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

RT History Syfy versus biography romance movies mission: impossible TLC wonder woman Chilling Adventures of Sabrina revenge Pride Month Binge Guide Endgame Amazon Prime Video spanish language ghosts political drama Rom-Com movie Thanksgiving Year in Review YA blaxploitation witnail ITV french Pop TV Reality Competition Comic Book streaming movies Crackle game show Wes Anderson Creative Arts Emmys ID cartoon worst OWN dramedy A&E OneApp MTV ABC Signature aliens Bravo thriller DC streaming service See It Skip It spider-verse dragons 93rd Oscars Nominations New York Comic Con YouTube Red spanish Broadway criterion Rocketman nature dceu Film Festival cops women 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards boxoffice prank Interview streamig Nat Geo saw Neflix biopic suspense laika australia children's TV Infographic BET Awards Pacific Islander Sony Pictures news 71st Emmy Awards First Look dogs italian war black natural history Martial Arts mob Britbox sag awards El Rey travel new zealand docuseries 4/20 Disney Plus Vudu BET adventure 90s scary movies HBO Max Native Elton John mcc anime adenture Mindy Kaling archives quibi TCM Cartoon Network psychological thriller Sundance Now Showtime royal family binge book batman IFC Films Avengers Universal 94th Oscars genre AMC Comedy Central gangster Awards name the review BAFTA Pop ABC Premiere Dates comic book movies 1990s Pet Sematary Set visit Heroines 2017 Amazon Prime festival Academy Awards politics Oscar Trivia discovery TV movies Columbia Pictures transformers films FOX Legendary Masterpiece Tags: Comedy TCA 2017 Opinion boxing Fall TV Song of Ice and Fire kids deadpool 2015 critics young adult Disney Channel Food Network japan spider-man international Mary Poppins Returns Star Trek ViacomCBS HBO video on demand worst movies WarnerMedia doctor who Emmys Tubi rotten movies we love comics what to watch composers Paramount Pictures Lifetime Ellie Kemper kong universal monsters Classic Film crime Pixar Photos rt archives DirecTV The Academy Tumblr TV Land crossover james bond Universal Pictures breaking bad interviews Awards Tour christmas movies sequel 99% king arthur Anna Paquin Best Director Geeked Week Biopics animated franchise 79th Golden Globes Awards Superheroe E3 summer TV preview DC Universe VH1 Comedy Super Bowl classics pirates of the caribbean canceled TV shows MCU anthology YouTube Premium Horror trophy renewed TV shows Alien Spring TV Acorn TV justice league Teen new star wars movies Hallmark Christmas movies The Witch finale child's play football Grammys action-comedy marvel cinematic universe feel good Comic-Con@Home 2021 summer preview godzilla Best Actress AMC Plus golden globes fast and furious true crime scene in color Ovation 73rd Emmy Awards foreign diversity Music PlayStation legend leaderboard Film GIFs Funimation documentary CNN casting Video Games canceled based on movie TBS monster movies The CW obituary remakes spain basketball CBS All Access Brie Larson festivals Trailer WGN SXSW 2022 TV renewals Character Guide indie theme song APB Netflix Christmas movies series Winners popular Netflix scorecard Sundance TV broadcast Fantasy elevated horror a nightmare on elm street Hollywood Foreign Press Association Tomatazos The Walking Dead Drama TCA Awards 21st Century Fox SXSW slashers BBC America Paramount Network reviews VOD cooking Holiday Schedule LGBT toronto Quiz zombies PaleyFest San Diego Comic-Con unscripted Captain marvel Christmas vs. Family cats dc halloween tv Black Mirror CBS Musicals The Purge teaser blockbusters streaming nfl lord of the rings posters Fox Searchlight Instagram Live trailers king kong NYCC police drama NBC SDCC richard e. Grant DGA Mystery dark PBS documentaries cancelled TV shows docudrama chucky supernatural marvel comics cancelled TV series YouTube Musical Disney crime thriller space serial killer television Travel Channel VICE romantic comedy Disney streaming service award winner Lucasfilm dexter Turner TIFF olympics rt labs critics edition Hulu Star Wars Celebration Winter TV Television Academy scene in color series halloween Summer aapi comiccon DC Comics asian-american Best Picture Marvel Studios Apple IMDb TV SundanceTV Adult Swim RT21 Peacock new york Shondaland Sneak Peek Exclusive Video hispanic Arrowverse live action Fox News Certified Fresh The Walt Disney Company Esquire Baby Yoda free movies facebook Pirates GLAAD sitcom scary cults Animation Country superman science fiction Amazon hidden camera Spike Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 2019 Dark Horse Comics jamie lee curtis Logo Kids & Family zombie 2018 Best and Worst emmy awards ratings screenings tv talk TNT singing competition Apple TV+ black comedy green book south america TruTV American Society of Cinematographers fresh Freeform Rocky Warner Bros. sopranos Trophy Talk Rock know your critic 20th Century Fox slasher BBC technology 45 robots zero dark thirty USA stop motion Hallmark 24 frames ABC Family Indigenous razzies hist Walt Disney Pictures Watching Series Chernobyl National Geographic cancelled television Holidays Prime Video debate Box Office cancelled ESPN game of thrones directors Election Star Wars Sony spinoff HBO Go golden globe awards medical drama GoT Apple TV Plus reboot hispanic heritage month sequels 2016 Mary Tyler Moore venice IFC Cosplay Polls and Games Writers Guild of America Lifetime Christmas movies MSNBC sports Lionsgate Turner Classic Movies Oscars Toys parents Crunchyroll HFPA blockbuster mockumentary cinemax indiana jones vampires Amazon Studios superhero 2020 The Arrangement stand-up comedy werewolf independent best 007 Sci-Fi A24 miniseries Marvel target scene in color jurassic park X-Men FXX screen actors guild Focus Features USA Network rotten Marathons Red Carpet psycho E! Hear Us Out Countdown disaster CW Seed Cannes 2021 Disney+ Disney Plus comic summer TV Nickelodeon Fargo social media japanese Emmy Nominations CMT rt labs Television Critics Association concert talk show TV hollywood Podcast toy story Black History Month twilight satire live event NBA strong female leads Ghostbusters Marvel Television joker rom-coms book adaptation die hard Comics on TV Paramount dreamworks video Action crime drama Best Actor critic resources target Stephen King Women's History Month FX period drama Reality high school FX on Hulu historical drama scene in color film series Image Comics art house First Reviews Extras Mudbound Tokyo Olympics LGBTQ 72 Emmy Awards telelvision TV One Superheroes harry potter obi wan comic book movie TCA Winter 2020 heist movie TCA Discovery Channel spy thriller Tarantino Spectrum Originals MGM Starz comedies Shudder nbcuniversal stoner latino History BBC One Epix adaptation South by Southwest Film Festival all-time mutant comic books Sundance Valentine's Day kaiju Western President cars Paramount Plus Calendar Mary poppins