The Academy Awards© are a few weeks away. Nominations and votes are a big deal t a lot of people. Box office bonanzas are at steak as are new career opportunities (and fees). It’s easy to predict the likely titles, actors, writers and directors that will garner the most attention. The Motion Picture Academy can be fickle. The Academy members are skewed a tad older than one might guess and they love movies about movies and movies about any type of disability. That’s a known. Rarely are comedies given the award attention they deserve. And documentaries and foreign films that reflect a trendy issue or popular liberal political point of view can be a shoe-in. Winners are not always the most deserving, and when it comes right down to it, how can movies even compete in any category but most popular or biggest box office? And frankly, neither has any bearing on a film’s substantive material or the power of a moral argument on screen. Movies are movies –- and they matter because it’s the biggest pond from which we all drink and the one medium that lets us share a common human experience and even encourages us to talk about how we process it. And for that reason, movies matter a hell of lot. Movies aren’t just a diversion; they help keep us in the moment.

So here are some of my picks for the most deserving movie awards of 2012. Let’s call them the CV WEEKLY Awards for Movie Excellence.


Best Movie: ARGO. Because it’s a movie about a fake movie that says a lot about Hollywood, the powerful global fascination of the American film industry, and it’s how the lure of a (fake) movie saved lives in the real world. Probable winner: LINCOLN. Who can dare vote against Abraham Lincoln after our crazy political season?


Best Director: BEN AFFLECK. Affleck is a kind of underdog. But clearly he’s a huge talent who deserves more opportunities to make hits the public and critics like. Probable winner: Stephen Spielberg’s carefully crafted “non-campaign” will pay off with a second director Oscar©.


Best Original Screenplay: ZERO DARK THIRTY taps into something deep in our psyches and Mark Boal’s lean, provocative accounting of a decade of terror and the feminine hand that finally brought a nebulous justice to our collective pain. Probable winner: DJANGO UNCHAINED. The Academy love’s Tarantino’s internal movie references and his passion for film itself. Too much is never too much in Quentin’s cinematic playground.
Best Adapted Screenplay: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. No question this lively, witty, touching and finally upbeat screenplay adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel by director David O. Russell is top notch. And, it’s about a family with mentally challenged individuals. And, it has an upbeat ending. And, it’s a love story! Nothing can top that. Probable winner: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.


Best Actor: JACK BLACK for BERNIE. How is it possible that anyone can top the masterful incarnation of Black as effeminate, beloved, Bernie Tiede as an assistant funeral director who murders in small town Texas? Probable winner: Joaquin Phoenix for his remarkable portrayal of a mentally unstable ex Navy acolyte of a Scientology-like guru in THE MASTER. The academy likes real-life apparently unstable guys who redeem themselves on screen.


Best Actress: JESSICAL CHASTAIN for ZERO DARK THIRTY. An extraordinary performance in controversial film about a lowly, obscure CIA employee obsessed with a decade long hunt to kill Osama bib Laden. Probable winner: Sally Field as a mentally challenged Mrs. Lincoln. “You love me. You really love me!” Yes we do.


Best original song: “FREEDOM” from DJANGO UCHAINED. Co-written and sung by Elayna Boynton and Anthony Hamilton. Boynton’s smoked honey vocals chill in the haunting rendition that states what the movie is really all about. Probable winner: “Freedom.”

Best Visual Effects: LIFE OF PI. I hate 3D as an unnecessary gimmick but here it works. Probable winner: LIFE OF PI.


Best original score: LIFE OF PI. A perfect blend of audio transcendence to match the potent visuals. Michael Danna gets it and makes us feel the awe and wonder and fear. Probable winner: Michael Danna’s LIFE OF PI score.

Best foreign film: KON TIKI. Thor Heyerdahl’s incredible 1947 sea voyage from Peru to Polynesia changed history books. The actual documentary won an Oscar©. This Norwegian production has wonderful production values and does justice to the quest, the man and what it cost him. Probable winner: KON TIKI.


Best documentary: SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN. It is inconceivable to me that any other documentary film can come close to the astonishing story of Sixto Rodríguez, a brilliant Detroit folk musician from the 1970s who never gained even a modicum of success from his recordings but unknowingly helped bring down South African apartheid and was bigger their than the Beatles and Elvis combined. After thirty years of total obscurity, two fans look for him. Inspiring and jaw dropping. Probable winner: SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN.

Disagree? Tell me about it. RobinESimmons@aol

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