Butler County Times Gazette
by Stephen Shupe
85th Academy Awards: They could have been contenders
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By Stephen Shupe
Jan. 14, 2013 1:09 p.m.

Nominees for the 85th Academy Awards were announced last week. Lincoln is the frontrunner, but instead of talking about the likely winners, I’d like to discuss some of the movies that were overlooked this year. Here are the nominees in most of the top categories, along with other films and artists I think are worthy of recognition.

Best Picture


Beasts of the Southern Wild

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty


Les Misérables

Life of Pi


Django Unchained



A fairly recent rule change allows the Academy to nominate 10 films for best picture. It nominated nine this year, and I think it should have given the tenth slot to Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. Divisive among critics and audiences alike, this uncompromising post-World War II epic is a worthy follow-up to There Will Be Blood, which remains one of the best films of the century. The Master offers no easy answers in its tale of a damaged war veteran and his relationship with the founder of a religion called The Cause. The elusive nature of the material may account for the film's absence here, but the Academy recognized its greatness in the acting categories, giving Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams hugely deserved nominations.

Best Director


David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Michael Haneke, Amour

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild


In addition to Anderson, Ben Affleck and Quentin Tarantino, I would have liked to have seen Robert Zemeckis on this list. After more than 10 years experimenting with performance capture, the Oscar-winning director of Forrest Gump made a triumphant return to live-action filmmaking with Flight. The white-knuckle early scenes depicting the impossible landing of a faltering airliner topped the plane crash in Cast Away, and Zemeckis once again proved himself an excellent director of actors, guiding Denzel Washington to his first Best Actor nomination since Training Day.

Best Actor


Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Denzel Washington, Flight

Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master


Comedians are rarely rewarded by the Academy for making dramatic turns, which is a shame in the case of Jack Black, who gave his finest performance to date as the real-life killer of a mean old lady in Richard Linklater's Bernie. The role gives Black a chance to sing and to try on a lisping Texas accent. He shows surprising pathos in the scene where “the nicest guy in town” finally snaps.

Best Actress


Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

This category would have been the best way for the Academy to honor The Deep Blue Sea, Terence Davies' ravishing adaptation of Terence Rattigan's 1952 play. Director Davies and actress Rachel Weisz go deep, showing us a passionate love affair and its aftermath in this beautiful bummer of a movie.

Best Supporting Actor


Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Alan Arkin, Argo

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln


I'm not complaining about Christolph Waltz being nominated; his self-amused portrayal of Dr. King Shultz in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is one of my favorite performances of the year. But Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson pulled off riskier supporting turns in the same movie. Also going in a bold new direction: Ezra Miller in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. After a ferocious performance as Tilda Swinton's homicidal son in We Need to Talk About Kevin, Miller made out-and-proud teenager Patrick a standout in Wallflower, which has one of the year's most appealing ensemble casts.

Best Supporting Actress


Sally Field, Lincoln

Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Amy Adams, The Master


A shocker set almost entirely inside a fast-food restaurant, Compliance will prove hard to watch for many. The film draws much of its power from Ann Dowd's layered performance as Sandra, a too-easily-manipulated night shift manager.

Best Original Screenplay


Flight, John Gatins

Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino

Amour, Michael Haneke

Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola


This category gives the Academy the chance to reward strikingly original films. This year it's given love and attention to Moonrise Kingdom, which is more than fine by me. I just wish Oscar voters had spread the love to The Cabin in the Woods, the most audacious horror-comedy since Scream.

Best Adapted Screenplay


Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin

Argo,Chris Terrio

Lincoln, Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

Life of Pi, David Magee


The Perks of Being a Wallflower author Stephen Chbosky showed unusual sensitivity and perceptiveness in adapting his own beloved 1999 novel to the screen. The result is a movie that's destined to be cherished by the young at heart for many years to come.

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