85th Academy Awards

argowinThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave out the 85th Academy Awards last evening with a couple of surprises in an otherwise long drawn out ceremony that continues to struggle to find a format or host that can have broad appeal.

The biggest surprise of the evening was the success of ‘Life of Pi’  Nominated for eleven Academy Awards, ‘Life of Pi’ won four awards including a surprise win for Ang Lee in the Best Director category.  This was Lee’s second Best Director win, following up on 2005’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’.

The other three awards it claimed were Best Original Score which went to Mychael Danna, Best Cinematography which was awarded to Claudio Miranda and Best Visual Effects which was shared between Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan de Boer and Donald R. Elliott.

The four acting categories all went to actors and actresses that I would have voted for, which was quite the nice turn for me as I try to critique more films.  Christoph Waltz became a two-time winner in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role as Dr. King Schultz in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’.  Waltz had previously won for his breakout role in Tarantino’s 2009 film ‘Inglorious Basterds’.

Anne Hathaway was a clear winner for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Fantine  in ‘Les Miserables’.  Hathaway has garnered near universal acclaim for this role, and had one of the two true standout performances in the film, along with Samantha Barks.

In probably the most anti-climactic award of the evening, Daniel Day-Lewis became the first actor to ever win three Best Actor awards for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’, joining his previous awards for 1989’s ‘My Left Foot’ and 2007’s ‘There Will Be Blood’.

In what I thought was the toughest acting category to call was Best Actress, where Jennifer Lawrence won for playing Tiffany Maxwell in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’.  A case could be made for each of the other four nominees, but Lawrence’s turn in a movie highlighting the various degrees of mental illness was the strongest of the lot.

As for Best Writing, it is hard to argue with either of the winners, Quentin Tarantino winning Original Screenplay for ‘Django Unchained’ or Chris Terrio winning Adapted Screenplay for adapting The Master of Disguise and The Great Escape into ‘Argo’.

Possibly the one category outside of Best Director that I disagreed with the most was Best Animated Feature.  The two films with the most realistic chances of winning were Disney and Pixar’s ‘Brave’ and Disney’s ‘Wreck-It Ralph’.  Having seen both of these films, I would 100% chosen ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ in this category as it was a much more enjoyable film.  That being said, I knew ‘Brave’ would win as it was a much better sell for the older voters of the Academy.

Finally, we come to Best Picture.  One could actually make a case for all nine nominees to have been chosen as Best Picture, but in reality one film did stand out above the rest, and that was ‘Argo’.  Directed by Ben Affleck, who I feel was not only robbed of the Best Director award, but also of a Best Director nomination, ‘Argo’ is one of my two favourite movies of the year, and a joy to watch, and very much deserving of Best Picture.

As for my own personal predictions, in a previous article I made predictions on who will, who should and possible darkhorse winners, and I think I did pretty well.  I correctly predicted three of the seven in who would win, five of the six in who should win, and I pulled out one darkhorse winner.  In all, in the seven categories I looked at, I had a winner in each category.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

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85th Academy Awards Preview

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The 85th Academy Awards are this coming Sunday, and this is the first year where I feel comfortable actually making predictions on the major awards as I have seen the majority of the films with nominations.

Of the 28 total major motion films up for awards, not counting short films, foreign films or documentaries, I have seen 13 of them, including 6 of the 9 films up for Best Picture.  This truly has been a year where I branched out and have seen more films that I generally would not normally see.

What we are going to go over on here is the most likely winner of the major awards, who I feel should win, and if there is a possible outside darkhorse candidate in the major categories.

Best Picture

Who Will Win: ‘Lincoln’

Who Should Win: ‘Argo’

Darkhorse: ‘Amour’

Of the 9 Best Picture nominees, I have seen a personal high of 6 of them: ‘Argo’, ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.  The 3 that I have not seen are ‘Amour’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ and ‘Life of Pi’.  Of the 3 that I have not seen, I view ‘Amour’, a French film that is also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, as the only possible film out of those three that could upset the others to win Best Picture.

Of the 6 films that I have seen, I would say that ‘Argo’ and ‘Lincoln’ are the two front-runners.  ‘Lincoln’ carries a lot of historical importance and also a performance that is a runaway winner of another major award for this coming weekend.  ‘Argo’ is easily the best picture that I saw in 2012, and after picking up wins at almost every other award ceremony this year, is considered the favourite to win Best Picture.

Best Director

Who Will Win: Steven Spielberg, ‘Lincoln’

Who Should Win: Ben Affleck, ‘Argo’

Darkhorse: Ang Lee, ‘Life of Pi’

This is the one category where I absolutely, positively, 100% believe that the Academy got it wrong.  Not including Ben Affleck in this category for directing ‘Argo’ is mind boggling, especially considering he has won Best Director or its equivalent at almost EVERY SINGLE OTHER awards ceremony this year.

As a result of that, the shoo-in winner of Best Director will end up being Steven Spielberg for ‘Lincoln’.  The story of the passing of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution will be a heavy favourite with Academy voters, and this will act almost like a Lifetime Achievement Award for Spielberg.  The darkhorse in this category will be Ang Lee for ‘Life of Pi’, a story that many always considered unfilmable.

Best Actor

Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, ‘Lincoln”

Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, ‘Lincoln’

Darkhorse: Hugh Jackman, ‘Les Miserables’

I don’t believe there has been a bigger lock for an award since ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ won Best Picture in 2003 than Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in ‘Lincoln’ this year.  As an outside darkhorse, I could see Hugh Jackman carrying enough of a presence for his role as Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’ to possibly pull off an upset.

Best Actress

Who Will Win: Jessica Chastain, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Who Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Darkhorse: Quvenzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild’

This is quite possibly the most wide open major category at this year’s Academy Awards.  There really is not one or two clear front-runners for Best Actress, and if there is going to be a darkhorse winner, it will be in this category.  Depending on who you talk to, each of the 5 nominees have a legitimate shot at winning, but with all the hype surrounding ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, I would not be surprised to see Jessica Chastain win.

That being said, I would vote for Jennifer Lawrence for her role in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, and there is a lot of support for that as well.  Naomi Watts is getting lots of support for the physical role she had in ‘The Impossible’, and the Best Actress category also as its oldest and youngest nominees ever , and you never know just how the Academy will vote.

Best Animated

Who Will Win: Brave

Who Should Win: Wreck-it Ralph

Darkhorse: None

Animation is always a tough category to pick a winner, especially after it was branched out to a full 5 film category, but this year it really comes down to just 2 choices, both from Disney: ‘Brave’ from Pixar and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ from Disney themselves.  Both films were visually stunning, but the clear choice for me to win this award is ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ due to the great story and the premise of a video arcade where the characters come to life, but that is also the primary reason why I think it won’t actually win.

The average age of Academy voters is 60 years of age and as a result most of them have probably never seen the inside of a video arcade, and as a result ‘Brave’ will more than likely win Best Animated Film.

Best Supporting Actor

Who Will Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, ‘The Master’

Who Should Win: Christoph Waltz, ‘Django Unchained’

Darkhorse: Alan Arkin, ‘Argo’

The Best Supporting Actor category is possibly the second toughest category to predict this year.  All 5 nominees are former Academy Award winners, and 4 of them have previously won Best Supporting Actor before.  Because of that, I have a feeling the Academy will give the award to the one nominee who has never won before, Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Hoffman is a three time nominee now for Best Supporting Actor and that always is a consideration for voters.

Christoph Waltz is my hands down choice for this category, as his turn in ‘Django Unchained’ was probably the best part of the movie, and that is truly saying a lot with how good it actually was.  The fact that he won just three years ago for his breakout role in another Quentin Tarantino film, ‘Inglorious Basterds’ could hurt Waltz this year.  If ‘Argo’ is going to have a stellar night, you could see Alan Arkin surprise in this category as well.

Best Supporting Actress

Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway, ‘Les Miserables’

Who Should Win: Anne Hathaway, ‘Les Miserables’

Darkhorse: Sally Field, ‘Lincoln’

Right up there with Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor, this category should be a runaway victory for Anne Hathaway.  I don’t know a world where she shouldn’t win, but I said the same about Ben Affleck being nominated for Best Director, so we could still be surprised here.  Hathaway’s role in ‘Les Miserables’ may have been short, but it was definitely sweet and showed just how terrific of a young actress she actually is.

Much like the Best Supporting Actor category, if ‘Lincoln’ is going to be on a role on this night, look for Sally Field to pull an upset in this category.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.