Spotlight On…Oscars 2013

Posted by David On February 16, 2013 ADD COMMENTS

For this edition of Spotlight On… I’ll be covering the Best Film nominees for this years Academy Awards. That’s right, I’m watching them so that you don’t have to! We’ll be covering winners in our Academy Awards special on episode #45 so join us then!

Note: As of this time I haven’t seen Amour or Beasts of the Southern Wild yet.


Released: 2012

Directed by: Ben Affleck

Written by: Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (article)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston & John Goodman

Plot: A dramatization of the 1979-1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.

For: Very well directed. Affleck is a far better director than he is an actor / The Argo read through is awesome, I would love to see this actually get made (but of course it won’t) / Mark steps up to the plate at the airport / Alan Arkin is awesome (as always)

Against: Not as gripping as I expected. It is entertaining but could have been so much more. For example, instead of chasing the plane down at the airport (which apparently never happened) why not just radio the plane from the tower and demand that they not take off?

Favourite Scene: The Argo read through, and every scene with Arkin.

Rating: 4 Lukes

Django Unchained

Released: 2012

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Written by: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot: With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

For: Some very funny scenes / Has the usual Tarantino flair / Waltz and DiCaprio are magnificent

Against: Ridiculously over the top – typical over-blown Tarantino production / It is at least 45 mins too long / The soundtrack is unbearable / What is up with the horse dance at the end?! / Nowhere near as funny or clever as it thinks it is / Unfortunately Tarantino has reached a point that no one has the spine to tell him when he is over doing it, which this film desperately needed. It is unlikely that he will ever return to the brilliance of his earlier films.

Favourite Scene: Collecting the Bill Sharp bounty / Candie goes ballistic at dinner / Meeting Big Daddy

Rating:  2.5 Lukes

Les Miserables

Released: 2012

Directed by: Tom Hooper

Written by: William Nicholson (screenplay), Alain Boublil (screenplay) (and of course Victor Hugo!)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway

Plot: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever

For: Magnificent performance by Hathaway / Awesome set pieces / Australia’s own Hugh Jackman!

Against: Pull the camera back for crying out loud. Close ups are all well and good, but what is the point of having magnificent sets if you never get to see them! / Russell Crowe can’t sing / Ultimately boring / the characters played by Cohen & Carter (the Thenardiers) are painfully unfunny

Favourite Scene: I Dreamed a Dream – best scene in the film, and one of the best scenes in a musical I’ve ever seen

Rating:  2 Lukes

Life of Pi

Released: 2012

Directed by: Ang Lee

Written by: David Magee (screenplay), Yann Martel (novel)

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain

Plot: Pi, a young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger name Richard Parker.

For: Visually stunning / Awesome SFX / Suraj Sharma is a revelation

Against: The guy playing the Writer (Rafe Spall) is terrible / Pi has just lost his entire family and doesn’t seem all that upset about it

Favourite Scene: “I would like to be baptized.” / Pi meets Anandi / the whale / Richard Parker walks into the jungle and Pi recounts how he felt

Rating:  4 Lukes


Released: 2012

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Written by: Tony Kushner (screenplay), Doris Kearns Goodwin (book)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn

Plot: As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

For: Typical Spielberg high quality production values / Daniel Day Lewis is great as always

Against: Just not very engaging.

Favourite Scene: The opening scenes / “I am the President!”

Rating:  2.5 Lukes

Silver Linings Playbook

Released: 2012

Directed by: David O. Russell

Written by: David O. Russell (screenplay), Matthew Quick (novel)

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver

Plot: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his cheating ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

For: Honest portrayal of mental health / Everyone does a great job, with Lawrence a standout / Australia’s own Jacki Weaver!

Against: Tiffany is almost too unlikable at the start

Favourite Scene: Pat can’t find the video tape / Pat meets Tiffany / the Dance

Rating:  4.5 Lukes

Zero Dark Thirty

Released: 2012

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Written by: Mark Boal

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Mark Strong

Plot: Deals with the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011, from the point of view of CIA operative Maya.

For: Jessica Chastain is always good / some scenes quite dramatic

Against: Pretentious rubbish. Not as crap as the over-rated The Hurt Locker but close / How bloody stupid is Jessica? Her incompetence is mind blowing

Favourite Scene: Triangulating Abu Ahmed / Now that Bin Laden is dead, Maya realises she has no life

Rating:  1 Luke

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