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I'd Like to Thank the Academy - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
I'd Like to Thank the Academy

Let's be honest. I don't really know what the hell I'm talking about here. But then, neither do many of the other people offering their analysis of the Oscar nominations. That doesn't stop them, and it's not going to stop me!

Lincoln, a decent but overrated Seven Spielberg film, leads the pack this year with 12 nominations. Second is my favorite film of the year, Life of Pi, at 11 nominations tying last year's most-nominated film (The Artist). I predict it will win some Oscars but none in the major categories. Which is a tragedy.

Who decided the nominations would come this early in the year, anyway? They always come at the end of January, not in the middle of it. And weren't they usually announced on early Tuesday mornings? This year they came on Thursday, January 10. I wasn't ready!

But, whatever. Let's run through them all with my own notes and commentary, shall we?

Actor in a Leading Role

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This is tricky, because usually voters are discouraged from voting for both past winners and recent winners. But with this particular competition, I kind of think Daniel Day-Lewis still has the edge.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I won't be disappointed if Day-Lewis wins, but my vote goes to Joaquin Phoenix.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Bradley Cooper? Please.

Actress in a Leading Role

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I honestly think Jessica Chastain has got this one.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: She deserves it, too.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Jennifer Lawrence is a great actor, and was deservedly nominated for Winter's Bone. But I don't care what anyone says -- and even though it got one nomination in all four acting categories -- Silver Linings Playbook was not an Oscar-caliber film. Beasts of the Southern Wild arguably was, but I wouldn't vote for Quvenzhané Wallis either. She was amazing in that movie, but she was just too young for there to be any certainty as to her really knowing what acting really means. She's probably precocious but that alone is not enough.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Whristoph Waltz, Django Unchained

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I think Tommy Lee Jones has a real chance here, just by virtue of Lincoln's highest number of nominations. That usually bodes well for a movie's overall chances. I might be inclined to say Philip Seymour Hoffman, except for his 2006 win for Capote -- and the fact that so few people saw The Master, and many of those who did felt alienated by it.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Everything I just said notwithstanding, Philip Seymour Hoffman still easily gave the best performance of this group.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I'd be okay with anyone in this list winning except for Robert DeNiro, who has become almost a parody of his former self as an actor.

Actress in a Supporting Role

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: For reasons already stated, I'm calling Sally Field in Lincoln -- in spite of her, like Daniel Day-Lewis, also being a multiple previous winner. She hasn't won since 1985, though, so many might consider her overdue.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: This is a really tough call. I'd say Amy Adams, Sally Field and Anne Hathaway are all equally worthy. If pressed, I guess I'd cast my vote for Anne Hathaway. And yes, it's mostly just because her inspired performance of "I Dreamed a Dream." So sue me!
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Helen Hunt does not deserve this award. How could the Academy nominate her but not John Hawkes? He was the one with the truly memorable performance in The Session. Maybe they're rewarding Helen Hunt for all her "brave" nudity.

Animated Feature Film

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Usually Pixar has this one in the bag, but you know what? Wreck-It Ralph has a shot here. So does Frankenweenie, which was critically if not publicly adored. Oh, who am I kidding? Brave still made the most money and that always makes a difference.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Even though I didn't think it was quite to Pixar's usual standards of excellence, I'd still go for Brave myself.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Pirates! Band of Misfits was good, but not that good.

Production Design

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I'm going to go with Les Misérables here. It's not likely to win a lot else, and although Life of Pi will probably win several of the technical categories, there's not a lot of production design to a boat in the middle of the sea.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'd probably also cast my vote for Les Misérables, honestly.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Anna Karenina does not deserve to have "Winner of Academy Awards!" on its DVD packaging. Period.


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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I'm calling Life of Pi for this one. Most people agreed it was unusual in its justified use of 3D filming, and it was the most beautifully shot film of the year.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: FUCK ANNA KARENINA. Okay, it was well shot. Fine! It still doesn't deserve an Oscar.

Costume Design

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: In another year I'd think Les Misérables would have a shot, but that's French history -- and Lincoln is American history, and given the particular president it's about, I really think that's going to appeal to voter patriotism.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Even I think Lincoln should win this one.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I'm tempted to say "See above" regarding Anna Karenina. But . . . Mirror Mirror? Is the Academy really expecting us to take this seriously?


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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I'm going to call it right here. I think this will be one of the rare years when Best Picture and Best Director are not for the same movie. And, as it was with Brokeback Mountain, I think Ang Lee will get the Best Director Award.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: And Ang Lee deserves it!
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Ugh, enough with Silver Linings Playbook already! It was a fun movie. It wasn't great. Seriously.

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I have no clue. I've only seen one of these movies.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: The only one I saw was How to Survive a Plague, and it's definitely deserving -- it was one of my ten best movies of the year.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I can't speak to this with any authority.

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I think this might actually go to Zero Dark Thirty. Kathryn Bigelow had quite a job telling that story, and her editors were up to the task.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: My vote also goes to Zero Dark Thirty. What else but editing could make a story we already know the end of so suspenseful?
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: This may surprise you because it was my favorite film of the year, but this is the one category for which I would not vote for Life of Pi. Mostly it's wonderfully edited, but there were some transitional techniques I didn't really like.

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This may be the one award that Les Misérables has got in the bag.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'm surprised only three movies were nominated. That leaves me with little choice but to go with Les Misérables as well.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I say no to The Hobbit. The 48 fps made the image almost too clear, and made the makeup and prosthetics more obvious. If Peter Jackson wants to leap forward with film technology, he should try keeping up with the makeup.

Music (Original Score)

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Oh, probably Lincoln. Doesn't John Williams usually win?
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'm going for Life of Pi again. Surprise!
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Again with Anna Karenina! Ugh.

Music (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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I would bet money "Skyfall" is going to win this one. Adele has about a billion Grammys; Oscar needs to catch up.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: And by the way, "Skyfall" is a great song. I can't wait to see Adele perform it.

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Life of Pi. No question.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Anybody besides Life of Pi.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I honestly think Lincoln's script was its weakest element, but it may have the best chance here. But then, Life of Pi is not far behind in nominations and this could be the one it gets.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Not since The Hours have I seen a book adapted so seamlessly into a movie as Life of Pi.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Silver Linings Playbook. I think I've already made myself clear about this one. And frankly, I think this movie's script is easily its most overrated feature.

Writing (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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I think probably Zero Dark Thirty, in spite of its controversial factual ambiguities.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: You know what? If I were a voting member, I would be sorely tempted to vote for Moonrise Kingdom. I have not yet had a chance to see Amour, though, and that's not fair, is it?
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I know it's just a movie, but I can't get over the impossibility of a commercial airliner being flown upside-down. So, no Oscar for Flight!

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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I think Life of Pi will win Best Director, but Lincoln will win Best Picture.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'll give you one guess! Life of Pi, duh.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: One more time! Silver Linings Playbook does not deserve to be on this list.

(Nominations for foreign language film, documentary short, animated short, live action short, sound editing, and sound mixing were also announced, but I don't know enough about them to make any worthwhile observations.)

The 84th Academy Awards telecast will air on ABC Sunday, February 24 at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.


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