Nominations: The Golden Steves

UPDATE: Here are my nephew’s predictions for what will will the Oscars (major categories only). He proffers these reluctantly (see below for his feelings on The Academy Awards), but he usually gets them all right:

Picture: Argo
Director: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Foreign Language Film: Amour
Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph
Song: title song, Skyfall
Cinematography: Life of Pi


Every year my nephew Steven, a movie buff (now with a master’s degree in film from Columbia) nominates candidates for the “Golden Steves”—his personal list of best movies, directors, actors, and so on.  And believe me, he has seen 185 movies this year (!) and can eloquently defend his choices.  His list of 2012 nominees is now available at his website, Truth at 24.  I urge you to visit it for the full list, but present his overall rationale, qualification, and nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress below (note: the lad is not shy).

Herewith, my nephew:

Far and away the most coveted of motion picture accolades, Golden Steves are frequently described as the Oscars without the politics. Impervious to bribery, unreceptive to ballyhoo, disgusted by sentiment and riddled with integrity, this committee of one might legitimately be termed “fair-mindedness incarnate.” Nearly 200 of the year’s most acclaimed features were screened prior to the compilation of this ballot. First, a few caveats:
1) Owing to a lifelong suspicion of prime numbers, each category is comprised of six nominees, not five.
2) This list is in no way connected with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—a fact that should be apparent from its acumen. Please look elsewhere for Oscar predictions.
3) Winners will be announced at a tasteful ceremony March 9, 2013, and will appear on this platform shortly thereafter.
And now, the worthy nominees:
Best Picture
The Deep Blue Sea
Holy Motors
In the Family
The Master
Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Leos Carax, Holy Motors
Terence Davies, The Deep Blue Sea
Miguel Gomes, Tabu
Michael Haneke, Amour
Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet
Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
Anders Danielsen Lie, Oslo, August 31st
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Nina Hoss, Barbara
Rachel Mwanza, War Witch
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
The winner in each category will be announced soon (I’ll post a list), and head over to Truth at 24 to see the nominees in other categories.
If you’ve seen any of these movies, weigh in.


  1. SnowyOwl
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Best picture and best director go together…

    Now I know the AAD (Academy of Ancient Directors) didn’t nominate Ben Affleck, but if you liked Argo, I can recommend two better pictures from this director:
    Gone Baby Gone (2007) and The Town (2010).

    Both of these are better-Boston films than Clint Eastwood & Martin Scorsese have made.
    He is not appreciated by the director establishment because of his age and a ‘short’ he made titled, “I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney” (1993). You couldn’t make this stuff up.

    • harrylime
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Picture and director typically do go together, but this year Argo has claimed top honors from the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and three of the four major guilds (WGA still pending), while Lincoln has picked up no significant Best Film laurels. The DGA has forecast Best Picture ten of the last eleven years, so that bodes well for Argo, too. It’s going to be a close race.

      I agree that Gone Baby Gone is a better film than Argo, and deserved more attention at awards time.

      Among the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture, Amour is the only masterpiece. Too bad it doesn’t stand a chance.

  2. Rain
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Re: “Argo“, did people see the same movie I saw? Are there two different Argos floating around? I don’t get what all the hoopla is all about. Somehow, somebody is spamming somebody somewhere.

    • bueller007
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      I agree. It is just a standard action movie that has been rendered extremely historically inaccurate by burdening it with a standard movie plot. (Though we were thankfully spared the clichéd romantic subplot.)

      The “climactic” airplane chase scene at the end is a particularly preposterous addition.

  3. Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I saw The Master while reading “Getting Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright, and it makes a lot more sense with that than it would without it.

    “The Cause” is closely based on Scientology before it got big, even including the founder’s son saying he just makes it up as he goes along. The Philip Seymour Hoffman character “Lancaster Dodd” is Hubbard to the life. The Phoenix character might be based on David Miscavige, with his violence and unpredictability, but DM is much younger and was raised as a Scientologist. In the sequel, Phoenix might well take over the movement.

    It’s a strangely bitsy movie, almost suggesting the Clams have chopped parts out of it. A strange sequence with Hubb^h^h^hDodd speeding a motorbike in the desert should end with a crash and the beginning of him acting strangely, but it just cuts to something else without any resolution.

  4. Armando
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I am so excited to see ‘Tabu’ featured here! It is such an amazing film. Too bad it got so little attention.

  5. Greg Peterson
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Well, I got as far as the first choice for Best Picture–Amour–before dismissing the list. What a ghastly, dull, pointless and long movie that is. It makes me wonder why he didn’t include “Les Miserables,” which is its equal in all bad things.

    I actually did read the rest of the list, and…Daniel Day Lewis, yes, of course (there is no DDL, there is only Abe Lincoln in that movie), and the wee miracle Quvenzhane Wallis who gave the performance of several lifetimes.

    I’ll see Rust & Bone and The Master eventually, but I don’t think I can be bothered with the rest.

    BTW, the person decrying “Argo”–much as I loved Lincoln, I think Argo was the better movie-movie. I suppose gun to my head I’d say it did a better job of crossing art and commerce. Not that Lincoln was too arty or anything, but in terms of pure movie-going enjoyment–because of rather than in spite of its technique–it was probably the “best” movie of the year.

    • Rain
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Well okay then. That’s okay, I seem to be the only one in the universe who doesn’t know why Argo is such a big deal. Obviously I do not know anything about movies I guess, lol.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      You know, this is my nephew’s list, and I really don’t appreciate the snarky tone here. You might have some manners considering that it’s my relative.

      • Rain
        Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        I truly do not understand why Argo is a big deal. Everyone else does, so apparently I do not know anything about movies! Just statements of fact. No disrespect intended. Anyway go ahead and n=ban me I guess. *flips bird*

      • Greg Peterson
        Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Hard to convey actual tone in print, but I intended as more playful than snarky–I regret that it didn’t come off that way. But movie taste is such an idiosyncratic thing, I think we all have to make allowances for individual quirks. My favorite movie last year was probbaly “Cabin in the Woods,” but no way was I going to put that out there to get shot down. I thought Beasts of the Southern Wild was probably the most admirable film of the year, but was not very enjoyable. Django Unchained, I don’t see why anyone would like given the fact that no one seems capable of telling Tarantino that any of his self-indulgent excesses are a bad idea. And on and on. I expect each person I run into to be utterly baffled my this or that movie opinion I hold. My girlfriend was certainly confused by my hatred for “Les Miserables.” I understand that it’s your nephew, and apologize for the offense; I assure you none was intended. Perhaps not everyone views movie reviews as the full-contact sport that I do. Lesson taken.

        • harrylime
          Posted February 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, Unc. No offense taken, Mr. Peterson, but your animus toward Amour is puzzling to me. Ghastly, dull, pointless and long? “Dull” and “long” are subjective terms, can’t really argue them (except to point out that five of the best picture nominees are longer)…but I wonder what you found ghastly? The forthright treatment of decrepitude? The refusal to find anything sweet or inspirational in the end of human life? That, I would argue, is the point you claim doesn’t exist. To show us with compassion but without bathos the position of marginality we’ll all eventually occupy if we have the good fortune to reach it: seniority. It may not be photogenic or conducive to happy endings, but in the words of Linda Loman, attention must be paid. As one whose postgrad concentration was old age in cinema, I say with all my heart and mind that this is a heroic film.

          • Greg Peterson
            Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

            harrylime? Great moniker; huge fan of The Third Man.

            It is impossible for me to convey why I hated “Amour” so much, but a realistic portrayal of decrepitude could not have been it, because that’s the reason I wanted to see the film in the first place. As I’ve said (in relation to the awful “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” actually), a realistic portrayal of something is never enough taken by itself to make a movie good. My Greek friends all insisted to me that I should like MBFGW because “they’re really like that!” I don’t necessarily want art that’s really like reality; I want art that heightens, expands, or contextualizes my experience of reality. I find that–for me–Amour did not do this.

            Your comments provoked a lot of thought, Harry, and I appreciate that. One thought is that I certainly don’t demand happy endings, since my favorite story is “Hamlet”–and I find that to be too long by about a quarter as well, incidentally. What I disliked about the long-feelingness of “Amour” is that it reminded me of why I think that the original, Russian “Solaris” is both brilliant and unbelievably frustrating to watch. Scenes go on too long, well past the point at which they communicate. For me the quintessential example of that in “Amour” was the man chasing after the pigeon that got into their apartment. I don’t know how long it actually was, but it gave me the chance to say, in my own head, “CUT!” at least three times. I understand that allowing a scene to play out naturally like that was part of the message–in this it reminds me of one of the “Oblique Strategies” for music penned by Brian Eno: “Repetition is a form of change.” Fair enough, but I don’t have to like it.

            And I frankly find inevitable decay and decline dull. I’m in my 50s now, and while I can’t lay claim to the kind of precipitous decline the couple in Amour–especially the woman–are facing, I am definitely declining in lots of ways. I find my OWN loss of capacity dull. Seriously. That might not be intuitive, but…well, to give another example, I love my parents a great deal, yet I find the catalogs of insult and injury they recite to me when I see them or call, despite this fact, stultifying. I don’t suppose decay is interesting to me because it is all in one direction. There are few surprises in it. That’s not to say a depiction of decay could not be interesting–even fascinating. I just didn’t find that the relentless decline in “Amour” particularly moved me.

            Perhaps the most important thing your response did, harrylime, is make me think more about how old people ARE shown in films. As I would expect, American cinema generally sucks at this, as it does in so many other areas. The “Cocoon” movies were especially odious in this regard, I think, of a piece with the “Twilight Zone’s” “Kick the Can,” included in the 1983 film anthology. I think perhaps my favorite depiction of the aged was in the 1982 Paolo Taviani movie, “The Night of the Shooting Stars.” And for a lighter look at the seriousness of the issues surrounding aging, I appreciated “Harold and Maude” and “Grace Quigley.” I am sure that as a grad student, you are infinitely more sophisticated in what you know about and appreciate, and I completely defer to your experience and wisdom in the area generally.

            But in a nutshell, my experience of “Amour” was one of meandering verite wed to an inevitable conclusion that felt like more of an ordeal than a revelation. That others have had a different experience, I can only celebrate. I was, for example, delighted that my partner enjoyed “Les Miserables” so much, after having cajoled her into watching “The Avengers,” “Ted,” and the original “Roller Ball”—all experiences she found excruciating, even knowing how much I liked those movies.

            • Greg Peterson
              Posted February 12, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

              PS: To give you more sense of why you should ingore me entirely, I had read “Linda Loman” as Lindsay Lohan.

  6. Occam
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Kudos for including Nina Hoss as Best Actress nominee.

  7. Uncle Ebeneezer
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe Moonrise Kingdom isn’t on this list.

  8. Dominic
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    Interesting list – I hardly ever go to the cinema (three times in the last year) & have never even heard of any on that list! I shall certainly look out for the Norwegian film with Lie.

    Amused to see from Steve’s web page that “The Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists” was renamed for the US audience, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits Band of Misfits”. Indicative of the great respect for scientists in your country?!

    • Dominic
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:28 am | Permalink

      oops – extra Band of Misfits in there!

  9. marksolock
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

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