Oscar 2012: Story of Four Pictures

The Oscar season is slowly but surely shaping up with four films as frontrunners for the Best Picture Award. Nominations for the 85th Oscars will be announced on January 10, 2013, and the kudo fest is scheduled for February 24.

The four movies are (in alphabetical order): Argo, Les Miserables, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty. Three of these four films are excellent, and one mediocre, Les Miserables. Nonetheless, not many musicals are made these days, and Hollywood loves big-budget, star-driven epic musicals. Remember Chicago, the musical which won the 2002 Best Picture?

Mind you: All four films are political, albeit in different ways, and three (again, except for Les Miserables) are uniquely American sagas, celebrating basic values, such as individualism and teamwork, courage and valor, intuition and action.

Lincoln deals with the the very essence of the American democratic process as it applies to the abolition of slavery (and the end of the Civil War) by a beloved and iconic president.

Argo celebrates American resourcefulness, courage, and the power of one individiual to change history, in this case, to free the six American hostages in the Iran crisis of 1979.

Zero Dark Thirty, the most critically acclaimed of the aforementioned movies, but also the most controversial (specifically its treatment of rendition and torture). Masterfully directed by Kathryn Bigelow, it's a political thriller about the lwngthy, arduous manhunt for the world's most dangerous (and wanted) man, Osama bin Laden.

All three movies are supremely produced, directed and acted. Lincoln by Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, and the rest of the large ensemble. Argo by Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman. Zero Dark Thirty bears the distinction of boasting a strong female heroine, marvelously portrayed by Jessica Chastain, Hollywood's busiest and hottest actress (Meryl Streep of the new generation?).

Artistically, the weakest of the quartet is Les Miserables, manifest in the mixed to negative reviews it has received from major critics across the country. Our grade is B-.