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Oscars 2013 Results

argooscarHeadline News – 12/24, as usual a pathetic 50%. Stupid Oscars are rubbish anyway, who cares about ‘em, not me that’s for sure (grumbles…..pouts). I’ve been reading this* fascinating book on early Hollywood during my morning commute which has more relevance to todays industry definitions and practices than you’d expect, with all the accusations of dirty fighting being levelled at numerous producers and production companies in their quest for that coveted golden statuette, slandering and smearing the front-runners Lincoln, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty  with various barbed broadsides to annihilate their claims for quality and cultural authenticity due to their lack of historical accuracy – well here’s a newsflash, this is not an arena that Hollywood has ever had any legitimacy in. These fun little games were invented by the old studio moguls so nothing has changed over the past eighty years, although the financial stakes have enhanced as winning a major gong can add something like 20% to international and domestic rentals, when the film(s) inevitably get a marketing led re-release in key territories. My favourite publicity gimmick from the aforementioned book is Sam Goldwyn issuing a statement in the Thirties that his studio had ’13 or the world’s greatest stars’ on his roster, yet only issuing 12 names in any press releases, causing a frenzy of activity of other talent to sign with him and become the final occupant on the list – thus depriving his studio opponents of much-needed talent.

actorsaSkim reading the results on the train this morning I appear to have dropped the ball on the screenwriting section, mixed up my best score and song nominations, and achieved a measly one of three from the crap shoot which is the short animated, documentary and fiction areas. More frustrating are the failures in the major categories, I was going to stick to my guns with Jennifer Lawrence for actress but changed my mind after Riva’s Bafta win, Waltz’s success is frankly undeserved but at least I managed the others, including a long-shot for Ang Lee for directorial duties for Life of Pi – that award could have gone in any direction. In other news whom exactly does Roger Deakins have to blow to finally get his richly deserved win? and anyone looking for controversy should turn to social media rather than Seth Macfarlane’s diluted schtick, with The Onion’s Quvenzhane’s Wallis wince inducing tweet being widely condemned in a rather OTT manner, as it’s NSFW you’ll just to have to find it yourself.

Best Picture

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Lincoln
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Amour
Django Unchained
Argo – WINNER

Did I get it right? – YES. People seem to be surprised by the win of this Hollywood back-slapping film about how great Hollywood is at saving people abroad with its cultural reach, and with its Hollywood in-jokes and Hollywoodised ending, plus it’s handsome Hollywood star this never seemed to have a chance at winning Hollywood’s premiere award now did it? OK, toning the sarcasm down I’m nonplussed at this, I liked the film a lot so am happy to see it win considering the opposition, the superior films are clearly Amour and Zero Dark Thirty but they really never stood a chance. It should be interesting to see how this levers Affleck’s clout into his next project as I understand all his director led films were quite difficult to finance, and as one twitter wag put it ‘It’s inspiring the way Ben Affleck recovered from being rich, handsome and winning an Academy award for his first film to make this comeback’…..

Director

David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi) – WINNER
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Did I get it right? – YES. I would normally have much to say about this category but I’m finding myself curiously mute for a change, Ang Lee did what a director should and marshalled all his teams skills and capacity to create a successful and well-loved film, although I didn’t think much of the performances but this isn’t that kind of film I suppose.

Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) – WINNER
Denzel Washington (Flight)
Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

Did I get it right? – YES. The safest prediction of the evening, lets face it. A deserved win if Phoenix was slightly more compelling for me, I’m a little bit confused at all these ‘historical’ win reports as I assumed that someone like Henry Fonda, Jimmy Cagney or Spencer Tracey has won three Oscars for leading male back in the olden days. Obviously not.

Actress

Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) – WINNER
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Did I get it right? – NO. Apparently Lawrence has tirelessly campaigning for this like a stalwart Hollywood trooper and her perseverance has paid off, she was pretty good but a pox on the Academy for making a 86-year-old lady cry on her birthday no less.

Supporting Actor

Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) – WINNER
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

Did I get it right? – NO. Now, I like Christoph Waltz even if he can’t spell his christian name properly, I thought it was pretty good in Django Unchained, but reprising the same role you played in your last nominated movie but switching to the good guys seems like a bit of a cheat.

Supporting Actress

Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) WINNER
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Amy Adams (The Master)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

Did I get it right? – YES. A slam-dunk, I like Hathaway but to my mind even a supporting win requires more than say two scenes which is roughly how many I recall seeing her in during the arduous run-time of  Les Misérables. Jacqui Weaver shouldn’t even be in this category as she was barely seen in Silver Linings Playbook, like most people I loathe Sally Fields, Helen Hunt only got nominated for being ‘brave’ and going naked for a couple of glimpses in The Sessions (not a bad film as it stands if you’ll excuse the expression) which leaves us with Amy Adams who actually did what a supporting role should do – craft a powerful, memorable and illuminating performance which supports the main players machinations…….

Adapted Screenplay

Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Argo – WINNER
Lincoln

Did I get it right? – NO. That’s the last time I try to be clever, thinking that the writers who make up this category would appreciate the challenge of adapting an apparently ‘difficult’ novel to translate to the screen, fair play instead to Argo which at least had a terrific mob scene – and no I’m not talking about The Godfather (distant cymbal crash)….

Original Screenplay

Flight
Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained -WINNER
Amour
Moonrise Kingdom

Did I get it right? – NO. I can#t agree with this, QT is terrific on crafting memorable, ‘movieworld’ dialogue but structurally his movies are all over the place, and the final act of Django is a mess regardless of what his admirers claim as him perverting Hollywood norms and ideologies of the three act structure. Either something is anticlimactic or it isn’t, and falling back on his textbook ‘tension building showdown cathartically soothed by a bloody shoot out’ is also a bit of a cop-out in my book.

Animated Feature

Wreck-It Ralph
The Pirates
Paranorman
Brave – WINNER
Frankenweenie

Did I get it right? – NO. Proof, if proof were needed of Disney’s marketing and promotional clout, by almost every standard Brave was a decline in quality from Pixar, maybe not to the depths of the Cars movies but still a disappointing effort, yet they still steal the gong from their contemporaries. Heck, I didn’t particularly care for Frankenweenie’s tired re-tread of unhallowed ground but it was more entertaining that Brave….

Best Foreign Language Feature

Amour - WINNER
War Witch
A Royal Affair
Kon Tiki
No

Did I get it right? – YES. No surprise, I haven’t checked out Haneke’s twitter feed but I’m sure he has been goading ‘Terruns Malick’ with the new addition to his stable of awards, a worthy companion to his two beloved ‘parms dorz’. I’ll bet that the Amour after-party was a blast, with Emmanuel Riva depressed at losing Best Actress and the legendarily humourous Haneke on chief mirthmaker duties….

Production Design

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln - WINNER

Did I get it right? – NO. Hmph, well I suppose Lincoln had to win something other than best actor….

Cinematography

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi – WINNER
Lincoln
Skyfall

Did I get it right? – NO. This is a sign of the times, with an effective blend of CGI, 3D and location shooting wins out over traditional location sourced painting with light onto the emulsion of film. Deakins seems cursed to never win despite consistently producing incredible, envelope pushing work, and the fact that Emanuelle Lubinski wasn’t even nominated for To The Wonder which I saw last Friday is a sacrilege.

Costume Design

Anna Karenina – WINNER
Les Misérables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

Did I get it right? – YES. A period detail rich set before the 19th century? Lots of frilly dresses, ballroom gowns and immaculate uniforms? A prestige literary project based on a world literature classic? Well then, you’d have to seriously fuck this up to not get an Oscar….

Documentary Feature

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man – WINNER

Did I get it right? – YES. An irritating, if predictable win. I dunno, I guess The Invisible War was immensely depressing and criticising the armed services is still very sensitive territory in the states, but that was a deeply moving and distressing documentary which address a horrifying subject. Sugarman on the other hand is one of those slick, well-financed ‘super’ documentaries that emerged in the wake of Michael Moore’s $100 million+ non fiction grossing pieces, with lavish cinematography and musical montages which plays much more for a general crowd. Personally I found the whole thing a chore, I don’t care for folk music, the alleged ‘twist’ which everyone knows about now wasn’t particularly shocking and I found the whole enterprise rather shrug-inducing, but I guess the ‘feel-food’ factor won through again this time…..

Documentary Short

Inocente – WINNER
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

Did I get it right? – NO. Nothing to add, not much more to say when you haven’t seen the films in question…

Editing

Argo – WINNER
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Did I get it right? – NO. Hmph, I think Zero Dark Thirty was much more of a challenge, by diluting ten years or material, collapsing and warping characters into coherent symbols and harnessing numerous investigative strands into one whole with a terrifically gripping conclusion, but then again the opening and closing sequences of Argo are also superb, so I’ve no real axe to grind here.

Makeup

Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables – WINNER

Did I get it right? – YES. Again nothing to add, I guess the difference between aging people convincingly as opposed to building fantastical creatures require different skill sets…

Original Score

Anna Karenina
Argo
Life of Pi – WINNER
Lincoln
Skyfall

Did I get it right? – NO. I can’t remember a single thing about this score so this is rather irritating, then again that’s kinda the point of an effective score so maybe I’m in the wrong eh? Thank god it didn’t go to Williams for Lincoln, that would have been a travesty….

Original Song

‘Before My Time’ – Chasing Ice
‘Pi’s Lullaby’ – Life of Pi
‘Suddenly’ – Les Misérables
‘Everybody Needs A Friend’ – Ted
‘Skyfall’ – Skyfall – WINNER

Did I get it right? – NO. Goddamn it, another last-minute change given the popularity of that horrible Les Miserables song, I thought Skyfall might take it but stupidly had my head turned by Hathaway’s doe eyed warbling.

Sound Editing

Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty - WINNER

Did I get it right? – YES. Like the other editing nominations this should have been a clean sweep, but one for Sound Editing isn’t too shabby.

Sound Mixing

Argo
Les Misérables – WINNER
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Did I get it right? – YES. Well, when they announced all the songs were going to be recorded live on set the die was cast for this to win, purely by conducting such a ‘ambitious’ technical feat rather than fixing everything back at the studio which I’m sure didn’t happen at all. Spare a thought for poor Greg P. Russell who has had his 16th nominations in this field, but with Skyfall still didn’t make the cut….

Visual Effects

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi - WINNER
Marvel’s “The Avengers”
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

Did I get it right? – YES. Fair play for the tiger, which was slightly more advanced than a Frosties advert. It’s kinda refreshing to see CGI used to such effect to incorporate one core element rather than any of those great widescreen vistas with thousands of digital minions scurrying around, although then again there is some of that toward the end of the film. Judged against its peers this was the most skillful and blended deployment of digital deception, and richly deserved.

Animated Short

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare
Paperman - WINNER

Did I get it right? – YES. I have to agree with this having seen all five, the Guacamole submission was clever but short, Adam & Dog old-fashioned, Head Over Heels a slightly tired concept and the Simpsons thing is a Simpsons thing – interminably funny, but largely forgettable. Paperman on the other hand was beautifully old-school and actually stirred some emotions, and that’s quite an achievement for a short film.

Live Action Short

Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew – WINNER
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Henry

Did I get it right? – NO. Goddamn, these are always one in five guesses anyway if you haven’t seen the shorts which always seem quite difficult to track down, unless you live in hollywood when they tend to trail other feature-length nominees.

*I’m still in the Sam Goldwyn section, funniest line so far – when told by the Hays Office that he can’t make an adaption of the 1935 stage play The Children’s Hour which was a love story set in all girls school the following exchange took place – Nervous Studio Aide – ‘Sorry sir, the censorship body has told us we can’t make this film as it’s about lesbians’, – Goldwyn – ‘OK, fine, we’ll make them Ukrainians instead…’

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