Lincoln’s LinkedIn profile

Abraham Lincoln

lincolnChief executive @ US of A, March 1861-April 1865

Current: Living statue in downtown D.C., 1914-present (sits for portraits, photos, calendars; works for pennies)

Visit my interactive, here. Follow me on Twitter @Pres_Lincoln or @AbeTheHunter. Find me on Facebook or on a fiver via WheresAbe.com (not to be confused by WheresGeorge.com).

Previous: Splitting fence rails; clerking @ general store; country lawyer; legislator, Illinois General Assembly; U.S. House of Representatives, one term (1847-49)

Education: Reading borrowed books; home-schooled by stepmother; no formal education or higher education

Skills: Telling the truth; living a lie; oration; stand-up; diplomacy; emancipation; proclamations

Connections:

thCarl Sandburg, biographer

dorisDoris Kearns Goodwin, biographer

thJames M. McPherson, biographer

thBill O’Reilly

thDavid Herbert Donald, biographer

thTimur Bekmambetov, director

thCAB37FEGTim Burton, writer/filmmaker

thCAG3FE6XSteven Spielberg, director

thCACO9BS5E.T., confidant, fellow spa regular (for facials)

thCATC098PKristen Stewart

thCAMKMLLD

Oscar?

Activities: Coin collector; bill collector (during government tenure); lobbyist for Americans for Common Cents: www.pennies.org; leads protests against Citizens to Retire the U.S. Penny.

Retired activities: Attending the theater

Groups: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; PFLAG; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Rainbows International; investor and on board at Lincoln Logs™

Personal quotes: “Four score and seven years ago … etc.”; “Bad promises are better broken than kept”; “Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory”; “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

OTHER CONNECTIONS LIKE THIS. DO YOU KNOW …?

thCAA5AAPQDaniel Day-Lewis

thCAV12UJQBenjamin Walker

thCAVTHAOUDennis Weaver

thCAIULDF2Gregory Peck

thCAIQ19KPHenry Fonda

Argo’s oops

Been dragging my feet on my pick for Best Picture as distinguished from my prediction for Best Picture, which, everyone who has been reading my blog knows, is Argo … meaning pretty much no one is aware.

Here’s another reason why Argo doesn’t earn my vote, not even for film editing: a honkin’ continuity problem.

Scenes between John Goodman and Alan Arkin I would watch again and again. But that's about it.

Scenes between John Goodman and Alan Arkin I would watch again and again. But that’s about it.

Watching it a second time with my husband this afternoon (because I had dozed off during three scenes the first time and wanted to give it a fair viewing), he astutely wondered whether the use of the Rolling Stones’ Little T&A was anachronistic.

When we first meet John Chambers, played by big talent John Goodman, on the set of the minotaur movie, a date flashes across the screen: January 19, 1980. Pipe in Little T&A — which wasn’t released until August 1981 on the Stones’ Tattoo You LP.

Sure, that album is composed of studio outtakes, some of which dated back a decade. Little T&A was intended for release on the 1980 Emotional Rescue LP, but was dropped. Plus, forgiveably, the song isn’t playing in the movie’s reality, it’s merely providing the soundtrack. But even if it had been released on Emotional Rescue, that LP didn’t come out until June of 1980.

The bigger problem arises in the next scene, after Chambers has received a call from CIA agent and exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck). Mendez shows up for their meeting — one assumes time has passed — and bam, a close shot of a newspaper shows the date: Jan. 15, 1980.

I did not know CIA agents could do that: travel back in time.

Now maybe this newspaper was a weekly. In fact, it probably was Variety, now that I think about it. Still … sloppy, sloppy. Why even show the date? Why even use that song? Add that to the other fabrications that other critics find offensive — despite the movie’s caveat “Some scenes and dialogue in this film have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes” — I simply don’t feel any compulsion to see Argo again and again, as I would a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) or The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Maybe I’m being nitpicky, but a Best Picture needs to be held up to the highest standards to stand the test of time. Given that the prevailing winds favor Argo, “a paean to Hollywood,” as my husband summed it up, I now feel free and unembarrassed to vote for my own favorite, also destined to be a “Hollywood”-style classic: Silver Linings Playbook. It was not only unpredictably delightful but flawless in its portrayal of flawed humans. I would watch it again and get sucked into it whenever I catch a glimpse on cable, and have already recommended it to friends (my criteria for Best Picture, as outlined in my overall predictions & picks announcement, here).

"Silver Linings Playbook" is about something that is relevant today -- mental illness, bipolar disorder -- and I feel a Best Picture winner should act as a societal time capsule. The other front-running films indicate we are looking to the past for answers. Which may be true.

“Silver Linings Playbook” is about something that is relevant today — mental illness, bipolar disorder — and I feel a Best Picture winner should act as a societal time capsule. The other front-running films indicate we are looking to the past for answers, which may be true. But that’s just not where my head, or heart, is at.

In second place, for me: Django Unchained, because it makes a statement, has a point of view, fits an actual genre, and is destined to be a cult classic. It also confronts our past, a very ugly chapter, but with judgment, attitude and no mercy. As Ann Hornaday wrote in The Washington Post, Quentin Tarantino brilliantly blended slavery and bounty hunting, which both “commodify” the human body. I cannot wait to catch it again.

Tied for third: Big-Picture pictures Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild remain neck and neck because they both showcase relevant themes (searching for religion/impact of climate change/exploring our relationship to life on the planet/true grit and survival); are breathtakingly poetic and allegorical; and reflect an artful, global period in movies using the best of the latest technology. Plus, storytelling is the star. True art. I would welcome these streamed live on my bedroom wall with a frame around them.

And now I feel I have covered my butt. If one of these four win, I shall be ecstatic.

And then there’s Lincoln. If it wins, I am totally toast.

Happy Oscars Eve to you all, and to all a good night!

Do the Oscars need a new category?

Trivia question: What was the most recent category added to the Academy Awards lineup?

a) Visual Effects

b) Animated Feature

c) Sound Mixing

d) Music (Original Song)

e) Hairstyling and Makeup Design

f) Documentary Short

g) None of the above

If you guessed “a” — or anything else — I’ll tell you at the end of the post whether you’re right.

Meanwhile, having seen 41 Oscar contenders across 23 categories in just the past month, I bet you’re probably thinking that I’m thinking: SO relieved there are not more categories!

Au contraire. How fun it would be to add one more. Call it the Best Bookends award.

Bookends?! Fool, we’re talking movies, not books. With “bookends,” I’m referring to the titles, the credits and those rewarding parting shots after credits roll. Signature signoffs, which most moviegoers miss, are like bows in live theater. Characters often break character or rub some joke into the ground or, in the case of Hitchcock, which I just saw, satiate a viewer’s expectations with a shot of a corpulent Anthony Hopkins doing a classic Hitchcock silhouette against stage footlights.

Movie-editing programs are so widespread that anyone can now create “professional-looking” titles at home, so the pressure is on for studios to go further in defining “professional.” Titling companies — and not the kind you use to buy property — stand on their own these days, so why not reward their creativity with a tiny Oscar? OK, a mini-Oscar, like mini-Reese’s Cups.

Among the more interesting titling I’ve seen this year month:

Skyfall — This movie’s opening sequence should win, hands down. It’s groovy, psychedelic and feels like an animated short. When it was over, I already felt I had my money’s worth. But of course this was my first Bond movie. Friends tell me they ALL begin like this, that it wasn’t truly over-the-top. So, hmmm.

Amour — Hard to ignore the titles and credits for this intense Austrian film: stark white lettering on black background and completely silent. My fellow patrons dared not crunch their popcorn, let alone breathe. The titles proved engaging from the start, telling the audience: You are participating in this experience, supply your own soundtrack.

Life of Pi — During extended titles, we tour the zoo of Pi’s childhood — gorgeous, exotic creatures overlaid with graceful letter strokes until the last name gets chased away in a puff by a group of animals. Wish I could remember now which animals … some kind of fowl, I think, though not water fowl.

Django Unchained — I burst out laughing when the Quentin Tarantino movie changed locale and rather than fade in-out with a standard “Mississippi, 1858,” along came a slow, side-scrolling, screen-high, bright-yellow MISSISSIPPI in a goofy, frontiersy font.

Moonrise Kingdom — Credits were done in swirly, utterly unreadable fonts, tacky colors of pink and yellow, which moved too fast to decipher. I thought, “These poor folks aren’t getting their due!” then realized how well the titles fit the spirit of the film: When a 12-year-old girl runs away with her khaki scout, her suitcase is crammed with YA chick lit that she reads aloud to him at bedtime. It seems she designed these titles in her diary using gel pens.

moonrise-kingdom

These two sure looked a lot like Hermione and Harry Potter to me.

Zero Dark Thirty — I can’t remember what it said, but there was a comma missing and this copy editor SAW RED. They call this a journalism drama?! Get a better editor! I was in a foul mood and could hardly enjoy the first torture scene.

Among memorable parting shots:

Argo. Jimmy Carter’s comments about the declassified Argo operation are heard while a side-by-side, then-and-now, fact-vs.-fiction slide show plays. IDs of the actual rescued Americans appear beside screen grabs of the actors who played them, historical shots alongside counterfeit scenes.

Marvel’s The Avengers. After almost saving the world, my favorite character, Robert Downy Jr.’s Iron Man, expresses a craving for shawarma, an Arab meat dish. He tells his A-team, “There’s a shawarma joint two blocks from here, don’t know what it is, but I’ve always wanted to try it.” When the soundtrack play out and credits fade, find our heroes binging. And … scene!

I know there were more … blanking now. Gosh, does this mean I have to sit through them all again?

To make more room for my new category, we could try ending sexism and lump all the men, women, boys and girls into unisex “Lead Acting” and “Supporting Roles” categories. What drama to have Meryl Streep up against Daniel Day-Lewis. Ahem. Even NASCAR’s sexist barriers have been busted through by Sunday’s other main event: Danica Patrick’s inclusive triumph. Because, yeah, just for her to qualify makes her a winner.

OK, pure cheekiness about the new category, but here’s your reward for staying ’til the end: trivia answer is b) The Animated Feature category was added in 2001. Visual Effects has been around since 1939; Sound Mixing since 1930; Original Song, 1934; Hairstyling and Makeup, 1981 (it’s the most recent addition before Animated Feature –before that, it was Sound Editing, added in 1963); and the Documentary Short has been awarded since 1941.

Taking a long shot at Oscar’s short bets

The allure of Oscar shorts: They represent the workshops from which filmmakers master their art and craft. And who doesn’t like rooting for the little guy now and again? Most Oscar watchers don’t bother to see them, so it’s like a horse race, picking the name with the catchiest ring. I’ve seen them all, so I’m here to help shorten your bets.

Guessing which shorts will grab hold of an Oscar, though, is an inexact science. Last year, I correctly predicted only the animated short category. So I’m operating under the assumption that the ones I favor won’t win. You probably should, too.

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

My Prediction: “Open Heart”

open-heart_592x299Open Heart tells the touching tale of eight chronically cheerful Rwandan children dying of rheumatic heart disease, which roughly 13 million of their peers have developed because of untreated strep throat (the disease has been eradicated in the U.S. because of easy access to penicillin). They are treated at a free clinic in Sudan, led by a brilliant, chain-smoking, greasy-haired, elderly surgeon. He spends time pleading with the Sudanese government for a reneged $5 million in funding, so Oscar voters should rise (fund-raise) to the occasion.

ITS EDGE: Academy members seem pressured to pick the documentary that makes the most difference or advances the greatest cause. Typically doesn’t matter whether it’s the best produced film or evokes the greatest emotional response from an audience. Seeing that Saving Face won last year — that film shed light on the brutal acid attacks on Pakistani women and a doctor who returns to his homeland to perform pro-bono cosmetic surgery — I’m betting Open Heart will play on those same voters’ heartstrings.

My Pick: “Mondays at Racine”

mondaysatracine-300x225So many beautiful things about this film, but the beauty of its title is you have no idea what it’s about if you go into the shorts experience cold, as I prefer to do: A salon run by two sisters on Long Island — sisters who were forced to witness their mother hiding from the world while undergoing her own cancer treatments — extends free beauty and pampering once a month to female chemo patients. One could argue this is this year’s feminist piece and will follow in the footsteps of Saving Face. Though the topic is cancer, it is more than a warm pink fuzzy as these courageous women bare far more than their bald heads and flat chests. Every member of our audience, male and female, needed time to compose themselves after its disquieting conclusion.

Also-rans:

  • “Redemption” — You’d expect a religious treatise, but “Redemption” follows down-on-their-luck New Yorkers who “can” — redeeming bottles and cans after scrapheap-snorkeling 24/7. People of all ethnicities and walks of life do it, sometimes dragging along kids for lack of day care. The territorial disputes are amusing, interviews at times are LOL funny, but ultimately the “there but for the grace of God go I” revelation is chilling. Academy voters might have a soft spot for these colorful souls, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it pulled out a win. This is everything a documentary short should be.
  • “Inocente” — Probably the best-produced of the documentary shorts about a 15-year-old homeless Latina artist who finds a path out of her dead-end life. Handicap: I see marketing written all over it and the focus is a bit too narrow to earn my vote.
  • Kings Point” — Far more depressing than Amour, this bittersweet look at end-of-life issues is set in one of those sunny, Southern retirement communities filled with eternal darkness. Kill me now.

POST-OSCAR UPDATE: “Inocente” wins; shoulda known.

ANIMATED SHORTS

papermanMy Prediction: Paperman

On the strength of Disney’s promotion — nearly everyone I know has either viewed or shared this cartoon online — this story of love-at-first-sight and paper-airplane darts seems destined to win. I do like the black-and-white undertones of paper saving the day in a digital world.

head-overheelsMy Pick: Head Over Heels

While Paperman witnesses to romance, Head Over Heels — the only non-American contender in this category — is the real deal. In this stop-action gem, an elderly couple share a topsy-turvy house, where one’s ceiling is the other’s floor. Eventually, they find some kindling and reclaim some common ground. This is to Amour as Silver Linings Playbook is to Paperman.

POST-OSCAR UPDATE: “Paperman” clinched it.

Also-rans:

  • Adam and Dog — The clear winner for all dog owners, about the first domesticated canine. Be prepared to whimper and wag. Loved the watercolors and the artists’ loyalty to the dog’s point of view.
  • Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” — The only short to receive applause in our theater. Familiar but refreshingly unpredictable. Still, it felt like a warm-up short for the rest of the shorts.
  • Fresh Guacamole — Fresh and zesty. This one could win — goes by in a blink and a wink and has absolutely no fat. A friend says it was the best two minutes she spent at the movies.

Bonus: Because the animated shorts are so short, producers threw a few highly commended entries onto the reel. I’ve already written about my favorite, Dripped, from France, here. Abiogenesis from New Zealand was a doodler’s dream, and The Gruffalo’s Child from U.K. and Germany seemed a desperate follow to The Gruffalo (2009), both of which seem too long to be shorts. I’d rather read the books and imagine my own visuals than hear it read by squirrels.

LIVE-ACTION SHORTS

ht_buzkashi_boys_mi_130212_wgPrediction: Buzkashi Boys

Guilt over the war alone could edge out a win for this boilerplate buddy flick (wanna-be Western) from Afghanistan. According to The Huffington Post, the young Afghan stars will attend the Oscars ceremony. Hard to send them home without a gift bag.

shorts-curfew31rv1My Pick: Curfew

Pure made-in-the-USA genius. A suicidal uncle’s day out with his nonpareil niece proves doubly life-affirming.

POST-OSCAR UPDATE: “Curfew” took home the Oscar!

Also-rans:

  • Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) — From Belgium, a film school-ish portrait of hell.
  • Henry — Oh, Canada, Alzheimer’s is so last decade.
  • Asad — South African/U.S. filmmakers track a young boy at the crossroads of becoming either a Somali pirate or legendary fisherman. An animal from the sea helps seal his fate. Also could win, as it shows the flip side of piracy.

Oscars picks from a patron in a leading supporting role

oscarIgnorance can be bliss when it comes to predicting the Oscars. Sadly, I know too much.

Most Academy members don’t have time to see all 38 Oscar-nominated features in every category, so they watch only those that get mailed to them or for which they’ve been wined, dined and re-wined. This year, though, was unique in that most of the nominees in the running for major awards were still in theaters at the time the contenders were announced, giving voters a chance to easily do their homework via legwork.

Me? Last month, I had seen only two films in the running in any category: “Lincoln” (up for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Directing, Cinematography … phew! … where was I? Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Mixing and Adapted Screenplay) and “Snow White and the Huntsman” (Costume Design, Visual Effects). I know, quite the pair.

With two days to go, my tally is 23 of 38 features and all 15 shorts (I had seen one of the shortest-ever animated shorts beforehand: Fresh Guacamole, likely during pre-roll for Lincoln).

Still haven’t seen The Hobbit, I refuse to see Ted, and I am not fully qualified to vote in six categories because I haven’t viewed each nominee: Animated Feature Film (Frankenweenie will win though), Documentary Feature, Foreign Language Film (Amour has it), Makeup and Hairstyling (dammit, Hobbit), Production Design (Hobbit-snobbit!), Visual Design (hobbled again by The Hobbit). I shall focus on the shorts in a separate post, as if anyone cares. (I do!)

So, let’s get on with it.

BEST PICTURE

My Prediction: “Argo”

The metadata, media, my mom, Google searches and gang-think all point to Argo becoming only the fourth movie in Oscar history to win best picture without its director also being nominated. This was clearly a case of Hollywood feeling sorry for Ben Affleck and rallying. Don’t get me wrong: I liked the movie. I also confess to starting to doze off just a tad (well, it was the late show and the third movie I had seen that day) but I swear I didn’t miss much, because when I came to, there was that woman with the 1970s yearbook haircut and glasses still looking fretful. What was stellar about this movie: the acting by veteran legends John Goodman — who also stole the show in Flight, up for Denzel Washington, er, best actor — Alan Arkin and Ben himself; nail-biting film editing; and the exquisite costume and production design. It was authentic, gritty and gripping, even if it did rewrite history with a Hollywood ending. And amid all the beatings Zero Dark Thirty is taking for its depiction of torture, Argo provides the counterpoint: Torture=bad, Capture by Iranians=torture, therefore Iranians=really bad. I love how the story of a fake movie was a fake movie within a fake movie. Probably because I’m a journalist and take a hard-line on “facts,” as we know them, I still don’t want it or Zero Dark Thirty to win … and I wasn’t a big fan of The Artist winning last year, either, as it was just another Hollywood valentine. You want a Valentine? Go see Amour on Valentine’s Day, alone, as I did.

Suddenly I’m feeling sorry for left-out Lincoln. Wasn’t it supposed to sweep up a month ago?

My Pick: This has been the hardest decision of my week. My favorite movie experiences among the nine nominees were, in order but kinda a five-way tie: Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour, Life of Pi and Django Unchained— all because I had zero expectations going in and they each surprised and inspired me to the core. I also loved Lincoln, Les Misérables and Zero Dark Thirty, but I can’t overlook their leaden flaws. I have to base my decision on which movie I would get sucked into and watch again and again on cable forgoing all previous plans, or which I would tell my friends they must see, because that’s what a best picture should do. That movie this year would be … I’ll tell you at the end of this post. Nyah, nyah.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

My Prediction & Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis

No-brainer. If he wins, he becomes the first actor to win three Oscars for a leading role. We should bow to him or maybe elect him president for real.

I marveled at Day-Lewis’ walk as Lincoln, but also harbor great affection for Joaquin Phoenix’s deflated Popeye stance as a sailor with no compass in the masterful The Master.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

My Prediction: Christoph Waltz

Loved him, but it’s an unlevel playing field because he felt like an actor in a leading role, and I am irked Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t get the best supporting actor nod or that Jamie Foxx didn’t get nominated for best actor.

My Pick: Robert De Niro

I’m tempted to give it to Alan Arkin for his delivery of just one or two lines — polar opposite of Waltz’s saturation performance — but De Niro is due, proving he’s still got it while redeeming himself for all that Focker nonsense.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

My Prediction & Pick: Jennifer Lawrence

Sorry to be boring. I love Jessica Chastain — she could be the next Meryl Streep — but this was not the role she should have been nominated for. Naomi Watts is Lawrence’s biggest competition, but there was so much about just being dazed, and you can’t discount her boost from hairstyling and makeup design. Emmanuelle Riva, yay, but her co-star, the pigeon … I mean Jean-Louis Trintignant, should have been nominated as well in that case. And I love kids, but Quvenzhané’s acting is a credit to director Benh Zeitlin.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

My Prediction: Anne Hathaway

My Pick: Helen Hunt

Sorry, Sally Field. I’ll miss your acceptance speech. Really, really, I will. I know you gained weight for to play Lincoln’s “loony” wife and all (and I loved how you didn’t make her too loony because, heck, I could relate), but Helen Hunt got totally naked in an artful way. Yes, she does that little smirk, and it’s a crutch, but you do the open-mouth exasperated thing. And I did love Anne Hathaway to death, but she loses points for all those talk shows. Did I mention I’m anti-marketing?

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

My Prediction: “Frankenweenie”

Still need to see two, but they all pretty much follow the same formula: Misfit kid gets comeuppance by defeating villains/solving puzzle and saving the day!

CINEMATOGRAPHY

My Prediction: “Anna Karenina”

My Pick: “Life of Pi”

Just to vent here. The cameras were well-choreographed in Anna Karenina, every frame composed like a painting, but I felt I was watching a flip-book story board and got a wee bit dizzy. If it hadn’t been for Keira Knightley and Jude Law’s flesh-and-blood performances I would have died of distraction. The actors and set pieces seemed part of the director’s dollhouse. And who does Joe Wright think he is, Fellini? I know Fellini and, Joe, you are no Fellini.

COSTUME DESIGN

My Prediction & Pick: “Mirror Mirror”

I am going out on a limb here, but the duds in Mirror Mirror dazzled without encumbering character. Whimsical, but not victims of whimsy. On the other hand, I could lobby for Lincoln as a sentimental favorite, his non-cliche stovepipe hat and all. Winning this early-in-the-proceedings Oscar could be a sign of a complete sweep at the end.

Truly, I’d welcome either of the Snow White flicks winning, just please, Oscar gods, don’t give it to Anna Karenina. Those costumes, while fancy-pants, looked as if they’d barely been worn, except maybe once for fittings then the actors were told they couldn’t play in them or get them mussed up.

UPDATE at 5:17 p.m.: Credits just rolled on Mirror Mirror, and I learned it was dedicated to Eiko Ishioka, its own costume designer, who died Jan. 21 —less than two weeks after nominations were announced. This category just got interesting. I have no doubt now she will win posthumously. It’s the kind of story Hollywood eats up. If she doesn’t win, I will eat my stovepipe hat.

DIRECTING

My Prediction: Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln”

Kudos for also directing screenwriter Tony Kushner, no small feat.

My Pick: David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook”

Could be an upset! Would also revel in either Ang Lee or Benh Zeitlin getting a steal.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

My Prediction & Pick: “The Invisible War”

Only one I’ve seen so far, but will have seen four by the time the Red Carpet is unrolled. Still, I can’t imagine any subject being more timely, rally-cry important or outrage-inducing than institutionalized rape in the military.

FILM EDITING

My Prediction: “Argo”

My Pick: “Silver Linings Playbook”

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

My Prediction & Pick: “Amour”

How could it not win if it’s also nominated for Best Picture? “A Separation” (2011) all over again. (That Iranian brilliance was nominated for screenplay and best foreign film, not quite the same deal, but once a foreign film is elevated, it typically prevails.)

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

My Prediction: “Life of Pi”

Hypnotic, but relentless. Still, it’s nice to indulge in something on the total opposite spectrum from John Williams.

My Pick: “Skyfall”

Loved how the new sound melded into the old Bond theme. In general, the music kept my adrenaline going throughout.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

My Prediction: Skyfall from “Skyfall”

I think Adele’s performance seals it, and the way the song grooved with the titles was old-fashioned solid gold.

My Pick: Suddenly from “Les Miz”

Aside from the heart-stopping opening and Anne Hathaway’s scene, this song was the moment Les Miz earned my unbridled attention and affection. Stage revivalists should take note.

SOUND EDITING

My Prediction: “Skyfall”

The Oscar almost always goes to action-genre movies. My, Skyfall is doing better than I thought it would.

My Pick: “Django Unchained”

The gunfire and squelchy body parts were indeed impressive if over-the-top — expert sound work is what sold it all and made us squeamish. Also loved all the table-settings/dinner sounds. God, I love this movie. It needs some extra recognition. Maybe best picture?

SOUND MIXING

My Prediction & Pick: “Les Misérables”

C’mon, you gotta hand it to ’em, that wasn’t easy!

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

My Prediction: Tony Kushner for “Lincoln”

Well, duh. And I get the feeling he is STILL revising the screenplay.

My Pick: David Magee for “Life of Pi

… or David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook”

I honestly can’t decide. Perhaps I should read both books first. Anyone out there who has who cares to weigh in? “Life of Pi” dealt in the art of storytelling, and Magee proved the consummate artist. And kudos to Russell. I mean — the man was a wizard on “Silver Linings,” it was his baby and, in the grand scheme of things, the perfect contemporary Hollywood creation, a Cinderella story examining “crazy in love” against the madness of modern times.

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

My Prediction: “Zero Dark Thirty”

I think we have to acknowledge the renewed sense of patriotism and pride people felt attending this movie. In terms of writing, yes, it was too long, but I felt it was because the researchers were throwing their sources a bone. Plus, in terms of writing, there was a nice, subtle “twist,” whether fiction or fact, to help explain why Osama bin Laden was shot on sight. Made me feel better about things, anyway.

My Pick: “Moonrise Kingdom”

This quirky, “camp” movie about misfits, puppy love and khaki scouts is a timely salute in a year when the Boy Scouts finally decided to slacken its anti-gay stance and allow local troops to set their own policies on inclusion.

AND NOW, THE ENVELOPE PLEASE … MY PICK FOR BEST PICTURE:

I am kinda embarrassed to say. I guess I simply wasn’t up for a historical treatise or compromised journalism this year. I wanted something more holistic. So I’m leaning, at the moment, to choosing between Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook. Or maybe Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Again I’m feeling sorry for Lincoln. Maybe I should see that one again.

I may need one more day to puzzle this out. Let me deal with the shorts first, and I’ll get back to you on that best picture thing.

Oscar’s snub of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ resurrected

The_Century_16_theater_in_Aurora_CO_-_Shooting_locationI give workmate Jon Briggs — a man making his way through a Criterion Collection bucket list — daily briefings on my Oscar movie marathoning. His dependable retort: “I vote for The Dark Knight Rises.”

And just because the Christopher Nolan showpiece isn’t nominated for a single statuette doesn’t mean Briggs’ vote doesn’t count. His is one of countless anti-Oscar comments tick-marking through social media feeds as the Oscar hype reaches its climax, five days before the 85th annual awards ceremony. Briggs feels about award shows much as I feel about the Super Bowl: lotsa grandstanding, wagering and belly-aching over nothing. Still, people get as invested in favorite directors, actors, even studios as others do with sports franchises.

Some have mused that last summer’s epic Batman flick isn’t a player this year because it’s forever tainted by the flickering shadows of 12 people killed, 57 maimed and dozens more forever traumatized in the Aurora, Colo., move theater massacre. Parading it past survivors might refresh their wounds, they say. Ignoring it, letting it die or fade away in some way serves the greater good.

dark_knight_risesBriggs argues merely that the Visual Effects category is a joke with its heavily CGI’ed nominees — that The Dark Knight Rises didn’t rely on as many computer graphic tricks to dazzle, that its more “realistic” studio techniques elevate it to a higher art form. I certainly see his point. Too much CGI or canned action puts me to sleep, and that’s one reason I don’t clamber to see the Lord of the Rings movies, and why I literally have dozed through most of them. That’s also why I mustered respect for Les Misérables director Tom Hooper for forcing his largely untrained cast to sing live, without a soundtrack, for a more visceral connection. And why I look forward to seeing Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City, which celebrates the Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio that produced such benchmark LPs as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Nirvana’s Nevermind on an old-fashioned sound board, before digital mastering started isolating musicians and dissolving their chemistry.

Movies, though, are a means to escape reality, and the magic of movies has always been about exploiting the latest technology to make the impossible possible. I, too, am a huge fan of old movies that do so much with so little. I marvel at their quaint resourcefulness. I remember many failed attempts at infusing even more reality, like Smell-O-Vision, into the fantastical cinematic experience. But one day — probably tomorrow at this rate — even the latest 3-D technology, Dolby sound and CGI gimmicks will seem amateurish.

So which is it? Do we want our films realistic or crazy-far-out? Do we go to the movies to divine truths of our world and behaviors, to mirror ourselves, or do we want our minds blown discovering new worlds? Do we ooh and ahh at special effects pulled out of someone’s butt, or at actors like Tom Cruise and Daniel Craig who perform so many of their own stunts? It’s a smorgasbord. Movies bring everything to the table, to serve us all. You can turn up your nose if you don’t dig a dish.

Escaping reality. That’s the horror of what happened in Aurora, when unimaginable reality visited upon them, their brains in an altered state akin to dreaming and truly defenseless because of their own suspended animation. A shattered reality.

And yet the “magic” of The Dark Knight Rises, for me — despite it being a kick-ass great film made more suspenseful as I watched dreading what I imagined those people felt and when they felt it — is that it sits there in the shadows of every film I have seen since July 20, 2012. It is there when the slide comes up instructing me to locate my exits. And I’ve already checked, so no need to remind me. It is there when I am in a sold-out, crowded theater and I don’t know whether to take comfort in that thought or to be frightened out of my wits. It is there when I am alone in a theater, watching the last show before closing and my third movie of the day because I am cramming on Oscar nominees, thinking no one else could be this crazy … and then someone strolls in and I wonder: Could he be crazier, and also be packing?

2007_0605_dupontmetroIt is there when I emerge from the Metro station at DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C., on my way to see yet another show, and the Walt Whitman quote etched in granite above my head reads: “Thus in silence in dreams’ projections, returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals; the hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand, I sit by the restless all dark night — some are so young; some suffer so much — I recall the experience sweet and sad.”

And if The Dark Knight Rises is not there, somewhere, during Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, I may become just as disillusioned with awards shows as my pal Briggs.

It deserves to be there, resurrected, along with the shadows of those innocents who expired just because they sought diversion from reality at the movies.

Weighing the merits of Oscar-movie bingeing

People think I’m crazy trying to see all of the Oscar-nominated movies in every category. My husband says: “Don’t go see something just because you haven’t seen it.”

I guess he means I should use more discretion based on buzz.

Therein lies the rub. The fact something is nominated is enough buzz for me. Exercising no discretion is the point. Technically, I lean anti-buzz by seeing everything. My method rejects those marketing/media campaigns that seal the winner before the envelope gets unsealed.

Sure, someone had to do some marketing just to get on the nominees’ list. But most of them have no chance in Jupiter of winning. Predicting the winner isn’t what this is about. It’s not who will win but who should win that interests me. The two are rarely aligned.

I’m not a moviegoing addict. (Is that denial speaking?) If I were, I would see all the crap out there and go to the movies every week. I don’t. I see maybe four first-run movies a year. When the nominations come out in January, however, I go looking to be inspired. I want to sample la crème de la crème, but I don’t have time to just throw darts, nor do I want some Google or Amazon search engine analyzing my “tastes” and saying: “If you liked that, you’ll like this.”

Nope, it’s diversity I seek. Pure who-woulda-thunk-it-gee-whiz discovery. I use the list of nominees as a starting point, but typically my muse is holed up far down the list.

I’m also interested in discovering what themes have bubbled up, like water. What the latest commentary on society — humanity — might be, as reflected by these artists.

Filmmaking is an art, so what better place to sample rich nibbles than from those who stretch the envelope with experimental shorts?

dripped-1-510x286One particular animated short, which didn’t even get nominated but is on the “highly commended” list, sums it up for me this year. It comes from France and translates as “Dripped.” Luckily, the folks who put out the Academy members’ voting reel didn’t have enough nominees to fill it up — attention spans are shrinking, so the animated nominees are shorter than ever — and they included some also-rans.

“Dripped” is about an art thief who fills his walls with master works, and then eats them.

chez-eddy-dripped-surface-and-surfaceHe gets a momentary high by transforming into the theme of the work, whether a cherubic angel or a cubist monstrosity. He ingests all of the art in his possession then glumly stares at empty walls. Having depleted his sources, he gets resourceful and tries his hand at creating his own art. When he eats his own work, though, it sickens him. He retches in disgust. His creations just aren’t good enough. And doesn’t every artist feel this way in the beginning?

Eventually, he drips some paint where he hadn’t intended … and the dam of inspiration bursts open. He creates a style, eats it and is transformed into beautiful drips of paint that somersault joyfully along city streets.

Cut to the art gallery, where his own works of dripped paint now line the walls. He’s arrived.

d1And so it goes for artists. Everything stinks for a while, but at least you try, while sampling other great works dripping with inspiration. Maybe you aren’t exactly stealing ideas, but something rubs off and allows your own style or idea to break through.

That’s what I’m doing here: bingeing on art. Insatiably. The message for us all here is “I coulda been a contender.”

There’s no shame in being an also-ran, Drippers, because it means at least you ran.

Where I stand as of today:

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • The Master
  • Flight
  • The Impossible
  • The Sessions
  • Brave
  • Frankenweenie
  • ParaNorman
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits — may catch it On Demand. not necessary, as I’ve already seen animated feature winner, shhh.
  • Wreck-It Ralph — will catch it at second-run theater for $2
  • Anna Karenina — I’ve passed up many chances to see this … somehow can’t get up for it, but it’s now On Demand, so no excuses
  • Skyfall
  • Mirror Mirror — On Demand. If time.
  • 5 Broken Cameras — found it on free Internet download.
  • The Gatekeepers — Opens in D.C. Friday, plan to see it
  • How to Survive a Plague — CAN’T FIND IT. won’t see it.
  • The Invisible War
  • Searching for Sugar Man — will catch it On Demand.
  • Hitchcock — at last! On Demand.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — will see it at Smithsonian IMAX this weekend.
  • Chasing Ice — will download song it’s nominated for, at least.
  • Ted — My ultimate anti-buzz demonstration: I refuse to see this, despite the fact creator Seth MacFarlane is hosting the Academy Awards show and I do like teddy bears. I will download the song, tho.
  • Kon-Tiki (Norway)
  • No (Chile) — doesn’t open locally until March 1, but found it on free Internet download.
  • A Royal Affair (Denmark) — one local theater is still showing it. Hoping it lasts through the weekend. Otherwise, don’t care, because it looks a lot like “Anna Karenina,” plus “Amour” will win this category.
  • War Witch (Canada) — CAN’T FIND IT. probably won’t see it.
  • Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Prometheus — available On Demand.
  • Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Moonrise Kingdom — available On Demand, and this WILL be the next one I rent. Writing categories are a must for me.

SHORTS — It’s a wrap! (My picks, in an upcoming post.)

  • Inocente
  • Kings Point
  • Mondays at Racine
  • Open Heart
  • Redemption
  • Adam and Dog
  • Fresh Guacamole
  • Head Over Heels
  • Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
  • Paperman
  • Asad
  • Buzkashi Boys
  • Curfew
  • Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
  • Henry

Water under the Red Carpet

H2O is a major player in movies nominated for Oscars 2013. (UPDATE from the Red Carpet: DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, when asked why there was such an amazing field of movies and talent this year, replied: “There must be something in the water.”) If you need a drinking game for Sunday’s event, you might consider taking a swig each time you hear a plug for these water-saturated nominees.

Beasts of the Southern WildBeasts of the Southern Wild (up for Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Directing, Adapted Screenplay): Squatters living in the bayou are preyed upon by melting ice caps, furious storms and cataclysmic flooding.

reg_1024.lifeofpi.tigerswim.mh.072612Life of Pi (up for Best Picture, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Adapted Screenplay): No biblical flooding here, but an ungodly storm capsizes a boat loaded with zoo animals, and it’s The Young Man and the Sea — only sub an adult Bengal tiger for the great marlin. Even the protagonist’s name, “Pi,” is short for “Piscine” — French for “pool” — and as a youth he’s dared to drink of holy water, which he does, before a priest helps quench his thirst for both water and every ounce of religion he can absorb.

the-impossible-movie-reviewThe Impossible (up for Actress in a Leading Role): In a word: tsunami.

runningwaterAmour (up for Best Picture, Best Actress, Directing, Foreign Language Film): Well, there was that running tap — Hitchcockian suspense!

The Master (up for Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role): This post-World War II intrigue has its share of, ahem, seamen [sic] and boats, but it’s more about a sailor who has lost his moral compass and his pursuit of spiritual cleansing — plus a dizzying consumption of rot-gut spirits.

Skyfall (up for Cinematography, Original Score, Original Song, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing): 007 plunges into the water after being “killed” and before his resurrection.

Les Misérables (up for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role Original Song, Costume Design, Makeup and Hair Styling, Production Design, Sound Mixing): Possibly the best shot since Titanic of a tilted boat takes your breath away in the opening scene, and although there’s water, water everywhere, you are immediately thirsty. Plus, it seems to rain a lot (A Little Fall of Rain never hurt anyone) and everyone sweats a lot, the audience cries big crocodile tears and there’s that whole sewer sequence.

Emotionally drenching Les Miz.

Emotionally drenching Les Miz.

Django Unchained (up for Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Original Screenplay): During one of Django’s visions, he sees his wife, Hilde, as something like the lady in the lake, misty-eyed and surrounded by mist.KonTiki

Kon Tiki (up for Foreign Language Film): Crossing  the South Pacific on a tippy raft in shark-infested waters — c’mon, dive in!

Moonrise Kingdom (up for Writing-Original Screenplay) Raging floods and raging hormones flow through this “camp” fairy tale of puppy love between two misfits. And aren’t we all misfits? Especially fun is the bit where the boy walks past one of those old sentry water fountains and plays with it, as we all did in school, just to marvel at how it worked.

Asad (up for Live-Action Short): South African/U.S. filmmakers track a young boy at the crossroads of becoming either a Somali pirate or legendary fisherman. An animal from the sea helps seal his fate.

201b8b8c44da3d00d2eaf2cc2b8fc593

There’s certainly no shortage of gorgeous water shots for movie lovers to drink in this year.

For your drinking game, you might even toss in “Flight” (about a high-functioning alcoholic who happens to be a commercial pilot) and the documentary short “Redemption,” about canning in New York City — people down on their luck who live off of recycling bottles and cans. Haven’t yet gotten to the drippy animated feature “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” or the “Chasing Ice” flick about the actual melting ice caps. Give me time.

Eeek. Running out of time.

Someone should make an app for Oscar marathoners

The Washington Post does a pretty good job rounding up locations for me -- despite the fact its redesigned print movie grid is utterly unreadable.

The Washington Post does a pretty good job rounding up locations for me — despite the fact its redesigned print movie grid is utterly unreadable.

I’ll bet there are a lot of us out there: movie die-hards who cram to see all of the Oscar-nominated films in the six weeks between January announcements and the gala February date — the same time period when nominees are getting fitted for gowns and tuxes and writing and rehearsing and rewriting their ad-libbed reactions to their awards.

Does anyone else appreciate how hard it is to plan out the times and routes to various theaters, often in other states, working around one’s work and social obligations?!?!?!? Not to mention incorporating On Demand and other avenues of scoring. Fandango and MovieFone are of no use when all you have is an iPhone 3, one tiny screen on which to map both showtimes and compass points, and you’re in a strange city (Chicago, for me), and half the phone numbers listed for theaters are disconnected or centralized at Regal headquarters, and you aren’t sure which theaters are worth their salt in concessions.

I spent a few hours last week in Chicago literally chasing movies — first figuring out which theaters were showing multiple titles that I still needed to see, so I could squeeze in a double feature on my one night free, then figuring out if it was close enough in rush-hour traffic, then trying to determine parking and how far I needed to walk. I missed several start times literally by 10 minutes, trudging through snow, and had to start again from square one, Googling and mapping. By the time I made it to a legit theater for a legit movie, I had time for only “Skyfall,” scratch the double feature.

We’d pay good money for such an app.

My old-school app that I keep folded up in my purse.

My old-school app that I keep folded up in my purse. Requires a peripheral called a “pen.”

Today, my plan is to see “The Master” and “The Impossible” — thus completing the “Top 6” categories that most movie fans aim for. Of course, I aim for more — 37 feature-film nominees, in every category, excluding “Ted,” which I refuse to see. Tomorrow it’s “Anna Karenina.” I’ve heard that one’s just as bad as “Ted.” Perhaps there’s time also for foreign film nominee “A Royal Affair,” playing at the same theater.

Would be heaven if I could just type these titles into an app and see ALL my options in the D.C. metro area. I also want to plug in my work schedule, commuting times and other commitments to block out the entire next week, fitting them in like puzzle pieces to ensure I can make it from one theater to the next in time for previews, and also know which theaters are changing up their shows next Friday, and to what. Like an old-fashioned newspaper grid. Plus a score card showing what I’ve seen and what’s left to see. Plus reminders on what awards the movies are up for before the titles begin. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

App-arently.

My status, with checkmarks on what I’ve seen, as of this moment: 16, not even halfway, but I got a really really late start. How is your score card / dance card filling up?

  1. Amour
  2. Argo
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  4. Django Unchained
  5. Les Misérables
  6. Life of Pi
  7. Lincoln
  8. Silver Linings Playbook
  9. Zero Dark Thirty
  10. The Master
  11. Flight
  12. The Impossible
  13. The Sessions
  14. Brave
  15. Frankenweenie
  16. ParaNorman
  17. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  18. Wreck-It Ralph
  19. Anna Karenina
  20. Skyfall
  21. Mirror Mirror
  22. 5 Broken Cameras
  23. The Gatekeepers
  24. How to Survive a Plague
  25. The Invisible War
  26. Searching for Sugar Man
  27. Hitchcock
  28. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  29. Chasing Ice
  30. Ted
  31. Kon-Tiki (Norway)
  32. No (Chile)
  33. A Royal Affair (Denmark)
  34. War Witch (Canada)
  35. Marvel’s The Avengers
  36. Prometheus
  37. Snow White and the Huntsman
  38. Moonrise Kingdom

And I am “done” (fit to judge) these categories:

Best Picture

Directing

Film Editing

Sound Editing

Sound Mixing (same thing? c’mon.)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Seeing three more movies mentioned will give me seven more categories by tomorrow.

Actor in a Leading Role

Actor in a Supporting Role

Actress in a Leading Role

Actress in a Supporting Role

Cinematography

Costume Design

Music (Original Score)

Still not good enough, not until I get Writing (Original Screenplay). My kingdom for a “Moonrise Kingdom” showing!!!

Oscar movie date night: Double-dip features

the-oscars_320Finally wrapped up my screening of all nine Best Picture nominees for this year’s Oscars − aptly, “Amour” was a Valentine’s Day morning delight.

Something I noticed about this field’s crop is that they can be paired off thematically. So if you, like me, had a bunch left to see before the Feb. 24 deadline, here is my proposed clumping.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

&

Life of Pi

Animal love.

The movies go marching two by two, so bring on the animals — and the water and questionable boats. Both of these coming-of-age films are visual masterpieces, one from Bollywood, the other the bayou. “Beasts” follows a young girl’s survivalist spirit amid powerful forces of nature, namely floods and flawed humans, although there is no judgment here, only acceptance and shimmering love. The work is primal, pungent poetry, and if you don’t cry puddles — well, I won’t judge. In “Pi,” a lone teen survivor of a shipwreck discovers his manhood via primal fear on the high seas — but the focus is on spirituality and faith, storytelling and myth. In each of these Big Picture pictures, a colorful tale is wildly manipulated, heavily accented narration is riveting, pain gets painted over by emotion-drenched cinematography, and our intrepid protagonists go by funky nicknames: Hushpuppy and Pi. I’d suggest seeing “Beasts” first, as it catches you off guard and leaves you breathless, but is still a mere entree to the more lush (if you can imagine) “Pi,” with its cohesive and slightly more uplifting script — plus, its animals aren’t CGI-generated. The opening titles alone — touring an exotic zoo in 3-D David Attenborough mode — are worth the ticket, as is a goofy meerkat scene and sublime sea shots. For two movies featuring no Hollywood stars, these leave you starry-eyed.

Django Unchained

&

Lincoln

For those not into bondage, an anti-slavery pair.

Attention, even Civil War re-enactors: You need to see “Django” first, to summon proper outrage over slavery, before “Lincoln” tackles the seed of a solution. As campy as Quentin Tarantino’s gory frolic is — no question he was influenced by Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” — there is a moment in which he lays out stark horrors like a plantation owner’s best china. It’s not during any of those exploding-body-parts parts, but at Candieland when Laura Cayouette as Leo DiCaprio’s “beloved sister” Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, delicate in her corseted finery and doting on petticoated youngsters, contrasts with a naked and tortured Kerry Washington, a serial runaway slave who is lifted from a living grave to be primped as a drop-in guest’s sex toy. It’s akin to seeing fresh-faced German children playing in the commandant’s yard on the other side of the wall at Auschwitz. Powerful stuff, even if some of Tarantino’s touches border on sophomoric, anachronistic and iMovie-ish. Contrast the near lawlessness of his Wild West and ridiculously high body count to the marbled “law”ful pillars of Washington and a lawyerly drama, all climaxing with one famous murder, only alluded to. The shadowy, internal, parched tones of “Lincoln” prove a departure for typically vivid filmmaker Steven Spielberg, and while he turns the mechanics of lobbying into a spy thriller, it gets a little mopey and droopy at the end. My two cents: “Lincoln” is either overhyped or overdone this year. Granted, the acting chops in both movies prove jaw-dropping. But freed slave Django is every bit as heroic as the Great Emancipator. And given neither Jamie Foxx nor DiCaprio was nominated, Christoph Waltz and Daniel Day-Lewis should win their races uncontested.

Argo

&

Zero Dark Thirty

Undercover heroes.

Speaking of history, two suspense-packed docudramas for which we all know the endings go head to head, newsreel to reel. They each retrace special-ops daring-do’s under much-maligned Democratic administrations. But government is not what’s glorified — rather, two headstrong, non-political CIA agents, played biting-lip coolly by Ben Affleck and Jessica Chastain, get their due. Grainy footage helps legitimize “Argo,” and its excellent editing plus authentic costume and production design make it the better film. It also helps resurrect Jimmy Carter’s legacy, a bit. “Zero Dark Thirty,” while closer to the audience’s heart and memory (how can a dusty Iranian hostage crisis compete with 9/11 villains?) seemed timed as part of a campaign to cement Barack Obama’s legacy. It was billed as part journalism, but someone should have found a better editor. Some of the dramatization, of course, can neither be confirmed nor denied. Just odd how everything covert has become overt this year. I’d watch chronologically: 1970s then 20-aughts to tens.

Silver Linings Playbook

&

Amour

Crazy in love.

For better or worse, in sickness or in health. “Amour,” an Austrian film in French with English subtitles set in the romantic cauldron of Paris, has got the ” ’til death do us part” part down. Old people and pigeons, right? Wrong. This opus, about a piano teacher in frail health whose patient husband rises to the challenge of diapering and spoon-feeding her, testifies to love’s greatest test. The irony is all we see of Paris is through veiled windows; their suspended-animation love never leaves the flat. Arresting in that there is no score, not during titles or credits — the only music are piano strains integral to the flow. The silence at times is deafening. Compare that to the boisterous “Silver Linings Playbook,” a twisted Cinderella story that evokes both “Garden State” and “Pulp Fiction” (for me) and follows love’s glorious gestation, in all of its noisy, messy madness. Again, I’d watch chronologically: new love, then vintage love.

Les Misérables

A love-hate relationship.

One might pair this Frenchie-themed flick with “Amour” or even one of the historical treatises … but “Les Miz” is its own monster, more of a revolutionary third wheel, and needs to be seen by itself so you can either retch or rave, unrestricted. I personally found the movie version more palatable than the stage version, even rapturous. But, as they say, all’s fair in love and war, and vive la différence, if you find any.

If a tree falls in the forest …

If no one buys a ticket to a late-night screening of “Argo,” does the show still go on?

emptytheaterThat was my question to the handful of workers outnumbering us crazy patrons at Fairfax Corner multiplex this dead Monday night. The legal occupancy of Theater No. 7 is 521. Tonight’s occupancy: 1.

That’s me.

I wanted to make sure I wasn’t keeping anyone from quitting early. The manager assured me: It would play to an empty house, even if I wasn’t here.

Phew. Good thing I’m here.

I’ve rented the theater for two hours, for only $11.50. What a freakin’ deal.

Party on.

And this, after I just sat through a two-hour-forty-six-minute “Django Unchained.”

I’m totally off the hook — off my plush high-backed rocker.