Going Out On a Limb Giving My Oscar Picks

This may be the first year I’ve seen all of the Academy’s Best Picture nominees so I decided why not go out on a limb and share my thoughts on who I think should win what. I’ve gotten a list of all of the awards and will go out on a limb making guesses in categories I haven’t seen every film. But I figure that’s just like all the members of the Academy do.

What’s not like the Academy’s votes? I know some of them get courted for votes, in part because one year I was in LA during campaign season and got to go to a screening of Edward Scissorhands on the lot thanks to a friend who’s a member. Nobody has courted my vote really and I haven’t watched many interviews etc, so I’ll give a combination of my thoughts on the movies I’ve seen and hunches. Not too scientific LOL.

In each category in my Oscars Ballot for 2013, I am going to put my choice in bold. I may feel like adding some thoughts — definitely going to do that for the Best Picture nominees since I spent two full Saturdays getting caught up on them! All of this is as remembered… not like I took notes or anything so accuracy isn’t promised.

Oscars best picture nominee shocaseBEST PICTURE

I love that I finally have seen all of the films! I usually catch a few of the big ones that draw headlines during the year but this year I was totally out of a movie rhythm. I need to figure one out for St. Louis I guess. Anyway, I found out that AMC movie theaters has a two-day intense movie event to get you up to speed on this and I have to admit I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it so I only bought the first day before going. I lucked into finding friends from work there and the caliber of films you are seeing is so great that it really worked!

I’ll put thoughts on each film but have to tell you that I think ‘Argo‘ is my pick for best because it brought together so many different pieces. It was well acted, directed, shot & costumed to look like the time period it was and the combination is what separated it from the pack for me but I have to tell you I can understand totally if one of several other films win.

I’ll link to each film’s website or page on IMDB so you can get a glimpse of it if you are interested.

  • ‘Amour’ — Wow, this film was powerful. It was the only one I hadn’t heard about and I wasn’t sure I cared about seeing it, however, it was a standout. The entire movie was shot inside an apartment building in France. You rarely even glance out of the  four wall of the apartment that an elderly couple — Georges and Anne — calls home. The movie and the apartment feels warm and inviting early on but over time it is isolating as her health takes a major dive and he lovingly cares for her everyday. The acting, set design, scripting, use of flashbacks and more make this clearly a nominee. I’m impressed that subtitles didn’t leave people leaving it off the list though I doubt it gets best picture votes, I think it will get acknowledged elsewhere. The film was so incredibly quiet…. all you heard was intimate dialog for long periods of time making most of the theater fall silent. You could hear a rare crunch of popcorn that’s all.
  • ‘Argo’ — This film tells part of the story of the Iran hostage crisis for the seventies. There were great elements of the absurd & humor, as well as great action. Add to that the names of big stars, political statements and so much more and it seems Argo is by far most likely to win. It kept me engaged in the movie and made you fear missing a minute if you needed a bathroom break. I found it really interesting what was prompted in my memory…. I quickly remembered how many yellow ribbons I would see as a kid. That was the first of the ribbon campaigns that have since become common place. And a lot of today’s movie goers have no context for all of that.

  • ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ — Wow. This film deserves to be seen by far more people than it has. I had thought about going to see it last fall but we ended up seeing something else. That was a mistake. The film is about an area below the levee in Louisiana and I don’t want folks to assume it is a documentary or anything but I think in various places of the US, you can find similarities with people who are living outside of the mainstream, who are way below the poverty level, who feel survival is the best they can do and the most important thing to teach their kids. The film had AMAZING first-time actors, the cinematographer kept making me focus my eyes to see if I could figure out what I was seeing, a feeling that really lead to wondering about the line between reality and personal perception, which is a lot of the point of the population who call the bathtub home. There should be awards for this film.
  • ‘Django Unchained’ — I like Quentin Tarantino films in general and liked the one. It was an interesting take on the period of slavery in the South, someone freeing a slave because he could be helpful in collecting a bounty. Jamie Foxx has proven again that he’s really got something special when he gets on screen. The visual effects were over the top (as Tarantino is apt to be) but I still liked it. To me though the movie felt a bit long, a little editing here and there and it would have been more powerful.
    • Agnerd alert:  Interestingly enough, one of the things I had to watch for was cotton with green leaves. A family member had told me to look for it cause she wondered if the cotton bolls were added to green cotton plants or something. I didn’t see it close enough to really determine what was happening (kept trying to see the leaves better) but I can tell you that in the time of slavery it probably would have been common to have a lot more green in the field than today. That’s because weed control in late season isn’t really worried about and rows were planted a bit further apart to allow for field hands to move about which would have kept some sun getting to the ground & weeds coming up. Farmers today plant closer so that the cotton plants help shade rows keeping weed competition down late season without the use of field hands or chemicals. Another thing to think about…. since cotton was harvested by hand, harvest could happen over a longer time period without leaves contaminating the lint. 🙂
  • ‘Les Misérables’ — Like so many people, I had seen and loved the Broadway production. I have owned and listened to the Broadway multi-disc collection of music for probably 20 years. The music is what has always stood out but the dramatic working of the barricades and all still had a vivid piece of my mindshare. The movie was well done. I was really surprised how strong the numbers by Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were, though I wasn’t as impressed with Russel Crowe’s singing his acting is almost always great. The staging was the biggest change moving to a screen version and they took advantage of the scale compared to the theater. If you love the stage version, this should be okay for most folks.
  • ‘Life of Pi’ — I have seen movies by and been impressed by the artistry Ang Lee brings to film since the 1990s when he did the Wedding Banquet and Eat Drink, Man, Woman. I figured I’d be impressed with this one too as he’s gotten into deep storytelling of Brokeback Mountain and special effects with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I wasn’t prepared for the difference 3D made in this. What a way to go though! It really drew you in and in the opening scenes as the zoo was shown, I thought I may be traveling with Jack Hannah! Throughout the movie it kept you engaged. The story of “Life of Pi” is one that touches on discovery of religion and self, what we are capable of. The movie included great actors, visual effects and screenplay.
  • ‘Lincoln’ — If it wasn’t already clear to everyone before seeing Lincoln that Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor of our time, it should be now. Steven Spielberg cast the perfect people for this movie. Day-Lewis never appeared in the movie because he quite simply became Abe Lincoln. And while there were lots of familiar faces, the movie was well acted and directed. It built tension in you even though you knew what was coming in a lot of places thanks to history classes or reading. It was the casting move to end all casting moves! The movie really transported you to the mid 1800s in a way that is so rare with period pieces. The only things that made me wonder were some of the wording choices but they were so clearly indicative of the spot a character was in, I was able to roll with it. I know there was some literary license taken but wow.
  • ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ — Out of all the nominees, Silver Linings Playbook is by far the most mainstream movie. It has a current storyline that includes a lot of dysfunction, and yes, that makes it really accessible. The outbursts in the film and the craziness surrounding the idea of doing everything you can to find the silver lining and get your life back on track resonates. It belongs on the list for a variety of reasons — pace of the film was awesome, you have actors like Bradley Cooper & Robert DeNiro so you know that’s good to watch and the dialog and plots twists kept you engaged. People who just like to go to a good movie will like this one just like I did.
  • ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ — This was the last of the movies we saw and I’m glad it was very different from the other films we had seen. It is based on the search for Bin Laden and includes a variety of touchpoints back to things most adults who followed the news for the past 15 years will remember. That touch of reality with some basic facts on the topic and literary license made for a good film. I think they could have capitalized more on the stresspoints in the movie but it was a good action picture with a well-developed story and characters throughout to it deserves its spot on the list.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Michael Haneke, ‘Amour’
  • Benh Zeitlin, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ —  All of these films were very well directed but just have to think that this movie required a lot more from the director since they were first-time actors, and so many other choices to be made with the cinematographer weighing in, the special effects to create visions, etc. But I can go along with some of the others as you can tell from my descriptions of the films above.
  • Ang Lee, ‘Life of Pi’
  • Steven Spielberg, ‘Lincoln’
  • David O. Russell, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

BEST ACTOR

  • Bradley Cooper, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, ‘Lincoln’ although I’m not sure that he didn’t actually become Lincoln. I never saw Daniel Day-Lewis on the screen. That’s powerful
  • Hugh Jackman, ‘Les Misérables’
  • Joauin Phoenix, ‘The Master’
  • Denzel Washington, ‘Flight’

BEST ACTRESS

  • Jessica Chastain, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
  • Jennifer Lawrence, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
  • Emmanuelle Riva, ‘Amour’ — This one is very clear to me. Emmuelle Riva is the best actress to me. She was so incredibly powerful as a person struggling with immense medical issues as well as what that does to the person within. This should be a lock even if I think Quvenzhané Wallis was amazing and so young that I’m blown away by her too, but the role in Amour required untold range.
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, ‘Beasts of the Southern  Wild’
  • Naomi Watts, ‘The Impossible’

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Alan Arkin, ‘Argo’
  • Robert De Niro, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman, ‘The Master’
  • Tommy Lee Jones, ‘Lincoln’
  • Christoph Waltz, ‘Django Unchained’ was so critical to the movie that Django Unchained can’t be pictured without him. That’s not the case for me with the others even if several had incredible performances.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams, ‘The Master’
  • Sally Field, ‘Lincoln’
  • Anne Hathaway, ‘Les Misérables’
  • Helen Hunt, ‘The Sessions’
  • Jacki Weaver, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ — From the minute Jacki Weaver walked on screen in Silver Linings Playbook, I found myself drawn to her character. You liked her, felt bad for her being sandwiched in the dilemma that plays out in her dysfunctional family that she loves.  I was also very impressed with Anne Hathaway though and she has a lot more

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • ‘Brave’
  • ‘Frankenweenie’
  • ‘ParaNorman’
  • ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’
  • ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ — I pick this one just because it has sso much name recognition.

BEST FOREIGN FILM

  • ‘Amour’, Austria — This is a lock. For discussion, see above raving about Amour.
  • ‘Kon-Tiki’, Norway
  • ‘No’, Chile
  • ‘A Royal Affair’, Denmark
  • ‘War Witch’, Canada

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • ‘Amour’
  • ‘Django Unchained’
  • ‘Flight’ — I have to go with Flight on original screenplay simply because the pace, the action, character development, etc. stood out for me when I saw it. That’s not common in movies but I clearly loved Amour as well and would cheer for it too.
  • ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
  • ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • ‘Argo’
  • ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ — I’m going here again because I can’t imagine how hard it was to go from a book to bring this to life separating dialog and reflective narratives, etc. from the text.
  • ‘Life of Pi’
  • ‘Lincoln’
  • ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • ‘Anna Karenina’
  • ‘Les Misérables’ — I loved the variety of looks on the screen enough that several of them have stuck with me.
  • ‘Lincoln’
  • ‘Mirror Mirror’
  • ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Before My Time” from ‘Chasing Ice’
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from ‘Ted’
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from ‘Life of Pi’
  • “Skyfall” from ‘Skyfall’ — It is by Adele. #nuffsaid
  • “Suddenly” from ‘Les Misérables’

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • ‘Anna Karenina’
  • ‘Argo’ — Throughout the movie I kept noticing that I hadn’t noticed the movie but that I was feeling it in the scenes. That’s good.
  • ‘Life of Pi’
  • ‘Lincoln’
  • ‘Skyfall’

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

  • ‘Hitchcock’
  • ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
  • ‘Les Misérables’ — It was pretty awesome even if I didn’t see the others.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • ‘Anna Karenina’
  • ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
  • ‘Les Misérables’
  • ‘Life of Pi’
  • ‘Lincoln’ — Making it feel like Washington in the 1800s. That goes a long way.

BEST FILM EDITING

  • ‘Argo’ — There is so much going on, and it happens seamlessly.
  • ‘Life of Pi’
  • ‘Lincoln’
  • ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
  • ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • ‘Anna Karenina’
  • ‘Django Unchained’
  • ‘Life of Pi’ — This was unbelievably dramatic.
  • ‘Lincoln’
  • ‘Skyfall’

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
  • ‘Life of Pi’ — They took full advantage of the 3D getting effects that had us going wow.
  • ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’
  • ‘Prometheus’
  • ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

What are your Oscar picks?

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About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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