Reflecting on the 2016 Academy Awards

26 02 2017

This is the first year I haven’t live blogged the Oscars since 2009 (well, except for the year I got to sit along the red carpet). I thought I’d write something profound after a calm show but … THAT ENDING. What. Just. Happened.

Also, my ballot is horrendous, but that’s because I chose deliberately unsentimentally. So pleased to see two wins for “Manchester by the Sea.” That’s all I really needed tonight.


LIVE BLOGGING the 2013 Academy Awards!

2 03 2014

12:00 A.M.  S0 7 Oscars for “Gravity,” 3 for “12 Years a Slave” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” 2 for “Frozen” and “The Great Gatsby” … and none for “American Hustle.”  The Oscars, so great and so cruel.

12:00 A.M.  Steve McQueen jumping up and down, how joyous!

11:59 P.M.  Seeing Paul Dano on stage makes me angry.

11:59 P.M.  Two years in a row of a split Best Picture/Best Director.  Wow.

11:58 P.M.  Two years too late for “Shame,” but still glad for Steve McQueen.

11:57 P.M.  Brad Pitt, now an Oscar winner.

Chiwetel Ejiofor



11:52 P.M.  I think Woody Allen got more applause than God, yikes.

11:51 P.M.  I see Matthew McConaughey’s mom, the real star of “Bernie!”

Matthew McConaughey


11:47 P.M.  Oh, Cate.  So classy.  And a beautiful dish on “Gravity.”  Muted applause on the mention of Woody Allen, eek.  Thank you so much for calling out Hollywood for not making movies about women and applauding intelligent audiences!

Cate Blanchett




11:29 P.M.  So “American Hustle” has now gone from once-frontrunner to completely blanked … it’s not going to win anything left.  GRR!  This reminds me of back in 2009 when “Up in the Air” lost Best Adapted Screenplay.

11:28 P.M.  Nice, short speech – poor Spike Jonze, he should be less humble!

Her Production Design


12 Years a Slave


11:18 P.M.  What an awesome speech to their daughters.  Here’s to EGOT for Bobby Lopez!

Let It Go


Gravity once more


11:07 P.M.  Also, they handled the Sarah Jones controversy nicely.  Forgot to mention.

11:02 P.M.  Ellen’s selfie broke Obama’s record for most retweets!

10:57 P.M.  Wow, we lost some incredible talent from the film industry this year.  Much of them too soon.

10:53 P.M.  In Memoriam, here come the tears…

10:46 P.M.  Of course, the first person on the Chris Evans-introduced montage is … Captain America.

Gatsby sets


10:42 P.M.  Wonderful outfit change, Ellen.

10:34 P.M.  P!nk?!  What the heck?!


Gravity Score


10:29 P.M.  Two years too late for “The Tree of Life,” but about time Lubezki gets his Oscar!  (P.S. – Great shout-out by Bill Murray to the late Harold Ramis.)

Gravity Cinematography


10:26 P.M.  “Baby, you look like $146 million domestic.”  – Bill Murray, to Amy Adams

10:22 P.M.  Jared Leto giving the pizza to his mom!  Adorable.

10:22 P.M.  Brad Pitt, waiter of the year.

10:16 P.M.  What a beautiful speech by Lupita Nyong’o.  Everyone is so moved, including a teary-eyed Brad Pitt.  BRILLIANT!  Melissa Leo, shame on you.







9:56 P.M.  The tasteful simplicity of U2 and Karen O makes me realize just how tacky Pharrell was.



9:43 P.M.  Seriously, why wouldn’t they show the dang Honorary Oscar winners in the crowd?  Ok, one shot of Angelina Jolie…


9:39 P.M.  Hooray for Darlene Love getting her big moment in the spotlight!  Standing ovation!


9:35 P.M.  I really want to see this short now.  Like, SO badly.



9:24 P.M.  I’m melting, “The Moon Song” is so adorable!



9:18 P.M.  I spent the entire first half of the montage trying to figure out what the song in the montage was … it was the theme song from “Revolutionary Road.”  Ears, why didst thou fail me?

9:16 P.M.  Aww, his son!  Beautiful.




9:04 P.M.  “American Hustle” should win!!!  Why did Harrison Ford sound so bored?!





8:56 P.M.  Ellen to Jonah Hill: “No, I don’t want to see it.”  Dig this running gag.

8:53 P.M.  Time for a commercial break!  This is like watching “The Wolf of Wall Street” – overwhelming.

8:52 P.M.  Ok, Meryl Streep dancing … joyous.

8:51 P.M.  That hat … Pharrell … stop.

8:47 P.M.  Jim Carrey, you scare me.

8:46 P.M.  Ellen’s picture reminds me of her 2007 shenanigans…

8:45 P.M.  Nice of Leto to go shake Jonah Hill’s hand.  And love the shout-out to Ellen.  But best of all is his heartfelt tribute to his mother!  A beautiful speech that gets political but not too touchy.

Jared Leto


8:40 P.M.  “Possibilty #1: ’12 Years a Slave’ wins Best Picture.  Possbility #2: you’re all racists.” – Ellen

8:37 P.M.  “If you [J-Law] wins, I think we should bring you the Oscar!”- Ellen

8:36 P.M.  So jealous of Nicholas Hoult right now…

8:35 P.M.  “One of the nominees is ‘Her,’ and by ‘her,’ I mean Meryl Streep.” – Ellen

8:33 P.M.  “Movies offer us an escape.”  Gulp.  THEY OFFER SO MUCH MORE!

8:32 P.M.  Aww, June Squibb!  Come on, Ellen, that’s kind of mean…

8:30 P.M.  Ellen in pantsuit, called it.

8:23 P.M.  So close!

8:11 P.M.  The fashion winners, because obviously:

Lupita Nyong'o

JLaw red carpet

June Squibb

June Squibb is just too awesome!

8:03 P.M.  And once again, I have mistaken the ending of E!’s program for the start of the ceremony.  Classic!



Best Director

Will win: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity
Could win: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: Sarah Polley, “Stories We Tell

The passion project 4 years in the making gives Cuarón an easy win.

Best Picture

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

I go “Gravity” because it’s going to win everything else, it’s never wise to split Best Picure/Director, and I think people might be over-manufacturing the whole need for “12 Years a Slave” to win.  I keep reading that people will not watch it.  So I give the edge to “Gravity.”

And in case you missed the thread running through this post, “Spring Breakers” should be making a huge appearance in these awards if justice had been served this year.

7:54 P.M.  Supporting categories – one easy, one that’s so tight I’m still agonizing about it.

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Should win: Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: James Franco, “Spring Breakers”

Leto wins this one easily.  Too bad for Fassbender and Cooper.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Should win: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: Emma Watson, “The Bling Ring

I give Nyong’o the edge since J-Law won last year, and “12 Years a Slave” is more of a threat to win Best Picture.  But I honestly don’t know!

7:46 P.M.  Leading actor categories!  The time is coming, I can barely type straight!

6) Blue Jasmine

Best Actress

Will win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
Could win: Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Should win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
Should be nominated: Berenice Bejo, “The Past”

No-brainer.  Maybe Adams surprises, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  Amy Adams will win on her next nomination, I bet.

Best Actor

Will win: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street
Should win: Bruce Dern, “Nebraska
Should be nominated: Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

McConaughey walks away with this one … alright, alright, alright.

7:40 P.M.  Can’t believe I’m already at the screenplays!!!  Ahhh we’re getting close!

Bale Hustle

Best Original Screenplay

Will win: “American Hustle”
Could win: “Her”
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Inside Llewyn Davis”

I’m hoping that David O. Russell gets his first Oscar win in this category, though Spike Jonze could get his first here too.  The love for “American Hustle” ran deeper than “Her,” so that broke the tie.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will win: “12 Years a Slave”
Could win: “Philomena
Should win: “Philomena
Should be nominated: “Lone Survivor

The only no-brainer for “12 Years a Slave” of the night.

7:30 P.M.  J.Law just tripped on the red carpet!!! She’s my idol.

7:25 P.M.  Cate Blanchett’s a little out on a limb with that dress, but she still looks stunning.  Anyways, got to crank out more predictions!

Best Film Editing

Will win: “Captain Phillips
Could win: “Gravity
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

Tom Hanks

I think the more traditionally edited “Captain Phillips” prevails here over the minimally edited “Gravity.”  But it could easily sweep the techs.

7:21 P.M.  Ok, finishing out the tech categories … I actually hadn’t even made up my mind before writing this, so here we go!

Best Production Design

Will win: “The Great Gatsby
Could win: “Gravity
Should win: “Her”
Should be nominated: “Inside Llewyn Davis”

I assume the opulence of “The Great Gatsby” wins out here, but I think “Gravity” or “Her” could surprise.

Best Costume Design

Will win: “American Hustle”
Could win: “The Great Gatsby
Should win: “American Hustle”
Should be nominated: “Her”

1) American Hustle

This is a bit of a guess.  I love what the threads of “American Hustle” said about the characters, though the more traditionally elaborate work on “The Great Gatsby” or “The Invisible Woman” could easily win.

7:08 P.M.  If only someone foreign had arrived for me to usher in my prediction for Best Foreign Film…

Best Foreign Language Film

Will win: “The Great Beauty
Could win: “The Hunt
Should win: “The Hunt
Should be nominated: “The Past”

9) The Hunt

As much as I’d love to see “The Hunt” happen, 21 months after I first saw it in Cannes, I think the Oscars are going to succumb to the opulence of “The Great Beauty.”  Funny, last year at Cannes it had no buzz upon its premiere…

7:06 P.M.  Jared Leto and June Squibb, officially dating – you heard it first on E!

7:05 P.M.  June Squibb, so adorable!

7:04 P.M.  Now that Naomi Watts has arrived, it seems like a good time to predict Best Hair and Makeup.  (Bit of a non-sequitur, but who cares?)

Best Hair and Makeup

Will win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could win: “Bad Grandpa”
Should win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
Should be nominated: “American Hustle”

I think voters will be too embarrassed to vote for one of the other two nominees.  “Dallas Buyers Club” seemed to have enough love across the board to score here.  Surprisingly, its makeup budget was $250.

7:00 P.M.  Ok, let’s get the “Gravity” awards – I mean, the technical awards – predicted.  P.S. Lupita Nyong’o, you are adorable.

Best Cinematography

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “12 Years a Slave”

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

Emmanuel Lubezki will finally get his due, redeeming his snub for “The Tree of Life.”  Maybe next year for Roger Deakins…

Best Visual Effects

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: no one
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “The Great Gatsby


6:51 P.M.   Pharrell Williams … in shorts?!  What?!

Also, Cate Blanchett, why did you have to be so good that I can’t root unequivocally for Amy Adams?!  Ok, more predictions.

Best Animated Film

Will win: “Frozen
Could win: “The Wind Rises”
Should win: abstain
Should be nominated: “Monsters University

Another no-brainer.  Maybe Miyazaki love surprises, but “Frozen” is too big of a hit to deny.

Best Documentary Feature

Will win: “20 Feet from Stardom
Could win: “The Act of Killing
Should win: “The Square”
Should be nominated: “Stories We Tell

Similar to the above category, crowd-pleaser over intellectualism.  Still so bitter that “Stories We Tell” isn’t here.

6:40 P.M.  Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, still one of the more puzzling Hollywood couples.

6:34 P.M.  In keeping with the theme of sound, here are my predictions for the sound categories.

Best Sound Mixing/Editing

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “Lone Survivor”
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

I know these categories are separate, but “Gravity” is easily going to win them both.  (For those curious about the difference, sound mixing is the adjustment of sound levels and sound editing is the creation of sound.  At least I think…)

SoundWorks Collection: The Sound of Gravity from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.


6:26 P.M.  More music predictions as I hear Pharrell’s “Happy” in the Fiat commercial.

Best Original Score

Will win: “Gravity
Could win: “Philomena
Should win: “Gravity
Should be nominated: “Spring Breakers”

The sonic experience of “Gravity” will probably go for 3-for-3.  Maybe Alexander Desplat finally gets his moment in the sun (much needed since “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“) but the time doesn’t feel right.

6:20 P.M.  So I just mistook Portia Di Rossi for Helen Mirren … yikes.  So how about another prediction?!

Best Original Song

Will win: “Let It Go,” Frozen
Could win: “Happy,” Despicable Me 2
Should win: “The Moon Song,” Her
Should be nominated: “Young and Beautiful,” The Great Gatsby

Mega-hit “Frozen” ought to run away with this category, which has two chart-toppers gunning for Oscar gold.  Though I’d love to see Karen O surprise and earn Spike Jonze his first Oscar.  (Maybe if the newest version was in the film, it would have had a better chance.)

6:14 P.M.  Viola Davis, so classy.  You rock.

5:53 P.M.  Come on, celebs, show up already!

5:41 P.M.  I’m going to go ahead and log my first set of predictions.  Might as well get the ball rolling.

Best Short Film (Live Action/Animated/Documentary)

Will win: “Helium,” “Get a Horse,” “The Lady in Number 6”

I made an effort to go see the shorts this year, but I was thwarted by bad weather.  These are the general consensus across the Internet.

5:38 P.M.  Watching Dave Karger dumb down his Oscar picks for the E! crowd is amusing.

5:30 P.M.  Time to start the Oscars LIVE BLOG!  The red carpet has begun on E!  (I’m a little later than normal this year, my apologies for anyone who was really hoping for extremely early coverage.)

The 2013 Oscar Nominations!

16 01 2014

Best Picture

  • “American Hustle”
  • “Captain Phillips”
  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Gravity”
  • “Her”
  • “Nebraska”
  • Philomena
  • “12 Years a Slave”
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director

  • Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
  • Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
  • David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
  • Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actor

  • Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
  • Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Actress

  • Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
  • Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
  • Judi Dench, “Philomena
  • Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
  • Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
  • Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Supporting Actress

  • Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
  • Lupita Nyong’o,”12 Years a Slave”
  • Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
  • June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Best Original Screenplay

  • “American Hustle”
  • Blue Jasmine
  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Her”
  • “Nebraska”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Read on for my commentary on the nominations!

Big winners

American Hustle“American Hustle.”  It’s tied for the most nominations of the day with 10, further cementing its status as the one to beat for Best Picture.  It does have to share the title of nominations leader with “Gravity” since it missed out on what I assumed would have been a slam-dunk nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

David O. Russell.  Two years ago, there hadn’t been a movie nominated in all four acting categories since 1981.  Now, David O. Russell has directed two straight movies and two straight casts to achieve that feat … in back-to-back years, no less.  He’s nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director; the man simply has to walk away with something this Oscar night.

“Dallas Buyers Club.”  Kicking the Coens out of Best Original Screenplay was quite a feat, but showing up in Best Editing over “The Wolf of Wall Street” or a film like “Rush?”  That’s a surprising show of strength.

“Nebraska.”  Alexander Payne making it 3-for-3 on Best Director/Best Picture nominations is certainly a feather in his cap.  Showing up in cinematography over “12 Years a Slave” is a surprise as well.

HerJonah Hill and Bradley Cooper.  I’d like to once again point out that if you’d told me four years ago that these two guys would be two-time Oscar nominees today, I wouldn’t have believed you.  Snaps for a remarkable career transition!

Amy Adams.  She stars in two Best Picture nominees and can now celebrate her first Best Actress nomination!  For those of you following at home, that’s five nominations for Adams in nine years.  It took Kate Winslet twelve years to get five nominations.  So a win has to be around the corner, right?

Megan Ellison.  Daughter of Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, Megan has put her inheritance to good use by financing tricky projects that would otherwise be a struggle to make.  Today, she was rewarded with two Oscar nominations for “American Hustle” and “Her.”

“Blue Jasmine.”  Sally Hawkins getting a Best Supporting Actress nomination bodes will for Cate Blanchett’s win in Best Actress.  I thought for a second it might have popped up in Best Picture, but it was not to be.

My Best Picture predictions!  My projected lineup turned out to be the Academy’s lineup!  Granted, I found this year relatively easy to forecast.  Getting the number, though, is something that always worries me with the sliding field.

Big losers

Saving Mr. Banks“Saving Mr. Banks.”  Once considered a legitimate threat to win the “sentimental” Best Picture slot, the Disney biopic couldn’t even get a nomination for its leading lady Emma Thompson (who had racked up every necessary precursor to seemingly secure a spot).  In fact, its only mention came in Best Original Score.

“Captain Phillips.”  Not that it was every a real threat to win, but missing out in both Best Actor and Best Director to “The Wolf of Wall Street” means it’s probably not in the top 5.

Tom Hanks.  The two-time Oscar winner had been tipped to be a two-time nominee earlier this year.  Then, his prospects dwindled for “Saving Mr. Banks.”  But today, Hanks struck out with the Academy.  Guess it’s only Meryl Streep who gets nominated for everything.

“All Is Lost.”  A few months ago, people thought this would be a Best Picture contender.  Today, it managed to only net one nomination … in Best Sound Editing.  Robert Redford couldn’t crack the tight Best Actor field, which I did predict.  Sometimes, they aren’t as sentimental towards older actors as they’re made out to be.

“Inside Llewyn Davis.”  Guess the love for the Coen Brothers isn’t as deep as I thought.  I knew a Best Picture nomination wasn’t likely, but no recognition for their fantastic screenplay?  Robbed, I tell you, ROBBED!

Captain Phillips

“The Butler.”  Potential Best Picture spoiler?  Oprah Winfrey a lock for Best Supporting Actress?  WRONG.  Totally blanked.

“Spring Breakers” and “Stories We Tell.”  While my favorite movie of the year was also the most nominated, my #2 and #3 selections did not fare so well.  While the former was not expected to make any showing, Sarah Polley’s bold and brilliant feature should easily have scored a nomination for Best Documentary Feature.  But alas, it was snubbed.

“12 Years a Slave.”  Not a big loser, but not being the nominations leader makes its claim for Best Picture inevitability dubious.  It could have tied “American Hustle” and “Gravity,” but it missed out on what I assumed would have been a slam-dunk: Best Cinematography.

Live Blogging the 2012 Oscars!

24 02 2013

12:53 A.M.  To put the finishing touches on the evening, “Life of Pi” was the big winner with 4 Oscars including Best Director.  “Argo” took home 3 trophies to boot including Best Picture, the one that really counts.  “Les Misérables” had a nice haul of 3 as well, winning Anne Hathaway her first Oscar!  “Django Unchained,” “Lincoln,” and “Skyfall” each won a pair of Academy Awards too.

Thanks for tuning in, everyone!  You were a wonderful audience!  And you helped make this a banner night for the site as well, breaking my all-time daily traffic record.

Check back tomorrow for my Monday morning wrap-up where I attempt to break down the implications of the night, the best-dressed women, and the precise moment I went and returned from heaven during the “Les Misérables” cast reunion.  Take care, readers and Oscar watchers!

11:59 P.M.  Aww, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.  And what an incredible speech of redemption, justice, and vindication!

11:58 P.M.  Giving the Academy the finger with the mention of Affleck as a director.

11:56 P.M.  What a wild ride for Ben Affleck.  Congratulations to all involved on this fantastic movie!


Ben Affleck for Argo

11:53 P.M.  Because Bill Clinton on the Golden Globes wasn’t enough, Michelle Obama had to upstage everyone at the Oscars…

11:52 P.M.  Does Jack Nicholson always present Best Picture?

11:51 P.M.  Biggest shocker of the night!  A nice, eloquent speech as always.  History has been made … and will probably be made again when he takes his next role.





11:36 P.M.  If “Life of Pi” does not win Best Picture, that means Ang Lee will have won Best Director twice and never won Best Picture.


Netter_PI_1418R - Director Ang Lee on the set of LIFE OF PI

11:29 P.M.  Ugh, really?  Guess my distaste for Tarantino’s latest really killed my ballot.





11:17 P.M.  You da bomb, Adele!  The whole world loves you!





11:00 P.M.  We miss you, Nora Ephron!

10:57 P.M.  In memoriam, it always gets me…



10:36 P.M.  No one can silence a room quite like Adele.  She is unbelievable.


Argo BP

10:25 P.M.  YES YES YES!  “It came true,” channeling her best Mia Thermopolis.  And such a beautiful line about Fantines in real life!


I Dreamed a Dream


10:16 P.M.  So cool, never thought I’d see a tie in my lifetime!  This is awesome!


Zero Dark


Les Mis

10:10 P.M.  Glad Seth MacFarlane can joke about his movie’s mediocrity.


10:07 P.M.  Is this what heaven is like?  Oh my god!




9:59 P.M.  Jennifer Hudson being amazing is good enough.  Why has she disappeared?!


9:54 P.M.  I’ll never look at “Chicago” the same way.  Catherine Zeta-Jones sounds awful and looks like a totally different person than the woman that won the Oscar 10 years ago.

9:53 P.M.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t take John Travolta seriously…



9:45 P.M.  “Jaws” theme again?  Wow, so rude.


9:41 P.M.  “The actor who really got inside Abraham Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth.”  Yeah, maybe too soon…

9:40 P.M.  By breaking up the Best Picture nominees into 3 trios, I hope this doesn’t mean they think they can get away with not doing one giant montage…

9:37 P.M.  The modern American superhero who isn’t American … Liam Neeson.

9:36 P.M.  Darn, there goes my streak of getting all the short films right.


9:33 P.M.  Love that feeling of getting a short film prediction right!


9:30 P.M.  This is how I knew who Shirley Bassey was…

9:27 P.M.  Pretty impressive finish for Shirley Bassey there.

9:21 P.M.  So glad “Les Misérables” isn’t going home empty handed!


Anne Hathaway


Anna Karenina

9:11 P.M.  What a terrible way to play someone off – with “Jaws!”  He was trying to say something meaningful about their company that was going bankrupt and they just totally cut him off!




9:05 P.M.  Awkwardly missing Scarlett Johansson on “The Avengers” reunion … now it’s a sausage fest.

9:04 P.M.  Adorable flexing Quvenzhané Wallis!  “I really hope I don’t lose to that old lady, Jennifer Lawrence!”


9:02 P.M.  Chills all over again for “Les Misérables.”

Les Miserables

9:00 P.M.  Well, sorry for ever doubting Pixar owned this category, except when they don’t.



8:59 P.M.  So great of the Academy to send out all the short films!


8:57 P.M.  Never mind, misread the envelope.

8:56 P.M.  Screenplay already?!  Not again….

8:55 P.M.  Loving all this “E.T.” music!

8:52 P.M.  Well, I guess lightning does strike twice.  The same performance wins another Best Supporting Actor Oscar.



8:45 P.M.  Sally Field, what a great sport!

8:42 P.M.  So THAT’S why Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt showed up to their first Oscars (which is a fact that surprises me).

8:40 P.M. Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron seem like an odd couple to be doing this dance … but they have some kind of grace!  This reminds me of a “Family Guy” episode with all these random tangents.

8:37 P.M.  This “we saw your boobs” number is true but just rubs me wrong…

8:31 P.M.  Really, Tommy Lee Jones?  Way to break character!  Jimmy Fallon, you are in good company…




8:20 P.M.  Reminder to COMMENT and I will answer!

8:18 P.M.  By my count, “Life of Pi“ wins five, “Argo“ and “Les Misérables“ take three, and “Amour“ and “Silver Linings Playbook“ steals two trophies.  How’s that for spreading it around?

8:10 P.M.  Best Picture.  The holy grail.

Best Picture

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Will win: “Argo
Could win: “Silver Linings Playbook
Should win: “Les Misérables
Should be nominated: “The Master

Only the second movie since 1930 to win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination – that is the feat “Argo“ looks to pull off tonight.  On nomination day, I wrote “All that talk of it being a surprise come-from-behind winner all just came to a screeching halt with that Best Director snub.”  That has quickly been proven dead wrong as it wins top honors from the Critics Choice, Golden Globes, PGA, DGA, SAG, and BAFTA.  If it only had that pesky Best Director nomination, we wouldn’t think twice.


What looked to be a tough race to predict has been blown wide open by “Argo.”  But if anything will prove us wrong, it would be “Silver Linings Playbook.”  Then “Lincoln.”  Then “Life of Pi.”

8:05 P.M.  Ladies are looking PHENOMENAL tonight.  Scroll down for Chastain, and also check out Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence!

Amy Adams

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

8:00 P.M.  Best Director will be more interesting tonight than it has been in quite some time … will they do it before or after the leading acting races?  Hopefully it’s just right before Best Picture.

Best 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

Will win: Ang Lee, “Life of Pi
Could win: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook
Should win: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild
Should be nominated: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty

Life of Pi

A part of me wonders if David O. Russell won’t steal this, but his nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay could lead to some vote splitting.  Steven Spielberg just doesn’t feel right, not with how “Lincoln” seems to have faded at the end of the season.  Ang Lee’s work on “Life of Pi” just seems director-y, so something tells me I ought to pick him.

7:50 P.M.  The “breath of fresh air” category of all former winners – Best Supporting Actor.  Who will win their second – or third – Oscar?  Saved this category towards the end because I was still thinking about it…

Best Supporting Actor

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

Will win: Robert DeNiro, “Silver Linings Playbook
Could win: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln
Should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master
Should be nominated: Eddie Redmayne, “Les Misérables


He hasn’t won anything yet.  But it’s a gut feeling I’ve had since the nominations.  SAG winner Tommy Lee Jones or Globe/BAFTA winner Christoph Waltz seem to be more safe or likely choices.  But if Riva upsets Lawrence, they run the risk of nominating “Silver Linings Playbook” for all acting awards and then giving it zero wins.  I don’t think that happens, so DeNiro wins on sympathy and insurance votes.

7:40 P.M.  The Best Actress race is crazy tight this year, and I will be on the edge of my seat as the envelope is opened.

Best Actress

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

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook
Could win: Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour
Should win: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty
Should be nominated: Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone

Silver Linings Playbook

Between the Golden Globe, the SAG, and “The Hunger Games,” this is Lawrence’s year.  There seems to be a late surge for Riva with her BAFTA win, but I think Jennifer Lawrence should take this one.

7:32 P.M.  How incredible does she look?!

Jessica Chastain

7:30 P.M.  I mean, do I even need to predict the next two categories?

Best Supporting Actress

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

Will win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables
Could win: Sally Field, “Lincoln
Should win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables
Should be nominated: Shirley MacLaine, “Bernie


Best Actor

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

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln
Could win: Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables
Should win: Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master
Should be nominated: Jack Black, “Bernie

Again, duh.

7:20 P.M.  Best Adapted Screenplay is one of the night’s most unpredictable races involving five major Best Picture contenders.  Who will win?

Best Adapted Screenplay

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

Alan Arkin

Will win: “Argo
Could win: “Silver Linings Playbook
Should win: “Argo
Should be nominated: “Bernie

Again, since they can’t give Best Director to Ben Affleck, they’ll give “Argo” some consolation prizes so it doesn’t ONLY win Best Picture. Perhaps this is where “Silver Linings Playbook” breaks through, but I think the momentum is unstoppable for “Argo.”

7:00 P.M.  Time to move into the heavy hitters … can’t believe some of these people will be holding a golden statue soon!

Best Original Screenplay

Django Unchained
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Will win: “Amour
Could win: “Zero Dark Thirty
Should win: “Zero Dark Thirty
Should be nominated: “The Master


Zero Dark Thirty” may be too controversial, but it did win the WGA.  However, it was not competing against Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” nor Michael Haneke’s “Amour.”  I’m seeing a foreign film triumph like in 2002 when “Talk to Her” unexpectedly took the trophy.  Just a gut feeling I have.

6:55 P.M.  Jennifer Lawrence just referenced “Father of the Bride” – MARRY ME!

6:53 P.M.  The sound categories always prove to be a bit of a conundrum – do you predict a split?  They haven’t done so since 2008!

Best Sound Mixing

Les Misérables
Life of Pi

Will win: “Les Misérables
Could win: “Life of Pi
Should win: “Les Misérables
Should be nominated: “The Impossible

Did you know they sang live on “Les Misérables?”  No movie has shone more of a light on sound mixing than this one, so it should handily win.  And musicals always seem to score here.

Best Sound Editing

Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Will win: “Life of Pi
Could win: “Skyfall
Should win: “Zero Dark Thirty
Should be nominated: “The Impossible

A “Life of Pi” technical sweep should get back on track and take the other sound category.
6:46 P.M.  Cute Quvenzhané Wallis and her adorable puppy purse!

puppy purse

6:45 P.M.  Best Film Editing, according to Dave Karger, is an even more necessary nomination than Best Director.  So having said that…

Best Film Editing

Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty


Will win: “Argo
Could win: “Life of Pi
Should win: “Zero Dark Thirty
Should be nominated: “The Master

6:35 P.M. Happy one year anniversary, Angelina Jolie’s protruding right leg!

Angie's Leg

6:30 P.M.  Best Cinematography is a category I appreciate more and more each year.  So who will take it for 2012?

Best Cinematography

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi


Will win: “Life of Pi
Could win: “Skyfall
Should win: “Skyfall
Should be nominated: “Les Misérables

I think it would be great if Roger Deakins, a perennial Oscar bridesmaid, won for his superb lensing of “Skyfall.”  But his name isn’t on the ballot, just the movie’s name.  And there seems to be a Bond bias in the Academy.  So I say the technical domination of “Life of Pi” continues here.

6:20 P.M.  That one time I ran into an Oscar nominee.  It’s super casual.


(That’s Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour,” in case you couldn’t tell.)

6:15 P.M.  Almost forgot the other two short film categories … whoops!

Best Documentary Short

“Kings Point”
“Mondays at Racine”
“Open Heart”

Will win: “Mondays at Racine”
Could win: “Open Heart”

I’m thinking heartstrings-tugger “Mondays at Racine,” about two female cancer patients who become unlikely friends, will triumph over “Open Heart.”  The latter seems to similar to “Saving Face,” last year’s winner in the category about reconfiguring women’s faces in Pakistan that have been disfigured by acid.

Best Live Action Short

“Buzkashi Boys”
“Death of a Shadow”

Will win: “Curfew”
Could win: “Death of a Shadow”

I did my research and “Curfew” sounded right, but now I don’t remember what it was about.  I do remember that Matthias Schoenaerts of “Rust and Bone” was in “Death of a Shadow,” though.

6:05 P.M.  Eddie Redmayne arrives!  Why isn’t he nominated for Best Supporting Actor?!

Les Miserables (2)

6:00 P.M.  What was once “Best Makeup” is now “Best Makeup and Hairstyling.”  So that adds a whole new dimension to the category (slightly kidding, slightly serious).

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

Will win: “Les Misérables
Could win: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Should win: “Les Misérables
Should be nominated: “Holy Motors

Anne Hathaway

Consider how much that makeup and hairstyling contributed to Anne Hathaway’s soon-to-be-Oscar winning performance.  I think that’s enough to trump the showier styles of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

5:45 P.M.  Time for my predictions for the costume drama awards.  The movies that win here are usually made solely to win these Oscars.

Best Costume Design

Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
“Mirror Mirror”
“Snow White and the Huntsman”

Will win: “Anna Karenina
Could win: “Les Misérables
Should win
: “Anna Karenina
Should be nominated: “Moonrise Kingdom

I mean, “Anna Karenina” is way too gorgeous to be passed up here.

Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina"

Best Production Design

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi

Will win: “Anna Karenina
Could win: “Life of Pi
Should win
: “Anna Karenina
Should be nominated: “Beasts of the Southern Wild

Some say the digital scenery of “Life of Pi” will triumph over the traditionally Oscar-y sets of “Anna Karenina,” like how “Avatar” won in 2009.  And maybe it will, indicating a HUGE technical sweep for the movie.  But I think given that the scenery and setting of “Anna Karenina” is a major plot device, it will walk away with the award.

4:45 P.M. 84, soon to be 85 years of Oscar, all in one picture. Awesome.

85 years

4:00 P.M. I saw all the Best Picture nominees so you don’t. Here are some of my favorite quotes from my reviews of each nominated film.


At times, it can be fairly difficult to watch … but how hunky-dory do you want movies about death to be? How can you even begin to comprehend the ennui of watching someone slowly lose their grip on life when you are treated to watch from a coolly removed distance?


However, I don’t attribute the success of “Argo” merely to coincidence and fate. The movie works because it was meticulously and intentionally crafted by director Ben Affleck, who continues to make leaps and bounds with each movie he makes.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Have no doubt about it, “Beasts” is a movie that could only by an uncorrupted visionary like Zeitlin. His ambition soars to the sky, and even in the rare occasions where it falls short, we are left in awe of the sheer gutsiness of the decision.

Django Unchained

[R]ather than use the forward momentum to lead to further exploration of his craft, Tarantino chose to take a victory lap fueled by the high of inhaling too much of the exhaust fumes of his own success. ”Django Unchained” just feels like Tarantino on autopilot, lacking the vibrancy or surprising eccentricity of his prior films.

Les Misérables

Even when the novelty of the close-ups wears off, we are still left to ponder just how radical and revolutionary Hooper’s “Les Misérables” is. The musical genre has favored sweeping grandiosity for years in an attempt to replicate the stage experience for cinematic audiences. Hooper, on the other hand, respects the live theatre’s conventions but throws out those that do not translate well to screen.

Life of Pi

The core ideas of “Life of Pi” get diluted, passed over in favor of a little more cinematic grandeur. Don’t get me wrong, Lee’s grand canvas for the movie is exciting and stunning. But I can get that in any movie; few dare to delve into the psyche like he meagerly attempted to do.


Once the process wraps up, it is revealed that Kushner and Spielberg are really more interested in hagiography than biography with “Lincoln.” While it delves deeper than just mere Honest Abe iconography, their film is not one that attempts to tell his story.

Silver Linings Playbook

Russell’s editing facilitates emotional rapport, [and] the two feel like parts of ourselves that we usually try to pretend don’t exist. But on screen and embodied by Cooper and Lawrence, we embrace them and allow them to illuminate the crazy that lives within us all.

Zero Dark Thirty

Through the journalistic proceedings of “Zero Dark Thirty,” Boal cleverly utilizes Maya as an important through-line to keep us drawn in. And Chastain in turns creates a character so scarily resolute that we can’t help but root and cheer for her.

3:45 P.M. Remember when “Zero Dark Thirty” was the frontrunner for Best Picture? Read my piece for “LAMB Devours the Oscars” to see what happened to what was once a prized darling.


3:30 P.M. Animation is a little tougher than normal this year…

Best Animated Feature

“The Pirates: Band of Misfits”
Wreck-It Ralph

Will win: “Wreck-It Ralph
Could win: “Brave
Should win: “Wreck-It Ralph


A few years ago, it would be unimaginable that Pixar could lose this category. They may not cede their turf tonight, to be fair. “Brave” won the Golden Globe and BAFTA, but “Wreck-It Ralph” had better reviews and took the PGA and Annie Award. I admit to picking the movie I think is clearly better and hoping the Academy feels the same way. But they could remind us that this category belongs to the studio of Woody and Buzz.

Best Short Film – Animated

“Adam and Dog”
“Fresh Guacamole”
“Head Over Heels”
“Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare”

Will win: “Paperman”
Could win: “Adam and Dog”
Should win: “Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare”

Disney’s short film “Paperman” should clean up here. It seems like the most substantial nominee, but I could be totally wrong. I saw it before “Wreck-It Ralph” and was very impressed with the way it rehashed silent film charm.

3:15 P.M.Zero Dark Thirty” jokes are fun.



3:00 P.M. Visual effects are fun. Check out some of these awesome videos demonstrating how the nominated films came together on a computer!

Best Visual Effects

The Avengers

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Life of Pi


“Snow White and the Huntsman”

Will win: “Life of Pi
Could win: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Should win: “Life of Pi
Should be nominated: “The Impossible

Best Picture nominees have dominated this category since 2008, so I give the advantage to “Life of Pi.” On the other hand, “The Lord of the Rings” did win this category three times in a row, so a sneak attack is possible.

2:45 P.M. Some more predictions for you … again, I consider these to be pretty much no-brainers.

Best Documentary Feature

“5 Broken Cameras”
“The Gatekeepers”
“How to Survive a Plague”
The Invisible War
“Searching for Sugar Man”

Will win: “Searching for Sugar Man”
Could win: “The Invisible War
Should win: “The Invisible War
Should be nominated: “The Queen of Versailles

Have only seen two of the nominated films, so I can’t speak much from my own aesthetic tastes. But “Searching for Sugar Man” has been totally dominant on the precursors circuit, and I don’t expect its dominance to let up now.

Best Foreign Language Film

“A Royal Affair”
“War Witch”

Will win: “Amour
Could win: “Kon-Tiki”
Should win: “No”
Should be nominated: “Rust and Bone

Are any movies other than “Amour” in this category nominated for Best Picture? Nope, didn’t think so. Some have speculated crowd-pleasing “Kon-Tiki” could pull a “The Lives of Others”-style upset on Michael Haneke’s downer, but I think that’s doubtful at best.

And I base my should win for “No” on the trailer, which is seriously AMAZING! Shameless plug:

2:30 P.M. Honest posters for the Best Picture nominees. So incredibly accurate.

Amour Honest

SLP Honest

Lincoln Honest

2:25 P.M. Subtext?

2:15 P.M. Might as well start some predictions. What better place to start than with the music categories? This year’s ceremony promises to be quite a celebration of music between performances by Adele, Norah Jones, Barbra Streisand, and Shirley Bassey. There’s also the celebration of “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls,” and “Les Misérables.” And the show will close with a number by host Seth MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth. Oy.

Best Score

Anna Karenina,” Dario Marianelli

Argo,” Alexandre Desplat

Life of Pi,” Mychael Danna

Lincoln,” John Williams

Skyfall,” Thomas Newman

Will win: “Life of Pi
Could win: “Argo
Should win: “Anna Karenina
Should be nominated: “The Master,” Jonny Greenwood

Really don’t have any sense of certainty, but “Life of Pi” certainly seems to be headed towards a large below-the-line haul. And it won the Golden Globe. Perhaps if the momentum for “Argo” extends beyond Best Picture, it will lift up Best Score. It would be a much-deserved win for workhorse Alexandre Desplat. Then again, we also should not count out John Williams EVER. But I don’t think that will happen with the lack of “Lincoln” love in the late phase of the season.

Best Song

Before My Time from “Chasing Ice,” music and lyrics by J. Ralph

Suddenly from “Les Misérables,” music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Pi’s Lullaby from “Life of Pi,” music by Mychael Danna, lyrics by Bombay Jayashri

Skyfall from “Skyfall,” music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

Everybody Needs a Best Friend from “Ted,” music by Walter Murphy, lyrics by Seth MacFarlane

Will win: Skyfall from “Skyfall
Could win: Suddenly from “Les Misérables
Should win: Skyfall from “Skyfall
Should be nominated: Who Were We from “Holy Motors

Easiest race of the night to call. It’s “Skyfall” all the way.

2:00 P.M. Kids Oscars. Let’s go!

1:50 P.M. Feel free to comment below and I will respond in the post itself!

1:45 P.M. For reference’s sake, many people will refer to tonight’s proceedings as “The 2013 Academy Awards.” In fact, probably most people will. But I, for whatever reason, choose to refer to the ceremony by the calendar year in which the nominated films were released.

1:40 P.M. Already a quick note to the E! hostesses … stick to fashion, please. Leave punditry to Dave Karger. “Argo” will not win “Best Oscar,” it will win “Best Picture.”

1:30 P.M. Who the heck is already watching Oscars red carpet coverage?! ME, of course! I can’t get enough of this stuff, who cares if no one famous shows up for 5 hours? I’m now on my fourth live Oscars blog, and it has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the night. I love sharing my thoughts with everyone – and also being able to go back and see my thoughts from past ceremonies.

(If curious, check out the live blogs from 2011, 2010, and 2009.)

So who will win Best Picture, Best Director, and other coveted trophies? In a few hours, we will know. But in the meantime, we have this list of nine…

85th Academy Awards Nominations Announcement

The 2012 Oscar Nominations!

10 01 2013

Best Picture

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Best 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”

Best Actor

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

Best Actress

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

Best Supporting Actor

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

Best Supporting Actress

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

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook

Best Original Screenplay

  • Amour
  • Django Unchained
  • Flight
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Big winners

Lincoln“Amour” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  For all those who said 2012 was the year where studio entertainment came roaring back, think again.  The Academy has a different narrative for you.  These two indie darlings, sprung from the festival circuit, scored crucial nominations for their screenplays while also ratcheting a key one-two punch of Best Picture and Best Director.  How much love for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” love was

Christoph Waltz.  Apparently the Academy thought Hans Landa, Part 2 was better than Leonardo DiCaprio’s dastardly villain, so much so that it overcame vote-splitting.  Bravo.

Emma Stone.  No, she’s not a nominee, but she reminded everyone during the nominations announcement that she should be.  And needs to be.  Preferably sooner rather than later.

“Life of Pi.”  It got 11 nominations, second to only “Lincoln” (and by only one nominee).  Though it was a few nominations short of the technical sweep “Hugo” scored last year, I bet “Life of Pi” is headed for a healthy win total.

“Lincoln.”  I knew it would probably take the lead for nominations, and it sure did.  With 12 nominations, it’s now going to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay … meaning I may be turning off the ceremony early.

Seth MacFarlane.  Announcing the nominations, MacFarlane wound up a nominee himself for “Ted.”  That worked out nicely.  Now he’ll be hosting while a nominee … hopefully he turns out better than nominee/host James Franco in 2010.

“Silver Linings Playbook.”  Boy, this was strong.  It scored in all the major categories – Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress (in a shock!), and Adapted Screenplay – and then also took a crucial Best Film Editing nomination.  I think it may now be the only movie that can take down “Lincoln.”

Big surprises

Best Director.  DGA nominees, among many other accolades, Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, and Tom Hooper miss out on Oscar nominations?  Who would have thought Ang Lee and David O. Russell would be the ones who made the category … and Affleck and Bigelow (or Hooper, who was less safe) get pushed out for shocking nominee Benh Zeitlin and surprising (but slightly predictable) Michael Haneke?  The director’s branch may have redefined the race as we know it.  And they’ve also called it for Spielberg, as far as I can see.

Phoenix in, PTA out.  The actors told us they were not all that into Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master” with a SAG snub, but he shows up to knock out (much to my pleasure) John Hawkes in “The Sessions.”  Meanwhile, WGA nominee and thrice-nominated by the writers’ branch Paul Thomas Anderson gets snubbed in favor of … the melodramatic “Flight?!”

Big losers

Argo FYC (2)“Argo.  All that talk of it being a surprise come-from-behind winner all just came to a screeching halt with that Best Director snub.  Still, seven nominations are nothing to shake a finger at.

“Les Misérables.”  Double-digit nominations should have been a no-brainer, I’m sorry.  With no nominations for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, or Best Cinematography, it’s likely now only going to win for Anne Hathaway’s performance.

“Zero Dark Thirty.”  Only 5 nominations?  Now I wonder if it will win anything at all.  Jessica Chastain lost to Jennifer Lawrence this morning, if I had to guess.  “Silver Linings Playbook” will have to win at least one acting prize, and that’s the most likely category.  I think Boal probably won’t be able to beat Tarantino or Haneke.  And yesterday, I thought it was a big contender to take Best Picture.

Marion Cotillard and John Hawkes.  Once again, proving that the hat trick of nominations from BFCA, HFPA, and SAG do not make you safe if your movie doesn’t have much buzz or heat.

Oscar Moment: Final 2012 Predictions, Part 5 (Best Picture)

9 01 2013

ONE DAY MORE to revolution (I mean, Oscar nominations).  Now it’s time to lock in my Best Picture predictions.  It was an extremely tough year to forecast.  So without further ado, here are the films I think will be called out by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone early tomorrow morning.

See my predictions for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.

See my predictions for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

See my predictions for Best Actor and Best Actress.

 See my predictions for Best Director.

Best Picture

  1. Lincoln
  2. Les Misérables
  3. Argo
  4. Zero Dark Thirty
  5. Silver Linings Playbook
  6. Life of Pi
  7. Django Unchained
  8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  9. The Master
  10. Moonrise Kingdom

Silver LiningsThe top five of “Lincoln,” “Les Misérables,” “Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” and “Silver Linings Playbook” are locked in.  There has been pretty consistent and unilateral support for these all season long (although some critics have savaged a certain musical I love).

I’d say given the critical beat-down of “Les Misérables” and the Senatorial inquisition into “Zero Dark Thirty,” Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” has risen back to the top of the pack.  “Argo” has also benefitted from being the least controversial, most agreeable movie in the bunch.  Find me someone that hated “Argo,” and I’ll find you a flying pig.

But who knows how the passion will play out?  Two years ago, I would have laughed in your face if you told me “The Social Network” was going to lose.  There is still time for a “Les Misérables” and “Silver Linings Playbook” surge.  If one takes a lot of Golden Globes and then the SAG Ensemble prize, it could pose a serious threat.

Argo FYC

Then again, there’s also time for “Lincoln” or “Argo” to build a consensus with wins from either the BFCA, HFPA, or SAG.  Wins from PGA and DGA in 2012 may be the biggest shaper of the odds; “Zero Dark Thirty” needs at least one of these guild trophies to prove it’s more than just a critical darling.  Hopefully it all gets split up for a fun year!

But beyond the guaranteed five, we are looking at a highly unpredictable field that could include any number of nominees.  I mean, literally, there could be no more nominees – or there could be five more thanks to the Academy’s new sliding scale.  Some are more likely to score nods than others, but there are a few longshots looking to make a few people gasp on nomination morning.  The system also rewards passion because a film needs 5% of the first-place votes to be nominated.  Hence, it pays off to be loved, not liked.


Despite what I keep sensing as a lack of passion for “Life of Pi,” I think it will ultimately wind up with a Best Picture nomination.  I thought the flame had been extinguished for “War Horse” and “Moneyball” last year, but apparently 5% of the Academy voters thought they were the best movies of 2011.  So if they can do it, so can Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.”  All three movies were feted by BFCA and HFPA, so I’d say it’s a good bet – especially with Lee’s DGA nod.  (It’s also effects and craft heavy, so those smaller but no less important portions of the Academy may buoy it to a nomination.)

Life of Pi

Ditto “Django Unchained,” which I had initially written off for a Best Picture nomination.  Nothing felt right at first.  When it only received Critics Choice nods for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, something felt fishy.  Then when it was totally snubbed at the SAG Awards, I thought it was dead.  (Most shrug this off as due to the fact that it wasn’t widely screened for their nominating committee.)

Yet even when the Golden Globes rescued it with 5 nominations including Best Picture and Best Director, I still didn’t buy into “Django Unchained” striking it big with the Academy.  Every year, the Globes give an absurd amount of nominations to a movie that shows up in only a minor way at the Oscars.  In 2011, it was “The Ides of March.”  (In the past, examples have been “Revolutionary Road” and “American Gangster.”)

But now, with “Django Unchained” being quite the box office hit and the discussion topic of choice at the hypothetical critical water-cooler, I think it’s probably going to be a nominee.  Surely more than 5% of the Academy voted for “Inglourious Basterds” for Best Picture in 2009.  I expect that same contingent to come out and vote #1 for “Django Unchained” since most (but not I) consider it to be superior.


So … where do we go beyond these seven nominees?

Do they go for more bang and blockbuster with “Skyfall?”  Crowd-pleasing comedy with “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?”  Indie comedy with “Moonrise Kingdom?”  Indie drama with “Beasts of the Southern Wild?”  Foreign drama with “Amour?”  Polarizing drama with “The Master?”  I’d say these six films are the most likely to grab any of the three remaining spots in the Best Picture category.

“Skyfall” provides perhaps the most interesting case.  Had you told me a few months ago I’d be writing about it as a Best Picture contender, I wouldn’t have believed it.  Yet here we are, and the film has grossed over $1 billion globally, racking up series-best praise in the process.  The Academy recently announced, too, that they were planning a James Bond tribute at the ceremony.  Might that be indicative of Oscar love to come?

At first, I warmed up to it being nominated for some technical nods.  Then, I started to wonder if Dench and Bardem weren’t real threats for Oscar nominations thanks to notes from BFCA and SAG.

Now with “Skyfall” making the PGA top 10 list, I’m left to wonder whether it wouldn’t be a smart prediction to land a Best Picture nomination.  The PGA did get the ball rolling for “District 9” in 2009, but they gave us false hope on “Star Trek.”  Whichever mold “Skyfall” is cut from is anyone’s guess.  If it makes the cut for Best Picture, it could easily have a whopping ten nominations!  Although if it doesn’t get the big one, it could become one of the most nominated movies ever to not be nominated for Best Picture.

MoonriseThe PGA also showed some love for “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” two summer successes that many thought might have some hidden pockets of support.  But will they choose both, one, or neither?

“Moonrise Kingdom” has been the more visible of the two throughout the season, kicking off the precursor season with a Best Picture win at the Gotham Awards.  It then dominated the Indie Spirits nominations, where it could triumph over “Silver Linings Playbook” the night before the Oscars.  Topped off with a Golden Globe nod for Best Picture (musical/comedy), the case looks good.  But I wonder if there are enough people who think it is the best movie of 2012, not one of the best.

Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” on the other hand, seems to drive more passionate support.  But will it be enough for a Best Picture nomination?  The critics groups did not speak up loudly enough for it (only 2 wins and they were for long-shot Best Supporting Actor candidate Dwight Henry).  It was blanked at the Golden Globes where young Quvenzhané Wallis should have at least gotten a novelty nomination.


Part of the trouble with predicting “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is its ineligibility with the SAG.  We have no idea whether the actors love this movie, and they are one of the most crucial voting blocs.  It’s hard to tell where the support for the movie exists, if it even does.  I’m hoping that the PGA nod is telling of invisible passion for the movie.  “Moonrise Kingdom” is assured a Best Original Screenplay nomination, and I think that may be its limit.

Some have floated “Amour” as a possible nominee based on how well its done with the critics groups.  Indeed, I like the idea of a foreign film making the cut because that’s the kind of movie the expanded field is supposed to allow.  But I don’t think this will be that first movie (of the new Best Picture era, that is) – it’s too austere and cold.

Perhaps it pops up in various other major categories like “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” did last year, but that too faltered because people admire it more than they love it.  And if Haneke can’t win Best Foreign Language Film for the critically praised “The White Ribbon,” I don’t think he’s going to cut it in competition with some real heavyweights.

I’m surprised people think there’s more of a chance for “Amour” to be a Best Picture nominee than “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”  What part of the equation doesn’t SCREAM Oscars?  The old cast of prior Oscar nominees and winners plays right into Academy demographics.  It played extremely well with audiences over the summer and managed to stick around in people’s minds.  It got two Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture (musical/comedy) as well as two SAG nods including the coveted Best Ensemble.  If any movie is poised to pull a shocker like “The Blind Side,” this could be it.

But I’m putting my chips on there being nine films in contention, and that final nominee is “The Master.”  I know it is by no means a smart pick.  Other than the Critics Choice nod for Best Picture, it’s been pretty silent for the season.  It has little guild support.  The critics remain fairly divided.  But I think that this film could galvanize the Academy, and the people that like it will love it and vote #1.  The voters who appreciate it probably know it’s in peril.

So mark it down, I’m going out on a limb for Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” hoping I’ve just predicted this season’s “The Tree of Life.”  If not, it just goes in the pile of other failed Best Picture predictions including “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Town,” “Crazy Heart,” and “Invictus.”  But no guts, no glory, right?

Oscar Moment: Final 2012 Predictions, Part 4 (Directing)

8 01 2013

TWO MORE DAYS!  I’m slowly starting to lose my mind … or at least become so consumed with thinking about the Oscar nominations that I can think of little else.

See my predictions for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.

See my predictions for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

See my predictions for Best Actor and Best Actress.

Best Director

  1. Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln
  2. Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Ben Affleck, “Argo
  4. Tom Hooper, “Les Misérables
  5. David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook

Kathryn Bigelow ZDTIn case you caught on, yes, I did intentionally structure my prediction breakdown so that I would get to publish post-Directors Guild nominations.  If you didn’t catch those this morning, they were Ben Affleck for “Argo,” Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty,” Tom Hooper for “Les Misérables,” Ang Lee for “Life of Pi,” and Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln.”

It’s worth noting, though, that the DGA has perfectly matched the Academy’s nominees only twice since 2000.

Having said that, Spielberg, Affleck, and Bigelow are in.  I don’t think anyone will debate that.  Even as “Zero Dark Thirty” seems to have knocked aback with the fatuous claims of torture endorsement, Bigelow remains firmly in place.  Heck, I think any of these three could win.  Who knows, maybe we could even have … a split year!

Spielberg won Best Director in 1998 for “Saving Private Ryan” even though “Shakespeare in Love” won Best Picture.  Could a similar surprise be in store this year?

Bigelow’s direction has earned her tremendous accolades again.  She’s been the critical choice pick of the year, often times winning even when “Zero Dark Thirty” doesn’t take Best Picture.  Will she take the prize again for her follow-up to “The Hurt Locker” just three years after winning her first Oscar?

Argo Best Director

And if “Argo” surges and looks poised to win Best Picture, Ben Affleck will likely win Best Director.  I don’t think he would benefit from a split.

Beyond the three of them, it gets dicier.  If you assume there are seven “safe” Best Picture nominees, you have four men competing for two spots: Ang Lee for “Life of Pi,” David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook,” Tom Hooper for “Les Misérables,” and Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained.”  That’s an impressive group that contains two winners and two nominees.

Some people seem to think “Les Misérables” is weak because the critics have defined people’s perceptions of the movie’s standing in the race.  This is “The King’s Speech” on steroids.  That movie beat the critical favorite, “The Social Network,” with no trouble at all.  And it didn’t need the critics groups at all; it only took one Best Picture prize.  Colin Firth was keeping the movie in discussion and taking most of the accolades, just as Anne Hathaway is doing now.

Hooper beat out David Fincher, who almost undeniably did more impressive work in “The Social Network,” in a year that perhaps more than ever screamed for a Picture-Director split.  If he can win for “The King’s Speech,” I don’t see how he doesn’t get nominated for “Les Misérables.”

Life of PiWhile many would say Ang Lee was just below the “big three,” I would say Hooper is far more secure.  I think the movie will play well with Academy voters, and I still think it could win Best Picture.  It will likely win three, if not four Golden Globes.  It could also win the ensemble award at SAG.  And if “Les Misérables” made them feel anywhere near as much as “The King’s Speech,” they know who pulled the strings of their tear ducts.  A nomination feels pretty secure to me.

“Life of Pi” support is fading.  Though I still think it will power through and get a Best Picture nomination, Fox seems to have dropped the ball on keeping the momentum going.  Lee did get nominations from HFPA and BFCA, albeit in a field of six for the latter.  And the DGA nod certainly helps.

But for all this talk of Lee getting a nomination for “Life of Pi” simply because it is incredibly ambitious or challenging do little to persuade me.  I know this is a totally different case, but that didn’t help Christopher Nolan for “Inception” in a tight year (the directing branch of the Academy loathes Nolan but likes Lee for some bizarre reason).  While he’s now in my good graces because of “Les Misérables,” artistic merit often takes a backseat to feel-good stories as shown by Hooper’s triumph in 2010 over Fincher and Aronofsky.

I can’t help but wonder if Lee will get the cold shoulder like David Fincher did last year for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  That film was getting love from the guilds left and right but was largely shunned by the Academy, including high-profile snubs in Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay.  Is “Life of Pi” that technical marvel that guilds will admire but Academy members won’t quite appreciate as much?

LincolnHowever, the Academy directing branch, comprised of only about 300-400 members, is notoriously snooty, arty, high-minded, or whatever adjective you want to use.  So maybe that will benefit Ang Lee.  But often times, it’s a boon to someone they respect but has received little recognition leading up to the nominations   With their out of the blue selections, they often provide some of the biggest surprises on nomination morning.

The ultimate case was in 2001 when they nominated David Lynch for “Mulholland Drive,” a movie that received no other nominations.  But more recent and reasonable examples are Terrence Malick for “The Tree of Life,” Paul Greengrass for “United 93,” and Mike Leigh for “Vera Drake.”  I think the most likely person to snab this kind of nomination would be Paul Thomas Anderson for “The Master.”  As much as I’d love to see that happen, I doubt it will.

They also like to nominate directors with vision working in foreign languages.  In the past decade, we’ve seen Best Director nominees Julian Schnabel for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Fernando Meirelles for “City of God,” and Pedro Almodóvar for “Talk to Her.”  For that reason, we can’t count out Michael Haneke popping up for “Amour.”  It’s certainly had the critical plaudits to be a non-shocking surprise.

David O

Maybe they really respect and admire the vision of Tarantino in “Django Unchained.”  They’ve been fans twice before, providing him nominations for 1994’s “Pulp Fiction” and 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds.”  Both of those, however, were preceded by DGA nominations.  The Weinstein Company has been floating the excuse that his passing over is due to DVD screeners not going out to DGA members.

But I think it’s telling that the Academy will stay away.  His only major nomination so far has been from the Golden Globes, and it’s clear they were high on “Django Unchained.”  I think it has proven to be much more of an audience success than a critical or guild one, though it has supporters amongst those groups.  The “Inglourious Basterds” nod was looking good from the beginning; this time around has not been so fortuitous for Tarantino.

I don’t feel that PTA or Haneke are nearly as revered as Malick and thus have the power to displace a sure-fire Best Picture nominee.  With all my reservations about Tarantino and Lee, I’m left to predict David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook.”  Though overlooked by the DGA and the HFPA, he was a Critics Choice nominee and (perhaps more importantly) a nominee for Best Director for “The Fighter” in 2010.

Academy voters are creatures of habit.  If something works for them once, it often works again.  Why do you think so-called “Oscar bait” was born?  Once the studios figured out their tastes, they play right into their wheelhouse time after time.  “Silver Linings Playbook” is very similar to “The Fighter” in terms of tone and emotional payoff.  The only real difference this year is that he has directed a comedy as opposed to a drama.  (Although there is little funnier than Charlene beating up Micky’s white-trash sisters.)

So it looks like I’ll be predicting a more conservative, sure-fire Best Picture nominees slate here.  I know it’s at odds with the whole notion that the season is one of the most unpredictable ever.  But I’ve watched for the signs (to quote “Silver Linings Playbook”) and don’t get the sense that anything radically wacky is going to happen in Best Director.