Jan 10, 2013

Oscar Nominations Are Here!

Unlike my wife, I'm generally pretty ambivalent when it comes to awards shows.  There's too much politics involved and the most deserving talent is seldom recognized.  The Oscars are the only show I continue to watch, although that's really only out of a sense of obligation or because there's usually one film or performance I really loved that I'd like to see rewarded and become part of the Academy Awards legacy.  Frankly, I became disillusioned with the whole thing when it became clear that winning had very little to do with your work in that particular year, like when they named Denzel Washington Best Actor for Training Day seemingly because they didn't give it to him for Malcom X, or when Julia Roberts won for Erin Brokovich because everyone loves Julia Roberts.  Don't even get me started on The Social Network vs The King's Speech, which is the modern day equivalent of Citizen Kane vs How Green Was My Valley.

Anyway, below is the complete list of nominations for this year's show to be hosted by Seth MacFarlane, who's pretty much the polar opposite of last year's panic-choice of Billy Crystal.  For those keeping score at home, Lincoln leads the pack with 12 nominees.  I still haven't seen a bunch of these, but I'm planning to close the gap before the show on February 24th.  My thoughts below each category:

Best Picture
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Django Unchained
Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln and Django feel like the favorites here.  I still have to see about half of these but at a glance I'd have little problem with any of those three winning.  If Les Miserables pulls out an upset, I cannot be held accountable for any damage I may cause to my home or the surrounding area.
Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Surprised to see Denzel on this list, as the general consensus seemed to be that Flight was a pretty crap movie.  Then again, Denzel is Denzel.  I feel bad for Jamie Foxx, who seemed a shoe-in.  Doesn't really matter though, DDL owns this category.
Actor in a Supporting Role 
Alan Arkin, Argo
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Another seriously strong group.  Surprised John Hawkes wasn't rewarded for The Sessions, especially since Helen Hunt managed to sneak into Best Supporting Actress.  Arkin was solid, but ultimately slight, whereas DeNiro seems to be nominated simply for being awake in a movie for the first time in a decade.  (Not to diminish his work here, as he's easily one of the film's highlights.)  Hoffman feels like the thinking man's choice, but Tommy Lee Jones will most certainly pull this one out.  (For the record, his clip will be the speech on the House floor.  This is a mortal lock.)
Actress in a Leading Role
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beast of the Southern Wild
That's one helluva talent pool.  I'm betting on Lawrence or Chastain.  I haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty yet, but it's hard not to fall in love with Lawrence in Silver Linings.  Really great to see the young Wallis on there though.  Always happy when a kid can break into the leading performance categories.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Jackie Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Just give it to Anne Hathaway now.  This whole category feels like a formality.
Animated Feature Film 
Wreck it Ralph
The Pirates, Band of Misfits
This entire list fills me with joy.  Gone are the days when the Pixar movie is the obvious winner and frankly I'd be pretty disappointed if Brave pulled it off.  I though Wreck It Ralph was better than average but Paranorman feels like the right choice here, although I'm curious if that and Frankenweenie will essentially cancel each other out.
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
David O Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Michael Haneke, Amour
Tom Hooper's shitastic directing job on Les Miserables was not rewarded with a nomination AND THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING!  While I haven't seen Django yet (I'm waiting to see it at the New Beverly when I'm in LA in two weeks) I'm honestly shocked that Tarantino didn't make the cut.  Without him, the road seems clear for another Spielberg victory. UPDATED: No Bigelow either?  How did I miss that?  Haneke and Zeitlin over Bigelow and Tarantino is an incredible upset.  There's no doubt this category is Spielberg's to lose.
Music (Original Song
"Before my Time" from Chasing Ice
"Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi
"Suddenly" - Les Miserables
"Everybody Needs a Best Friend," from Ted 
"Skyfall" from Skyfall
Adele should get herself a new party dress...
Foreign Language Film
Amour (Austria)
No (Chile)
War Witch (Canada)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
Kon-Tiki (Norway)
As per usual I've seen none of these, but doesn't Amour have to be the favorite, since it's nominated for best picture but definitely won't win?  
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) 
Beast of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar)
Lincoln (Tony Kushner)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
Life of Pi (David Magee)
Argo (Chris Terrio)
Writing feels like Argo's best chance at an Oscar, unless everyone decides to just vote Lincoln straight down the ticket.  Honestly I think it's a crime that Cloud Atlas isn't nominated here, considering that the book was long considered unfilmable.  
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Flight (John Gatins)
Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Amour (Michael Haneke)
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola)
I have a sneaky feeling that Django could pull ahead in this one solely because QT was snubbed for Best Directing.  Otherwise it'll most certainly be Zero Dark Thirty, but wouldn't it just be swell if Moonrise Kingdom could pull a rabbit here?
Anna Karenina ( Seamus McGarvey)
Django Unchained (Robert Richardson)
Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
Lincoln (Janusz Kaminski)
Skyfall (Roger Deakins)
Anna Karenina is the big outlier here.  While Roger Deakins would be a great dark horse victory, (let that sentence sink in for a minute...) this also feels like an ancillary Lincoln win.
Costume Design
Anna Karenina (Jacqueline Durran)
Les Misérables (Paco Delgado)
Lincoln (Joanna Johnston)
Mirror Mirror (Eiko Ishioka)
Snow White and the Huntsman (Colleen Atwood)
Ah costume design, the one category where you can still get a nominated for work in an unwatchable mess of a film.  Exhibits A & B: both of the laughably bad Snow White movies.  Period films are always favored here and I've heard that Durran's work in Anna Karenina was really remarkable.  This is one of the few categories I wouldn't mind Les Miserables winning as a film.  (Hathaway more than deserves the individual honor.)
Documentary (Feature)
The Gatekeepers
5 Broken Cameras
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man
Random Prediction #1: Searching For Sugar Man.
Documentary (Short Subject)
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Random Prediction #2: Open Heart
Film EditingArgo (William Goldenberg)
Life of Pi (Tim Squyres)
Lincoln (Michael Kahn)
Silver Linings Playbook (Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers)
Zero Dark Thirty (Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg)
Another Lincoln/ZDT tossup, although it's really nice to see Argo sneak in as well, considering how great the movie was at ratcheting up tension even though the entire audience knows how it ends.  That movie was genuinely great and I think it's a testament to the quality of this year's films that it isn't better represented here.
Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock (Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane)
Les Misérables (Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell)
Les Miserables in a walk.  I honestly can't believe the other two even made it in.  Everyone hated Hopkins's Hitchcock makeup, along with the rest of that movie.  I guess The Hobbit deserves a nomination considering that the dwarves were pretty much identified and delineated solely by the differences in their facial hair.  Would've loved to see Could Atlas sneak in here just to see the angry reactions.
Music (Original Score)
Anna Karenina (Dario Marianelli)
Argo (Alexandre Desplat)
Life of Pi (Mychael Danna)
Lincoln (John Williams)
Skyfall (Thomas Newman)
Murderers row.  Can't deny the Spielberg/Williams combo though.
Production Design
Anna Karenina (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spence)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright)
Les Misérables (Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson)
Life of Pi (Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock)
Lincoln (Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson)
I think the 48FPS will seriously hurt The Hobbit here, as a lot of people complained about the production design specifically.  It's like when your local news started shooting in HD and suddenly all the hair, sets and makeup looked weird.  This'll be Lincoln or Les Miserables.  Cloud Atlas feels like a glaring omission here.
Short Film (Animated)
Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare
I still need to figure out how this happened, but there's no Pixar entry here because the amazing La Luna (which played before Brave) was nominated last year and lost to an only okay short about flying books.  While it's nice to see Maggie Simpson up for a golden statue, Paperman will probably take this one.
Short Film (Live Action)
Buzkashi Boys
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Random Prediction #3: Death of a Shadow.  (I love parentheticals (as you've probably noticed.))
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)
Tough call, probably ZDT or Django.  But yay more Argo!
Sound Mixing
Argo (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia)
Les Misérables (Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes)
Life of Pi (Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin)
Lincoln (Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins)
Skyfall (Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson)
Gotta be Les Miserables, as they really went out on a limb and recorded all of the singing live on set, as opposed to recording the songs in a studio months in advance.  It was a really strong choice that was incredibly effective, Russell Crowe notwithstanding.  
Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White)
Life of Pi (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)
Prometheus (Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill)
Snow White and the Huntsman (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson)
The kid in me wants to see The Avengers win an Oscar, but that's a real stretch.  And how the hell did Snow White get a second nomination?  Who let that happen?  While Prometheus suffered from cataclysmic story problems, it's a visual masterpiece and seriously deserving here.  Curious if voters will consider the higher frame rate a "visual effect," which will seriously impact The Hobbit's chances.  That's a tough call, as you've got the incredible Gollum and the Stone Giants on the one hand, and the terrible looking Wargs and the Goblin King's scrotum beard on the other.  If the HFR is a factor here I think you have to give it to The Hobbit.  Even though it's somewhat off-putting at times, when it works it is BREATHTAKING and you have to give them credit for pushing the boundaries.  Otherwise I say give it to Prometheus.  

------ And there you have it.  Like I said at the top, there are a bunch of movies I've yet to see that will be serious contenders, namely Django and Zero Dark Thirty.  Once I do, my opinions will almost certainly shift on some of these categories.  (Mostly I'm guessing more outrage that Tarantino wasn't nominated for Best Directing, which just seems preposterous on paper.)  I'd put money on Life of Pi as the movie with the most nominations that is least likely to win any awards.  (I'm honestly kind of shocked it's so pervasive on this list, considering that no one seemed to have any really strong feelings about it one way or the other.)  Gut instinct is that we should all get ready for the Lincoln Show, although I wouldn't be surprised if it won the majority of the awards and then something like Zero Dark Thirty sneaked in and stole Best Picture.


  1. Bah, you're crazy. Denzel earned the nomination. But the fact that it's pretty much the only big nomination? Yeah, that's about right. And yes, DDL will win.

    Seeing Django this weekend. ZDT soon. I need to get on this.

    Is Silverlinings Playbook that good? I can't wrap my head around that.

    Wait, there was an original song in Les Mis? They inserted a new song in what is one of the most well known musicals of all time?

  2. Denzel earned the nom for Flight? I haven't seen it, but I don't doubt his performance. Every review said it was the standout in an only-okay movie. Just seems like an odd choice over Foxx.

    Silver Linings is fine. it kind of bounces back and forth between wanting to be a feel good romance and a serious look at mental illness and an ending that felt far too neat and tidy, but Lawrence really is outstanding and Russell's direction makes the movie feel better than it is.

    According to Jamie, there's a brief original song that she says fills in a slight gap in the story, really just explaining Valjean's motivation for sticking around to raise Cossette. It's a quiet song, just Hugh Jackman singing alone to a sleeping girl while riding in a carriage. hardly flashy. according to Jamie, "it's there so they could get an original song nomination," so...mission accomplished?

  3. Yeah, I think he was really good in that role. The role was great, and the movie was good, if ham handed and predictable. Still, it's worth seeing. Can't compare it to Foxx yet. Soon though.

    Just seems silly to cram a song in there.