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.

Trail(er) Mix – DJANGO UNCHAINED, GANGSTER SQUAD, THE WATCH

Sometimes trailers are the best part of the movies, never more so than today as we ventured out to a showing of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I’m so glad we got to watch a whole slew of them.

The clip for Quentin Tarantino’s much-anticipated Django Unchained had people clapping and cheering. The trailer lines up the story pretty well — Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) join forces to rescue Django’s wife from Calvin Candle (Leonardo diCaprio) — but doesn’t give away too much. I was actually hoping it would give away a bit more, because I’d like a better idea of how violent it’s going to be, but even Tarantino might not be sure of that yet. As of a couple of weeks ago, he was reportedly still casting, at least as far as Jonah Hill is concerned. Hill, who I thought was so good in Moneyball, had dropped out due to a scheduling conflict but is apparently back in. He’s listed on IMDB but his character hasn’t got a name. Hmm. One thing is certain, Waltz’s character struck me as being very similar to the one he played in Inglourious Basterds, just with a different accent. Django is off the chain December 25.

Despite the presence of actors I think are funny — Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Hill — the trailer for The Watch just wasn’t very funny to me. The gags seemed trite and the characters stereotypical, which is disappointing because the concept sounded interesting: “Suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch group as a way to get out of their day-to-day family routines find themselves defending the Earth from an alien invasion.” It is perhaps a measure of how bored I was that The Watch has a red band trailer and I have no interest in seeking it out. You’ll be able to see for yourself on July 27.

The other clips on offer were Total Recall and House at the End of the Street, which don’t look that exciting to me; End of Watch, which I’m already looking forward to; and Gangster Squad. It looks as if Crazy Stupid Love co-stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are going to be the best thing about this mashup of L.A. Confidential, Mulholland Falls and The Untouchables, in which a small number of L.A. cops try to stop the late-’40s/early-’50s invasion of East Coast gangsters like Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). Directed by Ruben Fleischer of Zombieland fame, I get the feeling this one will be either brilliant or disastrous. The way Gosling delivers the line “Ya gotta die of something” is pretty encouraging. Gangster Squad is out September 7.