First, it seem unfathomable that Kathryn Bigelow was not nominated for Zero Dark Thirty. Did people just not see the movie? Because if they had they (a) would not have found it some pro-torture propaganda film and (b) they would have realized that it was 160-something gripping minutes of incredible film-making. That's what wins you Best Director awards, ok?
Second, I thought Argo was pretty darned enjoyable, but I'm not sure it merits a Best Director nod for Affleck. Not because it wasn't also pretty nail-biting and excellent. Instead, because the hostages were largely pretty two-dimensional through most of the movie and the "B story" played as camp. Really entertaining camp, but camp nevertheless. That said, had Affleck been nominated in favor of the wildly overrated Ang Lee, I'm quite sure I wouldn't have minded. (Oh, incidentally, I think Brokeback Mountain is a fantastic film and constitutes the sum total of Ang Lee's great films.)
Third, I wonder if Hollywood wouldn't be well served by putting an end to the navel gazing. It's one thing to recognize the lightly viewed films for awards. Silver Linings Playbook is great, is going to exceed $50M (ticket sales were pretty low at nomination time), and that's not uncommon for Oscar fare, see The Hurt Locker, et al. But Amour? Please. It's not going to reach $10M in U.S. box office. It's barely been released in the U.S., in fact. Maybe it's great. I don't know. I'm never going to see it. Neither are you. Neither are most of the voters. How does a film like that get one of the nominations when Zero Dark Thirty doesn't?
Fourth, Steven Spielberg is a great director and Lincoln is a great film. OK, I've said it. And he's going to most probably win the Oscar because, well, Kathryn Bigelow isn't even nominated. You should all see Lincoln. It's fantastic. It's also hack-ish at times, like pretty much every Steven Spielberg film. I'm not going to point out where or when -- there don't need to be spoilers in this post. But he does things that are lazy, that he doesn't need to do. that make me wonder...
Is there nothing to criticize similarly in Zero Dark Thirty? Quite the contrary, there is plenty. But if I'm voting, it gets my vote. I'd put it ahead of Lincoln, with Argo and Affleck third. But I find the gap between the last two surprisingly narrow, and I wonder how much of that is Daniel Day-Lewis?
(Incidentally, Tarantino is hugely hit or miss for me. Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Inglorious Basterds... wow! Grindhouse? Kill Bill: Vol. 2?... I dunno... I haven't yet seen Django.)More questions on 2013 Academy Awards: