Saturday, 23 February 2013

Picture Show; Incoherent Oscar, Best Picture (and final predictions)


So, Incoherent Oscar has been sort of wonky this year (read Incoherent). Not for any specific reason that the blog itself being wonky these past few weeks. Still, old habits and all. I usually finish the season with short notes on the picture line-up and my ranking of the slate. For the first time in a looooong time, none of the Picture nominees garnered higher than a B+ grade from me, but I’m not all mad at the Picture ballot. From the film I love most to the one I’m most suspicious about, it’s a slate of films with things to say – sometimes not as artfully as I’d like or not always in a way which makes me appreciative but even as key favourites failed – just barely to make the list or never had a chance to begin, as a constant warden of the AMPAS, I’m hardly chagrined.

What I am chagrined about is the uniformly worst thing which seems to accompany any citation of “best of” lists. Critics of the Academy Awards and other institutionalised awards are always quick to find conspiracies for to explain why winners are chosen, and I admit that part of that comes from incessant prediction, something which I’m partial to. When the choices are so often predicted we sometimes look for logical explanations to make our choices seem realistic (which often tips into being specious explanations) and it bleeds into my annoyance at seeing critics lambaste voters for choices they deem inane, and supposing their must be some insidious reason beneath. Surely the only reason anyone would be voting for X film is because of Y reason. The general inclination to show disbelief at imagining that someone could legitimately find a particular choice their favourite in a category becomes secondary to politics of justifying why an unusual choice is made. Certainly, as much as any organisation where voters appear in the droves might have its issues weird responses to the choices of Academy voters often tend to dismay.

ANYHOW, just for kicks – my final predictions, but before a few notes on the best picture nominees.

The Nominees: Amour; Argo; Beasts of the Southern Wild; Django Unchained; Les Misérables; Life of Pi; Lincoln; Silver Linings Playbook; Zero Dark Thirty

Amour
Also nominated for:
Best Director
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actress
Best Foreign Language Film
Predictive wise the film seems to be comfortably in the middle of the pack. Its win for the Foreign Language prize seems assured and it’s considered an outside threat for Writing and Actress, but in the long-run Best Picture does not work as a cumulative award (see more on Life of Pi below) and Amour seems to rest comfortably in the middle of the pack. It will always rest easy knowing it’s got a mass of critical support behind it. Winning wise, I'm not willing to bet on either of the wins for writing or acting. True, the disinclination to recognise non-English films at the Oscars is an issue, but Amour would not be my first, second, or fifth choice to change the mode this year so I'm not especially incensed.
(My Review: B/B+; #3)

Argo
Also nominated for
Best Adapted Screenplay
Supporting Actor
Film Editing
Sound Mixing
Sound Editing
Original Score
 
Oh, Argo. The wave of antipathy which surrounds it as the night grows nearer seems to certify its position as the eventual winner – the way these things go, and all. I can conceivably see an Argo loss but at this point it might be too bizarre to happen. The question is does it earn the top prize only or rack up wins for its editing (very likely), its screenplay (likely) its mixing and score (possible) or Arkin. For now, I’m comfortable saying it joins Driving Miss Daisy as the fourth film to win the award with no corresponding director citation. Good company…ummmm. I do grow continuously vexed at the insistence on resting the consistent love for Argo at the feet of Affleck's lack of a director citation which seems to be such an uncommonly unsound argumentative stance to take, especially when one considers the film's pre-Oscar nomination popularity with audience, and its overseas accolades too.
(My Snippet Review: B+; #2)

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Also nominated for
Director
Adapted Screenplay
Actress
I’m ambivalent about some parts, ardently moved by others and generally dissatisfied with others. It’s the little film that could of the batch, though, and seems to have found favour with many. Its closest shot at walking home with an award might be a left-field option in adapted screenplay, but like many films – regardless of quality – the picture citation has given it attention which means that the nomination is truly an award in itself, spreading the word of the film where it may not have reached before.
(My Thoughts: B-; #6)

Django Unchained
Also nominated for
Original Screenplay
Supporting Actor
Cinematography
Sound Editing
This is another film that moves in fits and starts, much I don’t care for but even more that I love so it all coalesces to something I can be appreciate of. In one scenario it would walk away with prizes for Screenplay, Supporting Actor and even Cinematography (never underestimate Richardson) but in another scenario it could walk off with nothing. For some reason I want to say the latter even if I’m not feeling comfortable betting against Tarantino for writing – tangled script and all. Moreover, I’m not especially enthused with any of his major competitors (Anderson’s is the only script I care for significantly although Tarantino still be #3 of “the top 3” of Boal, and Haneke).
(My Short Review: B/B-; #5)

...thoughts on the other Picture nominees and complete predictions...
...below the jump...



Les Misérables
Also nominated for
Actor
Supporting Actress
Costume Design
Production Design
Makeup
Sound Mixing
Original Song
Look down, look down! It’s entirely possible that the only win for Les Misérables could be Hathaway. And, then, it’s possible it could win everything but Picture, Song (anything goes, right?) and Actor. It’s one of the things about this year’s seemingly unpredictable awards shenanigans. Everyone keeps saying everything, and maybe it can. I wouldn’t lie, I’d relish something bizarre like a win for it here. I mentioned over at Antagony and Ecstasy that I'd love a case where the winners are particularly surprising just to see everyone go crazy. The fact that this win would actually be my choice only makes my somewhat subversive desire that much more enticing. But really Hooper’s musical is happy to be here. And that’s probably just enough.
(My Review: B+; #1)

Life of Pi
Also nominated for
Director
Adapted Screenplay
Film Editing
Cinematography
Production Design
Original Song
Original Score
Sound Editing
Sound Mixing
Visual Effects
With this seeming to be the likely winner of “most awards” it’s being touted as a likely upset for the top prize. But I always endorse the belief that the Picture prize is not a cumulative award given to which gets the most ticks in boxes, which is why people won’t see Argo missing a director nod and think it’s automatically undeserving. And conversely, much love for Life of Pi elsewhere doesn’t convince me of a surge for it here. I’m even mistrustful of Ang Lee for director, but that’s a whole other scenario since the entire category seems open.
(My Review: B-; #7)

Lincoln
Also nominated for
Director
Adapted Screenplay
Actor
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
Editing
Cinematography
Production Design
Costume Design
Sound Mixing
Original Score
It seemed, briefly, to be the likely winner but it has been steadily overshadowed by other players in the category and other than a seemingly assured win for Daniel Day Lewis and maybe Tommy Lee Jones and a potential win for its writing I’m uncertain of its chances as a major player on Sunday. Spielberg is still a potential candidate, but then the Director category seems to be a veritable toss-up in the best and worst of ways. I’m only interested in a Lincoln win by way of Sally Field, but what do my thoughts matter in the long run?
(My Snippet-Review: B-/C+; #8)

Silver Linings Playbook
Also nominated for
Director
Adapted Screenplay
Actor
Actress
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
Editing

The lone “comedy” in the race, moment is supposedly on the side of this and like with all attempts to logically make sense of predictions the accuracy is probably specious. Still, I remain unconvinced that Lawrence will lose the Oscar even as my brain keeps imagining a wholly unprecedented thing like a win for the least discussed nominee – Naomi Watts. In the larger vein of things the film seems loved, and considering the way it moves I can easily seeing it being  a lovable film (not for me, too many things which unsettle me). It's warmth would undoubtedly work for it in some way. To a win, though? Perhaps not.
(My Review: B-/C+; #9)

Zero Dark Thirty
Also nominated for
Original Screenplay
Actress
Editing
Sound Editing
Of the three 2012 films which became somewhat secondary to the conversations *about* their films common consensus says that Zero Dark Thirty was the one which suffered most from the situation. It’s a possibility, but then I’m not willing to unambiguously say that it’s the torture commotion which resulted in the film’s lack of a director nomination. I’ll continue to assert that in a year where voters seemed to care for many films Bigelow’s was just one of the casualties – in as much as earning a nomination for best picture with no director nod can be categorised as a casualty. Will it leave the ceremony empty handed? It’s a possibility, I’m uncertain how I feel about Boal’s chances of winning, the seemingly most likely chance for triumph.
(My Review: B/B-; #4)

So, with that finished - this is my complete list of predictions.
 PICTURE: Argo (Alt. Lincoln
DIRECTOR: Lincoln (Steven Spielberg) (Alt: Silver Linings Playbook)
ACTOR: Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln (Alt. Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables)
ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook (Alt. Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook (Alt. Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables (Alt. Sally Field in Lincoln)

I’m sticking to my guns about Robert for a number of reasons, for one his character goes through the largest emotional arc which is something which sets him apart from the stoic characters of his competition. Also, if the “they’re all former winners” thing means anything, I suppose I’ll bet on the guy who won his the longest time ago. Thirdly, surely the voters seem to like the film a great deal. I’m generally confident with the other acting categories, not sold on Riva’s surge and even if that happens I feel it’s more likely to open a way for Chastain to surprise by taking votes from Jessica. I feel safe with Spielberg at the end of the day because many love him and many LOVE Abe. If Lincoln was not such a force historically, the film monetarily and the actor playing him so legendary (and if that musical had not become so controversial) I would be willing to go out on a limb for Hugh.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Silver Linings Playbook (Alt. Argo)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Django Unchained (Alt. Zero Dark Thirty)

I probably will regret that choice for Silver Linings Playbook but with it being the film which seems to emanate most from its script I feel it being a major contender. Add that to it being one of what I perceive to be the top three films in a generally tight race, I suspect there may be a hope to reward Russell somewhere.

FILM EDITING: Argo (Alt. Life of Pi)
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Life of Pi (Alt. Anna Karenina)
VISUAL EFFECTS: Life of Pi (Alt. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

I wish I had the guts to predict McGarvey’s for photography. But…Remember when Dion Beebe won for gorgeous if vaguely hollow work on Memoirs of a Geisha. McGarvey’s work isn’t hollow but it is gorgeous, the most gorgeous of all five and it didn’t matter that Beebe wasn’t the big name in the category or helming a Picture nominee. Still, Life of Pi is also gorgeous and is a best picture nominee. It probably won’t lose. I will admit the subversive part of me is hoping it loses visual effects both for kicks, and because it's my #2 and not my #1.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anna Karenina (Alt. Les Misérables)
COSTUME DESIGN: Anna Karenina (Alt. Mirror Mirror)
MAKEUP: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Alt. Les Misérables)

I only recently realised how angry people are over the nomination of The Hobbit here. Its chances of a win are not assured, but it would be the most realistic winner, and deservedly so.

SCORE: Anna Karenina (Alt. Life of Pi)
SONG: Skyfall, for “Skyfall” (Alt. Life of Pi for “Pi’s Lullaby”)
SOUND MIXING: Les Misérables (Alt. Skyfall)
SOUND EDITING: Life of Pi (Alt. Skyfall)

I allow myself one – Andrew, what are you doing? – pick each year. They tend not to pay off, but still I can’t resist choosing Marianelli for score. The film is all about that music, and even if persons aren’t a fan of the film surely that excellent, pervasive, delicate score is impossible to ignore, right? We’ll see.

ANIMATED FEATURE: Brave (Alt. Wreck it Ralph)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE: Amour (Alt. Kon-Tiki)
DOCUMENTARY: How to Survive a Plague (Alt. Searching for Sugar Man)

Deliberately chose the less popular one for documentary just because I’m distrustful like that, and for the shorts did my usual random picks which sometimes help me win and sometimes does not.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: King’s Point (Alt. Inocente)
ANIMATED SHORT: Adam and Dog (Alt. Paperman)
LIVE ACTION SHORT: Buzkashi Boys (Alt. Curfew)

So, there's that. I'll see how wrong I am in about 30 hours or so. How wrong do you think I am?

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