Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shock and Awe: Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

So... that was kind of weird this morning, right? Could anyone have predicted that Best Director lineup? Or that not one but two presumptive front runners would effectively be kneecapped by the nominations (or lack thereof)? Or that a little Sundance hit would prove to have some real muscle?

I said yesterday that this seemed like a particularly unpredictable year, but I wasn't prepared for quite so many "left field" choices. I did manage to correctly predict 77 out of 107 nominees, going 9 for 9 on the Best Picture list and 5 for 5 on Best Actress, so that's not so bad.

Let's take a deep breath and take a look at a few of the categories:

Best Picture: Until this morning, it was looking like a two horse race between Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. Both were nominated for the top prize but without Best Director nods, the chances of either winning has become pretty remote. At this point, it looks like the game is Lincoln's to lose. Steven Spielberg's film leads the pack with 12 nominations and scores across all category types which bodes very well for its chance. That being said, AMPAS obviously loves Silver Linings Playbook, which took 8 nominations, including one in each of the acting categories; and Life of Pi, which has 11 nominations to its credit.

Best Director: There has never been another year when the DGA's nominations overlapped so little with the AMPAS nominees. Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, and Tom Hooper all got left behind in favor of David O. Russell, Michael Haneke and, in what is arguably the year's most surprising nomination, Benh Zeitlin. I imagine that the Beasts of the Southern Wild crew is already celebrating like they won, because this is above and beyond what anyone could have expected.

Best Actor: It's seemed like a 6 actor race for a while now but I wouldn't have guessed that John Hawkes would be the one left behind. Daniel Day-Lewis has been a lock since day one while Denzel Washington, Joaquin Phoenix and Hawkes seemed like safe bets, with Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper battling it out for the fifth slot. Jackman and Cooper both getting in seemed plausible, but I would have guess that Phoenix's "I don't care about awards anyway" comments would have made him an easier target for omission than Hawkes.

Best Actress: I called this one, but I fully expected to be wrong on at least one, possibly two counts. It wouldn't have surprised me at all to have seen Marion Cotillard or Rachel Weisz slip in, but that wasn't to be. Given the general love for Silver Linings Playbook I'd say that Jennifer Lawrence has pulled ahead in this race, but I wouldn't count out either of Jessica Chastain or Naomi Watts.

Best Supporting Actress: I'm a little surprised that Helen Hunt could get in while her co-star Hawkes got left out, but I'm even more surprised that the "upset" nominee turned out to be Jacki Weaver rather than a more high profile contender like Nicole Kidman or even Ann Dowd, who has gained a fair bit of attention for her self-financed campaign.

Best Supporting Actor: In the battle of the Django supporting stars they went for Christoph Waltz over Leonardo DiCaprio - I can't say I disagree, but I am surprised. Of note, all the nominees in this category are past winners.

Original Screenplay: Well, despite nominating its three stars, AMPAS really didn't care for The Master. I didn't expect that film to show up in either Best Picture or Director categories, but I figured Paul Thomas Anderson was a lock for Original Screenplay.

Foreign Language Film: The feel-good (and Weinstein backed) The Intouchables got left out, which surprised me, but yay! for Canada's entry, War Witch.

So who am I rooting for? I'll be pulling for Searching for Sugar Man in the Documentary category, Anna Karenina in the Costume and Production Design categories, Alexandre Desplat in the Original Score category, and (for entirely patriotic reasons, because I haven't actually seen any of the Foreign Film nominees yet) War Witch.

Now we just sit back and wait to see what surprises await us at the end of February.

No comments: