Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ten Things I Liked/Didn't Like In This Year's Oscar Nominations

As I'm sure many of you have already heard, the Oscar nominations were released this morning (here's a full list of all the nominees) to much fanfare. Today is always like my second Christmas, even though I'm not always fond of what Oscar Santa comes to bring me. This morning brought quite a handful of surprises and at least two SHOCKER!'s, so here are ten things that I liked/didn't like - in no particular order or ranking.

1) Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour hit the jackpot
Both Beasts and Amour were nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Screenplay (Beasts in Adapted, Amour in Original), fairing far better than most probably predicted, and it brings me GREAT delight since these were probably the two best movies of 2012. Beasts director Behn Zeitlin (all things considered, a very pretentious name) getting the Best Director nod was probably the biggest surprise of the morning. I'm not sure how well they'll do when it comes to actually winning, but if this gets lots of more people to see these movies, then I'm happy.

2) Paul Thomas Anderson shut out
You knew I was going to talk about this. His movie, The Master, amassed three overall nominations, all for acting (Joaquin Phoenix - Lead Actor; Amy Adams - Supporting Actress; Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Supporting Actor), but the eccentric writer/director was nominated for neither Best Director (which was expected) or Best Original Screenplay (which was less expected). It's hard not to feel bitter when P.T. Anderson can't scurry up a nomination for Original Screenplay, while John Gatins' heavy-handed script for Flight can.

Considered a lock throughout the whole race,
Affleck ends up without a nomination
3) Best Director shake-up
As I said earlier, Paul Thomas Anderson had fallen off and was never really a true contender for Best Director. But Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Ben Affleck (Argo) were. Their movies managed to get Best Picture noms, but it seemed like Affleck and Bigelow were the front runners to win Director, so when they get left off completely - it's very surprising. Especially considering that Ang Lee (Life of Pi) and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) managed to squeak in. Les Miserables director Tom Hooper, also a safe bet before this morning, was left off the list as well. Suddenly, Spielberg's third Oscar seems imminent.

4) Silver Linings Playbook goes 4/4 in acting
Silver Linings Playbook became the first movie since 1981's Reds (that's 31 years, folks) to get a nomination in all four acting categories. Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro were pretty much locks, but Bradley Cooper was still lingering around the edges and Jacki Weaver was a total shock. To be honest, I didn't think Weaver had a whole lot to do in the movie and I didn't think she was in the running at all. That enough people liked her so much in it to get her a nomination is something outside of my realm of understanding, but considering how weak this category is this year, it makes some sort of sense. The other three performances? Good to see them recognized.

5) Oscar actually liked Django Unchained
Though I didn't see it this way, many thought that Django Unchained's high marks were more internet-generated, Tarantino-fanboy noise rather than actual buzz. But Django walked away with nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz), Best Cinematography (Robert Richardson) and Best Original Screenplay. I personally would have swapped out DiCaprio for Waltz myself, but don't have much issue with Waltz getting nominated EXCEPT for the fact that....

6) Best Supporting Actorzzzzzzzzzz
All five of the actors nominated for Best Supporting Actor this year are previous Oscar winners. I know that is just circumstantial and shouldn't matter a whole lot when it comes to actually nominating actors, but when Alan Arkin and Christoph Waltz have already been held the statue for reheated versions of the same characters, I would have liked to have seen something a little spicier added to the mix (like DiCaprio playing against type in Django; Samuel L. Jackson creating a villainous character unlike any other in the same film; and if they really had the balls they would have considered Dwight Henry's incredible work in Beasts of the Southern Wild).

7) Hushpuppy and Riva
I know I've already talked about Amour and Beasts crashing the party, but what a charming little factoid that we have here. Beasts little powerhouse Quvenzhane Wallis is the youngest ever Lead Actress nominee (at 9 years old), while Emmanuelle Riva (at 85 years old) is the oldest ever. I love how this piece of trivia connects these two considering that they are probably my two favorite performances from this category and neither were really considered locks going into nomination morning. Really, I'm just glad they got in and that they get to share that piece of history.

In this round of Lincoln vs. Zero Dark
, Lincoln wins in a landslide
8) Exciting Oscar nominations, boring ceremony
As exciting as it was to see how the nominations ended up shaking out, this has pretty much led to what will be a very uneventful ceremony on February 24th. With Zero Dark Thirty failing to get a nomination in Best Director or Best Cinematography, is there any doubt that Lincoln is just going to crush it and hog all the awards? Unless you think Life of Pi's surprising haul of 11 nominations means it's a threat to win - I don't. That's the one issue about Beasts and Amour getting all the nominations that they, cause we essentially know that the industry considers that awards enough for them and they don't really have a legitimate shot at winning. It's still early but it may be time to just fast-forward six weeks.

9) Seth MacFarlane might actually be good at hosting
I know it was only for less than ten minutes and he owes a lot of credit to Emma Stone who stood next to him, looked absolutely adorable and got just as many laughs, but MacFarlane was actually really funny as he wheeled off the nominations. This pains me as an admitted Seth MacFarlane hater. The announcement was a lot less stiff than usual, which I imagine was MacFarlane's idea, and it actually made the whole thing watchable (usually its just the president of the Academy and some actress staring blankly at the camera). If he manages to de-stiff the actual Oscar ceremony in the same fashion, then that's a real achievement.

10) I'm still sad about Paul Thomas Anderson
Let's just not talk about it.
I know, Paul. I feel exactly the same way.

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