Who gets the little golden man?
Saturday, February 23, 2013 8:10 PM
I don't know too many people who dislike going to the movies. In fact, if you don't like going to the movies, I'm automatically a little suspicious of you.
Oh sure, I hear your complaints. The tickets cost too much. The food costs too much. The lines are too long. People in the audience talk on their phones or send text messages during the show. (Index staff writer Frank Bumb is an unfortunate in-movie phone checker.)
Those are valid complaints. I understand why some people choose to watch movies at home. The snacks are cheaper, the bathroom's closer (and likely cleaner) and you can turn the movie off if you don't like it. I get it.
(With that said, what I don't get is why people purchase and watch "bootleg" DVDs of movies that are currently in theaters. The sound and picture quality is poor, for one thing. Also, movie piracy is stealing. Plain and simple.)
But, for many film lovers, there's nothing like actually going to the theater.
The aroma of freshly popped popcorn. Finding just the right seat (fourth row, center). The anticipation in the moments before a film you've been waiting for months to see. The communal experience of seeing a film with others, laughing together during the funny parts, screaming during the scary parts.
Watching it at home just isn't the same. Your TV is a personal thing. It sits right there in your living room.
The silver screen? That's bigger than life. Movie stars, 50-feet tall. Monsters towering over buildings. Humphrey Bogart. James Cagney. George Clooney. King Kong. Julia Roberts. Audrey Hepburn. Denzel Washington. Godzilla. Elizabeth Taylor. Harrison Ford.
My parents took me to see "E.T." in 1982. It was the first time I had ever been in a movie theater.
Steven Spielberg in the director's chair? Check. A boy who's best friend was a squatty, lovable alien who ate Reese's Pieces and contacted his home planet with a Speak & Spell? Check. Henry Thomas' heartrending turn as Elliott? Check. John Williams' soaring, emotionally manipulative score? Check.
I was head over heels in love. And, in all the years since, I've never fallen out of love. There are few places on earth I'd rather be than in a dark, cool movie theater, a hot bag of popcorn resting on my lap and an adventure unspooling on the giant screen in front of me.
Mystery, romance, comedy, horror, drama. Big set pieces. Small moments. Dashing heroes and bombshell leading ladies. All that stuff, man.
If you're like me, then tonight's your night. The night when Hollywood stops to walk the red carpet, have a little song and dance, celebrate the movies, remember those in the industry who have passed on and honor the best films of the year.
It's Oscar night, of course.
THIS YEAR'S LIST OF ACADEMY AWARD Best Picture nominees represents an exceptionally strong group of films: "Argo," "Amour," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
I was fortunate to see most, but not all, of the films on this diverse list. I've been torn as to which I think is truly the best.
"Argo" was the best movie I saw in calendar year 2012. It's a taut, highwire act of a movie. Based on a true story, as well. "Argo" picked up Best Motion Picture - Drama at the Golden Globes and took home top honors at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Director Ben Affleck's political drama probably has the inside track for Best Picture tonight.
Ah, but what about "Lincoln?" It's up for a total of 12 honors tonight.
Spielberg's tale of our 16th president's attempt to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed through Congress is a rich, dense examination of a specific moment in history. Again, Williams hits all the right notes with a haunting, effective score.
My gut tells me "Lincoln" doesn't quite have the juice to win Best Picture tonight. However, I have no doubt Daniel Day-Lewis will win Best Actor for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. It was more of a complete transformation than a performance, really. In a career filled with exemplary turns, this is Day-Lewis' masterwork.
I seriously doubt "Django Unchained" is nabbing Best Picture. It's just not the type of film that gets the top nod. But, Quentin Tarantino's opus (he called it a "Southern," rather than a Western) is a lush, cinematic, violent, profane, fever dream of a film, packed to the gills with crackling dialogue, bombastic performances and moments that push viewers right to the edge.
Also, Jamie Foxx's Django is the most charismatic cowboy to light up the silver screen in 25 years. He owns the role, as if he were born for it.
And then there's my dark horse for tonight. My favorite film in the group, hands down: "Silver Linings Playbook."
If you've seen it, you know it's not a movie that fits in a nice little descriptive box.
It deals with mental illness, addiction, family, loss, letting go of the past, being willing to embrace the good things that are right there in front of you.
I know, it sounds like kind of a drag. But, "Silver Linings Playbook" is quite the opposite.
It's funny and quirky and smart and stuffed with great performances. Bradley Cooper sheds his frat boy image to portray a character coming to grips with a divorce and dealing with bouts of mental illness.
Jennifer Lawrence, the lovely Kentucky native who rose to fame with her role in "The Hunger Games," becomes an out-and-out movie star in "Silver Linings Playbook" with her role as a recovering sex addict who helps Cooper's character overcome his demons.
The film also has major ballroom dancing (!) and sports betting (!!!) subplots, as well as a refreshing supporting performance from funnyman Chris Tucker and Robert DeNiro's best work in two decades.
I know it sounds like a mess, and it kind of is, but it's a fantastic movie. A crowd-pleaser masquerading as pseudo-indie film.
For my fellow film fans, tonight's the night to pop some popcorn, listen to some bad jokes (hopefully not quite as bad now that Billy Crystal has been usurped as the Academy Awards' host) and root for our favorite movies of the year to take home the little gold statue.
Which film do you think was the best in the last year? Hit me on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR and tell me your favorite. (And it certainly doesn't have to be from tonight's list of nominees.)
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.