So here it is, my predictions for the 2013 Academy Awards. Since I had limited time to do this I'm only going to talk about the 9 movies nominated for Best Picture. They're listed here in order of my favorite (not what I think will actually win) at the top to least favorite at the bottom with why I want them to win and what awards I think they might actually win. At the very end I'll put a summary of what I think will actually win for each category I have an opinion about. So, without further ado, here you are.
Number One: Silver Linings Playbook
Directed by David O. Russell
My original review (original score 5&4)
That's right folks. My favorite to win Best Picture is a romantic comedy. There was just so much to like about this movie and so little to dislike (if you read my review of it my biggest gripe is that it had a happy ending which, come to think of it, might be justified). Most romantic comedies are fairly unwatchable for me because of what I call in my review of the film 27 Dresses Syndrome, and I couldn't be more thankful that Silver Linings reversed that trend. Beyond that the acting was phenomenal and all the characters were so unique and, well, actual characters instead of tired stereotypes. Sure the plot progression is nothing new. It pretty much runs exactly like you'd expect a rom-com to. But the details were so impressive I have to give my top spot to this gem of a film. To future romantic comedies: please watch this first. You're doing something wrong and Silver Linings Playbook has the answer.
This is a real problem for me because there's so much oscar-bait this year that I don't know if Silver Linings will actually win anything despite being the first movie to be nominated in all four acting categories since 1981. Bradley Cooper has to compete with Daniel Day-Lewis and Hugh Jackman. Jennifer Lawrence has to compete with Jessica Chastain and Quvenzhane Wallis. Robert De Niro has to compete with Christoph Waltz, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones. Jacki Weaver has to compete with Sally Field and Anne Hathaway. Directing and Writing are possibilities but the competition there is fierce too. The only thing left is Editing which should probably go to Life of Pi or Argo. So there you go, in order to illustrate my feeling of hopelessness for Silver Linings to actually win any awards I've spoiled my predictions for most of the major categories. I hope you're happy.
Number Two: Les Miserables
Directed by Tom Hooper
My original review (original score 5&5)
This is where these predictions fully reveal my subjective leanings. I absolutely loved Les Miserables the book, so any plot- or tension-related gaps I sort of filled in on my own. But these are my favorites after all and not yours, so there. The acting was great (Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway especially) and from what I could tell so was the singing (I'm no music critic). Despite an apparent love for the crooked angle shot the camera work was phenomenal especially considering the fact that the songs were recorded live. The depiction of revolutionary France (my favorite being the walls of junk) was great even if it wasn't historically accurate. The biggest filmic problems were simply due to trying to make a movie out of a 1000+ page long book. We're not quite sure why Marius is so infatuated with Cosette (to be honest this is a bit of a problem in the book anyway). Perhaps the best reason to see the movie, however, is also a reason to read the book: its depiction of how forgiveness is more traumatic than revenge.
Hugh Jackman has a chance at winning best actor I guess, but honestly I see Daniel Day-Lewis winning that award. Anne Hathaway definitely has a chance for Supporting Actress (she touched so many hearts that she might have even touched those of the Academy). Costume Design also seems a realistic possibility with the biggest competition being Lincoln. Makeup and Hairstyling should probably go to The Hobbit. Les Miserables better win Music - Original Song or I don't know what's wrong with the world ("Skyfall" was pretty great too though). That leaves Production Design and Sound Mixing, both of which I honestly don't know enough about to guess.
Number Three: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Directed by Benh Zeitlin
My original review (original score 5&4)
And Number Four: Django Unchained
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
My original review (original score 5&4)
This was a really hard decision for me between Beasts of the Southern Wild and Django Unchained. They're both beautiful, they're both fairly original (Beasts is an adapted screenplay but that makes it nonetheless visionary in its cinematography), in short they're both great movies. There were a couple of things it came down to for me. First of all, Beasts is director Benh Zeitlin's feature debut, and with that in mind it's stunning how well he did. Django, on the other hand, is overshadowed by Quentin Tarantino's other amazing pictures. Perhaps more to the point, Django seems slightly confused about whose story it wants to tell. Christoph Waltz is a much more enjoyable character than Jamie Foxx. That said, Tarantino's style is very much to my liking and I will probably watch Django again before I see Beasts for the second time (even if only because I just watched Beasts today).
Realistic awards include Actress in a Leading Role for Quvenzhane Wallis, Actor in a Supporting Role for Christoph Waltz, and Writing for both movies. I also wouldn't be sad to see Django win Cinematography, but it has some heavy hitters to compete with. Directing would be a wonderful achievement for newcomer Benh Zeitlin, but again lots of heavy hitters.
Number Five: Argo
Directed by Ben Affleck
My original review (original score 5&2)
Plagued with the problem of making the victims into villains, Argo was nevertheless an incredibly enjoyable picture. The metatheater, 70s style, and phenomenal crosscutting really pulled me in. If it were up to me I wouldn't give Argo Best Picture but I would definitely give it Cinematography or Editing.
I think Argo has a solid chance to win either Editing or Writing (it wasn't nominated for Cinematography), but a slim chance everywhere else (Alan Arkin for Supporting Actor? Really?).
Number Six: Life of Pi
Directed by Ang Lee
My original review (original score 4&3)
An absolutely beautiful film. My biggest problem with it was that it seemed to be trying to pull too much from the book (the first 30 minutes were lackluster and seemingly pointless). For whatever reason, its thematic development was significantly lacking in certain areas. My recommendation: fast-forward through the first act.
Life of Pi has almost a 100% chance of walking away from the Oscars with something since it was nominated in 11 categories. The most prestigious awards it has a chance of winning are Cinematography, Writing, and maybe Editing. (I don't see it winning Directing against Steven Spielberg and Michael Haneke.) Visual Effects seems an obvious choice but I would really love it if Prometheus took that category since it was one of my favorite movies of the year.
Number Seven: Lincoln
Directed by Steven Spielberg
My original review (original score 5&1)
An incredibly well acted and well put together movie. My dislike for Lincoln comes primarily from my dislike of Steven Spielberg and secondarily from the underlying racism in his depiction of time period. This is basically a remake of Schindler's List replacing Jews with slaves. People accuse Beasts of the Southern Wild of being a "movie to be proud of"; how did more critics miss the fact that Lincoln is doing that to a much more painful degree?
Pretty much everything. I mean, this movie was nominated in almost every category it could have been nominated for (i.e. it's not an animated short so it obviously wasn't nominated there). Daniel Day-Lewis is I think the strongest contender for Best Actor. Yeah.
Number Eight: Zero Dark Thirty
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
My original review (original score 4&2)
For me, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln are almost the same movie. They're both expertly acted and generally well made but with glaring ideological issues. In this case the ideological issue at hand was an unquestioned love for and fascination with everything military (also the case with Bigelow's Hurt Locker).
Jessica Chastain is definitely in the running for Leading Actress (and honestly she's competing with a 10 year old kid). Not sure about the other categories.
Number Nine: Amour
Directed by Michael Haneke
My original review (original score 3&3)
An interesting nomination for Best Picture not because it's a bad movie but because it's just plain hard to watch. Honestly feels like a shoe-in since most Hollywood pictures are mindless popcorn flicks and the Academy wants to look like they're intelligent and sophisticated. Not Haneke's best and definitely not best of the year but a heart-wrenching and (I hate using this word in this way but here goes:) honest voyage through the pains of love.
Foreign Language Film. I mean, it's the only foreign language film nominated for Best Picture. If Amour doesn't win this category then something is wrong. I mean, obviously something is wrong with the Oscars, but that would just be odd. The same people vote for the nominations that vote for who actually wins right?
Best Picture: (1) Lincoln, (2) Zero Dark Thirty, (3) Les Miserables
Leading Actor: (1) Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), (2) Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Leading Actress: (1) Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), (2) Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Supporting Actor: (1) Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), (2) Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Supporting Actress: (1) Sally Field (Lincoln), (2) Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Animated Feature Film:* (1) ParaNorman, (2) Wreck-It Ralph
Cinematography: (1) Life of Pi, (2) Django Unchained
Costume Design: (1) Lincoln, (2) Les Miserables
Directing: (1) Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), (2) Michael Haneke (Amour)
Film Editing: (1) Life of Pi, (2) Argo
Foreign Language Film: Amour
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Hobbit
Music - Original Score: (1) Skyfall, (2) Argo
Music - Original Song: (1) "Suddenly" (Les Miserables), (2) "Skyfall" (Skyfall)
Sound Editing: (1) Argo, (2) Django Unchained
Sound Mixing: (1) Argo, (2) Skyfall
Visual Effects: (1) Life of Pi, (2) Prometheus
Writing - Adapted Screenplay: (1) Life of Pi, (2) Beasts of the Southern Wild
Writing - Original Screenplay: (1) Moonrise Kingdom, (2) Django Unchained
*Unfortunately I didn't watch any of the animated features this year, so these predictions are based on what my coworker told me he thought would win (he actually watched them all and is a credible source when it comes to animated films). I also didn't watch the documentary features, documentary shorts, live action shorts, or animated shorts (I did actually watch Paperman which I thought was phenomenal), and I have no idea what is involved in production design so those categories are excluded from my predictions