Friday, 11 January 2013

And Here We Go: Some Thoughts On The Oscar Nominations

Aw yes, that time of year where everyone exclaims how the Oscars are bullshit, irrelevant, etc, etc, even though we tune in every year to see who's nominated. I guess that's the thing with the Oscars- love them or hate them, they're addictive to movie buffs. Even if you're critical of awards, if you love movies, you care who gets in and, more importantly, who doesn't. I'll go through some of the major categories, giving my thoughts. To be honest, I haven't seen every performance or film nominated yet, but judging from what I have seen, I'll say who I think will win in several categories, as well as the surprising omissions.

Best Picture- Like last year, we have nine nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les MiserablesLife of PiLincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty. Out of the nine I still need to see Amour, Beasts, Pi and Zero Dark Thirty. Right now I think it's between Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook, especially since SLP's director, David O. Russell, previously nominated for 2010's The Fighter, got a Best Director nomination over Ben Affleck for Argo and Kathryn Bigelow for ZD30SLP is the type of crowd pleaser like the previous two Best Picture winners, The King's Speech and The Artist, that the Academy often loves. Moreover, Russell has never won Best Director or has a Best Picture winner under his belt, whereas Spielberg already has two Best Director Oscars, for 1993's Schindler's List and 1998's Saving Private Ryan. He also won the Best Picture Oscar for Schindler's List. While Speilberg is a titan, the Academy may want to award Russell for his strong work over the years.

Best Director- I think this category provided the most surprising omissions of the race this year, with Affleck and Bigelow, perceived locks for their work with Argo and ZD30, respectively, shut out. Other big names like Tom Hooper, who has been the subject of controversy over his directon of Les Miserables, and Quentin Tarantino, who directed Django Unchained, were also left out. The line up is as follows: Michael Haneke, Amour, Ang Lee. Life of Pi, David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook, Steven Spielberg, Lincoln, and Benh Zeitlin for his debut feature, Beasts of the Southern Wild. At 30 years old, he's the youngest nominee in this particular category. Good for him getting a nomination for his first film. With the four big names, Affleck, Bigelow, Hooper and Tarantino out of this category, it does leave Russell some room to take the prize. His biggest competition in this category, again, is Spielberg.

Best Actor- Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook, Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables, Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln, Joaquin Phoenix, The Master, Denzel Washington, Flight. I'm glad to see Phoenix here. There was some talk that Pheonix's harsh comments about the Academy and awards in general would lead to hm being left, particularly with The Master losing steam. But here he is. I was really blown away by him in The Master, and I think it's a career best performance- he'd be my pick for Best Actor. However, Day Lewis is the frontrunner for his warm and commanding performance as President Abraham Lincoln. If Les Miserables was more of a frontrunner, Jackman may be more of a threat, but the film, especially without a Best Director nomination, is vulnerable. In fact, Day Lewis' competition may mostly come from (gasp) Bradley Cooper. The internet would explode if Cooper won over Day Lewis, but if SLP is loved enough, who knows, right? John Hawkes, for his role in The Sessions, didn't make it, even though he was a leading contender for a nomination, Jamie Foxx's performance as the title character in Django Unchained also didn't make it, probably due to the more animated performances around him in that film.

Best Actress- Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty, Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook, Emmanuelle Riva, Amour, Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Naomi Watts, The Impossible. I thought Lawrence was stunning in SLP, so I wouldn't be upset if she won. I think it's between her and Chastain, who I like a lot too, for ZD30ZD30 is finally out in my city so I'll be seeing it Sunday. From what I hear about Watts in The Impossible, it strikes me as the type of performance we may look back on as the one that should've won. Watts can be argued to be overdue as well. Wallis, only six when we shot Beasts, received a nomination for her breakthrough performance. She's the newcomer that this category always seems to like. While I haven't seen Amour, it'd be awesome if a legendary actress like Riva won.

Best Supporting Actor- Alan Arkin, Argo, Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook, Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master, Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln, Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained. Like last year, the supporting actor category is full of veterans, although it doesn't have a newcomer like Jonah Hill last year. Also, all these guys are previous winners. Jones seems to be the frontrunner, particularly if Lincoln is going for a sweep. Though, as I keep saying, if people love SLP, De Niro could be on his way to a third Oscar. Though I like Waltz, I'm disappointed Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson had made it for Django Unchained.

Best Supporting Actress- Amy Adams, The Master, Sally Field, Lincoln, Anne Hathaway,  Les Miserables, Helen Hunt, The Sessions, Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook. Poor Amy Adams. This her fourth nomination in this category over the last seven years, and she keeps getting blocked. Even with Adams' overdue factor, I think this race is between Field and Hathaway. I wasn't really blown away by Field in Lincoln, so I prefer if Hathaway for her short but devastating performance in Les Miserables. I wish Hathaway's co-star, Samantha Barks, had also gotten in. She was a real stand out.

So, those are my thoughts. I'm glad Moonrise Kingdom got a screenplay nomination and a tad disappointed The Dark Knight Rises didn't get in for any of the tech categories. I loved Adele's theme for Skyfall, so excited to see her here, as well as Roger Deakins' for his stunning cinematography in that film. The Academy Awards are on February 24, so until then, have fun predicting. And don't forget, Golden Globes, sans Ricky Gervais, are this sunday.

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