Sunday, February 24, 2013

Final Thoughts Before the Oscars

You've heard it already said elsewhere, but this year's Oscar race has been more open and competitive than in recent years. This is very true especially in regards to a handful of categories, but for Best Picture, it's all but over since Argo will most surely take the top prize tonight after picking up Best Picture notices at the BFCA, Golden Globes, and BAFTAs, not to mention nearly sweeping the guild awards including PGA, WGA, DGA, and picking up the SAG Ensemble Award. In fact, its director Ben Affleck has also been picking up every single Best Director award post-Oscar nominations, which means he should be the favorite... oh, wait he wasn't nominated for Best Director! This perceived "snub" during Oscar nomination morning, as many people believe, somehow benefited his film catapulting him and his film into the front-runner status. I think the wind was already blowing in that direction especially with that film's making Hollywood out as the hero of its story, but that surprise development certainly set the tone for the rest of awards season.

Despite Argo's domination, the director snub emboldened the other films nominated and all of them had great reasons to think they could derail the presumed front-runner. Zero Dark Thirty for one was a hit with critics winning more critic awards for its film, director, and actress and won the season's first major award at the National Board of Review, but unlike with Argo its director snub for Kathryn Bigelow coupled with increased media scrutiny hampered the film's chances to take it all the way. Then there's Lincoln, a film perfectly timed to release right after the presidential election, which also received the most Oscar nominations, is also the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee, and has a slam-dunk Oscar win with Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor. But it's the Harvey Weinstein-led campaign Silver Linings Playbook that could possibly play spoiler especially with its recent wins at the BAFTAs and Spirit Awards.

Speaking of Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence seems poised to win Actress despite going up against Jessica Chastain who seemed to be in the driver's seat pre-Oscar nominations as well as the oldest and youngest Oscar nominees ever in Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhané Wallis respectively. Those latter actors' films, small as they were, shocked everyone by getting Picture-Director nominations with Amour a virtual lock for Foreign Film. Another virtual lock is Anne Hathaway who will get the one high-profile award for the divisive Les Misérables (which should be noted still garnered good reviews and big box office numbers). The last acting category is also the most up-in-the air with the Supporting Actor trophy literally could be given to any of the (previously Oscar nominated old and white) men in the category. My acting predictions was conservative as I picked all of the SAG winners: Day-Lewis, Lawrence, Jones, and Hathaway.

With most of the directing awards going to Affleck and Bigelow this season, this category really is quite open with Steven Spielberg having the slight edge, but many pundits (and myself) think it could go to Ang Lee, the only director to be nominated at the Oscars, DGA, BFCA, BAFTA, and Golden Globes this year. Lee's film Life of Pi, with 11 Oscar nominations, is also set to win the most trophies with the possibility of dominating the techinical awards though facing some competition from Anna Karenina and Skyfall. Both of those films pleasantly surprised with the handful of nominations they received, but the latter will certainly be honored with the series' first Oscar win with Adele's song "Skyfall" a mortal lock and even if that doesn't happen, the series will be honored for its 50th anniversary during the big show.

All of this talk about winning and such is no consolation to those who ended up not receiving nominations such as Spirit Award winners Matthew McConaughey and John Hawkes or the WGA-nominated screenwriters for Looper and Perks of Being a Wallflower. Even films that looked like they could've been big with the Academy, such as The Master and Moonrise Kingdom, were probably too auteur-driven and only picked up a few nominations and none for Picture. But like every awards season, there will always be those left out, for better or worse. It's hard to say how the earlier nomination deadline and the extended period between nominations and award show effected everything this year, but it certainly made many pundits antsy to say the least. It probably proved useful to the Best Picture nominees, however, at least in terms of box office as this crop grossed a record high $300+ million post-nominations and with 6 films making over $90 million before the ceremony.

In any case, there are certainly way more important things than "awards season," but this year more than any other has been very interesting to follow. To be honest, I'm just hoping for a good show even though I have my reservations with Seth McFarlane hosting (he'll never top what Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did at the Golden Globes) and the seemingly endless musical moments planned for the big show including a pointless tribute to musicals of the past decade. My favorite film, Perks of Being a Wallflower, isn't nominated for anything, so I'm pretty much sitting pretty, but three of my top 5 films could win a bunch. I'm not including Joss Whedon's film The Avengers since the biggest film of last year was only nominated for one Oscar (Visual Effects) and it's unlikely to win even that one. Oh well, can't have everything you want! Argofuckyourself!

Related links:
Click here to see my official predictions.
Click here to see my own personal ballot.
Click here to see my initial thoughts on the Oscar nominations.
Click here to see all my posts on "Awards Season."

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