Sunday, February 24, 2013

Annual Look at the Oscars 2013

For the last 44 years or so, I've made predictions about Oscar winners. 2012 was a good year for movies, but there are very few "Oscar locks" this year, which may make the show a little more interesting I saw most of the Best Picture nominees, and liked most of them (haven't seen Amour (and would really like to) or Life of Pi (and have very mixed feelings about that, much as I love most Ang Lee movies or Zero Dark Thirty or Django Unchained (again, mixed feelings on those two))

I noted several hopeful trends in my last year's Oscar notes, including several movies with large, strong casts of actresses. Sadly, I can't say I noticed that trend this year. There was some interesting, ambitious SF - Hunger Games, Looper and Cloud Atlas. Sometimes, Hollywood remembers it takes a little more than strong production values or a superhero to make a science fiction movie. Sadly, Cloud Atlas tanked at the box office. I think it's the sort of movie people will look back at and appreciate as it's a fascinating movie.

I'm going to an Oscar party again this year, and expect to be there for all of it as I'm going to the Hollywood Theater Oscar Party in Dormont.

[[Comments made after the show.]]

Best Picture

  • Amour
  • Argo WON (will win)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln (should win)
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

This is a tough category but for weird reasons. I really loved Lincoln. I'm a huge history buff and love it when a movie gets so much of it so right. Some of the complaints about Lincoln are on the strange side - it shouldn't win because of Spielberg - it shouldn't win because 20th Century Fox (AKA Rupert Murdock) was involved. I liked Argo very much, and Ben Affleck really captured the chaos around the Iran hostage crisis very well. However, upon a second viewing, its flaws really bothered me (lack of distinctive characterizations outside of the Hollywood guys, severe Hollywoodization of the last half hour of the movie). Beasts is simultaneously the most naturalistic and the most fantastic movie of the lot. I loved Q. Wallis' fierce performance (and, I'm sorry, you can't call it anything but that). Silver Linings Playbook had a very smart script and terrific performances all the way around, but is a little light for a Best Picture Oscar. This might be the year of the surprise winner, so maybe something like Django Unchained or Silver Linings Playbook could win. However, I think Argo will win, mostly as an apology to Ben Affleck who didn't get nominated for Best Director, but I think Lincoln deserves to win.

[[By the end of the show, it looked like Life of Pi could have pulled a massive upset.]]

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Daniel Day-Lewis WON - Lincoln (should win, will win)
  • Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables
  • Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
  • Denzel Washington - Flight

There are two Oscar locks, and this is one of them. Daniel Day-Lewis will be the second person to win three Best Acting Oscars (after Katharine Hepburn (4) (Meryl Streep has only won 2 + 1 for supporting). His performance as Lincoln was spot-on and very moving. And, remember, DDL is only 55 so he could be winning them for decades to come. Both Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman gave strong performances in their respective movies.

[[After a rocky night of humor onstage, Daniel Day-Lewis, who's often kind of shy in public, told a great joke when he said that he was supposed to have played Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep had given him his Oscar) and Streep was due to play Lincoln. He knew who he was talking to. Seth McFarlane struggled with this all evening.]]

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Alan Arkin - Argo
  • Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook (should win, will win)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
  • Christoph Waltz WON- Django Unchained

I'm really not sure how Oscar voters are going to go on this one. I've heard a lot about De Niro possibly getting an Oscar for this as he's only won 1 for support and 1 for leading. That's possible; also, this is one of his comic roles, and he's become a brilliant comic actor over the years. If Django Unchained or The Master don't get other awards, perhaps Waltz or Hoffman will win here. I liked Tommy Lee Jones, but I found his performance much weaker the second time I saw Lincoln.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence WON - Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuelle Riva - Amour (will win)
  • Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts - The Impossible (should win)

Naomi Watts gave one of the best performances ever in the little-seen The Impossible. It's about the most harrowing performances since Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice (though for slightly different reasons). I liked Jennifer Lawrence very much in Silver Linings Playbook, but I think I liked her performance ever more in Hunger Games. Quvenzhané Wallis was perfect in Beasts. Jessica Chastain (based on the many ads I've seen for Zero Dark Thirty) gives a solid performance.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams - The Master
  • Sally Field - Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway WON - Les Misérables (should win, will win)
  • Helen Hunt - The Sessions
  • Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook

OK, this is the other lock. Anne Hathaway gave a short but amazing performance in Les Mis. I thought Sally Field also gave a very strong performance - I half wish this category could see a tie.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Brave WON - Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • Frankenweenie - Tim Burton (should win, will win)
  • Paranorman - Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Peter Lord
  • Wreck-it Ralph - Rich Moore

This is a surprisingly tough category. I loved the design and voice casting of Brave, and the script was a little stronger than a typical kid's feature. Frankenweenie is marvelously weird. While I didn't see Wreck-it Ralph, it's very clever.

Best Cinemetography

  • Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
  • Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
  • Life of Pi WON - Claudio Miranda
  • Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
  • Skyfall - Roger Deakins (should win, will win)

Moderately tough category.

Best Costume Design

  • Anna Karenina WON - Jacqueline Durran (will win)
  • Les Misérables - Paco Delgado
  • Lincoln - Joanna Johnston
  • Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka (should win)
  • Snow White and the Huntsman - Colleen Atwood

This category has the most bizarre nominees. The costumes in Les Mis and Snow White were so-so. I liked the costumes in Mirror Mirror since everything in that movie was meant to be over-the-top and on the cartoony side, and the nominee died before the movie even opened.

Best Directing

  • Amour - Michael Haneke
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin
  • Life of Pi WON - Ang Lee
  • Lincoln - Steven Spielberg (should win, will win)
  • Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell

Despite the anti-Lincoln backlash, I think Spielberg deserves the Oscar.

[[This was the biggest surprise of the night. I generally like Ang Lee movies very much, but didn't like the sound of Life of Pi]]

Best Documentary Feature

  • 5 Broken Cameras - Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • The Gatekeepers - Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky and Estelle Fialon
  • How to Survive A Plague - David France and Howard Gertler (should win, will win)
  • The Invisible War - Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering
  • Searching for Sugar Man WON - Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn

I haven't seen any of these documentaries this year, but the two movies I've heard the most about are How to Survive a Plague (about AIDS) and Searching for Sugar Man (about an obscure American singer/songwriter whose works were huge in South Africa). One of these two is the most likely to win, and I think it's more likely to be How to Survive a Plague.

Best Documentary Short Subject

  • "Inocente" WON - Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • "Kings Point" - Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • "Mondays at Racine" - Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • "Open Heart" - Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • "Redemption" - Jon Alpert and Matthew o’Neill

I think I'll ever skip guessing on this one as I have no idea.

Best Film Editing

  • Argo WON - William Goldenberg (should win, will win)
  • life of Pi - Tim Squyres
  • Lincoln - Michael Kahn
  • Silver Linings Playbook - Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • Zero Dark Thirty - Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

I thought the editing for Argo was especially good.

Best Foreign Langauge Film

  • Amour WON - Austria (should win, will win)
  • Kon-Tiki - Norway
  • No - Chile
  • A Royal Affair - Denmark
  • War Witch - Canada

Hope to see Amour.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Hitchcock - Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane (should win, will win)
  • Les Misérables WON - Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

This has the single worst nominee - Les Mis. Sorry, the make-up was good here and there, but mostly way, way overdone. But The Hobbit has a similar problem - some of the make-up is good, and others of it is overly cartoony.

Best Music (Original Score)

  • Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli
  • Argo - Alexandre Desplat
  • Life of Pi WON - Mychael Danna
  • Lincoln - John Williams (should win, will win)
  • Skyfall - Thomas Newman

My favorite score was ignored - Cloud Atlas was the best from last year.

[[The little snippets they played from Life of Pi sounded very nice.]]

Best Music (Original Song)

  • "Before my Time" Chasing Ice - Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" Ted - Music by Walter Murphy Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • "Pi’s Lullaby" Life of Pi - Music by Mychael Danna Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • "Skyfall" Skyfall WON - Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth (should win, will win)
  • "Suddenly" Les Misérables - Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best Production Design

  • Anna Karenina - Production Design: Sarah Greenwood Set Decoration: Katie Spencer (should win, will win)
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Production Design: Dan Hennah Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • Les Misérables - Production Design: Eve Stewart Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • Life of Pi - Production Design: David Gropman Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • Lincoln WON - Production Design: Rick Carter Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Lincoln had detailed, accurate production design, and I wouldn't object at all if it won. But Anna Karenina was fresh and inventive and I love its playing around with stagecraft.

Best Short Film (Animated)

  • "Adam and Dog" - Minkyu Lee
  • "Fresh Guacamole" - PES (should win, will win)
  • "Head Over Heels" - Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin o’Reilly
  • "Maggie Simpson" in “The Longest Daycare” - David Silverman
  • "Paperman" WON - John Kahrs

I hadn't seen any of these, but Sunday Morning played "Fresh Guacamole" this morning and it was very inventive

Best Short Film (Live Action)

  • "Asad" - Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • "Buzkashi Boys" - Sam French and Ariel Nasr (should win, will win)
  • "Curfew" WON - Shawn Christensen
  • "Death of a Shadow" ("Dood van een SchaduW") - Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • "Henry" - Yan England

"Buzkashi Boys," about boys in Afghanistan, has had incredible buzz.

Best Sound Editing

  • Argo - Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • Django Unchained - Wylie Stateman
  • Life of Pi - Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • Skyfall WON - Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers (should win, will win)
  • Zero Dark Thirty WON - Paul N.J. Ottosson

Haven't seen most of these so I'll guess Skyfall.

[[A very rare tie]]

Best Sound Mixing

  • Argo - John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • Les Misérables WON - Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • Life of Pi - Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin (should win, will win)
  • Lincoln - Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • Skyfall - Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

[[Now, that's a Les Mis win I really can't complain about, particularly given that the songs were sung live during the filming and the music sounded great.]]

Best Visual Effects

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • Life of Pi WON - Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • Marvel’s the Avengers - Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick (will win)
  • Prometheus - Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill (should win)
  • Snow White and the Huntsman - Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

I'm torn on this category. It was a year when the most visually interesting movie (Cloud Atlas) was completely shut out. Movies like Prometheus and Snow White weren't very good movies, though the effects in Prometheus were really great. The Hobbit has strong effects...but, sometimes, they, like its make-up, were very cartoony and out of place.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • Argo WON - Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild - Screenplay by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
  • Life of Pi - Screenplay by David Magee
  • Lincoln - Screenplay by Tony Kushner (should win, will win)
  • Silver Linings Playbook - Screenplay by David O. Russell

A very tough category with four very strong options (haven't seen Life of Pi). I think ultimately it goes back to Lincoln, but if the Oscars turn out to be an Argo or Silver Lingings Playbook sweep, this award will go to one of them.

[[Much of the script for Argo is pretty good...but...*sigh*]]

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • Amour - Written by Michael Haneke
  • Django Unchained WON - Written by Quentin Tarantino (will win)
  • Flight - Written by John Gatins
  • Moonrise Kingdom - Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (should win)
  • Zero Dark Thirty - Written by Mark Boal

Moonrise Kingdom was one of my favorite films of last year. I'm still surprised it wasn't nominated for its unique production design. I would love to see this win, but I expect this is the award Tarantino will get.


The show was kind of a mixed bag. The focus was on movie music and it went very well - Shirley Bassey, Jennifer Hudson and Adele really rocked the hall. Seth McFarlane is a decent singer and song and dance man, but..."I Saw Her Boobs" went on for too long. His opening joke about "Making Tommy Lee Jones laugh" was great, but it went down hill from there. It was a very glittery night, both set design and gown wise.

I had a very good time at the Hollywood Theater Oscar party. I won a mini Oscar statuette for answering some movie trivia questions correctly. Comfy seats, snacks and watching the Oscar show on a large screen.

I had one of my worse years of making Oscar predictions ever - I probably only guessed about 20% right. Mostly, it was from my failure to appreciate Life of Pi, which I haven't seen yet. [[[And, when I finally saw it, I really didn't like it that much, though it looks great.]]]