The year 2012 in cinema will be remembered as one of the best ever.
Many of the Oscar-nominated pictures garnered critical and popular acclaim. Look for Oscar to share the gold.
The Oscars will air on ABC at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Here are domestic box-office grosses, as of Feb. 17, of the Oscar picture nominees:
"Amour" - $3.9 million, four Oscar nominations
"Argo" - $126.8 million, seven Oscar nominations
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"- $12 million, four Oscar nominations
"Django Unchained" - $156.9 million, five Oscar nominations
"Les Misérables" - $145.2 million, eight Oscar nominations
"Life of Pi" - $110.8 million, 11 Oscar nominations
"Lincoln" - $176.2 million. 12 Oscar nominations
"Silver Linings Playbook" - $98.4 million, eight Oscar nominations
"Zero Dark Thirty" - $88 million, five Oscar nominations
The picture category is filled with films of remarkable storytelling creativity, directorial craftsmanship, technical achievement and acting prowess.
In this crowded field, my choice is: "Argo," which has been consistently winning awards: Golden Globes for drama and director Ben Affleck, Screen Actors Guild Award (cast), Writers Guild of America Award (adapted screenplay), Producers Guild of America Award, American Film Institute (Movie of the Year) Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and a BAFTA (British equivalent to the Academy Award).
"Argo" was tension-filled, sometimes humorous and always entertaining. It is too bad that in Affleck's year he was slighted by not being nominated in the Oscar director category.
Director Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"
Michael Haneke directed one of this year's most excruciatingly painful films, "Amour." Benh Zeitlin made one of the most intense cinema experiences, "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" brought history to life as few films have. David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" was a slice of neurotic charm playing for comedy and understanding. Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" was other-worldly.
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
In any other year, it might be Bradley Cooper, fine in Philadelphia and its suburbs in "Silver Linings Playbook"; Hugh Jackman, robust "Les Misérables"; Joaquin Phoenix, wacky in "The Master"; Denzel Washington, laser-like in "Flight." But in any year when Daniel Day-Lewis has a role and such a role as in "Lincoln" where he embodied President Abraham Lincoln, then the Oscar is his.
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
A remarkable field: Jessica Chastain was riveting in "Zero Dark Thirty"; Emmanuelle Riva danced with death in "Amour." Quvenzhané Wallis was remarkable in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Naomi Watts achieved "The Impossible." Jennifer Lawrence was the page-turner in "Silver Linings Playbook"
Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"
Good performances all: Alan Arkin, hilarious in "Argo"; Robert De Niro, back in form in "Silver Linings Playbook"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, scintillating in "The Master"; Christoph Waltz, magnificent in "Django Unchained." Tommy Lee Jones, in "Lincoln," provided a crusty, cantankerous and sometimes comedic balance, a yin to Daniel Day-Lewis's yang.
Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Misérables"
Amy Adams was memorable in "The Master." Sally Field was extraordinary in "Lincoln." Helen Hunt was believable in "The Sessions." Jacki Weaver was cute in "Silver Linings Playbook." Anne Hathaway's performance made "Les Misérables" sing.
Normal: "Frankenweenie" was odd. "ParaNorman" was entertaining. "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" was predictable. "Wreck-It Ralph" was stuck in the arcade. "Brave" soared on many levels.
Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com. Email Paul Willistein firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook.