Welcome to our Oscars Edition of 3 Second Movie Review. These reviews will cover the creme de la creme of the nominations… namely Best Picture. After a quick shake down of the Academy Awards nominations how do they look to our gentle yet ferocious bear cub of a critic? He reviews all 9 of the nominations and makes his pick, a guess at who the Academy will choose and a possible surprise winner. Scroll down to see for yourself.

Best Picture In Theaters Now


Zero Dark Thirty, (January 2013)


Genre: Drama


Chastain proves her colors don’t bleed.

Surprisingly linear and uncomplicated play by play of the actions that lead to Osama Bin Laden’s assassination. Mostly interesting but it has wide sweeps of boring moments due to there being not much character development. The action is well done when it does show up. I wouldn’t say this is propaganda per say, although by not arguing one way or the other with the depiction of torture it is in some sense deplorable.

The Story: C+

One woman’s fight to find Osama Bin Laden. Whether it’s true or not the film never delves too deeply but rather glosses over main events.

Characters and Their Development: D

There were characters in this film? Jessica Chastain is great, but you never know why she cares so deeply or who she really is as if the viewer is supposed to understand her as a workaholic and nothing more.

Overall Grade: C


Les Misérables, (December 2012)


Genre: Musical


Hugh Jackman in Le Mise or Hugh Jackman in Wolverine 2099? You be the judge!

It all starts with the right actors which this film has in spades. Unfortunately the directing seems to be epic for epic’s sake as the story beats you down for 2 plus hours until you’re curled in the fetal position asking for mercy. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter nearly steal the show as a destitute and conniving couple as they slapstick their way through the film.

The Story: B

If you don’t know the tragedy that this film is just know it gets you down deep into the sad place. Then it goes deeper. Due to the filmmaking it sort of sits there on the screen while the camera sweeps and sways.

Characters and Their Development: B

The acting is as emotional as it comes, but aside from Jackman I didn’t feel like I knew any of the characters.

Overall Grade: C


Amour, (December 2012)


Genre: Drama


In an alternate take the husband shouts “Amour” in his wife’s face for 45 minutes. Then the film cuts to a clown flipping pancakes.

I can’t shake the feeling this should be about love, but it’s really about the ultimate sacrifice. Of course if you know this director he loves to make us feel uncomfortable in order to make you reflect. And that is why this film is so good.

The Story: B+

The characters never leave their apartment, so don’t expect much beyond the intricacies of the characters routines. Routines that wear on you.

Characters and Their Development: B

It’s subtle and seemingly not there, but this is partly due to the directing. It’s all about having a adversarial attitude toward the audience.

Overall Grade: A-


Silver Linings Playbook, (Multiple Release Dates)


Genre: Drama, Comedy


This is a film about dysfunctional people.


But it’s funny I swear!

A film about people with anxiety and mental problems done in delicate and heartwarming comedic fashion. The third act is a bit much, but the characters and acting are really amazing. A flick that gets down to the human core.

The Story: A

Mental illness is a serious subject, but it’s handled with care and just the right humor to pound home the debilitation people go through.

Characters and Their Development: B+

Mostly good, although I had some reservations with Bradley Cooper’s becoming a regular headed person so quickly in the third act.

Overall Grade: A-


Django Unchained, (December 2012)


Genre: Western, Drama


Leonardo DiCaprio gets the best lines largely because Tarantino writes villains so well.

Tarantino does with slavery what he did with WW2 in this Western revenge thriller. Dialogue is sharp, Western homages come at a fast pace and the intensity will cut you like a knife. Don’t expect non-stop action and it’s more of a long epic that’ll tire out the ADD crowd but the blood sprays high and the world always feels real.

The Story: A-

Revenge films are as strong as the heroes reasons to strike down their enemies and we all know how good Tarantino is at making it okay for the hero to enact ultra violence.

Characters and Their Development: A

Every personality is strong either in their strength, bravado or weakness as per usual Tarantino. This may be because everyone is rife with personality due to great dialogue and opportunities to shine.

Overall Grade: A-

Best Picture To Be Released on Disc


Life of Pi, (On Disc March 12, 2013)


Genre: Drama


I still think they should have went with Tigger here.

For what it’s worth it’s a good adaptation, although it can’t match the spiritual quality of the book. Well shot, well acted and incredible to look at — the film is strong, but loses much of its meaning due to the literal nature of film.

The Story: C

Sadly the spiritual nature and focus of the first act seems to dissipate as the film progresses to become predominantly a survival story. It’s as if the spiritual aspects are forgotten intentionally.

Characters and Their Development: B-

There are stretches where Pi appears to be lost in thought rather than reflecting on his circumstances but it’s clear by the time we reach the twist something has broken inside him.

Overall Grade: B-


Lincoln, (On Disc March 2013)


Genre: Drama


I say we replace the image of Lincoln on the penny with this. In full color and high def too!

Similar to a magic trick, you’ll be captivated by what transpires on screen yet never believing it’ll work. You’ll nod your head, smile, and laugh always assuming it’s all smoke and mirrors until that moment you realize it was never a trick at all. Pure immersive magic. Witty dialogue,James Spader + Tommy Lee Jones steal every scene and somehow there is never enough speechifying.

The Story: A

The complexity of the 13th amendment is made interesting due to its moral justification and to get it passed, its political action.

Characters and Their Development: A

The characters are real, sacrifices are made and people change. Plus, it’s Lincoln and he’s not fighting vampires.

Overall Grade: A

Best Picture Nominee Already on Disc


Argo, (On Disc February 19, 2013)


Genre: Drama


A film about making a film to save hostages from a situation you’d think was so unreal it’s a film.

Surprisingly short on character but strong in acting, directing and editing. John Goodman and Alan Arkin steal the show right up until the blood pressure exploding third act. Not sure if it’ll stand up to a second viewing as it’s all about the pulse pounding thrills.

The Story: A

A real life story and it’s a thrilling one.

Characters and Their Development: C+

You never get to know the people, probably the weakest part about this film, but they’re all very real and vivid.

Overall Grade: B+


Beast of the Southern Wild, (July 2012)


Genre: Fantasy, Drama


Endearing kid + Impossible Odds = Oscar bait.

Impossible to hate and incredibly well done in every technical choice right down to the music. What stuck in my craw was the people and their lifestyle. The film is weird and savage in nature which caters to a crowd that wants something emotional that stands up rather than flops down in whimsy. Mostly successful, but a little too convoluted.

The Story: B

Whether it’s fantasy or reality I’m not so sure, but the overall message is strong and it’s a ride to say the least.

Characters and Their Development: B+

In the limited range of the lead actress I have to say she’s incredibly powerful. Her development doesn’t really change per se but her place in the world and her view of fear certainly do.

Overall Grade: B


…And my Best Picture Winner is:


Lincoln:

Powerful is the best word to describe this film. The acting is incredible in every scene and you’re going to be amazed how entertaining old codgers arguing can be. It’s captivating and entertains on many levels.


…And the Best Picture Winner Will Be:


Argo:

The fact that the theater I saw this in had a line out the door for a full two weeks composed of people between the ages of 55 and 80 is a good sign it’ll win. A huge chunk of voters will pick this because they remember this happening and it relates to them personally. It also has that Oscar bait detail of being meaningful today as it deals with Iran. The reason I don’t think it deserves to win is that it’s more of a thriller that will only sustain a viewing or two at most.


…And the Best Picture Film That Could Sneak A Win is:


Silver Linings Playbook:

The Academy has always liked psychological drama’s that make you feel good, get sad and make you happy to be alive. I’m looking at you, Forest Gump, Rainman, Ordinary People, Terms of Endearment, and even Slumdog Millionaire. This is one of the only films nominated this year that contains humor and isn’t straight up depressing or a period piece. This sucker could win it!