Guest Post: A Summary of the Oscars

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I recently asked a dear friend of mine Andrew Bodenbach to share his thoughts about the upcoming 85th Academy Awards airing on Sunday February 25th. If you are interested in writing a post for my blog about any subject, feel free to email me your idea and I’d love to post it.


(Photo Credit: Screen Rant)

It’s that time again.  Time for a bunch of really good looking, really rich, movie people to come together to celebrate really good looking, really rich movie people.  That’s right, the Oscars are here.  There is no more self-aggrandizing vain organization than The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences.  But what do we care?  We get to watch a bunch of really good looking, really rich, movie people hang out, crack jokes, and make speeches that provide us with no value unless they make no sense.  Every year, they make movies that entertained, inspired and awed.  They made movies that made us laugh, cry and think deeply on complex and important societal and personal issues.

Over the last several years the talk has been that the film industry is dying; the films were weak and the prices too high.  How many of you enjoyed The Artist  last year?  But this year?  This year was a magnificent time to spend hours upon hours at the theater.  From blockbusters like The Hunger Games, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises to comedies like Moonrise Kingdom, Celeste and Jesse Forever, and Seven Psychopaths.  From documentaries like This Is Not A Film, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and The Queen of Versailles to dramas such as Looper, The Master, and Skyfall.

Notice I did not mention one film that was nominated for Best Picture.  All of those movies above are must sees in their own way and many of them, four by my count, are worthy of a Best Picture nod.  If the film industry was ever in danger of extinction, which is very questionable, 2012 will go down as the year that saved cinema.  The Oscars are when we all will come together to celebrate that momentous feat.

What follows is a handicapping, a cheat-sheet for that night.  I am no movie critic, but I am a lover, admirer, and observer of film.  Therefore, Matthew thought I was qualified to write about The Oscars.  I will do the best I can.  (All trailers for the following movies mentioned can be found at the Oscars website, here.)

Best Picture (Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty)

From one to nine this is a stacked lineup.  Think 1998 Yankees or the cast of 30 Rock minus Jane Krakowski.  There is no weak link.  And yet, three movies stand out.  Argo and Zero Dark Thirty you have no doubt heard of and many of you have probably seen them.  But Amour, which is also nominated for Foreign Language Film and is one of the best depictions of love to ever be shown on film, probably went unnoticed by many.  Argo, ZD30 and Amour are the must see movies from this past year.  If one of these three win, The Oscars will have been a success, but only one can.

Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Will Win: Argo
I’m Horribly Scared Will Win: Lincoln
Most Unique: Beasts of the Southern Wild

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

The director category this year is more notable for who is not nominated than who is.  Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (ZD30) were high-profile snubs.  In the plethora of awards preceding The Oscars, Affleck has taken home several honors for his directing.  But that doesn’t mean The Oscars necessarily made a mistake.  This is still a strong category with great work done by the five men listed above.  You have Spielberg’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, Lee’s stunning visuals, Russell’s ability to create chaos but keep it controlled, Haneke’s mastery of emotions, and Zeitlin making the audience feel as if they are truly a part of ‘the bathtub’.  All these men should be proud of their years.

Should Win: Affleck  Haneke
Will Win: Spielberg

Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook, Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln, Hugh Jackman Les Misérables, Joaquin Phoenix The Master, Denzel Washington Flight)

No need to discuss.

Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actress in a Leading Role (Jessica Chastain Zero Dark Thirty, Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook, Emmanuelle Riva Amour, Quvenzhane Wallis Beasts, Naomi Watts The Impossible)

Wallis is the most impressive because the girl was six (6!) during filming.  Riva’s may have been the most challenging as she played a woman who’s condition worsens as she deals with a stroke (and she was sensational).  Lawrence is the easiest to notice because the character’s traits are very pronounced.  But the best job belongs to Chastain.  She played the role of Maya with a raging but controlled intensity and her reaction to the killing of Bin Laden (spoiler!), as she ponders and questions everything that preceded this moment, makes you do the same.

Should Win: Chastain
Will Win: Lawrence
It’d Be Really Cool For The Acceptance Speech: Wallis

Short Film, Animated (Adam and Dog, Fresh Guacamole, Head Over Heels, Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”, Paperman)

The animated shorts are one of the most enjoyable movie experiences one can have.  Great stories stuffed into tiny bundles that pack the same punch as a feature film.  In half an hour you will have seen the five best animated short films from the past year and on top of that you then get to view many of the films that just missed out on a nomination.  You can view Fresh Guacamole on Youtube and Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” on Hulu.  They are well worth five minutes total.  For the rest you’ll have to go to a theater (if you feel compelled to keep it legal).  All the films were excellent.  Head Over Heels should win because of the mixture of the creativity, the great story-telling, and the overall emotion the film brings out.  It honestly would not be a surprise to see any of these fine films take the prize.  Of the categories I am writing about, this one seems to be the toughest to predict.

Should Win: Head Over Heels
Will Win: Paperman (Disney Money)

Now a quick breakdown of the other categories of which I have some knowledge:

Actor in a Supporting Role

Should Win: Robert De Niro
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones

Actress in a Supporting Role

Should Win: Anne Hathaway
Will Win: Hathaway
I’m Scared Will Win: Sally Field

Original Screenplay

Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Will Win: Zero Dark Thirty

Adapted Screenplay

Should Win: Argo
Will Win: Silver Linings Playbook

If you made it this far, what’s wrong with you?  Why do you care what I have to say?  But seriously, thank you for reading.  If there’s one thing I love doing as much as going to movies it is talking about them.  Thank you for letting me talk about this grand year in cinema.

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