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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: At least we have Anne Hathaway

  • The Oscars are only 10 days off, so the faithful have been busy. There are at least two major sects here. One consists of those who spend their time endlessly speculating about what the Golden Globes mean for best director at the Oscars. Or whatever.

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  •  Seasons change. Winter has been just a colder version of drought, and one suspects we’ve seen all of the snowy wonderland for this year. Lent is here, already, with its obligations and spiritual journey. And trout season is just two weeks off, with it own obligations and spiritual journey.
    But other seasons, with their own intense followers, have been under way.
    The Oscars are only 10 days off, so the faithful have been busy. There are at least two major sects here. One consists of those who spend their time endlessly speculating about what the Golden Globes mean for best director at the Oscars. Or whatever.
    Answer: You’re just speculating, people, which is America’s true national pastime, so by all means enjoy.
    The second group consists of those of us who have been trying – amid trifling obligations such as work, bills, church and sleep – to get to all the good movies, or at least the ones nominated in the big Oscar categories.
    For reasons known in their entirety only to silent Oscar himself, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided a couple of years ago to expand the Best Picture field to nine nominees. Those who suspect this might be a cheap ploy to get more money from saps such as me are now free to chuckle because it totally works.
    The presumed actual reason is that a wider field creates room for films such as “Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained,” which will not win but were actually seen by a sizable numner of people. Those people might be more inclined to tune in for the awards. In other words, the Oscars are a TV show, TV shows need ratings – fair enough – because the false god known as TV must be appeased.
    So it is with a fit of misplaced pride that I say I have managed to see all nine Best Picture nominees. Let me risk excommunication by rejecting the popular notion that 2012 somehow was a surprisingly good year for movies. Compared with what? Lousy 2010 and lousy 2011? There are a few fine movies, but every year has a few.
    What movies will we look back on five or 10 years down the line as keepers? For my money, “Zero Dark Thirty” wins Best Picture, followed closely by “Lincoln.” The best of the rest – “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Argo,” “Les Miserables” – are some distance back.
    Yes, I saw that the first lady spoke glowingly of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and I liked it a lot, too. It’s very unconventional – scary, surreal, heart-wrenching – and Oscar sometimes doesn’t know what to do with that. Count it out.
    “Zero Dark Thirty” won’t win because it’s controversial, “Django Unchained” is too funny and too violent, “Life of Pi” is a bit of a one-note story, “Les Miz” is a musical for heaven’s sake, and “Amour” is too plodding, too French and too depressing.
    Page 2 of 2 - The smart money says “Argo,” so count that one out. That leaves a clear shot for Steven Spielberg with “Lincoln,” but if you look at past injustices to “Saving Private Ryan” and “Munich,” he doesn’t have a chance. There is a certain cruel logic to this.
    And “Silver Linings Playbook” is a romantic comedy. Oscar doesn’t like those generally, and he came perilously close to embracing one last year in handing Best Picture to “The Artist,” which no one saw because it was too offbeat, too silent and too French.
    That leaves a field of zero. They’ve got us – the suckers anyway – right where they want us: empty wallets and no clue about anything. We have to watch.
    Then we can get on with spring.
    Jeff Fox is looking for a good Oscar party and will probably spend that evening, Feb. 24, tweeting sarcastic comments that will not add to the greater good. Follow him @Jeff_Fox.
     
     
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