And that’s it folks! The Oscars are over and done with, awards have been presented and Jennifer Lawrence tripped again. Now we have maybe two or three weeks before the inevitable buzz starts around 2014’s crop of prestige films. The ceremony itself was significantly better this year than in many years past, not just for the entertainment the telecast provided but the recipients of the awards (I only missed 3 in my predictions). So here are some final thoughts on Hollywood’s biggest night before we start this all over again next year.
For Once, the Academy Voters Get it Mostly Right
Director Steve McQueen may have jumped for joy but I was breathing a sigh of relief when Will Smith said “12 Years a Slave.” Last night the most deserving film actually won, both when it comes to cinematic quality, and “importance.” But that’s not to say that Gravity, a stunning achievement, didn’t deserve its seven awards, including Alfonso Cuaron’s historic win as the first Latino to ever take the Best Director prize. McQueen made history too, becoming the first black man to actually take home one of the Best Picture trophies (given to the producers of the winning film). It was actually a good night (at least, by the Academy’s standards) for diversity, with Lupita Nyong’o taking Best Supporting Actress, John Ridley taking Adapted Screenplay and Mexican-born Emmanuel Lubezki taking Cinematography for Gravity. The big win was, of course, 12 Years‘ big win. One can only hope that in future years, the Academy will start picking the right movies when it comes to LGBT stories, too.
The Hostess with the Mostess
It turns out Ellen was the perfect Oscar host. Safe enough that when she was announced, the focus was on how she would be the anti-Seth MacFarlane, not ruffle any feathers, and not turn the show into a sexist rampage. Leading up to the show, there was some murmuring about how, with such a broad choice as Ellen, the show could end up a little ho hum and boring, like her 2007 outing. That turned out to be definitively wrong. Apparently nice Ellen took a vacation and brutal Ellen took her place. Her monologue had zing after zing, going after everyone in the audience from June Squib to Liza Minelli to the general white guilt of the audience. (“Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You’re all racists.”) The Academy got its daring, edgy comedy, but it came in a package much easier for audience (in the room and at home) to swallow, for after she was done poking fun at movie stars she ordered them pizza and took a record-breaking selfie. She wasn’t necessarily my favorite host but she certainly got the job done in a way that it hasn’t for awhile.
Your New Best Friend Lupita Nyong’o is Amazing
If last night belonged to anyone, it was Nyong’o, who took home Best Supporting Actress for her very first film role, dazzled us with her dress and her speech, gave Ellen lip gloss instead of money, danced with Pharrell and was all around the best part of the Oscars. Also she brought her endlessly entertaining brother, who you’ll remember forever since he’s in the most retweeted selfie of all time. May Lupita long be attending the ceremonies and making them better for us all.
And the Best (and Worst) of the Rest…
Of course no Oscar ceremony is complete without its share of slipups and odd moments, it being live television and all. Some unscripted moments were nice, like when Bill Murray gave a quick shout out to the late Harold Ramis. Some were less than nice, like when John Travolta garbled Idina Menzel’s name when introducing her performance of “Let it Go.” The internet is not very forgiving, John. Speaking of “Let it Go,” co-writer Robert Lopez is now a member of the EGOT club (Tracy Jordan would be so proud). Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez also win for most exciting speech, delivered in alternating verse and featuring a snippet of Happy Birthday.
The Lopezes’ speech was short and sweet, so it made it all the way to the end before the orchestra started to play them off, but unless you are a Matthew McConaughey-sized star, you better be sure that you stay under the time limit. Here’s an idea for how to cut back on time, stop with the montages! Jim Carrey spent five minutes introducing a clip reel of “animated heroes” for goodness sakes. Everyone complains about the length of the ceremony, but clearly ABC wants the commercials all the way through midnight. So instead of padding the telecast with pointless montages around an arbitrary/shameless marketing theme (wasn’t it handy that Captain America himself was around to introduce one, when his sequel is coming out in May?), it would be nice to let below-the-line winners get their due.
Another Oscar season has come and gone, peppered by an intriguing scandal and an actual horse race in the night’s top prize. One thing this season has shown is that the competition is always going, and being the frontrunner too early or too late is not always a good thing. When the nominations were announced I said the race was down to American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. Not so anymore. Despite it’s 10 nominations, I’m predicting American Hustle goes home empty-handed, despite the fact I think it should win a few things. The Gravity folks,meanwhile, should probably start clearing some mantle space. My favorite (and obviously the best film of the year) 12 Years a Slave is no sure thing for any win, but it’s got good chances in a bunch of places, although I’m only actually predicting that it will win two (hey, Argo only won 3). So here are my predictions, presented in “will win, could win, should win” form. We’ll see how it all goes down on Sunday.
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave Could Win: Gravity
Should Win: 12 Years a Slave
It’s pretty rare at this point in the game not to have a real front runner in the Best Picture race. Despite early hyperbolic sentiments that 12 Years a Slave had it in the bag, Gravity (and briefly, American Hustle) has been on its heels during the entirety of the season, splitting the precursor awards. Most notably the Producer’s Guild, which picks the Best Picture winner about 70% of the time and every time since the Academy changed its voting rules four years ago, had a straight up tie between the two films.
I have had a tendency, in years past, to fall in love with the also-ran film, one that is bound to be nominated for Best Picture but not really in competition to win (Life of Pi, Hugo, The Social Network, etc). Prognosticators are tending toward Gravity, but, perhaps in a bout of wishful thinking, I’m putting my money not on the stylistic technical wonder, but on the deep substantive narrative that is the most affective movie I’ve seen, in years, possibly ever. It absolutely, positively should win, and I’m desperately hoping it will. But to be honest, anything could happen. Which should make for a night with some actual suspense.
Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Could Win: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Gravity is a visual marvel. I don’t disagree about that in any way, shape or form, despite the fact that I thought the script was terrible. And after receiving the Golden Globe, the DGA and the BAFTA, this prize has become Cuaron’s to lose. A Cuaron win here doesn’t really change anything about Gravity‘s chances for Best Picture, however. The Picture/Director split is only becoming more common. An increasingly likely scenario is that Cuaron will take this statue and lose Best Picture, which happened just last year to Ang Lee and his similar CGI-spectacular Life of Pi. A win for Steve McQueen, however, would be a big indicator that 12 Years has broader support. Don’t count him out just yet. And it’s worth noting that of the many winners of this category over the past 85 years, all have been white males, save for Kathryn Bigelow and Ang Lee. Cuaron would be the first Latino winner and McQueen would be the first black winner. It’s likely history will be made on Sunday.
Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Could Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Very soon we will be living in a world where this man has an Oscar. Dallas Buyers Club hits nearly every box on the Academy’s checklist for a win. Weight loss, white messiah (or this time, straight messiah), social message, based on a true story, terminal illness. Even before he took the Globe and the SAG, he had this in the bag. If anyone has the chance to upset, it’s DiCaprio or Ejiofor, with Leo the more likely. The Wolf of Wall Street, after many missteps at the beginning of its campaign, finished out strongly, nabbing a few more nominations than you might have predicted. DiCaprio might be able to ride that goodwill up to the podium. Maybe the fifth time might be the charm? As far as who should actually win, it’s no contest. 12 Years a Slave was entirely dependent on Ejiofor’s performance, and his commitment to the role plays a big hand in making the film what it is.
Will Win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Could Win: Amy Adams, American Hustle (but not really)
Should Win: Amy Adams, American Hustle
Not even the ever-increasing controversy surrounding Woody Allen can stop Cate Blanchett, who was destined for this award from the moment she picked up her Blanche DuBois-inspired character’s first Stoli martini. Even in a field comprised of all former nominees and four former winners, there’s basically no contest here. Sure, there’s a lot of deserved, albeit late, love for Amy Adams’ turn in American Hustle, but it’s incredibly unlikely she’ll actually upset Blanchett. Which is a shame, because Adams is brilliant in Hustle, hands down the best part of the film. Her layered turn as a con woman who has basically lost herself in her own cons would have, in any other year, been the early favorite.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club Could Win: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips (but not really)
Should Win: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto’s hold on this category is almost as tight as Cate Blanchett’s is over Best Actress. Leto may have said some less than tactful things about portraying a transgender woman but other than that he’s had a golden campaign season. He’s got the Globe and the SAG and only lost the BAFTA to Abdi by virtue of not being nominated, but the Brits weren’t crazy about Dallas Buyers Club in general. I wasn’t crazy about the film either, and though Leto did an admirable job, his performance does not hold a candle, for me, to Michael Fassbender’s in 12 Years. His cruel and repugnant slave owner could have ended up a cartoon villain, but in Fassbender’s hands, even the worst of the worst has layers.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Could Win: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
It’s Lawrence vs. Nyong’o. This is the only acting category that isn’t sewn up. Nyong’o took the SAG and the Critic’s Choice and Lawrence took the BAFTA and the Globe. But just like American Hustle‘s Best Picture chances, Lawrence has been fading recently. It might be because she’s not really campaigning at all (she didn’t even go to the BAFTAs) while Nyong’o is out charming everyone everywhere and looking damn good doing it. But there has also been quite a bit of press about how Lawrence was not quite mature enough to portray a jilted housewife, occupying a role that was clearly meant for an older woman. Plus it’s a bit of a hard sell to give her another Oscar when she won just last year. It’s a bunch of little things that are pushing the race in Nyong’o’s favor. Which is only good news because of all the performances this year in any category, hers was far and above the best (sorry Cate). The word devastating doesn’t seem strong enough to describe her.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Philomena
Could Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Before Midnight
There’s no fun in making predictions if you can’t swing for the fences a little bit, so here’s my big swing. The writing categories are a little bonkers this year, I’ll admit. So many films are ineligible for the WGA awards that they are little help as a precursor. Captain Phillips triumphed there, and while it can’t be counted out, it has too much to fight against this time. The smart money would be on 12 Years a Slave, a movie so relient on its source material and so driven by its adaptation.
But there’s this little British-movie-that-could, that now boasts a BAFTA. Writer Steve Coogan has Oscar juggernaut Harvey Weinstein behind a campaign that has gone all the way to the Vatican. The film had enough support to give it a slightly surprising Best Picture nod, and that might push it all the way in this category. The real absurdity of the category is that Before Midnight is forced to compete here, the writing category most often dominated by Best Picture contenders, the Academy having decreed that all sequels are “adapted” from existing characters. And as much as I love 12 Years, it’s hard to deny the achievement made by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Eighteen years after Jesse and Celine met in Before Sunrise, their relationship has finally come full circle, in the beautifully crafted final chapter.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Her
Could Win: American Hustle
Should Win: Her
What was that I just said about Best Picture nominees in the adapted category? Things have changed, mostly due to the expanded Best Picture field, and it’s harder for scrappy contenders to break into even those categories that were once targeting them. This year the only nominee without a Best Picture nod, Blue Jasmine, has absolutely positively zero chance at winning. The category instead comes down to two Best Picture also-rans, Her and Hustle. This is the best chance for both of them to take an award home, and while the goodwill that brought Hustle ten nominations is not to be discounted, the more topical, more obviously “original” sci-fi romance has the slight edge. It’s an edge well-earned, a tale of man and machine that’s both classic and groundbreaking, hitting on our contemporary worries and hopes about technology. And really, a win for Her is pretty status quo for the category that once recognized Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Best Foreign Film
Will Win: The Great Beauty (Italy) Could Win: The Hunt (Denmark), The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium) Should Win: The Great Beauty (Italy)
Blue is the Warmest Color, Palme d’Or winner and critical favorite, was not eligible this year, but it wasn’t the only glaring absence from the category, which passed over Asghar Farhadi’s The Past only two years after giving the prize to his A Separation, as well as the first film ever produced in Saudi Arabia. But still, there are plenty of great films nominated. The Fellini-inspired The Great Beauty is the frontrunner, with The Hunt and The Broken Circle Breakdown trailing not far behind. But barring upset, the award should go to the lyrical and moving tour through the excess of contemporary Rome.
Best Film Editing
Will Win: Captain Phillips Could Win: Gravity Should Win:12 Years a Slave
Since 1981, every single Best Picture winner has had a Best Editing nomination and about 2/3 of them have taken home both statuettes. So it’s worth noting that the five Best Picture noms recognized here are likely the ones that would have still been nominated in the old five movie field, and also leads to an actually competitive category, which is nice. The guild rewarded Captain Phillips for drama and American Hustle for musical/comedy, which surprised many who were expecting Gravity to continue its sweep of the technical awards. So it really comes down to the Gravity and Phillips, the former potentially riding its Best Picture coattails and the latter with the potential to ride on its own merit, much like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did two years ago. I’m going with Captain Phillips, but you might as well flip a coin. My personal preference would be for the seamless passage of time and slow rhythms in 12 Years a Slave.
Will Win: Gravity Could Win: Prisoners (but not really) Should Win: Gravity
The sixth time will be the charm for Gravity‘s Emmanuel Lubezki, who, like last year’s winner for Life of Pi, worked with the real and digital worlds to create a masterpiece. It’s only bad news for this category’s other perennial bridesmaid, Roger Deakins (11 nominations and counting), whose work in Prisoners was among his best, but just not quite enough to unseat Lubezki.
Best Production Design
Will Win: The Great Gatsby
Could Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Her
The Great Gatsby was pretty much all production design, recreating iconic landmarks from the novel, straying away from historical accuracy and heading for something close to fantasy. It’s polar opposite, the minimalist, futuristic and sleek Her is an achievement of a different sort, creating a world you could see yourself living in. While Gatsby is the favorite, if the voters are looking for a more somber, less anachronistic choice (like Lincoln last year) they may go with 12 Years.
Best Costume Design
Will Win: The Great Gatsby Could Win: American Hustle
Should Win: American Hustle
Most times this category goes hand in hand with production design, rewarding lavish period pieces with a lot of flash. So here again, I’m going with Gatsbyand all its attendant sparkles, feathers and flashes. But don’t discount the sparkle and flash of American Hustle, where the costumes were so integral to the characterizations, despite how horrendous the wide lapels were to actually look at.
Best Original Score
Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Her Should Win: Her
That Hans Zimmer’s haunting 12 Years a Slave score was snubbed here in favor of John Williams just because he’s John Williams is still egregious, and I’m clearly not over it. But looking at the actual nominees, it would be amazing for the fuzzy Arcade Fire score to win over the established composers, but don’t count on it. Expect Gravity to add one more award to its shelf for the music that filled the silence in space.
Best Original Song
Will Win: “Let it Go,” Frozen
Could Win: “Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (but not really)
Should Win: “Let it Go,” Frozen
Come on folks. This one is easy. “Let it Go” is a cultural touchstone, a Disney anthem that would give the classics a run for their money. U2 can do as many spontaneous acoustic renditions of “Ordinary Love” on talks shows as they want, but the snow queen has this one locked up.
Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Captain Phillips
Should Win: Gravity
The distinction between the sound categories is best described as how the sounds come together (mixing) and the sounds themselves (editing). One film often sweeps both categories, and they tend to go in for action films and musicals, so here’s another for Gravity.
Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Gravity Could Win: Captain Phillips Should Win: All is Lost
All is Lost is pretty much all sound, with sole star Robert Redford not saying very much. That’d mean something if voters weren’t just likely to continue checking the Gravity box on all the below-the-line categories.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Will Win: Dallas Buyers Club
Could Win: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Should Win: Dallas Buyers Club
Do you really think Jackass or The Lone Ranger is going to win an Oscar? Me neither, but there is an outside chance, given that Johnny Knoxville’s age makeup is a genuine achievement. Such a shame Explosion at the Wig Factory wasn’t nominated here. But Dallas Buyers Club created fading AIDS patients on a budget not much more than what I used in school theater productions, and it’s obviously the prestige pick.
Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Gravity
Should Win: Gravity
Do I really need to write anything here? Gravity is a stunning visual effects achievement for the ages. And in fact, those effects are buoying it all the way to a potential Best Picture win.
Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Frozen
Could Win: The Wind Rises
Should Win: Frozen
In the few years that this category has existed, a Disney feature has never won that didn’t also have “Pixar” in the credits. It’s only fitting that the honor should go to the best film the Mouse House has created in nearly twenty years, a film that crosses age barriers, features two female protagonists and just can’t get out of your head. Legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki’s maybe final film, The Wind Rises, has huge critical support (I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t make a judgment), but the mature cartoon might be a tough sell.
Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: 20 Feet From Stardom
Could Win: The Square
Should Win: The Act of Killing
The Academy changed the rules last year, allowing all members to vote for this category by virtue of sending out screeners rather than forcing a small segment to prove they’ve seen the films at certain screenings. This change is only good news for the crowd pleasing feel good docs like 20 Feet From Stardom, which gives much deserved due to back up singers. (It was also good news for last year’s musical winner, Searching for Sugarman.) It’s bad news for a film as out there as The Act of Killing, where director Joshua Oppenheimer had Indonesian mass murderers renact their crimes on film. A spoiler could come in the form of The Square, a document of the uprisings in Egypt since 2011, one of the more “important” films nominated.
Best Animated Short
Will Win: Get a Horse! (That short you saw before Frozen) Could Win: Mr. Hublot
Should Win: Get a Horse!
I’m thinking it will be a good year for Disney Animation Studios.
Best Documentary Short
Will Win: The Lady in Number 6
Could Win: Facing Fear
The Lady in Number 6 is an emotional heavyweight that follows the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, a Czech concert pianist, who died just last week at 110.
Best Live Action Short
Will Win: The Voorman Problem
Could Win: Helium
The Voorman Problem, the first effort from a few British film school grads, managed to grab Martin Freeman as a psychiatrist and Tom Hollander as an inmate who claims he is God.
So there you have it. Here’s to hoping that the Academy makes the right decision on a lot of these. I wouldn’t mind being wrong if it meant they were going to spread the love a little. But you never actually know what’s going to happen. Which is kind of the fun.
It’s that time of year again. The silliness of the Golden Globes is behind us (I only got 3 out of 9 of my wishes!) and now it’s time to get down to some serious awards business. (Well as serious as we can be about rich people handing each other golden trophies.) The Oscar nominations are coming tomorrow and so I am here to bring you my tried and true predictions for the big categories. Overall I think I stayed pretty safe with my predictions, but I also tried to predict any wild and crazy upsets. There are pundits and precursor noms and all that, but in the end you never really know what will happen.
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
The weighted Best Picture voting means that there an be anywhere from six to ten nominees. I’m going for nine with the caveat that Blue Jasmine and/or Saving Mr. Banks could sneak in if there’s a tenth spot. The race has actually had quite a few twists and turns so far this season, what with Inside Llewyn Davis fading almost entirely from guild consideration and American Hustle getting boosts just about everywhere. The Wolf of Wall Street is super divisive (I myself was not a fan) but I’m giving it last year’s Django Unchained wildcard spot for divisive films. Philomena is perhaps my boldest choice but it has a lot of British enthusiasm and the new voting system favors small groups of fervent support over large swaths of general support. And this is all despite the fact that the real race is still between 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle. Expect those three titles to come up without a doubt.
Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) Alexander Payne (Nebraska) David O. Russell (American Hustle)
The Director’s Guild may have nominated Martin Scorcese over Payne, but if the past few years are any roadmap, the Academy’s director’s branch likes to make its own choices. Last year’s category was a little bonkers and Ben Affleck’s snub was actually the beginning of the groundswell for Argo’s eventual Best Picture win. So you never know what could happen and whether it’s actually a bad thing. Cuarón, McQueen and Russell are Affleck-style locks, so expect Affleck-like backlash if any are snubbed. Greengrass and Payne are kind of safe choices for the last two spots, I’ll admit. They’re both former nominees in this category, while Spike Jonze would be a bolder choice, but Her is still a quirky genre film, and the Academy has never been a huge fan of sci-fi.
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Dern, Ejiofor, Hanks and McConaughey are dead locks for the first four spots (if any of them are left out, that’s where the big shocking snub will be). As far as the fifth nomination goes, there are four guys with a really decent chance at claiming it: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) Forest Whitaker (The Butler), Robert Redford (All is Lost) and Christian Bale (American Hustle). Redford had the early momentum but that has mostly dried up. Whitaker got a big boost from the SAGs but hasn’t really been heard from since. Bale got a late boost from BAFTA, but it may not have been enough. I’m going with Leo as part of the general groundswell for Wolf of late. But really, I might as well have picked at random.
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)
I thought when I picked Adams over Meryl Streep for this category, I might be swinging for the fences. But it seems that lots of pundits are picking this particular swap, and that’s probably due to general antipathy towards August: Osage, the seemingly non-stop power of American Hustle and Adams taking Streep’s spot at the BAFTAs, where there is quite a bit of voter crossover with the Academy. When it comes to personal taste, I think Adams is the most deserving of all the Hustle hopefuls, even more so than Jennifer Lawrence (more on her later), and I would be ecstatic if she took the fifth spot.
Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Despite the fact that Jordan Catalano– I mean Jared Leto has the actual win all but guaranteed, this is actually the most fluid category. Leto is a surefire nominee, and Abdi and Fassbender are the next surest things. As far as the last two spots go, well, take your pick. Bruhl has the SAG and BAFTA noms, something he only shares with Abdi and Fassbender (Dallas Buyers Club was completely shut out by the BAFTAs), so I’d say he’s a good bet. The last spot? Well it seems to be down to Bradley Cooper in American Hustle and Gandolfini. I’m going with Gandolfini, if only because it is the last chance to reward a beloved actor for a lifetime of great work.
Best Supporting Actress:
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)
Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)
Despite the fact that I think Lawrence’s performance is being overpraised (she was fine, but Adams was better), she’s pretty much in a three-way contest with Nyong’o and Squibb for the win (one guess who I’m rooting for). Then there’s Oprah, and whatever you thought of The Butler, there’s no denying that Oprah really went for it. Plus she’s Oprah. The last spot will most likely go to Roberts for her turn in August: Osage, but lately there’s been a swell of support for Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, who took Squibb’s spot at the BAFTAs. If she does get nominated over Roberts it would be indicative of two things: Meryl Streep will almost certainly miss out on a Best Actress nom and Blue Jasmine might sneak in a Best Picture nom. It’s not super likely but it definitely could happen.
Best Original Screenplay:
American Hustle Blue Jasmine Her Inside Llewyn Davis Nebraska
Original Screenplay is the category where the Academy allows itself to get the quirkiest (think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). That said, this year it’s dominated by heavyweights and is more competitive than Adapted Screenplay. Inside Llewyn Davis was left out by the WGA, but I feel like this nomination is the consolation prize the Academy might throw the Coens.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Before Midnight Captain Phillips Philomena 12 Years a Slave The Wolf of Wall Street
Philomena and 12 Years were ineligible for the WGAs, which will count for a big departure here since 12 Years is currently tipped to win. I’d say this category is pretty much all sewn up (even if you, like me, think it’s super weird that Before Midnight is being called adapted) but there might be a possibility for a spoiler from Osage‘s Tracy Letts, who adapted his own Tony and Pulitzer-winning play, two large precursor awards in themselves.
The Golden Globes always win for silliest award show of the year. Not just because they have a long history of drunkenness or that their majesties Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are hosting for the second year in a row. No, the true silliness of the Golden Globes lies in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, an organization of a few dozen international journalists who have a tendency to nominate the biggest stars they hope will show up (Angelina Jolie in The Tourist, anyone?).
But that doesn’t mean we won’t tune in and talk about who wins and who doesn’t. And it doesn’t mean this won’t affect Oscar and Emmy chances down the line. So here’s a smattering of some hopes I have for the big night, for both the film and TV side of the awards. They’re probably not the best of predictions, but it would be truly awesome if all of them came true.
1. 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture, Drama. The Oscar best picture race is largely between 12 Years, Gravity and American Hustle, so it would be interesting to see who goes here. There’s absolutely no voting cross-over between this and the Oscars, but it was this category that Argo first started its roll of domination last year, mere days after Ben Affleck’s famous director snub from the Academy. There’s been some talk that the insane hype 12 Years premiered with is slowing down, so since it’s actually the best film of the year by far, here’s to hoping we still talk about it.
2. Amy Adams wins Best Actress, Comedy/Musical. Hear me out on this one. I liked Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle just as much ast the next breathing human, but she didn’t knock me over the way Adams did. To me, American Hustle would have failed without Adams, hers being the most nuanced and realistic performance. So far the best actress category has been pretty sewn up until Adams took one Miss Meryl Streep’s spot in the BAFTA nods this week. We all know that Cate Blanchett is a Daniel Day-Lewis level mortal lock for this Oscar, but Adams has a real shot here to potentially break into the nominations.
3. Michael Fassbender wins Best Supporting Actor. Have I mentioned I really liked 12 Years a Slave? Because I really, really liked 12 Years a Slave. Fassbender has only shown up in a handful of nominations so far, perhaps in part due to his early declaration that he wouldn’t do any campaigning. But who cares? Fassbender took on a role that could have easily gone cartoonish in the hands of a less competent actor, and instead created the kind of evil you could expect to see walking down the street one day. And that, like so much else in the film, is a huge achievement.
4. Sally Hawkins wins Best Supporting Actress. How great would this be? I mean, Cate Blanchett is amazing and very deserving of the Oscar she will eventually win, but performances like those aren’t complete without someone amazing to play off of. Hawkins really pulled her weight in Blue Jasmine, and made the film that much better for it.
5. Parks and Recreation wins Best TV Comedy. Besides the fact that Amy Poehler would have even more to do during the broadcast if her sitcom wins, I just think it’s about damn time someone recognized how great this show is. This fall’s sixth season may have had rocky moments (please, please no more Councilman Jamm) but the second half of season five, which aired in early 2013, was pretty outstanding. I could watch “Leslie and Ben” over and over and over again.
6. Tatiana Maslany wins Best Actress in a TV Drama. It’s insane how good Maslany is in Orphan Black. Like, crazy insane. I recently rewatched the series and I think the highest laurel I can give to her is that I constantly forget that the clones are played by the same actress. They are so different, so nuanced and just so good. Maslany is finally up for a big ticket award, and there has frankly never really been anyone more deserving.
7. Elisabeth Moss wins Best Actress in a TV Miniseries or Movie. Have you seen Top of the Lake yet? No? It’s on Netflix, go watch it and tell me that Moss isn’t freaking incredible. I dare you.
8. Monica Potter wins Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture. Despite some issues this season, Parenthood is still one of my favorite shows on television, and Potter’s work during last season’s cancer storyline was top notch. You might not have believed that this show could make you cry anymore, but it did.
9. Somebody does something super drunk. It has been remarked upon that the Globes are kind of a schwasty award show. Remember Glenn Close last year, anyone? Besides Tina and Amy’s inevitable show of hilarious hosting, drunken flubs are likely to be the most entertaining part of the evening. It’s not like it’s the Oscars or anything, so nobody has to be too serious.
If you ask Seth MacFarlane, he’ll probably tell you that misogyny is the new black. I mean, it must be super popular, how else can you explain the pervasive and disgusting theme of last night’s Oscars? Women were the butt of a whole slew of the Family Guy creator’s jokes, with everything from a song about female nudity to cracks about Adele’s weight. Hilarious.
The ceremony’s rampant sexism was enough to turn even a devoted Oscar-watcher like myself off. MacFarlane’s hideous treatment of women has already been expertly written up by Vulture and BuzzFeed but it still needs to be talked about (the BuzzFeed article was published during the ceremony, citing 6 sexist things, and then was revised as the ceremony went on and continued to be sexist, to 9). It needs to be known that what he did was not okay. Sexualizing a nine-year-old for a cheap laugh? Not okay. Implying that women should make themselves sick to get skinny? Not okay. Reminding us all how funny domestic abuse is? Seriously not okay.
I get that it was all in the interest of comedy. I get that MacFarlane has made his name being an equal-opportunity offender (as if that means he offends no one at all). But there are lines that you shouldn’t cross. Some jokes are “all in good fun,” and some are “in poor taste,” and some are just plain wrong. I can take a joke, but last night wasn’t funny. Last night was wrong.
In a night when 30 men took home statuettes and only 9 women, in an industry where women are underrepresented, sexualized, and marginalized, on a telecast being watched by millions of people, it is plainly criminal to do that to women. Just look at the female supporting acting nominees this year. Anne Hathaway and Helen Hunt played sex workers. Jacki Weaver, Amy Adams, and Sally Field were only there as wife/mother appendages to leading male characters. When a woman was up for playing a role as an intrepid CIA agent, responsible for finding the worst criminal of all time, Seth lost no time in degrading her down just to make sure no women at the ceremony appeared powerful.
Sexism is something that is already so pervasive in our society we must work everyday to try to reverse its detrimental effects. Every time someone like Seth MacFarlane stands up on the world stage and lampoons women just because we are easy targets, he contributes to this culture that says women are lesser. The War on Women is not just in Washington. It’s all around us. It’s ever present on a night when men are asked about filmmaking and women are asking to show their manicures on a miniature red carpet.
To contribute to the war on women all for the sake of a slew of jokes that weren’t actually funny is MacFarlane’s biggest sin. Not just because the jokes were sexist, but because they weren’t good jokes. What is the point of women in film? To show men their boobs! That’s all they’re good for. Ha ha! I’m sure MacFarlane and most 12-year-old boys really enjoyed that. I just hope they don’t grow up thinking like that.
I hope y’all enjoyed my live-tweeting of the ceremony. Now that I’ve cleaned up my apartment, here’s the full list of winners. And can I just say, LIFE OF PI LIFE OF PI LIFE OF PI!!!
Best Picture Beasts of the Southern Wild Silver Linings Playbook Zero Dark Thirty Lincoln Les Miserables Life of Pi Amour Django Unchained Argo
Best Director David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook Ang Lee, Life of Pi Steven Spielberg, Lincoln Michael Haneke, Amour Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln Denzel Washington, Flight Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Best Actress Naomi Watts, The Impossible Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook Emmanuelle Riva, Amour Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Supporting Actress Sally Field, Lincoln Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook Helen Hunt, The Sessions Amy Adams, The Master
Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook Alan Arkin, Argo Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Best Original Screenplay John Gatins, Flight Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained Michael Haneke, Amour Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Best Adapted Screenplay Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild Chris Terrio, Argo Tony Kushner, Lincoln David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook David Magee, Life of Pi
Best Documentary Feature 5 Broken Cameras The Gatekeepers, How to Survive a Plague The Invisible War Searching for Sugar Man
Best Animated Feature Film Frankenweenie Pirates! Band of Misfits Wreck-It Ralph Paranorman Brave
Best Cinematography Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina Robert Richardson, Django Unchained Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi Janusz Kaminski, Lincoln Roger Deakins, Skyfall
Best Original Score Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina Alexandre Desplat, Argo Mychael Danna, Life of Pi John Williams, Lincoln Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Best Original Song “Before My Time,” Chasing Ice “Pi’s Lullaby,” Life of Pi “Suddenly,” Les Miserables “Everybody Needs A Best Friend,” Ted “Skyfall,” Skyfall
Best Foreign Language Film Austria: Amour Chile: No Canada: War Witch Denmark: A Royal Affair Norway: Kontiki
Best Documentary Short “Inocente,” 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
Best Animated Short “Adam and Dog,” Minkyu Lee “Fresh Guacamole,” PES “Head over Heels,” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly “Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare,'” David Silverman “Paperman,” John Kahrs
Best Live Action Short “Asad,” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura “Buzkashi Boys,” Sam French and Ariel Nasr “Curfew,” Shawn Christensen “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw),” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele “Henry,” Yan England
Best Film Editing William Goldenberg, Argo Tim Squyres, Life of Pi Michael Kahn, Lincoln Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers, Silver Linings Playbook Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Makeup and Hairstyling Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel, Hitchcock Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell, Les Miserables
Best Visual Effects Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott, Life of Pi Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick, Marvel’s The Avengers Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill, Prometheus Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson,Snow White and the Huntsman
Best Sound Mixing John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia, Argo Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes, Les Misérables Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin,Life of Pi Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins, Lincoln Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson, Skyfall
Best Sound Editing (two-way tie) Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, Argo Unchained Wylie Stateman, Django Unchained Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton, Life of Pi Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers, Skyfall Paul N.J. Ottosson, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Production Design Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, Anna Karenina Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent and Simon Bright, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Eve Stewart and Anna Lynch-Robinson, Les Miserables David Gropman and Anna Pinnock, Life of Pi Rick Carter and Jim Erickson, Lincoln
Goodness gracious what an Oscar season. After a rocky nominations period followed by some pretty big snubs and we get Ben Affleck, Comeback Kid. All told it gives us an eclectic list of nominees and will probably lead to an eclectic list of winners. The moral of this year’s season is that there were a lot of really great movies this year, something that the Academy and the general public can agree on. Six of the nine Best Picture nominees have crossed the $100 million mark domestically, and a seventh is over $88 million. Life of Pi has become quite the international hit with over $576 million in international grosses while Django Unchained and Les Miserables have have each clocked in over $350 million worldwide.
Back in 2009 when the the Best Picture field was first expanded beyond five films, there were definitely five films being seriously considered and five also-rans, just in the mix to fill the quota. It felt a lot like that for these past few years, but I think this year we finally have expanded both the field and the race beyond just five films. Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, and Argo were all considered real threats at some point during the season. My biggest prediction is that no film will sweep anything. Life of Pi has a real chance to take a slew of technical awards, but when I say a “slew” I mean 5. I’m predicting that Argo walks away with 3, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty with only 1, Silver Linings Playbook with 2 and Les Mis of all things, with 3. Not exactly a sweeping mandate for any Best Picture contender. My guess is that this year, films are getting symbolic Oscars, one or two as representative for the achievement of the whole movie, with Best Picture so sewn up. But even then, most of the races are a bit up in the air. I’ve decided to present you with “Will Win, Could Win, Should Win.” I needed “Could Win” because some of these races are so tight anything could happen on Sunday.
Will Win: Argo Could Win: Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook (maybe? perhaps? I guess?)
Should Win: Life of Pi
At this point a loss for Argo would be a HUGE upset, given its Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, DGA, WGA, and BAFTA precursor wins, all in spite of that nasty Best Director snub. To be quite honest, back when the nominations came out, I found Kathryn Bigelow’s snub far worse than Affleck’s. I have nothing personal against Argo (like some trendy critics do), I enjoyed the movie. I just didn’t think it was as good as some of the other contenders. I didn’t think it was as artful as Lincoln or as weighty as Zero Dark Thirty or as amazing/magical/majestic/breathtaking/other-really-good-adjectives as Life of Pi. But now, in my opinion fueled by Ben’s snub, Argo has all the so-called “momentum” and will likely take the top prize home. I would love to have seen what had happened to the Best Picture race had Ben been nominated for Best Director. I think the race would be much closer if it had. But either way, there was never really much hope for Life of Pi, with no nominated performances (the only one of the nine contenders with no acting noms) and only Ang Lee as its star-face. It was never a movie made for campaigning.
Will Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Could Win: Steven Spieberg, Lincoln Should Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Back when the nominations were announced and Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck were shut out of the director’s category, I predicted that Ang Lee would pull, well, an Ang Lee, and walk away with Best Director but not Best Picture. But back in January Lincoln was the frontrunner, logically meaning that Spielberg was the Director frontrunner as well, and my prediction was a little hairbrained. No more! Now many pundits and prognosticators (including EW, Hitfix, Deadline and others) are predicting just that! This goes to my theory about symbolic, or representational Oscars. Lee took over Pi after three other directors quaked in fear at the task of an unfilmmable book. They say you’re never supposed to work with kids, water, or animals, and Lee worked with all of them, plus a whole slew of CGI, and that whole part of the movie where it’s just a boy and a tiger. Like I said in my original review, it absolutely never should have worked. It should have crashed and burned. But instead it turned into something profound, entertaining, and breathtaking. No lesser director could have done that. Lee does not, however, have it locked up. Spielberg is a real threat, as those who want to honor the movie after it quickly dropped down in the Best Picture race may check his box. He is, you know, Steven Spielberg. He can’t do too much wrong. But I have a feeling the symbolic vote for Lincoln will come with…
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Could Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
The thing about Lincoln is that Daniel Day-Lewis is the movie and the movie is Daniel Day-Lewis. The movie is contingent on his performance and for good reason. Moments of Congressional deliberations and back room dealing and wheeling could be pretty boring if it weren’t for the towering figure that many could confuse with Honest Abe himself. The award for Day-Lewis here is the award for the whole movie, because he is the movie. And despite the fact that he’s not my favorite performance of the year, he’s well deserving of his record third Best Actor Oscar. In any year when Day-Lewis wasn’t in the category, I could see all four of his fellow nominees making a decent play. Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper, and Joaquin Phoenix all had career-best performances and Denzel was reliably brilliant. But they all had the misfortune of doing their best at the same time that Day-Lewis did. They never had a chance.
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Could Win: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
This category has turned into quite the horse race over the past few weeks. Back in November, there weren’t a whole lot of performances to be found even worthy of talking about. Then when Silver Linings premiered it appeared that Jennifer Lawrence was on the fast track in a weak field. Then it was JLaw versus JChas after Zero Dark Thirty finally opened. But the eleventh hour story is that of Emmanuelle Riva, the 85 (86 on Oscar night!) year-old actress who gave an absolutely devastating performance in Amour. Taking the BAFTA home last week seriously increased her chances, as the voting bodies of BAFTA and the Academy overlap considerably. Last year Meryl Streep took the BAFTA over Viola Davis and went on to take the Oscar as well. It’s hard being the front-runner, and JLaw has been out there on her own for months. I’d put their odds pretty much equal at this point, but I’m going with Lawrence, because Riva might just be too little too late. I personally disliked Amour while appreciating Riva, but it’s hard to get behind a movie that made you feel like killing yourself. JLaw was the best thing Playbook had going for it, and what can I say? I cannot resist her charms. Like this. Or this. Ooh, or all these. But especially this.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook Could Win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln orChristoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
This is perhaps the most open category of the big ones. I have heard strong cases for each De Niro, Jones, and Waltz and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the three of them won. Two weeks ago I would have sworn that Jones had it wrapped up, last week I would have guessed Waltz but after everything, I’m going with De Niro to squeak by to win. He has Oscar campaigner extraordinaire Harvey Weinstein at his back, and the bonus, in a category full of previous winners, to have gone a good 32 years without winning, while Waltz won three years ago, playing a similar part in another Tarantino film. In my opinion Jones has the best performance here, so against type, so understated and admirable, but he lost the BAFTA and has a reportedly surly demeanor about the whole campaigning process. That can put people off. But who knows. Expect this race to be an actual nail biter.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Could Win: Sally Field, Lincoln (but no, no she can’t)
Should Win: Helen Hunt, The Sessions
In any other year the Best Supporting Actress story would have bene of Helen Hunt’s triumphant comeback with this lovable dramedy about a man with polio and the woman who helped him have sex (and John Hawkes would have been nominated too!). But not in the same year when Anne Hathaway starved herself, chopped her hair off, and sang bad on purpose. It was over as soon as she dreamed that God would be forgiving. Even people who disliked the movie rave about Hathaway, indeed some consider her the only good thing about it. Sally Field has been campaigning hard and is considered number two by most pundits, but she’s propped up by the scope of the movie, not by her own performance, which was forgettable. No locks are as mortal as Daniel Day-Lewis, but Hathaway comes pretty damn close.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Chris Terrio, Argo
Could Win: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Should Win: David Magee, Life of Pi
A long time ago Tony Kushner, tony-award winning playwright, was the lockiest of locks for taking a portion of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s behemoth book A Team of Rivals and turning it into Lincoln. When the nominations were announced, David O. Russell’s director nom made some think that he would actually take this award home as a consolation prize. But then the Argo resurgence happened. This is one of only two categories I think that will benefit from Argo’s coattails. It seems ludicrous to award a film Best Picture without giving it an award that speaks to the film holistically, and Best Director is not an option. If Argo loses this (or editing, which I discuss below), then all bets are off. Which would be kind of great, because it would lead to one of the first unpredictable ceremonies in a long time. As for what should win, Ang Lee can’t take all the credit for Life of Pi, his was a huge directorial achievement, but he was working off an exceptional adaptation.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Could Win: Michael Haneke, Amour or Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchianed
Should Win: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
This one is another genuine horserace. This used to be the category where independent, quirky, sci-fi, or fantasy movies stood a chance of winning against the Best Picture faire. Now that Best Picture has expanded though, it’s harder and harder for something not nominated to even get in. This year the odd man out is Flight, for reasons passing understanding. The three way race between Boal, Haneke and Tarantino has split prognosticators and pundits. I’m going with Boal for the win, taking home the symbolic Oscar for Zero Dark Thirty, which had a hard downfall from Best Picture contender because of the torture controversy and Bigelow’s snub. But again, I would not be at all surprised to see Haneke or Tarantino on the stage. Although, I think that Amour is a hard sell, both because it’s in another language (can you really appreciate a script in subtitles? If you like the subtitles, shouldn’t the award go to whoever wrote them?) and because the story is just so damn depressing and pretty gratuitous. If the Academy is as old as everyone says they are, wouldn’t something that so harshly depicts the end of life be upsetting to them? It was to me. And although Django is has the flash and flair in its back pocket, it’s come under fire for its portrayal of slavery and race. Plus, it’s so Tarantino-y, it might remind voters of things he has already won for.
Best Foreign Film
Will Win: Amour Could Win: Amour Should Win: Amour
I may not have loved it but with Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay nods, how could it lose? If the academy liked any of the other nominated films better than Amour, why aren’t they nominated for Best Picture? So I’d say this lock is of Day-Lewis proportions. And though it wasn’t my favorite, I recognize a good film when I see one. Unfortunately, Michael Haneke may have to contend with this one and only win. In the other categories, it feels as though the nominations were the award.
Best Film Editing
Will Win: Argo Could Win: Zero Dark Thirty Should Win: Life of Pi
Since 1981, every single Best Picture winner has had a Best Editing nomination and about 2/3 of them have taken home both statuettes. Last year The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo took home the prize in a big shocker, since the film wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture. But this year, all five nominees are also nominated for the big one. The race seems to be between William Goldenberg and himself, being nominated for both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, the latter most pundits find more deserving. Keep a watch on this category during the ceremony. If Argo loses this it could be a sign, but it is probably no big deal. If it loses this and adapted screenplay, be very very wary. Argo isn’t tipped to win really any other technical awards. It would be quite unheard of to win Best Picture and no other awards. If that starts to happen during the ceremony, maybe quietly change your Best Picture bets during your party.
Will Win: Life of Pi Could Win: Skyfall Should Win: Life of Pi
Getting into the technical awards we are in Life of Pi‘s territory. Expect Claudio Miranda to take home the prize for his outstanding blend of reality and CGI, all while walking on water (pretty literally in some cases). A possible upset could be for Roger Deakins, ten-time nominee without ever having won, to win for his great work on Skyfall. But even being called one of the best Bond movies of all time, Bond movies are still at a disadvantage.
Best Production Design
Will Win: Anna Karenina
Could Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Even a Life of Pi devotee such as myself must recognize the beauty and logistical mastery of the sets in Anna Karenina. Whatever you thought about putting the story on a stage, you can’t deny that it looked fabulous. The set weaved without a hiccup between a stage, backstage, the audience, the real world, and all manner in between. I mean, they put a horse race inside for crying out loud. But the movie was really hated by many, so that could vault Life of Pi to a victory (which I wouldn’t mind either).
Best Original Score
Will Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Lincoln Should Win: Life of Pi
This award is Life of Pi composer Mychael Danna’s to lose. Praised for blending Indian instruments and style with a Western new-age-y feel, he’s the favorite. John Williams could upset and take the prize for some John Williamsy music in Lincoln, but at this point, I think the Academy is ripe for first time nominee Danna.
Best Original Song
Will Win: “Skyfall” from Skyfall
Could Win: “Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
Should Win: “Skyfall” from Skyfall
This is perhaps the most boring category this year, perhaps because Adele has it pretty sewn up. Although, it is worth noting that no Bond song has ever won an Oscar, and that the old-fogey academy is less likely to reward young and popular artists. But I think this time Adele’s magnetism, Skyfall‘s critical success, and the weak category are the perfect storm for 007.
Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Les Miserables
Could Win: Skyfall
Should Win: Les Miserables
This sound award is for sound recording during the shoot, not during post-production. Whatever you think about the vocal quality of Les Mis’s live singing, the technical quality was great. It’s the Best Picture nominee with the most impressive feat here. Skyfall could surprise, as the only action movie in the mix, but probably not.
Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Life of Pi Could Win: Skyfall or Zero Dark Thirty Should Win: Life of Pi
This award is for sound edited and inserted in post-production, and so expect it to go to technical juggernaut Life of Pi, with a possible Bond or bin Laden upset.
Best Costume Design
Will Win: Anna Karenina Could Win: Mirror, Mirror
Should Win: Anna Karenina
A prize for period pieces and fantasy epics, expect it to head to Jacqueline Durran for the flashy gowns in Anna Karenenia. It is also possible that the Academy might deliver a posthumous Oscar to Eiko Ishioka for Mirror, Mirror.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Will Win: Les Miserables
Could Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Should Win: Les Miserables
Les Mis will probably take this Oscar home for ugly teeth, aging Hugh Jackman, and beating the crap out of Anne Hathaway. This also happens to be the only category that The Hobbit installment is competitive in. The Academy was not won over by the prequel the way it was by the original trilogy, which dominated the technical awards three years in a row.
Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Life of Pi
Could Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
I think Anthony Breznican said it best in Entertainment Weekly: “Anyone who doesn’t think Life of Pi deserves this prize should be forced to sit in a lifeboat with a real Bengal tiger.”
Best Animated Feature
Will Win: Wreck-it-Ralph
Could Win: Brave
Should Win: Frankenweenie
At this point it’s Disney versus Disney Pixar, with Disney having the slight edge in the precursor awards. However, older voters seem more drawn to Brave, perhaps because they just don’t get video games. But Pixar’s latest is nowhere as acclaimed as many of its former Oscar winners. The animation giant has only lost (when nominated, Cars 2 was not nominated) twice, Shrek taking the award over Monsters, Inc., and Happy Feet beating Cars. This might be the third. On the other hand, I’m pulling for Frankenweenie, which I was happily surprised by this October. It would be nice for Tim Burton to finally take home an Oscar, especially for a project as dear to him as this one.
Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: Searching for Sugarman
Could Win: How to Survive a Plague or The Gatekeepers
Should Win: How to Survive a Plague
Searching for Sugarman is the frontrunner, being the most lighthearted as opposed to its heavy hitting fellow nominees, and the biggest box office hit. But this is the first year all academy members are being sent screeners, which could throw off the vote. I personally was very moved by How to Survive a Plague. But you never know what could happen.
Best Animated Short
Will Win: The Paperman
Could Win: Adam and Dog
Best Documentary Short
Will Win: Mondays at Racine
Could Win: Inocente
Best Live Action Short
Will Win: Curfew
Could Win: Death of a Shadow
And for your viewing pleasure, here’s a gif of Ang Lee’s adorable wave from the Golden Globes.
So wow that’s an interesting group of nominees, huh? Lots of snubs, lots of surprising and a whopping 11 nominations for Double Vision favorite Life of Pi. The Ang Lee film was second only to Lincoln in the total nomination count, the Stephen Speilberg biopic garnering 12 noms. Here are my thoughts:
1. It’s a bad time to be Kathryn Bigelow or Ben Affleck. Goodness gracious that Best Director Category! I would have liked to see either Bigelow or Affleck’s reactions to the announcement, and compare their faces to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s after he lost the Best Actor Tony to a British comedian who hit himself with silver trays. Oi. But in terms of the horserace, this seriously handicaps Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, both considered real Best Picture contenders before today. Not since Driving Miss Daisy back in 1989 has a film won Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. Maybe it’s because Argo has faded over the past few months or because Zero Dark Thirty has only caused more and more political controversy as time went on, but something turned the Academy off. But that was good news for David O. Russell, considered an outlier but possibility for Silver Linings Playbook, Michael Haneke for Amour, also an outlier, and Benh Zeitlen, thirty-year-old first time director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, who nobody thought was a contender yesterday. Also, three cheers for Ang Lee! Oh and I suppose I should mention Tom Hooper being left out. But I think that was a good thing, considering all the problems I and most other critics had with the film were his fault. For the love of God why so much fish eye? Pacing? You cut this but not that? He took the greatest musical of all time and wasted its chance to grace the big screen. He gets no nomination.
2. We now have a Best Picture frontrunner. The two categories that are often the prognosticators for Best Picture are Director (obviously) and Editing, which may seem a bit random, but has been in lockstep with Best Picture for most of the past few decades. The only movies to score nods in all three categories were Lincoln, Life of Pi, and Silver Linings Playbook.Lincoln leads the field with 12 nominations which spread across all categories acting and technical alike. Silver Linings is lacking in technical nominations and Pi has no acting noms at all. Other Best Picture nominees that were considered to be at the head of the group are now decidedly sitting at the back of the bus (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Les Miserables). If I was making a list right now it would go:
1. Lincoln 2. Life of Pi 3. Silver Linings Playbook 4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Zero Dark Thirty
7. Argo 8. Les Miserables 9. Django Unchained
3. The Guilds snub themselves. The SAG and DGA noms were once a pretty good prediction of the Oscars. No more, apparently, as only two directors (Speilberg and Lee) carried over fromt he DGA noms and only 14 (as opposed to the last two years’ 17 and 19 the year before that) from the SAGs. Out with John Hawkes (by far the saddest and worst snub), Marion Cotillard, Helen Mirren, Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman, and Maggie Smith in favor of Quvenzhané Wallis, Emmanuelle Riva, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Jacki Weaver (?!?!?), and Christoph Waltz. At least this means that there will be no mention of The Paperboy at the Oscars.
4. Silver Linings Playbook goes 4 for 4. Jacki Weaver? What? The character actress from Australia managed to sneak into the race despite pretty much no precursor noms. Her inclusion makes Silver Linings the first movie since 1981’s Reds to score an acting nomination in all four categories. Although, like Reds, Silver Linings will likely only win in one acting category, Best Actress, where Miss Lawrence is the frontrunner. Weaver, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper will have to do a lot to push Anne Hathaway, Tommy Lee Jones, and Daniel Day-Lewis out. But this acting quartet and David O. Russell’s Best Director nod have pushed the romcom up the list of potential Best Picture pics (despite it’s terrible ending, which I will never get over because it kind of ruined the movie for me).
5. Quvenzhané Wallis (9) and Emmanuelle Riva (85) become the youngest and oldest Best Actress nominees ever. At the expense of Marion Cotillard and Rachel Weisz, and proving that the Academy’s voting body is really all old people. They vote for themselves and kids who are as cute as their grandchildren. In other news, let’s check out this adorable photo of the two of them together.
6. Life of Pi is apparently as good as I said it was! It’s hard out here for a film-buff who spends every year rooting for the underdog (my hope in Hugo last year was, quite frankly, just a little sad). But maybe this year, the underdog will emerge on top! Eleven nominations is nothing to sneeze at. Only one less than presumed frontrunner, Lincoln. Now I realize Pi is decidedly left out of the acting race, and its many nominations result from its wide range of technical achievements. But I will remind you of another recent film about an Indian adolescent that went on to win Best Picture despite its lack of acting nods. Back in 2008, Slumdog Millionaire was able to grow its buzz after the awards season had already started, vaulting it towards Best Picture. That film did have the advantage of a Best Ensemble SAG nod (and win) but as I said earlier, the guilds are becoming less relevant. And despite what some critics are saying, including Scott Tobias from The AV Club’s assessment that “Life Of Pi quietly hauled in 11 nominations without any of them in the acting categories. That’s enough for bored Oscar prognosticators to pretend it has a chance for an upset bid,” after today, Life of Pi has a real chance. In terms of unseating Lincoln, Pi is the only movie with a shot. Silver Linings Playbook, despite being nominated for directing and editing, doesn’t have the grand, sweeping epic that Pi does. I’m not saying that it will win Best Picture. My best guess is that Ang Lee will experience some deja vu and walk away with the Director’s statuette, but not Best Picture. But you never know. After today, surprises seem to be the Academy’s biggest commodity.
I’ll have more to say later but here are the nominees. All told, in all the categories I predicted I got 35/44 correct.
Best Picture Amour Argo Beasts of the Southern Wild Django Unchained Les Miserables Life of Pi Lincoln Silver Linings Playbook Zero Dark Thirty
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
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
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
Best Supporting Actress Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Original Screenplay Amour, Michael Hanake Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino Flight, John Gatins Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
Best Adapted Screenplay Argo, Chris Terrio Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Life of Pi, David Magee Lincoln, Tony Kushner Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
Best Animated Feature: Brave Frankenweenie ParaNorman The Pirates! Band of Misfits Wreck-It Ralph
Best Cinematography Anna Karenina Django Unchained Life of Pi Lincoln Skyfall
Best Costume Design Anna Karenina Les Misérables Lincoln Mirror Mirror Snow White and the Huntsman
Achievement in film editing Argo Life of Pi Lincoln Silver Linings Playbook Zero Dark Thirty
Achievement in makeup and hairstyling Hitchcock The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Les Misérables
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score) Anna Karenina Argo Life of Pi Lincoln Skyfall
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song) “Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Skyfall” from Skyfall
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables
Achievement in production design Anna Karenina The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Les Misérables Life of Pi Lincoln
Achievement in sound editing Argo Django Unchained Life of Pi Skyfall Zero Dark Thirty
Achievement in sound mixing
Argo Les Misérables Life of Pi Lincoln Skyfall
Achievement in visual effects The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Life of Pi Marvel’s The Avengers Prometheus Snow White and the Huntsman
Best Documentary Feature 5 Broken Cameras The Gatekeepers How to Survive a Plague The Invisible War Searching for Sugar Man
Best documentary short subject “Inocente”
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Best foreign language film of the year Amour Austria Kon-Tiki Norway No Chile A Royal Affair Denmark War Witch Canada
Best animated short film “Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
“Fresh Guacamole” PES
“Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” David Silverman
“Paperman” John Kahrs
Best live action short film
“Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
“Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
“Curfew” Shawn Christensen
“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
“Henry” Yan England
Because even though the nominations are coming out tomorrow (brought to us by none other than Emma Stone!), we still like to think that we have some kind of say in it or something. And in all honesty it was a great year for film, and even though some categories seem locked up, some are definitely wide open. I’ve also paired these lists with my favorites in each category for the year. It will make you wonder why I’m not an academy voter.
Best Picture: Amour
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Best picture can be anywhere between six and ten this year, and with the field that’s out there, I’m thinking it’s going to be either eight, nine, or ten. Possibly additions/upsets in this category include the fogey-favorite The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Tarantino’s slavery adventure Django Unchained, and possibly even Moonrise Kingdom and Skyfall, although the popcorn crowd already has Les Mis in the mix.
My favorite film of the year: Life of Pi. As I said in my review (which you can find here) Lee made the film work when it never ever should have. I really didn’t like the book. I shouldn’t have liked the movie. But I loved it. When a film that is an intimate portrait of one man’s ability to survive feels more epic than the search for bin Laden or the Iranian Hostage Crisis or even a Paris uprising, that’s an achievement.
Ben Affleck (Argo) Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) Ang Lee (Life of Pi) Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Expect this list to double the Director’s Guild of America’s nominees, which were announced yesterday. That list, as well as the BAFTA nominees, announced earlier this week, both left Silver Linings Playbook‘s David O. Russell off, previously nominated for The Fighter. It is unlikely he’ll sneak in tomorrow, but you never know. It’s likely the snub will be him or Life of Pi‘s Ang Lee, despite it being my favorite movie of the year.
My favorite director: Ang Lee. I do believe the reason that Life of Pi achieved so much was that it had Lee behind the wheel. He took the stunning visuals and the liberty afforded by 3D and went far beyond James Cameron or anyone else who has used the medium. And despite it being fantastical everything looked real. The story was larger than life, down to earth, and well, simply breathtaking.
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
Denzel Washington (Flight)
This category is as locked as locked can be. A while ago Joaquin Pheonix was in the mix for The Master, but the film’s buzz has faded since September, while everything else has pushed on.
My favorite performance: Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook. Say what you will about the ending to this movie (and I’ve said plenty) but it was a great film and it was great because it had Cooper at the center. Jennifer Lawrence may be getting all the attention for her flashy performance, but Cooper’s more understated Manic-Depressive character was a sight to see in the film. It was his story, and he ran with it.
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Chastain and Lawrence are mortal locks in this category, and Cotillard is as close as you can get to a sure thing. The other two spots are up for grabs. Wallis was ineligible for the SAGs and snubbed by the Globes, but the Oscars love a tyke who can really do something. It’s not exaggerating to say that she mad the movie what it was. And while SAG chose to nominate Naomi Watts for The Impossible and Helen Mirren for Hitchcock, those are both low-profile (and not even very well liked) films that really only have a shot in this category. I’m going to go with Riva instead, whose moving performance in Amour is right up the Academy’s alley. It would be something if we had the oldest and youngest performers ever nominated in the same year.
My favorite performance: Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Say what you will about the line between acting and playing yourself as a kid, but if Wallis was playing herself it was a good character. Her performance helped rocket this tiny indie into Best Picture contention, and it is not at all undeserved.
Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin (Argo)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Django has a powerhouse three all up for grabs in this category, Waltz plus Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. I’m giving Waltz the edge because he wheedled into this category despite the role being more a lead. Javier Bardem also has the chance to upset here, with his boundary-pushing villain in crowd-favorite Skyfall, but I fell like the BAFTA nom was his reward.
My favorite performance: Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Again, he’s not the actor getting all the buzz, but his performance plays against type, soft, understated, and with a fabulous wig. With Daniel-Day Lewis being larger than life and Sally Field being just this side of whacky, Jones’s Thaddeus Stevens emerged as the heart of the piece, pulling the most emotion from the audience, down to that beautiful home scene near the end.
Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions) Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
The surprise here could be Nicole Kidman’s trainwreck of a performance in The Paperboy, which, despite being in one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a good long while (read why here), managed to squeak a SAG and Globe nod. I refuse to entertain this possibility in my mind. Another upset could come in the form of Ann Dowd in Compliance, whose performance has been pushed by the entertainment press.
My favorite performance: Samantha Barks in Les Miserables. Surprise! Not even an underdog in this year’s Oscar race, Barks, a newcomer to film but an old hat in the London theatrical scene, gave a fabulous performance in the musical that has been drowned out by Anne Hathaway’s tears. Sure, Barks’ performance is a much more traditional Broadway-style portrayal of one of the greatest ingénues in history as opposed to Hathaways gritty, realistic, singing bad on purpose method. But in a movie where everything and everyone was trying too hard, it was refreshing to see Barks’ understated, dressed-down take on the musical’s most famous song. It was Eponine’s death, not Fantine’s, that felt more tragic.
Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Rian Johnson (Looper)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
This is the category for the little film, the indie, the sci-fi or fantasy flick. Looper is possibly the weakest here just because sci-fi is a harder sell than the whimsical tale or a hard journalistic investigative piece. Flight also has a chance, although, Denzel Washington’s antagonistic journey could be a hard sell.
My favorite story this year:Moonrise Kingdom. In the best film Wes Anderson has put out in awhile, this story of two kids running away from the clueless adults that control their lives was the most endearing story of the year.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
David Magee (Life of Pi)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
Argo is also probably a spoiler here, and if it gets in it will oust Life of Pi or Silver Linings Playbook. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is almost a sure thing, given that the author of the original novel both adapted the screenplay and directed the film. That’s too much for the Academy to handle.
My favorite adaptation this year:Life of Pi. Probably pretty unsurprising to you all by the end of this post, but I really liked Life of Pi. And I was surprised, because I really didn’t like the novel. That is not only the sign of a good adaptation, but a GREAT adaptation. How is it possible that this film made a kid and a tiger on a boat as dramatic, suspenseful, and also humorous and beautiful as they did? How did they take one of the most introspective novels of the past twenty years and make it so utilitarian? A wonderfully adapted script and directed film, that’s how.