"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oscar Nominations - My Take

The Oscar nominations were announced on January 10th by current Oscar host, Seth MacFarlene and Emma Stone. The mood of the announcement had quite a lot of comedic banter, giving us a taste of what’s to come February 24th.  

(Photo: Variety)

I was definitely happy with the nods for Lincoln and Life of Pi with 12 and 11 nominations respectively.  But I must say I’m shocked that Zero Dark Thirty only got 5 nominations.  Was it all the torture talk? Or is that ugly word sexism again?  A director’s nomination here would have really cement Kathryn Bigelow’s status as one of the best directors and not just because she happens to be female.  But I’m pleased to see first time nominees Benh Zeitlin (what a year he’s having) and Michael Haneke make the cut.  

The early voting fracas helped and hindered many nominees.  But in the end, it was a strange experiment.  Without many of the guilds to give them direction on who might the frontrunners, the Academy voted on who they really liked which is a very new experience for everyone.  It is going to be very hard to predict the winners. 
All the nominations listed below.

 Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook"
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"
  • Hugh Jackman in "Les Misérables"
  • Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master"
  • Denzel Washington in "Flight"
My take: Everybody who’s not named Daniel Day-Lewis will have to make to with the nomination as the win.  With first time nominees like Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman, they only have the Sexiest Man Alive honors to console themselves with.  And I'm glad that voters gave Joaquin a second chance and considered his performance and not his interview comments.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Alan Arkin in "Argo"
  • Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook"
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master"
  • Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"
  • Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained"
My take: The supporting actor category contains nominees all of whom already have an Oscar statutette.  Who will end up with their second win? It might be Tommy Lee Jones or Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or even Christoph Waltz who fended off his own Django Unchained cast members, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson, to earn his nomination.  DiCaprio will have to wait yet another year for a nomination and win.  It won’t be for his first bad guy role. 

Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"
  • Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
  • Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour"
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
  • Naomi Watts in "The Impossible"
My take: The Best Actress category brought plenty of surprises.  Previous winner Marion Cotillard was a possible contender with her emotional performance in Rust and Bone but instead another French actress was honoured, Emmanuelle Riva, who’s receiving many accolades for a role of a lifetime in Amour.  At 85, she earns her first Oscar nomination.  So does Quvenzhane Wallis from Beasts of the Southern Wild who’s only nine!  The other contenders are Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts all who earned their second nomination. 

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Amy Adams in "The Master"
  • Sally Field in "Lincoln"
  • Anne Hathaway in "Les Misérables"
  • Helen Hunt in "The Sessions"
  • Jacki Weaver in "Silver Linings Playbook"
My take: Supporting Actress also seems predictable.  Pretty much everyone guessed the nominees and it does seem like Anne Hathaway has this in the bag.  Though I feel Amy Adams might give her a bit of a scare. 

Best animated feature film of the year
  • "Brave" Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • "Frankenweenie" Tim Burton
  • "ParaNorman" Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" Peter Lord
  • "Wreck-It Ralph" Rich Moore

My take: Three of the five nominees for best animation are stop motion. Co-Director Chris Butler of ParaNorman called stop-motion ‘the underdog of animation’.  I think they’ve got their moment to shine. And if Brave wins, it’ll make history with a female co-director, a first in animation.

Achievement in cinematography
  • "Anna Karenina" Seamus McGarvey
  • "Django Unchained" Robert Richardson
  • "Life of Pi" Claudio Miranda
  • "Lincoln" Janusz Kaminski
  • "Skyfall" Roger Deakins
My take: The legendary Roger Deakins gets his 10th nominations but I have a feeling that Claudio Miranda's superb camerawork was key to the success of Life of Pi.

Achievement in costume design
  • "Anna Karenina" Jacqueline Durran
  • "Les Misérables" Paco Delgado
  • "Lincoln" Joanna Johnston
  • "Mirror Mirror" Eiko Ishioka
  • "Snow White and the Huntsman" Colleen Atwood
My take: The late Eiko Ishioka's costumes in Mirror Mirror as in most Tarsem Singh's films are always striking and it's great to see them recognized.  Meanwhile, Colleen Atwood also received her 10th nomination but unlike Roger Deakins, she's got three Oscar statuettes at home. It's a race between Anna Karenina and Mirror Mirror for me.

Achievement in directing
  • "Amour" Michael Haneke
  • "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Benh Zeitlin
  • "Life of Pi" Ang Lee
  • "Lincoln" Steven Spielberg
  • "Silver Linings Playbook" David O. Russell
My take: I already talked about the directing category above but to quote a line from Skyfall, it's a 'brave new world' out there for Oscar this year.  Might we see the directing category expanded one day just as the best picture category has been? I really doubt it.  

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"
    Nominees to be determined
  • "Searching for Sugar Man"
    Nominees to be determined
My take: It seems like even with the new rules that were implemented in this category that a lot of frontrunner documentaries like Central Park Five, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Bully and Chasing Ice were left out.  Chasing Ice is nominee for Best Song, however.  I am keen this year to make a point to see all if not most of the documentaries on this list. I saw the trailer for The Gatekeepers and it looks fascinating.

Best documentary short subject
  • "Inocente"
    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
  • "Redemption"
    Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill
My take: I'm not really familiar with these shorts except for Inocente but again, I'm hoping to get a chance to actually see any one of them before the actual ceremony.  

Achievement in film editing
  • "Argo" 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
My take: With the directing category all out of wonk, this year we'll have to look at editing to guide to Best Picture.  Rationale being the best edited film is usually also Best Picture.  However, that logic when out the window for the last two year when editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall took home the wins for The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which wasn't even nominated for Best Picture.  This year we also have a double nominee in William Goldenberg.  But I have a feeling Michael Kahn, Spielberg's longtime editor will emerge as winner. 

Best foreign language film of the year
  • "Amour" Austria
  • "Kon-Tiki" Norway
  • "No" Chile
  • "A Royal Affair" Denmark
  • "War Witch" Canada
My take: The biggest surprise in this category is the exclusion of The Intouchables that was chosen as France's entry over Rust and Bone.  Many even predicted that it could make all the way to Best Picture as well.  However, that honor belongs to Amour who now seems a certain lock for this category.  The rest of the foreign film nominees have varied stories so it's certainly going to make things interesting this year.

Achievement in 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
My take: Daniel Day-Lewis transformed himself into Lincoln's doppelganger but no nomination for Lincoln.  Similarly for Cloud Atlas which rendered their actors virtually unrecognizable.   The three who did make it are Hitchcock, The Hobbit and Les Miserables.  Both The Hobbit and Les Miserables dealt with a massive cast in which realism was the order of the day while Hitchcock featured Anthony Hopkins as the legendary director.  However, I think the elves and goblins are going to have their day again

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • "Anna Karenina" Dario Marianelli
  • "Argo" Alexandre Desplat
  • "Life of Pi" Mychael Danna
  • "Lincoln" John Williams
  • "Skyfall" Thomas Newman
My take: John Williams gets his 48th nomination for his newest collaboration with Spielberg.  But I enjoyed Argo's thrilling score which kept the suspense high as well as Life of Pi's moving soundtrack.  Left off the ballot was Hans Zimmer's amazing composition for The Dark Knight Rises

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"
    Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • "Suddenly" from "Les Misérables"
    Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
My take: Just hand the trophy over to Adele already but first we'd like a song please.   Also, this isn't the first time that a host has been nominated for an Oscar but I doubt if it was ever for a film like Ted

Best motion picture of the year
  • "Amour" Nominees to be determined
  • "Argo" Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
  • "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
  • "Django Unchained" Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
  • "Les Misérables" Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
  • "Life of Pi" Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
  • "Lincoln" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
  • "Silver Linings Playbook" Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
  • "Zero Dark Thirty" Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers
My take: I believe I voiced my opinions already.  I am beginning to wonder with these new rules if we'll ever hit the magic number 10 or will it always be teasing us with the incomplete 9 nominations forever. What I did learn was that Silver Linings Playbook is a dark horse and definitely a film to watch out.  The Academy liked this film, they really liked this film with nominations for Best Picture, Director, Writing and all four acting categories something which hasn’t happened since 1981’s Reds.  The Weinstein Company must be pleased with this. George Clooney, meanwhile, isn’t resting on his Sexiest Man laurels.  He became the first person to be nominated for six different categories, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and now Best Picture.

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"
    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
My take:  All 5 of these films' sets and looks were top-notch and researched meticulously but I do believe the frontrunner Lincoln has a edge here. 

Best animated short film
  • "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
My take: I'm really excited at the possibility of The Simpsons winning a possible Oscar.  It's only a short but still.  And I have heard great things about Disney's Paperman.   Hopefully, I'll get to see some of the nominees.

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
My take: Completely clueless here, it's time to do some research.

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 take: The dreaded sound categories.  I think this year I'm just going to close my eyes and pick randomly. No strategy works here.  

Achievement in 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
My take: See above.

Achievement in 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
My take: I have a feeling it's going to be CGI character vs. CGI character vs. CGI character as the Hulk, Gollum and Richard Parker all go up against one other. Who will emerge victorious? We'll find out on February 24th.

Adapted screenplay
  • "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
  • "Silver Linings Playbook" Screenplay by David O. Russell
My take: Here's where I had hoped Beasts of the Southern Wild would make an appearance and it did.  I also had hopes for The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  In the end, however, it will be Tony Kushner masterful and riveting screenplay (at least for me) that will win the Oscar.

Original screenplay
  • "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 take: Another tough category to predict which could boost the chances of whoever is winning Best Picture.  Flight was a surprise nominee for me.  I had hopes for Rian Johnson's great time travel film Looper to be recognized.

And finally let us have a moment of silence for the movies that didn’t receive any Oscar nominations but still have plenty of love amongst their fans out there. The Dark Knight Rises. Looper. Bernie. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Cloud Altas. The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Sadly, we have nothing to say except there’s always next year. 
Meanwhile our suspense will be over February 24th when the awards will be handed out.  It’s going to be a long six weeks.  Brace yourselves. 

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