2012 Oscars. It’s 2013 and Oscar is 85 years old!   

Middle of winter and again, unusually mild for most of the U.S. The Academy of Arts and Science’s “Oscar” is 85 years old and one of the Oscar nominees, Emmanuelle Riva for Amour, is also 85 years old. Imagine, living your life knowing what Oscar represents and then being nominated for your film role. Also this year, is the youngest nominee, Quvenzhane Wallis for her work in Beasts of the Southern Wild. In between, there are an assortment of films for nominations this year, and some major absences. As usual, Oscar is sporadic. Academy Awards will be on Sunday, February 24, 2013. The following are my Oscar Picks for its 85th year.
Best Picture is again in Ten Categories and that means ten directors. Going in alphabetical order, there is the foreign language film Amour about love and caring for someone when they are old. Unfortunately, the film has yet to play in large areas of the U.S. Argo details a rescue of Americans from Iran during a hostage crisis. This was nail-biting, especially since it involved a Hollywood scam. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a story of poverty in the Delta as seen by a child. My opinion is that this is the weakest of the films in this category and I thought the storyline was vague. Django Unchained” is a Quentin Tarantino movie about slavery in a graphic sense and is one of two movies, Zero Dark Thirty being the other, to be in controversy about slavery or torture. Les Miserables is a film adaptation of a musical. The actors did their own singing, which is always a plus, and the audience knows the music. A French revolution is here in full color. Life of Pi was confusing in the book and also on the screen, though 3D enhanced the sea and an ambiguous island. Lincoln takes you back to the Civil War era and the months before President Lincoln‘s assassination. It is a film unto itself about backroom politics. Silver Linings Playbook has two current major stars (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence), but I found the film to frequently rely on running as exercise which unneccessarily takes up screen time. Zero Dark Thirty takes the audience into the ten-year hunt for Osama Ben Laden as seen through a woman agent (Jessica Chastain). “You will be caught” has new meaning here.
Prediction: I believe Lincoln will take the Oscar in this category. Overlooked are Dark Knight Rises which set the bar for comic book heroes, Sessions and Anna Karenina.
Best Director is a lively category this year.  Best Picture has ten films nominated, but Best Director only has five. We have Michael Haneke for Amour that is in limited release. Ang Lee for using  innovative 3 D in Life of Pi. David O. Russell (he also adapted the screenplay) for Silver Linings Playbook in which the one memorable moment was Jennifer Lawrence reciting sports statistics. Benn Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild that, along with Life of Pi and The Impossible (not nominated) used water as part of the plot. Last, there is Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. I won't say this is a shoo-in, but Spielberg is very close to an Oscar.  This is what is now interesting--who was missed in the Oscar nominations.  How about Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Ben Affleck for Argo, Tom Hooper for Les Miserables, Ben Lewin for Sessions,  Christopher Nolan for Dark Knight Rises or Joe Wright for Anna Karenina? Did those movies direct themselves?
Prediction: My choice is Spielberg.
Best Actor has Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln.  Need I go further?  This looks like a shoo-in, as Day-Lewis literally melts into the 16th President of the U. S. The rest of the nominated actors are Denzel Washington for Flight, as an airline pilot with a problem both in the air and on the ground. Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, in which Phoenix does a man with little impulse control who is somewhat controlled by a man (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) with a mission. Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables and since Jackman has done Broadway musicals, the part is a good fit for him. Bradley Cooper is the weak link here in Silver Linings Playbook as a man recovering from an addiction (reminiscent of Phoenix in The Master) and meets a woman with a problem, too. Not nominated are John Hawkes for Sessions as a paralyzed man seeking a certain kind of help, Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock and Richard Gere in Arbitrage.
Prediction: My choice is Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln.
Best Actress There is no stand-out performance this year in this category. The age range is from the seven year old, Quvenzhane Wallis (she was seven when the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild was made) to 85 years old for Emmanuelle Riva in Amour about growing old as gracefully as possible. Wallis is the youngest female to be nominated for Lead Actress, but her role only required looking sad and reciting dialogue. Riva portrayed someone sliding into dementia. Also in the run are Jessica Chastain (when does this lady sleep? She is always doing a film. for Zero Dark Thirty as the agent who is ten years on the hunt for Ben Laden. Naomi Watts for The Impossible, that just required holding on to something as water came toward her and Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook which had her shout her lines. Missed in Oscar nominations were Kiera Knightley for Anna Karenina, Helen Mirren as Alfred’s wife in Hitchcock as a woman who really worked behind the scenes. 
Prediction: My choice is Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.
Best Supporting Actor is a mixture of favorite stars. There is Tommy Lee Jones with the unruly wig as part of the group to pass the 13th Amendment in  Lincoln. Christoph Waltz is the smooth talking man of Django Unchained. Alan Arkin (and where is his Argo partner, John Goodman?) as the profanity-laden film producer in Argo, Phillip Seymour Hoffman does The Master as a man who likes people around him, but his rhetoric is confusing. Robert De Niro, in Silver Linings Playbook, acted as though he were on a stage and not a film set. Oscar forgot John Goodman, also for Argo, and Matthew Macfayden and Jude Law for Anna Karenina. Macfayden as a family friend who tries to keep friends together and Jude Law as Karenin who deals with disgrace.
Prediction: My favorite is Alan Arkin for Argo, but Phillip Seymour Hoffman may get it for The Master.
Best Supporting Actress has a variety of women in great roles. There is Helen Hunt as the sex therapist in Sessions, although her co-star, John Hawkes, was not nominated. Sally Field does a detailed (watch her hands) Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln. Jacki Weaver as the mother in Silver Linings Playbook has little to do in the movie and her nomination was a surprise.  Amy Adams as Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s wife in The Master has little to do, also, but smile at the camera and fiercely support her husband. Who did Oscar miss in this category?  How about Maggie Smith in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, or Alicia Vikander in Anna Karenina or A Royal Affair.
Prediction: Anne Hathaway, as the sad heroine in Les Miserables has a good voice and sings as she is moving, and she is my choice for Best Supporting Actress, though Sally Field will come in a close second.
Best Animated Feature Film had many films to choose from this year, all with stellar animation. My favorite right away is Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie (mostly in black and white) about the friendship between a boy and his dog and what happens when the dog is accidentally killed. The Pirates! Band of Misfits was off-putting to some people as it didn't seem to propel itself fast enough. Wreck-It Ralph is definitely for the gaming set and if you aren't up on your arcade, you may be lost. Paranorman is about a young man who sees ghosts. Brave, with a red-haired heroine, is set back in Medieval times with a story about girl power.
Prediction: As I stated before, my favorite and I think the winner, will be Frankenweenie.
Best Foreign Language Film selections, besides Best Documentary usually miss the Midwest. This year, we received several very good foreign language films, only one of which is in the Oscar nomination list.  That is A Royal Affair with Alice Vikander from Anna Karenina and this story is about being married to a mad king of Denmark. Two films Oscar missed from his nominated list of Amour, Kon-Tiki, No, and War Witch.  One was The Intouchables about a paralyzed man and his friendship with a caretaker and Farewell My Queen with Diane Krueger as Marie Antoinette.
Prediction: I think I would choose A Royal Affair, anyway.
Best Original Screenplay begins with Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson (who also directed) and Roman Coppola doing a story on young love. Django Unchained by Quentin Tarentino takes us into slavery and the hunt for justice. Amour by Michael Haneke is about elderly love at the end of life. Flight by John Gatina had Denzel Washington as a pilot with a problem. Zero Dark Thirty by Mark Boal has us go deep into the hunt for Osama Ben Laden. Missed by Oscar was Arbitrage by Nicholas Jarecki (who also directed) with Richard Gere as a dubious businessman.
Prediction: My choice is Zero Dark Thirty.
Best Adapted Screenplay has to come from previous published work. Tony Kushner took Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book on Lincoln and weave a masterful screenplay. Chris Terrio took a magazine article and made it into a screenplay with Argo and the Middle East. Life of Pi adapted by David Magee, comes from a novel. Silver Linings Playbook by David O. Russell takes us into the world of addiction recovery. Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin adapted Beasts from the Southern Wild from a book about poverty in the Delta, but had a storyline not easy to follow. Lost in the Oscar shuffle were  Tom Stoppard for Anna Karenina, Ben Lewin (he also directed) for Sessions and Al Parker for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Prediction: My choice is Lincoln though Argo could be a close second. 
Best Documentary, and documentaries are always hesitant to be shown in the Midwest, actually had one film from the nominated list to be shown in my area---Searching for Sugar Man on the hunt for a musician of years past. What films did come, such as Head Games about sports head injuries, Bully about school bullies and The Imposter about a man claiming to be a lost relative, were certainly worthy of note and overlooked by Oscar.
The end of my Oscar nominations review list is Original Score, and of course, the name John Williams is there.  His background music for Lincoln is top-notch. Alexandre Desplat has action music for Argo, ratcheting the tension of escape. Mychael Danna for Life of Pi seems out of place here as I saw nothing outstanding about the score. Dario Marianelli’s music score for Anna Karenina combined  aristocracy with a common-man theme. Thomas Newman got the job for the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. Even with eyes closed, you will know who is on the screen. Missed by Oscar this year is Dark Knight Rises by Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman’s music for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Prediction: My favorite is Anna Karenina but I believe John Williams will get the Oscar for Lincoln.
Enjoy the movies which are always entertaining. For the first time ever, I am asking my readers to be safe in 2013 and always---be aware of what is around you.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner

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