Best Picture and Director 2012

What are your choices for Best Picture and Director of 2012?

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
No votes
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Michael Haneke - Amour
Ang Lee - Life of Pi
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Total votes: 60

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby Heksagon » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:46 am

I’m a bit surprised that there aren’t more votes for Django Unchained, which is my own favourite film here. Django is a film that only Quentin Tarantino can make, and the characters and the story work a lot better here than in Kill Bill or Inglourious Basterds. Maybe a few scenes go on for too long, it didn’t really bother me.

Amour and Zero Dark Thirty are next best here. Amour is a simple, but also a highly effective film, that does a lot of things right. Zero is vastly better than The Hurt Locker, it looks like having an actual plot work with gave Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal a chance to show what they really are capable of.

Argo and Life of Pi are both good films that could be a lot more, given the source material. Pi has great visuals, but unfortunately, at the cost of not focusing enough on the story and the philosophical aspects of the novel.

Lincoln and Beast of the Southern Wild are both films with a lot of positive elements in them, but they just didn’t connect for me.

And I really can’t understand the praise for Silver Linings Playbook here. I absolutely hated that film, it just felt incredibly fake to me.

Nominees ranked:

1. Django Unchained
2. Amour
3. Zero Dark Thirty
4. Life of Pi
5. Argo
6. Lincoln
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Les Misérables
9. Silver Linings Playbook

My votes go to Django Unchained and Michael Haneke.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby The Original BJ » Sat May 31, 2014 4:15 am

I thought this was a strong year with a mostly impressive set of nominees. As for alts, I'd probably say The Master, though I'd push for it more enthusiastically under Director than Picture, as I thought it was a dazzlingly made, piercingly acted movie, but I didn't feel the pieces of the story entirely gelled by the end of it.

The only nominee I actively disliked was Les Mis. I'd seen the musical several times on stage, and though it was never a personal favorite, I never disliked it. I severely called that opinion into question while watching the movie, though I conclude that its real problems were a director without a bone of musicality in his body, and too many actors who just weren't remotely up to the vocal challenges of the music.

Beasts of the Southern Wild had arrived with raves out of Sundance. When I saw it on opening day, I thought it was...fine. It had compelling elements -- a child performance that was far more natural than most, a rousing score -- and I admired Benh Zeitlin's work in creating something that was clearly its own strange unique thing. But while the film had some strong scenes, overall the story felt pretty aimless to me, and I didn't see the greatness in this affecting but minor effort that so many others did.

Django Unchained had a lot of elements that make Tarantino films appealing -- memorable characters embodied by actors having a lot of fun with their roles, clever dialogue, set pieces that provide real visceral thrills. But, more than a lot of his movies, it was bogged down by his excesses as well, namely a lack of discipline in storytelling. Which is to say, simply, the movie is way too damn long. The Candyland segment feels like it just goes on forever, and by the time we got to the big shoot-out, I assumed that was the story's climax. Nope, a whole new act kicked in, and I wasn't really in the mood to sit through all that. Not an unworthy effort, but one that feels more like a rough draft of a Tarantino movie than a fully realized one.

I found Argo to be a perfectly enjoyable film -- it was as consistently suspenseful as many of the best thrillers, but was more fully grounded and intelligent than much of what passes for that genre today. When critics praised its '70's-style aesthetic, they weren't wrong. The thing is, I wouldn't rank this remotely close to a top-notch effort from that era -- it was more typical of the kind of thriller that seemed to come out every few weeks in that decade. I think the movie's coronation says a lot about how low mainstream movies for adults have fallen, that a smart and well-crafted but not especially original or profound film like this could be viewed as such a blast of fresh air. And the uproar over Affleck's snub is a great example of actors getting graded on a curve when they turn to directing -- I've liked all of Affleck's movies, but I find the director far more a solid craftsman than any kind of visionary. Far more unique filmmakers have been denied director spots to far less outrage.

The bulk of Life of Pi has some of the year's most beautiful filmmaking. With basically one location, only one human character, and minimal dialogue, Ang Lee and his collaborators found a way to turn a seemingly unfilmable story into a breathtaking spectacle of color, sound, and effect, that also brought to life a gripping and powerful narrative. Ang Lee hasn't always been a visually ostentatious director, but I've always found his work impressive in this era -- here, I think he should put to rest any criticism that he doesn't bring a lot of imagination to the table in that department. All of that being said, the bookend sequences were pretty clearly a problem -- at one point, the narrator's friend said something like "It's an amazing story...but what does it all mean?" and I just about audibly groaned. The blunt and clunky nature of the writing in this chunk of the movie didn't severely detract from my appreciation of the rest of it, but it does prevent me from voting for it.

I was surprised by the hostility Silver Linings Playbook received in some quarters, because up to that point, I hadn't ever enjoyed a David O. Russell movie as much as this one. He had always seemed to me to be a very erratic director -- obviously talented, but with a sensibility that didn't always lend itself to creating emotionally resonant, coherent narratives. I had no such problem here, as I felt his reckless energy provided the perfect edge to counterpoint the film's romantic comedy tropes. In a way, that great dance number at the end is a perfect reflection of the film itself -- a little bit ungainly, awkward in spots, but full of life, humor, and an emotionally joyous ending. I do think the movie sometimes wants to have its social issue cake and eat its romantic comedy movie too -- and Harvey Weinstein's peddling of the film as an IMPORTANT movie about mental illness was pretty obnoxious -- but I found it very pleasurable, with a completely winning cast.

My votes in both categories would come down to the remaining three movies, and they all seem so different in their aims and aesthetics that it's very difficult for me to choose. I can see why many have gravited toward Amour. It's a bracing piece of work, an honest and brutal portrait of the physical and emotional experience of dying (and watching a loved one slip away), filled with the sort of shocking horrors one would expect from Michael Haneke's take on this subject. And yet, I don't know if the director has ever crafted scenes as emotionally heartfelt as those in this film (Riva's "It's long" scene as she flips through her photo album is a thing of simple delicate beauty.) I watched the movie again recently, and found it just as powerful as I had in the theater...but I will acknowledge that it's a smallish effort, and I think I'm drawn a bit more to the scope of the remaining two films when declaring movie of the year. But I'll pick Haneke as Best Director, as tribute to his impressive filmography, the terrific performances he gets out of his leads, and the way he manages to preserve his singularly bold sensibilities while lending them an emotional heart.

He also gets my vote because Kathryn Bigelow is not on the ballot, and her omission under Director was absolutely my biggest disappointment of nomination morning. I don't think Zero Dark Thirty is as thoroughly wonderful a movie as The Hurt Locker -- its labyrinthine web of investigative leads and red herrings sometimes gets a little murky for me, even after multiple viewings. But on the whole I think it's another stellar effort from the director, a consistently gripping, politically thorny thriller that packages very recent history into a drama that feels both urgent and cathartic. And the raid on the compound is a dazzlingly directed sequence that's frightening and, by film's end, overwhelmingly sad -- scenes like Chastain identifying the body, or sitting alone on the plane, reveal the weight and personal cost of her endeavor in a manner that never feels jingoistic. It would have been a perfectly worthy Best Picture choice.

But, in a very close race, I'm going to go with Lincoln as Best Picture. dws, THIS was the recent Spielberg film where I felt he was channeling John Ford to most impressive effect. The repeated shots of Lincoln as iconography -- often framed by doorways or windows like an image in a photograph -- seem straight out of the Ford bag of tricks, and serve both to memorialize and demyth America's sixteenth president and his place in history. This was, I think, Spielberg's best film in some time, though oddly, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the director often just stays out of the script's way -- although Lincoln is a very good-looking movie, a lot of the visual flourishes we've come to expect from Spielberg take a back seat to Tony Kushner's terrific script, which does a wonderful job of showcasing the ways in which politics have very personal effects on individual lives. I think it's one of the best films about the political process in America, and its story of compromises, shady deals, and betrayals makes the film seem far less like an embalmed history piece than a political drama that still feels deeply relevant today. And it even has a completely unexpected but thoroughly welcome sense of humor! Throw in the year's best cast (from the towering work by Day-Lewis at its center down to every terrific day player), a patriotic yet mournful score, and a terrific sense of period detail, and you have a film I'd have been perfectly happy to see crowned Best Picture.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby Reza » Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:02 am

Voted for Amour and Michael Haneke.

My picks for 2012:

Best Picture
1. Amour
2. Life of Pi
3. Skyfall
4. The Master
5. Lincoln

The 6th Spot: Cloud Atlas

Best Director
1. Michael Haneke, Amour
2. Ang Lee, Life of Pi
3. Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
4. Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

The 6th Spot: Sam Mendes, Skyfall

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby ITALIANO » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:46 am

SalantBeau wrote:
SalantBeau wrote:I liked Silver Linings Playbook, which I found to have more to say about human relationships, love and the world we live in than most films from the past decade,

Obviously you must have seen only two or three films from the past decade... Because honestly - HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS, LOVE and THE WORLD WE LIVE IN... I mean, I'd use these terms for, say, Anna Karenina (the novel) or other masterpieces. Let's be careful with words, words are so important, really.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby SalantBeau » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:24 pm

SalantBeau wrote:I liked Silver Linings Playbook, which I found to have more to say about human relationships, love and the world we live in than most films from the past decade,

Obviously you must have seen only two or three films from the past decade... Because honestly - HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS, LOVE and THE WORLD WE LIVE IN... I mean, I'd use these terms for, say, Anna Karenina (the novel) or other masterpieces. Let's be careful with words, words are so important, really.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:23 am

[quote="SalantBeau"}I liked Silver Linings Playbook, which I found to have more to say about human relationships, love and the world we live in than most films from the past decade,[/quote]

Obviously you must have seen only two or three films from the past decade... Because honestly - HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS, LOVE and THE WORLD WE LIVE IN... I mean, I'd use these terms for, say, Anna Karenina (the novel) or other masterpieces. Let's be careful with words, words are so important, really.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby SalantBeau » Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:21 pm

Zero Dark Thirty was, for me, the most complete film of the year with a secure and confident directorial vision that was executed perfectly in every department. Bigelow, a true artist, composed every shot perfectly. We saw exactly what she wanted us to see, heard exactly what she wanted us to hear and felt what she wanted us to feel. It was also an unflinching look at humanity and hostility, with a lot to say about self-defense, revenge and even human thought. My only gripe was the failure to explore Jessica Chastain's Maya, a character that could have been one of the most compelling in recent years had they only taken a few minutes to show us more.

A shame Bigelow wasn't nominated for director.

Ang Lee got my director vote. While I liked Silver Linings Playbook, which I found to have more to say about human relationships, love and the world we live in than most films from the past decade, more than Life of Pi, I can't argue that Russell's directorial achievement (albeit a great one) is superior to Lee's handling of Pi. Ang Lee absorbed us into the world of the film, took us by the hand and walked us through Pi's life, showing us his ups and downs and eventually his predicament, for lack of a better word, that ultimately makes the film. An incredibly well-done and well-rounded directorial job with incredible use of visuals to boot. If Bigelow couldn't have won, I'm glad it was Lee that did.

I also enjoyed Django Unchained quite a bit. And big shoutout to Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, yet another masterpiece from one of our greatest living directors that the Academy failed to recognize in the way they should have.

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby Eric » Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:27 am

Top 10
01. The Turin Horse
02. This Is Not a Film
03. Consuming Spirits
04. Holy Motors
05. Cosmopolis
06. Lincoln
07. The Loneliest Planet
09. Zero Dark Thirty
08. Moonrise Kingdom
10. Tabu

Anti-Top 10
01. Hitchcock
02. Bully
03. Hyde Park on Hudson
04. Project X
05. Curfew
06. To Rome with Love
07. Taken 2
08. The Lucky One
09. Les Misérables
10. The Sessions

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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:12 am

1. Amour (Michael Haneke)
2. The Sessions (Ben Lewin)
3. Paradise: Faith (Ulrich Seidl)
4. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
5. Paradise: Love (Ulrich Seidl)
6. Dead Europe (Tony Krawitz)
7. Lore (Cate Shortland)
8. Call Girl (Mikael Marcimain)
9. Outing (Sebastian Meise & Thomas Reider)
10. Sightseers (Ben Wheatley)
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby FilmFan720 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:03 am

To me, 2012 had 2 complete achievements in film-making that were near-perfect constructions, completely opposite in scale yet equal in theme and depth: Michael Haneke's Amour and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. The fact that both are nominated in both categories here is a remarkable achievement. It is a toss-up to me as to which gets my vote, and even if Amour ranks slightly higher in my esteem, I gave both votes to Spielberg's now underrated masterpiece.

Sabin, I will completely back you on Silver Linings Playbook. Never having been much of a David O. Russell fan, it remains my biggest surprise of 2012 and remains one of the sharpest films of the year. It is funny, wonderfully acted, poignant all while playing with the tropes of a genre and bending your expectations at every turn. I would place it a strong third here and am so happy that it managed the series of nominations it got.

A fourth film from my own personal Top 5 also managed a double nomination here, making this a remarkable close year in my own preference and the Academy's. Beasts of the Southern Wild is easily the most unique directorial debut of the year; I am not sure now much of the voice of the film will carry over to Zeitlin's next film, but he exploded on the scene with a film so completely realized, so comfortable yet so foreign, that it marks him as a possibility for a great new American director. I really love the film, and I'm not sure how well it stands to repeat viewings, but Zeitlin's nomination may have been the happiest surprise on a morning full of shocks.

As for the others, there are a lot of good films that don't execute as much as they should. Life of Pi is a great ride, but the narrative limitations and flaws of the source material hinder the film too much. Argo is a wonderfully entertaining ride, but in the end the film really has nothing of interest to say. Zero Dark Thirty opens and closes with some really powerful material, and tries to mine some interesting territory, but gets bogged down in the middle. Django Unchained is easily Tarantino's least successful film, with nothing novel to say and no new way to say it. I still haven't seen Les Miserables, and should get around to that one of these days.

Among the films sadly missing from this list, both The Master and Looper would seem to have had a shot in a 10-film roster but didn't get the traction they needed. I also love Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Cabin in the Woods and Anna Karenina.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby Sabin » Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:55 pm

Last year, I had some qualms about calling Silver Linings Playbook the best film of the year or even the best of the nominees. Although it's a little bit easier to make this call now that Amour has such a strong lead, for me Silver Linings Playbook is that rare Oscar heavyweight (and for a moment, it was one) that deserves the hoopla. I've seen it countless times. I have some mild reservations about it that seem to matter less and less every time I watch it. On a personal level, it amped me up creatively in a way that I'm very grateful. The Academy should have honored Silver Linings Playbook and David O. Russell, and it makes no sense to me that the Director's Guild nominated Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper over Russell. Putting aside personal taste in films, I just find that result so perplexing.

I feel like I've talked about the other nominees to death. I'm less interested in how overrated Argo is than how underrated Steven Spielberg's Lincoln has officially become. I do not love the film but it is such a full film that deserves to be remembered for more than the third film that Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar. I think I'd be more forgiving if history remembered it as the film for which he won his most deserving Oscar.
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby ksrymy » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:46 pm

Best Picture
01. Berberian Sound Studio
02. Holy Motors
03. Amour
04. The Master
05. Beasts of the Southern Wild
06. Skyfall
07. Compliance
08. Django Unchained
09. Silver Linings Playbook
10. The Cabin in the Woods

Best Director
01. Michael Haneke, Amour
02. Peter Strickland, Berberian Sound Studio
03. Leos Carax, Holy Motors
04. Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
05. Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

06. Craig Zobel, Compliance
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Re: Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby mlrg » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:32 pm

voted for Zero Dark Thirty and Spielberg

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Best Picture and Director 2012

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:41 am

2012 was a roller-coaster ride.

Three of the four directors who were most prominent in the annual early guessing game - Ben Affleck (Argo); Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) failed to make the cut. Only Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) receiving his seventh nomination for Best Director and eighth for Best Picture remained in the game. Nominated instead of Affleck and former winners Bigelow and Hooper were former winner Ang Lee (Life of Pi); former nominee David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and first time nominee Michael Hankeke (Amour) as well as newcomer Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), a wild card nominee who had actually been in the conversation since Sundance when his film was presented there in January just two days after completion.

The pundits who predicted a fail for Argo for Best Picture because, forgetting Driving Miss Daisy, "films without Best Director nominees can't win" were of course as out of touch as they were this year predicting that that 12 Years a Slave couldn't win because it wasn't going to win Best Director. Well, sorry, but the old assumptions don't always work. Will they again? Well, "there's always next year" as the saying goes.

Ang Lee, getting his second win for Best Director on his third nomination for his epic fantasy was a nice win for a decided underdog but my preference was Haneke for his harrowing but ultimately humane study of death and dying. I was pleased for Lee, but really happy that they didn't award David O. Russell for the wildly over-rated Silver Linings Playbook or for that matter young Benh Zeitlin for his well-intentioned but equally wildly over-praised glorified home movie.

As for Best Picture, once Affleck was ignored by the directors' branch it was all over. Sure, some of us held out hope for other films, but with the actors' branch controlling the most votes, it should have been clear that revenge was going to be sweet. Zero Dark Thirty might have been in the same position, but its director (Bigelow) had recently won and the film itself was seen in some circles as condoning torture - it didn't but the damage to its chances had already been done.

Argo was a fun ride, a much easier take on recent American history. Life of Pi for which Ang Lee won, was also very much a fun ride. Lincoln, probably the quality film of the year, was for some too much like taking medicine - they would award it for Best Actor, enough to show they liked it if they didn't love it. Les Misérables, an early favorite and my own particular choice, was damned by the pundits who saw it on screeners rather than in theaters where its in-your-face close-ups overwhelmed it in away they didn't on the big screen. Amour was, I suppose, thought to have been honored enough as one of the few foreign language films to have been nominated for Best Picture. Django Unchained was the usual Quentin Tarantino exaggerated nonsense - fun while you're watching it, but without any real substance. Silver Linings Playbook and Beasts of the Southern Wild were films that many were passionate about, but they were never going to be more than niche nominees. Argo, one of the early front-runners, was after the Affleck snub the one that most people were convinced had to win and it did.
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