Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Oscars: Predictions, Thoughts, and Gripes

The Oscars were announced this morning with a few surprises, all major, and almost none of them good which left me with the larger question of why I even bothered to get out of bed. You can find the entire list of nominees at this link: Here is my take on the nominations:
Best Picture
There wasn't really a problem of omission this year (although I thought that "Moonrise Kingdom" would get the recognition it deserves) but due to the added slots, which have been present for a few years now, we again see several undeserving nominees, this year's being "Les Miserables", which has minions of fans who aren't even considering its film quality, and "Beasts of the Southern Wild.", a gorgeous yet seriously misguided and pretentious art house film. Without having seen it, I was still pleased that "Amour" was nominated and the rest ("Argo", "Django Unchained", "Life of Pi", "Lincoln", "Silver Linings Playbook", and "Zero Dark Thirty") were expected and worthy of their distinction. I would say this is a hard category to handicap, especially due to the surprises in the directing category. "Lincoln" is the best film of the lot but I could see the Academy voting for "Pi", which was also excellent.
Will Win: "Life of Pi"
Should Win: "Lincoln"
Michael Haneke
Best Director
Although I didn't find "Argo" to be quite the masterwork that many had deemed, and was somewhat pleased to see the wind knocked out of its sails when Ben Affleck was passed over, this directing category is  a veritable mess. No one is making movies on the same level as Quentin Tarantino yet he is missing as is Wes Anderson and Kathryn Bigelow. I guess the Academy felt they had done their social duty after her historical win the last time around. Instead we have the biggest shocker of the day in Benh Zeitlin scoring an undeserved nod for "Beasts", which again was beautiful but bullshit. David O. Russell also joins the party, whose "Playbooks" was great but not nearly as ambitious as some of the ones who are sitting out. It was nice to see Michael Haneke join the ranks for "Amour", which I see as a tribute to someone who has consistently made challenging and excellent films throughout a lengthy career. I still think this boils down to a race between "Lincoln" and "Pi" and again find it almost impossible to pick a winner.
Will Win: Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"
Should Win: Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"
Best Actor
This is Daniel Day-Lewis' category. I don't even think there's a discussion about that and rightfully so. That being said, we're seeing nominations for Denzel Washington, Joaquin Phoenix, and Bradley Cooper, all turning in what I deem as their career best work and then we have Hugh Jackman. Don't even get me started before I go into a Dr. Cox-like rant and pop a blood vessel. John Hawkes was robbed.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
Best Actress
The women did not show up this year. There I said it. Meryl Streep takes a year off from serious filmmaking and the category feels like a vast wasteland. I was not impressed by anyone in this category. I found Jennifer Lawrence insufferable, and the only sore spot of "Silver Linings", Naomi Watts was grating in "The Impossible" and Jessica Chastain, the frontrunner, even struggled during parts of "Zero Dark Thirty" (to be fair she had many excellent moments). Again, I haven't seen "Amour" and I expect Emmanuelle Riva  to be great, but at 85, her nomination makes her the oldest in Academy history and allows them to nominate the youngest ever in 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis for "Beasts." I have never liked the inclusion of child actors at the Oscars. Wallis had spunk but I would like to see this spot go to someone who actually practices the craft. 
Will Win: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Should Win: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Best Supporting Actor
Still the most interesting and stalwart of all the categories. Five previous winners vie for the award. I believe that's never happened before. They did the right thing and nominated Christoph Waltz over Leo for "Django." Robert De Niro reasserted himself in an incredible performance and Tommy Lee Jones was as great as always. I didn't really care for Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance in "The Master" which was just his typical brand of yelling and I would have nominated someone else over Alan Arkin, either William H. Macy for "The Sessions" or Bruce Willis for "Moonrise Kingdom" or "Looper", but that wasn't going to happen.
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"
Should Win: (push) Tommy Lee Jones, Robert De Niro, Christoph Waltz
Best Supporting Actress
The least deserving will win the Oscar. Anne Hathaway was over-the-top in "Les Miz" but the other four women who will be smiling politely when she accepts her award were all very good. Amy Adams seemed like she was on the sidelines when her "Master" costars were reaping acclaim for their performances earlier in the year. It's nice to see her recognized. Sally Field delivered an unexpectedly volatile performance as  the headstrong and unstable Mary Lincoln, Helen Hunt was brave as a sex surrogate in "The Sessions", and Jacki Weaver was so good serving as the glue for a house full of loonies. 
Will Win: Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"
Should Win: Sally Field, "Lincoln"

Stay tuned for my Oscar contest to be posted shortly...