Monday, February 11, 2013

The state of the race...

A head above the rest?

What the hell has happened this year?  I have never been this confused going into Oscar night since, well, there have never been this many open races.  Sure, Lead Actor, Supporting Actress and Visual Effects are locked up, but other than that you could really make a case for at least two if not FOUR of the actual nominees.  BAFTA didn’t really clear things up much, furthering the speculation in a few categories, offering no solution in some and throwing a wrench in others.  I admit, I haven’t been taking very good care of the Award’s Tally page, but I’m going to use that now to take a closer look at some of these categories.

Let’s get the locked wins out of the way.

Unstoppable frontrunner?
I don’t think anyone is going to vote against Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway come Oscar night.  They are locked and loaded and ready for their Oscars.  Daniel Day-Lewis has been unstoppable.  Looking at all the critics’ awards and the big televised ones, he’s won practically everything (and critics’ awards were ones I thought he’d lose).  In fact, of the other Oscar nominees, only Cooper and Phoenix managed to win anything and they were slight mentions here and there (Cooper won the NBR, which typically means very little).  If my calculations are correct, DDL won 28 awards this year.  That’s ridiculous!  Hathaway hasn’t fared as well, losing a few key critics’ awards to the likes of Field and Adams; but Hathaway has won everything that mattered.  It is her time and I am so happy for her!

Signed, sealed, delivered.

Visual Effects is also locked up.  Life of Pi has everything it needs to win the award, including actually deserving it, so I have no qualms despite my lack of passion for the actual film.  It would be my personal winner ATM so yay for that.

After those three awards though, things get oddly murky.  Skyfall is probably winning Original Song (but that category is always a nailbiter) and Amour is probably winning Foreign Language Film (and yet again, that category is never locked) but those awards aside this year is just so open.  In a bizarre twist of fate, Oscar’s biggest awards of the night are a questionmark.  Sure, it looks obvious (Argo is winning EVERYTHING) but it isn’t that black and white.  Affleck is also winning everything, and he CANNOT win the Oscar.  Yes, splits happen but the fact that Affleck isn’t even nominated makes this even harder to nail down.  It may seem obvious that Argo is out in front, and I believe that it is, but other factors play in (like what other films received massive Oscar support and what other films seem to be peaking) to judging who is actually going to win the Oscar.

I should have gotten out of bed for that nomination announcement!
There were three films that got huge Oscar pushes with surprise nomination support; Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour.  Of those, the only one in the running for the actual Best Picture Oscar is Silver Linings Playbook, which has a lot going for it.  It’s a topical subject, directed by a previous nominated director hitting his stride, an actor’s film that over performed in a HUGE way (it was basically nominated for every award it could have been) and has been winning surprise wins (ensemble wins, screenplay wins) across the board.  Then you have the Lincoln conundrum.  It has twelve Oscar nominations and yet it really isn’t looking good to win any except Lead Actor and possibly Supporting Actor.  At one time it looked like Adapted Screenplay was a lock, but I honestly think Silver Linings Playbook or Argo is taking that (more on that in a minute).  Unless Lincoln sweeps, I can’t see it taking Picture.  Silver Linings Playbook wouldn’t have to sweep, simply because it isn’t nominated for nearly as much, but Lincoln would have to prove to be a powerhouse, and I think that ship has sailed.

So, my thoughts on the Best Picture race are as follows:

1)      Argo (it’s won every televised award in both this and director categories, and it has a strange sort of goodwill going for it since everyone seems really upset about Affleck’s Oscar snub…and it is a very Hollywood movie, which works in its favor)
2)      Silver Linings Playbook (it has Harvey and it is peaking at the right time)
3)      Lincoln (it’s buzz and status as frontrunner has died considerably, but it is nominated everywhere and if it reigns in enough support it could potentially sweep)
4)      Life of Pi (there is a weird sense of loyalty to this film, like it is some silently beloved film…it hasn’t won much outside of obvious techs, but it is heavily nominated and could surprise in such a strangely open year)
5)      Les Miserables (it’s a spectacle and a throwback to the years when spectacles were beloved)
6)      Zero Dark Thirty (it crushed with early critics and seemed to rise out of nowhere as the Oscar frontrunner, but controversy and lack of frontrunner status ANYWHERE makes this a very unlikely win)
7)      Beasts of the Southern Wild (it’s small but it also packs a major punch and is clearly loved, but I doubt the support from its champions is going to be enough to rise it above more Oscary fare)
8)      Django Unchained (it is peaking right now, sure, and it’s being talked about wildly right now, but that talk isn’t all good and this is Tarantino, which is like anti-AMPAS when you think about it)
9)      Amour (with a guaranteed win in Foreign Language film, this has basically zero chance at winning here)

So, that brings us to director.  If you thought that Best Picture was hard to gage, this is a complete mindfuck.  I mean, the Oscar snubbed Ben Affleck has won EVERYTHING.  He won the DGA, the Globe, the BAFTA, the BFCA and a slew of critics’ awards as well has having his film win SAG and PGA in tight races where another film winning could have shown a clear runner up.  Then you have the question as to which director is going to get lone support from voters clicking on the Argo box in Best Picture.  That is a real questionmark for me because there are some directors (especially Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook) that I really think need to win BOTH to win any.  We can get Zeitlin out of the way since I think he has absolutely ZERO chance of winning.  This is his first film, it isn’t winning Best Picture or really anything and he was a shock nomination (the biggest) of nomination morning.

Zeitlin will win when pigs fly...sadly.
After that, I mean really any of the remaining four could win.

I’m currently thinking…

1)      Russell (his film is peaking in a really big way and since this is an actor’s film that he adapted himself then I could see support shifting towards him even if his film doesn’t win.  Argo is also seen a lot as an actor’s film, and so it is possible that some wishing they could have voted for Affleck feel that Russell is close to the same thing)
2)      Haneke (I know, it would be bizarre and yet it kind of makes sense in a way.  He is respected and this is a landmark nomination for him and his film is clearly loved.  I can see voters going with Haneke in a split year instead of giving ANOTHER win to Spielberg or Lee)
3)      Spielberg (I can’t see him winning without Best Picture, especially since he already has TWO of these, but he is an obvious threat for obvious reasons)
4)      Lee (I know that he’s appeared everywhere, but he also has won nothing and so I really think that he is filler this year…a token nod for a loved film that is more adored than respected)
5)      Zeitlin (completely deserving but absolutely no shot here)

So what about Supporting Actor?  This is one of those categories that is up in the air as well.  I really am baffled by this lineup, especially when Leonardo DiCaprio could have and would have won in a walk had he actually been nominated.  How he missed is beyond me.  Waltz was nominated for a lead performance (or so I’ve heard) and he’s won everything he’s been nominated for (Globe and BAFTA) but Jones won the SAG, which means a lot (although not showing up also means a lot in retrospect) and Hoffman won the BFCA, which is something I consider too little too early.  The lack of love for his film makes me think that he hasn’t a shot at the Oscar.  Then you have De Niro.  He’s won practically nothing (like three critics wins) and yet this is a strange year and this is a strange category.  All of the nominees are previous winners and only Jones and De Niro have wins that date longer than ten years ago.  Waltz won in 09, Arkin in 06 and Hoffman in 05.  Jones won in 93 and De Niro hasn’t won since 1980!  When you factor in the film itself and the openness of the field, I could easily see De Niro being a surprise win here.

I could have won this in a walk!!!
1)      Jones (he basically split the critics wins with Hoffman and has a really emotional character that steals the scenes he’s in and has been called the life of the film…he’s also had an amazing year and that SAG win is telling)
2)      De Niro (he hasn’t won anything, but peaking in a year wide open can cause surprises…he’s a legend and has great ink and a very emotional character that has been garnering him a lot of love and support)
3)      Waltz (his win is very recent and yet Tarantino works wonders with actors and he’s been winning everything he’s up for at this point)
4)      Hoffman (critics loved him and his co-lead performance has been lauded by all who see it, but his film has zero support right now, which spells doom unless you are undeniably out in front, which he is not)
5)      Arkin (an obvious filler nod that was thrown in in support of the film but won’t win anything unless Argo sweeps, which it can’t, because it isn’t nominated for Director)

Lead Actress is less up in the air (I have no doubt that Lawrence is winning) but both Chastain and Riva have won important awards.  Chastain took the BFCA and the Globe, but Lawrence also took the Globe (in comedy) and the SAG and I firmly believe that if the BFCA hadn’t gone all MTV movie awards and given Lawrence awards for ‘Action Actress’ and ‘Comedic Performance’ that she would have won ‘Lead Actress’  as well.  Four wins in one night would have been a bit much (she also won Ensemble at BFCA).  Riva just won BAFTA, but I saw that coming and it means nothing.  BAFTA was a bone thrown to an actress in a critically lauded performance that Oscar isn’t going to award when the current ‘it-girl’ is winning everything else.

I could have placed this in the locked section, but Riva could (but won’t) upset.

The screenplay awards are kind of nuts too.  I can see two possibilities duking it out in Original (Django and Amour) and three fighting to the death in Adapted (Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln and Argo).  I have no idea how these are going to work out.  The BAFTA win for Silver Linings Playbook was a shock and really opened this up wider.  Before that, this looked like Lincoln vs. Argo with Argo out in front because of the Best Picture frontrunner status, but losing the BAFTA despite holding frontrunner status in other fields was bizarre and it caused me to wonder if Silver Linings Playbook may actually be the one to beat here.  It is such a late starter and yet it is rising up in the ranks in such a big way.  Lincoln was at one time considered unbeatable here.  Right now, I think it’s resting in third place.

Are we taking this?
1)      Amour (the boost for Amour on nomination morning says a lot, and if Haneke loses director I can see them awarding him here, since he won’t be winning the actual Oscar when his film wins Foreign Language)
2)      Django Unchained (Tarantino has been winning surprise wins everywhere for this, including the Globe and BAFTA, so he’s clearly biting at Haneke’s heals, but he also was frontrunner in 09 and lost)
3)      Zero Dark Thirty (it could pull this off but the lack of passion for the film kind of killed its chances here)
4)      Moonrise Kingdom (very deserving, quirky and weird and yet this is the only nomination and that doesn’t bode well)
5)      Flight (yeah, not sure how this happened and I’m pretty sure it has 0% chance of actually winning)

1)      Silver Linings Playbook (it’s a talky, character driven screenplay that has been lauded for feeling more original than adapted, which could be a very good thing)
2)      Argo (it could be Argo’s other big win to justify it actually winning Best Picture)
3)      Lincoln (considered the film’s biggest asset and the early frontrunner, but recent lack of passion for the film itself has caused this to drop in the ranks)
4)      Beasts of the Southern Wild (if Beasts can surprise anywhere, it would be here, but I doubt it)
5)      Life of Pi (seen as more of a visual film than anything else, I found the script to be the weakest link and I really doubt anyone is going to vote en mass for this)

And then we have some techs.  I think Argo is taking Editing in a walk.  Zero Dark Thirty would have been a threat had it actually performed well on nomination morning, but no one cares anymore about this film and it isn’t winning anything come Oscar night.  Cinematography is between Life of Pi and Skyfall.  Deakins so SOOOOOOO due and I personally prefer Skyfall, considering that Life of Pi’s cinematography is all CGI and really isn’t cinematography.  I want to say Skyfall wins, but sadly I think Life of Pi is taking this.  Costume Design is looking like the Anna Karenina show and Production Design could go that way as well, but Les Miserables is the Best Picture nominee and just took BAFTA.  Les Miserables is also taking Makeup rather easily, so there’s that too.

Victory is mine!
I think the sound categories are going to be hard to predict.  Life of Pi, Argo or even Skyfall could win them both, and splits are uncommon here, but Les Miserables would be a VERY deserving winner in Sound Mixing and it isn’t nominated in Editing, so maybe it takes that Argo takes Editing.  Then again, I honestly see Life of Pi winning both in a technical sweep.

Score is a weird one.  Lincoln won the BFCA, Life of Pi won the Globe and Skyfall won the BAFTA.  That being said, could Argo sweep and win this in a default way since there is absolutely no frontrunner here?  Anna Karenina isn’t going to win despite possibly deserving to.  I’m a tad up in the air here.  I don’t think Skyfall will win, since it is basically locked up for Original Song (the ONLY reason I didn’t place it in the locked section above is because Original Song is notorious for delivering a weird winner) and I really think that BAFTA win was more British support than anything else.

1)      Life of Pi (beautiful to the ears, different from the others and Danna is a respected scorer who is on his first nomination in a film that could take him all the way)
2)      Argo (in a sweep, it could happen)
3)      Lincoln (Williams should never be counted out, but I doubt it)
4)      Skyfall (the film is clearly loved, but I’m not sure it it’s that much)
5)      Anna Karenina (one of those cases of locked winner, impossible winner)

I don’t know what to think of Documentary, although Searching for Sugar Man seems to be out in front.  That said, these categories (Foreign Film included) are never that predictable because the bodies that vote for the films aren’t the same as those voting for the other categories, and there is never a consensus since AMPAS has a voting process that eliminates potential nominees and so you can get a slew of films that get support and yet none of them could get nominated (in the case of foreign film this year, Amour is the ONLY film nominated to win a single award).

And lastly, we have Animated Film.  This is WIDE OPEN!  The weirdest question is whether or not Brave has just come out from WAY behind to the frontlines?  I mean, it was basically disregarded as a filler nomination and yet it just won the Globe and the BAFTA.  Still, Frankenweenie and ParaNorman slayed with critics, and Frankenweenie took the BFCA.  Still, the Annie’s fawned all over Wreck-It Ralph, so any of those four could win.

I’m thinking:
1)      Wreck-It Ralph (it’s Disney, a return to form, a beloved nostalgic film for many and the Annie wins are telling)
2)      Frankenweenie (surprise support after critical apathy and the idea of Burton winning an Oscar)
3)      Brave (coming out from behind with a vengeance, this is Pixar and they basically own this category)
4)      ParaNorman (it looked like a clear frontrunner when the critics awards started awarding it left and right, but it hasn’t won anything of importance)
5)      Pirates! Band of Outsiders (a lucky nomination)

So, at the end of the day, this is what I’m thinking:

Best Picture: Argo
Director: David O. Russell
Adapted Screenplay: Silver Linings Playbook
Original Screenplay: Amour
Film Editing: Argo
Lead Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis
Lead Actress: Lawrence
Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones
Supporting Actress: Hathaway
Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Cinematography: Life of Pi
Art Direction: Les Miserables
Makeup: Les Miserables
Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Sound Editing: Argo
Sound Mixing: Les Miserables
Original Score: Life of Pi
Original Score: Skyfall
Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man
Animated Film: Wreck-It Ralph
Foreign Film: Amour

My predictions could change, but right now that puts the tally at:

Les Miserables – 4 wins
Argo – 3 wins
Life of Pi – 3 wins
Silver Linings Playbook – 3 wins
Amour – 2 wins
Lincoln – 2 wins
Anna Karenina – 1 win
Searching for Sugar Man – 1 win
Skyfall – 1 win
Wreck-It Ralph – 1 win 

Doesn't anybody love me anymore?


  1. Great in-depth analysis. I'm thinking Argo might be able to grab 4 awards, like Picture, A. Screenplay, Editing, and Score. Life of Pi could win the sound categories and visual effects, but I think Skyfall might win Best Cinematography. (After all, Miranda's Benjamin Button work lost to Slumdog.) Also, I'm currently predicting Riva to win. 7 of the last 10 BAFTA Actress winners have won the Oscar, including 4 out of the last 5. Lawrence could very well win though.

    1. Riva is the only one with a chance of dethroning Lawrence, but her win was such a BAFTA thing to do, and I doubt AMPAS follows suit since awarding Lawrence is such an AMPAS thing to do.

      And yes, I think Skyfall is the darkhorse in Cinematography.