I had previously passed aside this film as this year’s artsy nominee that would be visually stunning, but not make much sense. Very similar to last year’s The Tree of Life.
I was wrong.
Available to rent on DVD already, this summer 2012 release is visually stunning but it’s also a very touching tale of survival, strength, and the many different groups we call family.
Introducing: Beasts of the Southern Wild
I owe Quvenzhane’ Wallis an apology. As the star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and at only 9 years old, I think she is well deserving of her Oscar nomination. And remember, she’s the youngest ever to be nominated! Wallis plays Hushpuppy, a little girl growing up in the bayou whose way of life is threatened both by an increasing ill father and melting snow caps that will flood her swampland home, nicknamed ‘The Bathtub.’
I wasn’t totally wrong about this film. It is artsy. But artsy is an understatement. It’s not facetious in the way where it’s a beautiful film, but no one understands it. It’s just a pure, breathtaking capture of someone’s different world.
I have never lived in the deep south of Louisiana. Though my city is on the Mississippi, I’ve never lost my home due to flooding, or been forced to live in a shelter. I am grateful for this film because it’s been the first picture I could see why the resiliency of these people is something to be proud of. As outsiders, we watch the news and we think, “Oh good, they’ve opened up a shelter for these people to go to. They are being helped!”
What if that’s not what they wanted? I’d never even thought of that! Far away, from my safe midwest homebase, I thought a shelter was a place of comfort. I hadn’t considered that you’re thrown in there with people you don’t know, possibly separated from your family, wearing clothes you’re not used to, eating food you’re not used to, and that you’re not allowed to go home if you choose.
Don’t misunderstand me, this film is by no means a lecture for the privileged, that’s not its intent. I’m only speaking for myself, this film taught me a reality I’d not considered and I’m grateful for that education.
And when something opens your mind, how can it be anything but beautiful?
Having won Movie of the Year at the AFI Awards, it’s up for four Oscars! Wallis, again, the youngest nominee for a Lead Actress role, the film itself is up for Best Picture, Benh Zeitlin is up for Best Directing, and it’s also up for Best Writing, adapted from previously published material.
I was curious about Zeitlin and where he came from as a new name to the Oscar realm. A New York man, born and raised, he was making films from the age of 6! He’s a film school graduate from Weslayan University, whose previous work had been shorts up until this point. Another tremendous accomplishment for one so young!
He had some great quotes out there about the making of this film so I’ll share a few of my faves with you!
There are funny stories about [the making of “Beasts”] how I went knocking on someone’s door and he came out with a shotgun. Even then, that guy showed up at our gas station two days later, and was like, “I’m sorry. I thought you guys were trying to kill me or you’re from Witness Protection or something like that. I didn’t mean to scare you. You want any red fish?” He’d just caught a bunch. You get real hospitality in Louisiana. I think it’d be much harder in another place because the state is extremely open and a more accepting, hospitable place.
I’m even impressed with the liberty he granted Wallis to define her own character!
She was so focused and poised and just was fierce. She wouldn’t do just what I told her to do, she questioned what I was saying. She’d say, ‘I don’t like this word’ and she’d delete it. I allowed her to own the words and understand what they meant.
One fun fact for you is that both of Zeitlan’s parents are urban folklorists and the founders of City Lore in New York. They work with and support all cultures in order to document, preserve, and celebrate traditions and all forms of artistry. Their site is pretty impressive actually. And it’s no wonder that their son has an element of folklore in his film, Beasts of the Southern Wild.
The people in Hushpuppy’s world believe in the legend of aurochs. Now an extinct form of cattle, aurochs are the much larger versions of today’s cattle species: oxen, buffalo, cows. The last known auroch died in 1627. They had immense protruding horns. None of the research I found even notes their discovery in North America, this creature came from Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. Early attempts at domestication started with the auroch, and where Beasts of the Southern Wild comes into play is the auroch’s anger toward humans.
What do you think? Are you interested in seeing this movie? Check out the trailer to learn more!
Are you on your way to the movie rental? What do you think about Wallis’ and Zeitlan’s nominations so new in the business? What have you heard about this film?
I’d originally planned to get my year end review of 2012 books out there, but you all know it was going to go on hold with the announcement of:
The 2013 Oscar Nominees!
With nine nominations for Best Picture, y’all better tie your kicks and scurry them butts to the theater in time to catch these flicks before awards night! On your mark, get set, say “Cinema!”
Are you ready? Cause I’m gonna call it like I see it!
Best Picture Nominees:
Amour kicks off the list, from Austria, and most likely to win Best Foreign Language Film, starring oldest Oscar nominee in history, Emmanuelle Riva (age 85), and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a retired couple whose love is tested when Anne (Riva) suffers an attack which will forever change their lifestyle.
- Argo – The surprising film that made it in, despite being released back in October of 2012, which in Oscar world may as well have been dog years earlier. Kudos to Alan Arkin for notching a second Oscar nom for the flick in the role of Best Supporting Actor. Arkin’s made a bit of a comeback for himself in indie comedies like Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning, alas as the film received no major notes for Best Actor (wasn’t shocked there, Ben Affleck, but still proud of ya!) or in Best Director, I’m afraid I’ll have to count this one out as a true contender for Best Picture.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild – Or what I’m calling, “This year’s slightly better contender than The Tree of Life“. Ah, remember that one?! It was nominated last year for Best Picture and it starred Brad Pitt. Millions of you flocked to the theaters and movie rentals and then came out going WTF??? I think Beasts of the Southern Wild is going to be this year’s art film entry, but one that is going to make a lot more sense. It’s a magical tale of a little girl named Hushpuppy (artsy film hint #1) who comes of age one summer amidst her father’s ailing health and some melting snow-caps that are causing flooding in her bayou home. There’s something about mythical beasts in there too… (artsy film hint #2) The film did wonders at the Sundance Film Festival and now, Quvenzhane’ Wallis (age 9) is the youngest person to be nominated for Best Actress. I gotta say, I think it’s sweet, but I don’t think the Academy…at least I HOPE the Academy would select another contender. Seems a lot to assume this 9 year old (8 at the time) performed better than any other actress out there! Especially ones who’ve trained and practiced their craft for years. Don’t wanna be an ageist, but I can see Naomi Watts throwing knives!!
- Django Unchained – Well, bite my tongue! They decided to let Quentin Tarantino in again! I’m ecstatic! But I’m afraid this nomination is all the glory Tarantino is going to see. Without other nominations in the key categories, I think we can safely eliminate this film from winning Best Picture. Too many rumors fled the entertainment news for me to be surprised that neither Kerry Washington nor Jamie Foxx were nominated. It’s a bit of a snub, if you ask me, that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t receive one, but wild card winner could award a Best Supporting Actor to Christoph Waltz, now a Hollywood favorite since Inglorious Bastards. With a new spin on the story of slavery, I’ll be eager to see how the action drama does!
Les Miserables – For the last several years, any musical that gets nominated typically wins Best Picture. Remember all the hype Chicago got in 2002? Probably couldn’t pay most of you to watch the film now! But Les Miserables has all the facets: an all-star popular cast full of eye candy and talent plus a slew of pop culture trends and rising! Yes, yes, even Miss Susan Boyle, our very own Britain’s Got Talent queen has made the music from this movie popular! And well done Anne Hathaway, scoring a Best Supporting Actress role along with co-star Hugh Jackman, up for Best Actor! *wipes drool*
Life of Pi – Nominated for Best Director, Ang Lee, the awesome one who gave us Sense and Sensibility, is back with another Best Picture Nominee. Life of Pi, masterfully illustrates the story of Pi, a shipwrecked and castaway boy who faces the perils of the sea with the odd, but only other survivor, a Bengal tiger. I don’t know about this one yet as I haven’t seen it. I think Ang Lee stands a chance, but without any acting nominations, could it take home Best Picture? We shall see.
- Lincoln – Of course! Of course Daniel Day-Lewis comes out of actor hiding to score another Oscar nomination for Best Actor! Rewind to There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, and My Left Foot! The man is unstoppable! And with Steven Spielberg in the running for Best Director, this could be a triple threat! Except…it doesn’t end there! Sally Field is up for Best Supporting Actress and Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor (Those of you who read my review of Hope Springs may be shocked to know I’m actually rooting for him this time!)
- Silver Linings Playbook – Fantastic news for fans of
The Hunger GamesWinter’s Bone, Jennifer Lawrence scores another Best Actress nomination opposite her co-star, Bradley Cooper, who has his own Best Actor nom. Kudos to Cooper for breaking away from such comic roles as The Hangover and The A-Team to take on more in depth characters with Limitless, The Words, and of course, this nomination for Best Picture. David O. Russell, up for Best Director, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver both up for Best Supporting Actor/Actress leads me to believe that Silver Linings is going to be the strong contender against Lincoln and Les Mis.
- Zero Dark Thirty – The cinematic retelling of the Navy S.E.A.L. team that took out Osama bin Laden. From The Hurt Locker director, Kathryn Bigelow, first female to win the Best Director Award, Zero Dark Thirty has been highly anticipated. However, will this film hold the same weight for the Academy as The Hurt Locker? Bigelow was not nominated for director this year, but Jessica Chastain is up for Best Actress! Careful, Quvenzhane’, Jessica’s got guns! You guuuuys, I’m talking about her acting chops! Didn’t you see her in that artsy film The Tree of Life?!
There you have it! The 2013 Academy Awards nominees for Best Picture. For a full list of nominees, check out ABC’s ballot of all categories!
Your reactions?! What flick is your pick for the winner? Any titles you think were robbed of a nomination? Inquiring minds HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING!!!
Oh, and want to know what I was slightly right about, but mostly wrong? The Hobbit! No nominations for Directing, Cinematography, Costume, or Original Song! It did however get noms in Visual Effects and Make-up, leaving me to fess up, I was “mostly” wrong, but slightly right.