Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards (and Brief Analysis)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards (and Brief Analysis)

by Tony Dayoub

So, besides an annoying, halting delivery of the nomination announcements by the grating Seth McFarlane (Family Guy) and the wittier Emma Stone, the Oscar nominations were among the more conventional we've had in some time (which is saying something considering the last few years). If there were any surprises, they were in how conventional they truly decided to go. The punishment Paul Thomas Anderson and The Master received for even daring to portray Hollywood's Scientology community in even an allusory, wink-wink sort of way is something significant.

Here's a list of nominees and, when I have something to say, my thoughts (in italics).

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
Denzel Washington in Flight

No surprises here, unless you count Joaquin Phoenix's nomination after his too-honest comments to Interview magazine, "I think it's total, utter bullshit and I don't want to be a part of it." Whatever his own opinion is, in my estimation Phoenix's performance is the most revelatory and though a nod is about all he can expect, I'm rooting for him.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Alan Arkin in Argo
Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

I haven't had time to make certain, but if Emma Stone is to be believed, all of these men have won the award before. No one here is undeserving, except for Arkin who really had it kind of easy as the comic relief. If I had to pick who will win, it wouldn't stray too far from my own likes: it's between Hoffman and Jones.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts in The Impossible

Before the controversy exploded around Zero Dark Thirty's depiction of torture, I would have said Chastain had a serious shot. But given the liberal Academy's aversion to politics and any perceived endorsement of enhanced interrogation techniques, this is likely as far as she'll go. My bet is that the win will go to either Riva or Wallis, respectively the oldest and youngest Oscar nominees in this category. And while Wallis is indeed precociously talented, Riva is the more deserving for her brave performance in Amour.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams in The Master
Sally Field in Lincoln
Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables
Helen Hunt in The Sessions
Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook

Anne Hathaway, easy.

Best animated feature film of the year

Brave Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Frankenweenie Tim Burton
ParaNorman Sam Fell and Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph Rich Moore

This was not one of the better years in animation. Although maybe it feels a bit more diffuse because Disney/Pixar are not the automatic front-runners they once were. The Pirates! Band of Misfits nomination was a surprise. But it's really between the two scarier pictures Frankenweenie and the superior ParaNorman.

Achievement in cinematography

Anna Karenina Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained Robert Richardson
Life of Pi Claudio Miranda
Lincoln Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall Roger Deakins

You can knock off two of these from the outset. This is really just a race between Anna Karenina, Life of Pi and Skyfall, each a singular achievement in their own way. And my heart is with Skyfall.

Achievement in directing

Amour Michael Haneke
Beasts of the Southern Wild Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi Ang Lee
Lincoln Steven Spielberg
Silver Linings Playbook David O. Russell

I'm very surprised to see Haneke here, but he is not unwelcome. I'm actually offended that Paul Thomas Anderson was not nominated for The Master.

Best documentary feature

5 Broken Cameras Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
The Gatekeepers Nominees to be determined
How to Survive a Plague Nominees to be determined
The Invisible War Nominees to be determined
Searching for Sugar Man Nominees to be determined

Don't know much about the first two, but the others all merit a nomination. I wish someone had nominated my favorite this year, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. But it's expected that a film of that scale may be overlooked.

Best foreign language film of the year

Amour Austria
Kon-Tiki Norway
No Chile
A Royal Affair Denmark
War Witch Canada

I've only had the opportunity to see Amour, but it's in my top five for 2012. I've heard good things about all the others. But the fact that France's surreal Holy Motors was ignored is criminal.

Best motion picture of the year

Amour Nominees to be determined
Argo Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
Beasts of the Southern Wild Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
Django Unchained Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
Les Misérables Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
Life of Pi Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
Lincoln Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
Silver Linings Playbook Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
Zero Dark Thirty Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

High praise to the Academy for also nominating Amour in this category, a rarity for foreign films. But Silver Linings Playbook? In the place of The Master, truly the best picture of the year?

Achievement in visual effects

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
Marvel's The Avengers Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

This one is the toughest to call. Every single one of these films is deserving. But The Hobbit is an automatic "no" becasuse of the High Frame Rate debacle. Personally, I'd pick Prometheus.

Adapted screenplay

Argo Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi Screenplay by David Magee
Lincoln Screenplay by Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook Screenplay by David O. Russell

Something tells me this is between Argo and Lincoln, both for their fantastic job of condensing a substantial amount of information involving foreign and domestic policy, respectively.

Original screenplay

Amour Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained Written by Quentin Tarantino
Flight Written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty Written by Mark Boal

In the end, and you can say this about any of the preceding categories, who really knows?

The rest:

Achievement in costume design

Anna Karenina Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables Paco Delgado
Lincoln Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman Colleen Atwood

Best documentary short subject

Inocente Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Kings Point Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
Mondays at Racine Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
Open Heart Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Redemption Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill

Achievement in film editing

Argo William Goldenberg
Life of Pi Tim Squyres
Lincoln Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

Hitchcock Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
Les Misérables Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

Anna Karenina Dario Marianelli
Argo Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi Mychael Danna
Lincoln John Williams
Skyfall Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

"Before My Time" from Chasing Ice Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
"Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from Ted Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
"Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
"Skyfall" from Skyfall Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
"Suddenly" from Les Misérables Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Achievement in production design

Anna Karenina Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
Les Misérables Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Lincoln Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best animated short film

Adam and Dog Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole PES
Head over Heels Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare" David Silverman
Paperman John Kahrs

Best live action short film

Asad Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys Sam French and Ariel Nasr
Curfew Shawn Christensen
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
Henry Yan England

Achievement in sound editing

Argo Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty Paul N.J. Ottosson

Achievement in sound mixing

Argo John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
Les Misérables Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Life of Pi Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson


Samuel Wilson said...

Tony, I share your outrage at any and all snubs to The Master. If only one of the performers would win and tell the Academy what they really think, but that's probably an impossible dream.

Tony Dayoub said...


tom hyland said...


Like you, I'm hoping that "Skyfall" will win for Best Cinematography, primarily as it's the work of Roger Deakins. But in reality, we'll probably both be disappointed as once again, he will not win. He's received nine Oscar nominations in the past and has never won, which is an outrage, given the caliber of his work. But this is the Oscars- whoever said that the best man (or woman) wins?

As for Best Supporting Actress, I'm not so sure Anne Hathaway is a lock. I think that Jacki Weaver will win. Anyway, God forbid anyone having to deal with Hathaway's ego if she does indeed take home an Oscar.

Finally, I actually enjoyed this morning's ceremony, as usually this is pretty boring stuff. After Emma Stone mentioned that all five performers nominated for Best Supporting Actor had previously won an Oscar (this is indeed true), Seth Mc Farlane had a great comment; "Breath of fresh air in this category!"

Dusty McGowan said...

Tony, thanks for taking the time to not only post the nominations but also provide thoughtful commentary as well.

"The Master" was, in a word, challenging. We are not dealing with a readily accessible film (Silver Linings Playbook is, underneath the surface, a very conventional romantic comedy. Most of the other best picture nods are similar as well...easy to get). That might be why the Academy had that hesitancy, rather than scientology.

Honestly, I'm not even sure what I felt about The Master...though I greatly admire its risks and scale. And yes, right there with you about Mr. Phoenix. That wasn't just a star turn...that was a real achievement of acting. (But we all know it will be Daniel Day Lewis for best actor).

And I hate to quote Emma Stone, too. But she is right...all the gentlemen in the supporting actor category DO have statues.

Will you be posting some commentary after the ceremony?

Tony Dayoub said...

No, I'll probably just live-tweet the ceremony as I've done the past couple of years.

You know, maybe I'm just being stubborn but this whole argument that THE MASTER is too difficult for the Academy doesn't make sense to me. They usually nominate films with the kind of pedigree and critical reception this one enjoyed, even if they don't stand a chance of winning. The fact that all three of its principals were nominated, but its director wasn't isn't such a big deal. But to shut the film out of Best Picture in a year where there were still two open slots, and they even allowed a foreign film to fill one slot seemed like a very deliberate kind of retribution being served.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Can't believe Leonardo DiCaprio wasn't nominated for Django Unchained! He was great on that one!

Tony Dayoub said...

Though I wasn't a big fan of DJANGO UNCHAINED, I felt DiCaprio was one of the best things about it. In fact, it was the exit of his and Waltz's characters that marked the point where the film lost me. But given the little success DiCaprio has had at the Oscars in the past, I can't really say I'm too surprised.