Since I have already watched all nine nominees for the Oscar for Best Picture for the year 2012, I believe I can now rank them and predict which one will go home with that biggest prize. I have ranked the nine nominees as follows ONLY based on the impression it had on me when I first watched and reviewed them. This of course does not mean that the Academy will think the same way.
1. LES MISERABLES 10/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
My being a theater geek catapulted this movie to Rank 1 in my list, despite the fact that this was the film I saw last. However, this movie did everything it set out to do, which was to create a definitive film version of the musical theater version of Victor Hugo's classic novel of rebellion and redemption. All those beloved songs were interpreted so beautifully on film. I want this movie to win the Best Picture grand prize. While its chances to win may be limited by the failure of Tom Hooper to get a nod for Best Director, I still trust the conservatives in the Academy will want to name this glorious musical as Best Picture.
2. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK 9/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
I do not really like romantic comedies as a genre. But there was something about this one that made it click with me. Maybe it is the great chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as the troubled depressed couple. Maybe it is the story of unlikely underdogs winning the big prize. Whatever it is, the Academy seems to like this movie a lot too. This is the first film since "Reds" to earn nominations for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and all four Acting categories. Of course, "Reds" did not win Best Picture that time, so the big prize is not at all a sure thing.
Ang Lee was able to interpret on film the deeply philosophical content of Yann Martel's best-selling novel about Pi, an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck, stranded a harrowing hundred days on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. While I felt the story-telling scenes in the beginning and end felt dry, the sequences in India and on that lifeboat out in the Pacific were bursting with color, life and inspiration. Ang Lee had filmed the un-filmable.
4. ARGO 7/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
This was the first of the Best Picture nominees I watched. It had an unbelievable plot about rescuing Americans held hostage in Iran during the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini by setting up a fake movie project where these hostages were supposedly the film crew. Ben Affleck, not really a favorite actor of mine (even in this film), was able to pull it off and direct an exciting film out of that true story that was really stranger than fiction.
5. DJANGO UNCHAINED 7/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
Being a Quentin Tarantino film, it was really very different from the rest of the nominated films on this list. It is offensively irreverent. It is relentlessly violent. It is so darkly funny. This is really what fans of Tarantino want and expect from him. He succeeds yet again by bringing the spaghetti Western genre to the deep South with bounty hunters and slaves. I know the conservatives in the Academy will not reward a film like this the Best Picture award, for now at least. Not yet.
6. LINCOLN 6/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
This is the type of historical movie that the Academy loves to reward with the Best Picture award, like "Gandhi," "Amadeus" or "The Last Emperor." Which means, this would have been a shoo-in for Best Picture if this was the 1980s. However, there had not really been a historical biography that had copped the big prize lately. I believe the last one was "Braveheart" back in 1994. Disappointingly, this film was not really about Lincoln the Man, as it was about how the Emancipation Proclamation was ratified. Though very well made by director Steven Spielberg, this limited topic did not exactly make for an exciting film.
7. AMOUR 6/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
This film about a wife made invalid by a serious stroke and her husband's devotion to her really had me getting very emotional as it went along. However it had a climax which did not appeal to me, and turned me off to liking this film fully. This was only the fifth film in history to have been nominated for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film (along with "Z," "The Emigrants," "Life Is Beautiful" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). While three of these went on to win Best Foreign Language Film (and lose Best Picture), "The Emigrants" (Sweden) did not win either nomination in 1971.
8. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD 6/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
The film is a fable about an intrepid little girl named Hushpuppy, her dad and how they survive being the poorest of the poor in a Louisiana bayou. When a terrible storm destroyed their community and her dad was stricken ill, little Hushpuppy dealt with these events with her fantasies of glaciers and aurochs. This was too abstract for me to really like it that much. That does not mean it is a bad film though. Remember, it has a newcomer director Behn Zeitlin who made it into the final Best Director list ousting favorites like Tom Hooper, Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck,
9. ZERO DARK THIRTY 5/10 (Read my FULL REVIEW)
When I first watched this movie, I felt only the last thirty minutes, which contained the excellently filmed Navy Seal raid on the secret lair of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, seemed to matter. Looking back on it, especially upon reflecting on that poignant, reflective, albeit very quiet, scene at the very end, everything in the excruciatingly slow first two hours suddenly made sense to me. I would probably rank it higher than this now if I watch it again.