Right now David O. Russell‘s The Silver Linings Playbook feels to me like the slam-dunkiest Best Picture contender for six reasons — it portrays “crazy” as a state of exceptional openness and illumination in the same way R.D. Laing regarded schizophrenia, it’s fast and sharp and all the actors are “in the zone,” it reflects an anxious and cranked-up psychology that many of us share on some level, it’s funny and touching and a kind of ballsy ghoulash, it’s going to be a huge hit and, last but not least, Manohla Dargis has expressed semi-dismissive comments. That, for me, is fuel. That puts gas in my tank.
I’m obviously aware that many believe that Ben Affleck‘s Argo is just as strong or at least running a close second, but you can’t give a Best Picture Oscar for just craft and the director having grown in skill. It has to have something else going on, some kind of echo or undercurrent that punches through and adds up to something more than the sum of its parts. Boil out the patriotism and Argo is just a satisfying caper film, and yes, I know — nobody wants to hear that and nobody will listen.
And you have to put The Master up there, although we all know it won’t win the Best Picture Oscar (although I can imagine more than a few critics groups giving it their top prize).
And I’m infuriated that people are putting down Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina, which delivers the kind of bold and exhilarating chops that I live for. It’s the kind of film that hasn’t been made in a long time, and what a rush to encounter it like I did in Toronto, cold and unprepared. You have to embrace it if you have the slightest interest in movies that step outside and say to themselves, “Let’s throw caution to the wind.” This movie is Ken Russell reborn in the most delirious sense of that term, and Dargis — Dargis again! — has called it a “travesty” — I can’t remember her ever sounding this rash or savage or dead effing wrong. This is my idea of a Best Picture contender.
And we can’t forget Benh Zeitlin‘s Beasts of the Southern Wild…right? The little movie that could, should and probably will.
The Five Big Unseens are Tom Hooper‘s Les Miserables (12.7), Robert Zemeckis‘s Flight (11.2), Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s Zero Dark Thirty (12.14), Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi (11.21), and Steven Spielberg Lincoln, which I’m getting a really bad feeling about.
That’s ten titles, and I have a hunch that the weak sisters, no offense, are going to be Lincoln, Life of Pi, possibly Beasts of the Southern Wild (but maybe not) and possibly Anna Karenina if Dargis’s view carries inordinate weight.