I’m privileged to be a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association. After an intense couple of weeks screening the year’s big movies, WAFCA has voted and named Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty the best film of the year. Starring Jessica Chastain, the film follows America’s search for Osama Bin Laden, from the very first hints of intelligence to a dogged search for clues to the final raid that brought justice to the most notorious terrorist of our time.
Jessica Chastain also won for Best Actress, an award that was well deserved, and Bigelow took the award for Best Director.
She had some stiff competition. Also up for Best Director were Ben Affleck (Argo), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Tom Hooper (Les Misérables), and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln). While I wasn’t a fan of The Master , any of the other directors deserved to win as well. Hooper’s Les Miserables is absolutely fantastic and was my pick for Best Picture. Ben Affleck (whom I interviewed for Argo) proved he is a capable and deft director with the tense historical thriller. Steven Spielberg found his mojo again after the dismal War Horse with his delightful and profound portrait of Lincoln, a movie I deeply love.
Indeed, I am delighted that Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his portrayal of Lincoln. He managed to make the man both human and great, no small task.
Everyone is raving about Anne Hathaway as the tragic Fantine in Les Miserables. Once you see the film, you will rave about her humanity and pathos as well. This is why she seemed almost assuredly a lock for the Best Supporting Actress win, which she was indeed awarded by WAFCA. It would be a shock of the highest order if she did not win the Oscar. You can watch the trailer with part of her performance here. Over at Christopher Closeup, Tony Rossi posted an interview with Hathaway and other stars of the movie in which they show how very deeply they care about the story and timeless message of Les Miserables. Or, for a lighter touch, you can see Saturday’s duet of “Confrontation” between Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in a pub setting.
I was pleased to see both Looper and Beasts of the Southern Wild recognized in small ways, the first for its screenplay and the second for its young lead Quvenzhané Wallis. I highly recommend both movies.
Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom was also a fun and delightful movie with Anderson’s signature charm. If only we had room to recognize them all.
I would have liked to have seen Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey recognized. Jackson takes quite a few risks in the film. He slows down the story and savors it like a fine wine, instead of rushing from plot point to plot point. Secondly, he filmed in ultra-clear 3D at 48/frames per second. The result is a movie that feels completely different than what you’ve been used to in the past, more real, more immediate. The film took some getting used to, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.
In addition, I loved Joe Wright’s literary and bold adaptation of Anna Karenina. His decision to include the story of Levin and Kitty, unlike many adaptions in the past, give the film balance. His bold staging of the film makes it provocative and highly watchable.
You can catch these movies in various ways.
Currently in Theaters:
Available for Home Viewing:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec 14)
Les Miserables (December 25)
Zero Dark Thirty (Jan 11)