Friday, February 22, 2013

Academy Awards

2012 was a very solid year for movies, with several viable Best Picture nominations and 2 of the best super hero movies ever made. Additionally I actually went to the trouble of seeing most of the major nominees and can give a decent projection as well as an informed opinion on who should have won. I've yet to see Argo or Django Unchained, but aside from Best Director snubs those shouldn't factor in too heavily. I don't have an opinion on every category, but I will provide what I can for most. The biggest thing to note this year is how arthousey and obscure most of the nominated films are; thus reducing public interest in the spectacle significantly.

Best Picture

What Should Win? Lincoln is the most complete film of the year with some of the best performances, it gives an insightful look into American politics past and the various wheeling and dealing necessary to defeat slavery in an all-North congress. James Spader and Tommy Lee Jones give the best comedic performances of the year alongside Daniel Day Lewis' always excellent presence as the man himself. Zero Dark Thirty is certainly a solid film worth seeing but it isn't all that memorable apart from historical context and will probably fade swiftly into distant memory.

Favorite: Lincoln, though Argo has a shot due to backlash over Best Director.

Snubs: Avengers, Skyfall, and The Dark Knight Rises. Well this is pretty simple, they expanded the nominee list for Best Picture so they could include peripheral films that wouldn't actually win, and these three movies literally carried the box office this year, without them it would have been absolutely disasterous and apart from just being solid movies they deserve recognition for saving the industry.

Best Actor

Who Should Win? Daniel Day Lewis of course, but that's not to knock several people who weren't even nominated. DDL is an academy favorite and always delivers compelling performances. If anything his not winning for Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York sealed his victory of the next 2 Oscars and maybe going forward in perpetuity. He's also not a huge celebrity and takes huge breaks between films, so he doesn't have to be nominated every year like Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep in order to win several times.

Favorite: Daniel Day Lewis

Snubs: Ben Affleck for Argo, Javier Bardem for Skyfall; Skyfall has the best villain in Bond movie history and supporting actor is overcrowded (he also has fairly extensive screentime) so why not put him here in recognition of his efforts. Ideally we'd have another year where DDL and Javier won simultaneously; as both most certainly deserved it; but alas.

Best Actress

Who Should Win? Well I actually don't know, nor does 99.9% of the American populace; but it's safe to say Jessica Chastain is a solid choice. Even though her character is almost certainly fictional the constant juxtaposition of a male dominated profession and a female key participant works wonders in Zero Dark Thirty and makes her excellent performance all the more memorable.

Favorite: Jessica Chastain

Snubs: Marion Cotillard for The Dark Knight Rises, just a superb performance all around and delivers the key twist that almost no one saw coming. Of course post apocalyptic dystopian future movies are almost as unlikely to be nominated as superhero movies, if The Road is any indication.

Best Director

Who Should Win? At least one of the Snubs of course, most notable being Affleck and his continued hatred for the Academy continues to pay dividends. The direction is the weakest part of Lincoln as the film could have been 20 minutes shorter and been much tighter and engaging but Spielberg insisted on having completely extraneous seasons at the beginning and the end alongside historical speeches, that while effectively given, are completely unrelated to the plot. The Emancipation Proclamation is all that was needed to engage the audience and please historians alike.

Favorite: Steven Spielberg

Snubs: Hoo Boy, the category with more better deserving snubs than the entire list of nominees. Affleck, Bigelow, Nolan, Tarantino, Joss Whedon, Sam Mendes. Really it is unfortunate that Spielberg is going to win by default as this would have been the most interesting category to debate and any one of the above 6 would have been more interesting victors; even the assholes.

Best Cinematography

Who Should Win? Well this one's actually extremely debatable; Skyfall has some incredibly shot parts and combined with Javier Bardem's performance it is able to add a huge amount to the film and solidify it as one of the top 3 Bond movies depending on your preference. Roger Deakins is the best in the business and has yet to win this award, so why not pick Skyfall. However personally I was more interested in Lincoln's visuals, but that's probably a historical bias.

Favorite: Skyfall

Snubs: Zero Dark Thirty is the big one here; no clue why it isn't nominated as it would be yet another one that would be difficult to debate between alongside Skyfall and Lincoln. I haven't seen Life of Pi so I can't really comment on how that competes, but this is one of the best indicators of a rewatchable and interesting film as how a movie is shot determines quite a lot. Prometheus could also have been a potential nominee.

Overall not as good a year as 2010 and not nearly as good of choices for nominees, but certainly a fantastic year for film and snub discussion. Unfortunately the early spread this year, despite being massively overpopulated, has failed to deliver on almost all counts; the exception is Arnold's return in The Last Stand which sadly hasn't been a particular box office success.

In the future I'll be discussing a very interesting topic which is fairly new for this blog and additionally a comparison between Arkham City and Arkham Asylum; as I've recently gone back to them.

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