Alex’s Thought on the Cinema of 2012 Part One: Or, Argo is a Mediocre Thriller in the Guise of an “Important” Film and its Oscar Victory was Vapid Bullshit


I’ve been putting off summing up my experience of the year 2012 in cinema for a while now.  It just seems that I never see enough to really pass judgment on a year until 1/6th of the next one has passed. Part of that is just the general lethargy of me not seeing half of what I want to on time. But there’s also a big part of me that doesn’t want to write an article like this until I can bitch about the opinions of others, namely the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. So I will get to my overall thoughts on the cinema of 2012 in a second article, first I have to get rid of my venom in this one.

In specific I want to tell you, dear readers, that the Academy gave its highest honor, the Oscar for Best Picture of the year to a film that is wholly undeserving of such praise. Now this is not an unusual occurrence. In the past ten years I have agreed with the Academy’s choice all of once, when the Coen Brothers won top honors for their 2007 Western/Noir/Existential Philosophy Think-piece No Country for Old Men. That’s not to say that I hate every Best Picture winner. I have absolutely no complaint with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Departed, The Hurt Locker, or even The Artist winning it all. There were movies I preferred to all those films, but they are all good to great films that deserve to be seen and stood out against the films they competed against at the Oscars. That’s not something that I can say for Argo, the film that was named Best Picture of 2012. I know my esteemed editors here on The Addison Recorder have sung the praises of Ben Affleck’s Iran Hostage thriller in their own 2012 pieces, but my opinion runs rather dramatically counter to theirs.
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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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Alex and Andrew Debate the Sight & Sound List: Part Two

Picking up where we left off two days ago, Alex and Andrew continue to debate Sight & Sound’s list of the “Greatest Films of All Time.” Be sure to check out Part One if you missed it.


Alex, I grant you every single point about Citizen Kane…I find the story as compelling as you do, and the idea that it takes an entire cast of characters to make an individual life is a profound one which may never have been as fully realized as Welles and Mankiewicz realized it. This being said, your description of Kane could just as easily be applied to Jay Gatsby, Julian English, even Michael Corleone in his way…and I have felt much more emotionally overwhelmed by The Great Gatsby, Appointment in Samarra, and even the two Godfathers (even though I’m not a giant fan of part one) than by Kane. Maybe my problem is I always come at film more from the writing/story perspective than the pictorial/mise-en-scene perspective. I hold both as the two equal standards of judgment, but the story takes precedence only because of my turn of mind. (And I’m not saying you discount story…I know you and your love of movies too well to make such a horrid and untrue claim…but you and I see movies from slightly different angles, just slightly, but still.)

Anyway, my point: with Gatsby, English, Corleone, Scottie, I see them as Shakespearean tragic heroes, good men brought to death, be it actual or spiritual, by a flaw. Kane is never presented that way, which makes empathy for him harder to obtain…and on the one hand, this may part of the brilliance of Citizen Kane, that the protagonist is so down-to-earth and recognizable and presented without either endearing or purely villainous qualities…Kane is neutral, is Everyman despite being the MAN among men, is recognizable. But at the same time, Welles’s refusal to give the adult Kane, his Kane, any character trait I can relate to beyond his very human ambition, anything which makes me feel involved with him, means that I only appreciate the film for that intricate and dense plotting. Don’t get me wrong, I love a film, a novel, anything with a whirling story like Kane which is so well-told. And I will never deny Kane’s greatness for an instant. You will see it appear on my own top ten list at the end of this reply because I know how much we all owe Welles. I am simply trying to understand why people are now disinclined to rank it as number one, and I think it is because it lacks the pull on the heart, even though it may be the darkest corners of our heart, which is found in Vertigo.
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