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The 85th Academy Awards

The Academy’s Picks & Mine

February 21, 2013

Sunday night is Oscar night, or what I call the Super Bowl for movie fans everywhere. As always I’m really looking forward to this year’s ceremony. For this year, I thought we might take a look at the major awards categories and who will probably win while I also give my picks as to whom I would award these coveted prizes to. Without further introduction here is a look at the 85th Academy Awards.

Best Picture: The odds on favorite here seems to be director Ben Affleck’s Argo and while I did find the picture to be quite rewarding, I would give the prize to director Quinten Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

‘Beasts’ Quvenzhané Wallis with Director Benh Zeitlin

There wasn’t a film in the nine nominees that satisfied quite like this one. The film was a terrific mixture of different genres, offered humanity and compassion amidst the proceedings and will offer many pleasures for repeat viewers. Argo may be a great film but it’s not the kind of film that can hold up on a second viewing. Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.

Best Actress: The odds-on favorite here is Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, but in my book Emmanuelle Riva deserves this award for her heart wrenching performance in the film Amour. At age 85, it’s hard to imagine that Riva will have many more opportunities like this and though I had a few slight problems with Amour, Riva’s performance certainly wasn’t among them. Add to that the fact Riva has been working steadily in film for seven decades and there’s no question that she deserves to be rewarded.

Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis is virtually guaranteed a win for his lead-role performance in Lincoln and it’s hard to argue that point. Still, I’ll say that if I were faced with a second choice, Joaquin Phoenix would surely get my vote for his complex performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s, The Master. The film had issues but Phoenix portrait of a tortured and confused soul was astounding, especially during the film’s first hour.

Christoph Waltz in ‘Django’

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway is another virtual lock for her much lauded fifteen minutes of screen time in Les Miserables and while, technically, it was a good performance, I never once forgot that it was, when all was said and done, a performance. I would rather see them give this prize to Helen Hunt for her daring portrayal of a sex surrogate in The Sessions or either Amy Adams for her fantastic work in The Master.

Best Supporting Actor: It looks like it may be Robert De Niro’s year once again for his work in Silver Linings Playbook but I’m such a fan of Django Unchained that I would be hard pressed not to award this prize to Christoph Waltz for his work in that picture. Waltz is being labeled as a supporting actor but I would say he carries the picture as much as Jamie Foxx does.

Best Director: Steven Spielberg may pick up yet another prize for Lincoln as the odds are in his favor, but personally, I found Spielberg’s work on Lincoln to be some of his most uncinematic in recent memory. 

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

In spite of the admittedly handsome performances, from a purely filmmaking standpoint, Lincoln came across for me as a nothing more than a photographed stage play, with endless scenes of characters sitting and debating. If there were a write-in ballot, surely I would write in either Ben Affleck for his work on Argo or Quinten Tarantino for his work on Django Unchained. Since that isn’t going to happen, I would have to give my vote to Benh Zeitlin for his inventive direction on Beasts of the Southern Wild, direction that was great visual storytelling.

A few others categories I would like to mention; Best Original Song, in which I think the title song for Skyfall should win hands-down; Best Documentary Feature, in which I believe that the incredibly moving film Searching for Sugar Man should be rewarded accordingly and Best Visual Effects, a category in which Life of Pi shines above all others.

Adele, who wrote & sings Skyfall

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