Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Academy Awars Predictions

It's that time of the year again, folks, and the predictometers are a-working overtime.

The 2013 Academy Awards are to be announced this Sunday and here are Cinewise's own little predictions, wishes, and a few other words to that effect. As per previous years, I will only comment on categories where I have seen at least 3 films. The minimum for Best Motion Picture is 5, because of the expanded number of nominees.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on this Sunday's glam-a-thon:

Best Motion Picture



Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

Life of Pi


Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

Prediction: Argo

The momentum is clearly on Argo's side with the victory at BAFTA's and the Golden Globes. It was a flawed, but immensely enjoyable film that has once and for all cemented Beefleck's directing chops. It will not be a bad choice, but it will definitely be the most popular and the safest choice of them all.

Wish: Amour

Marginally the best film in this list. It is a naked look at the inevitable, told in an uncharacteristically humanistic way by Michael Haneke, an auteur known for his chilly camera. It doesn't paint a rosy outlook of life and it is not sexy or flashy enough to be crowned the best film in a glitzy awards ceremony. But it definitely deserves to be called one.

Dark horse: Django Unchained

A wonderful film, great fun and not afraid to poke fun at the unmentionables while hitting below the belt more than once. I thought Jamie Foxx was pretty weak as the titular Django, but as far as pure cinematic experiences go, Django Unchained is peerless here.

Missing: The Master

It is an absolute disgrace that the Academy has shunned The Master from the top two categories. Whatever the reason may have been behind its absence, The Master was the most Oscar-worthy film of last year. Such a shame that it will only remain a cult classic.

Best Foreign Language Film

Amour | Austria

War Witch | Canada

No | Chile

A Royal Affair | Denmark

Kon-Tiki | Norway

Prediction: Amour

It is almost a foregone conclusion, especially since Michael Haneke was denied with The White Ribbon a few years ago and its chances to win the big one is very, very slim.

Wish: A Royal Affair

I do actually wish Amour to win it, but I thought A Royal Affair was fantastic. It is a handsome film with great performances; a captivating account of treachery, adultery, politics and intrigue - what's not to like?

Dark horse: No

The Academy can do a one-two here if it awards Argo the big one by rewarding the two light-hearted, simplified accounts of turning points in late 20th century history. No is more stylish than Argo, but it is no less brilliant. In fact, it may even be better in many ways.

Missing: The Hunt

Each country is allowed one entry and I guess Denmark did the smart thing by submitting A Royal Affair instead of the far more daring and downright perfect The Hunt.

Best Achievement in Directing

Michael Haneke | Amour

Ang Lee | Life of Pi

David O. Russell | Silver Linings Playbook

Steven Spielberg | Lincoln

Benh Zeitlin | Beasts of the Southern Wild

Prediction: David O. Russell

What?! Yes. This is the likeliest Silver Linings Playbook will ever come near an Oscar and it makes sense - hotshot director who has been on a roll and is long overdue some industry respect.

Wish: Michael Haneke

Nothing would make me happier this Sunday than seeing Haneke up on that stage, finally getting recognition on that side of the pond. And it won't be a mercy award either - it will be fully deserved for a masterful film.

Dark horse: Steven Spielberg

You can never count out the Man. Lincoln may not be the masterpiece we were all hoping for as a film, but no other director could have handled its subject matter as deftly as Spielberg.

Missing: Paul Thomas Anderson | The Master

Talking about a snub. Anderson missed out on the same award back in 2008 when the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men went up against There Will Be Blood. The Coens' recognition was way overdue, but there's no denying which one was the better film. And today, Mr Anderson is completely ignored. What a shame.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper | Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis | Lincoln

Hugh Jackman | Les Misérables

Joaquin Phoenix | The Master

Denzel Washington | Flight

Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis

You knew that already.

Wish: Joaquin Phoenix

Again, I really don't wish anyone else but Day-Lewis to win it, but if I had to pick one other performance, then Joaquin Phoenix's performance in The Master was by far the best of the rest. But nobody really has a chance when there is a Daniel Day-Lewis film is out, do they?

Dark horse: Denzel Washington

As bullshit as the film was, Washington's performance in Flight was mesmerising. We have come so used to him delivering a great performance that we are taking him granted.

Missing: Michael Fassbender | Shame

Not sure if Shame was eligible for this year's awards, but talk about an acting performance that makes you care for a very unlikeable person. Shame may have scared off the Academy with its subject matter, which is a shame.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Jessica Chastain | Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence | Silver Linings Playbook

Emanuelle Riva | Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis | Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts | The Impossible

Prediction: Jessica Chastain

Hated the character, but liked the performance. Zero Dark Thirty lost a lot of love with its portrayal of torture and its one-sided approach. It didn't help that Chastain's CIA agent was painfully boring either. But she is the talk of the town, at the right of time of his career. It's going to be her day.

Wish: Emanuelle Riva

She was painful to watch as she wilted away before our very eyes. It was a truly bravura performance by a screen legend. The Academy tends to ignore legends that don't speak English as their first language, but they have rewarded the likes of Sophia Loren before - why not Riva?

Dark horse: Jennifer Lawrence

If there is one really negative thing I could say about Silver Linings Playbook, it is Jennifer Lawrence. She was terrible. Unwatchable, boring. But I am in the minority as hers is usually thought to be the stand-out performance from the film.

Missing: Charlize Theron | Young Adult and Elizabeth Olsen | Martha Marcy May Marlene

I went for a double-header here: Theron for Young Adult (easily the best performance by an actress this year) and Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene. Where's the love for the indies, Academy?

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Michael Haneke | Amour

Quentin Tarantino | Django Unchained

John Gatins | Flight

Wes Anderson, Romans Coppola | Moonrise Kingdom

Mark Boal | Zero Dark Thirty

Prediction: Mark Boal

I am going out on a limb here, mostly for taking a great risk by doing away with all of the characters in the last 30 minutes and make us care about a group of new characters in such a short time. Otherwise, the dialogue was shoddy and the characters were half-baked stereotypes at best.

Wish: Quentin Tarantino

Wouldn't it be great to give Tarantino his second Oscar? Django Unchained isn't without flaws, but it is full of great one-liners and ingenious set-pieces (the KKK's reluctance to wear their new white masks before a raid is absolutely hilarious).

Dark horse: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola's script did something most Wes Anderson films haven't done by keeping things interesting beyond the kitsch setting right up to the end credits. It was a truly original concept, with fantastic characters and more memorable set-pieces than Argo and Lincoln combined.

Missing: Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg | The Hunt

The Hunt may not have been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but it did deserve a mention for its incredibly taut script. Without resorting any usual histrionics, the script was as surefooted as Vinterberg's direction.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Chris Terrio | Argo

Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin | Beasts of the Southern Wild

David Magee | Life of Pi

Tony Kushner | Lincoln

David O. Russell | Silver Linings Playbook

Prediction: Tony Kushner

Lincoln's script is the second best thing about the film. It owes a lot to the smart television writing of the last decade or so and it pays off really well. It is intelligent, high-brow without losing its dramatic touch and a lot more subtle than it first appears.

Wish: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zietlin

My wish is for Lincoln to win this, but I wouldn't mind if Alibar and Zeitlin grab the award either. Theirs was a near-impossible task of presenting a message-laden film through a well-thought-out mythology. You would be hard-pressed to find a film that balances these out in a more efficient way.

Dark horse: David O. Russell

Could Russell pull a one-two here? He definitely could. Silver Linings Playbook is not a remarkable piece of writing, but it deserves some recognition for making sure we care at least a little bit about the characters. Its depiction of mental illness is well carried out, though still not sure about the whole dancing contest storyline.

Missing: John Logan | Coriolanus

Coriolanus was one of the better adaptations of a Shakespeare play and although it wasn't groundbreaking in its contemporary setting, it did manage to add a modern twist to the Bard's words.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin | Argo

Robert De Niro | Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman | The Master

Tommy Lee Jones | Lincoln

Christoph Waltz | Django Unchained

Prediction: Tommy Lee Jones

This is probably the closest of any category as there are three legitimate front-runners, but for how the night may end up turning out for Lincoln, I think the Academy will favour Jones over Arkin or Waltz. I don't think his was a great performance per se, but memorable nonetheless.

Wish: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Who else but the ever-enigmatic Lancaster Dodd to win it all. Part evangelist, part cod philosopher, part ladies man, part businessman, Hoffman simply owned his role and his character. It's a bit unfair that he is in the supporting category. Regardless his was a performance for the ages.

Dark horse: Christoph Waltz

If Tommy Lee Jones is passed over, then Christoph Waltz will waltz his way to the stage, deliver an impeccable speech and leave everyone in that auditorium look like philistines that most of them are. What's against him? Well, you could argue that he re-enacted his character from Inglourious Basterds, only reversing his moral compass this time around.

Missing: John Hawkes | Martha Marcy May Marlene

How Hawkes wasn't nominated for The Sessions is anybody's guess, but he should have got at least a mention for his great turn at Martha Marcy May Marlene. Perhaps because his role was too compact (one of the very minor quibbles about this film) and ultimately weak. But his screen presence was undeniable in the brief period he was up there.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams | The Master

Sally Field | Lincoln

Anne Hathaway | Les Misérables

Helen Hunt | The Sessions

Jacki Weaver | Silver Linings Playbook

Prediction: Anne Hathaway

Just like the Best Actor category, this has already been decided. I haven't seen the film, so I can't really comment on her performance but if the accolades she has received so far are any indication, she is going home with a little gold statuette.

Wish: Helen Hunt

What a sweet performance by an actress so sure of her craft that it gave me goosebumps watching her. It was beautifully underplayed, but completely believable. It was also a very brave performance by an actress who really deserves a lot more recognition for her talent.

Dark horse: Sally Field

There are many stories as to how much Field wanted to land this role and she was magnificent in it. She balanced the doting, ailing wife and the sly political mastermind perfectly. The problem is that she was outshined by her co-star, but that's not her fault. No one would have done a better job.

Missing: Rosemary DeWitt | Your Sister's Sister

I loved, loved, loved Your Sister's Sister and one of the things that made it such an enjoyable little gem was its performances. The main trio were fantastic, but it was DeWitt that really stood out. Her vulnerability and the subtly sexy turn helped her character to avoid turning into a cliché.

Best Achievement in Editing

William Goldenberg | Argo

Tim Squyres | Life of Pi

Michael Kahn | Lincoln

Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers | Silver Linings Playbook

William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor | Zero dark Thirty

Prediction: William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

Going back to that incredible last 30 minutes of the film, the editing was of the highest calibre as the tone and pace shifted dramatically. Interspersing infra-red footage with regular footage, the tension was barely bearable. This award will cement Zero Dark Thirty's technical bravura.

Wish: Michael Kahn

For a film that relied a lot on talking heads, Kahn (a Spielberg veteran)'s editing was superb. He turned the static story into a dynamic affair. He has already got 3 Oscars to his name, so this will cement his reputation as one of the best the industry has ever seen.

Dark horse: William Goldenberg

It looks like Goldenberg will win an Oscar this year no matter what! Argo relied on balancing the action in two settings and Goldenberg's cuts helped push the tension forward. It wasn't flashy work, but it was very effective.

Missing: Janus Billeskov Jansen, Anne Østerud | The Hunt

The church scene in The Hunt and the subsequent finale in the forest are two of the best scenes of last year and were prime examples of editing brilliance.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Seamus McGarvey | Anna Karenina

Robert Richardson | Django Unchained

Claudio Miranda | Life of Pi

Janusz Kaminski | Lincoln

Roger Deakins | Skyfall

Prediction: Claudio Miranda

I haven't seen Life of Pi, but my understanding is that it looks absolutely gorgeous and there is general belief that it will sweep the technical awards.

Wish: Seamus McGarvey

In any other year, I would go for Deakins as he is, in my opinion, the greatest cinematographer of his generation, but I would give this to Seamus McGarvey's underrated work in the severely underrated Anna Karenina. Going beyond the logistical nightmare of its setting, it looked incredibly beautiful and sophisticated.

Dark horse: Janusz Kaminski

And another giant. Kaminski-shot films never, ever look less than magnificent and Lincoln was no exception. It reminded me of Barry Lyndon in that every frame was dying to be framed and put up on a wall. The sombre atmosphere, dim interiors and foggy exteriors ... it wasn't just a technical masterpiece, but also dramatically very effective.

Missing: Mihai Malaimare Jr. | The Master

Let's all collectively raise our middle fingers to the Academy for not nominating what was perhaps the most amazing achievement in cinematography of the last couple of decades. It's unbelievable.

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