Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Night 2013 - This Might Get Bumpy

This year's Oscar telecast will be met by a lot of uncertainty. Traditionally, the race solidifies into a pretty straightforward running order by this point, with eventual winners and also-rans clearly labeled. There are a plethora of categories this time around that are shrouded in mystery, and while I like my predictions/chances, I wouldn't be surprised if a handful of them turned out to be inaccurate. The writing categories, in particular, are particularly tough to predict . . . not to mention the strangest directorial race we've seen in years!

For my money, Emmanuelle Riva and Daniel Day-Lewis are the two titans this year that deserve the lion's share of the spoils. I'd also like to give some love to Quvenzhan√© Wallis. Her performance is the stuff that legends are made of. I work with kids, and, believe you me, most six year olds just aren't capable of stuff like that. 

I'll be interested to see what Seth MacFarlane does as host. While almost anything is better than the Franco/Hathaway debacle, I like my Family Guy in bits here and there and have a tough time sitting through an entire episode, and I hope that he doesn't take things too far in an attempt to be "edgy." 

Best Picture
  • Predicted winner: Argo
  • If I was voting: Amour
    Possible upsets: Silver Linings Playbook
    Analysis: The momentum that Argo's picked up in recent months has been staggering. While an early favorite for an Oscar nomination out of the gate, this was one that I thought wouldn't really have the chops to compete against the likes of films like Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, and Silver Linings Playbook. After picking up wins at the Golden Globes, Director's Guild, Producer's Guild, and BAFTAs, thinking that anything else is going to win at this juncture is pretty foolish. That said, if the Academy's feeling sentimental, I could see them pull a Saving Private Ryan and give the prize to Silver Linings Playbook. The difference, of course, is that Shakespeare in Love deserved that one.

  • "Amour" - Michael Haneke
  • "Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Benh Zeitlin
  • "Life of Pi" - Ang Lee
  • "Lincoln" - Steven Spielberg
  • "Silver Linings Playbook" - David O. Russell
  • Predicted winner: Ang Lee
  • If I was voting: Michael Haneke
    Possible upsets: Steven Spielberg, Michael Haneke, David O. Russell
    Analysis: Predicting this category's made more difficult than it ought to be by the absence of one man than it is by the actual presence of any of the nominees. Most of the circuit has given Ben Affleck the top directorial prize, despite his lack of a corresponding Oscar nomination. That really throws a monkey wrench in the proceedings, because it wouldn't ordinarily make a lot of sense to pick against Steven Spielberg, particularly when his film's got a league-leading 12 nominations. However, Affleck's DGA win really hurts the two frontrunners, Spielberg and Ang Lee more than anyone else. Personally, I like the scenario in which they split enough of the vote to allow Michael Haneke through, even though I think that's unlikely. Ultimately though, I think the DGA thing hurts Spielberg more than it hurts Lee, and I think he'll be pick up Oscar #2.

    Actor in a Leading Role
  • Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook"
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"
  • Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables"
  • Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master"
  • Denzel Washington in "Flight"

    Predicted winner:
     Daniel Day-Lewis
  • If I was voting: Daniel Day-Lewis
    Possible upsets: Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington (with the slightest of outside chances)
    Analysis: It seems like every time Daniel Day-Lewis is up for Oscar, I'm sitting here telling you that he's going to win, and nobody else has a chance. Not much else different this year. I think that, if anyone's really going to threaten, it's Jackman with a tiny hint of a threat from Denzel Washington. That said, if Day-Lewis doesn't win the prize, something's deeply wrong here. His work in Lincoln was staggering in the epic simplicity of its scope and the deeply heartfelt rendering of the character. This one is (and should be) his to lose.

    Actress in a Leading Role
  • Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"
  • Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
  • Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour"
  • Quvenzhan√© Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
  • Naomi Watts in "The Impossible"
  • Predicted winner: Jennifer Lawrence
  • If I was voting: Emmanuelle Riva
    Possible upsets: Emmanuelle Riva, Jessica Chastain
    Analysis: This was seen originally to be a Lawrence/Chastain race, but Jennifer Lawrence has been picking up the majority of awards on the circuit to this point, and I really think that she's going to go all the way tonight. Now, she's a fine actress, and I liked her work in Silver Linings Playbook, but I think that the standout performance in that film was  easily Bradley Cooper's. Personally, I think this award should go to either Emmanuelle Riva or Quvenzhan√© Wallis. Riva's work is devastatingly nuanced in a piece that hurts, and was one of the single best bits of acting I've ever seen. To give the prize to Jennifer Lawrence tonight is a big mistake. That's not taking something away from Lawrence. She's a fine actress and has a long, successful career ahead of her. Riva is probably nearing the end of her career (if this isn't her final performance), and gave one of the performances of the young century. In 5 years, I think it's clear which performance will  still resonate. Both actresses are playing good tunes, it's just that Riva's playing a symphony. That said, it is her birthday tonight, so the Academy might just lean her way.

    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"
  • Predicted winner: Robert De Niro
  • If I was voting: Tommy Lee Jones
    Possible upsets: Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz
    Analysis: This one is one of the single toughest categories to predict. My personal favorite, Tommy Lee Jones, has a good chance, but I don't think he'll be able to overcome the fact that Robert De Niro actually found a project that he liked enough to actually try to give a good performance. I'm also not ruling out Christoph Waltz. I'm really glad that he was the sole actor recognized for work in Django Unchained. A lot of people thought that DiCaprio would be the main contender from that thoroughly distasteful exercise in sadism, but I think that the Academy made the right choice. 

    Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Amy Adams in "The Master"
  • Sally Field in "Lincoln"
  • Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables"
  • Helen Hunt in "The Sessions"
  • Jacki Weaver in "Silver Linings Playbook"
  • Predicted winner: Anne Hathaway
  • If I was voting: Anne Hathaway
    Possible upsets: None.
    Analysis: I think this one's a done deal, folks, and it's well deserved. Her performance is fantastic. 
Here's the rest . . .
  • Animated Feature Film: Wreck-it-Ralph
  • Art Direction: Anna Karenina
  • Cinematography: Life of Pi
  • Costume Design: Anna Karenina
  • Documentary (Feature): Searching for Sugar Man (I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to The Invisible War, for which my friend Doug Blush was an editor. They just won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary last night!
  • Documentary (Short Subject): Open Heart
  • Film Editing: Argo
  • Foreign Language Film: Amour
  • Makeup: Les Miserables
  • Music (Original Score): Life of Pi
  • Music (Original Song): Skyfall
  • Short Film (Animated): Paperman
  • Short Film (Live Action): Asad
  • Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty
  • Sound Mixing: Les Miserables
  • Visual Effects: Life of Pi
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Silver Linings Playbook (but keep an eye on Argo)
  • Writing (Original Screenplay): Amour (but keep an eye on Django Unchained. Amour is a long shot, but I have a feeling)
Above all though, I'm just happy that it's Oscar night. This is one of my favorite events of my year, and there are a lot of memories that go along with the territory. Mostly tonight, I'll be thinking of my mother, who was the one who used to turn the TV on every year even when we were too little to understand exactly what was going on. Love always.