"Beasts of the Southern Wild," he said, "has a visceral reality to it that somehow the other films don't quite have," and he said Quvenzhané Wallis deserves best actress for centering her performance in that kind of reality. Even "Django Unchained," while it "exists in a universe you don't take seriously," Hanley said, makes one thing feel very real: "the brutality of owning human beings."
Hanley said if he had a best picture vote, he'd give it to "Silver Linings Playbook." "There are so many characters in that film, and they all seem right," he said. But he'd give best director to Michael Haneke, creator of "Amour." "Haneke ... gets the whole nature of aging, how people deal with their lives as they age. It makes you feel uncomfortable. ... It's something that needs to be on screen."
As for best actor? "Denzel Washington. I felt a visceral connection with him and his character. ... Daniel Day Lewis was magnificent but it has a kind of deliberately theatrical quality."
The Italian-born Toblini is a costumer, honored this year by the Connecticut Critics Circle. His work at Hartford Stage includes "Bell Book and Candle," "The Tempest" and "Breath & Imagination." He spoke of the nominees for best costume design.
"The costumes in 'Mirror Mirror' are just plain self conscious, cartoony and as unsexy as it can be. The actors in 'Snow White and the Huntsman' look like a bunch of figurines from 'Forbidden Planet' and as much as I love those, this is a very distance-free Dungeon and Dragons affair.
" 'Les Miserables' gave us a good balance of feel for the period and character interpretation. These costumes helped in telling the story without desperately begging for attention.I loved the look of the men in 'Anna Karenina.' Impeccable tailoring and very handsome uniforms. The direction of the movie was very theatrical and called for a creative interpretation of the period, but the result seemes to me a bit too fashiony and remains slightly behind the rest of the art direction. 'Lincoln' is the best faithful reconstruction of a period. Daniel Day Lewis makes a fantastic Lincoln and I felt I had a good insight of 1860's America watching it. I give my vote to 'Lincoln.' "
Actor Jefferies, a Texas native, has become a Connecticut fixture over the years with many performances at Hartford Stage ("Streetcar Named Desire," "Night of the Iguana"), as well as Hartford's TheaterWorks ("The Year of Magical Thinking") and Westport Country Playhouse ("Suddenly Last Summer").
When asked about the nominees for best actress, Jefferies went straight for Naomi Watts who co-starred in the film "The Impossible." "I think she is one of our exciting actresses working in our era and I don't say that lightly. What I also love about her is the diversity of roles she plays."
When asked about another nominee, Quvenzhane Wallis for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Jefferies says "I'm not for children getting awards. I think perhaps they could receive a special award but to give the best actress Oscar to a seven-year-old? I'm sorry, no."
Tresnjak is the artistic director of Hartford Stage and now staging the musical "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," which premiered last fall at the theater and is opening at San Diego's Old Globe with performances beginning March 8. The show is slated for Broadway next season.
"My favorite movie of 2012, both foreign and all-around, was 'Amour.' I was not surprised to see it nominated for the best picture of the year, something that rarely happens with a foreign movie. The movie, set largely in the apartment of an old couple, is largely structured like a thriller. It made me think of 'Rosemary's Baby' or 'Repulsion,' two movies that are also set in single spaces. But the intruder that moves into this apartment is, quite simply, old age, infirmity, disease. Jean-Louis Trintignant adds another triumph to the long list of utterly uncompromising and fearless performances. It's the finest acting of 2012 and he should have been nominated. And Emmanuelle Riva is touching and unforgettable — an ingenue who has gotten old and is falling apart.
"For best director, 'Amour' and Michael Haneke. Is there a more confident film director working today? There isn't a false note, from the opening shot to the last haunting image. Frankly, no other director, nominated in the category, has achieved that. I also love how much faith he has in both his actors and us, the audience. The camera observes the two leads calmly for long, unnerving periods. And we are left to draw our own conclusions about the choices that they make."