Countdown to the Oscars! My Picks and Predictions of the 2013 Academy Award Winners!

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Pin It Share 0 Google+ 0 0 Flares ×

oscar statuette

Best Picture

  1. Amour (5 nominations)
  2. Argo (7 nominations)
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild (4 nominations)
  4. Django Unchained (5 nominations)
  5. Les Misérables (7 nominations)
  6. Life of Pi (11 nominations)
  7. Lincoln (12 nominations)
  8. Silver Linings Playbook (8 nominations)
  9. Zero Dark Thirty (5 nominations)

2013 has been one of the strongest years for movies in the last ten.  I’ve seen 8 of the 9 nominees for Best Picture and there are some true classics in the group.  Amour is the only nominated film that I haven’t been able to see.  Of the others, there were three strong contenders for Best Picture and they are:


1.  Argo

One of my tests for a Best Picture is asking, “Would I want to see this film again?”  With Argo, I can’t wait to see it again!  Another test is whether I recommend it to my friends and I would answer that one, heck yes.  One additional criteria, is whether the movie stays with me and I think about the storyline, laugh at any of the jokes, or wonder about more.  I found myself thinking back on parts of the story days after seeing this movie, wanting to know more.  I told friends some of the jokes and favorite scenes.  Argo passed all my tests.

If you haven’t seen or heard about Argo, it’s the story of the rescue of six Americans trapped in Iran in 1979.  Ben Affleck directs and plays the role of the CIA operative, Tony Mendez, who bravely risks his own life to go into Iran and bring them home.  Surprisingly, Affleck was not nominated for an award himself.  Mendez came up with the idea of posing as a movie producer looking for a desert location with his crew.  The six Americans, living in the Canadian embassy had to be schooled in false identities in a very short time frame with enough accuracy to fool the Iranians into thinking they were a movie crew.  Alan Arkin plays the Hollywood producer that helps Mendez set up the con.

Argo received 7 Academy Award nominations in total – in addition to Best Picture, it received a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Arkin), Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Original Score.

Especially because of the slight to Affleck, I think Argo is going to be winner on Sunday night.


2.  Lincoln

Lincoln was a very, very close second for me, in the race for Best Picture.  This was an incredible movie.  Daniel Day Lewis continues to amaze me.  I read some background and discovered that he stays in character during the shooting of a movie.  It must be fascinating to see him work.  I remembered much of the story from history but was surprised at how much I didn’t remember!  I couldn’t remember if Lincoln was a Democrat or Republican, who his Vice President was and more.  Don’t miss this movie if you think you already know the story.  Lincoln is probably one of our best known presidents but the portrayal of his personality and downright tricks to get the 13th Amendment passed are very interesting.

Lincoln received 12 nominations! Daniel Day–Lewis – Actor in a Leading Role; Tommy Lee Jones – Actor in a Supporting Role; Sally Field – Actress in a Supporting Role; Cinematography; Costume Design; Directing; Film Editing; Original Score; Best Picture; Production Design; Sound Mixing; and Adapted Screenplay.

silver linings

3.  Silver Linings Playbook

I loved this movie.  It begins with the release of Patrizio Solitano Jr. (played by Bradley Cooper) from a mental institution where he had been sent after reacting violently to finding his wife with another man.  He has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and is trying to navigate his way through mental illness.  Cooper described his character as having “no filter”, who often just blurts out his opinion, which is often true, often painfully true.  Pat is introduced to a woman also going through her own mental illness challenges, Tiffany Maxwell (played by Jennifer Lawrence) but he keeps her at arm’s length, because he has false hopes of reuniting with his ex-wife.  Tiffany agrees to send messages to Pat’s ex-wife if he agrees to dance with her in a competition.

During the press conference at the Toronto Film Festival, a reporter asks the director of Silver Linings Playbook about how he achieved the fast rhythm of the film.  David O. Russell replies that there was a rhythm on the set and to the writing.  He used the analogy of a worn-in baseball mitt, soft and warmed up.  Bradley said every actor got to a place where they get out of their own head and actually in the moment, interacting with the other actors.  They compare it to old movies like, His Girl Friday.  David O. Russell directed one of my favorite three films of 2010, The Fighter.

Russell’s own son struggles with a mood disorder.  A big motivation in the story is to take off the stigma of mental illness.  But the movie is not about mental illness, it’s about the people.  Jacki Weaver plays Pat Solitano’s mother – she actually met Bradley Cooper’s mother several times.  She said it was more intimidating however to be Robert Di Nero’s wife!  Robert De Niro plays Pat’s father, brilliantly.  He has issues of his own, with complicated OCD-type routines associated with sports events.

Silver Linings Playbook was nominated for 8 awards – Bradley Cooper – Actor in a Leading Role; Robert De Niro – Actor in a Supporting Role; Jennifer Lawrence – Actress in a Leading Role; Jacki Weaver – Actress in a Supporting Role; Directing; Film Editing; Best Picture; and Adapted Screenplay.

After those three, my favorites were Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and last, Life of Pi.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum on the use of torture in the war on terrorism, it’s hard to imagine anyone who sees torture practices not being revolted, at least a little.  Zero Dark Thirty shows us to the torture used on Al Qaida prisoners.  Maya, a CIA operative played by Jessica Chastain, uses the information gained in the sessions to track down the elusive Osama Bin Laden.  Eventually, Maya identifies a courier of Bin Laden that leads her to the mysterious compound in Abbottabad.  But then she needs to convince her superiors to attack.  It’s not easy.

Les Miserables was an epic film but I couldn’t personally get past the singing.  Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman turned in award nominated performances as Colette and Jean Valjean.  Anne Hathaway is a favorite to win, but Hugh Jackman will probably be beat by Danielle Day Lewis from Lincoln.

Django Unchained is Quentin Tarrantino’s latest film.  That about sums it up.  It’s multi-layered, violent, and smart.  The story of two slaves in the South, separated by their cruel owners and trying desperately to reunite.  I respect the film-making talent, but just can’t like the graphic violence.

Beasts of the Southern Wild stars young, Quvenzhané Wallis.  At 9 years old, she is the youngest person to be nominated in the Best Actress category.  It’s the story of a community in Louisiana called “The Bathtub” that is flooded in a terrible storm.  While the film is spell-binding and the performance by Wallis is incredible, this just isn’t one of my favorite movies.

Life of Pi is based on the best-selling book of the same title, written by Yann Martel.  It’s the story of a man recounting his adventure as the only human survivor of a shipwreck.  Young Pi is traveling from India with his family and the animals from their zoo.  His father can no longer rely on the zoo to support the family, so he is selling the animals and they will start a new life in Canada.  A huge storm awakens Pi and when he goes up on deck to see it, his life is saved.  His family is not as fortunate when the lower decks where they are sleeping are flooded.  But someone has released all the animals and they escape the lower decks. Pi is thrown onto a lifeboat and a zebra falls in as well.  Later Pi discovers there is also an orangutan, a hyena, and of course, the tiger.  In survival of the fittest style, the injured zebra is attacked first, then the orangutan.  The tiger dispatches of the hyena and only Pi and Richard Parker remain. You can read as much into this story as you would like- or as little as you like.  You can analyze the symbolism and religious themes.  But one thing, everyone who sees this movie will agree upon is that it is visually stunning.  The water and sky, is just amazing.  From the tumultuous waves of the storms, to the calm glassy water reflecting the sky and everything in between, this is a feast for your eyes.  I saw it in 3D and would recommend that if you have the choice, you do so, as well.  I think it will take home awards, but not in the major categories.

Pi after being shipwrecked:  “I can eat the biscuits, but God made tigers carnivorous, so I must learn to catch fish. If I don’t, I’m afraid his last meal would be a skinny vegetarian boy.”

These are my picks for the winners on Sunday night:

Actor in a Leading Role – Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln

Actor in a Supporting Role – Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook

Actress in a Leading Role – Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

Actress in a Supporting Role – Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Cinematography – Life of Pi

Directing – Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Film Editing  – Argo

Music, Original Song  – Skyfall

Best Picture – Argo

We’re going to celebrate Oscar night with our own “red rug” party.  Check out our party from last year for some ideas!

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Pin It Share 0 Google+ 0 0 Flares ×