The Alpha Primitive

Film reviews, essays, commentary and sundry writings

2013 Oscars: Predictions

In my history as a film fan, I have never seen as many Oscar nominated films as I have seen for this year. I have seen every major Hollywood film up for nomination save two, The Impossible (Naomi Watts was nominated for Best Actress) and The Sessions (Helen Hunt nominated for Best Supporting Actress). I’ve even seen all of the nominees for Best Animated Short (and will hopefully get a chance to check out the live action nominees at one of the art house theaters here in Boston before next week), and four of the five nominees for Best Documentary (The Gatekeepers has eluded me). As such, I feel more confident in my analysis and predictions regarding this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. For the purposes of this article, I will be listing the nominees for each category, as well as my predictions for who will win, who should win, and my personal favorite of the year (which may or may not even by nominated), and maybe some comments depending on my thoughts. So here we go (starting from the bottom of the official list and moving up in reverse alphabetical order. Because why not?).

***I’m going to be skipping both Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, because I really have no sense of sound engineering in the film industry, what they are and what makes a well-mixed film, so I will be abstaining. Also skipping Documentary Short (didn’t see them) and Live Action Short (didn’t see them)***

Writing – Original Screenplay

Django Unchained
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Should win: Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
Will win: Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
Personal favorite: Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty

I’m not all that sure on this one. I think the three real options we have here are AmourDjango Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty. My assumption is that the controversies surrounding Zero Dark Thirty are going to sink it despite its bravura screenplay from Mark Boal, so the question becomes whether the Academy decides to throw Quentin Tarantino some bones or not. Django has won at quite a few award shows, mostly for screenplay and Christoph Waltz, so I’m going to assume that it takes it here, but Amour could easily be a spoiler.

Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

Should win: Tony Kushner for Lincoln
Will win: Tony Kushner for Lincoln
Personal favorite: Tony Kushner for Lincoln

To me, this was a much stronger year for original screenplays, thanks to films like Zero Dark ThirtyThe Cabin in the WoodsDjango UnchainedAmour and Looper, so Adapted Screenplay is a bit of an afterthought. Still, I am entirely okay with lavishing some praise on Tony Kushner, who previously worked with Spielberg on Munich and also wrote Angels in AmericaLincoln really is one of the best biopics in recent memory simply for the way it approaches the subject matter. Lincoln is more of a man than a titan, and the film is better for it. It’s not an exciting category, but it is what it is.

Visual Effects

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman

Should win: Prometheus
Will win: Life of Pi
Personal favorite: Prometheus

Life of Pi is going to allow the Academy to get by this category without having to fully acknowledge the existence of science fiction and super hero films. Based purely on the visual effects, it is pretty hard to deny Prometheus, but that shouldn’t be too hard for the Academy to ignore. Because there was a pretty tiger!

Short Film – Animated

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’

Should win: Adam and Dog
Will win: Paperman
Personal favorite: Adam and Dog

The wonder of modern technology allows for all of these shorts to be readily viewed online, which is nice. I have a feeling that Paperman is the safe choice here, and while the short that premiered in front of Wreck-it Ralph is quite charming, I was more taken by the beauty of Adam and Dog, a luscious telling of Adam bonding with a dog in the Garden of Eden. I recommend everyone check out all of the nominees for this one; I found all to be quite good.

Production Design

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life of Pi

Should win: Anna Karenina
Will win: Life of Pi
Personal favorite: The Cabin in the Woods

I fully expect Life of Pi to sweep the technical awards, because Hollywood managed to make a prestige film that also has enough whiz-bang special effects to get away with winning these awards. This is not to say that the effects (or in this case the production design) of Life of Pi is bad, it’s simply a little overblown. It’s possible that the production design category could go in another direction, likely to Lincoln, but my assumption is that Life of Pi will take it down. Personally, I loved the design work that went into Cabin in the Woods. Obviously the work that went into the last act stands on its own, but I especially liked the way they managed to meticulously recreate the clichéd and eponymous cabin in the woods while at the same time making it clear that this was a meticulous recreation of a cabin in the woods.

Music – Original Song

“Before My Time” (Chasing Ice)
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” (Ted)
“Pi’s Lullaby” (Life of Pi)
“Skyfall” (Skyfall)
“Suddenly” (Les Miserables)

Should win: “Skyfall”
Will win: “Skyfall”
Personal favorite: “Skyfall”

This one’s easy. Let’s move on.

Music – Original Score

Anna Karenina
Life of Pi

Should win: Dario Marianelli for Anna Karenina
Will win: John Williams for Lincoln
Personal favorite: Alexandre Desplat for Moonrise Kingdom

I’m just assuming here that the Academy is going to be boring and throw another statue at John Williams for another generally uninteresting score, though it is entirely possible that Desplat could win for Argo, with which I would be fine. I personally liked his score for Moonrise Kingdom more, but my guess is they didn’t consider it “original” enough to be nominated (much like Black Swan). Of the nominated, I thoroughly enjoyed Marianelli’s score for Karenina.

Makeup and Hairstyling

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables

Should win: The Hobbit
Will win: Les Miserables
Personal favorite: The Hobbit

You can’t deny the quality of makeup on a Peter Jackson production. As much as I disliked the story, pacing and plotting of The Hobbit, the makeup is outstanding as always. I do think Les Mis will take it, and I was generally impressed with the work done on the film (especially the different looks given to Valjean and Javert over the years). Hitchcock was a joke, with makeup on the level of a Saturday Night Live skit.

Foreign Language Film

A Royal Affair
War Witch

Will win: Amour
Should win: Amour
Personal favorite: Amour

One of these films was also nominated for Best Picture. Moving on.

Film Editing

Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Will win: Life of Pi
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty
Personal favorite: Zero Dark Thirty

Another technical category for Life of Pi, though I could see this being a category where Zero Dark Thirty is thrown a bone.

Documentary Feature

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Will win: Searching for Sugar Man
Should win: The Invisible War
Personal favorite: The Queen of Versailles

Not sure how The Queen of Versailles didn’t get a nomination here; I know the Academy has all sorts of weird and archaic rules about eligibility, and wouldn’t be shocked if it were somehow considered ineligible. Still, the contenders are quite strong, and not particularly uplifting. My guess is that Searching for Sugar Man wins due to being good and relatively safe from a content perspective, but I was much more shaken by How to Survive a Plague and The Invisible War

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)

Will win: Spielberg
Should win: Haneke
Personal favorite: Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)

The big controversial category. Leaving out Bigelow is practically unconscionable here, as her directing is incredible in Zero Dark Thirty, and in my opinion easily above the work of all others nominated. I can’t imagine a way Spielberg doesn’t win this, though Amour is the more impressive achievement of those nominated. It is a bit of a shame that people are pointing to Haneke as the one that doesn’t belong, the one that kept Bigelow and/or Affleck out of the category, when most haven’t even seen Amour. Ang Lee and David O. Russell are the lesser nominees here. A field of Haneke, Bigelow, Affleck, Spielberg and Tarantino would have been much more palatable.

Best Cinematography

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi

Will win: Life of Pi
Should win: Skyfall
Personal favorite: The Master

Another technical award for Life of Pi will likely result in another year Roger Deakins somehow doesn’t win an Oscar. Deakins is essentially the Peter O’Toole of cinematographers, and it’s boggling to the mind that he has not won an Oscar at this point. I personally loved the hell out of Mihai Malaimare Jr.’s work on The Master despite general issues I have with the film, and have no doubt that it is the most beautiful film of the year.

Animated Feature Film

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-it Ralph

Will win: Brave
Should win: ParaNorman
Personal favorite: ParaNorman

I love the fact that three of the five films nominated this year are stop-motion films, my personal favorite animation style. Which is going to be disappointing when Brave wins the award for being a prestige Pixar film (i.e. not from the Cars franchise) despite being the weakest film in the category. I know ParaNorman isn’t getting a lot of love (Hotel Transylvania was nominated over it for the Globes, which is an insult of the highest order), but it’s a wonderful film with a great heart and a story that constantly surprises.

Actress – Supporting

Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Will win: Hathaway
Should win: Hathaway
Personal favorite: Hathaway

Open and shut for Ms. Fantine.

Actor – Supporting

Alan Arkin (Argo)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Will win: Tommy Lee Jones
Should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Personal favorite: Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty)

This one could technically go in a few different directions, and I do believe that this will be a pretty strong foreshadowing of the Best Picture race. If Arkin wins, that’ll just about lock things up for Argo winning the overall prize. If Tommy Lee gets the trophy, that could point to Lincoln stemming the tide and winning Best Picture. Should be interesting.

Actress – Lead

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Will win: Lawrence
Should win: Chastain
Personal favorite: Chastain

Jennifer Lawrence has been riding the wave of victories thanks to the Globes and the SAG awards, and looks to be set up for the win this year. Jessica Chastain will have her time in the sun soon enough.

Actor – Lead

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

Will win: Day-Lewis
Should win: Day-Lewis
Personal favorite: Phoenix? Day-Lewis? I can’t decide

Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis is going to win. Because his Lincoln is incredible, and not at all like what anyone expected. Personally, I can’t tell whether I liked his Lincoln or Joaquin Phoenix’s Fredie Quell. I think I need to see both of them again to finally make a decision. Still, Day-Lewis should win regardless of the fact that he is clearly going to.

Best Picture

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Will win: Lincoln
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty
Personal favorite: Zero Dark Thirty

I do think that, after all is said and done, and despite all the mounting momentum for ArgoLincoln is still going to walk away with the last award come February 24.