Life of Pi Life of Pi Life of Pi!!
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:
2. Life of Pi
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Zero Dark Thirty
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.