Saturday, February 23, 2013

And The Oscar goes to .....

It’s the time of the year that every or at least most Hollywood fans look forward to.The 85th edition of the Academy Awards or more commonly known as The Oscars are just round the corner. And just like any other year we are happy-sad about the nominees and the snubs. We sure are happy for most of the nominees but we are also really pissed at the “so-called” jury that seems to be comprising of 60yr old dudes and dudettes from some old age home who seem as always, out of sync with the current generation and its films.
There have been times in the past where it often felt that India is obsessed with the Oscars more than any other award or accolade. Even Legends like Satyajit Ray had a weakness for the Oscars. Liking or disliking Oscars, that’s again something very subjective. I really hope that this article does not come across to some as me being infatuated with the Oscars and Hollywood or even devoted to them. This article is from the point of view of someone who’s fascinated by good movies without any language barriers, that’s it. 

I personally feel 2012 has been one of the greatest years for Hollywood in the recent times.
We have had everything from superheroes to grand scale musicals to epic bio-pics to dramas to thrilling manhunts and covert operations to philosophically and visually brilliant stories coming to life this year.

Even though Oscar has officially nominated only 9 films in the ‘Best Film’ category this year, that sure doesn’t do justice to the many brilliant movies that went overlooked. I genuinely feel that some of them would eventually go on and become a cult and would have their own following in the coming years. I’m listing few of them here with the hope that at least few of you could go on and IMDB them and may be later, give them a watch.

The Ones that got away (not in any particular order):
    1. Seven Psychopaths
    2. The Perks of being a Wallflower
    3. Safety Not Guaranteed
    4. End Of Watch
    5. Ruby Sparks
    6. Arbitrage
    7. Liberal Arts
    8. Killer Joe
    9. Cloud Atlas
    10. Chronicle
    11. Moonrise Kingdom

    But before I mention the 9 Best Films of 2012 that the Academy is raving about, I would like to share a thought or more like a quote which was said by a 4 time Oscar winning writer/director/actor to his biographer.
    It's really almost impossible to judge art, that it's so subjective, you can't really say, well, this performance is better than that or that writing is better than this and that, if you get caught in that trap of relying on other people, however great they are, to tell you whether you're any good, you're either going to consciously or subconsciously start playing to that group.”  - Woody Allen
    Allen, With one exception, has never attended the Academy Awards. In spite of his previous 22 nominations and four wins, he declines the invites. Allen explains himself with the help of a sound bite from “Annie Hall” (1970).
    Woody Allen (as Alvy Singer) “And it goes like this. I'm paraphrasing. I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.”
    And, true to form, despite his several Oscars, Woody Allen is still not a member of the Academy.

    And now as I had promised, the nominees for the ‘Best Film’ – 2012 ( In a very particular order) :

    1.       Argo
    2.       Silver Linings Playbook
    3.       Life Of Pi
    4.       Zero Dark Thirty
    5.       Les Miserables
    6.       Django Unchained
    7.       Amour
    8.       Beasts of the Southern Wild
    9.       Lincoln
     In my opinion a “Best Film” is memorable for many reasons but perhaps the most important reason is that you would be happy to and want to see it again and perhaps again. Of this year’s contenders I would only classify Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Life Of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty. And of this group I have watched the first three 3 times with Argo inching ahead for me.

    The others are entertaining and good but not memorable and I am not motivated to watch them again, especially Lincoln, unless of course I am struggling to go to sleep one night.
    My likeness for ‘Argo’ was pretty evident from my previous post ( It may not be technically superior to some of its competitors but I firmly believe that it’s going home with the ‘Best Film’ statue this year.

    And as far as the other categories are concerned, here’s what I think.

    Best Director:

    Who Will Win : Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
    Who Should Win : Ben Affleck (Argo) or Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) but considering the fact that both were ROBBED of their nominations. Out of the nominees left, I would have to root for Ang Lee (Life Of Pi)

    If you were a betting man, Ben Affleck would have been the first name on your 2013 Oscar nomination list. According to me, Argo is a great film. But according to The Academy, Ben Affleck didn't have much to do with it.
    Life of Pi is very well-directed and extremely well-thought-out film, but I feel some were put off by the religious/philosophical message at the end
    Lincoln, which I don’t feel is the best-directed film of the year -- there’s nothing innovative about it -- but I’m swept away with the gravity of the subject matter, with the respect that Spielberg showed to it and with him guiding Day-Lewis in a direction different than we’d normally associated with Lincoln. Plus, it seems that the Academy likes to gift Spielberg an Oscar every 10 years or so, just out of respect for what he has done for the industry.

    Best Lead Actor:

    Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
    Who Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

    I would be really surprised if Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t get 90 percent of the Academy vote. People just like and respect him and also the character. I’m pretty sure that none of the other nominated guys would even come with a written speech. I, too, thought he was very good, but basically it was a lot of monologues and I didn’t see that much range from him.
    Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), who gives a performance for the ages. You can see that so much went into his performance. He created a character as distinct as Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood).

    Best Lead Actress:

    Who Will Win: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
    Who Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence  (Silver Linings Playbook)
    The Dark(Old) Horse: Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

    ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, the 2hr 40min movie dubbed as the “Greatest Manhunt in the History” was completely shouldered on Jessica Chastain. From start to finish, we see and go through everything from the perspective of Chastain. If she was great in ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘The Help’, here she was just fantastic. She is the major star of tomorrow and probably has another 10 Oscar nominations in her future.

    But still, I would go with Jennifer Lawrence because she just stood out in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. Sharing screen space with the likes of Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver is difficult in itself but to pull off a remarkable performance and grab the spotlight, that’s just amazing. Her performance as the feisty and sarcastic Tiffany, a bi-polar depressed widow whose also a recovering-nympho was transcendent and was truly the heart and soul of the film.
    On the other hand, the 85-yr old Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) could well be the dark horse of the actress race.
    She was extraordinary in 'Amour'. The Jury could go in her favour thinking she may not even live through the Oscar night, so you never know.

    Best Supporting Actor:

    Who Will Win: Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained)
    Who Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)

    I was utterly disappointed with both the Supporting actor and actress nominees. Some of the nominees don’t deserve to be there on the list. (Read: Alan Arkin-Argo, Jacki Weaver-Silver Linings and Sally Field-Lincoln)
    Christopher Waltz has gone home with most of the main awards this season (Globes, Bafta, Screen Actors Guild) for his portrayal of a slave loving bounty hunter. But I strongly feel it’s more like a fake nomination — he’s a co-lead with Jamie Foxx, and it’s unfair for the others to compete with that. Also, much of his performance is just like in Inglourious Basterds (Which was a very deserving Oscar).
    So I turn to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was just freaking sublime in 'The Master'. It's a very original performance. What's interesting about it is you don't actually know where the character is coming from. You sort of assume he's insincere, but sometimes he comes across as extremely sincere.

    Best Supporting Actress:

    Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
    Who Should Win: Amy Adams (The Masters)

    As I said before, really disappointed with some of the nominees in this category. Jacki Weaver ?? I don’t even know why she’s there, and she knocked out Ann Dowd, who probably deserved that spot for 'Compliance'. Helen Hunt is really a lead actress. She has indeed given a splendid performance but she and her movie ‘The Sessions’ haven’t actually made much noise this awards season. Sally Field is undeserving in this category -- I didn’t find a single moment in the film where I thought she did anything extraordinary. She’s playing an annoying character, and she is rather annoying, plus she’s about 10 years too old for the role.  Amy Adams is going to be nominated 20 more times, but this one’s a total throwaway role. But Every scene with her and Phillip Seymour Hoffman was electric. Now this leaves us with Anne Hathaway, who’s going to win because she makes you cry and because The Academy finds her charming. Sometimes it’s one scene that wins it for you. Denying her at this point would be like strangling a kitten.

    Best Original Screenplay :

    Who Will Win: Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
    Who Should Win: Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) considering the fact that Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) hasn't even been nominated.

    Mark Boal's Zero Dark Thirty script sure is even more amazing than his previous Oscar Winning 'The Hurt Locker', with very good moments and great tension. Also, the whole controversy about the torture scenes is just plain nonsense. Knowing the fact that due to the controversy it’s not going to win the best picture, I'm confident that the Academy voters would try to push through an award for it as a way of saying sorry.
    It's a real snub for Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) - it's as if The Academy are saying that his stars managed to achieve great performances, despite the fact they weren't in an Oscar-worthy film.
    My concern with 'Moonrise Kingdom' is that Wes Anderson movies are often too dry and niche to be appreciated by people not familiar with his work.It's a very well crafted piece of work and very few films have been able to hold a candle to the amount of love that I hold for this film, and I am one of the more casual Anderson fans out there. Still, he deserves the credit and hopefully one day the honor.

    Best Adapted Screenplay :

    Who Will Win: Chris Terrio (Argo)
    Who Should Win:  David Magee (Life Of Pi)

    This one is a rather strong category, but I'm guilty of being partial to Argo. It has a very engaging story but then when I look at 'Life Of Pi', well that's just something unbelievable. We all thought that it was an un-filmable book, and yet David Magee came up with a way to structure it that was faithful to the book but also cinematic.
    This category could also turn out to be a "consolation" win for David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook).

    Best Cinematography:

    Who Will Win: Claudio Miranda (Life Of Pi)
    Who Should Win: Roger Deakins (Skyfall)

    This one's sure shot going to 'Life Of Pi'. It's rich and magnificent, no doubt but I'm a little apprehensive of any nominee who uses a lot of CGI, since you can manipulate the photography so much. For the last three years, the Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects have gone to the same film: 'Avatar' (2009), 'Inception' (2010), and 'Hugo' (2011) won both the prizes. And that trend will continue this year too.

    But for me, It's going to be 'Skyfall'. The only problem with it is that, it's a Bond film. The Academy will be going "‘How can you give James Bond an Oscar?" But they should then go back and re-watch the awesome opening shot where Bond is approaching the camera, and he’s out-of-focus and then he slams into focus in a way that I have never seen done before. That's Roger Deakins for you (10th Oscar nomination and yet to win one).

    Best Editing:

    Who Will Win : Zero Dark Thirty
    Who Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty but wouldn't mind if Argo wins this one too.

    'Argo' had some pretty good editing, especially the sequence at the end when they are making their escape from the airport. But the undeniable winner is 'Zero Dark Thirty' which must have had a massive amount of footage to boil down and made that raid at the end very understandable.

    Best Original Score:

    Who Will Win: Mychael Danna (Life Of Pi)
    Who Should Win: Life Of Pi is an absolutely perfect score. This one deserves it.

    Best Original Song :

    Who Will Win: Adele (Skyfall)
    Who Should Win: They didn't give it to ‘Live and Let Die’ back in 1973. This year, it's finally going to be the year of 'Bond, James Bond'

    This one's a no-brainer. ‘Skyfall’ is one of the best songs that has ever been in the best song category and Adele is f-in brilliant. And I think it’s about time that a James Bond song won the best song.

    I don't want to bore you guys further with rest of the nominations and predictions. Few hours more and we'll have our answers.
    No matter how many silly snubs there are in the nominations or how tired and trying the skits and musical numbers might be in the actual show or knowing the fact that Spielberg has already bought his statue way in advance, I'll still be watching.
    "50's years of Bond" Celebration, getting all bonds in tuxes onstage, Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted) hosting it , another great acceptance speech by Daniel Day-Lewis.
    All that makes getting up at 6 in the morning and sitting in front of the tele for 4 straight hours totally worth it.

    See you at the Oscars ;)

    Telecast : 6:00 AM (IST) - Star Movies 

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