Total Recall

Total Recall: 2013 Best Picture Nominees

We take a closer look at this year's contenders.

by | January 17, 2013 | Comments


Awards season is in full swing, and film fans everywhere are either debating their picks for who’s about to win or arguing over those who’ve already won. That goes double for us at RT, and to celebrate our annual embrace of Oscar fever, we’ve decided to dedicate this week’s list to the films getting ready to duke it out for this year’s Best Picture Academy Award. With room for real-life stories, a little romance, a few songs, some hard-hitting drama, and even some action and/or comedy, this year’s batch of nominees is certainly an eclectic bunch — so let’s take a look at them all, reminisce about how many we’ve seen, and then hit the comments section to weigh in on their odds of winning come February 24. It’s time for Total Recall!



Michael Haneke’s films aren’t exactly known for their cheerfulness, and Amour is no exception — but don’t assume this unflinching look at a long-married couple’s final days bears the director’s typically misanthropic stamp. In fact, while it was on its way to earning the writer/director another round of awards show honors (including the Palme d’Or at Cannes) and critical hosannas, Amour also surprised a fair number of scribes with the warmth that glowed behind its patient, brutally honest depiction of love’s unwillingness to yield in the face of death. “Growing old is a war, and movies rarely go there,” observed Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News. “Michael Haneke’s amazing, dignified Amour is the exception.”



An ensemble suspense thriller about the Iran hostage crisis, starring and directed by a guy whose career had been all but left for dead 10 years ago? Argo seemed like one of 2012’s unlikeliest hits for any number of reasons — not the least of which was that title — but thanks to Ben Affleck’s steady direction, a sharp Chris Terrio script, and impeccable work from its splendidly cast stars, it ended up raking in critical praise while racking up more than $100 million at the box office. “It’s an embodiment of the kind of quality adult film that really shouldn’t be an endangered species,” observed the Village Voice’s Karina Longworth. “And a love letter from Affleck to the industry that made him, shunned him, and loves nothing more than to be loved.”

Beasts of the Southern Wild


A year ago, saying the name “Benh Zeitlin” was liable to get you strange looks, or maybe a “Gesundheit” — but today, Zeitlin is the Oscar-nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, his startlingly assured debut picture about the denizens of the Bathtub, a Louisiana bayou community threatened by a looming storm (as well as herds of prehistoric creatures resurrected by the melting polar icecaps). Blending elements of drama and fantasy as artfully as any 2012 release not involving hobbits, Beasts thrilled critics like Tom Long of the Detroit News, who wrote that “The atmosphere Zeitlin develops here is moist with promise and danger, and he moves back and forth between outright fable and pungent reality with an astounding sureness of vision for a first-time director.”

Django Unchained


One of the toughest things about being a history buff — aside from remembering all those names and dates — is continually reading about all the rotten things that the human race has perpetrated upon undeserving victims. So three cheers for Quentin Tarantino, who’s been on something of a revisionist history kick over his last couple of films: First with the anti-Nazi revenge fantasy of Inglourious Basterds, and now with the scathing slavery indictment Django Unchained, which funnels centuries of rage and injustice into a rollicking, bloody buddy pic about a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) and the slave (Jamie Foxx) he enlists to help him track down a trio of truly bad guys. As divisive as ever, Tarantino repelled some critics with Django‘s enthusiastically gory set pieces, but for others, it was just part of the experience — like Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal, who called it “Wildly extravagant, ferociously violent, ludicrously lurid and outrageously entertaining, yet also, remarkably, very much about the pernicious lunacy of racism and, yes, slavery’s singular horrors.”

Les Misérables


If you’re going to film a property that’s been adapted as many times as Les Miserables, you’d better bring something new to the table — and that’s exactly what director Tom Hooper did with his new version of the oft-told Victor Hugo tale, corralling an all-star cast (including Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and Russell Crowe) and asking them to sing live on the set instead of lip-synching while the cameras rolled. The result was a holiday hit at the box office when it bowed on Christmas Day 2012 — and an unsurprising target for critics who accused Hooper of going for broke with a two-and-a-half-hour piece of unapologetic Oscar bait. Whatever Hooper’s hopes for Les Mis, it looks like Oscar took the invitation — and so did critics like Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who wrote, “The piercing sincerity of this stupendous, heart-wrenching epic would move even the most jaded cynic. See it and weep.”

Life of Pi


Given how many people felt its Man Booker Prize-winning source material was unfilmable — and how long it languished in development on its way to the big screen — director Ang Lee would have deserved credit just for getting Life of Pi made at all. And for actually turning Yann Martel’s sweeping, deeply symbolic epic about a boy (Suraj Sharma) drifting at sea on a tiny liferaft with a Bengal tiger into one of 2012’s most visually luscious, emotionally resonant films? Well, it appears he deserved a Best Picture Oscar nomination — as well as heaps of acclaim from critics like Roger Ebert, who praised Pi as “a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery.”



He presided over the most tumultuous time in our nation’s history, accomplished great things while in office, and ended his administration — and his life — in violent tragedy. Needless to say, Abraham Lincoln’s life is the stuff that Oscar-winning films are made of — and with Steven Spielberg at the helm, directing a stellar cast that included Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and an almost unrecognizable Daniel Day-Lewis as the man himself, Lincoln was a virtual shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination even before it arrived in theaters. Of course, it helped that the finished product was one of 2012’s best-reviewed films thanks to critics like Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, who wrote, “It blends cinematic Americana with something grubbier and more interesting than Americana, and it does not look, act or behave like the usual perception of a Spielberg epic.”

Silver Linings Playbook


The pain from 2009’s All About Steve is still so fresh that it sometimes seems like it was just yesterday that Bradley Cooper was starring in it, but he’s done a fair bit to redeem his occasionally dodgy script choices in the last few years — including turning in some of his best work opposite Jennifer Lawrence in 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, a David O. Russell project that dances across the slippery divide between comedy and drama with uncommon grace while managing to impart some decidedly un-Hollywoodlike wisdom about life, love, and mental health along the way. “Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t settle for the routine or the cliché,” enthused Kirk Baird of the Toledo Blade. “It’s a funny drama about imperfect people looking for love. It also happens to be the best romantic comedy in years.”

Zero Dark Thirty


When a movie can take a well-known true story and turn it into a pulse-pounding thriller even though everyone in the audience already knows how it’s going to end, that’s a pretty solid achievement — and so it is with Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which dramatizes the mission that finally ended the U.S. military’s decade-long manhunt for Osama bin Laden. Given its ripped-from-the-headlines screenplay, it’s probably only natural that it ended up being one of the year’s most hotly debated movies, but for the majority of critics, the controversy couldn’t put a dent in Bigelow’s gripping, brilliantly crafted drama. Calling it “A powerful, morally complicated work on an urgent subject,” the Atlantic’s Christopher Orr argued, “It is a film that deserves — that almost demands — to be seen and argued over.”

Take a look through the rest of the Oscar nominees, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives.


Tag Cloud

Tags: Comedy Amazon Studios rt labs critics edition Sundance TV Lucasfilm CBS Sundance Now stand-up comedy Set visit Family History Superheroes Grammys TV movies Marathons natural history SundanceTV Holiday Biopics The Walt Disney Company Comics on TV criterion chucky period drama Turner Classic Movies Fantasy dramedy Elton John blaxploitation WGN Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt USA OneApp RT History BBC One sequels Brie Larson HBO Go jamie lee curtis binge BBC America boxing legend spider-verse reboot quibi singing competition basketball Tumblr spain Fox News FXX DC streaming service TV DC Comics cults nature El Rey international 007 directors mockumentary Funimation DC Universe BET Awards robots OWN strong female leads PBS Star Trek documentary Photos mob NBA rotten YouTube Red USA Network Film Festival Creative Arts Emmys godzilla new star wars movies hollywood screen actors guild Binge Guide social media revenge TCA Winter 2020 VICE Paramount thriller Summer talk show heist movie BBC medical drama E! TIFF Sundance Captain marvel Reality TCM Horror The Walking Dead kaiju Walt Disney Pictures Apple TV+ dogs Song of Ice and Fire movie dceu stoner award winner debate kids live action trailers cancelled television LGBTQ art house historical drama concert ABC Signature miniseries hispanic heritage month Disney+ Disney Plus Fox Searchlight Sci-Fi suspense Comic-Con@Home 2021 NYCC GoT biopic ABC Writers Guild of America Fargo Paramount Plus Cosplay RT21 universal monsters Marvel crossover superhero 21st Century Fox die hard batman Endgame animated fast and furious cancelled TV shows Hollywood Foreign Press Association screenings franchise BET Thanksgiving Podcast dc rotten movies we love game of thrones indiana jones space toronto jurassic park Legendary comic books WarnerMedia war Character Guide psycho Pirates TLC Lionsgate golden globes parents Classic Film Trophy Talk ABC Family The Arrangement foreign Country Western Countdown finale new york Musicals sopranos series news dragons scene in color name the review political drama critic resources Arrowverse streaming slashers Bravo CNN serial killer MTV Avengers discovery versus Certified Fresh Turner dexter Video Games crime drama documentaries Pacific Islander ESPN politics adenture Baby Yoda Mary poppins all-time adaptation comics spanish language Hulu YouTube TBS new zealand Premiere Dates Pop Hear Us Out ViacomCBS emmy awards First Look wonder woman Disney Channel teaser doctor who VOD anime CW Seed obituary Mystery 2017 theme song Spike technology rt labs Disney lord of the rings Pixar Super Bowl trophy TV Land Star Wars richard e. Grant scorecard 2018 Universal Image Comics Year in Review television children's TV Awards Tour popular blockbusters Hallmark Christmas movies films remakes NBC marvel cinematic universe Tubi Freeform genre Comedy transformers Chernobyl sequel spanish telelvision Tarantino book Columbia Pictures sag awards IFC harry potter TruTV boxoffice cats Discovery Channel vampires james bond Marvel Studios Sony Pictures spy thriller Amazon Prime Video Martial Arts streaming movies Vudu italian movies slasher dark Exclusive Video anthology TCA Awards 71st Emmy Awards GLAAD 72 Emmy Awards worst toy story target Epix Tokyo Olympics Masterpiece rom-coms justice league canceled black comedy Comedy Central Alien Animation gangster Infographic Travel Channel composers MSNBC archives police drama Holidays cinemax New York Comic Con TV renewals rt archives classics based on movie cops Valentine's Day Trailer know your critic indie Adult Swim Rocky zero dark thirty 2020 IMDb TV SDCC Trivia Instagram Live romantic comedy CMT Interview Stephen King hispanic Black Mirror high school President Emmys scary movies Women's History Month DirecTV A24 marvel comics black Opinion Box Office PlayStation Pride Month AMC Plus monster movies disaster mutant Watching Series book adaptation Amazon Prime Nominations docudrama First Reviews Emmy Nominations zombies Apple See It Skip It Superheroe American Society of Cinematographers mission: impossible Spring TV Universal Pictures Starz Black History Month 73rd Emmy Awards comiccon Television Academy asian-american Election travel Extras Mary Tyler Moore comic book movies free movies Ghostbusters true crime ID BAFTA FX on Hulu cars Lifetime Christmas movies 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards ratings diversity Teen FX Hallmark Shondaland Heroines critics Music royal family aliens comedies reviews Syfy Mary Poppins Returns HFPA japanese YA Rocketman french adventure 2015 sitcom Red Carpet Oscars ITV PaleyFest X-Men MCU pirates of the caribbean Tomatazos latino blockbuster golden globe awards video on demand Marvel Television Best and Worst football Nickelodeon 90s Dark Horse Comics AMC APB Fall TV Netflix live event Wes Anderson canceled TV shows SXSW festival australia TV One science fiction Rom-Com spider-man biography zombie king arthur Crackle Comic Book women The Purge Disney Plus sports fresh vs. GIFs 2019 Pet Sematary TCA The Witch olympics Polls and Games Food Network CBS All Access independent docuseries green book cooking Britbox Schedule Esquire supernatural elevated horror south america Winter TV Kids & Family Neflix breaking bad spinoff Cartoon Network superman game show 4/20 mcc halloween king kong renewed TV shows Pop TV Mindy Kaling Anna Paquin Logo young adult comic romance best crime nfl Warner Bros. halloween tv Spectrum Originals 20th Century Fox japan nbcuniversal Action action-comedy twilight 79th Golden Globes Awards YouTube Premium Nat Geo Calendar Winners cartoon psychological thriller 99% Cannes unscripted Ovation Christmas kong LGBT christmas movies Drama Rock 93rd Oscars Crunchyroll cancelled TV series Television Critics Association werewolf joker Sneak Peek posters scary Peacock 2021 Apple TV Plus Academy Awards video HBO FOX San Diego Comic-Con DGA Netflix Christmas movies satire Broadway deadpool hist a nightmare on elm street aapi what to watch Disney streaming service Showtime laika saw Shudder VH1 tv talk child's play witnail Prime Video Lifetime dreamworks comic book movie Quiz Musical 45 1990s Film Amazon TCA 2017 The Academy IFC Films Awards TNT facebook Acorn TV E3 Toys Mudbound venice feel good stop motion razzies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina National Geographic casting The CW 2016 festivals worst movies Reality Competition 24 frames Paramount Network hidden camera A&E Ellie Kemper cancelled prank HBO Max crime thriller ghosts leaderboard