The 2013 Oscar Lineup: A Final Take

Here we are. The Academy Awards are a reality. And only an hour away! Check out these last minute guesses and hopes before the night’s show!

Best Picture

1. Argo
2. Lincoln
3.  Silver Linings Playbook
4. Life of Pi
5. Amour
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
7. Zero Dark Thirty
8. Les Misérables
9. Django Unchained

Who Will Win: Argo. Rarely does a movie sweep every single major award, both Best Picture and Director, including the SAG, DGA, WGA, BAFTA, and Golden Globes. Nothing can stop it. Even if Ben Affleck missed out on a Director nod, which hasn’t happened since since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy.

Who Should WinArgo is great, as are many other films this year, but Silver Linings managed to mold together so many genres, yet tie them together to make a heartwarming comedy that was beautifully made.

Best Director
1. Ang Lee – Life of Pi
2. Stephen Spielberg – Lincoln
3. David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
3. Michael Haneke – Amour
5. Benh Zietlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Who Will Win: This is one category that is probably the biggest toss-up considering how the two main sweepers of this season, Affleck and Bigelow, aren’t even nominated. Spielberg could be the favorite, but just like his last win, Lee could take the win.

Who Should Win: David O. Russell. Not since Warren Beatty’s Reds has a film gotten a nomination in every single major category and thanks to O. Russell, it managed to happen with Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Actor

1. Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
2. Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
3. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
4. Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
5. Denzel Washington – Flight

Who Will and Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis isn’t only destined to win for his method-acted portrayal as Abe Lincoln, he rightfully deserves it.

Best Actress
1. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
2. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
3. Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
4. Naomi Watts – The Impossible
5. Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Who Will and Should Win: 2012 was the year of Jennifer Lawrence, and not until her win at the SAGs did her Oscar win seem more believable than ever. Chastain, too, deserves it, especially even for that last shot of her in Zero Dark Thirty, while Riva, whose birthday is today, could also win, but Lawrence has gained so much momentum, she should best it.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
2. Philip Seymore Hoffman – The Master
3. Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
4. Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
5. Alan Arkin – Argo

Who Will Win: In another toss-up category, still to today, I’ll give it to Tommy Lee Jones, the SAG winner.

Who Should Win: Christoph Waltz, the winner of the Golden Globe, and also a huge fan favorite, shined in his role from Django Unchained.

Best Supporting Actress
1. Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
2. Sally Fields – Lincoln
3. Helen Hunt – The Sessions
4. Amy Adams – The Master
5. Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will and Should Win: Anne Hathaway, although in Les Miz for only a short amount of time, is a deserving shoo-in for this category, even for only her “I Dreamed A Dream” performance.

Documentary FeatureSearching For Sugar Man.

Documentary Short: Inocente.

Foreign Film: Best Picture nom tonight, Amour.

Animated FeatureWreck-It Wralph.

CinematographyLife of Pi.

Makeup and HairstylingLes Miz.

Production DesignLincoln.

Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino for Django.

Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio for Argo, although Daviod O. Russel could win for Silver.

Animated Short FilmPaperman.

Live Action Short FilmHenry.

Visual Effects: Hands down, Life of Pi.

Costume DesignAnna Karenina.

Film EditingArgo.

Sound MixingSkyfall.

Sound EditingSkyfall.

Original ScoreLincoln.

Original Song: Adele and Paul Epworth, for “Skyfall.”

What A Dream Can Bring

les-miserables-picture04At the brink of the French Revolution, Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean, a ex-prisoner who tries to better his name through the assisting of others who are hurting. Singing every lyric and song live, this musical was a revolution in itself for the genre and showcasing some astounding moments (Anne Hathaway, anyone?).

For what is most likely the most divided film of the year though, many loving it, many loathing it, I can see, at times, where both come from, but Les Mis‘ drama and tear-inducing story-lines won me over.

Hathaway, like said before, gave one of the greatest performances of the year. Although her total time doesn’t rack up very many minutes, she managed to intoxicate with her vulnerable portrayal of the fallen Fantine, forced to sell not just her possessions, but at times herself to give her daughter a better life. Every sang word from her would send chills up my arms and once one of the musicals most well known songs, “I Dreamed A Dream” began, it was impossible to not be enthralled with the one take scene of not only Hathaway’s decent voice, but her finest acting achievement to date.

Hugh Jackman surprises with his operatic sounding voice throughout the course of the 2 hour and 37 minute movie as well. His own performance held the grunge of his torn Valjean, and the composure of his Mayor status throughout. Even newcomer Samantha Barks, who reprised who role as Eponine, should be on her way to stardom, herself, for her role.

There were problems though. First, Russell Crowe. Sometimes his clearly untrained voice managed to pass as alright, but at times, his whiney tone could become annoying. Second, the cinematography. Throughout most of the songs, director, Hooper, seemed to have decided to hold the camera on close-ups for a good deal of the time. It worked perfectly for some scenes, like during “I Dreamed A Dream” and a scene with Eddie Redmayne later on, but at times it became distracting, which is the exact opposite of a close-up’s job.

Close-ups should be used sparingly in order to achieve the usefulness they hold in enhancing the emotion of a scene, such as in the scenes previously mentioned. But when used so often, they lose their meaning.

These two factors do not ruin the film, by any means. They were more nuances at times. At the end of the day (one of my favorite scenes and songs), the jam-packed stories of melancholy drive the long feature film and helped bring out the best of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, alike. B+

Catch what I consider one of the bets trailers of the year below, too!

If Played by the Book, Could Silver Linings Take the Cake?

Despite Lincoln‘s astounding 12 nomination lead among the rest, is its Oscar sweep really as inevitable as it seems? Maybe not.

Silver Linings Playbook, the David O. Russell directed romantic dramedy, has enough love, support, and similar ritualistic qualities of past winners that make it a serious contender to over take the historical biopic.

In layman’s terms, Silver Linings is the feel-good movie of the year. It’s the film where most people that left the theater held that warm fuzzy feeling that emits when you witness something that touches you, but at the same time fills you with laughter, thanks to the script’s bluntness and the top notch acting performances. The movie simply makes you happy when exiting the theater doors, and in recent past, with films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Artist, and even The King’s Speech, Silver Linings has this certain “genre” has a fairly good reputation.

Perhaps most importantly in terms of nominations, though, is that the film garnered up not only 8 nominations, but one in each major category: Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. Not since Warren Beatty’s 1982 drama, Reds, has that happened, and for a film to even get so many nominations in such areas, it could be hard for it to not score at least one win. With Jennifer Lawrence being Jessica Chastain’s only real competition for winning the Best Actress prize, that one in particular is possible, but if Chastain beats her out, what else could it win? Most of the other acting categories are either locked for winners or have two other contenders fighting for the role already. So Picture? Director?

Lastly, and likely most important, there is one more major silver lining for this playbook (besides Jennifer Lawrence!): Harvey Weinstein. The executive producer has marked his name under countless films that have either landed in Best Picture noms, and many of them going on to win, such as The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and most of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, including this year’s Django Unchained. The two-time nominee in just this year has a whole lot of voting sway for Silver Linings and is widely known for his leeway in the Best Picture department.

And the tremendously uncanny irony that lies in this years nominations? The similarities it holds to the 1999 Academy Awards, where the favorite to sweep was war-time drama, Saving Private Ryan. Although Spielberg managed to grab his most recent Oscar with his job as director for the film, he lost Best Picture. And to what? The comedy, Shakespeare In Love. And who was one of the winning producers for it? Harvey Weinstein.

Can history repeat itself in this award season? Or is Lincoln unbeatable at this point? Will any other movies be able to top either of these? Maybe the backlash of the Academy for not nominating Argo’s Ben Affleck and Zero Dark Thirty’s Kathryn Bigelow could get them a redemption song. Hard to tell at this point, but stay tuned.

Just always be wary of the menacing eyes of Tiffany. She could be a reason in itself for her film to win.

Screen shot 2013-01-11 at 11.17.02 PM

Nominations, please! Literally…

85th-academy-awards

As the sun was just beginning to rise on this early morning, actors, directors, and filmmakers alike anxiously watched the 85th Annual Academy Awards’ live simulcast to announce the new bunch of nominees. Emma Stone, who had a fairly big year with The Amazing Spiderman and the recently released, Gangster Squad, co-hosted with this years Oscars’ host, Seth MacFarlane, which marked the first time since Charlton Heston’s turn in 1972 where the year’s host declared the nominees as well. Saying only the major categories, many shocks, snubs, and pleasant surprises filled the California hosted room of film. Check them out below!

Best Picture
1. Amour
2. Argo
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
4. Django Unchained
5. Les Misérables
6. Life of Pi
7. Lincoln
8. Silver Linings Playbook
9. Zero Dark Thirty

Most of the inclusions, including the total number of nine nominations, weren’t all too surprising. Even Amour, although not included in either of my Takes, or many others, isn’t too off the wall considering it picked up a lot of prizes for Best Picture recently. Despite the fact that it’s a foreign film, it got a lot of attention this year. Moonrise Kingdom, which only gained an Original Screenplay nod, and The Master, picking up three acting noms in the acting categories, are most likely the biggest snubs of the bunch.

Best Directorben-affleck-directing-argo
1. Michael Haneke – Amour
2. Behn Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
3. Ang Lee – Life of Pi
4. Stephen Spielberg – Lincoln
5. David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

And here it is. The one that every blogger, filmmaker, and critic have raved about since they set their eyes on the nominations this morning. Where are Ben Affleck andKathryn Bigelow in 2012 Kathryn Bigelow, the two tour de forces considered to be the top contenders of the 2012 year of movies? Not on many’s radars, apparently. Instead, Haneke and Zeitlin (who ended up being a personal, pleasant surprise, although the previously mentioned really disappoint me) beat the other two out. Tom Hooper and Les Mis’ mixed reviews haven’t given him much of a “snub” title, especially due to the outrage put forth by Affleck and Bigelow’s cuts. This could really affect the outcome of this year’s Best Picture win since many penned Argo and Zero Dark Thirty as top favorites for the top prize and since only three films in past have gone on to win it without garnering a Director nod (such Driving Miss Daisy), it’s chances could dwindle.

Best Actor
1. Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
2. Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
3. Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
4. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
5. Denzel Washington – Flight

This category probably holds the second biggest shock: no John Hawkes for his turn in The Sessions? Some considered Day-Lewis’ main competition to be Hawkes and with the likes of Denzel Washington’s takeover (or even Joaquin Phoenix, perhaps), it now seems that President Lincoln has this win in the bag.

Best Actressamour-emmanuelle-riva-michael-haneke
1. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
3. Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
4. Quevenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Naomi Watts – The Impossible

Not any surprises here (in fact, this is the only category out of my Take 2 that I got all the guesses correct). Something notable though: this batch includes the oldest Best Actress nominee in the history of the ceremonies, 85 year old Riva, and also the youngest ever nominee, being 9 year old newcomer, Wallis.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Alan Arkin – Argo
2. Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
3. Phillip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
4. Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
5. Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

Most were predictable, except the last spot which was a toss up between Christoph Waltz (who many consider to be a more leading role of Django) and Leonardo DiCaprio for the same film. Waltz, a recent winner for another Tarantino film, Inglorious Basterds, managed to top the yet-to-win DiCaprio.

Best Supporting Actress
1. Amy Adams – The Master
2. Sally Field – Lincoln
3. Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
4. Helen Hunt – The Sessions
5. Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Again, most were expected, minus that same, final spot. In my first Take, I penned all of the following the same as this list, but later included Ann Dowd over Weaver. But just like in her last nomination, yet this time with more buzz, Jacki Weaver snuck in.

So a lot of records were broken. Oldest Best Actress. Youngest Best Actress Time. Then, although it’s not a record, for the first time since 1982’s Reds, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook managed to gain a nomination in every major category: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress.

Anything that surprise you? Is there a missing nom that you so desperately wish were included? Speak out!

Watch the full simulcast below, too, and then catch the rest of the nominees, including screenplays, other films, and more of the technical categories at the Oscars’ website.

The 2013 Oscar Lineup: Take 2, A Final Look

January 10th. That’s all that’s left until the morning where the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences reveals the flush of nominees to grace the red carpets for the 85th Annual Academy Awards. So, with one last final tally, find out where I suspect who will rank in each category. One final time.

Best Picturezero-dark-thirty-releases-a-uk-poster-121641-00-1000-100 (1)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Argo
3. Lincoln
4. Silver Linings Playbook
5. Les Misérables
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
7. Life of Pi
8. Django Unchained
9. Moonrise Kingdom
10. The Impossible

Again, with the possibility of the list ending from anywhere between five and ten nominations, it’s hard to determine where the percentages of votes particularly went, but my guess is that the noms will fence in at nine, like last year. If there were any year to somehow manage to fill up all ten spots, though, it could be this year. The horse race still continues between Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, and Lincoln, but Silver Linings Playbook should gain a little more momentum over Les Mis, due to the musical’s largely loving audience, yet torn critics which could really hurt its chances. Life of Pi seems to have lost some of its buzz since its not likely for it to garner any acting noms, so Beasts could get the edge depending on how much praise newcomer, Wallis, receives. Although it is still very possible for The Master top The Impossible, or even Moonrise Kingdom, the tsunami dramas recent release and moving tale could take its spot.

Best Director
zero-dark-thirty-kathryn-bigelow
1. Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
2. Ben Affleck – Argo
3. Stephen Spielberg – Lincoln
3. David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
5. Ang Lee – Life of Pi

The top three are still easily locked in. The last two slots could go to O. Russell, thanks to his great work which would then round in a comedy, Lee, due to the Pi “curse,” or even Hooper, the most recent winner of the bunch for Les Mis. Still, even though the gutsy move to make the actors’ sing live could be a reason in itself to give him the nom over either of the other two, the many critics that found it underwhelming and that could reflect the opinions of the Academy too.

Best Actordaniel-day-lewis-lincoln4
1. Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
2. Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
3. John Hawkes – The Sessions
4. Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
5. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

Don’t get me wrong based on my last two excerpts, Les Mis still managed to receive a lot of love from viewers, which is why Jackman’s portrayal shot him up a lot higher than before. I expect the rest to remain the same, unless Denzel Washington manages to take over Phoenix.

Best Actress
ZERO-articleLarge
1. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
3. Naomi Watts – The Impossible
4. Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
5. Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Once more, these last two spots are a complete toss-up. Before, I assumed that the Academy would finish up like the Golden Globes and SAGS with Mirren and Cotillard. However, both respective films, especially Cotillard’s Rust and Bone, got a slew of poor reviews, which is why veteran, Riva, should make up for the lack of amour for Amour (sorry, had to do it). Wallis, miles more junior to Riva’s age, could manage to get a nomination thanks to the love the film has, yet seemed to have to be ignored for so many other awards due to qualifications. It is possible for Mirren or Cotillard to take either spot, or perhaps even Maggie Smith for her role in Quartet, who could ride her Downton Abbey success to garner her seventh nom.

Best Supporting Actorlincoln
1. Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
2. Alan Arkin – Argo
3. Philip Seymore Hoffman – The Master
4. Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
5. Leonardo DiCaprio – Django Unchained

This category is continuing to keep up its streak of…well. Just not knowing what to do. Nominations have ranged from all of the top three, to De Niro, DiCaprio, Waltz, McGregor. So many different possibilities and still not a clear winner. Expect De Niro, an acting favorite, to still make it, but either DiCaprio or Waltz to take the fifth.

Best Supporting Actress
anne-hathaway-les-miserables
1. Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
2. Helen Hunt – The Sessions
3. Sally Fields – Lincoln
4. Amy Adams – The Master
5. Ann Dowd – Compliance

Top three. Locked. Adams? Well. How could she not? Then comes the last. Does it go to Nicole Kidman? Jacki Weaver? Maybe even Maggie Smith again (don’t ever underestimate Lady Crawley)? Possibly. Throughout all of my guesses in all these major categories though, there hasn’t really been one true wild card that was never gotten on many radars. The most likely candidate? Ann Dowd, for her role as a fast food manager following orders over the phone to question a staff over theft in the movie Compliance, based on an actual court case drama. Getting only a Critics’ Choice and Spirit nomination, Down hasn’t really been on many people’s list, except maybe Entertainment Weekly and their continuing push for her. Almost every year though, there manages to be at least one complete, what some may call, “upset.” For others, it could be a celebration and if anyone has the ability to do that this season, it could be Dowd.

Only a few days left! Make sure to check out the final list here on Thursday, along with some possible surprises and snubs! And for more coverage over this set of names, be sure to check out my Take 1 on it all which has a more in depth analysis of some of the nominations!

One final thing. Even though voting closed today, I can only hope that The Perks of Being a Wallflower will not walk away empty handed this year. Anybody else agree or disagree?

The Silver Lining of This Playbook

silver liningsOn rare occasion, there’s a movie that manages to tickle your humor with laughter while still maintaing a sense of realism in its dramatic, sympathetic characters.

Revolving around Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) and his recent release out of a mental instituion where he was put in for violently beating the man he caught in the act with his wife, all the while hearing his Kenny G wedding song breakdown in the background, a wide range of comic hysteria surrounds Silver Linings Playbook.

With it’s star studded cast, Silver Linings is a sure favorite for the Academy Awards. Robert De Niro, who plays the O.C.D. crazed, Eagles fan-father of Pat, and his quiet-spoken wife, played by Jacki Weaver (recently nominated for her eerie maternal role for Australia’s Animal Kingdom), all give honest, yet bombastic performances. Even Cooper manages to surprise audiences with his on-the-edge, quick-tongued Pat, growing off of his growing potential from last year’s Limitless (we forgive you for the second Hangover now).

Throughout all of the intricate jokes and sharp-witted drama, there is one truly visible silver lining in this film: Jennifer Lawrence. Having proven her own abilities to act in her first nominated role, Winter’s Bone, which basically landed her one of the most sought for roles in Hollywood as Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games’ “Girl on Fire,” Lawrence finally got to showcase her hugely likable comical side that she has so memorably flaunted on talk shows (she even finally just landed her first stint as host on Saturday Night Live which you can read more on here). As the recently young widower, Tiffany is everything you want to see in a character. Insanity. Hilarity. Yet altogether, relatable. After all, everybody has had to go through a tragic spousal death and deal with it by having sex with everyone in their office. Well, not necessarily, but it’s her yearn for love and compassion that make her so absolute.

Lawrence earns her right as Silver Linings’  show-stopper since it’s physically impossble to take your eyes off of her every moment she graces the screen, especially in this clip below where Pat joins his best friend, his wife, and her sister, which is Tiffany, in what could be considered a fairly awkward family dinner.

For a film that, personally, and among many others, had such a built up hype, I can firsthand say that the David O. Russel directed dramadey does not even come close to disappoint  Throughout the actual cackling moments of laughter, maybe even a few overdramatic tears, Silver Linings Playbook is a must see not only because of the coming Awards season (check out where I rank it on Take 1 and find out if it’s rank changes in the soon to come Take 2!), but also because it’s a timeless movie that will beg for a good, occasional watch. A

Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln

Telling the story of the 13th Amendment’s long journey of induction into the Constitution, Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, in the biopic tale of The Great Emancipator.

The soft-spoken, yet at times assertive approach that Day-Lewis takes as Lincoln is so dead on, it’s uncanny. At times, the believability of his portrayal almost makes you think that the actual President Lincoln has returned from the dead to reprise his role as the savior of slavery. But that isn’t the case.

In what many call Day-Lewis’ performance as more “Lincoln” than Lincoln, it would be a shock for him not to only be the front runner for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but a shoo-in for the win.

Even though his particular performance may outshine others, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the cast is by any means underwhelming. Just like 2012’s The Help, which wasn’t likely to take the top Best Picture prize at the Oscars, but won the SAG Award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture, it wouldn’t be impossible for Lincoln to follow in its footsteps.

Every actor balances both a touching emotional edge, but also an ode to a more old-fashioned style of acting that is all the more refreshing. Sally Field, who plays First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Tommy Lee Jones, as Thaddeus Stevens, will most likely add another Oscar nod for their roles not only because of the love held by the Academy, but because of their strong screen time. Plus, the comedic relief given by James Spader, John Hawkes (who’s Day-Lewis’ main competition for Best Actor with his role in The Sessions), and David Strathairn and Gloria Reuben, who Entertainment Weekly is strongly enforcing the Academy to “Consider This”, and among many, many others, all combine to create such a great cast.

Clearly, the acting is a huge part of making this movie a success. At times, particularly towards the beginning, the story is a little slow and takes a while to pick up, but every moment that President Lincoln graces the screen, it creates a moment to remember. A moment cinematic magic.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Spielberg never fails to make an entire film full of breathtaking shots. After building up the story, the humor in Lincoln’s random stories, and the ways in which 13th Amendment supporters garner up votes from Representatives, all of the film ties together.

Regardless, Lincoln is an ensemble film and there is no doubt: you will leave thinking that Daniel Day-Lewis not only aced the role of President Abraham Lincoln, but also truly believe that he is Honest Abe, himself. B+