Friday, February 15, 2013


The buzz around ARGO continues to build as it racks up accolades galore, making it the new frontrunner in the "best picture" Oscar category, and squeezing LINCOLN out of that slot.  It seems that with just a little over a week to go before the big night, ARGO is the film to beat.  However, while the Academy and Hollywood in general are celebrating Ben Affleck's taut and tantalizing thriller, I finally made my way to catch Ang Lee's masterful LIFE OF PI, and let me tell you, if Oscars were assigned by yours truly, PI would be the hands-down winner of the top prize.  Will it happen on Oscar night?  Probably not - almost definitely not - but if it did, it would not only be justified, but it would be an amazing twist of fate that would reverse Ang Lee's fateful night of some years ago, when his battle horse, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, lost the coveted statuette to CRASH.

LIFE OF PI is a visual poem; a film of such striking beauty and depth, it defies classification. Without delving much into the story, which is fascinating and fantastic, to say the least, let's just give credit where credit is due.  Boasting the best and most effective use of 3-D photography since AVATAR, Ang Lee's epic tale goes beyond the multiple dimensions perceived by the human eye.  The 3-D in PI is also applicable to its emotional and intellectual levels.  The film takes one on a journey unlike any ever seen before on film.  This is not a shipwreck picture, nor is it merely the story of a boy and his tiger.  This is a deep, existential study of human endurance, facing the fiercest forces of Mother Nature, and doing so on Her turf and terms.  LIFE OF PI proves once again that director Ang Lee is a true master of his craft and that he understands exactly how to shape meaningful significance (redundancy pun very intended) into pure entertainment and visual delight.

Having said that, here's my list (in order of preference) of how I'd classify the nine Best Picture nominees, if the vote were entirely up to me:

Best Picture of the Year: LIFE OF PI
Runner-up:  ARGO
followed by SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, LES MISERABLES, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, LINCOLN, ZERO DARK THIRTY, DJANGO UNCHAINED, and the not applicable AMOUR (which I didn't see and have about the same desire to see it as I had for the past three French films nominated for Oscars -- oh wait, it's an Austrian film, you say... right, but they speak French, so... I guess I'll wait till the sequel to BETTY BLUE is ready for prime time).

Here's how I think it's going to play out on Oscar night (in order of likelihood):

LIFE OF PI if voters came to their senses prior to casting their final votes.
LINCOLN if voters just ignored pop culture of the past four weeks.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK if voters are still pissed AS GOOD AS IT GETS didn't win.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD if voters give little Ms. Wallis an Oscar.
LES MISERABLES if Russell Crowe hadn't been cast in it.
ZERO DARK THIRTY if a James Cameron film had been nominated against it.
AMOUR if voters had seen it... AND it's going to win for Foreign Language Film, so it's all good.

That's it for now... My final predictions before next week's end!

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