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Oscar Predictions 2013

2012 was a fantastic year for film, and, for the first time, I’ve seen a majority of the nominated films, including all nine Best Picture nominees, all five Best Animated Feature nominees, all five Best Live Action Short Film nominees, and all five Best Animated Short Film nominees. I also own and have listened through all five nominated Best Original Scores. Needless to say, I feel relatively prepared enough to type out my own predictions list for this year’s Academy Awards, with a little help from various other people’s lists in the technical area. Just to clarify, though: this does not necessarily reflect my personal favorites (otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen Mychael Danna’s score to Life of Pi for Best Original Score), but it instead shows what I actually think will win.

I’ll give commentary for the first six awards and will simply list the rest.

-Chad

P.S. If something is linked, it’s a link to my personal review of that material, if you’re interested in reading.

Best Picture: Argo

When I first decided that I was going to type up one of these, I argued with myself for a long time over whether or not Argo would win the Oscar for Best Picture, but now I’m almost positive. In the entire history of the Academy Awards, there have only been three instances ever when the winner of the Best Picture Award did not also win the Best Director Award, so, since Ben Affleck isn’t nominated for Best Director, I was leaning more toward Lincoln/Spielberg for the Best Picture/Director awards, but Argo has gotten enough steam built up behind it to snatch the Oscar, and rightfully so.

Best Director: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Had he been nominated, I think that Ben Affleck would have won this award for directing what is sure to win Best Picture, Argo, but, since he’s not, Spielberg seems to be the best choice. He has a long history of bringing us excellent films, and Lincoln was no exception. However, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Ang Lee received the award for directing Life of Pi, but I don’t expect that’ll happen.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

I wasn’t able to see The Master, but of the other four nominees there is no doubt that all four actors did fantastic jobs in their respective roles, but I think that Day-Lewis will take the cake after his incredible portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln in Spielberg’s latest film. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get the award, but, if I had to make a second guess, it’d be for Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

I may have this one completely wrong, as Jessica Chastain also seems to be a popular pick for her role in Zero Dark Thirty (which I don’t agree with), but I think that Lawrence was the definitely the best of those nominated. I must admit to not having seeing The Impossible, but I’m pretty sure that the winner will be either Lawrence or Chastain, and my hope is for Lawrence.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

I’ve changed my mind about four times while trying to write this because both Christoph Waltz as Dr. Schultz in Django Unchained and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln were fantastic and are deserving of the Oscar. However, I do believe that Waltz’s performance shines just a bit brighter than Jones’, putting him at least slightly ahead in my book.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables

I am almost completely confident that Anne Hathaway will win this award. While Sally Field was a great Mary Todd Lincoln and Jacki Weaver did a fine job in Silver Linings Playbook (I haven’t seen The Master or The Sessions, but I’m sure that Amy Adams and Helen Hunt were great as well), but I think that Hathaway’s stunning performance of the classic “I Dreamed a Dream” is reason enough to justify her receiving the Oscar.

Best Writing – Original Screenplay: Michael Haneke for Amour

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio for Argo

Best Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph

Best Foreign Language Film: Amour

Best Documentary – Feature: Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary – Short Subject: Open Heart

Best Live Action Short Film: Curfew

Best Animated Short Film: Paperman

Best Original Score: Mychael Danna for Life of Pi

Best Original Song: Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth for “Skyfall”

Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty

Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables

Best Production Design: Les Misérables

Best CinematographyLife of Pi

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Les Misérables

Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina

Best Film Editing: Argo

Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi


Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

When I first heard about Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, I suppose I was interested, but I don’t recall being overly excited for it. It was a story that we all already knew: 9/11 happened, we declared war on terrorism, several years went by, and Osama bin Laden was finally found and killed. But this film gives us much more than that: it explores how all of this happened, and it’s fascinating.

Jessica Chastain stars as Maya, a CIA officer whose sole focus is to find Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Through torture of captured al-Qaeda operatives, information received from said operatives, and a fair amount of deduction, surveillance, and luck, Maya and the CIA manage to track down bin Laden…and the rest is history.

What carries this film, as I mentioned, is the want of the “how.” Through its vignette-style storytelling, skipping from year to year at a time, this film manages to keep us interested by jumping from the discovery of one piece of information to the next, which I really enjoyed. For the first half of the film, I was wondering why Jessica Chastain had been nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards; she certainly wasn’t bad, but she didn’t seem to be anything special either. My opinion changed in the second half, however, from the moment Maya stood up to her boss and told him exactly why what she was doing was important and what was on the line. The emotion she was able to project in that moment was incredible…though I still don’t think it’s worthy of a win for Best Actress.

Though I enjoyed Zero Dark Thirty as a whole, I did have a couple of issues with it. First off, the drive for the capture of bin Laden, while we certainly know what it was, didn’t seem to be very well-represented. Granted, we were shown a few terrorist attacks, including one in London and one or two that affected Maya and her team, but none of these really communicated to me the weight of the mission at hand. However, my biggest problem was with the overexcessive amount of foul language – I’m talking the “F word” out the wazoo, among others – that was present throughout the entire film from nearly every character. I can handle it to a point, but it was like the bad language was a large, wooden club that I was constantly being hit over the head with.

Bad language aside, this is a decent film with a captivating story; the search for Osama bin Laden was something that America feverishly pursued for nearly a decade, and to have the full story told in such an artful way is intriguing. I’m not sure exactly how accurate it is to the actual events, but it’s a good enough film for me to not care too much. Is it worthy of the coveted Best Picture award? I wouldn’t say so, but that doesn’t stop Zero Dark Thirty from being a powerful film – though, in reference to the torture early in the film, it is sometimes difficult to watch.

-Chad

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

MPAA: R – for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language