"Oscar" likes currently important movies, picturing current problems of the US. Thus, 1945 Oscar went to "The Lost Weekend", speaking about miserable life of Americans during the World War II. In the end of 40ies, the US was startled at scandals around the White House and President Truman's inner circle. Then the Oscar went to the movie "All the King's men" - story about lies and corruption in politics. "The Godfather" and its sequel won Oscars in 1970ies, when the US had to face the threat of opium mafia.

It seems like this year the United State has decided to remind the world that it is still a hyperpower, ready to protect its citizens and democracy, of course; that the US has problems, but they are overcomable - for this, there are heroes, CIA and shrinks; that its history is short but bright. Five out of nine movies nominated for "The best picture of 2012" pursued this idea, while four others are based on historical events one way or another.  

Good intentions

This year, preferences of the American Movie Academy coincide with the opinion of The British Academy of Film and Television Arts. BAFTA awarded the winners two weeks before the Oscar ceremony, on February 10. Both Movie Academies have recognized Ben Affleck's movie "Argo" as the best picture. 

The film brings the audience in 1979, when the US was defeated at the Middle East front and "missed" Iranian revolution. It tells of a group of Americans who flee the US Embassy in Tehran as it is overrun by hostage takers during the 1979 Iranian revolution. The fugitives later moved to the homes of the Canadian ambassador and his No2. CIA agent Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck, eventually smuggled six Americans out of Iran — posing as a film crew. A CIA agent saves the day and American heroes rule again. Once again, the US reminds that its interference into Middle East affairs are justified. It looks like North American continent needs to see and hear this, especially amid gloomy forecasts about China's rise.

"Lincoln" began the night with the most Academy Awards nominations. The film, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, was up for 12 awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. In the end, "Lincoln" drama won two golden statues - best production design and leading actor. The movie is not as thrilling as "Argo", but more passionate. "We've stepped out upon the world stage now. Now! With the fate of human dignity in our hands," Lincoln says persuading congressmen to vote for abolition of slavery. When it was done, one of the characters admitted: "The greatest measure of the Nineteenth Century. Passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America."

The main character of "Zero Dark Thirty" also had noble motives. In the aftermath of 9/11, a determined CIA agent begins a painstaking, decade-long search for the Al Qaeda leader.  For Maya, direct experience of terrorism steels her resolve to find bin Laden and teaches to get used to torture tactics very fast. The movie, however, did not won the principle award, but provoked CIA investigation into whether Kathryn Bigelow (director) and Mark Boal (screenwriter) were granted "inappropriate access" to classified CIA materials.

It also turned out that Americans not always praise their history. Sometimes they take revenge on it. "Django Unchained" of Quentin Tarantino is set in the antebellum era of the Deep South and Old West. The film follows a freed slave who treks across the United States with a bounty hunter on a mission to rescue his wife from a cruel and charismatic plantation owner. But if you think that Django is a "law and order avenger", you are wrong. He cares only himself and his wife. He often ignores the tortures and deaths of other slaves. The end again justifies the means. The picture was awarded as the best original screenplay, and Christoph Waltz got the Oscar as the best supporting actor. In this case, the American Movie Academy also agreed with the choice of BAFTA.

And finally, very American and very much topical movie "Silver Linings Playbook", speaking about financial crisis and influence of present-day stresses on mind. Everyone is a little crazy in the movie, and Tiffany Maxwell, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who won the Bes Actress Oscar for this role, is the craziest one. However, the depressing beginning of the movie is offset by the optimistic ending. Keep your fingers crossed and be positive - it seems to be the latest motto of the country of big possibilities.

Grave tone of pictures about God, miracle and love

"Life of Pi" failed to won "The best picture" nomination, but Taiwanese-born Ang Lee won his second Oscar (after Brokeback Mountain) for Best Direction. Life of Pi is the adaption of Yann Martel's fantasy adventure novel about an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck but is stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. The movie follows two variants of the story. After the storm, Pi finds himself in the lifeboat with an injured zebra, and is joined by an orangutan. A spotted hyena emerges from the tarp covering half of the boat. The hyena kills the zebra and then the orangutan. Suddenly the tiger Richard Parker emerges from under the tarp, killing the hyena. Within the time the boy and tiger learn to coexist on the boat. The lifeboat eventually reaches the coast of Mexico. Pi is crushed that the tiger does not acknowledge him before disappearing into the jungle. Pi is rescued and carried to a hospital, weeping. Insurance agents for the Japanese freighter come to interview him. They do not believe his story and ask what "really" happened. He tells a less fantastic account of sharing the lifeboat with his mother, a Buddhist sailor with a broken leg, and the cook. The cook kills the sailor in order to eat him and use him as bait. In a later struggle, Pi's mother pushes him to safety on a smaller raft, and the cook stabs her as she falls overboard. Later, Pi returns, takes the knife and kills the cook.

In the present day, the novelist notes the parallels between the two stories: the orangutan was Pi's mother, the zebra was the sailor, the hyena was the cook, and Richard Parker, the tiger, was Pi himself. Pi asks him which story the writer prefers, and the writer chooses the one with the tiger because it "is the better story", to which Pi responds, "And so it goes with God". Glancing at a copy of the insurance report, the writer sees the agents wrote that Pi somehow survived 227 days at sea with a tiger: the insurance agents had also chosen the more fantastic story. It's up to us whether to choose a miracle or not.

Jointly with BAFTA, Academy Awards recognized "Amour" of Michael Haneke as the best foreign feature. For the "best picture" award, the movie is too gloomy and unusual. A French-language drama speaks about an elderly married couple whose lives are shattered when one has a stroke, about a desperate husband helping his sick wife to cross over.

And finally, the favorite movie of the world mass media "Les Misérables" won awards for best sound and make-up and brought Oscar to Anne Hathaway as "best supporting actress". And again, British and American Academies agree on the choice.

Well, the splendid ceremony, worries of actors, forecast and expectations are over. Now film producers and screenwriters have to prepare to the next Oscar, to seek new ideas and stories to conquer the audience and critics. We are waiting...

Photos from "elle.ru", kinonews.ru"

Alina Yeremeyeva


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