I often find award shows to be fairly predictable. I think everybody does. In fact, I think part of the fun of watching award shows is complaining about how you knew this actor or actress was a shoe-in, but this other actor or actress deserved it more. The human mind is designed to find things to stew about no matter the circumstance. Now back to the circumstance at hand. I skipped the Grammy's this year, but I have always cared more about the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards anyway. On that note, I would like to take a moment to say I predict that Lincoln is going to win best picture. It has all the makings of a best picture winner: a major Hollywood director, an all-star cast, and a very American hero. Do I want it to win? No, I cannot say I do. I am not getting on the anti-bandwagon just to be contrary. I can honestly say I really did not like movie and my reasoning has nothing to do with it being everyone else's favorite movie of the season. In fact, I wanted to like this movie. I was looking forward to seeing it. So in other words, this film let me down and here is why: It was vapid.
Lincoln felt very inauthentic and not genuine to me. I was essentially being reminded I was watching a history film for 150 minutes. Allow me to elaborate. I honestly believe, and many would agree with me, that a story is the foundation for a good film. Thus, I pay attention to the writing. Were there any particular lines that stuck out? I often ask myself these questions in my head while watching the film. In Lincoln's case, the answer was yes. That being said, I felt like all the memorable lines in the film were meant to remind me of what a great man Abraham Lincoln was. I was constantly being removed from the story, which completely defeats the purpose of watching a film in the first place. There was a lot of telling rather than showing, and that becomes boring very quickly. This film became boring, and while I applaud the costume and set designers for making sure everything was of the period, the film lacked heart and soul. It portrayed a very textbook version of the end of the Civil War, Lincoln's life, and the history of America we are proud of. Although I will say Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis brought heat, and I congratulate them both on phenomenal performances. So yes, Lincoln has the best picture formula, but what it lacks is the depth that makes a film worthy of a best picture crown.
My hope is that Zero Dark Thirty wins the best picture crown. Ironically, that was the film I did not want to see. I was afraid. I knew there was going to be a significant amount of torture. I was not entirely interested in watching people being brutally abused, if I could help it. Well, I sucked it up and I am glad I did. Unlike Lincoln, I felt that Zero Dark Thirty make an effort to tell it like it is, or in this case, was. I know there is a bit of controversy surrounding the film because of the torture done by Americans, but the realism of those scenes gave the film a backbone. It gave us a window into the culture and the parts of war that we never get to see. There is more. I think what I appreciated the most about Zero Dark Thirty was that the female lead was treated like an equal by her male colleague. There was no sexual relationship on the side with any of her partners. It was business as usual, they took her seriously, and she was really the brains of the operation when it came down to it. That is rare. Jessica Chastain also kick major backside with her portrayal of Maya. Zero Dark Thirty was longer than Lincoln by seven minutes, but I never got bored once. In fact, I did not even want to get up to use the restroom because I was afraid of missing something.
I am not saying that Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty are the two front-runners for best picture. In fact, the winner could end up being a complete surprise. I will say that there is something particularly unique about these two films in comparison to some of the other nominations. One portrays a very neat picture of a historical event, and the other is, no pun intended, is slightly darker in its creative choices. I think Argo is a happy medium, in terms of portraying history. Thus, I do think that if Lincoln wins, it suggests something about how Americans like to look at history and report it. That is, we like to put history into a nice little box. We do not like to deal with the nitty gritty details. Worst of all, we reject parts of history that make us look bad. Perhaps that is a little too far fetched for an award show, but maybe that just goes to show how important film really is to our culture and how we need to be careful with what messages we are sending with our moving pictures.