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Cramming for the Oscars 2013

The other day someone mentioned the Oscars. Oh! That means it’s time for my annual cram-fest … where I see how many nominated movies I can manage to see before the actual event. This year’s Oscars are on February 24th, which means I have 17 days to see what I can squeeze in and not feel like a pop-culture wallflower (aka a parent).

Last year, out of the 10 films that had been nominated, I’d seen three. This year, there are nine films nominated for Best Picture and I’ve got the run-down here for you:

#1: Amour

Never heard of it. Have you? On the Oscars site, the film synopsis describes it as follows:

“In the final months of her life, a retired music teacher and her husband of sixty years struggle with the debilitating effects of two strokes on both her health and her quality of life.  As Georges cares for the increasingly unhappy Anne, the pair finds the nature of their life together irrevocably changed.”

I don’t feel like running out to see it. But it’s probably one of those deeply felt ones.

#2: Argo

I have heard of this one, and I’d like to see it. Definitely going on my priority list for cramming. Here’s the synopsis:

“When six Americans take refuge in the Canadian embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, U.S. government agent Tony Mendez turns to Hollywood for help.  Working with a producer and a makeup artist, he devises a rescue mission that centers on the creation of a fake film production company scouting locations in Iran.”

Anyone who can wear this this brown polyester shirt with massive collar and still look hot totally deserves an Oscar nod in my world.


#3: Beasts of the Southern

I’m pretty sure this one crossed my radar briefly. It actually sounds more uplifting that its title might suggest:

“In an isolated Louisiana swampland known as the Bathtub, young Hushpuppy and her father are part of a community that lives outside of the structure of modern society.  When rising flood waters threaten the area, the young girl’s resourcefulness and lively imagination are called into play as the region’s residents face the approaching disaster.”

I might be able to get this one through Rogers on-demand, so that might be an easy one to cram in.

#4:  Django Unchained

I saw this one with my brother and my Dad. It was really fantastic. I don’t normally ever watch anything Tarantino because I don’t go in for all the blood and guts his films are known for. It was highly enjoyable until he kind of jumped the shark and basically drowned the screen, over and over again, in blood spray in a big shoot-up at the end.

“German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz buys a slave named Django and promises him his freedom once he has helped Schultz track down the criminals he is seeking.  But Django has a wife who was sold off years ago, and his partnership with Schultz may offer him a chance to find her.”

The two leads are played so well. So it’s no surprise that at least one is up for an acting nomination. (Christoph Waltz, who played Dr. Shultz.) The whole film is rather hard to describe … it’s so unlike any other film that I can’t quite categorize it. Although David Denby of The New Yorker may have nailed it with “crap masterpiece.”


#5: Les Miserables

This one got a ton of hype so, like me, I’m sure you heard it had arrived into theaters. On Christmas, no less. Christmas, really? Sounds like a bit of a downer for a Christmas outing:

“In early 19th century France, Jean Valjean, a man imprisoned years earlier for stealing a loaf of bread, decides to break his parole following his release and assume a new identity.  Although he succeeds in building a new life for himself, the relentless pursuit of Inspector Javert threatens the security of Valjean and his adopted daughter, Cosette.”

I want to see it because I don’t like to miss out on things. But at the same time, I’ve seen the trailers and poor ol’ Anne (Cosette) looks pretty, well, miserable. I’m sure the Oscar in her hand will make up for having to buzz all her hair off and get so scrawny.

#6:  Life of Pi

I was never able to get myself into the book, so I’m doubtful that the movie will resonate with me.

“Young Pi, the son of zookeepers in Pondicherry, India, finds the world he knows swept away when his family sells the zoo and sets sail for Canada with a few of its remaining animals.  A storm capsizes the ship and only Pi escapes, set adrift in a lifeboat that is also the refuge of an enormous Bengal tiger.”

I always feel obligated to read a book before the movie, and that is definitely not a realistic possibility before Oscars night. So it is not going to make it into my cramming priority list.

#7:  Licoln

Now, this one might be a possibility. Any kind of good historical coverage in a movie makes me feel like I’ve enriched myself (since I am definitely not a reader of historical fiction or non-fiction). I mean, who needs history classes in school when we can watch movies. I’m sure they are completely accurate, right?

“With the Civil War coming to a close and the freedom granted to the slaves by the Emancipation Proclamation called into question, Abraham Lincoln seeks to pass a thirteenth amendment to the Constitution that will outlaw slavery everywhere in the United States.  Facing opposition from many quarters in Congress, Lincoln uses his vast political powers to gain allies in his fight.” 


#8:  Silver Linings Playbook

Now, this one sounds interesting to me. It’s got a main character with bipolar disorder. I can’t recall seeing a film where a character has bipolar, have you? I’d like to see how this is handled, as well as how its plot pans out:

“Pat Solatano is released into his parents’ care after eight months of treatment for a bipolar disorder.  His recovery seems far from certain, however, when he stops taking his medication and becomes increasingly obsessed with winning back his estranged wife, a plan that leads him to embark on a complicated relationship with a troubled young woman whose husband has died.”

Plus, even if it’s all handled poorly and the plot feels like reading the phone book, there’s always Bradley. I can’t begrudge spending $13 on a movie ticket if he’s in it. What woman could?


#9:  Zero Dark Thirty

Thrillers are a genre that both Hubby and I can watch. So there’s a good chance this film can get pushed into the lineup before Oscars night. I’m kind of surprised this one even made it into the theaters … didn’t the US government try to shut one of Michael Moore’s films down before? This one seems far more controversial.

“In the aftermath of 9/11, as the trail in the hunt for Osama bin Laden seems to grow cold, a determined CIA agent begins a painstaking, decade-long search for the Al Qaeda leader.  For Maya, direct experience of terrorism steels her resolve to find bin Laden and leads her to trust her own instincts regarding the best course of investigation to pursue.”

I feel like it’s a rental though.

The Cram List

Yes, that’s right folks! Out of 9 films, I’ve seen a grand total of … ONE! Hey, better than some years.

My priority cram list to watch before Oscar night, in order of priority is: Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Les Miserables.

How about you? Have you seen any of these … would you recommend I re-order my cram list? 


  1. Sarah McCormack says:

    Lots to see! I have see Les Miserables with my family and loved it! ( have seen the show on stage 4 times!) Anne Hathaway is amazing as Fontine (not Cosette) and Hugh Jackman is fabulous! Russel got lots of criticism for his singing, which is not good… but i enoyed him in the film!

    i also saw Silver Linings Playbook and loved it! It has a quirky feel to it and tackles the topic of mental illness in an interesting way. and of course, Bradley Cooper…sigh. although he literally wears a garbage bag for most of the film, he is still yummy!!!

    • Okay, Silver Linings Playbook sounds like a must-see for me! (Also, totally unrelated, but I know you love the tv show Smash … did you enjoy the 2-hour premiere? I loved it!)

      • Sarah McCormack says:

        SLP- worth seeing. loved deniro in this. like J-Law a lot, but don’t think she deserves the Oscar she will probably get. Les Mis worth seeing on the big screen as well… if you like musicals, which I know you do!
        re. SMASH- enjoyed it a lot! Karen annoyed me though- what’s up with all the cleavage? and all of a sudden she has “influence” in the Broadway world- all a bit quickly! i find myself really cheering for Ivy.. she is Marilyn for me and madly talented. looking forward to Sean Hayes appearing. (a little Will & Grace reunion). Deb Messing was great his week- glad she’s single to be honest. ok, i’ll stop talking now…

        • Deb Messing is a amazing actor, holy cow. So talented. I agree re Karen … I think she had a boob job that they are trying to capitalize on it or something. I am totally on team Ivy.

          • Sarah McCormack says:

            i think it’s just a really good bra!

            on another note… my Dad saw ARGO and said it was one of the best movie he has ever seen… on my “must see list”.

  2. You have to read the backstory on Argo and the Canadian Ambassador who sheltered the refuges. I heard an interview with one of the refuges on the news and he said he petitioned the movie makers to include him (John Sheardown I think was his name). The book about this is on my to read list.

  3. I’ve only seen Les Mis and I loved it so much. Anne Hathaway was amazing!! I really want to see Beasts of the Southern and Django Unchained (but I absolutely love all Tarantino films). That’s probably all I’ll be able to do before the big night.

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