By Steven D'Arcangelo
The Oscars are my Superbowl. Kick-off consists of red carpet interviews. Halftime is the montage of technical awards distributed weeks prior (i.e. the bathroom break). I look forward to each broadcast and pride myself on seeing the majority of the Best Picture nominees. In recent years, however, with the number of nominees increased from five to nine, it’s gotten more difficult to see ‘em all. This year I’ve only seen two (Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty). To be honest, aside from Argo, I have no desire to see any of the others (yes, that includes Django Unchained. Sorry, Quentin, but you lost me with your Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds tranquilizers).
So am I the most qualified person to speculate on which nominees should win? Probably not. But I am qualified to speculate on which films I would’ve nominated. Without any further ado, the Oscar should go to:
Unlike Will Ferrell or Vince Vaughn, Mark Wahlberg plays a man-boy who's actually plausible. He's not so over-the-top that I can’t believe he could land a girlfriend like Mila Kunis. Wahlberg delivers his dialog with such wide-eyed innocence and enthusiasm that I completely bought his relationship troubles with a hot chick and an R-rated Teddy Ruxpin.
Aside from the needlessly possessive pre-title title (we all know this isn’t the Uma Thurman/Ralph Fiennes Avengers), Joss Whedon’s film is as good as everyone says it is. However, I feel his screenwriting is better than his direction. Having suffered through plenty of overstuffed superhero movies (Batman & Robin, X-Men: The Last Stand) it’s a joy to see one that treats each hero with equal screen time and subplots. And do so with quality fanboy references and mainstream heart is a bonus.
Any superhero movie that can make my wife cry in the closing minutes is Oscar-worthy in my (comic) book.
Safe (not to be confused with Safe House, Safe Haven, or Safeway stores)
There are things in this Jason Statham actioner that I've simply never seen before. Screenplay things, direction things -- all brand new, or at least old things done in brand new ways. It’s the type of movie where you realize in the first few minutes that you're seeing something you've never seen before. You then spend the rest of the running time cheering the film on, hoping it won't drop the ball. It doesn't.
I’ve never been a Stooges fan despite working on their 75th anniversary special (or because of it). So when I was trapped at 30,000 feet without a book, I was shocked at how often I LOLed during this Farrelly Brothers remake. Moral of story: Don’t read books.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (IMAX)
It’s Raiders. In IMAX. ‘nuff said.
Of all the titles on this list, Wes Anderson’s latest is the most likely to be nominated for real, yet, aside from best screenplay, it wasn’t. It should’ve been.
I could go on and on, like about how Hitchcock was the best film with worst make-up (which is better than being worst film with worst make-up, Skyfall), but I have less than 48 hours to cram in screenings of six more official nominees. Ya hear that, Quentin -- six! I’d rather see Bradley Cooper jog in a trash bag than watch Django. I’d rather see a tiger in a life raft than Django. I’d rather see Russell Crowe croon than… Ahh, than again, maybe not.
Steven D'Arcangelo is a transplanted Bostonian living in LA with his lovely transplanted wife Carrie. When not reviewing films, he writes screenplays. When not writing screenplays, he does graphic design and illustration. When not doing graphic design and illustration, he denies being a workaholic. When not denying he's a... Well, you get the idea.
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