Outtakes: Oscar Thoughts


By Hope and George


The Oscar nominations this morning celebrated some excellent, often overlooked films and performances from 2012. We are thrilled that The Master received three performance nods – Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and the often unappreciated turn from Joaquin Phoenix. Hooray. Great, also, to see wee Quvenzhane Walls in the best actress category for her powerhouse performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

A few others were more predictable but nonetheless merited: Anne Hathaway (this year’s surest lock) for her turn in Les Miserables, Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln (second surest best).

Not all was well, however. Where is the love for Moonrise Kingdom? One measely nomination (best original screenplay)? Nothing for visionary director Wes Anderson, and no best picture nod. They only nominated 9 for best picture – it’s not like they would have bumped anybody to include this miraculous little film.

And while best actor was no doubt the most competitive race this year, it’s unbelievable that John Hawkes got no love for his beautiful performance in The Session.

Still, the most aggregious oversight was in leaving Ben Affleck out of the conversation for best director. Argo – an excellent film with several nominations, including best picture and best supporting actor (Alan Arkin) – was truly a feat in direction. With scores of speaking roles, a story that weaved from Capital Hill tension to Hollywood comedy to international intrigue, and a pace that kept you breathless, Argo announced Affleck as a director of vision and skill. Not that Oscar noticed.

Surely Ben could have bumped Ang Lee from the list. Or maybe that spot should have gone to Kathryn Bigelow, who found power through restraint in her riveting film Zero Dark Thirty.

And where is Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)? Surprise nominees Michael Haneke (Amour) and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) knocked some liklier candidates out of contention. But, to be fair, Haneke is a genius and every film he’s made deserves multiple viewings, and newcomer Zeitlin crafted perhaps the most wildly original film of  2012, so no grudges held.

Other random thoughts:

Really surprised that The Imposter didn’t make it in as a documentary nominee, but very glad that How to Survive a Plague is there and here’s hoping it wins.

The Original Song category should be interesting. Though the new Les Mis song “Suddenly” is a worthy addition to a movie getting tons of award season love, Adele’s “Skyfall” has a brilliant retro-Bond sound that made it a classic from the very first listen.

Speaking of Skyfall, it should give Life of Pi a little competition in the Best Cinematography category. While the look of Pi was simply incredible (and really, the best reason to see the film), the use of color and shadow in Skyfall was more subtle, but very impressive as well.

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