Saturday, January 12, 2013

2013 Oscar Nominations

Here is a summary of the notable films nominated, from most nominations to least: 

Les Misérables 8
Argo 7
Amour 5
Zero Dark Thirty 5
Beasts of the Southern Wild 4
Anna Karenina 4

The first thing to remember about the Oscars is that the voting is not entirely objective. Consider the people who are voting, and what kind of things they are likely to find interesting or entertaining. 

If you are a fan of the most popular genres at the box office, you already know that there's almost no chance that your favorite comedy or action movie will be recognized, unless it's for a song or some kind of technical wizardry. 

The Oscars tend to go to dramas about serious subjects. Those subjects often contain issues that are important to Americans, or older people. That's fine, and natural, considering who is casting most of the votes, but don't be shocked if a superb foreign film is almost totally ignored. That's why other countries have their own awards.

There's also a tendency to reward people who have had several worthy nominations without ever being recognized, whereas if you give the best acting performance and you recently won, you're probably not going to scoop up another statue until a few years have passed.

The awards are fun, and it's nice to see films you enjoyed achieve recognition, but don't be surprised if worthy nominees are overlooked for some reason. I know that I am not going to change my mind if my personal favorites from 2012 don't take home the prize.

I am stunned that Kathryn Bigelow wasn't nominated in the director category, and disappointed (but not surprised) to see Tarantino omitted. Ben Affleck's exclusion casts doubts about the chances of Argo in the other major categories. Leonardo DiCaprio did a great job in Django Unchained, but I suppose the subject matter was too controversial, and his performance was more comedic than voters usually go for.

I also think it's a great shame to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower completely snubbed. I shouldn't be surprised, as many will consider it a teen comedy, but I think it improves upon all the 80s movies that dealt with a similar subject. When something makes my top three films of the year, it's usually good enough to get some kind of mention at the Oscars. As I said at the outset, it won't change my mind about the film. If there's a 2012 film with a better soundtrack, I didn't see it. It's also a little surprising that Cloud Atlas failed to get a single nomination in the technical categories.

With all that in mind, here are the nominees, along with a few of my thoughts.

Best Picture

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

Unlike last year, none of the best picture nominees are undeserving. I was particularly impressed with Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook, but I'm not sure that Life of Pi will stand up well to repeat viewings. Although Tarantino's Django Unchained is one of the weakest things he has ever produced, it still contains a lot of elements that I love. When I look back in a year or so, it might well top my 2012 list. I haven't seen Amour, and it has no chance of winning because voters won't like the subtitles, but I suspect it's a wonderful film and I'll check it out as soon as I can. Lincoln is the probable winner because of the subject matter and the likelihood it will resonate with the voters. It isn't bad by any means, but I probably won't bother buying it on Blu-ray. If I could vote, I would opt for Silver Linings Playbook, but there's probably too much comedy present for it to prevail.

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

I enjoyed Washington's performance and consider it one of his best, but Daniel Day-Lewis deserves the win for his portrayal of Lincoln. The biggest problem with that is that he has won twice, and as recently as 2008. Phoenix gave a strong performance, but I did not like anything about The Master and will never see it again.

Actress in a Leading Role

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

Sentiment aside, it would be ridiculous for Wallis to win. The remaining actresses are all excellent, but I think the award will go to Chastain or Lawrence as both are perceived as being overdue for an Oscar. Watts should have already won for Mulholland Dr., but it was not to be. I will be rooting for Lawrence, so Chastain will probably win.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin - Argo
Robert DeNiro - Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained

Waltz won recently and his character was too similar to that of Hans Landa to win a second time. It was a superb effort nonetheless. Hoffman was great, but his character unlikable. DeNiro has good comic timing and I loved his character in Silver Linings Playbook, but I see the Oscar going to Tommy Lee Jones.

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

There is almost no chance that Hathaway will lose this category if popular opinion is anything to go by. I'm an Amy Adams fan, but she shouldn't win for this performance. She did a better job in Trouble with the Curve, and I've already watched it three times. I could see Field providing a shock, but I'm not betting against Hathaway.


Michael Haneke - Amour
Ang Lee - Life of Pi
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild  

This award is one of the most important in my mind. Spielberg has to be the favorite, but I would love to see Haneke win. The biggest danger to Spielberg is Ang Lee.

Animated Feature Film

Brave - Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Frankenweenie - Tim Burton
ParaNorman - Sam Fell, Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph - Rich Moore

I usually look forward to this category, but Brave is a weak effort considering the standard of film that Pixar usually releases. With The Secret Life of Arrietty (I should be sponsored by Studio Ghibli) either not eligible for 2013, or ignored, I really don't care which of these comes out on top.


Anna Karenina - Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained - Robert Richardson
Life of Pi - Claudio Miranda
Lincoln - Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall - Roger Deakins

Life of Pi has a good chance in this category, but I would love to see Deakins win after being nominated 10 times.

Film Editing

Argo - William Goldenberg
Life of Pi - Tim Squyres
Lincoln - Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook - Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty - William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

I don't think Lincoln flowed particularly well, so I hope it doesn't win.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Argo - Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild - Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi - David Magee
Lincoln -Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook - David O. Russell

The writing awards are something that I care about, and I often consider the two winners among the very best films of the year. Life of Pi will probably take this one, but I'll be rooting for Silver Linings Playbook.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Amour - Michael Haneke
Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino
Flight - John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty - Mark Boal

Tarantino has written better screenplays without winning, so I don't expect him to triumph with this somewhat uneven effort. It would be great to see Moonrise Kingdom get the win, as it was probably the best piece of writing all year. I suspect Zero Dark Thirty will be the victor though. Incidentally, where is the nomination for Seven Psychopaths?

Foreign Language Film

Amour (Austria)
Kon-Tiki (Norway)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
War Witch (Canada)

If Amour doesn't win, the five nominations don't make any sense.

Production Design

Anna Karenina - Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright
Les Misérables - Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi - David Gropman, Anna Pinnock
Lincoln - Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

The Hobbit looked fantastic, but the movie isn't worthy of an Oscar. This should be between Lincoln and Life of Pi.

Costume Design

Anna Karenina - Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables - Paco Delgado
Lincoln - Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror - Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman - Colleen Atwood

I really don't care.


Hitchcock - Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane
Les Misérables - Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell

I don't care about this category either.

Original Score

Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli
Argo - Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi - Mychael Danna
Lincoln - John Williams
Skyfall - Thomas Newman

None of these scores stood out for me.

Original Song

Chasing Ice - J. Ralph ("Before My Time")
Les Misérables - Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer ("Suddenly")
Life of Pi - Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree ("Pi's Lullaby")
Skyfall - Adele, Paul Epworth ("Skyfall")
Ted - Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane ("Everybody Needs a Best Friend")

It would be nice if Skyfall won something after 50 years of Bond. Along with Casino Royale, it's the best we have seen from the franchise.

Sound Mixing

Argo - John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, José Antonio García
Les Misérables - Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes
Life of Pi - Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Drew Kunin
Lincoln - Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ron Judkins
Skyfall - Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Stuart Wilson

I don't care.

Sound Editing

Argo - Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained - Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi - Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton
Skyfall - Per Hallberg, Karen M. Baker
Zero Dark Thirty - Paul N.J. Ottosson

I don't care.

Visual Effects

The Avengers - Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White
Life of Pi - Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott
Prometheus - Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman - Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson

Fans of The Avengers or Prometheus will be pinning their hopes on this category. Both looked great, but I would pick Prometheus. However, I suspect Life of Pi will pick up this one.

Documentary Feature

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

Documentary Short

Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart

Animated Short

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare 

Live Action Short

Buzkashi Boys
Death of a Shadow



  1. Enjoyed reading what you had to say and forwarded to a few others.

    It does sound as if it may be Lincoln with Pi growling right behind. It occured to this viewer, however, that Pi may run into a conflict because of the great success of Slum Dog a few years ago for a variety of reasons. Argo, close behind Lincoln instead? Hum. Interesting year.

    The Hobbit may have won the most nominations if scheduled earlier? Anna Karenina?..Why? By all accounts it appears that the costumes were not even able to cut the cloth for this epic classic story. 'Amour' for best foreign movie? These are a few thoughts that come to mind. Looking forward to reverting back to your blog later. Many thanks.

    1. The main hit against Argo is that it didn't get a director nomination. It's historically very hard to win best picture without that element. Who knows though?

      The Hobbit really isn't worthy. Plus, Lord of the Rings received the majority of its awards after the final part of the trilogy.

    2. I'm sorry, but at 22 one cannot ever be overdue for an Oscar. I love Jennifer, she's great, but saying she is overdue Oscar is like saying that it is somehow her right. That the Academy has been withholding something vital for her career and that is wrong. Other great actresses have toiled for decades without ever receiving one, let alone a nomination and they were far better than Jennifer. She needs to put a lot more miles in her infant career before people start throwing around deserve.

      I disagree heartily with Cooper's inclusion. He's utterly one-dimensional and I'm continually bored with his work. He was completely outclassed in Silver Linings and had no business being in that cast. That was the one glaring fault of the film, in my opinion. I'll be rooting for Hugh Jackman as his turn as Valjean was breathtaking. Lewis as Lincoln was stunning as well.

      I am sorely disappointed that neither Affleck nor Bigelow received noms. Of course, this is the good ol' boys club so denying a woman is second nature.

      As for writing, I'd love to see Argo or Life of Pi for Adapted as I love the source material on both. For Original, definitely Moonrise Kingdom.

      Great summation and I will be enjoying the Oscars no matter who wins. It's not like I haven't seen projects I couldn't stand win before. LOL

    3. It's been a while since something with as much comedy as Silver Linings Playbook received so much recognition. You would probably have to go back to As Good as It Gets, which I consider superior. I did enjoy Silver Linings Playbook though, and I'll be rooting for it. I'll also be hoping Tarantino leaves with something to show for what is a weak effort by his high standards. If I could choose one winner, it would be Moonrise Kingdom. I love that quirky script. Maybe Bigelow won too recently to be considered again this soon? That shouldn't enter into it, but I'm certain that it does.

  2. "I will be rooting for Lawrence, so Chastain will probably win."
    LOL, story of my life.

    You're right about Life of Pi. It doesn't hold up well for repeated viewings.

    1. I've also learned that the Academy just doesn't get Tarantino and that his brand of comedy is doomed to fail. In fact, they don't like clever or complex at all, so Nolan will have trouble getting the recognition he deserves for his scripts.

  3. I don't know why Nolan hasn't been recognized yet, but I actually think Quentin Tarantino could win for his Django script this year.

    1. I hope you are right about Tarantino. Django Unchained had its moments, but I think the script is weaker overall than Inglourious Basterds.