Thursday, January 10, 2013

Predictable Oscars

Early this morning Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane announced the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards, which will take place on Sunday, February 24. Unsurprising, I have seen all nine Best Picture nominees, though there does not seem to be a clear front runner. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln led all films with twelve nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director,  and three acting nominations (Ang Lee's somewhat forgettable, but beautifully filmed Life of Pi reaped eleven nominations).

The biggest surprises of the day?

1. Kathryn Bigelow did not receive a nomination for Best Director for Zero Dark Thirty even though the film received five nominations.
2. Ben Affleck, whose third film Argo has seven nominations, also failed to gain a nod for Best Director.
3. Nicole Kidman, the only good part of Lee Daniel's terrible film The Paperboy, did not receive a Best Supporting Actress nomination after being nominated in the same category for the Golden Gloves and the SAG Awards.
4. The AMPAS must love Amour, as the Palme d'Or-winning Austrian film, with five nominations, is the first film since Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) to be nominated for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film (no film has won both honours).
5. Like in 2011, my favourite performance of the year went unrecognized. Marion Cotillard's flawless performance in Rust and Bone failed to be rewarded. At least I had the honour of watching her.

A few thoughts on the major categories:

Best Picture: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Les Misérables, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty

Four of the nine nominees were featured amongst my top ten films of the year (and one was my most overrated, and one was my most disappointing!). The biggest surprise? Beasts of the Southern Wild. The low-budget film (a film I loved) may just have stolen a spot from Moonrise Kingdom!

Best Director: Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

No Tom Hooper? No Kathryn Bigelow? No Ben Affleck? Can any of these four men steal the (undeserved) prize from Spielberg?

Best Actor: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) and Denzel Washington (Flight)

Apparently Joaquin Phoenix is not too much of an asshole to get an Oscar nomination. But I think it is a weak field. Daniel Day-Lewis was fantastic as Abraham Lincoln.

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

With the exception of Naomi Watts, this is a category full of amazing performances. I would love to see Jessica Chastain rewarded. Interestingly, Emmanuelle Riva is now the oldest actress ever nominated in this category, at eighty-five.

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

All five men have won Academy Awards. The only performance I would love to see win is the one I honestly doubt will win (Waltz).

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Jacki Weaver gives Silver Linings Playbook an actor in all four categories, even if her performance is barely worth recognition. It was pure filler and could have been played by anyone able to nag.

A somewhat lackluster set of nominations this year. I am left feeling slightly betrayed by a film industry that I feel entertained me much more than the list of nominations (full list found here) has made me think.

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