2013 Oscar Nominations – Predictions

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Forget Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are now officially in my favorite holiday season…Awards Season.  This Sunday are the Golden Globe Awards and you can click HERE for a full listing of nominees.   I enjoy the Golden Globes for what they are…the slightly tipsy foreign exchange student to the Oscars.  A few weeks later on January 27th the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards are given out and these are enjoyable because they are only given for performance categories and are voted on by the true peers of the nominees/winners.  That’s true somewhat for the Oscars but there’s something about the SAG Awards that make them feel like a valued win and not a popularity contest.  The day before the Oscars are the Spirit Awards given out to independent films from the past year.  If you’ve never watched these awards I highly encourage it…they are very much like the films they celebrate…independent and rough around the edges.

All of these are merely appetizers for the Academy Awards which will be given out on February 24, 2013.  Sure to be a lavish affair (even if they are being hosted by the mostly funny but ego-centric Seth McFarlane, Ted), I’ve yet to miss an Academy Awards telecast or the live announcement of the official nominees.

Before the nominations are announced at 7:38 am tomorrow morning, let me go out on a limb and give my predictions as to what is going to be up for major awards and who is going to wake up an Oscar nominee.

Best Picture

Ever since the field was changed from 5 nominees to a possible 10, this one is always hard to predict…so let me start with five nominees and then go up from there….

Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty
Argo
Les
Misérables
Silver Linings Playbook

Life of Pi

Moonrise Kingdom

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Amour

Close Calls – While The Master was a huge buzz film before it was released, its actual reception was so chilly I’m not sure it will earn a place on the list. 

If there’s any justice… Skyfall will be the first James Bond film to be nominated for Best Picture.  One of the best films of the year and most definitely the best Bond film ever produced, this was a full serving of entertainment with more to it than just cool cars and spy adventures.

Best Director

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ben Affleck, Argo
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Tom Hooper, Les Misérables

Close Calls – With The Life of Pi sitting just outside the top five Best Picture nominees, director Ang Lee may have a tough time locking down a nomination.

If there’s any justice… Actually, this list is pretty complete.

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Close Calls – Again, The Master is popping up as a close call…but potential Best Actor nominee Joaquin Phoenix is such a puzzle in and of himself, he may have hurt his chances at a nomination by starring in an equally puzzling film.

If there’s any justice… Poor Richard Gere…he just can’t catch a break.  Though he could possibly unseat Jackman, his work in Arbitage probably will go un-nominated.

Best Actress

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Close Calls – Helen Mirren is also being mentioned in this category…and while she was wonderful in Hitchcock the film itself wasn’t well liked.  I think there are enough women who did great work in better films that should wind up with a nomination.

If there’s any justice… PLEASE let Quvenzhane Wallis be nominated!  If anyone should go from this list it’s Watts…I’ve heard her film is strong as is her performance but let’s have the youngest ever nominee (Wallis) up against the oldest ever nominee (Emmanuelle Riva, Amour)

Best Supporting Actor

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall

Close Calls – Leonardo DiCaprio may miss the boat on this, his work in Django Unchained was better than his last five films but he’s in good company with his co-stars Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson…both of whom could wind up here.  Bardem might be the one to miss the mark if DiCaprio love fills the hearts of voters…but I wouldn’t count out Bardem’s recent surge of support.

If there’s any justice… Tom Cruise would get some love for putting it all out there in Rock of Ages.  Yes, the film was a total mess but his performance is still one of the most memorable (in a good way) for me at the end of the year.  It’s never going to happen but I had to go on record saying he deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Sally Field, Lincoln
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Amy Adams, The Master
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Close Calls – I haven’t seen The Paperboy but boy is Nicole Kidman getting surprising recognition for her steamy work.  Though it came and went pretty fast, Kidman may just pop up here, replacing Adams or Smith.

If there’s any justice… the Supporting categories are always where Oscar tends to throw a few nice curveballs so here’s hoping that Brit Kelly Reilly scores her first nomination for her haunting work alongside Denzel Washington in Flight.  Director Robert Zemeckis could have cast any Hollywood female for the role but he made a killer choice by going with Reilly.

Movie Review ~ Hitchcock

The Facts:

Synopsis: A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, James D’Arcy, Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow, Kurtwood Smith

Director: Sacha Gervasi

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: 98 minutes

Trailer Review: Here

TMMM Score: (5.5/10)

Review:  After a disastrous first screening of Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s agent (Stuhlbarg) suggests “Maybe we should cut it down and release it as a two-part special for television”.  It was at that point in this breezey but hollow biopic of the Master of Suspense that I thought what a great suggestion that is that the filmmakers should have taken to heart.  Instead of giving us a film that feels like a full meal, we are served appetizers that don’t totally cure our hunger.

That’s not to say Hitchcock (adapted by John McLaughlin from Stephen Rebello’s biography “Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”) doesn’t have its saving graces because it does acquit itself somewhat with several fine performances and a dishy behind the scenes vibe that movie buffs will enjoy.  On the other hand, I left the film feeling like I watched a movie made up of anecdotes rather than a fully formed idea.  The synopsis indicates it’s a love story between Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville…OK…but then it veers off into a psychoanalysis of Hitchcock and his hang-ups on blonde bombshells….OK…yet it turns again to a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Psycho…OK…or is it really about the greater price of fame and notoriety both Hitchcock and Alma encountered?  All interesting ideas for a picture on their own but somehow they don’t work when layered on top of each other.

Being the movie buff I am, I quite enjoyed peeking into how Hitchcock discovered Psycho and against all odds made one of the classic pictures in American cinema.  Recreating the experience of filming the movie was interesting to watch unfold…as were the performances of D’Arcy (Cloud Atlas) as Anthony Perkins and Scarlett Johansson (Marvel’s The Avengers) as Janet Leigh.  Both actors steer clear of outright imitations and instead deliver convincing performances that really do remind you of these stars.  Johansson in particular doesn’t resemble Janet Leigh but I’ll be darned if I didn’t do a few double takes when hearing her speak in Leigh’s voice and nail her softly nuanced facial expressions.  Biel (Total Recall, The Tall Man) too doesn’t remind me of Vera Miles but the actress is nicely restrained in her brief scenes. 

Supporting actors get the job done, I s’pose but I’d love it if Huston could get out from under these boorish types of characters.  Collette is delightful as always and Wincott is effectively creepy acting as a bizarre muse to Hitchcock in the guise of an imagined Ed Gein. 

In promotional materials and trailers, Hopkins gave off the proper vibe as the famous director of the title.  Still…something about seeing the full performance didn’t ring true if I’m really being honest.  The dimensions are all correct and if you close your eyes the voice is almost there…but it was close but no cigar for me.  With the aid of a portly fat suit, Hopkins fills the room with his presence…but his wildly inconsistent hair and facial make-up spoil it all and you may find yourself wondering why half his face is one color and the other half is another.  While not a big budget film, I think more attention to the make-up detail would have helped Hopkins come to a more fully realized performance.  I’ll add that while the voice was going in the right direction…something about his slow delivery suggested the man was mid-stroke.

That leaves us with Mirren who simply towers above all else in the film.  As inconsistent as the film may be, it’s absolutely saved by her contributions as Hitch’s burdened wife.  Clearly his biggest supporter and best confidant, she never got the recognition she deserved and many credit her influence as the true genius behind the man.  Mirren understands this and never plays the role as so put-upon you couldn’t understand why she’s sticking around.  This is a woman who knows that with every film her husband will obsess over details and fret about success…and she takes it all in and helps him through.  The film is most successful when Mirren is taking control of whatever situation needs to be leveled off.  It probably helps that since Alma isn’t a familiar Hollywood figure, Mirren’s performance isn’t held under the same magnifying glass that Hopkins is. 

Director Gervasi achieves a nicely period looking film that does feel like it was meant for the small screen due in no part to its trim running time.  Had this been released on television (like the recent HBO Hitchcock piece, The Girl) I think it would have been a bit easier to forgive some of the film’s faults.  Like 2011’s My Week with Marilyn and The Iron Lady, this is an uneven film with a powerful female performance at the center.  Everything else just feels like window dressing.

The Silver Bullet ~ Hitchcock

Synopsis: A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.

Release Date:  November 23, 2012

Thoughts: The master of the thriller seems to be a hot topic this year.  From a new box set of his work released on BluRay and a HBO biopic on his obsession with Tippi Hedren coming in late October, Alfred Hitchcock is having a nice little renaissance.  This big screen adaptation of Stephen Rebello’s novel “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” is high on my list of anticipated 2012 films.  The preview is a nice blend of cheeky exchanges and dramatic fodder that Hitchcock was so very fond of.  Assembling a stellar cast led by two Oscar winners, first time feature director Sacha Gervasi appears to have done his homework and paid homage to the legend.  I have a good feeling about this one.