By: Daniel Reynolds
I watch the Oscars. What of it? Let’s be honest: it’s the only award show that “matters”, insomuch as an award show governed by a bunch of aging, cloistered Hollwood-ites can matter. OK, Daniel, breathe out, let’s not turn this thing bitter.
Did you know that since 1929, the year of the first Academy Awards ceremony, only three movies have won “The Big Five” Oscars? Back in those days the Big Five were: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay. Know which films did it? I’ll give you a second to Google the answer.
The answer: It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Is it weird that I knew that from memory? Uh, let’s move on.
Nowadays, with the gradual expansion of the Oscars (both in number of awards and show length), we tend to think of an Elite Eight when we think of the noteworthy Oscar nominations (i.e. the ones with faces/names we recognize). So, Best Supporting Actor/Actress count too, and the Screenplay award is split into Adapted and Original (another fun fact: ‘Original’ only got introduced in 1940 as ‘Best Story’ before being pared down and renamed in 1957. Seriously, 1957!).
Where was I? Oh yeah, the 2013 Nominations! Yesterday morning, the nominees were announced after a flurry of last minute prognostication (we here at the Same Page opted to stay above the guessing game fray). You can get a full list of the nominees here. But let’s talk about those Elite Eight awards I mentioned earlier. Below you’ll find the list of nominees and some brief thoughts on who I think will win (and just for fun, who should win… including some of those who weren’t nominated, because part of the fun of the Oscars is pointing out how wrong they get everything).
Oh, one final aside, I have yet to lose an Oscar pool (is this good or bad? Uh, let’s move on… again), so if you’re looking to enter one, keep my picks in mind. Cool? Now, let’s go:
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“Life of Pi”
Who Will Win: Really, when you look at the list, it’s a pretty diverse and interesting group of films. There are the films made by some modern day titans (Lincoln, Django Unchained), some nervy films with mass appeal (Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty), a couple of solid films with international flare (Life of Pi, Amour), an indie upstart (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and a film where Russell Crowe sings (Les Miserables). Now, some caveats here because I haven’t seen Amour or Zero Dark Thirty yet (give me a break, they come out today), but I think if the Oscars have shown us anything in the last two years its that when in doubt: go with the dead, white guy. Yes, my bold prediction: Lincoln is going to amble, awkwardly away with the Best Picture statue. While it wasn’t my favourite film of the year, it is hard to ignore the scope of the film, the iconic subject, the dense yet decipherable script and, of course, that old Spielberg touch.
Who Should Win: All that being said, I’m rooting for an upset by Silver Linings Playbook and the amazing career turnaround for David O. Russell. Do you realize that five years ago the only thing being said about Russell was that George Clooney would never return his calls? Straight up, it’s the most crowd-pleasingest of crowd-pleasing films and, you know, sometimes that counts for something, too.
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Michael Haneke, “Amour”
Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Who Will Win: Is this even a question? God love them, Haneke and Zeitlin have no shot. Nice to see Lee in there, but nice try. And while Russell is back in a lot of people’s good graces, he’s still a ways away from the Oscar stage. Lock it in: Spielberg, in a walk.
Who Should Win: The story here is who wasn’t nominated, namely, Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck (and I guess Django Unchained directed itself). Given that Zero Dark Thirty is getting tons and tons of accolades it seems odd that Bigelow wouldn’t be there. As for Affleck, well, maybe the Academy was more offended by his decision to somehow find a way to film himself without a shirt on than we thought. Bottom line: given the group of nominees we got, I’m fine with Spielberg winning.
Daniel Day Lewis, “Lincoln”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Who Will Win: It feels like every year brings another slew of compelling lead actor performances (as opposed to the actresses where Merryl Streep will get nominated for anything), and this year is no different. For just sheer degree of difficulty, even with a bunch of alcoholics and mental illness sufferers in the mix, it will be hard to stop the Daniel Day-Lewis machine. The guy plays one of the most iconic figures in American history and absolutely nails it. At this point, I’m not voting against any man who could sell this.
Who Should Win: As much as I respect Day-Lewis’ Lincoln, and Cooper does a yeoman’s job in Playbook, I’ve never seen a performance quite like Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. He’s just a mess of confusion, anger, fear, aggression, wonder, all at once. To spin that out of whole cloth is truly remarkable.
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence, to quote Zach Baron, “is Godzilla stomping a building, she is a Just Blaze beat, she is all the natural disasters at once”. That about sums it up. Good luck to the rest of our competitors.
Who Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence. At this point, I doubt even Jessica Chastain could steal my heart, I mean, this award from her. Random aside: I like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Quvenzhané Wallis’ performance as much as the next guy (I was rightfully chastised by our contributor Paul for not including it in my Top 10), but I’m not a huge fan of ‘stunt’ nominations like this. At this point, I’ll bet my house (I don’t own a house) that we, sadly, never hear from Wallis again.
Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Alan Arkin, “Argo”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Who Will Win: I have this feeling that the Academy, upon seeing Robert De Niro in a role that doesn’t embarrass him, will be so overcome with joy that they’ll give him the Oscar just to encourage him to stop making movies with Ben Stiller. Look, it’s a great performance, but, well, is it better than…
Who Should Win: … Philip Seymour Hoffman? Not many actors can stand across from a completely atomic Joaquin Phoenix and hold their own, and yet, there is Hoffman. Surely what he manages to do with a moustache in The Master should not be overlooked? Speaking of which, it is now time for me to mention the sad, sad omission of Matthew McConaughey’s absolutely singular performance in Magic Mike. Yeah, I can admit that playing a sleazy male strip club owner was probably a long shot for the win, but come on, an Arkin nomination again?
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Amy Adams, “The Master”
Who Will Win: I’ve already got my eye-roll ready for when Anne Hathaway wins and pretends to be gleefully surprised. If this is how mannered her losing face was, expect the worst.
Who Should Win: A Master three-peat? Sure, give it to Amy Adams. I haven’t seen The Sessions, Field was semi-annoying and Jacki Weaver, bless her, was in Playbook for approximately 92 seconds. If I sound less than enthusiastic about this category it’s because, historically speaking, it’s usually slim pickings. Let’s be honest, it’s hard enough to get well-made movies with well-written roles for lead actresses, let alone those in support.
Best Adapted Screenplay
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Life of Pi”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Who Will Win: Did you know that the first draft of the Lincoln screenplay was an insane 500 pages? 500 pages! It makes the passing of a constitutional amendment (to be fair, it’s the one the abolishes slavery, so it’s kind of a big deal) a totally compelling deal. Tony Kushner wins. Now give that man a vacation.
Who Should Win: I realize a bit of a theme is emerging here, but screw it, I’ve fallen in love with Silver Linings Playbook and I don’t care who knows it. As I’ve said before, this is the kind of story that could have gone very, very wrong if adapted incorrectly. In typical Russell fashion, he packs his story with an off-kilter romance, family dysfunction, a ballroom dancing competition, mental illness and, oh yeah, football. It’s up, it’s good.
Best Original Screenplay
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Who Will Win: Here is where Zero Dark Thirty, after getting crushed by the steam train that is Lincoln, will claim its prize. When you make a movie in 2012 about the significant cultural/political storyline of the preceding decade, you should be rewarded. So, congrats Mark Boal on another win.
Who Should Win: I’m of the opinion that almost any (I see you there Deathproof) script by Quentin Tarantino should win an award for something. His Django Unchained script is just too brave, too insane, and too wild with style and flare to ignore. Look around the film landscape of the past 100 years, now look 100 years in the future: I feel safe in saying that Django Unchained will remain as one of a kind.
So that’s it. Well, actually no, there are 16 other categories to consider (note: the first Oscar ceremony? 12 awards. Total.) But, I’m going let the rest of you worry about that. Just know that I’ll be on a couch somewhere on February 24th absorbing another 3 hour broadcast, the agony and the ecstasy of the Academy Awards.