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My Oscar Predictions – 2013

Here come the Oscars!   I’m a little further behind than usual this year for some reason, but I thought I’d go ahead and offer my opinion on who will win, who should win, and who’s being ignored, for whatever it’s worth.

 

Best Picture

I’m surprised that Amour garnered a nomination; it’s so rare for foreign films to gain much attention here in the U S of A.   It would be a total shock if it won.  Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty are both probably too controversial to win Best Picture; Oscar likes to play it safe.  I loved Les Miserables, but can’t see giving Best Picture to a film that an almost exact replica of the Broadway show.

I haven’t seen Life of Pi or Silver Linings Playbook, but I’m not hearing a lot of buzz about either of them as serious contenders.  So that leaves Lincoln and Argo.  I think Lincoln is, by far, the more ambitious, and well-crafted film, but Argo’s the safe bet – it’s the kind of heartwarming and humorous period drama Oscar loves.

It might be hard to find much in common between a movie about helping the King of England overcome his speech difficulties in the ’40s and a movie about rescuing CIA operatives from Iran in the ’70s, but the easy commonality is that they’re both carefully designed Oscar bait.

What Should Win:  Lincoln

What Will Win: Argo

Best Director

I’m pretty handicapped here, as I have only seen two of the five nominated movies – “Lincoln” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”   Spielberg is the favorite and Lincoln is a fantastic movie, but if it were up to me, I’d pick Benh Zeitlin.  Lincoln is filled with so many trademark “Spielberg serious film” touches that he seems to maybe be coasting a little – running off of a very effective, very successful template, but running off a template all the same.  In contrast, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a much trickier, much more creative film – there’s really nothing like it, and in my eyes, directing that kind of thing is not only much more difficult, it’s also much more worthy of recognition and awards.

But I’m including a caveat here.  I’ve read “Life of Pi,” and can’t really imagine taking that novel and putting it on the big screen.  But Ang Lee did it, and by all accounts, did it well.  I’m very curious to see how he did it.

I also want to say that Robert Zemeckis deserved an Oscar nomination for “Flight,”  a fantastically directed film.

Who Will Win: Steven Spielberg

 Who Should Win: either Benh Zeitlin or Ang Lee

Best Actor

If “Argo” wins Best Picture, Daniel Day-Lewis will probably win Best Actor as a consolation prize.  That’s fine by me; it was a pitch-perfect performance, though I’ve got to say one of the less exciting in Day-Lewis’ incredible career.  I can’t see Jackman winning for “Les Miserables,”  and I dread the thought of hearing “Oscar-winning actor” attached to Bradley Cooper’s name for the rest of his career.  Denzel Washington was fine in “Flight,” a movie I liked a lot, but once again showed that he’s an actor with a lot of charisma and presence but not a ton of range.

But if I had a vote, I’d cast it for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in “The Master.”   Day-Lewis rightly gets a lot of credit for disappearing into roles, but I think Phoenix did so even more in that role.  It’s startling to remember that this is the same actor who played the villainous emperor in “Gladiator”  13 years ago.  It’s a remarkable, memorable performance, but it comes in such a difficult movie, it’s likely to be overlooked.

Who Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix

Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis  (which won’t be so bad)

 

Best Actress

I’ve only seen two of the five movies on the list here, and I have to say, I hope neither actress wins.  I thought Jessica Chastain was terribly miscast in “Zero Dark Thirty;”  I like Chastain, but she’s far too graceful and delicate to play a hardened CIA operative.  I spent a good chunk of the movie recasting the role in my head (I think Anna Kendrick would’ve been great.)  And I loved “Beasts of the Southern Wild,”  but I think child actors are generally overrated, so I’d rather not see Quvenzhane Wallis win the Oscar.

Who Should Win: no opinion.  (was it a particularly bad year for female lead roles, or have I just not seen the right movies?)

Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”   (this is what the inter webs tell me)

 

Best Supporting Actor

I haven’t seen “Django Unchained” yet, but I’d put my money on Christoph Waltz for this one, for political reasons.  The Academy likes to think of itself as hip and edgy, but generally plays it safe with the big categories.  Giving Waltz the Oscar here is a way of rewarding Tarantino for “Unchained” without rocking the boat too much.

If they really wanted to be hip and edgy, this award would go to Thomas Haden Church for “Killer Joe,” but he didn’t get nominated.  “Killer Joe” was one of my favorite movies this year, and Church’s performance as the gullible mark who knows he’s not too bright perfectly counterbalances Matthew MacCounaghey’s psycho hit man.   I think Haden Church is one of the most underrated character actors working today, and I’d love to see him get more attention.  But that’s not going to happen in 2013.

Who Will Win: Christop Waltz

Who Should Win: Thomas Haden Church, for “Killer Joe”

Best Supporting Actress

By all accounts, this has pretty much already been given to Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables.  That’s too bad.   Hathaway was fine in Les Mis, but hers is my third-favorite performance of the nominees — and I’ve only seen three of the films.  Amy Adams continued to show us that she’s more than just sweet/cute in “The Master,” but really, it was Sally Field’s performance in “Lincoln” that knocked me out.  I was really impressed with the depth and intensity she brought to Mary Todd Lincoln, a difficult character to portray as anything but crazy.  Daniel Day-Lewis was great, but Sally Field was better.  She deserves the Oscar.

Also, I kind of hate Anne Hathway, because she has shown that she can handle heavyweight dramatic roles (most clearly in “Rachel Getting Married) but spends most of her time making stupid, shallow films like “Bride Wars” and “Love and Other Drugs.”  Her career might be the greatest waste of talent in Hollywood today.

Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway.  Sigh.

Who Should Win: Sally Field

Other Categories – Miscellaneous Notes

–After branching out and exploring the creative possibilities of animated film last year, Oscar has reined it back in this year, nominating several completely unremarkable films, all aimed at kids, all in English, all major studio productions.

–Searching for Sugar Man is the heavy favorite to win Best Documentary.  It’s the only one of the bunch I’ve seen, but I have to say, I wasn’t as impressed as everyone else was.

–Amour is nominated both for Best Picture and Best Foreign Film.   I think that makes it a virtual lock for Best Foreign Film, but it makes me wonder – has any other film ever been nominated for both?  Has a foreign film ever won Best Picture?

–I don’t think Zero Dark Thirty is going to win anything this year, despite being nearly every critic’s favorite film of the year.  Does that mean Martin Sheen’s anti-torture campaign was effective?  Not necessarily.  I think it’s more likely that the things critics were responding to are things the Academy just doesn’t care about that much.

–I’m really surprised “Moonrise Kingdom” didn’t garner more nominations.  Definitely one of the best films of the year.   It should’ve been recognized for production design at least, and maybe also for Original Screenplay, Film Editing.  Heck, I could make an argument that Bruce Willis deserved a Supporting Actor nod.

 

 

 

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