2013 Oscar Predictions – Ed’s Picks
The Academy Awards are rapidly approaching. This is an event I’m always excited to watch, even if it’s controlled by so much politics and sometimes the ceremony is a genuine snooze fest. It’s still fun because it has the veneer of respectability. The Golden Globes are decided by a small amount of people who seem easily open to influence or bribes. The Grammys have so many oddly fractured categories it’s hard to keep track of them all. Not to mention you rarely walk away from them feeling that the right people won. The Tonys award some great talent, and that charming NPH has been doing a bang-up job hosting awards shows, but unless you live in New York it’s unlikely you’ve actually seen any of the shows being celebrated. It’s hard to root for a team you can never watch. So, sports fans have the Superbowl, I have the Oscars.
The main reason I love them so much is the potential for them to get an award right. Yes, more often than not they get it wrong or wrong-ish. Take, for example, 2010. The King’s Speech is a fine movie. Well-acted, handsomely designed. But was it truly better than The Social Network? That will debated for ages to come (with most people answering “no”). But sometimes they really really get it right. The most classic example is Casablanca winning Best Picture in 1944. Well, duh! It’s Casablanca! Of course it’s worthy of Best Picture. But there are others throughout the years: Silence of the Lambs, Platoon, Amadeus, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Godfather. When critical acclaim matches with something that connects with audiences, you end up with a classic. And when that happens, things seem right with the world.
With that being said, let’s look at this year’s major nominees, and I’ll break down for you my very personally biased, out-and-out 100% subjective opinion.
I’m rooting for Life of Pi. It’s honestly one of the best uses of 3D ever, with images both beautiful and startling. How this film looks is one of the real showcases of the story itself. I have this sneaking suspicion that Life of Pi is going to get completely stiffed this year. It feels like one of those movies that not enough people saw, and the ones that did aren’t championing it loudly enough. My guess is Lincoln will win here, which was wonderfully shot as well. But Life of Pi deserves it.
This is Anne Hathaway’s to lose. And rightfully so. While I really do like Les Misérables, the movie isn’t perfect. The extended close-ups don’t always serve the emotion of the film. Tom Hooper should have varied his use of it more. But in the case of Hathaway singing “I Dreamed a Dream,” the scene was really enhanced. She is raw emotion, and she makes you feel it. There is fine work all around in this category, but Princess Catwoman Diaries really needs to win her first Oscar here.
So everyone in this category is an acting vet. They’ve all won Oscars before, they are all great, so as far as picking a winner, it’s supremely tough. When was the last time De Niro was actually GOOD in something? It feels like it’s been a long while. He’s one of my favorite actors of all time, so it was nice to see him in something watchable again. Alan Arkin is always one of the most welcome sights on a movie screen. He’s very fun in Argo, but it feels like he’s only on screen for about five minutes. Tommy Lee Jones was one of the many great things in Lincoln. But then we get to Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christoph Waltz. My issue with both of these nominees is, what the hell does “Supporting” mean to the Academy? Hoffman felt like a co-star with Joaquin Phoenix in The Master! And I wouldn’t be surprised if Waltz had just as much screen time and more lines than Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained! So how is this category defined? (The answer is that it’s defined by the marketing departments of the respective movie studios, I know.) I think it would be nice to see Hoffman win, just because The Master was primarily an acting showcase for its two leads, but if Waltz wins I’ll probably be just as happy.
I haven’t seen The Impossible. I’m sure Naomi Watts is good in it, and I’m sure when I do see it I’ll end up tearing up. But it also bugs me with the notion that in the middle of a natural disaster where thousands of people that actually live in Southeast Asia died, this movie had to focus on the well-off white people that had their vacation ruined. Jennifer Lawrence is probably going to win for Silver Linings Playbook. She’s quite good in it, though the movie itself feels a little slight compared to all of the Oscar nominations it ended up with. Based strictly on the performance alone, I think I’ll root for Quvenzhané Wallis. While I doubt we will end up seeing a long-term acting career from this little girl, hers was the single most moving female performance of 2012.
I said it when I reviewed Lincoln and I’ll repeat it again. Daniel Day-Lewis could have been given the Oscar on the opening day of that film and it would have been fine and just. His ability to disappear into the role of our greatest President was fascinating to watch. I’ve heard some backlash lately regarding this film. But even those who think it was “boring” (you’re dead wrong, by the way) are giving DDL respect for the way he inhabits the role. Truly remarkable.