It’s that time of year again. The time of the year where, for three hours, we have the privilege of watching forced, self-referential comedy,reporters chattering about goofy dresses ,and lots of long montages of famous, culturally significant movies that probably only won technical awards. All this so we can find out which was the best film of the year that was released over the last two months. So who will win?
Will Win: Argo
It’s a tough pick between Argo and Lincoln. Both were critically acclaimed, both are strong movies. Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty are both a little too inflammatory (one due to its violence and brutality, the other to its depiction and possible condoning of torture). Amour is, well, foreign, and foreign language films never win Best Picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild is the movie no one has heard of, which seems to put a damper on its chances. Les Miserables was the least critically-acclaimed of all the Best Picture nominees. Life of Pi has a chance, but I honestly believe it’s down to Argo and Lincoln, with Argo having a slight edge, if only because the Academy has yet to recognize Ben Affleck’s filmmaking abilities, and the pressure is on.
Should win: Life of Pi
These are all (or at least mostly) great movies, but if I’m going with my gut, I’d have to say Life of Pi moved me the most. It was well-shot, never dull (something that can’t be said of Lincoln, which dragged at the beginning), and the most movie-like experience, combining story with spectacle. Argo and especially Lincoln were both a little dark and hazy. But if one of them wins, you won’t see me shedding any tears.
Second Choice: Lincoln
Perks of Being a Wallflower would actually be my ideal second choice. It was one of the best-written films of the year, and full of emotion that felt raw and real. But of the remaining nominees, I’d pick Lincoln, partly because Tommy Lee Jones’ performance was so strong (Daniel Day Lewis was excellent, too). Lincoln mixed human drama successfully with politics, whereas Argo, though alternately funny and suspenseful, didn’t fully develop its characters.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones
Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones has the best odds, according to Time Magazine’s panel of “experts.” I haven’t seen The Master, so it’s hard to judge Philip Seymour Hoffman, but of the remaining four, Tommy Lee Jones had the strongest role and the best performance.
Second Choice: Robert de Niro
DeNiro’s performance (and the character he was playing) was more complex and nuanced than both Alan Arkin’s and Christoph Waltz’s. Both these actors did a great job at being comedic, but deNiro was bot comedic and heart-wrenching, so he deserves the gold.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis (?)
He’s a method actor, there have been hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles written about his performance, and he’s playing one of the most revered American figures of all time. Day-Lewis has a lock on this one. As to who should win, I can’t judge, since I haven’t seen The Master or Flight. Bradley Cooper was excellent, Jackman was a good actor but hampered by his inability to sing, and Day-Lewis himself was up there with Cooper. The way he managed to transform his voice, his body language, his very being into Lincoln was downright eerie. So maybe he deserves to win this after all.
Will Win: Jessica Chastain
Should Win: No idea
I haven’t seen Naomi Watts, Emmanuelle Riva, or Quvenzahne Walis, so really, I’m just shooting in the dark here.
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Skyfall
At times Life of Pi tried a little to hard, especially with its flying fish scene and the scene in which our protagonist, Pi, pokes a stick at the face of a snarling tiger. These scenes were obviously shot to take advantage of the old 3D trick of having things pop out at you. Taken at face value, they’re a little over-bearing and the composition is a little poor. Skyfall boasted near-perfect cinematography, whatever its other faults.
Will Win: Argo
Argo has an advantage, in that it it managed to blend real footage of events at the embassy in Iran with new footage. While I actually didn’t think this strengthened the movie in any way, since it resulted in the aspect ratio switching back and forth (this is what passes for “seamless” blending nowadays?) all the critics seemed to be raving about it.
Should Win: Argo?
I’m not a film editing expert. I don’t know how one goes about judging film editing without seeing what was cut out of a film. But Argo was well-paced, and full of suspense. Lincoln had a little bloat, Zero Dark Thirty had a lot of bloat, too many quick cuts, and too much shaky cam, I can´t say I really paid attention to the film editing of The Silver Linings Playbook so who can say, and as for Life of Pi—well, it’s a toss-up between it and Argo, I suppose.
Will Win: Skyfall
Should Win: Skyfall
Everyone knows this will happen. Suddenly ,from Les Mis? Not a chance. Pi’s Lullaby? I watched the whole movie (Life of Pi) and I can honestly say I don’t even remember that song. Before my Time? It’s not a song anyone will remember even two months from now. Ditto for Everybody Means a Best Friend. It’s Skyfall all the way.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Argo
Again, a difficult choice between Argo and Lincoln. I think Argo the more likely of the two, if only because it’s one of the few major categories Argo is up for, and the Academy might want to throw it a bone if it loses Best Picture. If it wins, well, it would be odd if it hadn’t won any other major awards to go along with its Best Picture Oscar. Either way, the odds seem to slightly favor Argo.
Should Win: Argo
I guess Lincoln’s script, while intensely dramatic, was a little bloated at times. Argo’s dry, tongue-in-cheek humor made it stand out, so of the two big films, it probably deserves the award. Of the other contenders, The Silver Linings Playbook is the best–but maybe just a little too hectic at times. Life of Pi’s main strength was not really its script, and Beasts of the Southern Wild is probably too obscure to win a big race at the Oscars.
Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
If only because it’s the only actually good movie on the list. Ok, maybe that’s a little harsh. I haven’t seen The Hobbit (though what I did see looked like a terrible scroller video-game and NOT the best Visual Effects of the year.) Prometheus was just terrible. The Avengers was entertaining, but I’d be stretching if I called a movie that never explains exactly what its central plot point (a Tesseract) is. Plus I never really bought the Hulk in Avengers—it just looks a little fake. Life of Pi managed to make CGI animals look realistic, which is darn near impossible to do (just compare it to Narnia or The Golden Compass, which won Oscars in this category a few years back). If Narnia won for its lion, and The Golden Compass for its (fake-looking) polar bear, Life of Pi definitely deserves to win for its tiger. And it will; the Oscars seem to gravitate towards CGI animal effects when handing out this award.
Let me know your own Oscar picks (what will win and should win) in the comments.