Nominated For: Best Picture, Best Actress (Emmanuelle Riva), Best Director (Michael Haneke), Best Original Screenplay (Haneke), Best Foreign Language Film (Austria)
What's It About? Anne (Riva) and George (Jean-Louis Trintignant) are retired music teachers, both in their 80s, living a quiet, retired life with each other. Anne suffers a stroke and complications from surgery find her confined to a wheelchair and struggling to speak. Rather than put her in a nursing home, George resolves to stay by her side and take care of her, in spite of his own frail age. "Amour" chronicles the many difficulties that Anne's family undergo as they watch her struggle to live day-to-day.
Why You Should See It: Riva has made history as the oldest woman to ever be nominated for Best Actress and she earned the accolade not for giving a token sentimental performance, but for delivering the most intense, emotionally-moving character in the entire category. "Amour" captures all the emotions that come with watching a family member suffer through a debilitating condition, with heartbreaking accuracy. She brings a universal humanity to the part of Anne that allows the audience to see their own family through her. It's an exhaustive, cathartic story and Riva's stateside anonymity allows her to disappear into the part.
Beyond that, director Michael Haneke has been one of the most challenging directors on a global scale, with past films like "Funny Games" and "Cache" presenting gut-wrenching, bleak examinations of life. He brings the same stylistic rawness to the themes of "Amour," but he also offers a sweetness that you're not used to seeing in his films. In spite of the heaviness of the subject matter, the film is not meant to depress you, but really make you understand the power of love and devotion.
It's Kind of Like: "On Golden Pond" meets "Diving Bell and the Butterfly."
How You Can See It: "Amour" is currently playing in select cities throughout the country, expanding each week leading up to and beyond the Oscars. Check out the full list of available theaters on the Sony Pictures Classic website.