Sunday, February 03, 2013

Part 1 - 2013 Oscar Nominations - A Late Analysis plus My Awards

Been writing this post since the date the nods were announced but was traveling and became impossible to finish it, until today. But as always happens, what wrote before today was dramatically changed as now have more information to include in the analysis, which I believe is good.

We tend to forget that when playing the Oscar game we have to be objective -meaning: do not center on what you like and/or according to you deserves to win. I will try to be objective in the analysis but will also include my very subjective part as will share with you what I think of each movie plus MY Awards.

To be really objective I have to "forget" that Amour is nominated in more categories than Foreign Language as you know how strongly I feel for this movie and Michael Haneke. My biggest wish is film to transcend the "niche" into the top awards and exactly that is what will keep me watching the Oscar show on February 24th. With so many strange things happening this year, Amour winning all categories where is nominated will be the BEST strangest thing that could happen and IF happens already have a champagne bottle ready to celebrate!

So, this is a a brief review/analysis of every other movie, mostly American productions.

Let's start with the 8 other films nominated in the Best Film Category.

It is a good mainstream entertaining film, similar but not better than other films Ben Affleck directed. Film story is interesting but not memorable; still motivated me to read the full article that inspired the movie and found it outstandingly good, a lot better than the movie. Believe all honors film/director is collecting in America celebrate more his body of work than this film specifically as was time Affleck was recognized as a good American director, a lot better than what he is when performing as an actor.

After last night Directors Guild award today's news proliferate with many forecasting that Argo could win Best Picture, and IF wins seems will be the third film to win without the director being nominated.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
To understand why I hated movie please read movie post. Was not surprised got a nod as in early awards season film was a favorite but when critics awards came went into deep silence only to wake up with SAG nominations. Trying to be objective, actors performances, director and tech specs are not that bad (hated the story and "raw reality") so festivals and industry had to honor movie as they have done.

Django Unchained
Liked movie a lot more than what I expected, laughed hard at many moments and even spontaneously clapped with Franco Nero scene dialogue! (I was a huge Franco Nero fan for all his Spaghetti Westerns, including the original Django). But is a "heavy" movie that shows what now is considered in America as "not politically correct"; still, is nothing new if you are familiar with America's history. What many forget is that this is a Quentin Tarantino film and is as "irreverent" as all his movies; most surprising found film to be less graphically violent than previous films, so maybe due to story he contained himself with his usual very graphic violence. Suggest you watch movie no matter what you heard about story and IF you like Tarantino films. Good was nominated but believe is not Oscar winner material.

Les Misérables
As suspected I was not going to enjoy much this movie as don't really enjoy only song lyrics conducting the narrative. Have seen the Broadway musical and highly enjoyed the great singing; that is exactly what film lacks: great singing. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman sing very acceptable and perhaps shine more because their face and body performance while singing; Russell Crowe is really bad singing, as well as other secondary roles, while some not-known secondary actors and all extras are remarkably good singers. For me film is no Oscar material, but due to the Broadway musical high success, film's epic storytelling style and one remarkable performance, I'm not surprised got some nominations and will get some Oscar love.

Life of Pi
Highly impressed with film and story; so much that read book while traveling. Outstanding visual effects that highly deserve many honors. Ang Lee was REALLY able to make the "impossible to film" story into a very entertaining, visually awesome and epic film. Talk about spending time in the vast sea, here 227 days feel so light while in Kon Tiki half feels tiresome. Strongly suggest you watch if you have not yet and preferably in real 3D to appreciate more the visual effects. Avatar was full of outstanding tech specs plus visual effects and could NOT win Best Picture (got 3 tech Oscars), so imagine that Life of Pi will run with similar luck among Oscar voters.

Great performances in this movie that surprisingly kept my interest and full attention during the 150 minutes. Know that many find it "boring" perhaps because is a "talkie" and a history lesson; but while knew much about that specific American history moment, I was impressed to be reminded that Lincoln was a Republican! Gosh, things have really changed for this political party. It is a good epic movie, perhaps the best not-so-mainstream movie that Steven Spielberg has ever done. Still believe that is a strong Best Picture contender plus race is between this movie and Argo.

Silver Linings Playbook
Enjoyed movie a lot more than I ever imagined as is an entertaining romantic comedy (not drama or dramedy but a romcom) that shines with great performances. Believe film could become a classic romcom as find movie style very similar to classic romcoms like When Harry Met Sally (1 Oscar nod) and Moonstruck (3 Oscars), so believe could get some Oscar love, but will not be Best Picture unless voters softened to give award to a romantic comedy.

Zero Dark Thirty
Amazing movie that kept me in full tension while watching, just as it happens when I watch TV show Homeland. The comparison is on absolute purpose as not only both are fiction/inspired on reality, but while the second is highly praised, ZD30 became the object of negative media buzz even when both deal with similar stories, which I find extremely unfair and subjective. Film is about the ride and not the known destination, but most of all is the story of a woman's tenacity and successful prevail in a man's world and is this story I find simply outstanding. But Kathryn Bigelow's storytelling style is what makes the ride incredibly tense. It's a great movie telling a hard-to-watch story with extraordinary Oscar worthy performance by Jessica Chastain that with deadpan face,  mostly expressionless body and very tiny eyes-expressions tell more than what words could say. Fantastic performance by Chastain, very similar to what in European cinema is common and highly celebrated.

... and My Award goes to Zero Dark Thirty. I know all the negative publicity has diminished its Oscar chances BUT for me, is the BEST of the 8 nominated films and yes, I'm excluding Amour. As a matter of fact is the BEST American movie I saw during 2012 and one that will stay in my mind for a long time, as an excellent example of what great American filmmakers can do. Wish they could do it more often.


It is hard to consider that the best American movie I saw during 2012 did not translate into an Oscar nomination for Kathryn Bigelow; her snub is one that makes no sense especially when you consider that she had the most critics' wins. Movie went into wide release in January 11 and as of Feb 1st Box Office Mojo has an estimate of US$ 74.1 million domestic (US$7.7 million foreign), so believe that is Kathryn Bigelow's best revenge for her snub, lots of viewers have and will see her great work.

As Kathryn Bigelow already has a "milestone" Oscar, no surprise that the other snubbed director, Ben Affleck, is collecting most season awards. Affleck came close second in the critics' tally wins and film/director has been collecting major Guild awards. His movie has collected more than US$100 million in the 115 days that has had wide release but movie nomination while giving him a bump did NOT made it rank 1st with Best Picture Nomination effect as that position belongs to ZD30. But a nod in this category for me will have meant more an honor for his good career as a director than because only what he did in Argo.

So, after venting about the snubs, the great joy came when Michael Haneke got a nomination and as I have to avoid talking about "that" let's review the other four nominees.

In my opinion Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee got well-deserved nominations as their films are good and epic; David O. Russell nod is surprising if you NOT consider the huge influence and Oscar marketing efforts by Weinstein Bros, but it is a fact and believe without them, Russell would not have gotten a nod as this and Benh Zeitlin nods should have been for Bigelow, Affleck or Quentin Tarantino. Even Tom Hooper did a better job directing than those two nominees, not to mention some directors of extraordinary documentaries.

... and My Award goes to Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. When creating viewer intense emotions and tension in war-related movies, a genre that used to belong to male directors, there is NO ONE like her. Of course I left out Michael Haneke!

Actress in a Leading Role

I'm really following Jennifer Lawrence career since Winter's Bone and believe she is a great actress; her second Oscar nomination is well-deserved and have no doubt that Jessica Chastain impressive career had to take her to her first Best Actress nomination -her first Oscar nod was for Supporting role-, both are great actresses with a great future if they continue to do great movies. I believe Oscar race in this category is between them and the only thing that could damage either one of them winning chances is that voters could split votes among them allowing a third actress to rise as a winner.

As Lawrence and Chastain have similar credentials it is very easy to guess that AMPAS voters -due to average age- could split votes among them and then there is a possibility that Emmanuelle Riva wins as the other two nominees do not have the clout to raise above Riva. Consider Quvenzhané Wallis nod well-deserved but not so Naomi Watts as she was NOT good in The Impossible, her average performance allowed young Tom Holland to steal the complete movie. This slot should have belonged to Marion Cotillard, Rachel Weiz, Helen Hunt, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and many more actresses that had great performances in American movies during 2012, all above Watts average performance.

... and My Award goes to Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty. She really delivered a magnificent European style performance, amazing. Of course, I left out Emmanuelle Riva.

Actor in a Leading Role

According to me only Daniel Day-Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix and Denzel Washington truly deserve the nominations as each of them were outstanding in Lincoln, The Master and Flight. Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman are good but not great and slots should have been occupied by Jean Louis Trintignant (Amour), John Hawkes (The Sessions), and/or even Denis Lavant (Holy Motors). Also Christoph Waltz has no supporting role in Django Unchained, he is the leading role and when he dies you really miss him in the screen as he is the reason why Jamie Foxx shines above what he has done before -including his Oscar winning role.

... and My Award goes to Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. He really knows how to chose a role as most of his performances are always Oscar worthy ones; in Lincoln he absolutely shines and fills the screen with his amazing artistry.. He has to and will win his third Best Actor Oscar (a record) and if he does not, will be a major controversy.

So that's it for today, Part 2 will follow with other categories.  To continue reading Part 2 please go here.

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