After officially having seen all of the best picture nominations (my own personal requirement before writing this post and before watching the awards show), here are my picks for each of the major categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted, Best Editing and Best Cinematography). I will pick both who my favorite is, and who I think the Academy will hand the award to.
Anna Karenina - Admittedly haven’t seen it, but from the trailer this definitely has a shot in the running (I know it’s sad that the first nomination is one I haven’t seen but it’s the exception not the rule).
Django Unchained - Quintessential Quentin. Tarantino’s films have a decided mark and if you love snap zooms … you love Quentin.
Life of Pi - Ang Lee once again emphasizes your visual experience above all else.
Lincoln - Solid. Stately. And Spielberg.
Skyfall - Not normal seeing a James Bond film up for cinematography, but a well deserved nomination.
My favorite: Skyfall. I would give you a long list of reasons why, but this post gives you 31 reasons in pictures.
My pick: Lincoln, because well… it’s safe. And it’s Hollywood. And it’s Spielberg.
Argo - Despite knowing the outcome, something about this movie keeps you at the edge of your seat. I’d argue it’s the editing.
Life of Pi - It was perfectly good… but not sure if it stands out amongst this list.
Lincoln - I actually am surprised it got a nomination in this category and thought this was one truly lacking area of the film.
Silver Linings Playbook - Moments of brilliance (the flashbacks to “the incident”). And then some serious duds.. (The scene outside of the Eagle’s Stadium was incredibly difficult to follow).
Zero Dark Thirty - If we could remove a section in the middle, the editing was always spot on.
My favorite: Argo. Every cut left you wanting more of the previous image, even in deadpan moments. It kept me at the edge nearly every second once Affleck is on the ground in Iran.
My pick: Zero Dark Thirty. Next to Lincoln I see this as the Academy’s darling. It was very well done, and is certainly my second favorite – but the general public as well as the Academy will likely see this into Dylan Tichenor’s hands.
Best Original Screenplay
Amour - Pleasant, sad, haunting. Just ask my fiancée.
Django Unchained - So dark yet so clever. Not sure it’s Tarantino’s best film, but certainly up there.
Flight - Wow. this was way more depressing than it looked in the trailer. Not the greatest overall pacing so probably won’t see its name called.
Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson deserves a nomination in this category every time he makes a film.
Zero Dark Thirty – If it weren’t for a couple of dragging, plot reducing scenes in the middle …
My favorite: Moonrise Kingdom. It’s almost as if Anderson writes with the same balance every single image he produces possesses. Moonrise Kingdom was original, quirky, and yet familiar- in a good way. I don’t think it has a shot at winning this award, but I’m sure glad it got nominated.
My pick: Zero Dark Thirty. The only thing standing in Zero Dark Thirty’s way is the fact that it portrays torture as the end all be all for interrogation tactics. Which, of course, won’t sit well with the Academy. However, I feel as if many would like to give SOMETHING to this film given the subject matter and I feel this is probably its best shot. But I’ve been wrong more often than not…
Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo - To steal from my earlier description of Silver Linings Playbook’s editing .. Moments of brilliance, and moments of why on earth does this dialogue matter?
Beasts of the Southern Wild - I don’t know if anything is as beautifully layered as this film.
Life of Pi - Is there an award for best adapted visuals?
Lincoln - Doris Kearnes Goodwin, who I’ve had the great fortune to hear speak, assisted in every aspect of the making of this film and it shows even in the script.
Silver Linings Playbook - This one still gets me, I might have many people who disagree but I still see this movie as just a better than average Romantic Comedy.
My favorite: Beasts of the Southern Wild. I have nothing but praise for the complexity of this film. The story and the language was incredible. If you can get your hands on the actual screenplay itself, read it. Of course, I’d suggest watching the film first.
My pick:Lincoln. This is one of the few times where I will (probably) hear Lincoln’s name called on Sunday night and I won’t roll my eyes with boredom. If it deserves any of them it’s this one, though my favorite is still Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams - She was really great, and if her role was expanded then perhaps she would have a shot. But she is no Anthony Hopkins (winning Best Actor with only 15 minutes of screen time) and her character was only beginning to develop when The Master decided to just … end.
Sally Field - When I walked out of Lincoln, one of the first things I thought was, wow, Sally Field was the most memorable character.
Anne Hathaway - I have to admit, since she stole my ticket to a pre-screening of Neil Young Journeys, I have a little bit of a grudge. She did really well, but think Tom Hooper was a little over-zealous with the 3 minute close-up during “I Dreamed a Dream.” From that point on I knew the movie wasn’t going to be as spectacular as I had hoped.
Helen Hunt - Didn’t see her play this role, but the Academy loves stuff like this, however bizarre the story might be.
Jacki Weaver - I had already seen Zero Dark Thirty when the nominations came out and when they announced her name, my first thought was, “Oh yeah she was in that movie.” She didn’t do a bad job, it was just a little too plain for her name to be in the envelope.
My favorite: Sally Field. Though I was going to cringe if she got super emotional one more time in Lincoln, I think it would have been a good cringe because she made me feel upset with the way she portrayed it. The dialogue between her and Daniel Day-Lewis about sadness and grief. Wow. (Additionally: this scene is up there with some of my all time favorites now). I do however, feel as if this is the weakest field of any this year.
My pick: Sally Field. For once, they aligned! Nice job Academy.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin – For those upset by Affleck not getting anything: Alan Arkin did more with way less. Next discussion…
Robert De Niro - When De Niro hit Bradley Cooper it made my life complete. Also, it’s kind of weird seeing De Niro just playing Dads now.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Chilling performance in the middle of an overly ambitious attempt at commentary on religion, war and mental illness.
Tommy Lee Jones - If every man in 1865 looked like Tommy Lee Jones did with a wig … how was that ever a thing? Jones was alright, but I’m not sure he ever delivered a line that didn’t have the same method of delivery as the previous one.
Christoph Waltz - The line, “And in the odd chance there are any Astronomy aficionados amongst you the North Star is… that one. ” will forever be with me. Like the movie, there really aren’t words to describe what he did for that role. Without him, Django would have sunk. fast.
My favorite: Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He won’t win it, and it’s safe to say that The Master wasn’t one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s best films, but the acting in this movie was superb and Hoffman made you squirm in your seat as he so convincingly lied through his teeth to keep his cult alive that you get a sense of how those things ever get started.
My pick: Christoph Waltz. And honestly, you won’t see a complaint from me if either Waltz or Hoffman win. This category easily took me longer than any other and it was these two that had me baffled. Such different roles but so well done.
Bradley Cooper - I just. I’m sorry but no. Bradley Cooper got the job done in Silver Linings Playbook but that was about it. De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence stole the show and kept it running. Bradley Cooper just looked pretty and got angry.
Daniel Day-Lewis - If I could have Daniel Day-Lewis read me stories in Lincoln’s voice every night, I think I would sleep 100x better and feel 100x more intelligent.
Hugh Jackman – Dear Hugh, I’m sorry you had to act next to Russel Crowe’s worst performance ever. Sincerely, Ted. p.s. the little boy stole the show.
Joaquin Phoenix - I won’t even wait until you get to the “my favorite” section. Best acting job of the year.
Denzel Washington - Denzel is Denzel, maybe one day that will win him an Oscar but it won’t be this year.
My favorite: Joaquin Phoenix. So as I’ve said, The Master was pretty much a disastrous film, but Phoenix is back ladies in gentlemen. Though he had to play one of the most twisted and complicated roles I’ve ever seen to get me to say that, it makes sense that he would play that role after the disaster that was the faux-documentary about him destroying his life. A textbook method actor, I want no part of knowing what state of mind he put himself in during the filming of the movie. What an insanely brilliant performance of a brilliantly insane character.
My pick:Daniel Day-Lewis. The other method Actor probably will win this one in a landslide.
Jessica Chastain - An isolated spitfire who I feel like obsessed with her nuances instead of her character. But that’s just me.
Jennifer Lawrence - If not for her performance, we wouldn’t be seeing this film in so many categories.
Emmanuelle Riva - She was fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but I believe her co-star should have gotten a nomination for Best Actor before she got one for her role.
Quvenzhané Wallis - At 9 years old, you wonder just how brilliant this girl must be.
Naomi Watts - Unfortunately haven’t seen her performance, but it’s on my list for the very near future.
My favorite: Quvenzhané Wallis. COME on. Anyone who watches this and isn’t brought to the widest grin and the saddest tears needs to re-evaluate a few things. I may be over-hyping it but this performance was almost mystical.
My pick: Emmanuelle Riva. Why? Oh I have a hunch that this will be the shocker. Chastain will be a close second (although we never know these things), but I think her performance had so much potential and when there are lofty expectations, and you just kind of do a good job it’s hard to not be a little let down. Emmanuelle Riva is my pick and I’m sticking to it.
Amour (Michael Haneke) - Definitely got great acting out of his cast, but didn’t have to go far to do it.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin) - Whatever films Zeitlin makes from this point forward, I will see.
Life of Pi (Ang Lee) - Ang Lee does Ang Lee realllllly well.
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell) – Great job David, now why were you nominated again?
Lincoln (Steven Spielberg) - Steven! You are always there for the masses. Making really good movies that everyone likes. Nicely done.
My favorite: Benh Zeitlin. Are you kidding me? The way he constructed every scene through the eyes of “Hush Puppy” ? All while telling an incredibly difficult story? Bravo sir, bravo. Just go get a haircut.
My pick: Steven Spielberg. For the tens of you still reading, you probably picked the same thing. And that’s why the pick is what it is.
Amour - This movie is still haunting me.
Argo - This movie still has me on the edge of my seat.
Beasts of the Southern Wild - This movie is still inspiring me.
Django Unchained – This movie is still making me laugh uncomfortably and reflectively.
Les Misérables - This movie is still making me wonder where exactly Geoffrey Rush was when they cast the film.
Life of Pi - This movie is still making me wish my dreams were cooler.
Lincoln - This movie still makes me want Abe Lincoln as an extra Uncle.
Silver Linings Playbook - This movie still makes me question the Academy.
Zero Dark Thirty - This movie still makes me want Osama Bin Laden gone.
My favorite: Beasts of the Southern Wild. I’ll describe it this way: The film reminds you of what it’s like to be a child, without losing the gravity of Life’s situations. You gain a sense of childlike optimism and dreaming, while remaining grounded in reality. It means that this is possible, to be both grounded in reality, yet have an eye like a child’s. I think there’s an age old principal here … Anyway, my overly bold statement about the movie is that I think it will be one of the few films that will be used in film classes as long as they teach the medium. Don’t judge me.
My pick: Lincoln for all the reasons you’ve seen throughout. I just don’t think Hollywood has ability to overcome the baseline when it comes to Best Picture.