Sunday, February 24, 2013

And the Winner Should Be... 2013 Edition

My 2010 post on Academy Award predictions is still getting page hits, so with the 2013 awards being given out tonight, I figure I'd better put out something new to let really bored people ponder for the next three years.

I saw over 100 movies in the theater last year and many of the nominees but not all.  I will not generally comment on the movies or roles I haven't seen.  Those movies & roles will be marked with a % in front.

Best Actress in a  Supporting Role
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Sally Field, Lincoln
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
%Amy Adams, The Master

I'm pretty much neutral in this category.  I don't think anyone in Les Miz should be rewarded for being in that movie, so Hathaway is out, as much as I adore her.  Hunt should have been nominated as Lead Actress, so maybe Weaver by a nose.  And special mention for Helen Hunt doing full frontal nudity at age 49.  That's bold.  That's commitment. That's a lot of trips to the gym.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln 
%Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Jones and Waltz chewed scenery equally well in their roles.  De Niro was fine and Arkin was good but really just one of a talented, large ensemble cast.  I can't really choose.

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
%Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

I hate Joaquin Phoenix, or "Leaf" as I still think of him.  He was 80% of the reason I skipped The Master, with the remaining 20% being the lousy previews.  I can't allow Jackman to win because Les Miz sucked, and Denzel was great in Flight, but it was not a great movie (A movie about alcoholism in 2012?  Lost Weekend did it in 1949).  That leaves Cooper and Day-Lewis, two completely different styles.  Day-Lewis impersonated a real person and did it extremely well, but should that give him more points than Cooper for inventing a character?  Not in my book.  I'm going with Cooper because Day-Lewis deserves punishment for winning for There Will Be Blood, a lousy movie and a creepy performance.

Best 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

Again, a bounty of choices for Lead Actress.  I just rewatched Zero Dark Thirty on Thursday, so it's fresh in my mind.  I loved Chastain's 10-year voyage of obsession and equally loved Lawrence's damaged young widow.  Watts was good in a movie more about the events than her performance.  Then there's Wallis.  I can't tell if the six-year-old actress was brilliant in playing the six-year-old Hushpuppy or if she was just being a six-year-old.  I'm going to go with Chastain slightly over Lawrence (52-48% in my head).  And please, Please, PLEASE don't be one of those people who says Quvenzhané Wallis shouldn't win because it might mess up her career or her life to have such success so early.  An Academy Award is a snapshot in time - either she is this year's best actress or she isn't.  What the trophy will do to a nine-year-old is irrelevant.

Final note on this category, why not a nomination for Keira Knightley for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World?

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

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

First things first.  The Academy messed up with the nominations for these two categories.  They omitted The Avengers for Best Picture and Joss Whedon for Best Director.  Honestly, if it and he were nominated, they'd get the trophies. Why?  Because The Avengers was, second for second, pixel for pixel, the most entertaining movie of 2012.  It was funny, literate, touching and never dragged, not an easy task for a movie two hours and 14 minutes long.  Sure, it's based on comic books and is a sequel of sorts to some partly-good, party-lame predecessors, but judged as a standalone movie, The Avengers is what movies should aspire to be - entertaining and rewarding.

Now that I've got that out of my system, on with the  discussion of actual nominees.

I don't think the Best Director necessarily has to go the director of the Best Picture, so let's work this out.  We automatically disqualify Les Miz and Life of Pi.  The people who made those movies and even the actors in them should be banned from working in the industry for a couple of years.  Absolute dreck.  Zero Dark Thirty is a complex movie, but it has some issues, like saying that torture ever yielded actionable intelligence or leaving out that there were months of preparation for the Abottabad strike.  Argo has a similar issue by simplifying the hostage crisis and minimizing the Canadians' role in the extraction.  Having said that, I think both movies should receive serious consideration.  Silver Linings Playbook is a fairly compact actor's movie and, as such, deserves consideration.  In Lincoln, we see a recreation of an important time in history but I'm going to bounce it for two reasons.  First, for a movie with that all-encompassing title, it was only about a three-month period in Honest Abe's life, and maybe not even the most important three months.  Second, it couldn't have ended just with Abe going to the theater or chillin' in the White House?  They had to show a play being interrupted (not even the one Lincoln was attending) and then later show him actually expiring?  No.

As is his want, Quentin Tarantino made a thoroughly entertaining Movie (all Tarantino movies are described with a capital M).  Django Unchained doesn't treat slavery with the reverence that the subject usually warrants, but it's a really good Movie.  Maybe not quite a Best Picture, however, but up there.

And what to make of Beasts of the Southern Wild?  It's an amazing movie but it was tough to watch.  To see a movie featuring poverty, ignorance and squallor was tough.  I felt dirty during most of it, but I'll bet that was the director's intent.  The movie is quite an achievement, even if it's about small people and small events.  Yet, I don't think it's quite up to being a Best Picture.  Also, if it were, it would still have to be disqualified due to the aurox situation.  In the movie, a character talks about the ancient creature known as the aurox.  It was the ancestor of our modern-day cows - think a combination of water buffalo and long-horn steer, and twice their size.  In Beasts of the Southern Wild, after the aurox is mentioned, a number of creatures thaw from Antarctic ice. These creatures are oversized wild boars.  The movie never refers to the boars directly as auroxes but it is implied.  That may have been intentional - it would be hard for a guy as clearly brilliant as Benh Zeitlin to make such a simple mistake, but I'm going to assume he did make that mistake and thinks that these boars are really auroxes, and I cannot let that stand.  Beasts of the Southern Wild is hereby disqualified, even though it is an amazing movie.

Process of elimination leaves us this:  Director?  Spielberg.  Picture?  Zero Dark Thirty, with Argo and Lincoln narrowly behind.

I'll leave you with the same sentiment with which I ended my 2010 picks.  Enjoy the awards.  May they go to people and projects that don't suck