Last time we discussed the Best Picture nominees. Now let’s see who
stands out in some of the other catagories …

Bradley Cooper was excellent as the broken man trying to make himself
whole again in “Silver Linings Playbook” … If he wasn’t a star
already, Hugh Jackman’s performance as the hunted and haunted Jean
Valjean in “Les Miserables”– raw, emotional, and (of course)
beautifully sung — would have certainly turned him into one … But
Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in “Lincoln” gets the nod here; the
accent, the folksy, down home charm, the steely resolve — it wasn’t a
showy role at all, but Day-Lewis, chameleon-like as always, showed
plenty, and was the sole highlight of an often disappointing film.

Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”:  A great job by a rising
young star who may, in time, come to be recognized as one of the best in
the business. Runner-up: Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”.

Robert DeNiro in “Silver Linings Playbook”: He was a bookie, not a
mobster; he was a Dad, not a monster. And he wasn’t spoofing characters
he’s played a million times already. This was a DeNiro we don’t see
enough of, anymore. An utterly believable performance.

Anne Hathaway in “Les Miserables”: Just for crying on cue (and crying
and crying), for looking like she hadn’t had a decent meal in months,
for allowing them to cut off all that long, flowing hair — and, of
course, for doing such a great job with Fantine’s anthem, “I Dreamed a
Dream” — Ms. Hathaway gets my vote. Powerful work.

“Brave”: Beautifully drawn, with a dose of adventure and a big dollop of
slapstick — and a wonderfully believable mother-daughter relationship,
to boot — “Brave” gets the nod, just barely, over Tim Burton’s
surprisingly moving “Frankenweenie”.

Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”: For doing what most people thought could not be
done — turning Yann Martel’s tour-de-force novel about a boy and a
tiger shipwrecked at sea into one of the most breathtaking movies of the
year (it’s my choice for Best Picture) — Lee should take home the gold.

Chris Terrio, “Argo”: For turning a true story about courage and good
old-fashioned American tenacity into one of the top suspense flicks of
the year. We knew how the movie would end, and yet we still watched it all from
the edge of our seats.

No best director nomination for Ben Affeck and his superior work on
“Argo”? Chris Terrio didn’t turn his source material (a book co-authored
by real-life CIA op Tony Mendez) into a nailbiter all on his own; it
took a pro like Affleck, with his impeccable sense of both drama and
pacing, to bring it so expertly to life. (Not so long ago, the Academy
didn’t honor Affleck the director for his exemplary contributions to
“The Town”, either — a Boston-based caper movie that is still one of my
favorites. Come on, Hollywood — when are you going to show the man some

And finally, a new catagory we’ll call … BOY, AM I GLAD THEY DIDN’T
In the weeks leading up to the nomination announcements, a rumor emerged
that “The Dark Knight Rises” might have been in line for a Best Picture
nod. Were they kidding? Long, crammed with characters (some of whom we
cared little about), filled with performances so rote that they might as
well have been phoned in, bottom-heavy with so many plot twists at the
very end that you needed a scorecard to sort through them all — and
featuring a villain who was often so unintelligible that subtitles would
have come in handy — this third and final installment in director
Christopher Nolan’s Batman re-boot was probably the worst of the lot, by
far. Only Anne Hathaway’s turn as Catwoman — slinky, sultry, and just a
wee bit sinister — was truly worth watching.

The next Batman re-boot — and you just know that one is coming, don’t
you? — needs to be cleaned up and streamlined badly … and preferably
with no involvement from Mr. Nolan, at all.

Next: I look back at the Oscar telecast itself, and discuss what went
right — and what went wrong!

OSCARS 2013 by Stuart R. Brynien