I’ve seen some Oscar-nominated films! I have opinions about them!

Out of the ten nominated for Best Picture, I’ve seen three now: Argo, Lincoln and Les Miserables. That’s pretty good. Hollywood tends to nominate movies that are so depressing you want to get a eyelid-waxing because it would hurt less. Remember that year I swore I would see all five (that was when it was still five) of the Best Picture movies? And how I still haven’t recovered because it was so unbelievably glum? That was a rough year. I was going to see Amour last month, but then I read this review and I was like NOPE. I do not need that in my life, keeping me from falling asleep at night, thanks. I still want to try to catch Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook before the awards, but whatever happens happens and it’s all fine. I’m going to review Argo, Lincoln and Les Miserables now, and most likely there will be some spoilery bits, so if you don’t want to know, maybe don’t read it.

1. Lincoln. I am kind of ashamed to say this, but this is the first film I have ever seen with Daniel Day Lewis. The first. Never saw the foot one, or the New York one, or the blood one. I don’t know why, I just didn’t. I was psyched to see him do that thang he do, but it turned out that I loved this film because all of the side actors. It takes a mildly interesting chunk of history – the attempt to get the 13th Amendment signed by the House of Representatives – and, by having some of the best actors in America right now filling out the roles, turned it into one of the best films of the year. If someone had filmed me watching this in the theater, they would have seen me do this over and over :”Hey, it’s that guy! From the thing! I love him!” There was the oddball chemistry guy Gale from Breaking Bad! And the skinny uncle from Winter’s Bone! Murrow from Good Night and Good Luck! Lane from Mad Men! The lady Lieutenant from Law and Order! And then big stars I did not expect playing small-ish roles! Tommy Lee Jones! James Spader! Joseph Gordon Levitt! It was an astonishing cast. Someone at my job summed it up pretty well, “It’s a B+ movie starring A+ actors.” Good stuff.

2. Argo. More amazing character actors wearing period clothing with small roles rockin’ the world! That was a tension-filled movie. I will never stand in line for the airport to get my ticket stamped the same way again. I’m surprised no one in line started laughing uncontrollably, or pooped their pants. I would have done either, or both. All. I would have done all. Some swarthy Frida-Kahlo-eyebrowed man would have yelled something at me in Farsi that sounded like “Ad neygom manacheh khaseem teshlah!!”  and I would’ve promptly and quietly dropped all my paperwork and died. This is a perfect example of a movie where, had it not been based on a real thing, would have been thoroughly and utterly preposterous. One of the things that I really liked is that Ben Affleck changed all the logos and titles and credits to look they way they would be in the late 1970s/early 1980s. That was a really nice touch.

3. Les Miserables. I was putting this one off for a while. I think there’s a rule, at least with the people I grew up around, that when a girl experiences menarche, along with Always and O.B. products, she receives her copy (in my years, on tape or CD) of the Broadway Cast Recording of Les Miserables. It is her duty to learn all the songs word for word to be recited any time a bunch of females gather together to do those things that they do, I don’t know, straighten their hair or wash clothes in the river, whatever. I did not have this important womynly gift-giving moment so when everyone else was auditioning for high school shows singing exceptionally nasal versions of “On My Own,” I went in and sang “Le Poissons” from The Little Mermaid. However, in my last year of high school I finally saw the Les Miz and then years later I fulfilled my lady-duties and learned about 75% of the words to this three-hour opera, which is a pretty good amount. I get anxious when musicals get made into movies with some non-singer leads… you know, singing. The opportunity for failure is rife. So I fought going for a few weeks. Finally, Børkke, who loves this musical and knows about 90% of the words, insisted that we go together. And we did.

Here’s the deal: You would think that because we know almost every single word they are going to say and every single thing that’s going to happen, we would not be super-moved by this. I certainly thought that. And I wuz WRONG. We started crying about three seconds into Anne Hathaway’s interpretation of “I Dreamed A Dream*” and pretty much either sniffled or outright ugly-face-cried through the rest. Børkke and I walked out of there with damp balled-up tissues clutched in our hands looking like wrung-out dishtowels. Some things about the film:

  • It made a really big difference to see scenes happen in actual places. The Broadway show is a completely black stage with little bits of set pieces brought out, but nothing else. Here, things were taking place on city streets and in real rooms and that definitely helped me have more of an understanding of the plot. (In case you don’t know, the plot is: No matter how hard we try, nothing ever changes and the only escape we have from this wretched existence is the warm embrace of death. Enjoy your popcorn.) Having the characters die (they all die) in a more real-to-life setting was helpful.
  • I’m tired of Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. Is there no one else who can play those roles, and also possibly sing? No one in all of England and America? I find that hard to believe.
  • On the topic of not being able to sing, Russell Crowe. That was rough. I think he was concentrating so hard on singing well he forgot to act. Seriously, he has some really important scenes where he’s skeptical, or distraught, or jazzed up for war, and Russell’s face? Nothing. It did nothing. I’ve seen the man act before, I know he can. Fun fact: at the end of his big “I’ve been wrong this whole time!” number, when he throws himself off of the bridge into the water, did we really need him to hit the cement and hear his spine snap? Why couldn’t he just drown quietly like he’s supposed to? Børkke and I behaved like we were in the Maury Povich audience when that happened.

  • Eddie Redmayne took a lame-o character (Marius, who falls forever-in-love after seeing Cosette for a total of a second) and made you root for him and care about him. Keep an eye on Eddie Redmayne, he’s something. He’s going on my list of “if he’s in a movie, I will see it” people.
  • Sadly, they cut out my favorite song, but I’m not surprised. It’s awesome and gross, but it doesn’t move the plot along, so I’m not surprised it’s gone. It happens right after the battle scene, when Mr. Thenardier is going over the dead bodies in the sewers looking for valuable trinkets he can steal off the corpses and sell. The Moomins visibly flinches when I sing that at her (not “to” her, “at” her). If you ask me nicely, I will happily sing it at you at inopportune times, like in a supermarket, and make you have social anxiety.

* A lot of people think Anne is a smug, stuck-up b-word, but let me tell you, that girl can EMOTE. She kicked me right in the feels.

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