Americans do love to be entertained, and movies seem to be one of our favorite entertainment pastimes. Hollywood enjoyed an estimated $10.8 billion in ticket sales in 2012, the most on record, according to USA Today.
Now it’s time to find out which of last year’s movies will bring home the big prize — the Oscar. The 85th Academy Awards program takes place on Feb. 24, 2013. Anyone who has watched the lengthy show knows the Academy awards the coveted statuette for a long list of categories. The big kahuna, however, is “Best Picture,” and this year nine diverse films are vying for the honor.
The Flyer offers you a primer on the nine flicks, along with trailers that might refresh your memory (or drive you into the theater). At the end of this story is a poll so you can vote for your favorite movie, and then tune in to the Academy Awards show on ABC at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Released in Germany and France this fall, Amour is a French drama written and directed by Michael Haneke of Austria. The story follows an elderly couple (Anne and Georges) as Georges watches Anne deteriorate as she verges closer and closer to death. This movie received honors from critics for its gut-wrenching and painful story. Along with a Best Picture nomination, this film is nominated for Directing, Writing (Michael Haneke) and Foreign Language Film.
A highly regarded movie, Argo is a historically dramatized thriller directed by Ben Affleck. The story takes place during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis in which CIA member Tony Mendez helps six U.S. Embassy employees escape under the ploy that they are creating a movie.
In addition to Best Picture, the film garnered nominations in six other Academy Award categories, including Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Arkin), Film Editing and Music (Original Score).
Beasts of the Southern Wild
After drifting through film festivals for a while, Beasts of the Southern Wild was released on June 27, 2012. Directed by Benh Zeitlin and based on Lucy Alibar’s Juicy and Delicious, this film is a fantasy drama centering on the fictional Louisianan bayou town of Bathtub, where Hushpuppy (Quvenzhanè Wallis) and her father Wink live.
In the Arctic, prehistoric creatures known as “Aurochs” are released, and Hushpuppy and Wink must brace themselves for the imminent storms. Wallis was only 5 at the time of the shoot and is up for Actress in a Leading Role. The film is also nominated for Directing and Writing (Adapted Screenplay).
Quentin Tarantino’s epic western action thriller is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay. The film stars Jamie Foxx, Christopher Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson, among others.
The story is set in the 19th century and follows a freed slave as he journeys across America with a bounty hunter in order to rescue his wife from a plantation owner.
Les Misèrables is a musical drama film based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel. The story is a classic and this particular rendition was not released until the very end of the year.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, the plot follows Jean Valjean, a criminal-turned-success after being graced by a bishop. However, he still must evade the police and this takes him on a journey. This rendition is up for seven other Academy Awards, including Actor in a Leading Role (Jackman), Actress in a Supporting Role (Hathaway) and Music (Original Song).
Life of Pi
An already acclaimed fiction novel, the Life of Pi was taken off the pages and onto the silver screen by Ang Lee. Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is stranded on an island with a Bengal tiger after he survives a shipwreck in which his whole family dies.
The work is nominated for 11 Academy Awards. This tally includes Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Score) and Production Design.
This historical film directed by Steven Spielberg follows Abraham Lincoln’s attempts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment and the political tensions that go along with the presidency. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln.
This film is up for Actor in a Leading Role (Day-Lewis), Actress in a Supporting Role (Sally Field), Film Editing and Writing (Adapted Screenplay), along with 8 other nominations.
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic-comedy-drama directed by David O. Russell and is an adaptation of a novel with the same name by Matthew Quick.
Taking place in Philadelphia, the storyline follows bipolar Pat, who has spent eight months in a mental hospital after an incident involving his wife. He then moves in with his father and meets up with a depressed woman who promises to get a letter to his wife if he partners up with her in a local dance competition.
The film is in contention for 8 Academy Awards. These nominations include Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Lawrence), Film Editing and Writing (Adapted Screenplay).
Zero Dark Thirty
A dramatization of the hunting down of Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty was directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The plot begins with the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorism attacks and steers all the to the (spoiler alert!) killing of bin Laden. Many false leads, dead ends, and futile attempts eventually culminate in the event.
This movie is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Film Editing, Sound Editing and Writing (Original Screenplay).