Oscar Preview – Best Picture and Director

By D.G. McCabe

Now we’ve come down to the last two awards that will be given out tomorrow night – Best Picture and Best Director.

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

Of course most of the talk of this category revolved around who wasn’t nominated (Ben Affleck, Katherine Bigelow).  Affleck won the DGA award, so forget using that as a gauge.  It’s really between Lee and Spielberg for the award.  Russell is a bit of a dark-horse pick, Zeitlin is too green, and Haneke doesn’t have enough notoriety in Hollywood circles.  My gut tells me Spielberg wins his third Best Director Oscar slightly over Lee winning his second.

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

Let’s make this fun and take these one at a time.  Argo has been winning everything in sight and is the clear favorite, especially after Affleck was snubbed in the Best Director category.  Foreign language films don’t win Best Picture, so that takes care of Amour.  Beasts of the Southern Wild has a “honor just to be nominated” feel to it.  Lincoln could upset Argo, but I feel like the buzz around the film has subsided.  Les Miserables is fun but, just like the musical, a lot of professional musicians/actors, etc. don’t seem to care for it.  Django Unchained is too much like other Tarantino films, until he does something unique or different from his previous work I don’t see him winning a Best Picture Oscar in the near future.  Life of Pi is a bit of a sleeper, but I don’t think there’s enough buzz around it.  Silver Linings Playbook has made a late run as a potential upset winner, but I think its buzz peaked too late.  Zero Dark Thirty has gotten a bad rap from a lot of people that haven’t event seen it, so even if it’s worthy of Best Picture it won’t get it.

So that leaves Argo or Lincoln.  I’ve seen both films, and while Lincoln is a fantastic film (and probably should win in my opinion), I’d say Argo wins the big prize tomorrow.

(c) D.G. McCabe

 

 

Oscar Preview Week – Boom! The Visual Effects Category

By D.G. McCabe

There is one category of Oscar that defies the high brow and the artistic, stands in the face of the critically acclaimed, gives the film critics nightmares, and other such things.  It has been given to many films squarely in the critical doghouse, but made a killing in at the box office (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Independence Day (1996)) or films simply in the critical doghouse (The Golden Compass (2007), What Dreams May Come (1998)).  This is the Visual Effects category.

This year we have The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi (Also up for Best Picture), The Avengers, Prometheus, and Snow White and the Huntsman as nominees.  Two popular franchise films, a best picture nominee, and two box office flops, one so bad that you’d have to see it three or four times just to be slightly confused about its plot (Prometheus).

In previewing the Oscars, it’s always a good idea to check the guild awards first because a lot of the voters give them deference in their selections.  The Life of Pi won the “Best Feature” award at the 2013 Visual Effects Society Awards.  The VES Awards do not always pick the Visual Effects Oscar – they didn’t last year  when “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” won the VES Award and Hugo won the Oscar – but they have been 7/10 since the first VES Awards in 2002.  Since Life of Pi is also up for Best Picture, I would say that it’s the favorite in this category, so don’t feel compelled to vote for the Avengers or the Hobbit in your Oscar pools just because you’ve seen and enjoyed them but didn’t get around to seeing Life of Pi.

(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe

Oscar Preview Week! And Oscar Pool Tip of the Day

The 2013 Academy Awards are a week from tomorrow!  We’ll be dedicating the next week to previewing the event with guest writers, movie comparisons, and other fun posts!

Oscar Pool Tip of the Day:

To do better in your pool, take a look at the guild awards (SAG, DGA, etc.).  It’s mostly the same voting pool that selects the original nominees, and a lot of the voters defer to the guild awards when making their selections.  If a category has more than one favorite you may not be able to trust the guild awards as definitive, but even in those circumstances they’re a good place to start.

Oscar Preview – Animated Shorts

 

Last night, I went to a showing of the Oscar nominated animated shorts.  The program consisted of the five nominees and three “highly commended” selections.  Here are my thoughts on all of them:

The Nominees

1. Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” – This was the best short of the five nominees.  It was funny, thoughtful, well animated, and well structured.  While this award has recently gone to up and comers, during the golden age of animation from roughly 1930-1960, it wasn’t unusual for popular, studio backed efforts to win this category.  Unless the voters of the Academy have developed a bias towards more independent efforts (or there just aren’t a lot of Simpsons fans), this one should win.

2. Adam and Dog – The Anime style was well crafted, but this short, well, fell short.  The concept was a bit strained (Adam meets dog in Garden of Eden, ignores dog when Eve comes along, dog follows them out of the Garden), and it was pretty dull.  I for one would have replaced it with one of the “highly commended” efforts.

3. Fresh Guacamole – I enjoyed this one, although it was extremely short.  It was surprising, clever, and had fantastic sound effects.  I don’t think it will win but it was definitely a worthy nomination.

4. Head Over Heels – This one was the most intellectually challenging of the five nominees.  It is a symbolic meditation on marriage, the importance of communication, growing apart, and ultimately reconciling.  If Maggie Simpson’s return to the Ayn Rand Daycare (the only daycare in town that isn’t under investigation by the state) doesn’t win this one probably should.

5. Paperman – It’s cute and pleasant, but filled to the brim with Disney cliches.  Even the two main characters seem to be modeled after characters in other Disney films.  I enjoyed it but I thought one of the “highly commended” efforts could have been nominated instead.

Highly Commended

1. Abiogenesis – I thought this one was kind of cool, but thinking about it afterwards, it didn’t really say much of anything.  I understand why it wasn’t nominated.

2. Dripped – A fun and clever ode to Jackson Pollack, it really should have been nominated over “Adam and Dog” or “Paperman.”

3. The Gruffalo’s Child – A long, star studded adaptation of a popular British children’s story, I really enjoyed this one.  It felt like it had been done before though, so I understand why it wasn’t selected, although I’m sure the voters were on the fence about it.

More Oscar previews coming soon!

(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe