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11 Best Films of 2012 as Chosen by Me

Posted by Charles Reece, March 24, 2013 10:16pm | Post a Comment
I'm real late with this list, so I decided to just put it up sans commentary. In no particular order:

killer joe poster
Killer Joe - William Friedkin

something in the air poster
Something in the Air - Olivier Assayas

damsels in distress poster
Damsels in Distress - Whit Stillman

the hobbit poster
The Hobbit - Peter Jackson

sound of my voice poster
Sound of My Voice - Zal Batmanglij

holy motors poster
Holy Motors - Leos Carax

killing them softly
Killing Them Softly - Andrew Dominik

project x poster
Project X - Nima Nourizadeh

lincoln poster
Lincoln - Steven Spielberg

One of my favorite films from 2012: Lincoln

Posted by Charles Reece, January 20, 2013 10:16pm | Post a Comment
lincoln poster

Intellectual critics tend to hate Steven Spielberg's films, and Lincoln is no exception. The nastiest laceration I've come across is from one of my favorite social critics, Thomas Frank


Spielberg & Co. have gone out of their way to vindicate political corruption. They have associated it with the noblest possible cause; they have made it seem like harmless high jinks for fun-loving frat boys; they have depicted reformers as ideological killjoys who must renounce their beliefs in order to succeed. This is, in short, what Lincoln is about.

It is true that the film dramatizes Lincoln's greatest achievement by showing the less than pure, even immoral, underbelly of the politics involved: the cajoling, lying, shaming, threatening and bribery. In doing so, it also argues that a radical "killjoy" like Thaddeus Stevens has to publicly repress his own views in order to get things done -- in this case, passing the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery. (Imagine radical voices not being heard in this country! Hard to believe.) Frank condemns the film for what it doesn't show: those times when such morally compromised methods lead to or support political corruption. But he never really gets around to the fundamental point here: politics is always compromised, even when on the side of angels. And contrary to his take, the film does make distinctions in compromise: Lincoln goes beyond the law with the intention of freeing the slaves (who are legally enslaved), but doesn't compromise with the Confederates in order to end the war when it wouldn't serve his (very moral) goal of changing the law. And, more importantly, the film shows us what's needed when democratic compromise breaks down. Adam Smith argued that slavery could be more easily ended under a "despotic" rather than "free government" when it was the "freedom of the free" that was "the cause of the great oppression of the slaves," that is, when "every law is made by their masters, who will never pass any thing prejudicial to themselves." [quoted in Liberalism: A Counter-History, p. 6, by Domenico Losurdo] Sure enough, it was extra-legal measures that vanquished slavery: a war and Lincoln's temporary dictatorship (e.g., his suspension of habeas corpus). For this, his critics called him a despot. They weren't entirely wrong, but he proved to be the kind of despot we needed. We haven't really had Abe the Dictator presented to us in the movies, for which I found the film -- whatever creative license Tony Kushner took with the script -- refreshingly honest.

2012 Oscar Nomination Predictions by Brad & Jackie...

Posted by Brad Schelden, January 7, 2013 04:03pm | Post a Comment

argoWe are once again right in the middle of awards season. The Golden Globes are on Sunday, January 13th. The Oscar Nominations usually come out after the Globes are aired, but they are out a bit earlier this year. The Oscars take place on Sunday, February 24th this year. The Oscar Nominations come out this Thursday, the 10th of January. They came out last year on the 24th of January! So this is the time of year when I like to get together with my coworker Jackie and talk about what we think will be nominated. And also what we hope is nominated. I basically like to pretend that we are members of the Academy putting in our votes for the various Oscar categories. If you are feeling nostalgic for last year's Oscars, here is our Oscar Nominations Predictions from 2011. We both did pretty good last year. If you include our possible picks, Jackie beat me in her predictions by 5 picks. She got 45 out of 49 nominations correct. I got 40 out of 49 correct. I never imagined that Extremely Loud would have made it into last year's top 9 Best Picture nominations. But there is always a movie like Crash or Finding Neverland that somehow sneaks into 5 or 10 nominations for Best Picture. I don't think there will be a movie like that this year. There are simply too many good movies this year. But you never know! Jackie and I both see a ton of movies every year and of course have our opinions about what our favorite films and performances were.

Are you ready? Here we go...zero dark thirty

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December 30, 2012: Lincoln

Posted by phil blankenship, December 30, 2012 02:03pm | Post a Comment
Lincoln movie ticket stub