2013 Calvin Awards: Best Picture

By David Mumpower

February 22, 2013

We've had a pretty good year, haven't we?

In last year’s balloting for Best Picture, I noted that The Artist had become the most dominant performer in the history of The Calvins. The celebration of vintage Hollywood moviemaking earned our top prize in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. I noted at the time that this is an accomplishment that can only be matched, never beaten. This year, our film selections were so varied that only a pair of movies garnered multiple category wins. Those two titles coincidentally (or not) happen to be our two favorite movies of the year.

Our selection for the Best Picture of the 2013 Calvins is Silver Linings Playbook. After years of mocking writer/director David O. Russell over the Lily Tomlin viral video and other atrocities against talented thespians, we are now forced to acknowledge that the mercurial auteur crafted the best movie of the year. Silver Linings Playbook is an odd crowd pleasure disguised as an exploration of bipolar behavior. The protagonist, Patrizio Solitano Jr., has been institutionalized for a time as he deals with his mental health issues.

Obviously, such a conflicted person is an unusual focal point for a romantic comedy/drama. Russell solves this dilemma by deftly dividing the film into two parts. The first half of Silver Linings Playbook reveals the daily torment Patrizio experiences in spite of the tremendous support his loving parents provide. The second half of the movie takes an unexpected turn toward The Cutting Edge. Strangely, this swerve works brilliantly.


Solitano Jr. is introduced to an equally damaged woman named Tiffany Maxwell. Recently widowed, she attempted to overcome her depression by adding a LOT of sex into her daily life. Alas, she chose to seduce all of her coworkers, which eventually caused her unemployment. With nothing else to do with her time, Maxwell decides to become a performer in an upcoming dance competition. She manipulates Solitano Jr. into becoming her partner and yes, sparks fly between these ridiculously attractive people.

Silver Linings Playbook is somehow the right kind of incongruous storytelling. I strongly suspect that Russell’s draws on his personal experiences as a nutjob to demonstrate that he’s not such a bad guy. And even if he is, there are reasons for his erratic behavior. The personalization of the story combined with a touching demonstration of damaged people falling in love despite the odds caused our staff to swoon. Silver Linings Playbook is one of only two movies this year to win multiple awards. With three victories, it is cemented as our favorite title, and we demonstrate this by naming Silver Linings Playbook Best Picture of the year.

Django Unchained is the other movie that earned multiple victories in this year’s Calvins. Unsurprisingly, it is our second favorite film of the year. Since the inception of these awards, we have shown a proclivity toward the works of Quentin Tarantino. Kill Bill Vol. 1 finished in sixth place in 2004, Kill Bill Vol. 2 finished in eighth place in 2005 and Inglourious Basterds finished in third place in 2010. With Django Unchained, Tarantino achieves his highest place for a film thus far.

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