31 Days of Oscar – 2013 Predictions and Musings

I am the first to admit that I have been too busy to actually see a good many of the 2013 nominees, but I still like predicting who will win and lamenting who should win but probably won’t. I haven’t read anyone else’s predictions but I do rely heavily on tweet buzz. I estimate a whopping .5% of the Academy are on Twitter, so we’ll see how that goes.

argo5-low-resBest Picture — While I’ve seen less than half the nominees in this category, and I suspect that Moonrise Kingdom belongs in it, I’m really happy to see movies from so many different genres get the nod. We’ve got a detective story, a Western, a couple of fantasies, historical drama, a musical, and even a rom-com that shows that two dysfunctional people can have a functional relationship. Not that Silver Linings Playbook is going to win…it looks like that distinction will go to Argo, with which I’m completely happy.

The detective story? Zero Dark Thirty. That’s how I think of it, but sometimes I wonder if I saw the same movie as everyone else. So I’ve really stopped reading anything about it. Yes, it shows torture and that really is bad f*cking news…but it also shows that, whether despite the torture or because of it, terrorist attacks continued. [[Possible spoiler —> Lead agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) gets her initial lead by tricking a suspect. Maya’s boss’s boss George (Mark Strong) sure does get ticked that his team isn’t making more progress. He advocates for more torture and more violence, to no avail. In the end, what does work (in the film anyway) was a methodology worthy of an old episode of Columbo or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple…cross-checking rediscovered records from Moroccan intelligence. That’s right…bin Laden was found as a result of detective work.]] If this film glorifies torture, then Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream glorify drugs.

zero-dark-thirty1Maybe the reason ZDT is so controversial is because a woman is the lynchpin of the ultimately successful “greatest manhunt in history.” Maybe it’s because Jason Clarke makes Dan, Maya’s colleague who does a lot of torturing, funny and likable, and that makes people uncomfortable (could just be me). Whatever the reason, the controversy surrounding this film has overshadowed its actual merit. There seems to be more outcry against a fictional piece of entertainment than there was against a real-life U.S. policy. Which is sad because it takes a ton of talent to retell a now-familiar story that is more static than dynamic in such an absorbing and visually stunning way. Yet this didn’t even get a nomination for Cinematography.

Actor — Daniel Day Lewis.

Actress — This is between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence, with Lawrence winning it. I guess there’s a small chance they’ll cancel each other out and someone else will take home the statuette, but I doubt it. This is Chastain’s second Oscar nomination and sometimes I wonder if she’ll ever win, because her acting seems so effortless and her looks are so timeless. Hopefully those two attributes provide her with a long career.

I had fun once...

Supporting Actor — I’d like Christoph Waltz to win but I’m thinking it’s going to be Tommy Lee Jones.

Supporting Actress — Anne Hathaway. I don’t get why there’s so much negativity about her.

Director — Even though I’d rather talk about who isn’t in this category, I have the feeling this is a really close race. Or maybe it works the other way around…the race was so close that not all the worthy could be nominated. At any rate, I predict Steven Spielberg.

Foreign Language Film — I don’t really think there’s any doute about this one...Amour.

Animated FeatureFrankenweenie or Brave. Probably Brave.

Cinematography — I’d like Django Unchained or Skyfall (Bond DP Roger Deakins is a perennial nominee who has never won), but I think Life of Pi.

Costume DesignLes Misérables or Anna Karenina. I find this category fascinating, you might want to check out The Hollywood Reporter’s Costume Designers’ Roundtable if you haven’t already.

Original Screenplay — Probably not Zero Dark Thirty or Moonrise Kingdom. I’m thinking Django Unchained.

Adapted Screenplay — I’d like Argo, but I get the feeling it’ll be Lincoln.

Screenplay update: Guess what…both Zero Dark Thirty and Argo won Writers Guild of America awards last night (Feb. 17).

Original Song — “Skyfall” had better win.


I’ve been to the movies two weekends in a row now (for The Avengers and Dark Shadows), and am definitely looking forward to three of the films I saw trailers for.

I was probably going to see Lawless anyway, due to my being a sucker for anything to do with Prohibition and the presence of Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, all of whom I believe to be talented actors. Hardy, Shia Labeouf and Jason Clarke play “the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia” (per the film’s site). Their livelihood is threatened when the lawmen sent in to stop them demand a piece of the action. The film is based on Matt Bondurant’s novel The Wettest County in the World, which he based on stories of his own family. The Player-style pitch: “It’s like Bonnie and Clyde with The Untouchables and some Godfather thrown in.” The trailer sets up the conflict, but, unlike a lot of trailers, it doesn’t show you how it’s going to end. I love the look of this film, the desaturated colors with lots of shadows and night shots. It took me a minute to recognize Guy Pearce as a menacing FBI agent. Hardy is always a standout for me, he transforms himself for every film, and I’m looking forward to seeing him and his Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy co-star Oldman in their scenes together. Lawless will debut at the Cannes Film Festival; its US release date is August 31.


In End of Watch, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as cops in south central L.A. who are as close as brothers. They are modern-day cowboys, looking for dope, money and guns …until they get on the wrong side of a scary cartel. The car chases and drug busts have documentary look, with handheld and dashboard-camera footage, giving the film a rushed, urgent quality that matches the subject matter. The film was written by David Ayer, who was also responsible for Training Day and The Fast and the Furious. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Watch is going to do for JG what Jarhead and Prince of Persia failed to do—make him a blockbuster action star. Jarhead wasn’t actually an action picture, but it was marketed like one, which didn’t work, and Prince of Persia had too many Disney/fantasy elements for people to take it seriously (though it is one of those films that I’ll stop to watch every time I find it when I’m flipping the channels and happen upon it.) If the trailer is any indication, End of Watch is gritty, violent and riveting. US release date is September 28.


Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, is based on a covert operation detailed in recently declassified US government documents. In 1980, when Iranian revolutionaries took over the American embassy in Tehran, 66 Americans were held captive for 444 days. Apparently there were also six who managed to escape to the Canadian embassy. Knowing these six were in incredible danger, the White House took a chance on a crazy scheme…send in operatives masquerading as a film crew working on a sci-fi film. I really love Affleck’s film The Town and it looks like this will have the same adrenaline-producing suspense and true-to-life characterization, with a little more humor as it parodies Hollywood. It will be interesting to see how he blends the drama of the extraction with the comedic elements. Argo will be released on October 12.

What do you think? Seen any good trailers lately?