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Making the most of this Oscar season

Jessica Chastain (pictured at the 84th annual Academy Awards ceremony) is a best actress Oscar nominee for her role in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Jessica Chastain (pictured at the 84th annual Academy Awards ceremony) is a best actress Oscar nominee for her role in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

It’s that Hollywood time of the year again, and the Oscar nominations find their way into conversations everywhere.

For the past 25 years my wife, Cathy, and I have dealt with “movie month” – the period between nomination day, Jan. 9, and the Academy Award ceremony on Feb. 24 – in a special way.

We see every film nominated in the six major categories awarded, and then on red carpet night celebrate our own awards. It’s not easy, and it takes some organization, but the effort has its rewards.
There are a few helpful tips to help accomplish the task.

First, you need a check-list of films you need to see. This year, 13 movies comprise the award categories for best movie, director, actress, actor, supporting actor and supporting actress.

This is a good year to try to see films featuring nominations because in previous years that number has run as high as 18 movies.

And, most of the nominated films this year are commercial releases with commercial appeal. You’ve probably seen three or more already. However, some, like “Amour” may require a trip to Chicago. 
Also, “The Master” and “The Sessions” were recently re-released in Chicago and La Grange, respectively.

As of today, every film is still in theaters, and two of them will be available on DVD.

I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I think this is the first time in 28 years that all of the films have been in theaters during the weeks approaching the Oscars.

For those with an over-active occasion gene, spend a few minutes on the Internet reading about film editing. By seeing this year’s 13 films, you will also be qualified to judge that category, too. The nominated films for editing are “Argo,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Life of Pi,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”

The last thing to do is plan your level of party for the awards night itself.

Generally, Cathy and I reserve a table at a local bistro, drop off our ballots earlier (plenty available for copying on the Internet) for delivery during the meal.

We vote two ways. First, we vote on who we think is going to win. Then we write our personal favorite, keeping them secret. We rush home after dinner, catch a little red carpet on TV, and then open our ballots when each category is awarded in Hollywood.

It’s a lot of fun, you will be surprised at the great variety of films you will see, and often there is a good meal and an evocative discussion in the bargain.

Thirteen nominated films to see before Oscar night Feb. 24 include:

• Best Picture
• Best Supporting Actor – Alan Arkin

‘Les Misérables’
• Best Picture
• Best Actor – Hugh Jackman
• Best Supporting Actress – Anne Hathaway

‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’
(Currently available on DVD)
• Best Picture
• Best Director – Benh Zeitlin
• Best Actress – Quvenzhané Wallis

‘Silver Linings Playbook’
• Best Picture
• Best Director – David O. Russell
• Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
• Best Actress – Jennifer Lawrence
• Best Supporting Actor – Robert De Niro
• Best Supporting Actress – Jackie Weaver

‘Django Unchained’
• Best Picture
• Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz

‘Life of Pi’
• Best Picture
• Best Director – Ang Lee

• Best Picture
• Best Director – Steven Spielberg
• Best Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis
• Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Lee Jones
• Best Supporting Actress – Sally Field

‘The Master’
• Best Actor – Joaquin Phoenix
• Best Supporting Actor – Phillip Seymour Hoffman
• Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams

‘Zero Dark Thirty’
• Best Picture
• Best Actress – Jessica Chastain

• Best Picture
• Best Director – Michael Haneke
• Best Actress – Emmanuelle Riva

(DVD available Feb. 5)
• Best Actor – Denzel Washington

‘The Impossible’
• Best Actress – Naomi Watts

‘The Sessions’
(DVD available Feb. 12)
• Best Supporting Actress – Helen Hunt

• Bob Habes lives in St. Charles with his wife, Cathy. He writes a weekly syndicated column about movies. Contact him at

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