Ladiez and Gentlemen,
It’s that time of year again… Superbowl Sunday for the movie nerds is fast approaching…
IT’S OSCAR TIME.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I really like to see movies and plays and (these days, with the wealth of great options) TV. What can I say? We all have our “things.” I have the distinct pleasure of living in NYC, where it’s as easy as hopping on a subway to catch the latest indie darling at the Angelika, or the newest British transfer to Broadway.
Now, artsy people aren’t known to be as competitive as, say, sports people. We don’t paint our faces and scream at each other. We don’t tune in every week to catch the big game. But if you’ve ever spent time around a bunch of intelligent, opinionated, well-read, -watched, and -listened artists (i.e. my friends), you will think we’re in the midst of a football huddle if you stumble upon us in a bar around this time of year.
We take this shit seriously.
One of the fun things about the Oscars, in particular, is that there really is a sort of underground, buzzy, pre-awards chatter. It’s sort of what I imagine it’s like when teams are picking their players (that does happen, right?) or people discuss the odds of a certain team winning. It’s opinion, it’s loyalty, and most of all, it’s the politics of the biz.
Every year my friends and I host a big Oscar shindig. I volunteered to host this year. Phewf. That’s another story. Everyone dresses up (formal attire, contrary to the misheard instruction of the one girl who showed up dressed as Juno one year), and everyone brings a dish wittily labeled to match a movie or movie person from that years’ ceremonies. This is the flag in the cap of our Oscar parties. This is where you prove your mettle. Previous favorite wordplay titles off the top of my head:
Up in the Eclairs
Mickey Rour-quiche and Marisa Tomei-toes (The Wrestler)
Another Year R and J didn’t come up with a title
Milk (I mean, really though)
Jes-sesame noodles in The Soba Network
CokeZero Dark Thirty
Anyhow, all that aside, clearly we’re obsessed. Okay, I’ll single myself out. I’m obsessed. (I’m not alone, but I take responsibility for my own crazy).
I’ve seen almost everything this year. The only thing I HAVE to see before Feb. 24 is Zero Dark Thirty.
Now, hopefully you know that the noms came out yesterday. Big. Day. And the Academy went fuckin’ rogue for the most part. Even the awards bloggers who seem fairly certain about how things will go think something could cause a major upset. I mean, I know exactly what I want to happen.
Do you care about the Oscars?
What are your predictions?
What did you think of these films?
What’s your favorite movie of the year?
What did you HATE?
(also, don’t worry, I’m verbose at the beginning but it gets better toward the end)
So here, for your viewing pleasure, my personal analysis of the:
Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards
Best motion picture of the year
My prediction for this category was almost 100% correct. My only mistake? I put The Master instead of Amour. I’m pissed that The Master missed its BP nom. I understand (it came out early in the year, it’s tough subject matter, no one likes Joaquin as a dude, there’s no “plot”), but I REALLY liked it. A LOT. If you’re a movie lover, it’s so worth checking out. To the casual observer, it may be slow, complex, and obtuse. But at the very least, if you take NOTHING else from this blog post, see the interview scene with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. It’s maybe one of the most incredible scenes ever put on film. I don’t think I breathed ONCE.
Okay, to be fair, haven’t seen this either. I’m sorry… I love movies, but sad French movies about old people… Just not in the mood.
This could be an upset, though it’s looking less and less likely. Honestly, I saw Argo and Lincoln in a double feature a while ago, and liked Argo better. After a second viewing of Lincoln, I’m on its team, but Argo really was a FUN, smart, excellent thriller. What can I say? I love the genre, I love the actors, I love the humor, and I was literally on the edge of my seat.
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Maybe my favorite movie of the year. I KNOW, I know, and I don’t want it to win BP, but guys… It was beautiful, and moving, and brave, and full of heart and soul. I haven’t seen a movie with quite that much chutzpah in… maybe ever. The girl was fucking amazing, the images were powerful, sure it was at times overwrought, but I was with it every. single. second. of the way. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it. It’s magical. It’s flawed. It’s big. It’s low-budget. But it’s so FULL, I dare you not to feel something.
- “Django Unchained”
I can go a few different ways with Tarantino. I don’t like the Kill Bills, but I did like Inglorious Basterds. No, it’s not “my” kind of movie, yes it was long, yes I was offended and felt uncomfortable. But if you go in knowing to expect that and you let yourself experience it, I dunno, Tarantino can get really fun. I still think I liked IB more, but Django had a couple of GREAT scenes (maybe the funniest scene of the movie, and the whole movie season, involves a pack of KKK members whining about the poor sewing job done on their white hoods), good performances (Waltz, DiCaprio, Foxx), and some genuinely intelligent moments. But I don’t think I can give a full endorsement to a movie where I had my eyes AND ears closed for at least five minutes total. Oh, also, they should’ve cut the second ending. Ya know what I mean if you saw it.
- “Les Misérables”
A fucking shitshow. I can’t believe I’m in the minority here, but I have no idea what on earth Tom Hooper thought he was doing. A mess, top, bottom, and sideways. I could write an epic blog post on THIS.
- “Life of Pi”
Beautiful! That’s my review. Haha, I mean, it’s really good. But in a year of really good movies, what makes this stand out is: “Beautiful!”
- “Lincoln” – MY PICK / MY PREDICTION
When I think about what movie I want to win BP, I try to think about what I think a BP should be. Of course it needs to be the strongest movie overall (acting, direction, design, writing, etc), but in a year of good movies, what constitutes the “best picture?” I think the Oscar should go to the film that will last. It doesn’t have to be a big movie, but it has to have something to say. We shouldn’t forget about it in ten years. I liked Lincoln the first time. The second time, I became convinced that by my criteria, Lincoln should win Best Picture. I may have been more attached to BOTSW, but I think Lincoln is the best film. This is “the” Lincoln movie. They did it. It’s definitive. And THAT’s a Best Picture.
- “Silver Linings Playbook”
Ugh. See my blog post: Silver Linings
- “Zero Dark Thirty”
I haven’t seen it– bad, bad me. I KNOW it’s going to be “good.” Of course! It might even be technically the “best” picture of the year. I find some of the torture stuff problematic, but I’m sure it’s good. I’m just gunning for Lincoln, folks. Gotta stand my ground. Plus, I know this is a dumb thing to say but… Didn’t Hurt Locker JUST win? So maybe let’s not re-award it? (ouch, that was mean)
Performance by an actor in a leading role
I woulda taken John Hawkes in The Sessions over Denzel (alum pride ova here, though!), but otherwise this was how I thought it would go. Dwight Henry for BOTSW was on a lot of peoples’ lists, and he was incredible, but I think it’s fair he was left off. For as much as I loved that movie, I know it wasn’t all “craft” in terms of the acting. Henry is a baker– that’s literally his job– who the filmmakers asked to be in the film. As much as I love crowd-sourcing low-budget movies, and as good as he was… I’m guiltily okay with sticking to the mainstream in this category. Strong category this year, too!!
- Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
- Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln — MY PICK / MY PREDICTION
- Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables
I love Hugh. But guys, he’s a baritone. And Valjean is a tenor. So… yeah, that’s why his voice sounds like that! And it’s not supposed to! Just FYI!!
- Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
I will say, I think Joaquin gave the most interesting, engaging, and powerful performance of the year. It was like he invented a new way of acting onscreen. I’ve never seen anything like it. He won’t win, and I do admit he scares me a little, but Jesus. I’ve NEVER seen a performance like the one he gave. NEVER.
- Denzel Washington in Flight
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Strong category here too! My only prediction misstep was discounting Alan Arkin. Again, he won’t win, but I do love the love for Argo. It’s just such a MOVIE! And it’s good! I feel like that’s a relatively new thing– a mainstream genre film (i.e. Argo is a high budget thriller) that is well-written, directed, acted, and asks larger questions and deals with larger issues. You go, Ben Affleck!
- Alan Arkin in Argo
- Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
- Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master — MY PICK / MY PREDICTION
I’ll bet this is the only nod The Master gets in terms of wins. While I think Joaquin stole the show, Phil was amazing. Sometimes I find him hard to read as an actor, but he balanced the complexities of this role impeccably. Extremely unsettling to watch him navigate through the film.
- Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
God knows I love TLG in this performance. I think he was the heart and soul of the movie. I just think he’s a little “goofy old dude” to take it. And for some reason not everyone loved him as much as I did.
- Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
Achievement in directing
SHIT GOT SO REAL HERE! Huge snubs that NO ONE predicted (even the bloggers who usually can catch the weirdness early): no Bigelow (ZDT), no Affleck, (Argo), and no Hooper (Les Mis). Instead, we got Haneke, Zeitlin, and O. Russell/Lee! Holy Shit!
- “Amour” Michael Haneke
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
- “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
- “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell
Tell me I’m not crazy… after The Fighter, this shit is cliche, dumb, and fluffy. Right?!
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Really, a stupid category this time around. For a year of great movies, the choices were really limited. I’m REALLY scared Jennifer Lawrence will win for playing a really pretty girl who shows that in pretty girls, mental illness = fun quirky sexpot!! Yay! True love! Vomit. No one was more on the JLaw train than I when Winter’s Bone came out, but now? And for this? No, girl. I’m not condoning it.
- Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty – MY PICK
I haven’t seen it. Whatever. It’s a crappy category and I didn’t see Amour and frankly, I have no doubt Chastain is great. Ugh. I hate years like this.
- Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook —
When ZDT was looking like it would take the cake, I predicted Chastain. But now, with the “golden four” acting noms (the first time since Reds that a movie has actors nominated in all four categories) and with none of the other three winning, I have a feeling it’ll go this way. Sigh. I’m unhappy, truly unhappy about this.
- Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
- Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
I reallllllly wanted this adorable 5 (yes FIVE!) year old to be nominated. No, she shouldn’t win, no, she won’t win, but by golly was that a tour de force, huh?!
- Naomi Watts in The Impossible
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Rough year for the ladies!! This was pretty much what I predicted except for the completely nonsensical inclusion of Jacki Weaver. I mean, yeah, she’s good, but like, WHAT? Really though, WHAT? That surprised EVERYONE. She hasn’t one a single previous award this season– usually a sure sign you won’t get an Oscar nom. In my predictions, I put Ann Dowd for Compliance in that slot, mostly just because of wishful thinking– the woman’s been around for YEARS and is just a delight.
- Amy Adams in “The Master”
I mean, I’d take her career, I guess. And by I guess I mean GIVE IT TO ME.
- Sally Field in “Lincoln” — MY PICK
So the thing is that no one likes Mary Todd. Anyone who knows anything about American history knows she was legitimately crazy, depressed, a pain on Lincoln’s mind and wallet, and fat and ugly. (one of my dearest friends made the AMAZING comment that if you take away the “fat and ugly” part of that, she’s just like Jennifer Lawrence in SLP!!) And even in this movie, she’s not likeable. Sally Field doesn’t make her likeable, really, but you understand her. And even if not that, you tolerate her. Which is some kind of achievement. Plus she’s eloquent and delightful and has been around and she wanted this part SO BADLY.
- Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables” —MY PREDICTION
Again, I can’t talk about Les Mis. I can’t. It makes me too angry. Suffice it to say I think this is bullshit and I think Anne Hathaway (who I used to think was charming) is the WORST.
- Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
- Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best animated feature film of the year
I mean, I saw none of these. Whoops!
- “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
- “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
- “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
- “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore
- “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
- “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
- “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell
- “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
- “Django Unchained”Written by Quentin Tarantino
- “Flight” Written by John Gatins
- “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
- “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal —MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
Achievement in cinematography
- “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
- “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
- “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
- “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Skyfall” Roger Deakins
Best foreign language film of the year
- “Amour” Austria —MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Kon-Tiki” Norway
- “No” Chile
- “A Royal Affair” Denmark
- “War Witch” Canada
Best documentary feature
- “5 Broken Cameras”
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
- “The Gatekeepers”
Nominees to be determined
- “How to Survive a Plague”
Nominees to be determined
- “The Invisible War” — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION (SEE THIS MOVIE– it’s on Netflix Instant and is completely amazing and utterly devastating)
Nominees to be determined
- “Searching for Sugar Man”
Nominees to be determined
Best documentary short subject
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
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Achievement in film editing
- “Argo” William Goldenberg
- “Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
- “Lincoln” Michael Kahn — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
- “Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Achievement in costume design
- “Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
- “Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
- “Lincoln” Joanna Johnston — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
- “Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood
Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
I don’t even care enough to pick.
Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
- “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
- “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Where is BOTSW?! That is the only soundtrack I remember distinctly from any film this season!!
- “Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
- “Argo” Alexandre Desplat
- “Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
- “Lincoln” John Williams — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
- “Skyfall” Thomas Newman
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
- “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
- “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
- “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
- “Skyfall” from “Skyfall” — MY PICK (c’mon, Adele)
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
- “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION (ugh)
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Achievement in production design
- “Anna Karenina”
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
- “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
- “Les Misérables” — MY (upsetting, nihilistic) PREDICTION
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
- “Life of Pi” — MY PICK
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Best animated short film
No one has seen these!!
- “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
Achievement in sound editing
- “Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
- “Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
- “Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
- “Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
- “Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION (anytime there are lots of bombs and guns, I generally thing that’s where it’ll go)
Achievement in sound mixing
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
- “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION (OMG they sang LIVE! Which no one has ever done and people in this town do eight times a week for years! Did I mention UGH?)
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
- “Life of Pi”
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
- “Lincoln” — MY PICK
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Achievement in visual effects
- “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
- “Life of Pi” — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
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
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
- “Snow White and the Huntsman”
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson