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Opinion

‘Lincoln,’ ‘Les Mis’ highlight Academy Awards

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February 21, 2013

Mid-February means it is the midst of yet another awards season in Hollywood. While several awards shows have already taken place this year, one of the biggest and most popular of the award shows has yet to get underway: the Academy Awards, which will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane.

The Academy Awards is a special night on the last Sunday evening in February where stars of recent movies get together and celebrate their achievements. This year marks the 85th Academy Awards show, and the awards honor many valuable stars such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway, and it celebrates movies that touch our hearts such as “Lincoln” and “Les Misérables.” It is truly a night that nobody will want to miss.

The Academy Awards, also informally known as the Oscars, were first presented on May 16, 1929. However, the crowd at this awards show was much smaller than it typically is now. It took place at a private bunch at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and there were only about 270 people in attendance.

Contrasting from today’s expensive ticket prices to attend the special night, tickets back then were only $5. Only 15 statuettes were handed out that night, honoring the many personalities in Hollywood over 1927 and 1928. The winners that year had been announced three months earlier, though that changed quickly the next year, for that was when they began to send the results to the newspapers at 11 on the night of the awards. They did this until 1941 when they began to use the sealed envelope that revealed the name of each winner.

The first six award shows celebrated the achievements of the film industry from the previous two years, for example, the second award show in 1930 recognized films from August 1928 to July 1929. That has changed now, and they only recognize films from the previous full calendar year.

This year marks the 85th awards show, and it honors several popular films from the past year. Nine films are up for Best Picture this year, including “Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Misérables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Of those movies, I have personally only seen “Lincoln,” but even just seeing that one film has convinced me enough that it deserves to win for Best Picture.

Focusing on President Abraham Lincoln’s goal to abolish slavery during the Civil War, it takes the viewer back to the time, walking in their shoes and experiencing what a huge decision this really was. The history depicted is quite accurate and the acting was outstanding.

Sophomore Katie Wilson, a frequent movie-goer, agreed, “Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln was probably the best [acting in this film]. President Lincoln is one of the most popular presidents we’ve had, some even argue the best, and so for Day-Lewis to do such a good job on such a well-known person earns him props,” she added. “For a historical and political film to be so emotional and well put-together, it deserves some kind of Academy Award credit.” Day-Lewis is one of five nominees for best actor in a leading role.

Another popular film to appear this past holiday season was taken off the Broadway stage a made for film, “Les Misérables,” starring Hugh Jackman and Hathaway. The film focuses on the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant who seeks redemption after serving 19 years in prison for stealing bread for his sister. Despite the lengthy story and the sad scenes, viewers remember “Les Misérables” most for the thick plotline, the heavy emotion, and of course, the great music heard throughout the film.

Wilson particularly enjoyed the music, commenting that, “the music was extremely fitting. It was somber, upbeat and explained the plot well despite there being no spoken dialogue.” She also added that, though Hathaway did not frequently appear in the film, her acting “brought me to tears.”

The Academy Awards is a great night to celebrate our favorite films from the past year and relive the moments that stole our heart away and really made us think. It gives us a glimpse into a world or lifestyle other than our own, and we are able to put ourselves into their shoes and experience something different. The 2013 Academy Awards airs on ABC at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, from the Dolby Theatre.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.