Some of this year’s Oscar selections are a bit puzzling. For example, two very deserving directors, Ben Affleck “Argo” and Kathryn Bigelow “Zero Dark Thirty,” were snubbed, even though their films were nominated by the Academy. This leaves many film buffs scratching their heads in wonder. However, the Golden Globes surprised us all this past Sunday by presenting their trophy to Affleck for best director and best picture. This was the case with the Broadcast Critics as well, but will “Argo” ace out “Lincoln” at the Oscars?
The Best Actress category is also particularly interesting this year since the youngest and oldest actresses in Academy Award history will be in competition for the golden statuette. Quvenzhane Wallis, the nine-year old star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” will vie with 85-year old Emmanuelle Rivera who portrays Anne, an elderly woman who suffers a debilitating stroke in the Austrian love story “Amour.” “Amour” has been nominated in both the Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film Category. Others in contention for the Best Actress accolade are Jessica Chastain, 35, in “Zero Dark Thirty,” Jennifer Lawrence, 22, for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Naomi Watts, age not revealed, in “The Impossible.”
Not only is Quvenzhane Wallis the youngest lead , her film “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is the first of the nine motion pictures nominated to be released on DVD. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, there is still time to buy or rent it before the Oscars are given out next month.
In the film, the youngster makes her acting debut as the feisty, spirited Hushpuppy, a precocious six year old who lives in a shack on a Louisiana bayou with her daddy. If she wins she will be the youngest person to ever receive a competitive Academy Award. Quvenzhane has also been nominated for a Spirit Award. Not bad for a fledgling thespian who bubbles over with boundless personality.
The New York Times critic A.O. Scott calls the film “A blast of sheer improbable joy” and Richard Corliss, Time Magazine, hails it as “An artful, magical….masterpiece.”
In “Beasts” Hushpuppy must face many harsh realities that would crumble the spirit of an adult, much less a tyke of her tender years. However her father Wink, first time actor Dwight Henry, is determined to toughen her up so that she will survive long after he’s gone.
His illness, coupled with the unleashing of flood waters during a horrific storm in an area known as “The Bathtub,” could be disastrous for this family as well as for their bayou neighbors and friends. Hushpuppy’s imagination also comes into play as she envisions her barnyard pets as larger than life wild beast from prehistoric times.
The DVD has commentary by Oscar nominated director Benh Zeitlin, a feature on the making of the film, auditions and more. From Fox Searchlight, rated PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, languages and some disturbing images.