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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Houston-Bottabod, We Have A Problem

(dwight henry in "beasts of the southern wild")

Another critics group, The Utah Film Critics Association, announced it's picks for the best in film in 2012, and there were some minor surprises.  Utah liked "Zero Dark Thirty" for Best Picture, and just like most of the other critics, they picked Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables", for Best Supporting Actress.  They couldn't decide between Oscar front-runners, Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty", and Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook", for Best Actress, so they picked both of them in a tie.  In the male acting categories, Utah veered away from the popular choices in giving Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master", his fourth win for Best Actor, and in the biggest surprise, they liked Dwight Henry, "Beasts of the Southern Wild", for Best Supporting Actor.  This win is Henry's second and probably gives him more momentum for an Oscar nomination.

But now comes an interesting point in the awards season.  Historically, many of the most serious Oscar-contending films wait until the very end of the year to release their films, so that when Oscar voters mark their ballots, those films will still be fresh on the minds of those voters.  But the critics see these films weeks before their audience releases, so that it's possible that a film, like "Zero Dark Thirty", can win a slew of awards and build major Oscar momentum before anyone in the general pubic even sees the film.  And then, when the film is finally seen by a wide audience, if there's a "problem" with the film, suddenly those Oscar hopes can evaporate overnight.  And the angry buzz about the "torture scenes" in "ZDT" are just beginning; the conversation involves the controversy of "ZDT" promoting the idea that it was the CIA's practice of torture that gave us the information needed to find and kill Osama Bin Laden.  And in a Hollywood community which is traditionally liberal in its politics, this could be the very thing that kills "ZDT"'s chances of winning the Oscar for Best Picture.  Just as many Academy voters couldn't bring themselves to vote for "Brokeback Mountain", which celebrated gay, man-on-man love, we suspect that many in Hollywood won't vote for a movie which reinforces the worst philosophies of the George Bush/Dick Cheney years.

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