Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Awards Season: Updated Assessment on Oscars 2013

Ah December. Sure we get to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah and New Year's this month, but it's really only the third best month when it comes to what's really important: awards season.

We're inching closer and closer to awards season and a few films are already starting to distance themselves from the pack. There are only one day before the SAG nominations and two days before the Golden Globe nominations. And this morning, the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) gave out their nominations as well. Now is definitely the time to see which films are most likely to snatch the few coveted spots on those lists.

Best Picture
1. Zero Dark Thirty:
In Its Favor: New York Film Critics, the National Board of Review and the Boston Society Film Critics have all spoken: Zero Dark Thirty is their pick for the movie to beat. Nabbing not just Best Film but also important awards for Director and Actress, the "hunt for Bin Laden" film is crushing the competition in critics' eyes.
Against It: The subject matter may still be a bit hard to swallow for some people- not the killing Osama part, but the scenes of torture. So far, that doesn't seem to be stopping the film from dominating critics awards.

2. Les Misérables: 
In Its Favor: The stars (especially Anne Hathaway) and the brave new directing-style are consistently getting raves as the release date for the film creeps upf. But if a musical is done right, the Academy seems to have no problem rewarding it (see: Chicago, Moulin Rouge, etc.)
Against It: Haven't heard much buzz for the actors besides Hathaway (and, surprisingly, a few rumblings for Eddie Redmayne). And critics aren't flocking to it as the studio would probably hope. The best way to gauge Les Misérables' Oscar chances will have to be through the Golden Globes and whether or not it grabs that "Best Ensemble" nod for the SAG awards.

3. Lincoln:
In Its Favor: Another film raking in prestige is Spielberg's biopic. Obviously, the biggest praise is for Daniel Day-Lewis' fierce portrayal but the script by Tony Kushner and other technical aspects have also been noticed. It also helps that "Lincoln" just received a record-breaking 13 nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
Against It: Biopics are usually a pretty easy sell, especially with Spielberg at the helm on this one. But there's always doubts that the film does not say anything special about Lincoln when compared to other films about him. But most likely we'll be seeing this movie at the top of many nomination categories.

4. Argo:
In Its Favor: Ben Affleck's Iran film that could continues to silently stand its ground in the Oscar race from a possible screenwriting prediction to this Best Picture nod. It's a stellar film and a crowd-pleaser and Oscar voters should certainly recognize that...
Against It: Then again, this may be yet another case where the Academy doesn't see what's right in front of them. (Case in point: 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight... I can go on and on)

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild:
In Its Favor: Awards love and being a breakout at film festivals are still providing this little film a great platform to be the token Indie film of the Best Picture bunch. Plus the support for lead actress Quvenzhane Wallis and for director Ben Zeitlin helps the overall chances also.
Against It: There's also Moonrise Kingdom to compete with. Both film scored big at the BFCA nominations. Who can take that coveted small-budget spot? Can the Academy make room for both? 

6. Silver Linings Playbook:
In Its Favor: Even as it seems Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty are taking over as frontrunners, this charming film continues to gain support. Like Argo, the movie boasts great direction but also has the added factor of possible nominations for Best Actor, Actress and Supporting Actor. 
Against It: A film about emotional/psychological struggle, medication and dancing... Is the film too random to be fully embraced?

7. Life of Pi:
In Its Favor: Arguably the most visually stunning of the Best Picture lot, Life of Pi was thought to be one of those books that could never properly made into a movie. But unlike books-turned-movie predecessors (let's just come out and say it: "The Lovely Bones"), this film has been quite the success among critics.
Against It: No real acting nominations here. It'll be all about the technical awards. Is it too technical and not enough overall brilliant to be placed in the Best Picture slot?

8. The Master:
In Its Favor: No matter what Joaquin Phoenix says about not wanting an Oscar, this film continues to fight for spots on awards lists. While the accolades have died down since the film festival circuit, the BFCAs took interest in the film and all the actors.
Against It: No BFCA nod for Paul Thomas Anderson does hurt and the film may not have had a clear enough narrative structure for most.

9. Moonrise Kingdom:
In Its Favor: One of the sweetest films of the year, Moonrise definitely impressed critics and even managed to grab a spot on the BFCA Best Picture nomination list. The film even scored a Best Acting Ensemble nod.
Against It: Beasts of the Southern Wild. Period.

10. Amour:
In Its Favor: This foreign-language film continues to get big support from critics. Don't count it out come Oscar time.
Against It: Most of the love seems to be for lead actress Emmanuelle Riva. Doesn't necessarily mean the love will translate to a Best Picture nod.

Possible Alternatives: 
Django Unchained
Skyfall (Just earned several BFCA nominations)
Promised Land

Best Director
1. Kathryn Bigelow: Zero Dark Thirty
2. Steven Spielberg: Lincoln
3. Ben Affleck: Argo
4. Tom Hooper: Les Miserables
5. David O. Russell: Silver Linings Playbook

Possible Alternatives: 
Ang Lee: Life of Pi
Paul Thomas Anderson: The Master
Quentin Tarantino: Django Unchained
Michael Haneke: Amour

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

Possible Alternatives: 
John Hawkes: The Sessions
Jamie Foxx: Django Unchained
Richard Gere: Arbitrage
Matt Damon: Promised Land
Ben Affleck: Argo

Best Actress: 
1. Jessica Chastain: Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence: Silver Linings Playbook
3. Emmanuelle Riva: Amour
4.Rachel Weisz: The Deep Blue Sea
5. Naomi Watts: The Impossible

Possible Alternatives:
Marion Cotillard: Rust and Bone
Quvenzhane Wallis: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Helen Mirren: Hitchcock
Keira Knightley: Anna Karenina
Judi Dench: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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. Matthew McConaughey: Magic Mike

Possible Alternatives: 
Leonardo DiCaprio: Django Unchained
Dwight Henry: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Eddie Redmayne: Les Miserables
Javier Bardem: Skyfall

Best Supporting Actress: 
1. Anne Hathaway: Les Miserables
2. Amy Adams: The Master
3. Sally Field: Lincoln
4. Helen Hunt: The Sessions
5. Ann Dowd: Compliance

Possible Alternatives: 
Judi Dench: Skyfall
Maggie Smith: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook
Samantha Barks: Les Miserables

Best Original Screenplay: 
1.  Mark Boal: Zero Dark Thirty
2. Paul Thomas Anderson: The Master
3. Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola: Moonrise Kingdom
4. Quentin Tarantino: Django Unchained
5. Rian Johnson: Looper

Possible Alternatives: 
Michael Haneke: Amour
John Gatins: Flight 
Matt Damon & John Krasinski: Promised Land

Best Adapted Screenplay: 
1. Chris Terrio: Argo
2. Tony Kushner: Lincoln
3. David Magee: Life of Pi
4. David O. Russell: Silver Linings Playbook
5. Lucy Alibar & Ben Zeitlin: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Possible Alternatives: 
Stephen Chbosky: Perks of Being a Wallflower
William Nicholson: Les Miserables
Ben Lewin: The Sessions

Best Animated Feature:
1. Wreck-It Ralph
2. Brave
3. Paranorman
4. Frankenweenie

Possible Alternatives: 
Madagascar 3
Rise of the Guardians
The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Best Original Score: 
1. Dan Romer & Ben Zeitlin: Beasts of the Southern Wild
2. Johnny Greenwood: The Master
3. Mychael Danna: Life of Pi
4. John Williams: Lincoln
5. Alexandre Desplat: Argo

Possible Alternatives: 
Alexandre Desplat: Moonrise Kingdom
Howard Shore: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Mary Ramos: Django Unchained
Dario Marianelli: Anna Karenina
Alexandre Desplat: Zero Dark Thirty

As usual, there are always big surprises that come out of the critics and BFCAs. I mean, I get Rian Johnson getting a nomination for his stellar "Looper" but this growing momentum for Matthew McConaughey is completely silly, right? Anyway, stay tuned for another edition next week where I asses the effect the Golden Globe nominations will have on the Oscar race.

Sources: Indiewire, Vulture, The Hollywood ReporterEntertainment Weekly

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