Saturday, February 23, 2013

85th Oscar Award Picks

I know, I'm down to the wire on my picks this year, but in my defense I didn't see my last "actually has a chance" nominated film till just last weekend, that being Zero Dark Thirty. Anyway, let's get right to it then.

Best Picture
Let's just cut the crap. Prior to the "let's nominate 10 films so we have stuff that more people are familiar with" move of several years ago you could always narrow this category down to about 3 actual contenders anyway. This year is no different. Out of 9 nominees only 3 have a chance and those are: Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Argo.

My personal pick and my prediction in this category are both the same: Argo

Out of the three viable films, Argo is the most successful, the most accessible, and the most likely to have lasting appeal. There is no doubt that it's a tough field this year. Both Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln are excellent films as is Silver Linings Playbook as well, but while the Zero Dark Thirty formula won for Katherine Bigelow with The Hurt Locker before, it's going to miss this year. When it comes to Lincoln ... well, I'll get to that when I talk about Best Director.

Argo is both crowd and critic pleaser and I think the Academy is going to give it top honors here.

Pick: Argo

Actor in a Leading Role
This is unfortunately an easy one. It's unfortunate because Bradley Cooper and Joaquin Phoenix both delivered exemplary performances in their respective films, but when all is said and done, Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Abraham Lincoln was both riveting and as close to historically accurate (based on what we know of Lincoln's mannerisms and even his speaking voice) as we're likely to see.

I'd love to give this to Joaquin Phoenix, but I have to give it to Daniel Day-Lewis. He really earned it.

Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actress in a Leading Role
I can't think of a decision between best actress nominees in recent year that has been as difficult as the one between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. Both performances were brilliant in their own way, yet so different. I'm glad they were in separate categories for the Golden Globes thus allowing them both to win, but for the Oscar it's literally going to have to be a coin toss for me.

Ultimately my pick will have to be Jessica Chastain as much as I adore Jennifer Lawrence. If anything, the Academy knows Lawrence is a rising star and she'll be in this position again. That's not to discount Chastain however. She is the sole character anchor for Zero Dark Thirty and she's amazing in the role. I don't think there is a single human emotion that she doesn't get to absolutely nail.

Pick: Jessica Chastain

Actor in a Supporting Role
This is another tough one, because there are plenty who are going to want to give this to Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln, but while I feel his performance was excellent, it wasn't anymore than I normally expect from him. Others (like myself) may want to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman get this prize for his brilliant role in The Master, but for all it's nominations I'm afraid the film isn't going to win anything this year.

That leaves us with Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained, a decidedly different role than the one that won him this award for Inglourious Basterds a few years back, but just as well portrayed. This could be a category I lose if the Academy decides to go with Tommy Lee, but I have to go with Waltz on this one.

Pick: Christoph Waltz

Actress in a Supporting Role
OK, so I didn't see Les Mis, but I heard that Anne Hathaway was excellent in it. The problem here is that I did see Lincoln and Sally Field gives the performance of a lifetime as Mary Todd Lincoln and for her ... that's saying quite a bit.

I love Anne Hathaway, but I have to go with my gut here. I have to go with what I've seen and I have to back Sally Field on this one. If anything, I feel that Les Mis was luke warm enough among many critics to give me justification here.

Pick: Sally Field

Directing
Spielberg. I mean really ... in this list of Directors there is no other choice. Yes, there are some great films here. David O. Russell did an amazing job with Silver Linings as did Benh Zeitlin with Beasts of the Southern Wild, but let's face facts, under any other director (and with any other cast) Lincoln would have been  no more than a History Channel documentary.

Spielberg made that film and I can think of no one more deserving of this award.

Pick: Steven Spielberg

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
This is not an easy one, especially with The Life of Pi having been one of those books that was deemed "unfilmable". Even so, I have to go with Argo on this one. While I haven't read the source material I know enough about film to see how they adapted it while both staying true to the original text and making a compelling motion picture. This is not an easy task and Argo accomplishes it without my ever thinking twice.

Pick: Argo

Writing (Original Screenplay)
I (and the Academy) usually seem to give this award to new screenwriters, but given the nominees this year, I have to go with Tarantino. If you've never read a Tarantino script then you're very much missing out. There's a reason this man has won this award before, his scripts tend to stand on their own as masterpieces and with this year's field, I'm guessing he's got the upper hand again.

Pick: Quentin Tarantino

Animated Feature Film
There are two rules to this category:
  1. Never vote against Studio Ghibli
  2. Never vote against Pixar
Brave wins ... 'Nuff said?

Pick: Brave

Cinematography
While there is a decent field in this category this year, I have to go with The Life of Pi. While each of the nominated films contain excellent cinematography, I think that The Life of Pi represents the biggest cinematographic challenge and therefore will gain the respect and votes of the Academy here.

Pick: The Life of Pi

Costume Design
Never vote against the period piece and if the period piece is a musical ... doubly so: Les Mis ... easy

Pick: Les Miserables

Editing
This is usually a category I steer away from because I'll be damned if I know what the Academy thinks good film editing is. This year I'm willing to go out on a limb and pick Argo for this category for one reason and one reason alone: the last 20 minutes of the movie. If you can find me a more tense 20 minutes among the other nominees this year, then more power to you, but that final sequence made this film and editing played a HUGE part.

Pick: Argo

Foreign Language Film
You may have noticed that one of the films in this category has shown up in several other categories as well, including the overall Best Picture category. This is the Academy using the Oscars as a sort of bully pulpit and passive aggressively suggesting that American movie makers might think about taking a look at what's going on over seas for some inspiration. I don't necessarily disagree with them, but this is the only category that Amour is going to win tonight.

Pick: Amour

Make-up and Hair Styling
This is normally another category I don't follow, but given that there is a period piece musical this year, this is an easy one: Les Mis

Pick: Les Miserables

Music (original score)
Of the three films I saw in this category this year I don't recall the scores jumping out at me particularly, but that's often the case here. I'm going to go with the buzz on this one though and say that The Life of Pi gets it.

Pick: The Life of Pi

Music (original song)
This is another damn toss up category like Best Actress. You're basically looking at either Adele for the Skyfall theme or Les Mis because it's a musical and this is kind of its category. Given some of the critical panning of Les Mis and the fact that Adele's star is still on the rise, I'm going to lean in her direction and say that Skyfall gets this one.

Pick: "Skyfall" by Adele

Production Design
I may be deluding myself, but I think this is an easy one this year. Despite the excellent production design of the other nominees, it takes a little something extra for a musical and therefore like costuming and make-up before it, this award should go to Les Mis.

Pick: Les Miserables

Visual Effects
This is usually the one award where a summer blockbuster can be seen winning outside of  the technical awards given out prior to the show. This year however one of the nominees is also one of the Best Picture nominees as well. Given the fact that The Life of Pi features a CG main character along side a flesh and blood actor and succeeded enough to be nominated for Best Picture, I have to pick it for this category despite a very competitive field this year.

Pick: The Life of Pi

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