The 2013 Academy Awards
This Sunday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold the 85th Academy Awards and DVDTalk's review panel is looking forward to the event as always. Once again this year a group of our critics have voted on which pictures and actors they think are most deserving of Hollywood's highest honor, and here are the results.
Best Motion Picture:
The Nominations: "Amour," "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty."
William Harrison's Vote: Django Unchained- This is the first year in a while that the majority of the films nominated in this category will have strong replay value after the ceremony (Watched your copy of The Artist lately). Life of Pi is a beautiful, immersive spectacle, and Argo is very entertaining. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln was worth the wait, and Silver Linings Playbook is excellent drama. My two favorites in this category are Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty. Kathryn Bigelow's film about the manhunt for Osama bin Laden is a sprawling, tightly wound procedural thriller, and it manages to avoid jingoism altogether. Zero Dark Thirty is a tremendous achievement and I was going to make it my pick until I recalled something I told a friend after seeing Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino's latest reminded me why I love movies. For 165 minutes the outside world didn't exist and I was completely wrapped up in Tarantino's violent, darkly humorous film. That's enough to make it my dark horse pick for Best Picture.
Nick Hartel's Vote: Django Unchained. Tarantino's ode to the spaghetti western has stirred up much controversy, but the end result is a technically amazing, powerful tale of revenge, full of performances that all deserve equal acclaim.
Neil Lumbard's Vote: Silver Linings Playbook. There's something intimate about Silver Linings Playbook that makes it stand out from everything else nominated for Best Picture this year. It feels hugely personal and poetic and that's something you rarely see these days (especially with studio released films). I was enthralled by the world created by this film… and why not It paints a very humanistic and normal portray of people with all of the ups and downs sometimes faced. It's authentic and well-crafted art with a glowing heart. Silver Linings Playbook sort of reminds me of Woody Allen's Annie Hall in that it does something with its storytelling and characters that audiences don't expect: It's all done for the audience's benefit. This is brilliant movie-making.
Jeff Nelson's Vote: Zero Dark Thirty. Not only is Zero Dark Thirty the best film of 2012, but it will be remembered in the years to come. For a motion picture to win the statue for Best Picture, it must be able to master nearly every category that the Academy has to offer. This is that film.
Jamie S. Rich's Vote: Argo. It's criminal that Les Miserables was nominated for the best anything, particularly when at the exclusion of The Master, last year's real best picture. But since I can't vote for that, I'd throw my support to Argo, which I think represents the best all-around filmmaking. Good story, good acting, and a smart script well told in its final execution. It has the heart that Zero Dark Thirty lacks, and though that may be one of the virtues of Bigelow's film, it's also one of its weaknesses. Ben Affleck has a pretty perfect record as a director, and Argo is his greatest achievement by far.
Thomas Spurlin's Vote: Argo. Argo, Ben Affleck's depiction of the "Canadian Caper" in which six American diplomats were evacuated during the '79 Iran hostage crisis, furthers the perception that he's an appoint-worthy director with his most polished and intense film to-date. Gritty '70s visual aesthetics follow Tony Mendez as he creates a fake science-fiction film production as their cover, and the tension it generates - both for the audience watching and about the situation during the time-period, while creatively adhering to the real-life events - is a blinding accomplishment.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
The Nominations: Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"; Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"; Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"; Denzel Washington, "Flight."
William Harrison: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln -- Bradley Cooper gave his best performance to date in Silver Linings Playbook, and I'd let Flight's coked-up Denzel Washington fly me through a thunderstorm any time. But, Daniel Day-Lewis completely embodies his character in Lincoln. The film is strong, and Day-Lewis the best part.
Nick Hartel: Daniel Day-Lewis. While the film itself may be technically accomplished and rather safe. Day-Lewis' performance is yet another reason, why many consider him one of the finest living actors. Showing of his method style yet again, Day-Lewis brings a familiar face to life and gives the character heart and soul.
Neil Lumbard: Daniel Day Lewis. This is one of the most difficult categories for me to vote in this year. Daniel Day-Lewis will win for his brilliant portrayal as Abraham Lincoln, and he deserves to win. I think his performance is at least the most flawless in the craft of acting. I've loved all of the performances nominated this year so it's a tougher call to make.
Jeff Nelson: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. Those of you who read my Lincoln review know my feelings towards Steven Spielberg newest film. Setting all other aspects aside, Daniel Day-Lewis delivered an outstanding performance in this role. We don't know exactly how this historical figure was in real life, but this representation makes us believe that this is how he was.
Jamie S. Rich: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. It's a close call, but I think technique wins out over method here, and Day-Lewis wrestled with a few more layers than Joaquin Phoenix. The highest compliment I can give him is that he made me forget the actor and believe that I was watching Abraham Lincoln on screen, while Phoenix consistently reminded me of the persona he created for I'm Still Here.
Thomas Spurlin: Daniel Day-Lewis. Essentially a lock. Despite a bit of apathy towards Lincoln's overall histrionic projection of the events in history, it's hard to deny the power of Lewis' blend of restraint and eminent scenery-chewing. It's a fine performance, one that stands out from a pack of exceptional others.
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
The Nominations: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"; Quvenzhane Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Naomi Watts, "The Impossible."
William Harrison: Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty -- Jessica Chastain continues to do great work in great films, and her performance in Zero Dark Thirty stands out among this pack. You see the struggle and weight of the task assigned her character all over Chastain's face, but she doesn't let it sink her. Zero Dark Thirty is a complex, emotional film, and would not have been as impressive with a lesser actress in the lead.
Nick Hartel: Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Neil Lumbard: Jennifer Lawrence. The Naomi Watt's fan in me has been anxiously awaiting her Academy Award win for Best Actress for what feels like eons now. I want to see her take home a golden statue. Really, it actually needs to happen at some point! But I was most impressed with Jennifer Lawrence, whose powerful performance in Silver Lining's Playbook was essential to its brilliance. It amazed me how nuanced her performance was and I think she will be the one to win. It's essentially a toss-up for me, but I'll give a slight edge to Lawrence.
Jeff Nelson: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty. Despite the tough competition, Jessica Chastain deserves the win for her breathtaking performance in Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain elevated this spectacular screenplay to heights that no other actress could have. Acting simply doesn't get much better than this.
Jamie S. Rich: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook. In a very tough category, I give the edge to Jennifer Lawrence for keeping a difficult personality from de-evolving into caricature or condescension. David O'Russell's film both subverts and embraces the romance genre, and Lawrence is a perfect lead in that she works her way around the audience's better judgment so that we fall in love with her anyway.
Thomas Spurlin: Jennifer Lawrence. Bradley Cooper is excellent as the delusional guy who can't let go of his wife, sure; however, it's Jennifer Lawrence's deep-cutting, uncompromising, sexually-charged presence as Tiffany that'll blindside those watching. The honesty about depression and the lingering enrichment growing around those two psyches are what defy misconceptions. Lawrence is a forced to be reckoned with, and her turn in Silver Linings is a full, potent expression of that.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
The Nominations: Alan Arkin, "Argo"; Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"; Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"; Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained."
William Harrison: Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master -- This is another category stacked with good performances. Christoph Waltz is hilarious in Django Unchained, and it's great to see Robert De Niro actually trying again. Tommy Lee Jones matches a skillful Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, but Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance is most memorable. I kind of hated The Master, but Hoffman is typically captivating.
Nick Hartel: Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained. While the actual best supporting performance really belongs to Samuel L. Jackson's stunning, complex turn in Django Unchained, Christoph Waltz is a close second and heads above the competition here. As intriguing and captivating, if not more so, than his previous Oscar winning performance as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, Waltz makes Tarantino's absurd on-paper dialogue, crackle with life and believability.
Neil Lumbard: Robert De Niro. He hasn't had a role this interesting in several years and he clearly loves the fact that being in Silver Lining's Playbook gave him a chance to be completely stellar all over again, because he's delivered one of his best performances. De Niro manages to be both hilarious and emotional to the point that his performance brought me to tears. Good ones, just to clarify that.
Jeff Nelson: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained. Christoph Waltz has a certain quality that allows him to enchant the audience with his masterful dialogue delivery. In Django Unchained, he makes a likable character absolutely lovable. Waltz is charming and utterly convincing in every scene of this over-the-top western.
Jamie S. Rich: Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master. While Joaquin Phoenix spends most of the movie unmoored, Hoffman provides an anchor--or at the very least, ballast--to keep The Master from going adrift. That he nibbles a little bit off of Phoenix's plate and goes to the dark side himself just adds to the feat. Plus, few performers manage the level of fury that Hoffman musters.
Thomas Spurlin: Christoph Waltz. There's a lot to admire in Tarantino's Django: gorgeous cinematography, humorous writing, and a lavish current of revenge exploitation. Something else that'll keep me coming back to it years later will be Christoph Waltz' perfectly-timed performance as the hilarious, morally-gray bounty hunter, who embraces and intends on freeing our enslaved hero after they've taken care of business. His comedic rhythm here has, thankfully, not go unnoticed.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
The Nominations: Amy Adams, "The Master"; Sally Field, "Lincoln"; Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"; Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"; Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook."
William Harrison: Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables -- Amy Adams is good in The Master but I'm torn because I hate her character. Jacki Weaver just doesn't have enough scenes in Silver Linings Playbook to be nominated here. Sally Field was a joy to watch in Lincoln, though her performance bordered on camp in a few scenes, and I've heard Helen Hunt is great in The Sessions. Anne Hathaway nailed it as Fantine. She sings, she cries, she wins!
Nick Hartel: Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables Hathaway holds her own alongside some colleagues with extensive musical backgrounds and turns in memorably, heartfelt performance.
Neil Lumbard: Anne Hathaway will win for Best Supporting Actress and she deserves the recognition. Her role in Les Miserables required that she be able to bring immense emotion forward through both her acting and singing. Hathaway carefully melded the two elements beautifully in one of the most essential roles of the year.
Jeff Nelson: Helen Hunt for The Sessions.While the Academy Award will most likely go to Anne Hathaway, it deserves to go to Helen Hunt for the snubbed drama The Sessions. Hunt makes the story extremely investing and reliable, which is what every supporting role should deliver. This is a much more reserved performance than her competition presents, but manages to masterfully deliver a natural representation of an every day person, which is a rare discovery.
Jamie S. Rich: Sally Field, Lincoln. I am not sure any of the other performers in this category would have the screen presence to go toe-to-toe with Daniel Day-Lewis, even if he didn't have the stovepipe hat and the beard. Sally Field as a supporting actress serves the real function of a first lady, and vice-versa. She provides back-up, an alternative point-of-view, and a kind of grounding.
Thomas Spurlin: Anne Hathaway. "I Dreamed a Dream" made me shed manly tears, yes; however, the rest of her performance, an intentionally-strained descent into desperation and destitution, embraces that scene in a way that underscores the essence of what comprises its ability to provoke emotion. She's a surprisingly great Fantine, and a beautiful backbone to Tom Hooper's take on the musical.
Achievement in Directing:
The Nominations: Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"; Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."
William Harrison: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook -- Not to beat a dead horse, but this award should be going to Kathryn Bigelow. The overall research, wrangling and logistics she pulled off in Zero Dark Thirty is Oscar worthy, and I can't help but think politics is the reason for her absence. My second choice is Quentin Tarantino, also not nominated. Russell deserves this win for tackling some tricky subjects with grace and humor.
Nick Hartel: Ang Lee. In the hands of a lesser director, Life of Pi may have been a cloying, tv-movie quality disaster. The acclaimed Lee, dazzles audiences with solid visuals and keeps truly tall tale moving forward. No one can ever accuse Lee of being lazy and the director shows again with this solid entry in his filmography, he's constantly striving to experience all genres.
Neil Lumbard: David O. Russell. He's never won an Academy Award for Best Director before (even though he arguably deserved to win for The Fighter). This is his best achievement yet. I am amazed by the powerhouse directing he's demonstrated with his latest effort. Silver Linings Playbook is quite a feat. It's intimately filmed and with a beautiful style that is distinctively Russell's own. In one of the film's greatest sequences there is real magic to be seen in the dance between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. You come to realize that there's a third person dancing in that scene: it's Russell, who is leading that dance with the greatest movements made by any dancer in the room.
Jeff Nelson: Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck have been snubbed in this category, but Ang Lee deserves the award more than any other director nominated this year. He successfully tackled one of the biggest challenges, which was to tell the story of a boy and a tiger stuck in the middle of the ocean. Lee extracted the absolute best out of every person in his cast and crew.
Jamie S. Rich: David O'Russell, Silver Linings Playbook. Too many rightful contenders have been shut out of this category, but of the three I think deserve to be here, I think I choose O'Russell over Spielberg and Haneke. His melding and obscuring of genre manages to be a smart crowd-pleaser. It feels both immediate and classic, and that's all down to the man behind the camera. Plus, he actually made Robert De Niro act, and that certainly deserves a championship statue.
Thomas Spurlin: Ang Lee. If Ben Affleck can't get it for Argo and Kathryn Bigelow can't get it for Zero Dark Thirty, both of whom deserved to be acknowledged in this category for crafting raw suspense around modifications of true-to-life events, then Ang Lee's orchestration of visual effects and philosophical themes should take the prize. It's a poignant, gorgeously-realized adaptation of a great book, hitting nearly all the source's notes right on the mark.
Best Original Screenplay:
The Nominations: Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained"; John Gatins, "Flight"; Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom"; Mark Boal, "Zero Dark Thirty."
William Harrison: Django Unchained
Nick Hartel: Django Unchained Nothing else in competition has the audacity or the vision of Tarantino's take on the spaghetti western. He infuses his writing with a realism that few genre films explore and pulls no punches, injecting an important message in a film some might disregard as self-indulgent and insensitive.
Neil Lumbard: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. I loved Moonrise Kingdom, and was totally drawn into the world created by Anderson and Coppola. A huge part of the film's success was because of the excellent screenplay the pair wrote. Combine excellent characters with superb quirkiness and comedy gold and you have Moonrise Kingdom, which is a sheer delight of storytelling.
Jeff Nelson: Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty. When it comes to original screenplays in 2012, Mark Boal most certainly gets my vote for Zero Dark Thirty. We all know how the film is going to end, but the journey is so intense that it will leave you gasping for air. Boal's script accomplishes everything a movie buff would hope to see in the cinema.
Jamie S. Rich's Prediction Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty. First, a moment of silence for the last shred of integrity the WGA threw away by nominating Flight as an original screenplay. Wasn't it just adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous manual And badly at that While my sentimental favorite is Moonrise Kingdom and I'd vote for Quentin if it were just a dialogue contest, I went with Boal and Zero Dark Thirty because I think he managed to complete the most difficult task: creating a procedural from a heap of cold facts, and somehow still delivering drama.
Thomas Spurlin: Django Unchained. Tarantino harnessed the idea of slavery at the tail end of the 1850s and somehow turned it into an exaggerated, violent, tongue-in-cheek journey of revenge and rescue, dipping its toes in the emotional pool on more than a few occasions. That took some guts, but it took even more skill to balance all those things into a coherent script that manage to bush boundaries without ticking everyone off, which it does.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Nominations: Chris Terrio, "Argo"; Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; David Magee, "Life of Pi"; Tony Kushner, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."
William Harrison: Argo
Nick Hartel: Argo. It's no easy task to make an already known story as gripping as Argo managed to be, let alone, one as serious feature some truly funny moments, but Argo succeeds in all categories.
Neil Lumbard: David O. Russell. The dialogue in Silver Linings Playbook is some of the best I have ever heard. That's not even considering the great storyline or the way in which the characters are portrayed, developed, and explored. This is a gift of a screenplay.
Jeff Nelson: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook isn't perfect, but his screenplay is funny and extremely charming. Viewers will be drawn into the plot and the characters in ways that few other films have been able to accomplish in 2012. If you haven't seen it yet, be prepared for an incredibly enchanting script.
Jamie S. Rich: Chris Terrio, Argo. Much like Zero Dark Thirty, Argo has to juggle a lot of different elements, and though the approach toward "realism” isn't quite as rigorous, the narrative line Terrio draws through the material is thrilling. (Though, you want to talk adaptation, let's really talk Cloud Atlas...)
Thomas Spurlin: Life of Pi. This is an improbable story about a teenage boy who spends a very, very long time stranded on a small boat, and an adjacent makeshift raft, with a live and hungry tiger attempting to claim its territory. The fact that my only issue with the adaptation is that the themes revolve more around faith in higher beings, rather than a general faith in things that cannot be seen, is a minor miracle.
Best Foreign-Language Film:
The Nominations: "Amour," Austria; "Kon-Tiki," Norway; "No," Chile; "A Royal Affair," Denmark; "War Witch," Canada.
William Harrison: Amour
Neil Lumbard: Amour
Jeff Nelson: Amour. Austria's entry dominates the Foreign Language Film category this year with Amour. Writer/director Michael Haneke crafted a beautifully structured piece of cinema that elegantly captures powerful emotions that few other filmmakers are able to express. Amour depicts this story of love and responsibility extremely well, making this an easy vote.
Best Animated Feature Film:
The Nominations: "Brave"; "Frankenweenie"; "ParaNorman"; "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"; "Wreck-It Ralph."
William Harrison: Brave -- I've not yet seen Wreck-It Ralph, so I'm at a disadvantage when picking a winner in this category. Frankenweenie is a pleasant, if minor Tim Burton diversion, and, while I loved all the horror-movie nods in ParaNorman, the overall film left something to be desired. Brave is much more satisfying than I initially expected. What looked to be a lesser Pixar film turned out to be great fable and coming-of-age drama.
Neil Lumbard: ParaNorman. I would think that my vote for Best Animated Feature would go towards Pixar's Brave (because I loved the film and I adore almost everything done by Pixar) or to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie (as Tim Burton is a filmmaker I cherish). Yet my pick would probably have to be ParaNorman. It's laugh-out-loud hilarious, ingeniously animated, and it takes viewers on a roller coaster ride of a ghost story. It's the most inventive animated feature of the year, and with some truly great nominees going up against it for a big golden Academy Award prize, that's saying something.
Jeff Nelson: Wreck-It Ralph. This is the only animated feature of 2012 that moved the child in me. It's unique, entertaining, and heartfelt in ways that its competitors failed to accomplish. It might not be as beautifully animated as Pixar's Brave, but Wreck-It Ralph executes its plot with superiority.
Jamie S. Rich: Brave. The easiest vote by far. Brave is another winner from Pixar. It's exciting, funny, and full of strong characters, while also looking exceptional. None of the other nominees did much for me, they aren't even in the same ballpark as Brave, much less the same league.
Thomas Spurlin: Wreck-It Ralph. This might be more of a preference than a prediction, but that's my baggage. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed the frontrunner, Pixar's Brave, but it felt like a lesser achievement from such a profound studio. In contrast, this fantastical throwback to video game culture is a refreshing surprise, filled with candy-coated visuals and pixel-studded references that merely dress up what's ultimately a charming, embraceable message about finding your own path.
Best Documentary Feature:
The Nominations: "5 Broken Cameras," "The Gatekeepers," "How to Survive a Plague," "The Invisible War," "Searching for Sugar Man."
William Harrison: Searching for Sugar Man
Jamie S. Rich: Searching for Sugar Man. I am a sucker for rock-and-roll stories, and Rodriguez's unlikely success upends the usual trajectory of this kind of tale to great effect.
Best Documentary Short Subject:
The Nominations: "Inocente," "Kings Point," "Mondays at Racine," "Open Heart," "Redemption."
William Harrison: Well, I haven't seen any of these nominees. I'll do better next year
Best Live Action Short Film:
The Nominations: "Asad," "Buzkashi Boys," "Curfew," "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)," "Henry."
William Harrison: Also will do better next year
Best Animated Short Film:
The Nominations: "Adam and Dog," "Fresh Guacamole," "Head over Heels," "Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare,'" "Paperman."
Best Original Score:
The Nominations: "Anna Karenina," Dario Marianelli; "Argo," Alexandre Desplat; "Life of Pi," Mychael Danna; "Lincoln," John Williams; "Skyfall," Thomas Newman.
William Harrison: Skyfall, but I wish Looper had been nominated. That was a cool score.
Nick Hartel: Thomas Newman -- Skyfall. Newman infuses his own modern take on Bond, while paying homage to a five decade legacy, so seamlessly, that only a few visual accompaniments make it feel blatant. A great beginning to another fifty years of Bond on film.
Neil Lumbard: John Williams has composed one of his finest film scores in his entire career with Lincoln. The score is both sweepingly romantic in its themes and poetically rich as an exploration of Abraham Lincoln, the man and the president.
Jeff Nelson: Thomas Newman for Skyfall. Thomas Newman delivered the most fitting score of the year for Skyfall. He provided Bond fans with what they wanted, while still making it his own original score. I haven't seen a theater get so excited from a movie score in quite some time, which makes this an easy decision for me.
Jamie S. Rich: Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina. It's a lovely complement to an astonishing film. It's every bit as rich aurally as Joe Wright's movie was visually.
Best Original Song:
The Nominations: "Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice," J. Ralph; "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from "Ted," Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane; "Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi," Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri; "Skyfall" from "Skyfall," Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth; "Suddenly" from "Les Miserables," Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil.
William Harrison: "Skyfall” by Adele -- FINALLY, there is actually a good song nominated in this category. Thank you, Adele.
Nick Hartel: Adele - Skyfall Seriously. This may be the closest Bond fans get to a classic Shirley Bassey-esque Bond theme and this offering itself, in time, might be held in higher regard than those classics. In a total league of its own.
Neil Lumbard: Pi's Lullaby, Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri; Life of Pi - Pi's Lullaby is like a breath of fresh air. It captures the spirit of Life of Pi wonderfully. While the Skyfall theme done by Adele may have been the most fun, this is certainly my favorite piece as its spiritual and uplifting in its elegance.
Jeff Nelson: Skyfall. Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth's opening song in Skyfall is absolutely phenomenal. There isn't any other artist out there who could have pulled us into the universe of Bond as much as Adele did. She has a beautiful voice with such an incredibly rich tone that it instantly draws you in.
Jamie S. Rich: Abstention. I wouldn't listen to any of these songs on a dare.
Achievement in Production Direction:
The Nominations: "Anna Karenina," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln."
William Harrison: Life of Pi
Neil Lumbard: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Regardless of what you may or may not have thought of Peter Jackson's latest trek to Middle Earth, the production design elements were extraordinary.
Jeff Nelson: David Gropman (Production Design) and Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) for Life of Pi. If it weren't for David Gropman and Anna Pinnock's work on the set, Life of Pi could have come across as being quite tacky. The work these two contributed to the film is undoubtedly award-worthy. This motion picture has marvelous production design that deserves recognition.
Jamie S. Rich: Anna Karenina. The loveliest movie I saw in 2012.
Achievement in Cinematography:
The Nominations: "Anna Karenina," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Skyfall."
William Harrison: Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda) -- Damn, this would have gone to Django if Life of Pi hadn't been so jaw-droppingly beautiful. The cinematography is gorgeous in Ang Lee's 3D epic, and the framing and composition of the shots on land and at sea is near perfect. Cheers to Roger Deakins, too; it's nice to see you here.
Nick Hartel: Roger Deakins -- Skyfall. Deakins may leave Bond fans with the best looking offering to date. The film is simply stunning and Deakins' choices are deliberate and sensible. He makes an already slick film, even more smooth and reinforces why he's one of the best cinematographers working today.
Neil Lumbard: Janusz Kaminski should take home the prize. He deserved it for War Horse, and he equally deserves it for Lincoln. Perhaps that year he will receive the Academy's full recognition. I wouldn't be surprised though if Roger Deakins won for Skyfall. I consider Deakins the greatest working cinematographer. However, I found the work done by Kaminski with Lincoln more evocative of the tone and style surrounding the entire film.
Jeff Nelson: Roger Deakins for Skyfall. Roger Deakins is one of the best cinematographers in the film industry, and it astounds me that he has yet to win an Academy Award. Skyfall was filmed in multiple locations throughout the world with completely different environments, and Deakins makes every second of this motion picture absolutely stunning. He incorporates the classic Bond-look, while still leaving room to leave his signature touch.
Jamie S. Rich: Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina. He navigated a challenging shoot and gave it a consistent look throughout. It's one of those movies that is just gorgeous to look at regardless of what is happening on the screen, yet McGarvey's camerawork manages to serve the story as much as it dazzles the eye.
Thomas Spurlin: Life of Pi. This is a really tough call this year. Life of Pi blends vibrant practical photography with exquisite digital manipulation into an exceptional visual experience. Django Unchained employs stunning, grainy rawness with grand natural scope. Skyfall brings an artful, immaculately-composed perspective to the Bond franchise. Lincoln's rich contrast and lighting only heighten the exceptional composition. Anna Karenina's inventive navigation of the stage gimmick is creative, seamless, and entrancing. But, if forced to choose, I'd say that Life of Pi will get its moment in the sun here.
Achievement in Costume Design:
The Nominations: "Anna Karenina," "Les Miserables," "Lincoln," "Mirror Mirror," "Snow White and the Huntsman."
William Harrison: Lincoln (Joanna Johnston)
Neil Lumbard: Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Jeff Nelson: Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina. The Costume Design category didn't provide a lot of competition for Jacqueline Durran's work in Anna Karenina. She provided a wonderful variety of costumes that pulled the atmosphere together. Durran has placed some beautiful pieces in this film that will be truly memorable for those highly interested in the wardrobes of Hollywood.
Jamie S. Rich: Jaqueline Durran, Anna Karenina. This film really should win all the art awards. Anna's outfits alone make this a winner, all the other period costumes Durran serves up are just gravy.
Achievement in Film Editing:
The Nominations: "Argo," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty."
William Harrison: Zero Dark Thirty
Nick Hartel: William Goldenberg -- Argo. Goldenberg is a large reason why Argo is as good as it is. The film has a tremendous sense of pacing and tone, and Goldenberg's editing is very evident. Compare to the superior (as a whole) Django Unchained which shows how the loss of Tarantino's career editor, Sally Menke, results in a film that feels less refined in area, and Argo shows the importance of an editor on a film.
Neil Lumbard: Lincoln.
Jeff Nelson: Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg for Zero Dark Thirty. Zero Dark Thirty has a lot of material to share with moviegoers, but Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg were able to make this piece of cinema fluid and swift. The story and the dialogue hook you in, while the film editing ensures that the line doesn't snap. Tichenor and Goldenberg made sure that there wasn't a single dull or choppy moment to be found.
Jamie S. Rich: Dylan Tichenor and William Goldberg, Zero Dark Thirty. The control of information is key to this film, and the way it's all cut together leads us through some very straight info as if it were a mystery, building to a tense, spellbinding climax that manages to put you on the edge of your seat even though you know exactly how it's going to turn out. That's editing!
Achievement in Makeup & Hairstyling:
The Nominations: "Hitchcock," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Miserables."
William Harrison: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Nick Hartel: The Hobbit In a just world, Cloud Atlas would be competing and winning this award, but compared to the competition, The Hobbit definitely deserves the Oscar. While the visual effects of the film may have been dodgy, the makeup work was tip-top, allowing viewers to believe in a world of dwarves and other fantastic creatures one more time.
Neil Lumbard: Les Misérables
Jeff Nelson: Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey easily gets my vote in the Makeup and Hairstyling category. Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater, and Tami Lane dealt with an overwhelming amount of work on this Hollywood film. The makeup applied to these actors trumps the competition with its masterful execution.
Jamie S. Rich: Hitchcock. You will believe Anthony Hopkins has an extra chin.
Achievement in Sound Editing:
The Nominations: "Argo," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Skyfall," "Zero Dark Thirty."
William Harrison: Django Unchained
Neil Lumbard: Skyfall
Jeff Nelson: Paul N.J. Ottoson for Zero Dark Thirty. Zero Dark Thirty comes with a stunning audio track that knows when to be aggressive and when to be subtle. Paul N.J. Ottoson's efforts paid off in the best way possible, especially through the film's climax. With each bullet fired and every door blown-up, audiences are guaranteed to grip onto their armrests in anticipation of the ear piercingly accurate sound editing.
Jamie S. Rich: Django Unchained. It takes a trained ear to know exactly when to cut the blood spurt. And, no, that's not sarcasm.
Achievement in Sound Mixing:
The Nominations: "Argo," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Skyfall."
William Harrison: Skyfall
Neil Lumbard: Les Misérables
Jeff Nelson: Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, and Stuart Wilson for Skyfall. Since Skyfall was filmed in a variety of different environments and through numerous difficult conditions, the sound mixers had an extremely difficult job to pull off. Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, and Stuart Wilson deserve recognition for their exceptional work with the sound mixing. The dialogue and action are mixed to absolute perfection, making this one of the strongest overall audio tracks of 2012.
Jamie S. Rich: Les Miserables. Because I guarantee these guys weren't paid enough for the ridiculous amount of time they probably spent listening to the horrible songs. They deserve some kind of bonus. Call it belated hazard pay.
Achievement in Visual Effects:
The Nominations: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Life of Pi," "Marvel's The Avengers," "Prometheus," "Snow White and the Huntsman."
William Harrison: Prometheus
Nick Hartel: The Avengers. Any studio that can finally make The Hulk feel real deserves tremendous praise. Compared to the cartoonish The Hobbit and the ultimately lifeless Prometheus, the only real competition for the award, and The Avengers is a sure pick.
Neil Lumbard: Life of Pi
Jeff Nelson: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, and Donald R. Elliott for Life of Pi. If you have seen Life of Pi, then you know what a visual wonder it is. Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, and Donald R. Elliot are the individuals responsible for the extraordinary visual effects. It's difficult to not be in complete awe when films are able to look this good from the first frame until the credits begin rolling.
Jamie S. Rich: Life of Pi. For making 3D actually seem beautiful.
Thomas Spurlin: Life of Pi. Richard Parker. 'Nuff said. Watching how the effects team convincingly rendered a semi-wild tiger stepping and stalking around a small boat, interacting with a human, is incredibly beautiful. You get lost in the authenticity.
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