With less than two weeks before the Academy Awards, the Oscar conversation is veering from “What now?” to “What if?” Amid all the talk of frontrunners and inevitabilities, some pundits are pondering the inscrutable. What if Oscar voters suddenly ignore all that Argo mojo (which got a further boost last weekend with Best Picture and Best Director wins at the BAFTAs)? What if the Best Supporting Actress race isn’t fait accompli, but instead, as Roger Ebert observed, asserts, as in years past, its independence as the category “where the voters like to throw a curve ball?” What if a BAFTA win earned Emmanuelle Riva a little Oscar Amour? more »
Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke has a distinctively aggressive relationship with his audience that ranges from the provocation of Caché and The Piano Teacher to the outright antagonism of Funny Games and Benny's Video. Amour, his latest work and the winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, might be considered Haneke's version of a love story, and its grimness is of a much quieter but no less impactful sort. It is, more than any of Haneke's previous work, infused with compassion, but of a sort that cuts like a knife. For all that it is, as promised, about love, it's also a subtly punishing affair that grinds you into the ground as you watch an elderly couple deal with one member's slow deterioration of health and sanity.