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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Oscar Picks 2013

Is it Oscar day already? It really does sneak up on you, doesn't it?  Well, since it's that time of the year, it's time for me to pick my picks in this highly unpredicatable and crazy year of 2012 where no one could have predicted so many great films all going up against each other with no clear frontrunner as the rules keep changing.  However, I do give my edge to Argo and Ben Affleck who's having a wonderful 2012.  Take a look at my picks below.  

 Best motion picture of the year

"Amour" Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heduschka and Michael Katz, Producers
"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

Will win: Argo. It has swept every major guild and non-guild award out there.  It's a safe bet for best picture and plus, it doesn't hurt that two incredibly handsome men (producers George Clooney and Ben Affleck) will probably end up giving a great speech.
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty. I was just blown away by this film and its powerful retelling of the 'greatest manhunt in history' and the female power of director Kathryn Bigelow, producer Megan Ellison and the incredible lead performance of Jessica Chastain. Years from now, people will look back at how under appreciated this film was. 
Possible upset: Lincoln or Life of Pi. This a crazy year for predicting the Oscars, it could all go to plan or not at all. I wouldn't count out these two films with the highest nominations, with 12 and 11 respectively. Everyone keeps listing Life of Pi as their favorite film of the year (me too!) and well, Lincoln, has great pedigree on and off the camera.  I wouldn't be shocked if they won either. 

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"

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis.  He's Daniel Day-Lewis, greatest actor alive.  Nuff said!
Should win: Joaquin Phoenix.  I finally got around to watching The Master and I couldn't believe Phoenix's performance, it's on another level. I'm glad he got recognition for this fearless role despite his comments in Interview magazine.  It would have been a travesty.  
Possible upset: Joaquin Phoenix.  Just to make things more interesting this year.

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"

Will win: Tommy Lee Jones. 
Should win: Tommy Lee Jones. His is the real great supporting performance in this category of former Oscar winners and all great actors. 
Possible upset: Robert De Niro. De Niro has really put it out there that he really wants another Oscar to the point of breaking down his tough guy exterior and it has been awhile since he last won.  You never know. 

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"

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence.  I have wavered between Riva and Lawrence for weeks and I'm finally settling on Lawrence.  This could become the real wildcard category of the night. We've got a nominee who's turning 86, a cute and unpredictable nine year old (think of the speech she'll give) and two women (Lawrence and Chastain) whose careers are at their peak right now.  It's anyone's to capture, I believe. 
Should win: Jessica Chastain.  Everyone says that there no good roles for women out there anymore but Chastain's Maya was the best written and enacted role of 2012 for me. 
Possible upset: Emmanuelle Riva.  It's her 86th birthday, Oscars make great birthday gifts. (hint, hint)

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"

Will win: Anne Hathaway.
Should win: Anne Hathaway. There's no denying that her rendition of one of the greatest songs on theater is completely mesmerizing.  I'm not a fan of the film but Hathaway took her performance to heart and channeled Fantine completely. 
Possible upset: Sally Field. In case, they really, really, really like her.

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

Will win: Wreck-It Ralph.  This was a clever, fun and heartfelt ode to video games and gamers. Ralph leads head and shoulders above the competition.
Should win: Wreck-It Ralph.  Walt Disney Animation has truly profited by having John Lasseter as the head of the studio and the quality of the films coming from it has been completely story oriented.  Hence the three nominees this year over rival DreamWorks zero. 
Possible upset: Brave. Never count out Pixar and its legions of fans. And the movie has picked up quite a few technical awards in the past months to make it a competitor. 

Achievement in cinematography

"Anna Karenina" Seamus McGarvey
"Django Unchained" Robert Richardson
"Life of Pi" Claudio Miranda
"Lincoln" Janusz Kaminski
"Skyfall" Roger Deakins

Will win: Life of Pi's Claudio Miranda for the some of the most stunning visuals in a film.
Should win: Roger Deakins who has never won an Oscar in his long and storied career for one of the best-looking Bond films ever.
Possible upset: Roger Deakins.

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

Will win: Anna Karenina. It's such a costume film.
Should win: The late Eiko Ishioka for Mirror Mirror.  Her costumes in Tarsem Singh's films were so incredibly key to his look and vision. 
Possible upset: Colleen Atwood for Snow White and the Huntsman.

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

Will win: Ang Lee. It really is a two man race between Lee and Spielberg now that Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow aren't even part of the conversation.  However, I give the edge to Lee who really made a spectacular film out a book that many thought could never be translated to screen. In breathtaking 3D, no less!
Should win: Ang Lee
Possible upset: Steven Spielberg.  Lincoln is a reverent and grownup effort of Spielberg's and it shows in every frame. 

Best documentary feature

"5 Broken Cameras"
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
"The Gatekeepers"
Dror Moreh,Philippa Kowarsky and Estelle Fialon
"How to Survive a Plague"
David France and Howard Gertler
"The Invisible War"
Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering
"Searching for Sugar Man"
Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn

Will win: Searching for Sugar Man.  Like Argo, this has won every guild and non-guild award. The second safe bet of the night. 
Should win: Searching for Sugar Man
Possible upset: The Gatekeepers.  This was the one I wanted to see over all others but didn't get the chance. The first brutally honest look behind the scenes at the super secret Shin Bet should be fascinating. 

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

Will win: Inocente.  Unfortunately I couldn't see any of the shorts so my pick here is going to be a guess.  I'd say Inocente based on what I've read and briefly seen.
Should win: Inocente.
Possible upset: Mondays at Racine, a moving look at women recovering from cancer who spend time at a Long Island salon.

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

Will win: Argo.  I changed my mind. Double nominee William Goldenberg is definitely a frontrunner with Argo and Zero Dark Thirty but I have the nail-biting thriller ending of Argo will prevail. I had previously thought Lincoln would have a shot but it's definitely Goldenberg's year.
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty. Encapsulating a ten year odyssey for the search for Osama bin Laden is no mean feat but Zero Dark Thirty was amazingly paced leading to that raid at Abottabad.
Possible upset: Silver Linings Playbook.  Never underestimate the power of a good rom-com that too one that has the backing of Harvey Weinstein. 

Best foreign language film of the year

"Amour" Austria
"Kon-Tiki" Norway
"No" Chile
"A Royal Affair" Denmark
"War Witch" Canada

Will win: Amour.  The surest bet of the night.
Should win: Amour
Possible upset: None.

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

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

Will win: Les Miserables. One of the reasons I disliked the film is it was too realistic in some ways and not realistic enough in others but the makeup (mouth sores, missing teeth and dirt) was part of the important process of turning the actors into characters from the French revolution.
Should win: Les Miserables.
Possible Upset: The Hobbit. Have you seen the 13 dwarves?

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

Will win: Life of Pi. This is one of my favorite categories after animated feature.  Looking back at the iconic and famous soundtrack that have won previously, I feel Danna's score fit Pi's emotional journey perfectly. 
Should win: Life of Pi.
Possible upset: Alexandre Desplat for Argo. Desplat has scored 8 films this past year including Zero Dark Thirty, Rust and Bone and Moonrise Kingdom.  Such work doesn't go unnoticed. 

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

Will win: Adele for Skyfall.
Should win: Adele for Skyfall.
Possible upset: None. Second slam dunk of the night.

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
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Will win: Lincoln. It's a historical film praised mostly for its accuracy.
Should win: Lincoln.
Possible upset: Anna Karenina. Joe Wright took a risk in placing the story in a theatrical stage literally, the endeavour could pay off with a win.  

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

Will win: Paperman. All five shorts became available to view online allowing viewers like us to actually have a chance to know who to pick.  The Disney short is the most charming story of the bunch.
Should win: Paperman.
Possible upset: Head over Heels. The lone student film of the bunch, the short is a tale of a married couple who drift apart.  

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

Will win: Death of a Shadow.
Should win: Death of a Shadow.
Possible upset: Buzkashi Boys or Curfew. I've based my picks on the synopsis of each film. Not a very good way to do but that is what I can do when I haven't see any of them. 

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

Will win: Zero Dark Thirty.
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty.
Possible upset: No clue.  The sound categories are my undoing each year. It's a hit or a miss but I think I've got a good shot at predicting them this year, let's see.

Achievement in sound mixing

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
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Will win: Les Miserables.
Should win: Les Miserables.
Possible upset: 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
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
"Snow White and the Huntsman"
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Will win: Life of Pi
Should win: Life of Pi.
Possible upset: None.  The beleagured studio Rhythm & Hues has been in the news a lot lately with its bankruptcy woes but it's undeniable that the star of the film and it's heart is Richard Parker, the CGI tiger.  Last year it was Caesar and this year, it's Richard Parker, someday soon we might see a Best CGI character category.

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

Will win: Argo
Should win: Lincoln.  Somewhere along the way the narrative changed and Lincoln's sureshot in this category changed to a hasbeen.  There's a reason why this film will be shown in schools as a history lesson on the how the 13th amendent to the Constitution was eventually passed. 
Possible upset: Silver Linings Playbook. (see film editing)

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

Will win: Zero Dark Thirty
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty
Possible Upset: Django Unchained or Moonrise Kingdom both of whom bear the distinctive stamps of their auteur directors.  

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