Arts & Events

ABC’s 85th Annual Academy Awards faces hard decisions

It is award season in the entertainment industry, which means expensive dresses, long acceptance speeches and, invariably, disappointed actors.
This year will be no different, with movies and actors nominated for awards they should win but that are passed over in favor of a more stylish choice.
The Best Picture category this year is made up of two types of films, those that people are expected to enjoy and those that people actually enjoyed. Amour, Life of Pi and Lincoln are movies that are artistically are superior films that, as a cultured adult, one should appreciate. Juxtaposed are the films ordinary people likely enjoyed—Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook.
The Best Picture award is very unlikely to go to a film in this latter category—Lincoln is the heavy favorite—not because they are poor films, but rather because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tends to award the Oscar to the movie that has a sophisticated air to it.
All of the films in this category are fantastic, hence their categorization, but should the award fall to the most lauded film, or to the most enjoyable? Best Lead Actor and Actress is often a disputed title, as a comparison of the performances of individual actors is not a science but an art. Daniel Day Lewis is fantastic in Lincoln, Denzel Washington is superb in Flight, and even Joaquin Phoenix is quite good in The Master; but who performed the best?
Looking back in a few years on these performances may be the only way to decide if Naomi Watts in The Impossible was better than Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty. Similar to the selections for Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress often fall along the lines of critics’ enjoyment over the general public’s opinion.
Regardless of how the Academy votes, this year’s selections show a promising trend of quality films and a nod toward well-made movies.
Les Misérables is not usually the type of film that piques my interest; the adaptation from stage, the large amount of singing and the cast were all reasons for me to not see the film. However unusual as it was to watch this style of film, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite its depressing storyline, the film is full of fantastic music, well-written scenes and forceful acting.
Actors’ particular talents are often reused from film to film, casting them in similar roles both to capitalize on their strengths but also because blockbuster genres are mostly the same.
As such, seeing actors outside of their known roles can be jarring or at least mildly disconcerting. Despite great performances from all of the big-name stars, seeing them out of their normal roles was unsettling. Seeing actors known for performances requiring no singing suddenly burst into tears takes time to get used to. Anne Hathaway, fresh off her success in The Dark Knight Rises, has a shaved head and a great voice, no small change for the viewer.
This is a movie for people who love musicals, for people who enjoyed the soundtrack and for those people who want to push their cinematic boundaries. Being on the fence about a movie musical is understandable; but the excellence of the film shines through any of its detriments and it proves to be a worthwhile experience.
Les Misérables, along with a slew of other great films—many nominated for Academy awards—are being shown this semester by Campus Films.
Along with the normal weekend showings, there will be a series of cult classics in April, the last of which will be decided by a student vote. On March 29, Campus Films will be putting on Foolish Pleasures, Puget Sound’s Student Film Festival, so be ready for more information.
Les Misérables plays March 1 – 3 in Rausch Auditorium, Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $1 at the door. More info: