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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2013 Academy Award Predictions

It's that time of year, where everyone makes their big picks and decides just what should be considered best of, or rather what the voting body of the academy thinks should represent the best of the past 12 months in filmmaking. This list is no different, it's just my uneducated guesses. I must admit, I found 2012 to be one of the stronger years for nominees in quite a few cycles. This year's Best Picture Field absolutely blows away the previous two years by a wide margin in regard to overall quality. I think it's so well crafted to the point where just about any film could win (barring one exception) and I'd be relatively satisfied with the outcome. The Best Director nominee picks are somewhat daring for once, and there are some really nice performances recognized in both the Lead and Supporting Acting categories. 

In my predictions, I'll only be focusing on a select few categories; all the majors of course, but also a few tech nods as well that I feel comfortable enough making a call on. I did not see the Animated features this year, nor many of the documentaries, so I will abstain from voicing an opinion there.

Let's take a peek, starting with a few "below the line" categories...

Best Production Design "Anna Karenina," `'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," `'Les Miserables," `'Life of Pi," `'Lincoln."

The momentum for Lincoln has basically hit a dead-stop, if it ever had any to begin with on the campaign trail. Though its impeccable recreation of Civil War era Washington will likely garner it one of the few prizes it will receive from the Academy. On the other hand, while I had misgivings about Anna Karenina from a performance stand-point, its visual conception was its true highlight. I would love for Sarah Greenwood's work to be recognized here.

Will win: Lincoln
Should win: Anna Karenina
Should have been nominated: Cloud Atlas

Best Original Score: "Anna Karenina," Dario Marianelli; "Argo," Alexandre Desplat; "Life of Pi," Mychael Danna; "Lincoln," John Williams; "Skyfall," Thomas Newman.

Subtle, subtle, subtle are the key words for most of those nominated this year in this category, which is mostly made up of Best Picture nominees. Even John Williams produced an atypically restrained score this go-round. To be honest, so few of these scores even registered in my brain, that choosing amongst them is quite difficult having only seen all the films once. History tends to show us that the momentum for the film that will win Best Picture typically sweeps in other awards into its favor. For that, I'm guessing Desplat has it. Though, I'm still perplexed about Johnny Greenwood's snub here.

Will win: Desplat

Should win: Newman
Should have been nominated: "The Master," Johnny Greenwood; "The Dark Knight Rises," Hans Zimmer

Best Cinematography: "Anna Karenina," `'Django Unchained," `'Life of Pi," `'Lincoln," `'Skyfall."

This is always my favorite award of the night. One of the areas I find myself constantly drawn to is just how a DP frames his shots, and any creative angles or color palettes they may use to help set tone. This year's nominees have not one ill note in the bunch. While I appreciate Seamus McGarvey's work in Anna Karenina whole-heartedly, for me it's basically Roger Deakins for Skyfall vs. Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi. As everyone is quick to note the visual mastery of Life of Pi, I think this is where Miranda where walk home with the award, though I think it was Deakins who was the real MVP of Skyfall and elevated that film to near art when it could have been a pulpy mess.

Will win: Life of Pi

Should win: Skyfall
Should have been nominated: The Master, Zero Dark Thirty

Now we start to move into the mid-level...

Best Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio, "Argo"; Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; David Magee, "Life of Pi"; Tony Kushner, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."

More often than not, this is another category where if the Best Picture winner is indeed a part of the proceedings; as such Chris Terrio, who also won the USC Scripter and the WGA, seems to be a shoe in. I think the only way we see a surprise here is if either Silver Linings gains surprise momentum on Awards Night or the academy feels they should honor Kushner's work. But, Terrio is the safe bet.

Will win: Terrio

Should win: Kushner
Should have been nominated: Stephen Chbosky, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

Best Original Screenplay: Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained"; John Gatins, "Flight"; Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom"; Mark Boal, "Zero Dark Thirty."

Now, here is a tougher category to predict. Generally speaking, the Academy respects Quentin Tarantino a good deal, most specifically for his writing. While Mark Boal's scripting has earned a ton of press both positive and negative, I tend to believe this will be the one award that Django Unchained ends up walking away with. Side-note, Flight's nomination is a bit of a laugh, in the most negative way possible.

Will win: Tarantino

Should win: Boal (though Haneke's work is right there too)
Should have been nominated: Paul Thomas Anderson, "The Master"

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "The Master"; Sally Field, "Lincoln"; Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"; Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"; Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook."

There's Anne Hathaway, and then there's everyone else in this category. I shouldn't be so dismissive, but there isn't really much competition here. If anyone else's name is called, I'll be quite shocked. Her "blow you away" and brief performance in Les Miserables is what this category was made for. For what it's worth, I think Amy Adams is really undervalued here.

Will win: Hathaway

Should win: Hathaway
Should have been nominated: Incredibly slim choices this year, but I'll go with Judi Dench Skyfall, though frankly, Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises wouldn't have been a foul choice.

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Argo"; Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"; Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"; Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained." 

This may be the most competitive race amongst the entire performance field. Between Jones, Waltz and De Niro, you basically have a toss-up on who could be the winner. Generally, I favor Hoffman's performance, but his nomination unfortunately reeks of category fraud (lead masquerading as supporting), and pretty much everyone knows it. Unless Silver Linings catches fire that night, I'll go ahead and make a balls out prediction and say Waltz, though don't be surprised if they give it to Jones who was the favorite until Django screeners started showing up on voter's doorsteps. 

Will win: Waltz

Should win: Waltz
Should have been nominated: Leonardo DiCaprio, "Django Unchained"

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"; Quvenzhane Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Naomi Watts, "The Impossible."

This is a two-person race, between Jennifer Lawrence's wacky "cuh-raziness" and Emmanuelle Riva giving the best performance of any actor this year, male or female. Up until the BAFTA's awarded Riva, the award was Lawrence's to lose. This is unfortunate as Jessica Chastain's very under-played obsession and stoicism really deserves more recognition that its gotten on the precursor circuit. For whatever reason, I imagine Lawrence will be going home with the award because I imagine few in the Academy could bring themselves to watch their Amour screener, but I hold out hope.

Will win: Lawrence

Should win: Riva
Should have been nominated: n/a; this is the one category where I think they nailed it 100%

Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"; Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"; Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"; Denzel Washington, "Flight."

Daniel Day-Lewis will be handed his third Best Actor trophy, but I could easily debate that Phoenix's challenge in original creation vs. Day-Lewis historical figure-work was the greater achievement. With that said, no one is beating Day-Lewis here, even if Phoenix and Jackman both give career-best performances.

Will win: Day-Lewis

Should win: Phoenix by the thinnest of hairs.
Should have been nominated: Anders Danielson Lie, "Oslo August 31st"

Best Director: Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"; Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Other than one really painful choice, I think the Academy was fairly on the mark here. I especially appreciate their willingness to go outside of their boundaries and recognize the freshman achievement of a hopefully future auteur in Zeitlin, and the continued brilliance of Haneke. As Ben Affleck was not nominated here, it's a bit of wide-open game, at least amongst Spielberg, Lee, and Russell (who shouldn't be here, in my opinion). The difficulty in predicting this category is that the most telling precursors were all won by Affleck. So instead, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Academy will recognize the difficult achievement of Ang Lee, though depending on how the other awards swing earlier in the night we could see real momentum building for Spielberg or Russell (more the latter is my guess)

Will win: Lee

Should win: Lee
Should have been nominated: Kathryn Bigelow, "Zero Dark Thirty" or Paul Thomas Anderson, "The Master"

Best Picture: "Amour," `'Argo," `'Beasts of the Southern Wild," `'Django Unchained," `'Les Miserables," `'Life of Pi," `'Lincoln," `'Silver Linings Playbook," `'Zero Dark Thirty."

The DGAs, The WGAs, BAFTAs, The Golden Globes, etc have all shown their tea leaves and they all display Argo. It's shaping up to be pretty likely that we'll be looking at fairly historic night, as we'll have the first film to win a Best Picture award without a corresponding Best Director nomination since Driving Miss Daisy. It's a solid pick, and it inspires alot of passion from Academy members. There's alot to be said for the "Hollywood saves the day narrative" to be a big reason for its success, but its also an old-fashioned thriller that works for a wide-range of audiences. The Academy isn't embarrassing itself here. Silver Linings Playbook may be a spoiler, but its pretty unlikely.

Will win: Argo

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty
Should have been nominated: The Master

And there you have it folks, my "gutsy" predictions for this Sunday's Academy Awards. They'll be airing at 7 pm on your local ABC affiliate. Got any predictions of your own or thoughts on mine? Feel free to share them in the comments below! Here's hoping we'll see David O. Russell make this face when Emmanuelle Riva's name is called again!

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  1. Interesting pick for "Best Director". I'd have thought that Spielberg would be the front-runner considering Affleck and Bigelow aren't in contention.

    I recall Ebert used to say that whichever film won "Best Editing" would be the most likely to win "Best Picture". Wonder if that theory will hold up...

    How was Moonrise Kingdom NOT nominated for "Best Cinematography"??

    1. Yeah, Best Director, like Best Supporting Actor, is a total crapshoot, I'm going with Lee only due to the fact that his work is suddenly being talked about more in the right circles. Though Spielberg could easily get the (very deserved) win. They both were great this year.

      FWIW, I think Argo takes Best Editing.

      Moonrise Kingdom getting bumped in that category is unfortunately just a flaw in the 5 nominees limit of all categories except Best Picture. It's a solid list they came up with though.


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