24 February 2013

My Picks for the 2013 Academy Awards

The films in the running for this year's Oscars have covered topics as varied as mental illness, the abolition of slavery, degenerative illness and, er, the abolition of slavery. Oh, and a CGI tiger called Richard Parker. Facetiousness aside, in my 2012 movie round-up, I noted that last year hadn't felt like a very strong year for the cinema. There were lots of good movies, but not that many great ones. This may have been partly because most of the big Best Picture candidates hadn't been released in the UK yet, although I have now seen all but one (Beasts of the Southern Wilds).

Ben Affleck, John Goodman and Bryan Cranston at the Argo UK premiere

Argo is easily my favourite film of the crop, with Django Unchained coming second on the enjoyment stakes. As I mentioned in my review, Zero Dark Thirty isn't the kind of film that you enjoy, but I did think it was a good film, and it gets joint third, along with another difficult-to-watch film, Amour (review to follow).

The Best Actor award is almost certainly going to go to Daniel Day-Lewis, but although I would give him A for effort, I wasn't that engaged by his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. If for some reason the Academy does snub Day-Lewis, the award will probably go to Hugh Jackman's Valjean, not my pick of the nominees, Denzel Washington. Of the Best Supporting Actor nominees, I had a hard time choosing between Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz, who were both excellent. The former helped to keep me awake in the overly long and dry Lincoln, whereas the latter stole the show from a very strong cast in Django Unchained. Best Actress is going to be a tough award this year; the four I have seen in action were all excellent. I think Emmanuelle Riva in Amour should win, although I suspect it could go to Jennifer Lawrence.

The Best Director category caused me to stumble most; it would have been a lot easier to call if Ben Affleck had got the nomination he deserved. I've seen all of the nominated films apart from Beasts of the Southern Wild. I enjoyed The Life of Pi the most, but I'm not sure that makes it worthy of Best Director. I didn't really like what Spielberg did with Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook. This leaves Amour, which I wasn't sure I would like. Michael Haneke's films often leave me feeling irritated. Actually, though, I thought Amour was great. Hard-going, of course, but a really well-made movie.

Best Picture: Argo [seen 8/9]
Best Director: Michael Haneke, Amour [seen 4/5]
Best Actor: Denzel Washington, Flight [seen 5/5]
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained [seen 5/5]
Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour [seen 4/5]
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables [seen 4/5]
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo [seen 4/5]
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained [seen 5/5]

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