Last year, I wrote that the Academy Award nominated movies for 2011 were less dark and violent. Not so for this year.
Unfortunately, the nominees for 2012 hugely reversed that trend.
I was hopeful when I saw the nominated movies “Lincoln,” “Argo,” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Those movies were excellent, I thought.
Then I saw “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Django Unchained,” and “Skyfall.” These movies are way too violent.
“Zero Dark Thirty” showed extensive scenes of torture. When I first saw torture in “Casino Royale” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” I was appalled. However, the scenes were short. In “Zero Dark Thirty,” the torture scenes went on and on.
For “Django Unchained,” the producers must have sat around a table and talked about what violent and terrible things they should show in a movie that haven’t been shown before. They came up with a sadistic plantation owner who did horrible, sadistic things to his African-American slaves. Oh, boy.
Movies are such a powerful media. Anthropologist Joseph Campbell called movies the great dream machine. Movies could offer so many positive images and stories of inspiration for children and teens. Instead, violent themes are repeated over and over. I’ve written about the impact I think so many violent images in movies, television, and video games have on children and young people, contributing to increased violence.
Here are my choices for the 2012 Academy Award nominated movies:
Best Picture – “Lincoln”
It’s an outstanding movie. Knowing the early work of the Republican Party related to its actions to free the slaves, especially in today’s extremely divisive era, is important history for Americans to know or revisit.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see “Amour.”
Actor in a Leading Role – Daniel Day-Lewis
I thought Day-Lewis did a tremendous job portraying Lincoln.
Actor in a Supporting Role – Alan Arkin for “Argo”
I thought “Argo” was a good action movie without dozens of people being brutally murdered.
Actress in a Leading Role – Naomi Watts for “The Impossible”
When I went to my local independent film theater, I happened to see this movie which was doubled-billed with the Short Film – Live Action nominations.
About the tsunami in Indonesia, it was bloody, with many dead bodies. However, the images were part of an event that actually happened.
Naomi Watts is a skilled actress, who carried out the role of the severely injured mother very well.
Actress in a Supporting Role – Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Mary Todd Lincoln was a complex personality, and I think Sally Field did a good job in her portrayal of her.
Cinematography – “Life of Pi” and “Lincoln”
Animated Feature Film – None
None of the films nominated in this category are deserving of an Academy Award. That these kinds of films are what American movie makers think are good entertainment for children is discouraging. “Frankenwennie” is a terrible, an oddly drawn animation about a boy who makes his dog and other creatures come to life. “Paranormal,” another oddly drawn animation, is about a boy who can talk to the dead and saves the town.”Brave” is yet another violent Disney princess movie. “Wreck-It-Ralph,” about a game character who leaves his game, is unremarkable.
Costume Design – “Lincoln”
Direction – Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln”
Film Editing – Michael Kahn for “Lincoln”
Music – Original Score – John Williams for “Lincoln”
Music – Original Song – Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth for “Skyfall” and Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri for “Pi’s Lullaby”
Production Design – Rick Carter and Jim Erickson for “Lincoln"
Short Film – Live Action – “Asad,” “Curfew,” and “Henry”
I was surprised about the depth of the movies in this category. Many offered a view of what might happen in daily life here and in other countries. “Asad” is about a Somali boy who is faced with choosing between piracy and fishing. In “Curfew,” a depressed man is saved by reconnecting with his family. “Henry” is about the trials of a man who faces the changes of Alzheimer’s disease. “Buzkashi Boys” tells the story of two boys in Afghanistan who are
trying against tough odds to shape their futures.
Sound Editing – None
Most movies are too loud so I wouldn’t select any of the ones I saw for an Academy Award.
Sound Mixing – None
Again, I didn’t enjoy the sound of any of the movies I saw.
Visual Effects – Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, and Donald R. Elliott for the “Life of Pi.”
I’d read the book, so I was very interested in how all those difficult scenes with the tiger could be filmed. It’s one thing to write about them, but another to produce them for a film.
Writing – Adapted Screenplay – Michael Haneke for “Amour”
The other nominated movies that I saw in this category, which aren’t worthy of an Academy Award: “Django Unchained,” “Skyfall,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Let me know about your opinions on the Academy Award nominated movies in the Comment section below.