Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Oscar Predictions

Well, it's that time of the year... the time when all the movies we heard great things about but never saw are honored by the people those movies are about. Hollywood is notorious for honoring itself in the most extravagant and self-serving way possible, but at least they do it in a mostly entertaining fashion. I've already posted my top ten films of the year, and though I haven't seen all of the movies voted for Best Picture (who has?), it's clear that my favorites didn't exactly correlate with the Academy's. Having said all that, I'm going to try not to dwell too much on the movies and artists that got the shaft (*cough* "The Dark Knight Rises") and instead focus on the films that do qualify for the most "important" prize in the movie business.


Best Picture Nominees:

- Amour
- Argo*
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Django Unchained
- Les Miserables
- Life of Pi
- Lincoln
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Zero Dark Thirty

Clearly "Amour" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" are simply artistic films meant to fill slots but that aren't really in the running. For them, the nomination is the award. "Django Unchained" and "Zero Dark Thirty" are the tough and gritty nominees, but they aren't true contenders either. Both "Les Miserables" and "Life of Pi" are beautiful films that unfortunately don't really have a chance at Best Picture. "Silver Linings Playbook" has a slight chance, but the only true contenders for the prize are "Lincoln" and "Argo". Seeing as the awards season has largely belonged to "Argo", I have to select that as my official pick (hence the asterisk), though the fact that Ben Affleck wasn't nominated for Best Director leads me to believe the Academy members may select "Lincoln" instead.

Best Director:

- "Amour" Michael Haneke
- "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Benh Zeitlin
- "Life of Pi" Ang Lee
- "Lincoln" Steven Spielberg*
- "Silver Linings Playbook" David O. Russell

If Affleck had been nominated he would have won this one too, but thanks to his snub it's more of an open race. I could just copy and paste what I wrote about "Amour" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" from the previous paragraph and apply it to their respective directors that nobody's heard of in this category. The other directors in this list could all potentially win the award, though I'd be surprised if Steven Spielberg didn't walk away with his 3rd Oscar. Ang Lee did a beautiful job with "Life of Pi" and the acting nominations for "Silver Linings Playbook" always show directorial strength, but the award is Spielberg's to lose in my opinion.

Best Actor (Leading Role):

- Bradley Cooper "Silver Linings Playbook"
- Daniel Day-Lewis "Lincoln"*
- Denzel Washington "Flight"
- Hugh Jackman "Les Miserables"
- Joaquin Phoenix "The Master"

Kudos to Bradley Cooper for his first Oscar nomination, but he doesn't stand a chance at winning. Both Denzel and Joaquin Phoenix are veterans who can notch another nomination under their belt, but they won't walk away with the prize either. I loved Hugh Jackman's performance in "Les Miserables" and would love to see him awarded at the end of the night. However, it's inevitable that Daniel Day-Lewis will win his 3rd Oscar statuette. Kind of takes the suspense out of it, but this is as close to a sure thing as we can get.

Best Supporting Actor:

- Alan Arkin "Argo"
- Christoph Waltz "Django Unchained"*
- Phillip Seymour Hoffman "The Master"
- Robert De Niro "Silver Linings Playbook"
- Tommy Lee Jones "Lincoln"

Both supporting categories are usually far more open than the leading roles, and that is certainly the case for supporting actor. Alan Arkin won for this category as recently as 2006 and Robert De Niro hasn't been nominated since 1991, but neither really has a chance of winning. I hear great things about Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones in their respective films (and have great respect for each of them), but I think the award will go to Christoph Waltz. He has a lot of ground-swell going into the ceremony and it may be one of the only awards that "Django" will win.

Best Actress (Leading Role):

- Emanuelle Riva "Amour"
- Jennifer Lawrence "Silver Linings Playbook"*
- Jessica Chastain "Zero Dark Thirty"
- Naomi Watts "The Impossible"
- Quvenzhane Wallis "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

The little girl nominated for "Beasts of the Southern Wild" seems really precocious, but I highly doubt she'll win the award. It seems like more of a gimmicky nomination than anything. Naomi Watts is a talented actress, but isn't really a contender. Emanuelle Riva is supposedly great in "Amour", though not good enough to overshadow the other powerhouse performances in her category. The real race is between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence has had a killer year, and seems to have the momentum going into the ceremony. Having said that, I wouldn't be too surprised if Chastain pulled out the upset.

Best Supporting Actress:

- Amy Adams "The Master"
- Anne Hathaway "Les Miserables"*
- Helen Hunt "The Sessions"
- Jacki Weaver "Silver Linings Playbook"
- Sally Field "Lincoln"

Despite what I said earlier about the supporting categories being a generally tighter vote, this year there is a fairly clear stand-out. Helen Hunt and Jacki Weaver almost seem like obligatory nominees, and Amy Adams will probably win in the future, but not this year. Sally Field is the only actress who can challenge Anne Hathaway, whose performance in "Les Miserables" brought tears to the eyes of almost everyone I know who saw it. She's nearly a lock for the category in my opinion and I'd be shocked if she didn't win.

Best Animated Film:

- Brave*
- Frankenweenie
- ParaNorman
- The Pirates! Band of Misfits
- Wreck-It Ralph

This is where I tend to predict more with my heart than my mind. It's another category where two nominees stand above the rest, but much closer than almost any other. "The Pirates" got good reviews, but isn't on par with the other nominees in other respects. "Frankenweenie" and "ParaNorman" pretty much cancel each other out with their Tim Burton-esque stop motion animation style. The real contenders are "Wreck-It Ralph" and "Brave". For me, "Brave" was such a touching story and boasts such visually rich animation that I can't let myself not select it, though I wouldn't be too surprised if "Wreck-It Ralph" got the award instead.

** The rest of the nominations (apart from short films and documentary features, which I'm just going to skip altogether) fall into the "technical categories", so I will try to be brief with my predictions... particularly since I really have no clue what some of the winners will be.

Best Cinematography:

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

"Skyfall" is one of the most beautifully filmed pictures I've seen in years, and possibly the acclaimed cinematographer's finest work. He's definitely due for an award. I'd be equally pleased, however, if "Life of Pi" won this category as it too was masterfully captured.

Best Costume Design:

- "Anna Karenina"*
- "Les Miserables"
- "Lincoln"
- "Mirror Mirror"
- "Snow White and the Huntsman"

While "Lincoln" and "Les Miserables" both had great costume design, this is one of only two categories in which "Anna Karenina" actually stands a chance.

Best Make-up and Hairstyling:

- "Hitchcock"
- "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"*
- "Les Miserables"

Hugh Jackman's aging make-up was terrific, and the mere fact that Anne Hathaway somehow managed to not look drop-dead gorgeous makes it a worthy contender, but this will be "The Hobbit's" only victory, in my opinion.

Best Original Score:

- "Anna Karenina" Dario Marianelli
- "Argo" Alexandre Desplat
- "Life of Pi" Mychael Danna*
- "Lincoln" John Williams
- "Skyfall" Thomas Newman

While Thomas Newman's "Skyfall" score may be the most entertaining (and Hans Zimmer's "Dark Knight Rises" should have won anyway... grrr...), Mychael Danna is a pretty sure-thing to be given an Oscar for his work on "Life of Pi". Sorry John Williams, I think your 5 Oscar trophies are quite enough for now.

Best Original Song:

- "Before My Time" (Chasing Ice)
- "Everybody Needs A Friend" (Ted)
- "Pi's Lullaby" (Life of Pi)
- "Skyfall" (Skyfall)
- "Suddenly" (Les Miserables)

Two of these songs are far better than the rest, and as much as I enjoyed "Suddenly", it's clear that the absolute favorite in this category is Adele's show-stopping "Skyfall". It's a fantastic entry into the James Bond canon and one of the best songs of her career.

Best Editing:

- "Argo"
- "Life of Pi"
- "Lincoln"
- "Silver Linings Playbook"
- "Zero Dark Thirty"*

William Goldberg was nominated for both "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thiry", but I think the latter has a slightly better chance of winning. It's definitely one of those categories that could go either way.

Best Production Design:

- "Anna Karenina"*
- "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
- "Life of Pi"
- "Lincoln"
- "Les Miserables"

As much as I wish the Oscar would go to "Les Miserables" or "Life of Pi", the heavy favorite in this category seems to be "Anna Karenina". Hollywood loves its decadent period-piece dramas (which makes it surprising "Lincoln" isn't more of a favorite here).

Best Visual Effects:

- "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
- "Life of Pi"*
- "Marvel's The Avengers"
- "Prometheus"
- "Snow White and the Huntsman"

Each of the films in this category are fairly worthy selections (just swap "Snow White" with "Dark Knight" and we'll be good), but this award belongs to "Life of Pi" for the wonderful creation that is Richard Parker, the equally menacing and inspirational Bengal Tiger.

Best Original Screenplay:

- "Amour"
- "Django Unchained"*
- "Flight"
- "Moonrise Kingdom"
- "Zero Dark Thirty"

I really enjoyed the originality of "Moonrise Kingdom" and would have voted for it myself. However, Quentin Tarantino is a talented writer, and Hollywood seems to love his wicked dialogue and off-beat storylines. "Zero Dark Thirty" is also a close contender for the award.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

- "Argo"*
- "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
- "Life of Pi"
- "Lincoln"
- "Silver Linings Playbook"

It could really go to either "Argo" or "Lincoln", but the overwhelming possibility of the former taking home the Best Picture trophy gives it a slight edge.

Best Sound Editing:

- "Argo"
- "Django Unchained"
- "Life of Pi"
- "Skyfall"*
- "Zero Dark Thirty"

All the physical stunts and powerful explosions going on in "Skyfall" really enhance the narrative, which gives it my endorsement.

Best Sound Mixing:

- "Argo"
- "Les Miserables"*
- "Life of Pi"
- "Lincoln"
- "Skyfall"

Filming the actors' performances in-camera rather than recording the album in a studio beforehand, "Les Miserables" blends the on-set vocals seamlessly with the massive orchestra added in post-production.


There you have it. Hopefully whoever reads this doesn't get too upset if they lose an office betting pool or something after copying my predictions... then again, awards shows are disappointingly predictable. Despite my own pride in having my predictions come to fruition, here's hoping for some surprises at the 85th Academy Awards on 2/24/2013!