2013 Oscar Predictions – Ed’s Picks
Best Director and Best Picture:
The discussion of these two categories should really go together this year, due to the fact that they probably won’t be awarded to the same film. At this point, prognosticators have Argo as the favorite to win. But Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated as Best Director. So if Argo wins, it will be the first time the Best Picture winner didn’t have its director even nominated since Driving Miss Daisy won back in 1989.
When it comes down to it, the list of nine nominees for Picture is an especially strong one. Les Misérables is the only one that I think might not deserve its nomination, but even that one I don’t object to so strongly. I did like it, I will own it on video, and will watch it multiple times in the future. But it’s flawed. Meanwhile, Silver Linings Playbook is a very fun watch. And it’s nice to see a romantic comedy actually get some Oscar attention. But it won’t win. Amour will walk away with the Best Foreign Language film Oscar, so it’s not likely to win here. Beasts of the Southern Wild will end up seeing the nomination as the award itself. I personally would be pleasantly surprised for Django Unchained to do better on awards night than I think it will. But it’s going to win the Original Screenplay award as its consolation prize.
Meanwhile, the three remaining films are a great example of how this can be more of a horse race than actually basing things on merit. For example, just before it came out, there was lots of talk of Zero Dark Thirty being a lock for winning Best Picture. But then people saw it and suddenly it lost all of its momentum. Lincoln was the frontrunner based on Spielberg being nominated and Affleck not. But then other awards shows happened, the marketing started to kick in, and now we find ourselves with Argo in the lead and Spielberg most likely getting the directing award. The funny thing is, NONE of that has anything to do with the quality of the films themselves. The movies are what they are. So who favors what at whatever given time is all based on outside forces, not the merit of the work itself. That phenomenon is fascinating to observe.
Of the two, I like Lincoln slightly more. I have nothing against Argo at all. It is a terrifically tense true life thriller. And there isn’t a lot of showy acting in it, so I would like to point out how good Ben Affleck’s acting is in it. He’s very subtle. Also, most of the tension comes from the filmmaking itself. We are shown things instead of told. That’s great. However, you could also argue the whole movie is about seven people trying to get through airport security.
Lincoln is terrific because it takes politics seriously. It’s all about how things really get done. Sometimes that process is ugly. Sometimes it’s petty. But it’s real and thoughtful. Lincoln hands down possesses the best script of the year (and if it doesn’t win for Adapted Screenplay, I’m throwing something at my TV). In popular opinion it feels like it’s suffering just because it’s Spielberg. It’s ironic. Back in the days when he made The Color Purple, he couldn’t get nominated because he was a populist director that the intelligentsia couldn’t take seriously. Now he’s considered an old master, and no one wants to give him too much credit because it’s boring to acknowledge that he’s great. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I think in the case of this film, he really stretched himself. This has got to be the wordiest film he’s ever made. It’s hugely political. And it’s incredibly literate. But for the general populace, it’s like going to a five-star restaurant. When people walk away having a great meal they just think “of course it was a great meal” and dismiss it like no effort went into creating it. It reminds me of some years ago when Anthony Hopkins was nominated for Amistad, I believe. Siskel & Ebert were saying that people want to dismiss him because he gets nominated all the time. But the fact is, he gets nominated all the time because he’s a great actor. It feels like Spielberg has that same curse now.
So, most likely Argo will win Picture, Spielberg director.
Other random thoughts:
Adele is going to walk way with the Song award for Skyfall with ease; I would love it if Paperman won Best Animated Short (it is charming and moving while being purely visual); it would be very cool if Life of Pi won Original Score; Argo should win editing; and once again, the Documentary category has the most solid collection of films nominated, as in there’s not a bad one in the bunch (though let’s hear it for The Queen of Versailles).
I also have high hopes for Seth MacFarlane.