2013 Oscar Picks

Tonight is Oscar night. I’ve been trying to see many of the nominees with moderate success. The Oscars are the only awards show I watch, and this year’s field is strong. For more info on the nominees or this year’s awards season, consult the IMBD Road to the Oscars page.

Here are the nominees followed by my picks for most of the awards I care about. Please post your picks and any other thoughts in the comments. Note that these are not predictions, merely my votes. I know I’ve missed some great films.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin for Argo
Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

My Pick: Ugh, I’ve seen all but The Master (it’s in my queue) and liked them all. I’ll go with Tommy Lee Jones as a curmudgeonly, passionate abolitionist US Representative. I think gravitas might be the best word for his performance.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams for The Master
Sally Field for Lincoln
Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

My Pick: Anne Hathaway, hands down. Her “I Dreamed a Dream” sequence is one of the most amazing and moving things I’ve ever seen in film. No other single performance has ripped my heart out like this one, in this or any other year.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Amour: Michael Haneke
Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino
Flight: John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal

My Pick: I’ve only seen Django Unchained, so I’ll go with Tarantino. As always, his script mixed amazing dialog, bizarre situations and blending of genres, memorable characters, and very dark humor. However, I really wish he had cut the awkward attempt at humor during the white supremacists’ hood scene. It just didn’t fit.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Argo: Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi: David Magee
Lincoln: Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

My Pick: David Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. Great characters, sharp dialog, well-paced, nice blend of twists and humor and drama. It’s a rom-com about two people with varying degrees of mental illness, and it works!

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

My Pick: Wreck-It Ralph, the only one I’ve seen. It was outstanding. Jenny says Brave was excellent as well, but she picks Wreck-It Ralph as well. And sorry, I can’t vote for anything called Frankenweenie.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi

My Pick: Tough call. Django Unchained, I suppose. Tarantino’s films have a distinct look, and this one used a very rich, almost oversaturated palette to…hmm…make the blood look redder? Really, though, the camera work is outstanding.

Best Achievement in Editing

Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

My Pick: Argo. Your adrenaline starts flowing in the first scene and doesn’t let up until the last few minutes, largely due to the smart editing. Every scene was there for a reason.

Best Achievement in Production Design

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi

My Pick: Les Miserables. The whole production made me really glad I don’t live in the foulness of 19th century France.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

The Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Snow White and the Huntsman

My Pick: The Avengers, again, the only one of the five nominees I’ve seen. But come on, they managed to destroy Manhattan and made it look real. And very expensive to repair.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
Denzel Washington for Flight

My Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis. I really wanted to pick Bradley Cooper for his amazing performance in Silver Linings, especially since Day-Lewis already has two of the golden statues, but Day-Lewis somehow managed to top my already high expectations for him in this role. His Lincoln perfectly portrayed the humanity, intelligence, fire, turmoil, eloquence, and charisma of the great president like no one else could.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts for The Impossible

My Pick: Jennifer Lawrence. To be fair, I haven’t seen the other films, but I am very much on the JLaw bandwagon. Her performance here takes a fascinating, troubled, and quirky character and makes you love her despite her weirdness and dirty mouth, or maybe even because of them.

Best Achievement in Directing

Michael Haneke for Amour
Ang Lee for Life of Pi
David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

My Pick: Ben Affleck. I don’t know why he wasn’t even nominated, and apparently lots of other people take issue with his being snubbed. Argo gave me new respect for his talents. However, of the actual nominees, I choose the also excellent David Russell, largely for eliciting such pitch-perfect performances from his entire cast.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

My Pick: Argo, which I just saw last night. Of the nine, I saw Django Unchained, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, and Argo and liked them all a great deal for what they were. But every single thing about Argo just seemed right. One of the most exciting, tension-filled movies I’ve seen in a long time, it’s fast-paced, educational (I was 1 year old when the Iran hostage crisis began and didn’t pay much attention to current events), timely, funny, moving, and simply well-made across the board. I can’t help but think, “THIS is why I go to the movies.”

I put the delightful Silver Linings Playbook a close second. Depending on my mood, I might flip-flop them. Silver Linings Playbook boasts probably the best ensemble acting and some of the most interesting characters in this year’s field. Yes, technically it’s a romantic comedy, which is normally a genre I avoid. However, it’s a quirky and atypical rom-com with a sharp script and outstanding direction.