This morning the 2013 Academy Award nominations were announced, which means it is a great day to launch into long-winded complaints and angry diatribes about movies. Lucky for you, angry diatribes happen to be our favorite kind of diatribes! Anyway, Nick and I got together via the interwebs this afternoon to talk Oscar nominations and share our reactions. Please feel free to grill us in the comments below. In fact, we welcome it! Anyway, here’s what we had to say:
Eliot: I feel like the best way to start this conversation is for each of us to briefly outline which Oscar-nominated films we’ve seen, which films we’ve missed, and which films we were hoping we wouldn’t have to see this year. I’ll start. I’ve already seen over half the Best Picture nominees, but have yet to see Lincoln, Life of Pi, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Amour. The only film that I feel came out of left field was Amour. I had heard it picked up top prize at Cannes this year, but I honestly hadn’t paid much attention to it. Now that I’ve found out what it’s about (yes, we occasionally do research here) I feel like it is almost guaranteed to make me extremely sad. The synopsis I read online described it as “an honest… heart-wrenching depiction of love in old age.” Screw you, Mr. Fancy-Pants Austrian Director Michael Haneke – I’m already about to explode with emotion after only hearing the premise. I mean, just look at THIS poster: SERIOUSLY…. OLD PEOPLE EXPLORING THE POWER OF LOVE? Based on that picture and the premise alone, I just know this movie will make me cry harder than I cried when G.I. Joe: Retaliation was pushed back a year. Anyway, what have you seen/missed?
Nick: Out of the Best Picture nominations I have sadly only seen two so far, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Django Unchained. Nothing too surprising to me here, though it is interesting to note that a few films with early buzz like Flight, The Impossible, The Sessions, and (most notably) The Master all failed to close out that final potential Best Picture spot. Beasts and Amour seem to be the most odd but the Academy has been higher on indies and foreign films lately, considering movies like The Artist and Winter’s Bone have received nominations. So, do you imagine one of the remaining four you haven’t seen could hop to the top of your list? Putting your own preference aside, who do you see as the real contenders for the top prize?
Eliot: Without having seen it, I can definitely imagine Lincoln taking the top prize. It’s a historical epic with a proven director (Steven Spielberg) and a bankable star (Daniel Day-Lewis) making a stunning physical transformation. Regardless of the competition, Abraham Lincoln is an American hero/alleged vampire hunter. Plus, nostalgia is a powerful thing – it is conceivable that some of those insanely old Oscar voters will actually remember shooting the shit with President Lincoln 150 years ago. Further, there are obvious problems with some of the other Best Picture options – Argo is very commercial, Life of Pi has been compared to Avatar, Django is incredibly violent, and Zero Dark Thirty has the CIA potentially fixing the vote over the whole torture thing. Especially considering the lack of Best Director nominations for Tarantino (Django), Affleck (Argo), and Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), I expect Lincoln to be a frontrunner going forward. Anyway, my initial reaction to the nominations was the generally the same as my initial reaction to everything in life – my inner monologue always shouts “ELIOT, FOCUS ON THE NEGATIVE” and I always listen. I immediately began scouring the nominations for the snubs I could be most outraged over (you can see our Twitter feed from this morning for evidence of this). I was initially shocked to see that Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Ben Affleck (Argo) were both missing from the Best Director category, but this has also been a year of very strong entries for directors, which definitely may have led to some spreading out of the vote among veterans. I predict your response will involve some James Bond talk, but what were some of the most egregious Oscar snubs in your opinion?
Nick: I am totally with you on Lincoln. It has to be the front-runner in what I see to be a two-horse race with Silver Linings Playbook. Sure, I haven’t seen either of them but I hadn’t seen the Redskins play at all this season and still knew they were going to lose last weekend. As far as snubs go Bigelow is easily the biggest. Zero Dark Thirty had the most momentum coming into this but the lack of a directing nom really hurts. The last Best Picture winner to not also win director was the controversial Crash in 2006 when Ang Lee won for Gay Cowboys [Editors note: NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT]. Even then, Paul Haggis was nominated. The lack of Looper is more disappointing than surprising. The Academy (which I will henceforth refer to as Pretentious Old Douchebags or “POD”) doesn’t like Sci-Fi or anything too smart and inventive. I think the best Skyfall could have done was a cinematography nomination and it got that so I’m happy there, though I could care less about Adele’s nod (for best song). As for pleasant surprises, nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis getting a shot at Best Actress is pure awesome but even more shocking is the Beasts of the Southern Wild director getting the nod over Bigelow and Affleck. So good for Benh Zeitlin. I can’t really speak too much more until I catch up with a lot of these films. What surprised you for the better?
Eliot: I was also surprised to see Beasts of the Southern Wild pick up so many nominations – especially for first-time director Benh Zeitlen and the nine-year-old girl with the name that someone is sure to awkwardly stumble over on Oscar night (the same phenomena occurs when people avoid saying “Les Miserables” out loud because sounding that French is embarrassing if you really love America). Speaking of Les Miserables, I was surprised to see Hugh Jackman nominated for Best Actor. I thought his performance was strong and moving, but it seems like every former high school musical drama nerd in America was outraged over him not looking or sounding like their “typical Jean-Val-Jean.” I couldn’t care less whether he reminds you of the British dude who originally performed it on stage in London 25 years ago – as a newcomer to the Les Mis fold, I was pleasantly surprised and thought he turned in a truly affecting, emotional performance. I was going to bring up Looper later, but since you broached the subject I might as well get my rant on now. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY THINKING? Looper definitely deserved a Best Original Screenplay nomination, as well as some recognition for the makeup team that turned Joseph Gordon Levitt into young John McClane. The Academy must have been high as shit on that Looper eye-drop drug to overlook this movie. Sure I know it’s a genre flick, but to ignore it completely is absolutely ludicrous. Speaking of Best Original Screenplay nominations, let’s talk Moonrise Kingdom. Every year it seems the Academy voters throw out some nominations in screenplay or other categories to placate the filmmakers who were snubbed across the board in other areas. I think this is definitely how Moonrise Kingdom grabbed a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category. If you asked me about the strengths of Moonrise Kingdom, the screenplay would not have been at the top of the list. I was impressed with Wes Anderson’s visually unique world, the way his actors brought that world to life, the music in the film, etc. The screenplay nomination felt like a bone thrown to Anderson because he missed out on every other category. Any other sympathy nods you saw on the list today?
Nick: I knew you were going to bring up Moonrise at some point. I’ve got nothing as far as sympathy nods but I do always find it funny when you get a movie like The Dark Knight Rises which was critically acclaimed and made a shit-ton of money that gets no recognition at all from the POD (and I am completely OK with that). Then you get movies like the critically panned Mirror Mirror that people will look back on and say “What the hell, that was nominated for an Academy Award?!” Which reminds me, FUCKING THREE 6 MAFIA HAS WON AN ACADEMY AWARD!
Also, I think it’s pretty ridiculous that you can have a foreign movie up for Best Picture and then have it in the Best Foreign Film category where you know it is going to absolutely crush the others.
Eliot: Well in defense of Three 6 Mafia, it turns out it IS hard out here for a pimp. Anyway, I think we have sufficiently whined and complained our way through this recap. Let’s go ahead and each share an Oscar lock and then one thing we really hope will happen (however unlikely it may be) come Oscar night. Ok, ready… go.
Nick: I’m locking in Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress and hoping for Quvenzhane Wallis for Best Actress.
Eliot: My sure-fire Oscar lock? Daniel-Day Lewis for Lincoln. My big hope? John Williams doesn’t win a Best Original Score Oscar for his work on Lincoln. I know I haven’t seen it yet, but that guy has way too many Oscars already. Let’s spread the wealth around, alright? Also, here’s a bonus “dark horse” lock: Despite being the first film in 31 years to garner nominations in all four acting categories – Silver Linings Playbook will go 0 for 4 on Oscar night. LOCK IT UP.
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