2013 Academy Awards Round-Up

One can often forget the disconnect between those who tune into the Oscars for the purpose of celebrating film and those who simply are watching for the glamour of it all. It has to be remembered that the good majority of people watching haven't seen but maybe one or two of the best picture nominees. I was able to see all of them, including Amour, which I was very happy about, but even looking to my immediate family my brother was able to see five of the nine nominated films (two of which were not Django or Les Mis so good for him branching out and seeing some of the less popular ones) but then going down to my parents who are in the majority of folks that have seen maybe one (I had to convince my dad Django was worth his time because my younger brother wanted to go see it a second time and I couldn't go) or haven't seen any. To say all of this is to say that most people don't have an investment or really even care what movies are nominated or which ones win because they feel no connection to them. If they do, it is the one or two they have seen and they root for them purely on that basis. Why do so many people watch then? A question I've often wondered to myself. Yes, there is the celebrity host, the peek into the world of celebrity's and what it might be like to fraternize among such well-known and powerful people is a fantasy many people like to catch a glimpse of. Still, the point of the broadcast is to celebrate movies and no matter why they tune in to watch the awards in the first place I hope that no matter who wins they will bring to the attention of the public these films they may have overlooked and in turn give them a shot when they recognize the title in their local redbox a few weeks from now.

Winners in the best acting categories from left: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables, and Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
The one that will hopefully garner the biggest boost from the Oscars is the film taking home the most awards last night, Life of Pi. With eleven nominations going in (second only behind Lincoln) Ang Lee's adaptation of Yann Martel's novel went home with four wins, most of which were in the major technical categories of best cinematography, best visual effects, and best original score. The big upset of the night went to Lee though as he took home his second best director Oscar without winning best picture. This happened to him in 2005 when he won directing honors for Brokeback Mountain and best picture going to Crash. I had Lee as my "should win" pick in this category as he'd taken a book many said would be impossible to adapt for the screen and created a beautifully moving film that pushed the boundaries of technology and moved toward innovation for the filmmaking process while never failing to connect with its audience through the experience of Pi's spiritual journey. The front-runner was believed to be Steven Spielberg, but as solid a film as Lincoln is it was nothing new in terms of direction from the most powerful man in Hollywood. Lincoln went in with the most nominations for the night but ended up winning only two. The most obvious award going to Daniel Day-Lewis, winning his third best actor award (a first in Oscar history) for his performance as the sixteenth President (the first Oscar to be won for playing a President as well as the first acting award won for a performance in a Spielberg film) as well as for best production design, which should have gone to Anna Karenina for its concept alone.

While Anne Hathaway for best supporting actress was as much a lock as Day-Lewis the other major acting categories were some of the closest of the night. Up first was best supporting actor to which it could have gone to almost anyone nominated except for Alan Arkin. I honestly believe Django Unchained deserved three nominations in this category. For Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson along with Christoph Waltz. The other two slots could have easily gone to Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones or Robert DeNiro. I believed Jones had this on lockdown for much of the awards season, but at the last minute decided to go with DeNiro after watching both Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln again. In the end, Waltz took home his second statue for playing a Tarantino character and I can't help but wonder if the nomination went to him as he had the biggest role of the aforementioned actors and the award because such a debt was felt to the film for having such a strong supporting male cast in general. It really doesn't matter as Waltz was also my "should win" pick and I was happy to see him take it home. Another category where I was wrong in my actual pick but correct in my "should win" was the best original screenplay. Django Unchained's second Oscar of the night was won by what is the best screenwriter and director working in Hollywood today, Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself.

The best actress category was another tight race, but many had it narrowed down to either Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain with Emmanuelle Riva as a possible upset. I had Lawrence taking it in my picks, but gave the "should win" to Chastain as her turn as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty was the most commanding performance out of any performance I felt I witnessed last year. I have no doubt that Chastain will win her own Oscar very soon as she should now have two, but I wasn't upset to see Lawrence take home the prize. She is a humble and level headed young woman and overall I enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook more than I did Zero Dark Thirty. Still, I believe many people will look back on these awards and say that Zero Dark Thirty went unappreciated as it seems destined to become a very important film in the history of the culture. The only award the film took home for the night was a best sound editing and that was in a tie with Skyfall. It was no surprise William Goldenberg took home the best editing award, but I was hoping he would do so for Zero Dark Thirty rather than Argo as he was a double nominee in this category. Then there was Argo. It rolled into the 85th annual Academy Awards with everyone on its side and the momentum of having racked up every award in its path while at the same time building the sympathy vote for Ben Affleck and his omission from the best director category. It obviously ended up doing just as everyone predicted, and though I have no problem with it winning I don't believe it was the most deserving. That honor would go to Zero Dark Thirty for the aforementioned reasons. I also believe this isn't the best work we will see from Affleck and that he will eventually take home both a directing and picture honor in the same night.

In some of the smaller categories I was happy to Searching for Sugar Man win for best documentary as it made my top 10 favorite films of the year in 2012 and is something worth checking out if you haven't already. Then there is the best animated film which easily should have went to either Wreck-It Ralph or ParaNorman but instead went to the safe Pixar bet, Brave. I enjoyed brave well enough and wasn't in the categories of those who completely hated it, but I was genuinely surprised by ParaNorman and felt like a kid again while watching Ralph. If there was one category I was most upset with it was probably this one.

As for the show in general, I rather liked the extended introduction that had host Seth MacFarlane beating the news outlets to the punch and predicting his own demise before they could do it for him. The tribute to music in the movies was fine if nothing spectacular and more people were exposed to MacFarlane's multiple skills as a singer and composer, so no complaining here. There will always be those who either loved or didn't mind the host and those who just tear them apart. There will certainly be plenty of critics for some of the jokes MacFalrane chose to use (the Chris Brown one feeling dated, the John Wilkes Booth getting booed) but I rather enjoyed his honest and up front takes on the show running long, the Academy not nominating Affleck, and the small bits that went the extra mile to make it a little fun. "We Saw Your Boobs", Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron showing what dancing with the stars really look like, and the pure charm of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe doing a mean soft shoe. It was wonderful to see such contemporary talent paying tribute to the classic styles of movie musicals and the kinds of film that shaped the industry that now provides them with such opportunity. There isn't much more the guy could have done to try and make the awards both entertaining and more attractive to younger crowds while not degrading the ceremony for what it truly is. He was self-deprecating, honest, unafraid, and funny more times than not. In the end, each of the major categories were won for different films which for me, is a win all in itself.

It was a night of nice surprises and fine performances. I haven't had a chance to mention Adele and Jennifer Hudson's performances but both of those women knocked it out of the park. Also, glad to see Adele win for best original song for Skyfall as it truly was one of the better films this year and if it had a shot at all should have slid into that tenth best picture slot. it is unlikely a Bond film will ever get such prestigious recognition, but for what many consider the best film of the series, it was nice to see it take home an Oscar for something.

A full list of the winners are follow. The winners are highlighted in red.

BEST PICTURE

  1. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Zero Dark Thirty
  4. Lincoln
  5. Les Misérables
  6. Life of Pi
  7. Amour
  8. Django Unchained
  9. Argo

BEST ACTOR

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
  2. Denzel Washington (Flight)
  3. Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
  4. Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
  5. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

BEST ACTRESS

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
  2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  3. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Alan Arkin (Argo)
  5. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Sally Field (Lincoln)
  2. Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
  3. Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
  5. Amy Adams (The Master)

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
  2. Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
  3. Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
  4. Michael Haneke (Amour)
  5. Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

BEST WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

  1. Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  2. Chris Terrio (Argo)
  3. Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
  4. David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
  5. David Magee (Life of Pi)

BEST WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

  1. John Gatins (Flight)
  2. Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
  3. Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
  4. Michael Haneke (Amour)
  5. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  1. Frankenweenie
  2. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  3. Wreck-It Ralph
  4. ParaNorman
  5. Brave

BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

  1. 5 Broken Cameras
  2. The Gatekeepers
  3. How to Survive a Plague
  4. The Invisible War
  5. Searching for Sugar Man

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  1. Amour
  2. No
  3. War Witch
  4. A Royal Affair
  5. Kon-Tiki

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. Anna Karenina (Seamus McGarvey)
  2. Django Unchained (Robert Richardson)
  3. Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
  4. Lincoln (Janusz Kaminski)
  5. Skyfall (Roger Deakins)

BEST FILM EDITING

  1. Argo
  2. Life of Pi
  3. Lincoln
  4. Silver Linings Playbook
  5. Zero Dark Thirty

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

  1. Dario Marianelli (Anna Karenina)
  2. Alexandre Desplat (Argo)
  3. Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)
  4. John Williams (Lincoln)
  5. Thomas Newman (Skyfall)

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

  1. "Before My Time" from Chasing Ice
  2. "Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi
  3. "Suddenly" from Les Misérables
  4. "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from Ted
  5. "Skyfall" from Skyfall

BEST SOUND MIXING

  1. Argo
  2. Les Misérables
  3. Life of Pi
  4. Lincoln
  5. Skyfall

BEST SOUND EDITING

  1. Argo
  2. Django Unchained
  3. Life of Pi
  4. Skyfall
  5. Zero Dark Thirty

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  1. Anna Karenina
  2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  3. Les Misérables
  4. Life of Pi
  5. Lincoln

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  2. Life of Pi
  3. Marvel's The Avengers
  4. Prometheus
  5. Snow White and the Huntsman

BEST COSTUMES

  1. Anna Karenina
  2. Les Misérables
  3. Lincoln
  4. Mirror Mirror
  5. Snow White and the Huntsman

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

  1. Hitchcock
  2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  3. Les Misérables

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

  1. Inocente
  2. Kings Point
  3. Mondays at Racine
  4. Open Heart
  5. Redemption

BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

  1. Adam and Dog
  2. Fresh Guacamole
  3. Head over Heels
  4. Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"
  5. Paperman

BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

  1. Asad
  2. Buzkashi Boys
  3. Curfew
  4. Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
  5. Henry