Wednesday, January 16, 2013

And in the wake of the Oscar nominations... (and the Golden Globes, and the Critics Choice winners)


Well, there's nothing better than surprises from the Oscars (when you have a natural resistance to Groupthink), and this year sure had its fair share! Thanks to the early voting date, voters had to get up to speed with all the contending films earlier than usual, and vote without the templates of the major Guild Awards (the disconnect between the Oscars and Guilds that announced just before voting cutoff shows that the majority of voters probably didn't wait 'til the last minute... or last minute online voting was a disaster...).

Any which way, the Oscars had to think for themselves this year. And the results are refreshing (even if it is weird not having the two de facto frontrunners out of the race for Best Director). It sucks for Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, but it keeps the race unpredictable, for a change!

The biggest surprises?

Ben Affleck & Kathryn Bigelow's snubs in Best Director put a serious damper on their respective films' Best Picture campaigns, which puts a serious damper on many a Oscar predictor's forecasts. The resistance against Zero Dark Thirty is clear, but Argo's recent wins at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice keep it a threat to win Best Picture (even if it means the dubious honour of joining Driving Miss Daisy as the only films to win Picture without even a nomination for Director).

More realistically, it makes Lincoln the real frontrunner, and a worthy one - great film, great writing, great performances, great director stretching himself... - but also a somewhat slow and intellectual one. Awardsdaily's Sasha Stone smartly points out that Academy voters clearly preferred films that moved them - Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild  - over films that made them think or demanded debate - Argo, Zero Dark Thirty. Which does not bode too well for Lincoln as a Best Picture winner (remember that even Saving Private Ryan was bested for Picture by Shakespeare in Love). The other film they showered mildly excessive love upon? Silver Linings Playbook. Which becomes your new runner up frontrunner. I like the film, but it's a bit lightweight for me, given the competition.

Which brings us to...

Jacki Weaver nominated for Best Supporting Actress, which bodes very very well for Silver Linings Playbook, which scored the big 4 (Picture, Director, Screenplay & Editing) plus nominations in every acting category. It's also worth noting, again, that David O'Russell bested Biglow, Affleck, Tom Hooper & Quentin Tarantino for that Director slot. Not insignificant. But I digress. Jacki Weaver is great in Playbook and her nomination is a great twist ending to the race between Ann Dowd and Nicole Kidman (and arguably perpetual Emmy winner Maggie Smith) for the fifth Supporting Actress slot. It's easy to be glad for the lovely Mrs Weaver (although it's equally easy to feel really sorry for the quit brilliant Mrs Dowd). But so it goes. Ann Dowd's career is still changed, although not to the degree she may have hoped.

And to belabour the point:

Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild killing the competition. The Foreign and independent success stories of the year, without a doubt. Two wildly brilliantly works of cinematic art by an old (and brand new) master. They killed the critics awards, but remained Oscar outsiders. Beasts was a good Best Picture contender (although a presumed 9th or 10th spot contender), while Amour was the Foreign Language Film frontrunner, and a Director dark horse contender, but I think few expected both to score Best Picture, Best Director, Original and Adapted Screenplay (respectively) and Best Actress nominations. Very significant. And very satisfying. (If you are not following Amour director Michael Haneke's parody Twitter account, incidentally, do so now.)

Which brings us to:

Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhané Wallis shaking up the Best Actress race. The oldest and the youngest contenders have joined the race. It's no longer simply Jennifer Lawrence vs Jessica Chastain, or even Naomi Watts pulling an Adrien Brody-style secret-option-C Win. Now it's Riva vs everyone else. And literally anyone could win. Except, probably, Wallis, who I think many would feel is just too young. But, for the first time in years, we have a real race. And not just in Best Actress. For now, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor are literally anyone's game, which, at this point of the race, is quite something.

Precursor / Oscar disconnect. Both the Best Director and Best Actress races will be significantly out of sync with the Precursor awards this year so, while Ben Affleck scoops up every award along the way, he won't contend at the Oscars and, while Jennifer and Lawrence flash their new Golden Globes and battle it out at the Screen Actors Guild, it doesn't mean the Oscar doesn't go to Emmanuelle Riva. You could call it a travesty, but I'm loving it.

Joaquin Phoenix in, John Hawkes out. Thankfully, Joaquin Phoenix's startling performance in The Master proved simply too brilliant to snub but, perhaps understandably, Bradley Cooper and Silver Linings Playbook had become simply too big to ignore, so John Hawkes got shafted for The Sessions, and it's a real pity but so it goes.


Enough surprises. Some random trivia:

  • Robert De Niro & Steven Spielberg have each hit their 7th career nominations
  • At a mere 7 years old, Quvenzhane Wallis becomes the youngest Best Actress nominee in history (Justin Henry was 8 when he was nominated as supporting actor for Kramer vs Kramer and Tatum O'Neal was 10 when she won supporting actress for Paper Moon, while Anna Paquin won her supporting Actress Oscar for The Piano at 11).
  • Emmanuelle Riva turns 86 on Oscar night, and would become the oldest Oscar winner (Christopher Plummer currently holds the record for his win for Beginners at 82. 
  • For the first time in Oscar history, there is not a single first time nominee in Supporting Actor or Supporting Actress.
  • Every single Supporting Actor nominee is a previous supporting actor nominee (seriously, this has never happened before)
  • Every single Supporting Actor nominee is a previous Oscar winner, and four of the five won for Supporting performances. Epic. Or thoroughly irrelevant.


Full list of nominees after the cut (via Awardsdaily, because I'm too lazy / smart to retype them):


Best motion picture of the year
  • “Amour” Nominees to be determined
  • “Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
  • “Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
  • “Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
  • “Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers
Achievement in directing
  • “Amour” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell
Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington in “Flight”
Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”
Performance by an 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”
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best animated feature film of the year
  • “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore
Best foreign language film of the year
  • “Amour” Austria
  • “Kon-Tiki” Norway
  • “No” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair” Denmark
  • “War Witch” Canada
Adapted screenplay
  • “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
  • “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell
Original screenplay
  • “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight” Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal
Achievement in cinematography
  • “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
  • “Skyfall” Roger Deakins
Achievement in film editing
  • “Argo” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln” Michael Kahn
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Achievement in costume design
  • “Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
  • “Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood
Best documentary feature
  • “5 Broken Cameras”, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • “The Gatekeepers”, Nominees to be determined
  • “How to Survive a Plague”, Nominees to be determined
  • “The Invisible War”, Nominees to be determined
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”, Nominees to be determined
Best documentary short subject
  • “Inocente” Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point” Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine” Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart” Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
  • “Hitchcock” Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables” Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • “Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln” John Williams
  • “Skyfall” Thomas Newman
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice” Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted” Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi” Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall” Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables” Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Achievement in production design
  • “Anna Karenina” Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • “Les Misérables” Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • “Life of Pi” Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Lincoln” Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Best animated short film
  • “Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
  • “Fresh Guacamole” PES
  • “Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”" David Silverman
  • “Paperman” John Kahrs
Best live action short film
  • “Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • “Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
  • “Curfew” Shawn Christensen
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • “Henry” Yan England
Achievement in sound editing
  • “Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • “Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
  • “Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • “Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson
Achievement in sound mixing
  • “Argo” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • “Les Misérables” Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • “Life of Pi” Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
  • “Lincoln” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • “Skyfall” Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Achievement in visual effects
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • “Life of Pi” Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers” Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
  • “Prometheus” Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson