2013 Oscar Predictions

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The big day is just 2 days away, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best Oscars in a while. With Seth MacFarlane hosting and a lot of categories that are pretty much anyone’s game to win, here’s hoping the show is both funny and surprising. And without further ado, here are my predictions:

Picture: Argo-Argo’s been taking home the big prize at pretty much every major awards ceremony, and the Oscar’s as of late have been a contest of what’s “hot” at the time rather than what’s actually the best movie of the year. Even with Ben Affleck’s best director snub, Argo has the strongest shot of winning right now. Or, the Academy just doesn’t give a damn what everyone else thinks. I’m banking on the former.
Could Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Snubbed: Skyfall (there was a tenth spot, Academy. Come on!)

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Director: Michael Haneke (Amour)-This is one of the tough ones. It basically seems like a race between Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee. But I’m putting my money on those two splitting the votes and Haneke ultimately upsetting both of them. Let’s face it: we only care about the director race because we have no idea who will win with Affleck not nominated. I have a feeling a surprise nominee, namely Haneke, will slip through the cracks.
Could Win: Steven Spielberg
Should Win: Ben Affleck…oh…
Snubbed: Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck, Quentin Tarantino, Tom Hooper (any of them could have taken Benh Zeitlin’s place)

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Lead Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)-This is what’s called a done-deal, ladies and gentlemen. If anyone else wins it will be a huge upset. With my predictions, this is Lincoln’s big win.
Could Win: Seriously?
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

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Lead Actress: Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)-She’s the oldest Oscar nominee in its history and her birthday is the night of the awards. I know the Academy isn’t known for its sentimentality, but it is known for giving Oscars to people because they’re “overdue” and probably won’t get another shot (see Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock). Nobody embodies that more than Riva, not to mention the fact that her performance was actually great and the Academy is in love with Amour. Her biggest competition is Jennifer Lawrence, who has plenty of more years ahead of her.
Could Win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should Win: Jessica Chastain

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Supporting Actor: Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook)-This is another tough one. Every nominee has won before and literally anyone could win. I’m gonna go with DeNiro, though, because the Academy obviously loves the acting in Silver Linings Playbook (Jacki Weaver even got nominated for crying out loud), and if my predictions are accurate, this will be SLP’s big win of the night. This is DeNiro’s best performance in years, and he hasn’t won since 1981, and hasn’t been nominated since 1992.
Could Win: Who the fuck knows.
Should Win: Robert DeNiro
Snubbed: Javier Bardem

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Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)-Like Day-Lewis, this is pretty much a sure thing. If she loses, I won’t be the only one thoroughly disappointed and surprised.
Could Win: Sally Field (but fuck that, right?)
Should Win: Anne Hathaway

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Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)-Michael Haneke and Marc Boal are Tarantino’s main competition here. Boal just won three years ago for Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty hasn’t been getting nearly as much buzz as that film (it’s not even close, unfortunately) and I already predicted Haneke to win director. So I feel Tarantino will benefit from this, not to mention that Tarantino prides himself on his screenplays and if Django wins one thing Oscar night (since I’m predicting Waltz won’t win) then it’ll be for it’s awesome and deserving screenplay.
Could Win: Amour
Should Win: Django Unchained
Snubbed: Looper

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Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio (Argo)-Terrio upset Tony Kushner at the Writers Guild Awards so I think he’ll win here as well. If Argo can win screenplay and editing, then it can win picture. Look at Crash, which took home both of those prizes and best picture when it wasn’t even expected to win. Argo is.
Could Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Beasts of the Southern Wild…ha, just kidding.
Snubbed: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph
Foreign Language Film: (Seriously?) Amour
Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Documentary Short Subject: Inocente
Live Action Short Film: Curfew
Animated Short Film: Paperman
Original Score: Life of Pi
Original Song: “Skyfall”-Adele (Skyfall)
Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty
Sound Mixing: Les Miserables
Cinematography: Life of Pi
Production Design: Life of Pi
Makeup and Hair Styling: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Film Editing: Argo
Visual Effects: Life of Pi

The Tally: Life of Pi will win the most awards out of the Best Picture nominees with 4 technical wins, but Argo will ultimately come out on top with 3 wins including Picture. Amour will also come away with 3 in a surprising turn of events. Les Miserables will garner 2 wins, both of them not all that shocking. Initial front runner Lincoln will only walk away with 1 win, but for the category that no one will be shocked by. Silver Linings Playbook will also walk away with only 1 win, but not for the favorited Jennifer Lawrence, as will Django for the category it most deserves. Zero Dark Thirty, with its torture controversy, will only take home 1 technical win while indie underdog Beasts of the Southern Wild will stay that way with 0 wins. Of course, this is all under the assumption that the Academy might shake things up a little bit this year and not give all the awards to Lincoln.

The Toughest Calls: 1. Supporting Actor, 2. Director, 3. Actress

The Easiest Calls: 1. Foreign Language Film, 2. Original Song, 3. Visual Effects, 4. Actor, 5. Supporting Actress

Overall, anything could happen this Sunday, but these are my picks and I’m sticking to them. Come back after the awards to see if I was right. 

The Road to the 2013 Oscars: Alternate Titles

College Humor has this pretty funny thing where they do alternate titles for movies, so I thought I’d take a crack at it with the Oscar nominees. I have to give credit where credit is due. Again, College Humor does this. I’m no image editing expert, but hopefully you find these amusing.

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AND AN EXTRA BONUS…

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The Road to the 2013 Oscars: Les Miserables – Review

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As someone who was unfamiliar with the 1862 novel-turned-musical “Les Miserables” until word spread about this film adaptation from “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper, I didn’t really know what I would be witnessing walking into the theater. I knew it was a musical, I knew it had something to do with the French Revolution, I knew the basic plot, and, from what I had read, I knew that Anne Hathaway gave a stunning performance. But one unfamiliar with the source material can’t merely hear or read about such things. They have to witness it. Les Mis, as it’s referred to, is a story told in text and on stage but worthy of the cinema, a sensation barely contained on the big screen.

Now, after witnessing it, I can say two things with certainty: that cinematic worthy story is really long. And Anne Hathaway will win the Oscar for best supporting actress. If she doesn’t, chairs will be thrown. Pertaining to the first certainty, the film clocks in at a little over 2 and a half hours and it feels like it. It spans a time of nearly 20 years from the time we are introduced to Hugh Jackman’s character, Jean Valjean, to the epic climax, so there’s a lot to be taken in. But while it’s such a long film, in the end, I felt satisfied because I felt like I experienced a journey.

Now, as far as Hathaway is concerned, I really can’t think of a performance that has moved me so much this year and the Oscar is calling her name. As stated, I wasn’t familiar with Les Mis at all before this film so I’m not an expert in her character, Fantine, or the songs she sings. But I don’t think anyone can beat her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” a harrowing but beautiful and moving exclamation of a woman who’s lost everything, including her will to live. It’s powerful beyond belief and if I had to have one flaw about it it would be that it doesn’t last longer. Even in the midst of other beautifully sung songs, “I Dreamed a Dream” will stick with you until the end credits roll and even long after. These few minutes alone are worthy of cementing her Oscar win, but every other time she’s on screen prepare for chills as well.

What makes the song so much more powerful is Hooper’s decision to A) have the actors sing live as opposed to the usual lip-syncing over pre-recorded tracks and B) to focus tight on Hathaway’s face for the entirety of the song. Because of this, Hathaway gives raw, in-the-moment emotion while singing, and we feel every moment of it. Every pause in her voice to grasp herself, every tear streaking down her face, all the anger and sadness in her eyes, it’s all right there in front of us, and this can be said of any of the performances because of Hooper’s bold choice that spectacularly pays off.

While Hathaway steals every moment she’s in, it would be unjust to not mention some of the other actors in this large cast. Hugh Jackman is almost guaranteed a best actor nomination. Ultimately, this is his character’s story. As a man who learns to once again have faith in humanity after losing it many years ago, Jackman brings forth every emotion in his arsenal to give the best performance he possibly could to portray Valjean’s haunted journey to salvation. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide some good comic relief among an otherwise serious storyline. Rusell Crowe is the weakest link here as the obsessive officer Javert, who’s made it his life’s duty to bring Valjean back into custody. But the breakout star is Samantha Barks, who I think may be my new celebrity crush. Apart from the Hathaway, Barks’ performance is the next closest one in the movie that may move you to tears. As a young woman longing for a man she can not have, her character’s struggles may not be as distressful as Fantine’s, but Barks displays plenty of raw emotion in her own right.

There’s two concerns I had with the plot. 1) Crowe’s Javert is impossible to like. Yes, he’s the villain of the story, so you’re not exactly supposed to like him. But even when there’s an obvious time for Javert to learn the error of his ways and stop being such a douche, he’s still an obsessive cry baby. His fate is inevitable, but I wish I could have liked him for just a minute. 2) Love, even young love, does not happen that fast. I suppose suspension of disbelief is in order here. and that’s all I’ll say about that. But despite these little critiques, at the heart of the film is a story of redemption, faith, and revolution. Les Mis highlights that anyone can turn their life around if they so choose and at the end, you will be rewarded for the good you’ve done. It’s a respectable message and a powerfully executed one.

You may laugh, cry, or clap during or after “Les Miserables.” I heard all three in my theater. While it can profit from a tad shorter run-time and there’s a couple annoyances within the plot, the film is a worth the price of admission for its boldness and emotion. I don’t know what your resistance to crying is, but bring tissues just in case.

9.25/10

The Road to the 2013 Oscars: Django Unchained – Review

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“Django Unchained” could quite possibly be Quentin Tarantino’s best film since “Pulp Fiction.” It’s definitely his most accessible to a wider audience, but even then, the Tarantino way is ever so present throughout the film and fans of his work will not be disappointed. “Django” is every bit as “Tarantino” as his other films, but it also possesses a certain appeal that is hard to touch upon. Maybe it’s the setting of an “Old South” where a black man riding into action on a horse like a cowboy of the Old West feels somewhat new and exciting; maybe it’s the witty chemistry between Jamie Foxx as Django and Christoph Waltz as the dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz; or maybe it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s brilliantly devious villain, Calvin Candie. Whatever it is, this film screams Quentin Tarantino with ever persistent fun and excitement. And lots of blood.

Tarantino fans undoubtedly notice a certain style that the director infuses into all of his films, and yet there is also two methods to this man’s genius. The director often gets lost in his own dialogue and characters will often pronounce long monologues within his films. These boasts of creativity, however, often have something to say and are no doubt awesome to listen to. For example, the beginning of “Inglorious Basterds” features a perfectly uttered speech from Waltz, and in that movie, there’s a lot of talking. And so, this is one aspect of Tarantino’s style, one side of his method of madness: lots of talking, but brilliant dialogue. The other side to his method is pure adrenaline pumping, bloody violence and quick one-liners, seemingly the opposite of what I just explained. For instance, Kill Bill Volume One is the second method. Volume Two is the first. You can’t really go wrong with either, because Tarantino is a master at both.

“Django Unchained” embodies the second method. At nearly 3 hours, it felt like it flew by. I was never bored. You won’t find many long stretches of dialogue in this movie, at least not at the capacity of some of his other films. It moves at a quick pace, never really slowing down. That’s not to say the writing isn’t brilliant. Tarantino’s dialogue is always a breath of fresh air. But this film is very action oriented; a lot happens, and it’s hard not to enjoy every minute of it. Tarantino never really holds back from outrageous use of blood and violence, and he certainly doesn’t let up any for this film. But it works, because it’s Quentin Tarantino. One can argue that there’s an excessive amount of violence in this movie, but at the end of the day, it’s Quentin Tarantino, and it doesn’t matter. Besides, the countless shoot outs remind me of the good ol’ westerns of the ol’ days…if those included black bounty hunters shooting white men in the crotch.

Really, I think that’s what Tarantino wanted to embrace in this film. He’s an avid fan of “spaghetti westerns” and the film is an over-the-top Western set in the South two years before the Civil War…so a “Southern.” But while it may be over-the-top and sometimes random (as only Tarantino can perfect – take the KKK-esque raid featuring Jonah Hill as an example to see just how out-of-nowhere the film can be, and it works in hilarious fashion), at the heart of the story is a man going to great lengths to rescue the love of his life from slavery. You’ll root for Django and that’s what’s at the heart of any good Western: a hero you can root for who’ll ride in on his horse and save the day.

The actors bring to life Tarantino’s chaotic vision perfectly. Foxx, as stated, is a hero you can root for. You want him to win and in the midst of so much hysteria he remains the most serious throughout the film (he doesn’t lack his fair share of great lines, though). Waltz is again brilliant in a very different role than of what we saw him as in “Basterds.” Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect as the main villain of the story, perhaps worthy of a best supporting actor nod. And Sam Jackson is basically playing an elderly version of himself, which is fine with me.

“Django Unchained” is that special kind of film that gets you in the Christmas spirit…okay, maybe not. But it is the kind of film that I walked out of the theater saying “I want to see that again right now.” Forget any controversy surrounding it: enjoy the film for what it is, because Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make films he doesn’t want you to enjoy. He wants you to be entertained. So enjoy it, damn it.

9.75/10

The Road to the 2013 Oscars: Amour – Mini Review

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What do you get if you take the first 10 minutes of “Up” and turn it into a French drama set in an apartment building? You kind of get “Amour” (meaning “Love”), a terrifying portrayal of an elderly couple’s last moments together and how far one will go, and is pushed, in the name of love. While the performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant (Georges) and Emmanuelle Riva (Anne) are undoubtedly powerful, the problem I had with the film is that I didn’t exactly feel any emotional connection, or even sympathy for that matter, towards these two main characters. The film feels cold and distant, and the only real reaction it got from me is towards the end of the film in a scene that is obviously meant to garner a reaction, whether that be shock, or anger or sadness. But then again, I’m not exactly this film’s target audience. An elderly couple will connect with these characters much better than I can. What the film does extremely well, however, is set a certain tone and maintain that throughout the film, a tone that really exploits our own fragility and helplessness as human beings, especially in our older years. And the film tests our own morality and commitment by making us think of what we would do in Georges’s situation.

8.5/10