Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Analysis of the 85th Academy Awards

This past Sunday, if you missed it, was the 85th Academy Awards. The Super Bowl of the movie world if you will. A lot of movies are made to entertain audiences. Then there are a lot of movies that are made to gain awards. Some movies that are made to do the latter end up doing the former, but oftentimes they fail to catch the attention of the general public and thus ensues much confusion when the casual moviegoer turns on the Oscars and all he or she sees is a bunch of awards handed out to movies he or she has never heard of. Many times the huge box office hits made to entertain audiences are completely ignored by the Academy and thus the Academy Awards only become entertaining to those people who are huge movie buffs. While this wasn't completely the case this year with many of the awarded movies earning over $100M in the domestic box office, it was still a problem. The 11 movies that earned over $200M in 2012 combined for a grand total of three wins at the Oscars. Skyfall with two and Brave one. If we take that further, those top 11 movies combined for a total of 11 nominations. And no, that's not one per movie. That's Skyfall getting 5 of those 11 nominations, with a few other courtesy nominations scattered here and there. And if you look even further at the biggest categories, yup you guessed it. A big fat zero nominations for those 11 movies. To try to fix this, they attempt to turn the award ceremony into a comedy show mixed with a concert with awards sprinkled in occasionally, thus turning our awards ceremony into a huge three and a half hour deal. Personally I think the whole thing is a little overkill. Just give me the awards. I would love an Academy Awards show that lasted an hour or an hour and a half. Many people like discussing all the things that happen in between awards and I do too. There were a lot of things that I did enjoy even if I didn't think they were completely necessary. However, I like to get down to business and talk about the awards, which is exactly what I will do here. And all things considered, I was actually more pleased with the Oscars this year then in previous years. But let's get on with it. Enough rambling. My plan here is to go through and analyse category by category.

Best Picture - Winner - Argo. This is one of the movies I talked about that was essentially made to earn Oscars. When I first read about it around a year ago, I had a feeling that it would at least contend for best picture. Then we got closer to the awards and my feeling was that Lincoln was going to win. However, Argo started winning literally everything and I guess I bandwagoned on that fact to determine that Argo was going to win and it did. Although in watching the Academy Awards I was partially convinced that Life of Pi was going to surprise everyone when they started stealing some surprise big awards like best director. And that I would've actually liked that because I LOVED Life of Pi. Also it has been since 24 years since a PG rated movie won best piture (Driving Miss Daisy in 1989). How cool would that be if that streak ended? But nevertheless Argo won and I'm actually not disappointed in that. I haven't seen it, but everyone that I've talked to loved it and a 8.0 on IMDb, a 96% tomatometer, and a $126M box office total is enough to convince me that it is deserving. And I love how Ben Affleck in his acceptance speech, knowing that Steven Spielberg had been snubbed that night, gave tribute to him. I gained a lot of respect for Affleck when he did that.

Best Director - Winner - Ang Lee (Life of Pi) - This was a pretty big surprise win for Life of Pi. Really the whole best director category raised some eyebrows starting back at the nominations when Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, and Quentin Tarantino were all left out of the race. So logically it seemed like a no brainer that Steven Steven Spielberg would walk away with this. Logically it would then make sense with all the confusion in nominations that they would end up giving it to Ang Lee. Ok. I wasn't complaining at it. Like I said, I loved Life of Pi.

Best Actor - Winner - Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) - I really liked the movie Lincoln and mostly due to the amazing performance of Daniel Day-Lewis. The man did such a good job that I honestly believed that in casting Lincoln, someone had found a time machine and brought in the actual Abraham Lincoln to be in this movie. Seriously one of the best acting performances I have EVER seen and if DDL didn't win best actor, I would've walked down to the academy and punched every one of them in the face. Luckily I didn't have to do that. Now in normal years, Denzel Washington and Joaquin Phoenix would be good candidates to win with their respective performances and maybe even Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook. Sorry Les Mis homers. Hugh Jackman was fifth best this year.

Best Actress - Winner - Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) - This was one of the more interesting categories this year with five candidates who deserved a win and no real clear winner. Jennifer Lawrence was the early favorite before Zero Dark Thirty came out and everyone fell in love with Jessica Chastain. Then for some reason, we left her behind after a couple weeks on a high and went back to Lawrence. Then we had the oldest nominee ever AND the youngest nominee ever. And of course I personally can't leave out mentioning Naomi Watts with her fantastic performance in The Impossible. In the end I kind of wanted nine-year old Quvenzhane Wallis to win after her muscle flex when they showed her, but I gotta give some love to Katniss on the win.

Best Supporting Actor - Winner - Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) - This category I really had no idea. All five nominees had a previous Oscar win and there was no front runner. I thought Tommy Lee Jones would win because I thought this would be a big night for Lincoln, but I can't complain at Waltz winning it for Django Unchained. This award was given right at the beginning and I guess it was a precursor for a night where Lincoln got snubbed.

Best Supporting Actress - Winner - Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) - The was never really any competition for this award. Everyone knew a few months ago that Anne Hathaway was going to win and when the nominations came out it was hard to argue because the competition wasn't that great. I mean, Amy Adams and Sally Field both did good in their roles, but not good enough to dethrone Hathaway.

Best Original Screenplay - Winner - Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) - With how well liked Django Unchained, it was good to see it get some love from the Academy here by giving Tarantino the Oscar for best original screenplay. Although to be honest, I hated Tarantino's speech. While most people are humble and thanking everyone else for all the work, his attitude was "I am so awesome." He spent his whole speech bragging about how good of a job he did. Dumb.

Best Adapted Screenplay - Winner - Chris Terrio (Argo) - Life of Pi, Argo, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook would've all been fantastic choices for the win for this, so it was hard to predict, but Argo winning was well deserved. While Tarantino was an idiot with his acceptance speech for the other screenplay award, I do remember the contrast with Chris Terrio's speech being heart-felt and humble. Great job!

Best Editing - Winner - Argo - Editing is a super important part of a movie, but I've never walked out of a movie thinking, "Wow, that was fantastic editing!!" Sorry. Congrats, though, Argo!

Best Cinematography - Winner - Life of Pi - Many people, Bond homers in particular, were hoping that this award would go to Roger Deakins because he's been nominated a ton of times without a win, but that would've been a lifetime achievement award and I'm glad that didn't because I hate lifetime achievement awards at the Oscars. Anyone who saw Life of Pi would agree that this was a no brainer. By far the best cinematography of the year.

Best Art Direction - Winner - Lincoln - Once again, I don't know how to determine best art direction in a movie, even though it is important. Congrats to Lincoln on this. It seems like a courtesy award, though. Lincoln got 12 nominations and should've won a lot more than just this one and best actor.

Best Costume Design - Winner - Anna Karenina  - Anna Karenina is a movie that flew under the radar this year. Really the only people that heard about this movie were the fans of the classic novel of the same name. Although I wouldn't have minded to see the late Eiko Ishioka win for her work in Mirror Mirror, all you had to do was watch the Anna Karenina trailer to determine that the win here was well deserved.

Best Makeup - Winner - Les Miserables - This was kind of a head-scratcher. The Hobbit got very little love from the Academy this year, but this was one award they should've won. At least when it was between The Hobbit, Les Mis, and Hitchcock. Les Mis fans will take it, but with all the praise from the movie, I never really heard people bragging about how good the makeup was in the movie. I mean, it was good, but nothing to write home about.

Best Visual Effects - Winner - Life of Pi - Once again, same as with Cinematography, this win was really a no-brainer for Life of Pi, although it did have decent competition as I was impressed with the visuals of all the movies nominated here. And since it was the only category where The Avengers showed up in, let me give a shout-out to the five Avengers who made an appearance at the Oscars. I can't remember which one said it, but I really got a kick out of it when that person (I think it was Robert Downey Jr) called out the Oscars, "The most popular movie of the year. Which is why it logically got only one nomination." Sometimes I really wish the Academy would get their heads out their butts and give more respect to the big blockbuster films that everyone, fans and critics alike, all loved. Movies like The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, and The Amazing Spider-Man all deserved to get more love.

Best Sound - Winner - Les Miserables - Ok, Les Mis spent the whole movie singing. I have no problem with them earning the best sound award. Makes perfect sense. And no, that wasn't sarcastic.

Best Sound Editing - Winner - tie between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty - WHAT?!?!?!?!?! A TIE? When Seth MacFarlane announced that this was a tie, I laughed alongside everyone else. Then he said it was not BS. This was really a tie. I had no idea that was possible. You would think that if the voting ended in a tie, the would redo the vote or do some sort of tie breaker. But no. I guess you learn something new every day.

Best Original Score - Winner - Mycheal Danna (Life of Pi) - On the week leading up to the Oscars I went back and listened to the scores of all movies nominated for this award and as a musically inclined person, I was very impressed with all of them. My favorite was actually Argo's score followed by Lincoln's score, so I was somewhat surprised when Life of Pi walked away with it, but not at all disappointed. I loved the music from Life of Pi.

Best Original Song - Winner - "Skyfall" by Adele, Paul Epworth - Once again, I love music and I enjoyed most of these songs when I went and listened to them (except for the Ted song - it was kinda stupid and I don't even know why it got nominated), by Adele was the obvious choice and it would've been awful if she did not win. Skyfall is a great song that sets the tone perfectly for the beginning of the movie Skyfall.

Best Animated Feature - Winner - Brave - This is the one award that was given where I was extremely angry. My friends watching with me can witness that I booed this loudly. I actually thought Frankenweenie might win this because it was a tribute to older movies, usually perfect bait for the Academy, but I was hoping Wreck-It Ralph would win. It was by far the best animated movie of the year. It's actually kinda funny, when I first saw and reviewed Brave I actually predicted that it would win the Oscar for best animated movie, but the more I thought about the movie, the more I didn't like it. Sure, in terms of pure animation it is fantastic and the Celtic music they play is awesome as well, but the story is just so boring and unoriginal. The trailer is almost better than the movie itself. Once you watch the trailer, you don't really need to see the movie because you know exactly what is going to happen. Shame on Pixar for making such a safe movie and even more shame on the Academy for encouraging them by giving a win to such an average movie. It's two disappointing movies in a row for Pixar and I think the streak will continue with the very stupid looking Monster's University.

Best Foreign Language Picture - Winner - Amour - Usually a foreign language picture is not one people care too much about, which is actually a shame because America isn't the only country that knows how to make good movies, but for some reason Amour is different. This is the only award it won, but it got nominated for five awards, which is impressive.

Best Documentary - Feature - Winner - Searching for Sugar Man - I guess it's good that the Academy gives some love to the documentaries out there, but I'm sorry. I'm just usually not interested in them. But congrats to Searching for Sugar Man.

Best Documentary - Short Subject - Winner - Inocente - Ok, you just read that I don't really care for documentaries, but I do have to give kudos to this one. Well, I have not seen it, but I give kudos to whoever the guy was that gave the speech for this, because that was the most heartfelt, inspiring speech of the night. It actually made me want to go check this out.

Best Animated Short - Winner - Paperman - I remember watching this short at the beginning of Wreck-It Ralph and being really impressed. Those who didn't see it should go search for it on YouTube right after they finish reading this post because it is a great little animated short.

Best Live Action Short - Winner - Curfew - I have not seen this, but I have a desire to now check it out. I heard it was the first movie started by kickstarter and if I have that information correct, that is pretty cool

Big Winners - Argo was obviously the big winner of the night after winning best picture. Although that was the only big award they won, they still managed to pull off three other wins, tying with Life of Pi for most Oscars. Speaking of Life of Pi, it was the other big winner as it not only pulled off four wins, it pulled off four big wins, two of which (director, score) it wasn't even favored to win. A PG movie getting that much love is pretty impressive. Also, this was a unique night for the Oscars because it seemed like there was a lot of movies that won something instead of the usual happening at the Oscars where one or two movies win everything.

Big Losers - With all the hype on Zero Dark Thirty, it's five nominations turned into only one win for best sound editing and even then, that wasn't an outright win. Also it was supposed to be a big night for Lincoln, but out of the 12 nominations it got, it only won for best actor and best art direction, essentially leaving Spielberg and John Williams in the dust. Third, Silver Linings Playbook was nominated for eight Oscars, but only pulled off one. Lastly, I have to give one more disappointing look towards the Oscars for not even recognizing big movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.

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