This year’s Best Picture Oscar Nominees include a Palme d’Or winner from Cannes, a Best Dramatic Feature winner from Sundance, a super violent slavery-era spaghetti western, an adaptation of a highly acclaimed book about a boy and a tiger, another slavery-era movie about passing a law, the latest movie from the director who once blew up on set with Lily Tomlin, the Osama Bin Laden / torture movie, the fastest musical to cross $100M at the US box office and a film directed by Jennifer Garner’s husband.

Palme d’Or winner from Cannes. Two old people in an apartment. Does that sound good? Apparently to the Academy, which is made up of LOTS of old people, it sounds great. Everyone enjoys seeing movies that they can relate to. If you’re getting on in years, it makes sense that you might like a movie such as Amour that depicts old people like you. But to be fair, Michael Haneke is an amazing filmmaker with an impressive body of work, and the National Society of Film Critics did name Amour their best film of 2012.

A film directed by Jennifer Garner’s husband. I enjoyed Argo’s captivating storyline, sweet period costumes and setting and strong performances from the entire ensemble cast. But this highly touted movie didn’t necessarily pack the overwhelming emotional punch that I hope for in best picture winner. Gone Baby Gone is still my favorite Jennifer Garner’s husband-directed film.

Jennifer Garner’s husband.

Jennifer Garner’s husband.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Dramatic Feature winner from Sundance. The undisputed hit at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Beasts won over huge praise from everyone from talented filmmaker Keith Davis to my NFS partner Patrick. It’s a beautiful film with incredible cinematography and breakout performances by the little girl and the dad, two non professional actors. But the shaky handheld camerawork left me with a headache, and I would have preferred more of a narrative storyline.

Django Unchained
A super violent slavery-era spaghetti western. While not a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, I really appreciate his bold approach to storytelling, and I greatly respect his encyclopedic knowledge of cinema. While I did rush out to go see Inglorious Bastards a couple of years ago, it left me a bit disappointed because it had less do with Brad Pitt’s team kicking ass than I expected. That’s what’s held me back from watching Django up to this point. I’m just afraid it’s going to disappoint.

Another slavery-era movie about passing a law. Ever since Steven Spielberg directed the slavery-era epic Amistad, I’ve had a hard time liking his movies. When I saw that he was making another drama about slavery, my initial reaction was “no thanks.” But while I haven’t seen the film yet, I might change my mind thanks to a strong recommendation from someone whose opinion I really trust, Oscar-winner Luke Matheny who wrote that it was his favorite film of the year on Facebook:


Les Miserables
The fastest musical to cross $100M at the US box office. Didn’t they just make a Les Mis movie with Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes? Oh, wait that was 15 years ago? Never mind. No matter how many times I’ve tried, I can never get into musicals. I’m just not a musicals guy. It took me a long time to come to that realization, but I’m at peace with it now. And although I wouldn’t mind watching the incredibly talented and handsome Hugh Jackman break out in song, and although I once shared an elevator with Anne Hathaway at NYU, I have no intention of watching this movie.

Handsome Hugh Jackman.
Handsome Hugh Jackman.

Life of Pi
An adaptation of a highly acclaimed book about a boy and a tiger. After reading Life of Pi about ten years, I was so into it that I bought a copy for my parents. When I heard that the book was getting turned into a major motion picture, I got pretty excited about that. And then about eight years passed before the movie was finally made by Ang Lee. Would I like this movie if I watched it? Probably. Will I see it eventually? Probably not. It just seems to have lost its luster over time.

Silver Linings Playbook
The latest movie from the director who once blew up on set with Lily Tomlin. Patrick really disliked this movie, which means I’ll probably like it when I watch it. I mean I enjoy watching Bradly Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. And I really liked David O. Russell’s earlier works including Three Kings, Flirting with Disaster and of course this…

Zero Dark Thirty
The Osama Bin Laden / torture movie. I really liked The Hurt Locker, so I can’t wait to watch this. Do I like to see torture on screen? Honestly, not as much as I used to. Do I want to see a behind the scenes look at the Bin Laden mission from the director of Point Break and Strange Days? Absolutely!

Hey, isn't that guy in Mad Men?

Hey, isn’t that guy in Mad Men?

What film do you think should win Best Picture? Leave us a comment below or tweet us: @NatFilmSociety

Stephen Dypiangco is co-founder of the National Film Society. On Twitter he’s @dypiangco. You can also email him via stephen[at]nationalfilmsociety[dot]com.