Andrew and Alex Talk Oscar Nominations, Part Two


So with ten days to the Oscars and voting for the actual awards almost over, I am absolutely confident in saying…Daniel Day-Lewis will win Best Actor.

And that’s it.

Here’s why I’m completely unprepared to go any further, Alex. It has to do with my top five movies of the year, as I had gone on record stating that Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty were two masterpieces, almost flawless. But a few weeks after that pronouncement, this is how my Best of 2012 list finished, and this does not include Amour, Holy Motors, or Life of Pi, none of which I’ve gotten to see yet…

1. Lincoln

2. Silver Linings Playbook

3. Argo/Zero Dark Thirty

4. The Master

In short, Hollywood unveiled four of the greatest movies I’ve seen in my lifetime (plus one of the most complex and intelligent artistic mind**ks ever in one season), and they’re all up for Best Picture.

Now I breathe with excitement about the 24th…good…then continue.

The brilliance of Silver Linings Playbook and Argo has to do with their meeting one of my favorite cinematic maxims, as pronounced by Robert McKee: “Give the audience what they want, but do it in a way they don’t expect.” Zero Dark Thirty was a film that brilliantly met every expectation of mine. Lincoln met them, then surpassed them. David O. Russell, Ben Affleck, and Chris Terrio flipped my expectations on their heads with the intelligence and emotion they poured into their films, especially the former quality. These are two very, very smart motion pictures, which adhere to conventions of style and genre while traveling to places not many movies go.

Saying more inappropriate things than appropriate things.

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A Year Watching Pictures: The Best Films of 2012


The past year has been discussed as a marvelous year for cinema, one that showcased some of the finest work that’s been done since the banner year of…2007. That’s a five year gap between epic years of celluloid, with ’07 bringing forth such spectacles as No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Into the Wild, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Longest Movie Title in History, Ratatouille, Juno, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Tim Burton’s Mind…okay, so the first two were fantastic, and there were a bunch of other great movies, and something about a guy who can only blink through the entire movie, but his blinks are in French! which makes it awesome. Oh, and that was also the year that gave us Academy Award nominee Norbit.

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Not Just Anybody: A Reflection on “Zero Dark Thirty”

(This piece should only be read by people who have either a, seen the movie, or b, don’t particularly care. It will cover the plot from beginning to end, so be forewarned.)


“Do you think I’m just anybody, Ali? Do you?”  – T. E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole), Lawrence of Arabia, 1962


“I’m the motherfucker who found this place.” – Maya (Jessica Chastain), Zero Dark Thirty, 2012



Zero Dark Thirty is a film at once thoroughly of its time and promising an enduring timelessness, the sort of picture which will be taught in colleges and universities for decades to come as a model to aspire to, but will also be enjoyed and remembered by those who see it. “Enjoy” may not be the right word, for the level of positive feeling in the film is minimal and even when it comes carries with it a sense of uncertainty over whether we the audience should be unequivocally happy by the events. Zero Dark Thirty is riveting…it holds attention from the very first sounds we hear and keeps one gripped until the concluding image, an almost terrifying calmness over two and a half hours of storm. [Read more…]

Alex and Andrew Talk Oscar Nominations: Part 1

I am guessing that we will all be missing Emma Stone when he hosts solo.


As I sit down to start our conversation about this year’s Oscar nominations nearly 48 hours have elapsed since Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announced them. This break between the announcement and our analysis wasn’t necessarily by design, I just got quite sleepy last night. But it has allowed the nominations to sink in a little more, which can only be a good thing, right?

Anyway, even with the break I don’t quite know where to start in our assessments. The biggest news from the nominations, and certainly the biggest shock, is what the Best Director category looks like. Best Director nominations are a necessity for any film to win Best Picture (only Driving Miss Daisy has won it all without a Directing nomination in the past 80 years or so), which means that yesterday morning saw a dramatic shake-up of the race. The Academy snubbed Kathryn Bigelow’s masterful work on Zero Dark Thirty and did the same to the extremely popular Ben Affleck for his direction of Argo. I don’t even know how to convey the seismic upheaval that those misses represent. Both Zero Dark Thirty and Argo were tipped by myself and most others as major dark horses. Either could have snuck past Lincoln and win Best Picture. Without Directing nominations though, both suddenly appear to be dead in the water. I’ve seen a lot of chatter in the wake of the snubs that suggests some other films are stronger than we suspected and could win (most prominently Silver Linings Playbook, which improbably became the first film in 31 years to get nominated in all seven major categories). I don’t really buy that line of thinking right now, though. Until the industry awards start getting really wild, I think that these nominating snubs have essentially cleared the path for Lincoln to win without much of a contest.
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A Pre-nomination 2013 Oscar Primer

So shiny…

Oscar nominations come out on Thursday morning (7:30 CST for our loyal local readers), a couple weeks earlier than usual. Since I have spent way too much of my life reading, writing, and thinking about this annual race to milquetoast  immortality it seemed prudent for me to create a little pre-nomination primer. I’ll check back in after nominations are announced and again closer to the ceremony in February because I nerd over this like Travis nerds over baseball hall of fame ballots. I’ll go over Best Picture in detail and then just post my prediction for the other major categories (acting, directing, and writing).

The “Major Contenders” Group:


Zero Dark Thirty


Les Miserables (requisite UGH)
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Recorded Conversations: New Favorites from 2012

Welcome to “Recorded Conversations,” an occasional feature where all the Addison Recorder editors contribute their thoughts about a question, idea, or prompt. Everyone will chime in, and then we see where the conversation wanders.

To ring in the New Year on the Recorder, we look to our recent past and ask “What new thing (or things) that you discovered in 2012 has become one of your favorites?”


I’ll be honest right off the bat: 2012 sucked. Well, sucked might be too strong of a word, but it was less than I would have hoped for.

With that being said, I did get to experience a great many new things, and enjoyed most (if not all) of them. One thing I’ve noticed while reading Alex’s and Andrew’s responses is that while we’ve all experienced a great deal of the new over the last year, a great deal of it is centered in our love of all-things nostalgia. And there is nothing wrong with this; there is so much amazing output of artists in any given year, it is utterly impossible to take it all in, let alone the works that were put out in years prior. One of our missions here at the Addison Recorder is to highlight works that we feel might not get their proper praise, while illuminating more popular works in a way that they might not have been properly exposed in modern media culture.

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Recorded Conversations: New Favorites from 2012

To ring in the New Year on the Recorder, we look to our recent past and ask “What new thing (or things) that you discovered in 2012 has become one of your favorites?”


Like Alex, it is nigh but impossible to limit myself to just one thing. But it becomes even trickier in my case because I’ve already written at length on the Recorder about many of the greatest experiences I had this year, including developing my obsession with the Grateful Dead (and by the way, the concerts in the Spring 1990 box, all of which are available online for free, contain some of the most inspired, heartfelt, and really damn fun rock/country/blues/folk music you will ever hear, much the same way Alex feels about bluegrass), and the 31st/5th season of Doctor Who (although this too may be surpassed by the current 33rd/7th season and the pairing of Matt Smith with Jenna-Louise Coleman, if “The Snowmen” is any indication). But besides having to use so many parentheses, who wants to hear my repeat myself, especially when I do so a lot in real life?


But in looking back, I found that the sheer limit of time and space kept me from celebrating everything which made 2012 such a delightful cultural year, more so than 2011 even, and I found three things in particular.


No jokes about the name, please.

Even more nineteenth-century novels

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I Dreamed a Dream…Kind Of: Two More Responses to “Les Miserables”

(Note: The following reactions are recorded here because somehow myself, Andrew, and Alex all went and saw this movie on the same date. Needless to say, we all had differing reactions and viewpoints. Andrew’s response can be found here. I have since taken the liberties of providing Alex’s response, for reasons that should be immediately understandable. You’re welcome, Earth.)


1) I came into Les Mis a complete virgin to the musical. I was aware of the plot, and had seen the 1997 movie with Liam Neeson, Geoffery Rush, and Uma Thurman, or as it’s collectively known amongst theatre people, the one based on the book that otherwise has nothing to do with the stage show. (Work that out in your heads as you will.)

Consequently, I approached this with a fresh eye and a mostly fresh ear. I must admit, I’ve heard “I Dreamed a Dream” before several times, but I knew that it dealt with how sucky it gets to be Fantine during that first third of the movie. In addition, I’d had the epic trailer shoved down my throat several times as I took in several movies this year. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having Anne Hathaway shoved down your throat, but there’s only so much of a starving waifling that I can take before it starts to get mildly irritating. Because of this, I feel like I came into the movie with a mindset prejudiced against any possibility the film had of succeeding.

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“Jesus, it’s amazing how it grows!” The Addison Recorder’s Adventures with “Les Miserables,” Part I

In his remarkably informative and entertaining book Pictures at a Revolution, the story of the 1967 Oscar nominees for Best Picture, Mark Harris devotes several pages to one of the most disastrous gambles Hollywood ever made. After watching West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and the bonanza-grossing The Sound of Music take home the most coveted of Academy Awards, executives at every major studio decided that the public wanted giant, extravagant musicals, films which ran for three hours or so and filled up the Cinemascope screen. The final years of the sixties were littered with big-budget song-and-dance marvels which lost millions upon millions: Doctor Dolittle, Star!, Hello, Dolly!, Paint Your Wagon, Camelot, stretching into the supreme debacle of Lost Horizon.

Would you rather watch these guys in a musical…

Or Liv Ullmann and Peter Finch?

Since then, Hollywood and Broadway, which once went hand in hand, have been very wary of each other.

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Our Place in Time: Reviewing ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Skyfall’

Getting out to the movies at this time of year can feel a bit like a crapshoot. It can also feel immensely overwhelming because of the glut of studio product that gets dumped out in time for Oscar consideration. Consequently, those of us who are less on the affluent side are forced to pick and choose between the wealth of cinematic offerings available at your local multiplex. (Similar to what happened with Chicago theatre in the fall season, where at any given point, Sunday in the Park with George, Black Watch, Sweet Bird of Youth, Metamorphoses, and Good People were all playing, amongst dozens of other offerings. Chris Jones attributed the outpouring of high quality theatre to there being ‘something in the water’. I attribute it to a bunch of quality theatre artists working in concert all at once in an effort to collectively blow the minds of the patrons attending these wonderful institutions, all the while dynamiting my checking account with discount offers that are just fine if you’re seeing one or two shows, but not between five and ten. Coincidentally, there will be spaghetti for dinner at my household for the next week and a half.)

Therefore, when I was presented with both a day off and a discounted price for attending a matinee and not just one but TWO high profile releases, I was presented with my first conundrum of the fall season: should I attend Steven Spielberg’s latest docudrama Lincoln, featuring Daniel Day-Lewis and a host of character actors reenacting the last third of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wonderful biography Team of Rivals? or should I attend the 23rd James Bond movie Skyfall, featuring Daniel Craig as the venerable 007 going up against the psychotic Javier Bardem on an island off of Macao?

The short answer was simple: why not both? And so that is what I did. Tickets in hand, I stepped into the River East multiplex in Downtown Chicago, popcorn at the ready, to take in these two winter offerings.

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