienced and what we just witnessed. It’s definitely some of the most complex emotions (or combination of emotions) I can recall at the end of a film. It’s an intensely personal experience.
There are only a handful of films that have given me that feeling (Half Nelson, Magnolia) the need to reevaluate not only myself but the world around me.
There’s a great scene near the end that’s perfectly rendered, so smartly written, so smartly directed. When Dan is giving his percentage chance that bin Laden is in the compound, he struggles to say “a soft 60%.” He’s clearly distraught (but still professional) that he’s betraying Maya, a person he likely considers a friend. But Maya battles through, unaffected, focused on the task at hand. She doesn’t see it as betrayal of a friendship. Perhaps she doesn’t see him as a friend. It’s a horribly tragic moment.
Steve50 is right. Lincoln is cheap and easy. Slavery is morally simple. Freeing the slaves is morally simple. Hooray for Lincoln. Yeah, I get that, at the time, many thought slavery was acceptable, but for Lincoln it was simple. Glad he did what he did, but it would have been done sooner or later anyway. ANd if the South had won the civil war, well, yes, history would be different and so on. But it’s so far removed from what we’re experiencing here and now. We’ve had 150 years to process and Lincoln says nothing new or interesting. Yeah, it’s a nice version of events, extremely well-made. But it’s not important. It breaks no new ground, it doesn’t force us to think in any deep or meaningful way. It’s inspirational, it’s interesting, but it’s not profound. It’s intelligent, but it’s not intellectual. It doesn’t cause you to re-evaluate anything. You went in thinking Lincoln was great and slavery was bad. You leave thinking Lincoln was great and slavery was bad. Whoop de do.
Zero Dark Thirty asks big questions. What is our role in the world? What are our responsibilities? Who are our friends and who are our enemies? Are the problems we face our own creation? Can we get out of this mess? Who are the villains and who are the heroes? Is revenge worth the costs? What are the personal costs to the people we ask to protect us? And is it fair to ask them?
And it does so through the experience of one person, a person we don’t know. A person that is us.
rufus – link to the LATimes review:
It’s very moving in unexpected ways and makes a strong connection (at least in the first episode) between the abolishionist movement and women’s rights. The idea that women were speaking out in public on the subject was abhorrent to most. These were incredibly brave people that had zero political agenda (most of them).
Well, rufus, I wouldn’t say the film is “cheap and easy” because I didn’t dislike it, but selecting it for BP based on patriotic reasoning is cheap and easy. ZDT is the braver choice – even the more necessary choice, if that’s how you want to vote.
I don’t judge movies on WHAT they say, but HOW they say it.
One of the many long books I’m slogging through is Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States of America and he discusses women’s roles in the abolitionist movement. Because it’s a survey book, it doesn’t spend too much time on the subject, but I knew I wanted to go back and look at that subject more intensely. Thanks for the heads up.
Yeah, steve, you didn’t say that. I should have worded it more clearly, but my sentiment was meant to match yours. I apologize for my poorly worded choice and hope it doesn’t give anyone the wrong impression. Maybe I should have said “Loving Lincoln is cheap and easy.” Or “Voting for Lincoln is cheap and easy” or “Being Passionate about Lincoln is cheap and easy”
“All three were nominated for picture, director, writer, and editor, and last time I checked, “Titanic” (1997), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Ordinary People” (1980), “Annie Hall” (1977), and “Sound of Music” (1965) were the only films to win BP, but not get nominated in the directing, writing, and editing categories”
Huh? Titanic won the editing and directing Oscar. Driving Daisy was nominated for editing and won screenplay. Ordinary Peeps won director and screenplay. Annie H won director and screenplay. Sound of Music won directing.
Anthony, I’m pretty sure that Greg meant to say without getting nominations in all three categories of writing, editing and directing.
Oops. I think you’re right Rufus. I haven’t had my coffee yet and I’m feeling testy.
You mean those are the only films in the past 50 years to win without director, screenplay, acting and/or editing. Plenty of films won without some/all of those nominations prior.
Cinematography belongs in that group as a “most important” category.
Rufus – wrong again.
I’ll explain why within the hour.
However steve50 is pretty much right.
rufus, your Zero Dark Thirty thoughts mirror my own perfectly. Nice.
Like I said in my own review (blatant blog plug! http://www.grapevinepics.com/zero-dark-thirty ) I can’t blame the politicians too much for not realizing the nuances in the film and walking away thinking that torture was the key to getting Bin Laden, when it’s pretty clear that the film doesn’t portray that. I can’t blame them because I don’t think they go to the movies that much since they have a lot of work on their hands.
But people who watch movies a lot and make the same conclusions? THAT confuses me.
I still want to go back to that thread we were discussing the other day. Now that I have more time, I want to read it fully.
“But people who watch movies a lot and make the same conclusions? THAT confuses me.”
Yes to this, Nik G. I’m bowled over that some people who’s opinion I respect very much are in that camp. Did I miss something; did they? If it’s me, it’s a pretty big miss if it has this many people riled up. I don’t get it.
It’s not you Steve. I think people want to overanalyze this issue. Could the film have done a better job of the issue. Yes, but it would have been far too long. That’s another movie that would be worth seeing, but it’s not this movie.
Yes, torture was used. Was it instrumental in getting bin Laden? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not what this movie is about, and I think the movie suggests it did play a part. But what it doesn’t say is if it was necessary or if it could have been done differently.
When enough people “in the know” both confirm and deny what happened, then I think Bigelow and Boal got the right balance.
Agree – Bigelow and Boal had no other option than to present things the way they did, I don’t think. Damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. Their goal was never to make it “easy”, and they didn’t.
To me, they didn’t make the leap stating there was a substantial connection, but a lot of people with either guilty consciences and/or a higher self-image of their own morality did. We will never know the truth for decades, if ever, but whatever the verdict, Zero Dark Thirty sits in a pretty safe place, that of observer of the whole canvas of events and not that of the judge who tries to connect all the dots and assign all the blame prematurely.
I based my conclusions regarding the issue of torture not just on Zero but on Mark Boal’s first film In the Valley of Elah as well. You don’t depict certain behavior and have your characters embody types that would not only amuse themselves with that type of behavior and make it clear that the core of these individuals is rather warped yet no one seems to mind or even pass judgement on the behavior. And sadly to me the Jessica Chastain character is so similar to the Charlize Theron character in Elah that I’m surprised no one has noted that or even commented on it. And if you take that one step further the Chastain, Theron characters have a distinct similarity to the Renner character in The Hurt Locker.
Russ do you really think that black members of the audience for Lincoln didn’t go home and compare what they still believe to be racist attitudes to what some of them might be experiencing in this generation? When Gloria Ruebens first skirts the issue of being beaten in Lincoln when asked and then decides to address the question do you really believe that black Americans may not have taken a step back and assessed how they believe they might be being treated in our current society? I suggest you visit some cities like Newark and Camden in New Jersey before you make such a blanket statement that you doubt anyone walked out of Lincoln and took account of their lives after once again seeing how the political process works in this country. The political process itself in this country in such disarray certainly would come to mind after all the wheeling and dealing we saw in Lincoln the year may be different but the behavior in Washington hasn’t changed. We’re watching the same wheeling and dealing going on right now over the debt ceiling and assault weapons. I don’t understand how you can’t see the correalation to some of what Lincoln reveals and what we’re seeing currently today. Maybe I misunderstood your comment but I certainly got more than it’s a nice period piece that’s intelligent but not intellectual.
This is so weird, I keep trying to post my reply, but it won’t put it up. If I were more paranoid I’d predict someone was hitting the Jodie Foster button on my speech. I may try to do it in pieces now.
Is it because I link to another awardsdaily post (Bigelow on Letterman)? Okay, removing that link now…
Let’s see if this works…
I stand by everything I wrote there. And IMHO, I address all your points, and I don’t see you addressing mine (as steve50 did). Now, let me sum up and also address the new points you’ve made here.
I also love the film. I would vote for Chastain for Best Actress right now if I had a vote. I just have a slight issue with it – and since I’m the only one here talking about it, I have to draw it out a little.
I like your description of Maya’s journey…very similar to Popeye Doyle’s journey in The French Connection. He thought he knew what he was doing (and so did we)…then only at the very end does he realize oh fuck, what the fuck have I done? Brilliant. And he dropped a few bodies along the way. If The French Connection were a true story, you’d have a great precedent. But it isn’t.
You mention here your scientific background. Isn’t science built on precedent? Then why can’t you cite a precedent for Zero Dark Thirty? (In the way that you always cite “Hunger” as a precedent?) Did ZDT re-invent the wheel, like Citizen Kane? It’s pretty weak tea to say that “the film doesn’t tell you how to think.” That could be said of 100 cinema verite films from Jean Rouch and Chris Marker to Paul Greengrass. Lots of films “just lay out the facts.” Here’s (zero-dark) thirty of them right here:
But here’s what none of those films do. They don’t leave you with the strong impression that something morally reprehensible – on the level of rape, murder, child abuse, torture – led to a felicitous conclusion by the film’s end. I totally get what you’re saying about strict causality. But I think you’re willfully misreading the very carefully orchestrated impression cast by the film.
Ah it worked! Okay here’s the second half
Rufus you write:
Not once in the film did someone say “Golly, glad we waterboarded that muppet, or we’d never gotten that piece of info.”
That’s not true. When Maya tells Panetta that she’s the motherfucker that found him (loved that scene), Panetta is skeptical that the black-site interrogations produced info useful to finding UBL. Maya upbraids him, basically. We also saw, in the snack scene, the guy give up info after being tortured for a while. You seem to think that thus the film isn’t saying torture got the info. Really? What scientific method is this? Because to me, this is more like the science of planting seeds, deluging with water, and then adding sunlight, and then the seed grows. Are you saying the movie only shows the seed growing after sunlight, and thus for all we know the sunlight would have been sufficient, and perhaps we didn’t need the water. Come on, rufus. Or give me a better analogy. You know, like you’ve done with Hunger 100 times.
When we talk about film causality, I agree there’s a slight gray area. As I said to Mattoc, just because Dirty Harry kills someone with a 44 Magnum in a film doesn’t mean he had to use that weapon to kill him. A knife might have worked. But you say “if you want to think that was effective, go ahead.” If I’m to believe you, if you met someone who said “I got this 44 because of Dirty Harry, woo hoo” you’d tell him “Bro, you’re an idiot. That film didn’t prove that you need a Magnum to kill someone. He could have just put arsenic in his brownie.” I mean, really? You’re that naive?
Billy Wilder had that quote from Ernst Lubitsch over his door – don’t tell them four, tell them 2 and 2, and they’ll make 4. Right. ZDT does that. But look at these 2 and 2s. No one forced Bigelow to have that scene where Dan laments “You don’t want to be the last one holding the dog collar” when the rules change. No one forced Bigelow to have Obama’s only moment be an announcement of rule changes on torture – and then have our good guys look at each other like WTF? Peter Bergen’s Manhunt book provides far more equivocating details. As one example, if he’s to be believed, apparently there were supervisors at all these tortures saying what you can and cannot do. Did we see them? No. These details – and lack of details – create the very strong impression that our good guys use torture, need torture, and that torture works.
Now, look, if it had really ended like The French Connection, or like Kids, even though those are not true stories, then I could give you that it’s the film you want it to be. But it didn’t. I see what you’re saying about the last 10 minutes. Yes, I do think Maya *might* be feeling a bit of recrimination and regret, especially compared to the high-fiving she sees in front of her. But the film hardly makes that clear – it could just be that she doesn’t know what she wants to do next. (10 more years going after Mugabe, maybe?) For you that ambiguity is a strength. I don’t think you would see it as a strength if the film had, up til that point, shown in the same way acts that you truly, truly find absolutely wrong in all cases – say, child rape or baby-flaying or something.
Torture is morally wrong. It’s also as clear a case of state-overreach as there is, so I don’t see this as a partisan issue. It’s as wrong as rape and murder. You don’t get to be 100% cinema verite on this one. No other filmmaker ever was, because they realized you can’t go Harmony Korine on this – darkness, darkness, darkness, just portraying the culture here – with a true story. It is at least a little irresponsible to make a document that gives Dick Cheney everything he needs to refute everyone whoever doubted him.
With all this, I still think it’s a great film – I love cinema verite, and this is better than many. It just needed a tweak or two so that it couldn’t be easily understood as a torture apology.
My opinion of the race at this point… for the win.
1. Lincoln. Hard to avoid giving it to it. Seems secured 1 acting win, and a 2nd is likely. Spielberg is the frontrunner at BD. Has enough noms to achieve a sweep of 7-10 wins, and the subject matter and reviews are exactly what Oscar normally awards. If they went for Hooper and his TKS only a couple years ago, how can they probably deny it to Spielberg and good ol’ Abe? What is more, when in doubt, remember, the most nominated film is normally the winner.
2. Life of Pi. Yes, you read right. It is the kind of film that never needs an acting nom to win, Lee is L-O-V-E-D by the AMPAS and they still owe him 2, maybe 3 Best Picture wins (1 in Foreign, “The Wedding Banquet” and 2 in overall, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (even if I despise that film) and “Brokeback Mountain”) He’s overdue for a BP win, and the 11 noms of the film underline how much did they love this film.
3. Les Miserables. Since Hooper isn’t nominated, we have to check back in recent history to see that a) Chicago didn’t win Director which went to Polanski, and b) Shakespeare in Love prevented Spielberg to come back to stage for BP on ’98. Les Miserables is guaranteed (almost) an acting win, and some technicals (specially costume and art direction) look pretty safe. There’s also a really better chance of Jackman upsetting 2-time winner Day-Lewis than people is daring to think. And it FEELS like a Best Pic winner before you even watch it (another story is wether you liked it or not, afterwards).
4. Argo. The GG push means a LOT, and it is coming on voting time. But how many people is going to think it DESERVES it over Lincoln? Or even Zero Dark Thirty, which may act like a vote syphoon?
5. Zero Dark Thirty. It has lost a LOT of steam, and Oscar always shies away from controversy. The waterboarding, the torture discussion has derailed its chances, however there’s still a chance for a vindication.
6. Silver Linings Playbook. Despite the strenght on the acting branch, this film stills looks like a lightweight in front of the other contenders. The kind of film that AMPAS has no remorse to let empty-handed or think that Lawrence/De Niro and Screenplay is enough reward. I’d say is 0-3 wins, nothing else. It may very well go emptyhanded with Chastain, Jones or Waltz taking the awards and Screenplay simply going differently than expected.
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild. This is the real dark horse, the real shocker. Hard to believe as it is, I think it actually may surprise and take its awards, but overall, it is still a longshot.
8. Django Unchained. Once QT isn’t nom’d, BP nom is enough and they will continue waiting for QT “sell out” and make something more “BP” friendly. Let’s recall, the closest that QT has made, in spirit, to a BP winner concept, is Jackie Brown. And still…
9. Amour. IF it wasn’t nominated for Foreign Film, and Jean-Louis Trintignant was nom’d, I would have this as the dark horse. But face it, it’s foreing language, and not the kind of winner we know they choose. I doubt it may win anything (even if it is the most likely spoiler at Original Screenplay)
Dudes and Dudesses, it’s about which movie is more ARTISTICALLY good, from an Oscar perspective. And the perspective here is that it MUST be an Oscar movie, i.e. Beasts and Amour have no chance cause too indy/frenchy, and Django is too far behind and probably a bit redundant when you have a movie about the 13th amendment.
Soooo, the 6 contenders and Oscar-legacy movies are the ones that were declared potential BP winners at the time of their premiere during the season. I’ll rank them according to their current standings:
3. Life of Pi
4. Silver Linings Playbokk
5. Zero Dark Thirty
6. Les Miserables
THAT is the definite list, I think it’s pretty reasonable by now to see that Zero Dark Thirty is hated by liberal Hollywood and all the negative votes would put it in the back of the 6 with Les Miserables, a movie with poor direction. Life of Pi is slightly in front of Silver Linings Playbook because of the incredible amount of nominations, duh! Of course, with Harvey behind Silver Linings this could change, but knowing that they have to push a lot, I think Harvey will concentrate on Best Acters and Best Supp. Actor, which can be very easily secured. Also, apparently Silver Linings is not very deep….
The big 2:
Sooooo, the two that will take their fight all the way to the end of February are ONLY Lincoln and Argo. It’s foolish to say that the Globes don’t matter, since they may have their own logic, but the buzz definitely is not invisible, and they create a lot of media attention. So if let’s say Lincoln had 80 points and Argo 50 (and it takes 100 pts to win) now it’s 85 for Lincoln and 70 for Argo! Or something similar. The gap is closing, and only time will tell if Argo can make a surprise jump.
But looking at the Director’s field, with Affleck and Bigelow out (WTF, biggest snub I’ve seen since….) I think it’s starting to look obvious that Spielberg is the best of the bunch, however you look at it! When was the last that an Austrian director won, come on! It feels like full circle for Spielberg, and a career achievement, and they will probably award it to him. I mean, that’s why Affleck is not there, because it was an overwhelming number 1 ballot choice for Spielberg, and Affleck probably got to compete for 5th place with Zetlin. It’s just math. So, if Spielberg is on his way to win director, this means that the majority of voting members will put at the same time Lincoln as BP. This is just inertia, and also part of Oscars’ way of work.
And then, the only question is whether enough of those Spielberg voters can be persuaded by some heartfelt last-minute pitch by Ben Affleck. But at the end, if Argo is the second best, in their mind this would be enough, especially with the Globe win!
Here are my predictions, I’m actually seeing ZDT later on today, so I’ll have to reconfirm:
Will win: Lincoln
Most deserving (of the 6): Zero Dark Thirty
Personal favorite (of the 6): Les Miserables
This is the first time I have really been engaged in the Academy Awards. I couldn’t agree more with Akumax’s comment. What the hell does the Academy award? In recent years, they really have not awarded the best in film. This year, the masterpieces are Life of Pi and Amour. I believe between those two, it is Life of Pi that is best. No, it is not just a treat for the eyes. Sure the cinematography and special effects are great, but Life of Pi actually also has a pretty solid screenplay (not the best this year, but the screenplay is GOOD). I hate how people are disposing it just because it does not have an all-star cast. How sad. Overall, it is the best film this year had to offer. I also think that Ang Lee is the director of the year for executing what many would have considered impossible. Why are people not cheering him on? He is the only director this year to be recognized by the Director’s Guild, the Academy, and BAFTA. THE ONLY DIRECTOR TO ACCOMPLISH THAT THIS YEAR. What the hell is going on? Dear Academy: Life of Pi for Best Picture and Amour for Best Foreign Film.
And I just cried after watching Jodie Foster’s speech….Wow!
So many long comments! I’ve already sat here too long today, but it’s interesting and I’ll try to get to them all.
For Now, Nik haven’t seen Elah so I can’t really comment on your first paragraph.
Nor am I black, so I can’t comment on your next point either except to say, that I wouldn’t want to jump to the conclusion that black people would see those scenes differently, at least until I read some detailed comments from black people, I can’t come to any conclusions.
As for correlations between Lincoln and today, I’ve read many many people discuss this over and over and it’s always lost on me. Lincoln was a master politician, don’t get me wrong. I’m not dismissing his political skills. But let’s be honest, if you think the wheeling and dealing to pass the 13th Amendment was something Lincoln pioneered or hasn’t been duplicated since, you’re kind of ignorant about history, American and otherwise. Wheeling and dealing is how politics is done and I don’t think it sheds any light on what is going on today. I don’t see any correlations.
In fact, I see a lack of correlation. I don’t see any wheeling and dealing, or at least not enough. The reason we are at an impasse is because of the lack of wheeling and dealing. And I think that’s a good thing.
I may be in the minority, but I think the clash of ideologies in today’s politics is a great thing. This past election was moreaen election of ideas than any presidential election in my lifetime. And what’s going on in Congress is a continuing of those ideas.
And Americans might be forced to pick, what role do want government to have in our lives?
I don’t see those questions posed in Lincoln. What I see in Lincoln is that a minority of people wanted to do the right thing, that one had to sell favors so people would do the right thing. Yeah, it’s triumphant that the right thing was done, but the pathway there was disturbingly dirty.
I’d rather have battles be won because they are the right ideas not because the better poltician won. That Lincoln chose the right side of history is a blessing. That he had to resort to the methods he did is a curse.
I still want to go back to that thread, unlikely hood and read it fully, not just jump in at the end. Heck, I never even watched Bigelow’s interview that was in the heading.
I can’t disagree with much of what you said. The main issue I have with your arguement is that you couch the question within the context of film history, a film history I don’t have. Yes, I’ve seen French Connection and Kids, but they were so long ago it’s hard for me to compare.
So it’s hard to refute what you say other than to say I think each film should be based on what goes on in that particular film. I would say that Hunger is a great precedent here, by the way, in that’s mostly a one-sided depiction that’s clearly not entirely sympathetic with that depiction. What I think both films share is the desire for the involved viewer to do some research and to make conclusions based on that research. The main difference between the two films is that Hunger takes the point-of-view of the captives and ZDT the captors. But both sides give enough glimpses of “the other side” to suggest that what’s depicted should be questioned. Nothing should be taken at face value in either film.
And that’s why I don’t think ZDT should be taken to task here. One should go out and do the research and when one does look at both sides, you can look at the events of the film in a different light. With ZDT one quickly learns that it’s a compression of events and that the artistic license taken was merely for simplicity rather than to endorse a particular point of view.
Here is where I will take exception to one conclusion you make from the film, in particular the scene with Obama. Torture did not end with Obama, it ended in 2006 when Bush got wind of what was happening and put an end to it. Until then he pretty much let Dick Cheney run the show up to that point. So Obama making these declarations really didn’t have an effect on what was going on in those interrogation rooms. Things had already changed. And as for Dan making the dog collar quote, that wasn’t for or against torture, he was commenting that if their actions were revealed they would be held accountable, whether from inside the US Government or perhaps outside as in War Crimes prosecution.
Would I prefer the film take a better stand against torture? Of course, but then it would be a different film. Would I prefer the film state outright that the moral thing would have not to kill bin Laden? Absolutely, but then it would be a different film.
I love the film for what it is, a representation of what happened. It’s obviously not a complete version. And anyone who would use this film as an argument either way is a complete idiot, and anyone who would let the film sway them either way is also an idiot. It’s a film. And it does what good films are supposed to do and that’s to force us to think. And it does that in abundance, not just about torture, but about a myriad of things. And I think to focus on the torture aspect is a complete disservice to the filmmakers and to the audience watching it.
You’re a smart guy, don’t get me wrong. I understand what you are saying. But we have different backgrounds and we process what we see differently.
….But it’s not important. It breaks no new ground, it doesn’t force us to think in any deep or meaningful way….
Russ this was the line I was addressing when I responded. You make a very general statement about how audiences view or what they thought when they left Lincoln. You have no scientific information to base that assumption on. You have no scientific criteria.
You don’t know me. You don’t know whether I’m ignorant or just a plain stupid backwater hillbilly. I love how they internet makes people feel that because they interact with an individual by sharing opinions or positions that they think it gives them the right or intelligence to call someone, or rather in your case to imply, that someone who doesn’t agree with them or see the points they make exactly as they think they should see them that they couldn’t possibily have any intellect or even common sense for that matter. Bravo to you Russ for your own self elevation.
I stand by that statement, Nic V.
I understand Bush stopped it – I’m just taking the film at face value.
Sasha said that for her Dad, ZDT will stand as What Happened. I think that’s the problem I’m talking about – for him it’s not “obviously not a complete version.” I agree that it forced us to think and I agree that was highly laudable.
Sasha also quoted some Stanford professor that said that current students going INTO the CIA seem to think that torture is fine because they’ve seen it work on “24.” According to Ali Soufan, that same bias exists within the CIA. My problem is that Bigelow is a very, very smart person – in her New Yorker interview she volunteered the words “Lacanian” and “semiotics” – and thus she would know all about how film always comes to represent more than itself, and about the bad influence of “24”, and I think she could have done a LITTLE more not to perpetuate it.
Maybe it is my perception problem. I haven’t seen it a second time yet. But Sasha said she saw it 6 times and it still basically advocates torture – well, to quote her more accurately, it quotes sources who say torture was effective in this case. This film is a bit of a hand-grenade, and perhaps Bigelow aimed it at a desert, but I don’t think we can be quite sure of the collateral damage.
I fully grant that I might be understating it a bit, but to say outright that the film “advocates” torture is a grand overstatement. And seeing it a 3rd, 4th, 5th and a 6th time won’t change my opinion. We all bring in baggage to a movie.
But then a person might say the film “advocated” the killing of bin Laden. I would disagree with that position as well. One could even say the film “adovcates” the war on terror, but I would disagree with that position as well.
We see what we want to see.
Sasha also quoted some Stanford professor that said that current students going INTO the CIA seem to think that torture is fine because they’ve seen it work on “24.”
Then I would suggest to that Standford professor that he’s doing a shit job of educating his students to believe otherwise. He should stop whining about what TV teaches and start teaching whats right. Stop blaming a TV show that’s been off the air for 10 years. It’s his job to teach students who have paid $40,000/yr for a first-class education to be smarter than people who can only afford $100/month for FOX TV to educate them. If that professor is sending students off into the world with sketchy ethics then he’s failed at his job.
For every person who sees ZDT and lets it confirm what he or she already decided years ago, there’s another person who will resist what the movie is telling them because they decided long ago what they’re seeing isn’t right. And for every pair of people like that there’s a third type of person who maybe never even bothered to think about it before and will now be nudged into thinking it through for himself.
I can’t be worried about people who let a movie be the sole of source of their Morality Lesson. There are millions and millions of people who are not impressionable vulnerable sheep. Millions of people who don’t go into a serious film looking to have their prior ill-formed stubborn beliefs confirmed.
People who can easily let a blunt flat surface-reading of movie verify their lack of ability to think for themselves are so not my problem.
I’m far more interested in seeing how a thought-provoking movie provokes thoughts in the heads of people who can actually think.
The professor was a woman – Amy something. Sasha linked to the article in her facebook – I can’t go back and scroll through that. Anyway she was talking about what she was trying to change.
Ryan you’ve made a great case for showing snuff films. Fair enough. If you “can’t be worried about people who let a movie be the sole of source of their Morality Lesson,” then I guess you don’t agree with those people who criticize Schindler’s List for showing a beautiful goyim saving helpless Jews. You wouldn’t have sympathy for queer activists who spent years criticizing Hitchcock films (like Rope and Strangers on a Train) for giving straight people the impression that gays are villainous deviants. Okay, fair enough. Films can’t perpetuate harmful stereotypes amongst the “not impressionable vulnerable sheep”, got it. I’ll remember you said that.
Django Unchained is the most entertaining, but it is also the first big film to tackle slavery, hence, the first film to tackle slavery. It is controversial, but it is an amazing film.
Lincoln is not a film that the people LOVE, although Daniel Day Lewis has secured his nomination
I missed all this earlier and am on my way out again, but…
Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate, it illustrates. Huge difference. As yet, there is no proof, one way or the other, and I’m certainly not going to believe anybody’s version if they have a stake of some kind in the verdict, be it John McCain or the ACLU.
I agree with rufus in that “we see what we want to see,” and with the anti-nanny state stance that Ryan takes – movies are responsible for entertaining and provoking thought, not educating.
The people raising hell of ZDT have their hearts in the right place (well, many of them do), but they are not doing themselves any favors, other than a bit of self-promotion, and certainly not doing anything about the core issue itself. Do you think that activists actually changed the general public’s mind about gay stereotypes, or native, black, asian or any other minority for that matter? I don’t. I think exposure and education did that. If the dumbest backwater mountain man can now spot a bad stereotype, it isn’t because of a boycott or a protest, but because he was exposed to the truth. People aren’t that dumb unless they think they can gain from it.
unlikelyhood: I wish I had more time to jump into this conversation here, it’s really interesting and since I’m completely hitched on the “ZDT doesn’t advocate torture whatsoever” wagon, I’d definitely have a few cents to share. But, since I don’t have the time, I’m just curious about something:
Do you believe that glorified violence in a fictional film is also the cause of violence in real life?
As I posted in the previous thread, and in my mind the only way I could answer the many excellent points people are making about ZDT – is to create a hypothetical situation.
If Bigelow and Boal released either/or the following statements prior to the films release; The Aim of our film is to…or The Aim of our film is NOT to…
1. Shows that torture works
2. Demonstrate that the torture of detainees led us to Osama
3. Demonstrate that torture is justified and necessary.
To me all six statements would not reflect the film I saw. I would say they failed. I would add that the film is sympathetic to the detainees and to the CIA carrying out the torture. It’s sympathies are demonstrated through subtle casting decisions, mannerisms and dialogue.
Also, projecting forward “A vote against Twelves Years a Slave would be a vote against Humanity”
Also, projecting forward “A vote against Twelves Years a Slave would be a vote against Humanity”
Maybe McQueen can get Kofi Annan to introduce the film at an awards show and then you might be on to something…
It’s not much fun going over this. People coming to this thread just wanted to speculate about Best Picture winners. That’s fine. But rufus went there, and I can’t let his be the only word on the subject.
Nik G: no, not always. There’s a whole industry that has risen up to condemn torture-porn like Saw and Hostel and The Human Centipede. I’m not part of that industry. I don’t want to see those movies, but I don’t think they should be banned or even re-edited. However, if Saw *were* presented as a true story – as something we needed to do, perhaps, to nail Saddam Hussein – yes, I would prefer that the film acknowledged that we went to Dante’s Inferno for this. (Of course I’m not talking about censorship, just my personal taste.) ZDT goes out of its way to suggest the opposite – at least 3x, it suggests that government regulations about torture are inhibitive nuisances.
Well, Mattoc, I hear you, but I respectfully disagree. I think it DOES your 2. Demonstrate that the torture of detainees led us to Osama. So, for you, what was the first hour of the movie about? Just flailing? Just fishing? Was it like, we saw them try a lot of things, and we don’t really know what worked, but somehow we got the courier? That flies in the face of the way we understand movies. Unless we’re talking about Slacker or some other avant-garde experiment, we tend to see the first half of a film as formative experiences that led us to achieving the over-arching goal of Act 2. I know Screenplay 101 doesn’t work for every film – but there’s no reason to think it’s not applicable here.
steve50 I hope you don’t think I’m in this for self-promotion, because if so I suck at that – you guys are the only people reading me. You say Do you think that activists actually changed the general public’s mind about gay stereotypes, or native, black, asian or any other minority for that matter? I don’t. I think exposure and education did that. I agree, but exposure and education is WHAT FILMS DO. Do I think any minds were changed by Tom Hanks becoming the first A-lister to play an openly gay man in Philadelphia? Yeah, I think a couple did, or at least that film nudged people in that direction. Do you know why Jonathan Demme made that film? He was really taken aback by the queer reaction in the media to Silence of the Lambs. I think he’d be the first to tell you that he didn’t really realize that the Jame Gumb role perpetuated queer-deviant stereotypes that went back to Hitchcock (and further). So hey, maybe Bigelow and Boal’s next film will be explicitly anti-torture. (Then again, she didn’t go explicitly anti-rape after the embarrassing rape scene in Strange Days.) I won’t complain.
Yes, people see what they want to see. Yes, ZDT is mostly brilliant at letting you judge for yourself. But that assumes we’re not meant to root for Maya. How could we not? And if we’re rooting for her – torture works, or at least it did here.
I felt the same issue with Straw Dogs (1971; I’ve never seen the remake). SPOILER: she’s raped, and yet we’re still rooting for Dustin Hoffman all the way along, even though all he wants to do is punish her. I don’t quite agree with Pauline Kael that it’s “the first American film to be a fascist work of art,” but I thought it was deeply disturbing and I felt like a terrible person afterward. However, arguably, Peckinpah was trying to show me what a shit I am, and at least he didn’t use a true story. Bigelow isn’t showing us what shits we are; clearly lots of people don’t feel Maya has irretrievably sullied herself. Or maybe that’s clearer than I realize. Maybe I’ll feel differently on the second viewing.
If you “can’t be worried about people who let a movie be the sole of source of their Morality Lesson,” then I guess you don’t agree with those people who criticize Schindler’s List for showing a beautiful goyim saving helpless Jews. You wouldn’t have sympathy for queer activists who spent years criticizing Hitchcock films (like Rope and Strangers on a Train) for giving straight people the impression that gays are villainous deviants.
That’s quite an acrobatic leap to jump from my refusal to let movies be the last word on morality — and from there then indict me for not caring about any dubious suggestion any movie has ever depicted throughout history.
unlikely hood, my friend, are you just deliberately refusing to get my point or did you not even read the rest of my comment?
Do you not understand that I can’t really be arsed to give a shit about whatever message any dimwit wants to take away from ZDT or Rope?
I saw Rope when I was about 14 years old and even as impressionable as I was at that age, Rope failed to convince ME that all gay men are “villainous deviants.” Because I’m smarter than that. Am I the one whose mentally broken and crudely shallow? Or do you think you really ought to be addressing your concern to all the true dimwits who watch movies to formulate their moral beliefs around the dumbest interpretations possible?
Let me caution you, the number of dimwits you will need to track down and convince to see things your way will be close to 100,000,000 in America alone.
So no, I’m not going to waste my life worrying about all the stupid lessons ignorant people learn from Rope or Schindler or ZDT. And I’m not going to apologize for not worrying about those idiots.
I guess we should thank you for clarifying that you think Rope and Schindler’s List are rather despicable movies in your view. That does help give me a baseline for gauging what it takes for you scorn a great film for stirring up feelings that you deem less than perfect as a teaching tool for cinematic ethics.
I have to thank you guys for this discussion, because it has helped me realize something about myself: I’m getting crankier and more conservative in my old age. You know how these idiot talking-heads on Fox News are always like “why the moral equivalency? why not name evil as evil?” Normally I find myself thinking shut-up-you-morons. But I have to admit, when I see an absolutely superlative docudrama portray something depraved, like Zero Dark 30 did, I find myself wishing that evil gets acknowledged for what it is.
Again, I’m not asking for censorship, I’m just expressing my personal feelings why I think a film has a flaw. As we all do here. If I said Godfather 3 was perfect except for Sofia Coppola’s non-performance I don’t think I’d raise as many hackles.
Hey I love Rope, I put it in my Film History class this semester. And I love Schindler’s List. Glad it won BP. Somehow I find I can love a film but still see the points made by some of its critics. I have an original Silence of the Lambs poster up in my man-cave. I’m not gonna take it down, but that doesn’t mean that I think the editors at the Advocate were once wrong to tell Jonathan Demme (in their words): “Feminists 1, Gays 0.”
Anyhoo, Ryan, if you don’t worry about how the plebes read films, well, you’re a better person than I. But hey, you work here. Are any of the “dimwits” you mention in the Academy?
You wouldn’t have sympathy for queer activists who spent years criticizing Hitchcock films (like Rope and Strangers on a Train) for giving straight people the impression that gays are villainous deviants.
Took me a minute to sort that out. Now Hitchcock is responsible for brainwashing straight men into fearing gay men as devious?
That begs the question of why Hitchcock didn’t manage to warn straight men about the dangers of being obsessed with blonde women. Last time I looked, blonde girls still don’t make men turn and run in the other direction. Hitchcock fail.
Might it be that Each Individual Person who sees any individual movie will be able to find a way to make that movie a) confirm his worst fears, and b) endorse his fondest comforts. Maybe meaning is sometimes in the mind of the viewer and not imprinted through movie brainwashing?
‘Weekend’ is a pretty good honest representation of gay men falling in love, right? Would you agree?
I wonder if there are any straight men who would be horrified by what they see in Weekend, and find ways to say it proved all their dumbest notions of gay life? (“look! all they do is fuck like rabid rabbits, screw each other’s so-called boyfriends and then split up after two nights to go search for other men to fuck!”)
Am I supposed to now be worried that Weekend didn’t show two gay men ending up as happy and cuddly as Pat and Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook?
Or how about I just decide not to give a damn about the crudest message some straight guys might take away from a movie about gay couples.
To say a whole generation of straight men learned horrid lessons about gay morality from Rope is as wacky as saying a whole generation of gay men learned horrid lessons about straight morality from Fatal Attraction. (or… wait… maybe I see what you mean now…)
“steve50 I hope you don’t think I’m in this for self-promotion, because if so I suck at that – you guys are the only people reading me. ”
Of course NOT, unlikely hood. Just a debating point – certainly not aimed at one of my favorite debaters, buddy.
Give the film another shot, as I intend to do, keeping the opposing argument in mind. There’s something very unique about it if it capable of causing a rift in opinion among generally like-minded people like us. Rufus has seen it twice now and remains unmoved; perhaps we’ll be the same.
Thanks Steve. You too brother. And, I will.
A vote against 12 Years a Slave will most likely be a vote for an inferior film.
I fully expect 12 Years a Slave to be a bit of a failure Awards Wise. McQueen’s narrative structure will likely be non-traditional. I, for the life of me, can’t figure out how the film will be structured
For those not in the know, the film centers around a black man who was kidnapped and turned into a slave in 1841. In McQueen’s two films he doesn’t really have any scenes thar are contain traditional narrative elements, so how he is going to show the kidnapping is beyond me. It wouldn’t surprise me if he just put it in a caption.
I expect most scenes to be taken from various paragraphs throughout the work. One scene that I think would be perfect for a McQueen film would be showing the drunken slavemaster (Fassbender) ordering his slaves to sing and dance with him in his drunken merriment, all the while whipping them if they don’t dance and sing with enough conviction.
Any way you shake it, it’s going to be a great film. Or at least I can’t imagine in not being a great film. Whether the Academy embraces it is beyond me, but I do expect four performances to have Oscar stamped all over them even if the the overall greatness of the film is not recognized. They are Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Adepero Oduye and Lupita Nyong’o. I am out and out predicting Fassbender for the Oscar win at this point as I suspect he will be phenomenal.
Now I know the final two names don’t jump out at you as they are complete unknowns, and I realize that I overlook such Oscar nominees as Brad Pitt, Alfred Woodard, Q’uvenzhane Wallis and Paul Giamatti and you can’t rule them out, but, well, the other four will likely be meatier roles.
I am out and out predicting Fassbender for the Oscar win at this point as I suspect he will be phenomenal. And you are going to see me over and over promote the two females listed above before the film gets out as I don’t want them to be overlooked simply because they had no buzz about them. Maybe if I repeat their names enough people will take note and think about them as possibilities when the “who to look out for in 2013″ lists that will no doubt appear in March.
“I am out and out predicting Fassbender for the Oscar win at this point as I suspect he will be phenomenal”
I’m going with Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays William Ford.
Waltz beat DiCaprio.
When it comes to a Steve McQueen film and a Michael Fassbender performance, I won’t believe in a Best Actor Oscar until I hear the man’s name announced by Jessica Chastain next year.
Oh right, Leo has Wolf on Wall Street. How many times can the Academy dangle the carrot in front of his face? Maybe next year, enough will be enough.
Rufus, I’m only trying to gauge your hopes and expectations. I’m a gianormous fan of McQueen’s work so far, but I can’t bring myself to think that Oscar glory is in his future any time soon.
I predict I will fall in love with Benedict Cumberbatch. Heck I already have. And I’ve yet to watch Sherlock. But his role is too benign. I know it sounds oxymoronic but he plays a kind-hearted slaveowner. It’s kind of a pioneering role, granted, in that a slaveowner is not usually portrayed as kind-hearted, but that’s simply one more reason this movie could be special indeed.
Yup – that material, envisioned by McQueen’s unique and detailed eye, portrayed by that talented a cast will be remarkable. I, too, think this will provide Oscars for McQueen, Fassbender, producer Brad Pitt, and who knows who else (Alfre? L’il Q? Dwight Henry?) I have no doubt.
(believe it Nik G. – you heard it here first)
“rufussondheim / January 15, 2013
Anthony, I’m pretty sure that Greg meant to say without getting nominations in all three categories of writing, editing and directing.”
Yes, I apologize for the poor wording, I should never write late, late at night. But anyway, what I was saying is accurate. Only a couple of films have won Best Picture without getting nominated for best director, best screenplay, and best film editing. Titanic, Daisy, Ordinary, Annie Hall, and Sound of Music are the exceptions.
Argo and ZD30 could buck the rule, but I will have to see a strong showing at the Guild awards for that to happen. My gut tells me that we’re going to see a lot of Lincoln.
Nik G. Fassbender would be in Supporting Actor. Chiwetel Ejiofor would be the lead. He plays the slave in question. Assuming the film follows the book Fassbender would not make an appearance until midway in the film, but his presence would be the dominant presence in the second half. (The first half will most likely be split between three white men, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Dano. Expect a great scene from Paul Giamatti here. Of the two women I mention Adepero Oduye will break your heart in the first half and Lupita Nyong’o will break your heart several times in the second half. And you will learn to hate Sarah Paulson, she just might be the most evil of them all.
I could talk about the film for hours at this point. I’m already onto next years race!
I like the fact that McQueen cast two unknowns in the two crucial female roles. I think it will allow for a more pure experience. A more “Hollywood” version would have cast someone like, say, Halle Berry as Patsey and while Berry is a fine actress and would do well with the role, she would still be Halle Berry and when we see those scenes we’d all be thinking “Wow, that’s Halle Berry!” rather then absorbing what was happening.
Lee is L-O-V-E-D by the AMPAS and they still owe him 2, maybe 3 Best Picture wins (1 in Foreign, “The Wedding Banquet” and 2 in overall, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (even if I despise that film) and “Brokeback Mountain”)
I’ll do you one better. He got completely screwed out of everything for LUST, CAUTION which was my favorite film that year because of Foreign Language Film rules shenanigans.
Should be “Life of Pi” for best director and best picture. But Oscar voters do not have a history of always rewarding the best.
just saw LIFE OF PI. wonderful film. so…why have no discussions on here mentioned acting nods for Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan? theirs were heartfelt, majestic performances of great merit. the younger Pi went through greater, more intense hell than Mr. Hanks when he was a survivor at sea.
The Reuters/Ipsos polls for Oscar prize favors:
Jan 16, 2013
Les Miserables 11%
Django Unchained 7%
Steven Spielberg 36%
Ang Lee 8%
David O’Russell 5%
BEST LEADING ACTOR
Daniel Day-Lewis 22%
Denzel Washington 16%
Hugh Jackman 15%
BEST LEADING ACTRESS
Naomi Watts 12%
Jennifer Lawrence 10%
Jessica Chastain 9%
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Tommy Lee Jones 29%
Robert De Niro 10%
Christoph Waltz 8%
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Field 27%
Anne Hathaway 22%
Helen Hunt 6%
Agree, SeattleMoviegoer – I think the Academy should add a category for newcomers like Sharma and Wallis. like so many critics circles and the BAFTAs. These two, particularly, were on there own much of the time – no other actors to work off, often nothing but a green screen, yet both were remarkably convincing.
As far as Sharma and Khan being missed, I blame the studio. I saw very little in the way of promotion for these great performances.
I saw Silver Linnings Playbook last night and enjoyed it especially the performances but I personally think Life of Pi is a far superior film. Sharma should have been recognized for his heartfelt performance.
That being said, I think Lincoln will win best picture and Ang Lee will sneak in barely and win best director.
People are really overrating what the Globes means. Argo doesn’t have a lead actor or directing nomination. Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook are the clear frontrunners. Life of Pi is probably the dark horse.
Probably not important, but the percentage for Django is whacked. It’s more like 1.5%. Just mentioning it if you’re using code to auto-calculate results as they come in.
The worst case scenario:
But only because it would be a boring ending to a very exciting year.
My dream (unrealistic):
Zero Dark Thirty BP
Michael Haneke BD
My dream (realistic):
Life of Pi BP (if it wins PGA & DGA which it can, why not?)