The Annual Academy Awards are back for their 85th ceremony and with it come nine more would be films all vying for the biggest movie award in Hollywood. With only nine films capable of being nominated for the Best Film it was inevitable that some films just wouldn’t make the cut. That said, the inclusion of some of the films, such as Silver Linings Playbook, whilst others, such as Skyfall and The Avengers, are left off seems especially erroneous. Some have argued that the Oscars are about art and James Bond films aren’t artist because they’re action films. There is some truth to that because action films are generally better the simpler they are but Skyfall takes a lot of effort to elevate itself above the typical action film. On the flip side, a film such as Silver Linings Playbook isn’t necessarily art because it deals with a more down-to-earth story involving damaged characters finding their way in life.
Art doesn’t have to be sophisticated. It can be dirty and repulsive, so long as repulsive is what the artist intended. Trying to create something beautiful and having it turn out ugly is failure but intentionally creating a hideous thing can still be an artistic feat. Art is not always nice, not that you can tell that from this year’s list of nominees. Life of Pi is perhaps the most daunting of Oscar nominated films but even that is entirely up to the viewer’s interpretation. Neither Skyfall nor The Avengers really capture this concept either but at least their inclusion would have suggested that the Oscar’s committee wasn’t simply looking for a certain type of film. And neither one would really deserve to win, but at least one deserves a nomination.
If I were to pick one film that was snubbed and probably deserves at least a best picture or director nomination, I’d have to go with Looper. It being Science Fiction shouldn’t stand in the way of it being art. The world has come a long way since the days of magazines publishing cheesy sci-fi stories and science fiction has truly grown. Not only did Jospeh Gordon Levitt do a fantastic job of imitating Bruce Willis’ acting and mannerism but the story was fresh and gritty. The film showed the viewer both sides of the conflict and it was possible to sympathise with both characters, even as one went around slaughtering children. It went beyond the science fiction elements and incorporated them into a great character drama where the drama was between the same character at different points in his life. But Looper receives no nominations. Not even for the technical skill that went into making Levitt look like a young Willis.
Well, now that I’m done ranting about the absence of Looper, let’s get to the predictions. The nominations for Best Picture are:
• Beasts of the Southern Wild
• Silver Linings Playbook
• Zero Dark Thirty
• Les Misérables
• Life of Pi
• Django Unchained
Of all these films, I enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. Silver Linings Playbook was a film that seemed to pretend it had depth when it had very little actually going on. Life of Pi was decent but good enough to win Best Picture? I don’t think so.
Conversely, Django Unchained is an interesting, fun film that has everything you’d imagine from a Tarantino film. At this point in his career, he can really direct the kind of stories that he’s always wanted to do like Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Django unfortunately, seems splintered in places and runs a little too long. Those are rather minor faults but those faults keep it from verging on the same greatness that Tarantino achieved with Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. Of course, an imperfect film from Tarantino is still a pretty good film in the end.
On Les Misérables, I feel that the film was decent but it doesn’t match Hooper’s work on The King’s Speech and the decision to stop the action to allow the actors to simply stand and sing bothered me. While it wasn’t a horrible decision, I don’t really feel that it added anything to film and even created some awkward camera moments where it felt like a nineteenth century reality television show. It was an interesting technique to experiment with but ultimately it seems that it didn’t really do anything to elevate the show beyond what it already was.
Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty possibly have a good chance of winning, if only because they’re about the achievements of America, and the Academy Awards love films that can boost their national pride. Zero Dark Thirty may be a little too raw and recent to really win. The most likely choice here is actually Argo. Argo has already won a lot of awards, including the BAFTA’s, and I think it’ll win this one, especially since Ben Affleck didn’t get a Best Director nomination.
Speaking of Best Director, here are the nominations for that award:
• David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
• Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
• Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
• Michael Haneke (Amour)
• Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
This seems like an odd bunch of directors, since few of the mostly likely suspects to win Best Picture are present, and in fact few of the big directors like Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper have been nominated. Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg are present but neither Life of Pi nor Lincoln is either one’s best work. The Academy likes to spread the love around, so my pick here would be David O Russell, though it’s undeserved.
The nominations for Best Actor are:
• Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
• Denzel Washington (Flight)
• Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
• Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
• Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
This is actually one of the more interesting categories. Any one of these actors has a fairly decent chance of walking away with the award. Bradley Cooper probably deserves an award of some kind, although just not for Silver Linings Playbook. If they don’t give Best Picture or Best Director to Lincoln, they may give Daniel Day-Lewis the nod for his efforts. Denzel Washington and Joaquin Phoenix are the dark horses here but if I were to award this to anyone, it’d be Hugh Jackman. His performance in Les Misérables may not have been his greatest work but it showed how versatile as a performer he is. Though I would give him the award, the Academy may not want to give him the award due to his work in comic book adaptations so the likely, and most predictable, option is Daniel Day-Lewis.
And the last of the main four awards, Best Actress:
• Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
• Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
• Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
• Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
• Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
After the nominations for Best Actor, the selection here seems a little bland. I don’t think anyone had a chance of beating Jessica Chastain to this award. I’m certainly hoping Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t win. I’ll be happy enough with Chastain taking home the title but Lawrence’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook, or any of her prior movies for that matter, haven’t really been Oscar worthy. She’s still young and probably has that time still to come. For now, it goes to Chastain.
That’s the big four all wrapped up. As for the supporting awards, I’d pick Christopher Waltz for Best Supporting Actor and Anne Hathaway will probably get the nod for Best Supporting Actress. Hathaway is another undeserving winner, I’d argue, because she had one of the most memorable songs in Les Misérables but it fell completely flat compared to other renditions. To find out who actually won, tune into the 85th Academy Awards tonight at 7.00pm on ABC.