Top 15 Films of the Year, No. 7 – Amour

Amour is a French-language film directed and written by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.  The movie follows an elderly couple, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anna (Emmanuelle Riva).  Both of them are retired music teachers that enjoy spending time together and listening to classical compositions.  One day, Anna suffers a stroke, and after that, nothing seems to be quite the same with her.  Their daughter, who lives abroad, comes to visit often and wants to help in any way she can, but Georges prefers to care for his wife by himself.  These two have endured a lifetime of love and compassion together, but after Anna’s incident, all factors of their relationship are drastically tested.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Michael Haneke is one of the great filmmakers of this era.  The world’s grandest film festival is the Cannes Film Festival in France, and the biggest award given out is the Palme d’Or, an award presented to the filmmaker of the best feature film at the festival.  Only seven filmmakers in the history of the competition have received this award twice, and Michael Haneke is one of those directors (The White Ribbon, 2009, and Amour, 2012).  This track record proves why Haneke is one of the greatest directors in the modern film industry.

Amour is up for many awards at this year’s Oscars, including Best Picture, becoming only the seventh foreign-language film to be nominated for this award.  A lot of people strongly dislike foreign films, but I think this characteristic makes you ignorant as a fan of film.  Some of the greatest movies ever made were not in the English language, such as The Seventh Seal (Swedish), Wings of Desire (German), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Mandarin), Downfall (German), and Letters from Iwo Jima (Japanese).  Everyone can attain a greater level of understanding and respect for the world film industry by taking the time to watch foreign films.

In Amour, Haneke has created one of the most unique tales of true love that the film industry has ever seen, and his outstanding script and story are made to look even more dazzling due to two unbelievably powerful acting performances.  One of the most critically recognized performances is from Emmanuelle Riva as Anna.  Riva has been nominated for many awards, including Best Actress at the Oscars, and the attention her portrayal has received is very much deserved.  Her unprecedented level of skill and sentiment in this role makes her a true contender for the Oscar.

My favorite performance from the film, however, is that of Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges, Anna’s husband.  It is easily one of the greatest portrayals from a male lead in recent memory, and the ways in which Trintignant defines love and compassion on the screen are nothing short of amazing.  Trintignant has already been nominated and won for Best Actor at numerous film awards ceremonies in Europe, but for some reason that I still cannot quite understand, he was snubbed at the Oscars.  I felt his performance was the strongest in the entire film, and that is saying a lot considering Riva clearly gave an Oscar-winning performance herself.

This film was by far one of my favorites of the year, and even though it probably won’t win for Best Picture, Haneke will most definitely be receiving his first Academy Award win for Best Foreign Language Film.  Amour is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, including a disturbing act, and for brief language.

Academy Award nominations for Amour:

Best Picture (Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, and Michael Katz, Producers)

Actress in a Leading Role (Emmanuelle Riva)

Directing (Michael Haneke)

Foreign Language Film (Michael Haneke)

Best Original Screenplay (Michael Haneke)

Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of the Year:

8. Les Misérables

9. Beasts of the Southern Wild

10. Looper

11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

12. The Dark Knight Rises

13. Flight

14. The Master

15. Argo