The 85th Academy Awards…These Oscar noms are full of the biggest surprises and snubs in a while, although there are still going to be some complete shoe-ins.
Will Affleck forever pay for Gigli?
Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are both movies that have been highly lauded, with multiple nominations. That doesn't happen in a vacuum. What sense does it make for the directors not to get nominated as well? I speak of Ben Affleck of Argo and Kathryn Bigelow of Zero Dark Thirty, the latter of whom's exclusion is truly shocking.
These directors spend the entire time the film is being made manipulating the end result and aiding the actors in getting their best performances. Without them, those wonderful movies wouldn't exist. Is it that the Academy believes they only have to give female directors a nomination once every 10 years? Will Affleck forever pay for Gigli?
On the other hand, all those nominated in the director category are worthy, and there are two pretty big surprises. Michael Haneke of Amour, for which he also wrote the screenplay, is nominated. He directed the great movies The Piano Teacher and Cache, so it's nice to see him break out of the foreign film holding pattern in which so many directors get stuck.
Toughest competition: Best Adapted Screenplay
David O. Russell, who directed Silver Linings Playbook, also adapted the screenplay. It may be that most will expect Spielberg to take the award, and often that means the voters will give up the writing award to a director as runner-up prize. The problem, I believe, is the categories for best screenplay and best adapted screenplay have the toughest competition of the entire Oscar list.
Adapted screenplays by Tony Kushner (of Angels in America) for Lincoln, Chris Terrio's work on Argo, and David O. Russell's adaption of Silver Linings Playbook all represent great work, and I'd say are equally worthy in different ways. Lincoln had a sharp-witted yet appropriately dated language that kept the viewer fascinated even through long scenes of talking. Argo's writing made the movie incredibly exciting. Silver Linings Playbook had a script with realistic portrayals of mental illness that made the characters multi-dimensional.
The best original screenplay is also hard to choose. Moonrise Kingdom and Zero Dark Thirty both should have gotten more love overall, so they are the most likely to win. Amour or Django Unchained could get the votes needed if enough people see Amour or the controversy doesn't kill Tarantino's chances. They are probably dark horses.
Youngest, oldest nominees ever for Best Actress
The biggest surprises are the number of nominations for Beast of the Southern Wild (a movie I rate in my top three of the year), including Benh Zeitlin for Best Director and Quvenzhane Wallis for Best Actress. This is Zeitlin's first full-length feature, and at 9 years of age, Wallis will be the youngest nominee ever in this category. Also, Emmanuelle Riva, who surprised with a Best Actress nomination for Amour, is the oldest ever in that category, at 85.
Since both Daniel Day-Lewis and Jessica Chastain are both very likely to win Best Actor and Best Actress respectively, their nominations are more about beneficial promotion, adding viewership and box office numbers for Amour and Beasts.
Life of Pi is so deliriously beautiful to watch, it is no wonder it is second only to Lincoln in nominations. Ang Lee is not a director who gets by with mediocrity. He either hits big or crashes horribly. In this case, he transcends. He himself may get lost in all the Lincoln love. Look for his movie, however, to hopefully lead in wins for cinematography and production design.
Will too much press jinx Hathaway's chances?
Cinema Siren believes some awards might as well be handed out now. As I just said, Jessica Chastain and Daniel Day-Lewis should win and probably will. Having just seen Zero Dark Thirty (review to follow this weekend), and knowing that Kathryn Bigelow wasn't nominated for Best Director, the Academy will feel comfortable pressure to vote for Chastain.
This is also true for Anne Hathaway, although she has gotten so much press for her performance, it might cause a backlash, which would be too bad. She was astounding. Philip Seymour Hoffman should also be winning for Best Supporting, but anyone could respectably walk away with an award, as that list represents impressive acting turns by all.
For Best Animated Feature, about which Cinema Siren's alter ego knows a fair amount (she has owned the animation gallery ArtInsights for 19 years), there are three movies most worthy, but two really in the running. Brave, Frankenweenie, and ParaNorman were all exceptional, and all represent significant advancements in animated technology.
Room for more than John Williams in Soundtrack category?
Frankenweenie, however, was extremely badly promoted, and is really more of a movie for adults. Brave is the first time such a positive mother/daughter relationship has been portrayed in animation, but I'll expect ParaNorman to win, through a mixture of continued resistance to Disney and Pixar always cleaning up at awards time and a genuine enthusiasm by both critics and moviegoers for ParaNorman's sweet mix of quirk and sincerity.
We have given up much hope other soundtrack artists have a chance anytime John Williams gets nominated. His work is always gorgeous, but there should be some room for talents like Alexandre Desplat and Thomas Newman to win a bit more often. We will see.
Don't villains deserve equal Oscar attention?
The snubs list could be a mile long. Controversy was no one's friend this year. Take note of that, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. No one is surprised at Affleck's exclusion. He probably doesn't care, and will keep creeping along creating great work until he can no longer be ignored.
Supporting actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Javier Bardem did some exceptional work in Django Unchained and Skyfall, respectively. Are we to understand villains don't deserve equal Oscar attention? One fellow reviewer is screaming so loudly I can hear him through the computer at Marion Cotillard's exclusion for Best Actress in the lovely Belgian film Rust and Bone. As to that, how did it not wind up on the list for Best Foreign Film?
All these choices make for a much more exciting time on Feb. 24. Maybe that's what they had in mind. It is my Superbowl. No matter how many silly snubs ther are in the nominations, or how tired and trying the skits might be in the actual show, I'll be watching.
The celebration of 50 years of James Bond might mean getting all the Bonds in tuxes onstage. Isn't that, the fact that Seth MacFarlane (of Family Guy and Ted) is hosting, and there is a chance of another great acceptance speech by Daniel Day-Lewis make it worth watching? Cinema Siren hopes so. See you at the Oscars!
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Original Screenplay
Amour, Michael Hanake
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Flight, John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo, Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin,
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
Best Animated Feature:
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins
Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood
Best Documentary Feature
5 Broken Cameras
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man
Best Documentary Short
Mondays at Racine
Best Film Editing
Argo, William Goldenberg
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
Lincoln, Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Best Foreign Language Film
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, Canada
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Best Original Score
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman
Best Original Song
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice, music and lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted, music by Walter Murphy; lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi, music by Mychael Danna; lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Best Production Design
Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Best Animated Short
Adam and Dog
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
Best Live Action Short
Death of a Shadow
Best Sound Editing
Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson
Best Sound Mixing
Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Best Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson