T-minus two weeks till Oscar

It’s been an exhausting award season. It’s a knock-down, drag-out fight in most categories, with very few locks going into the Academy Awards in two weeks (only Anne Hathaway and Adele are locked in at this point). But I think we’ve all felt it, yes? The shift toward Argo, whether motivated by pity for Ben Affleck’s director snub (maybe a little) or that Argo is a movie about film literally saving lives (much more likely) starring beloved character actors (yes, very much), you can’t help but feel that Lincoln has been cut off at the knees and it will be Argo’s night.

Argo

The thing is, I have re-watched every nominee, listened to all the scores, read the scripts, gone through the For Your Consideration kits for production designers, costumiers, cinematographers, et cetera, and I have to say, the Snub Story of 2012 is…Skyfall. The only other films in the nominee pool that held up even half as well as it does upon closer inspection are Moonrise Kingdom and Amour. Even The Master took a hit—what is its point? It’s a film with no narrative purpose. Technically it’s an accomplishment, yes, but The Master won’t be relevant in the way that There Will Be Blood is because it lacks an opinion on, well, anything. It’s intoxicating to watch but then it ends with a shrug. Like Tree of Life, I think future film students will study it for structure, framing and shot composition, but they won’t study it as a landmark, let alone a masterpiece.

But Skyfall, which is a landmark (in digital cinematography), hits both the “entertaining” and “technically damn near flawless” buttons. Repeatedly. But it’s “just an action movie”, so it never even got serious consideration for the major categories. Seriously, Academy, you expanded the Best Picture field to five-plus in order to allow for nominating films like Skyfall. If you STILL aren’t going to nominate blockbusters, just go back to the five-picture field and stop pretending this type of movie even has a chance.

skyfall_a

Oh, and re: Argo. How are we not talking about how this is crazy unfair to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which was a landmark, too—easily the defining film of the Cold War-era spy thriller genre, and maybe just spy thrillers in general, too—and got very little love from the Academy last year? Tinker was damn near flawless as a film, superb on every level, and superior to Argo in every way—unlike Argo, it did not fall completely apart in the third act (what was eye-rolly in the theater in Argo was downright preposterous on second viewing)—and yet it barely got noticed. Argo winning Best Picture when Tinker didn’t even get nominated is like giving the MVP trophy to the guy who hit the single, not one who nailed the game-winning grand slam.

Maria asked me the other day what was going on with this crazy award season. Where is the Brokeback Mountain, she asked. That’s the thing, I said. There isn’t one. It’s a year of Crash-es.

*Nominees ordered in likeliness of winning.

Best Picture

Argo

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

Life of Pi

Amour

Les Miserables

Django Unchained

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Director – CLOSE

Stephen Spielberg (Lincoln)

David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Ang Lee (Life of Pi)

Michael Haneke (Amour)

Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)

Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

Denzel Washington (Flight)

Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Actress — CLOSE

Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)

Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Best Supporting Actor — CLOSE

Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook)

Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

Alan Arkin (Argo)

Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)

Sally Field (Lincoln)

Amy Adams (The Master)

Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Original Screenplay – CLOSE

Django Unchained

Zero Dark Thirty

Moonrise Kingdom

Amour

Flight

Best Adapted Screenplay – CLOSE

Lincoln
Argo

Silver Linings Playbook

Life of Pi

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Cinematography

Life of Pi

Skyfall

Lincoln

Django Unchained

Anna Karenina

Best Film Editing – CLOSE

Argo

Zero Dark Thirty

Lincoln

Life of Pi

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Foreign Language Film

Amour

A Royal Affair

No

Kon-Tiki

War Witch

Best Animated Feature Film – CLOSE

Frankenweenie

Wreck-It Ralph

ParaNorman

Brave

The Pirates!: Band of Misfits

Best Documentary Feature – CLOSE

Searching for Sugar Man

How to Survive a Plague

The Invisible War

The Gatekeepers

5 Broken Cameras

Best Production Design – CLOSE

Les Miserables

Anna Karenina

Lincoln

Life of Pi

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Best Costume Design – CLOSE

Anna Karenina

Les Miserables

Mirror Mirror

Lincoln

Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Makeup & Hair Styling

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Les Miserables

Hitchcock

Best Original Score – CLOSE

Lincoln

Life of Pi

Skyfall

Anna Karenina

Argo

Best Original Song

“Skyfall” (Adele and Paul Epworth, Skyfall)

“Suddenly” (Claude-Michel Shchonberg, & Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil, Les Miserables)

“Everybody Needs a Friend” (Seth MacFarlane and Walter Murphy, Ted)

“Pi’s Lullaby” (Michael Danna and Bombay Jayashri, Life of Pi)

“Before My Time” (J. Ralph, Chasing Ice)

Best Visual Effects

Life of Pi

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Avengers

Prometheus

Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Sound Editing – CLOSE

Zero Dark Thirty

Life of Pi

Skyfall

Argo

Django Unchained

Best Sound Mixing

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Skyfall

Argo

Lincoln

Best Live Action Short – CLOSE (because seriously, who knows?)

Curfew

Asad

Buzkashi Boys

Death of a Shadow

Henry

Best Animated Short (actually not that close at all)

Paperman (you can watch it here)

Maggie Simpson in the Longest Daycare

Adam and Dog

Head Over Heels

Fresh Guacamole

Best Documentary Short – CLOSE

Open Heart

Inocente

Mondays at Racine

Kings Point

Redemption

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9 thoughts on “T-minus two weeks till Oscar

  1. It doesn’t appear that you think ZD30 will get shut out of any wins based on it’s supposed pro-torture message?

    Also, this year – in the acting category – I’m reminded of James Franco in 127 Hours vs. Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. I saw 127H first and LOVED Franco. I really, really wanted him to win. Then I saw TKS and though “F*ck. Colin is going to take it.” I knew he was technically better, but I just wanted Franco to get it because I felt like this was his shining moment, whereas Colin will likely have many, many more than Franco over time. That’s not to say Franco isn’t good. It’s just that for every “127 Hours”, there’s a “Dude, I’m High” film.

    So, I saw Lincoln first this year. DDL is absolutely amazing. He brought me back to the civil war era. I felt for Lincoln and what he dealt with. I knew from the announcement that he had been cast that he was a lock for Best Actor. That’s his MO. He acts once every 8 years and pulls an Oscar. BUT – This is Hugh Jackman’s moment. I don’t think he’ll get another chance and this is the very best I’ve seen him. He was fabulous. He Lost Weight! (JK). This really was a shining moment for him and he MADE Les Mis. So, I’d rather there be two best actor awards this year, or give DDL a rain check for his next performance in 2020.

    Finally, where is the love for Naomi Watts? I saw The Impossible. Now THAT film should have been called Les Miserables. She had my gut twisted the entire film. Everything about her performance was visceral. I didn’t see Amour, but I honestly didn’t think JL was anything special in Silver Linings Playbook. She was good. But Oscar worthy? So, seriously. Why is Naomi out of consideration?

    1. Naomi isn’t out of consideration. All the actors are behind her. But Riva is a titan of cinema in France, and the bigger blocs like the foreign members of the Academy and the producers will probably go for her, not to mention the old fart brigade, because she’s such a legend and she threw down such a huge, heartbreaking performance at like, 87. I don’t think Watts can pull off the upset (so far, not enough individual factions are behind her, not even SAG), but it wouldn’t surprise me IF she did. She has a lot of friends. It just feels like a Riva upset is brewing, not a Watts one.

      I didn’t think ZDT was pro-torture, but, it’s bigger obstacle is that it doesn’t top The Hurt Locker in anyway. That exact group of people just won a bunch of shit a few years ago for a similarly-styled and themed film that was better than ZDT across the board. That’s the hurdle before ZDT.

      DDL has that shit in the can. I’d love to see Hugh Jackman’s dedication rewarded too, but he won’t pull off the upset. Also, this is DDL’s fifth film in ten years. So he’s actually being quite prolific and working every 2-3 years. He took five years off in the late 90’s. That’s it.

  2. Jenna

    Disagree there are no “Brokeback”-like films… Zero Dark Thirty and Django will stand the test of time like Brokeback and unlike the rest of the nominees (and Crash).

    1. It’ll be interesting to see how ZDT ages because The Hurt Locker is aging really well, but I have the feeling ZDT will always be second-best to its “older brother”. And Django…while I LOVED it, I think Tarantino is still searching for his masterpiece. Reservoir Dogs introduced him, Pulp Fiction defined him, but Django, like Inglorious Basterds, feels like it’s building to something yet undone. I say that as a big fan of both of those movies, but I don’t think either one is going to matter as much as the film he hasn’t made yet. We’ll look back one day and see them as stepping stones to something bigger.

  3. Rachel

    In WHAT WORLD was Hugh Jackmans performance any better than Joaquin Phoenix’s? I watched The Master the other day and Phoenix was absolutely mesmerizing…even better than DDL.

    I hope Riva pulls off the best actress win.

    1. In no world–this isn’t an assessment of their artistic merit. This is where I think the voting will land. Phoenix doesn’t have the friends for a win, or even a second-place finish.

  4. Damian

    Will you be doing the Ethel Awards this year? Maybe you can revise the 1999/2000 awards season? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the great Swank/Bening debate (obviously 2004/2005 would be a great year to discuss their awards rivalry too).

  5. Nikki

    I really loved Argo but you are right that it doesn’t compare to Tinker Tailor which was a much more complicated, restrained spy thriller.

    Hollywood does love to see itself and its power reflected in film so I think Argo will take it.

    The best actor category this year is crazy amazing!! Loved all the performances. I would perhaps rank Denezel’s wonderful work in flight about Hugh’s but I think DDL takes it. How amazing is all the work featured this year in this category. Each performance save Cooper’s could have won in another year.

    I think best actress is weak this year. I love JLaw- seriously adore all of her work but she will have far greater roles. She is terrific in film that is simply good but not great. And Watts didn’t have enough screen time in the Impossible. And I felt Chastain was underwritten in Dark Thirty.
    I think Lincoln will hold up though not as much as Django. And I think Lincoln’s sentimentality will become an issue as it ages.

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