Film Theatre

The Oscars

010913_OscarsLogoABCTonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night that movies are awarded, actors become legend, and the art of film is celebrated for its’ ability to transform an audience’s perception into a completely different reality for about two hours. For me, it’s my favorite night of the year. You can keep your Grammys, BAFTA’s, Razzy’s, and MTV can do us all a favor and shove cancel their “Movie Awards”, but the Academy Awards or “The Oscars” as they have been branding it since 2011 (as they are desperately trying to appeal to a younger demographic) is my night to reminisce a year of film gone by.

Although I am a committed cinephile who begins thinking about the Oscars as early as the summer prior, I compose myself and show self control. So my real preparation for the night of night’s really doesn’t begin until early December when most media outlets begin teasing their Oscar predictions as many nominated films typically come out in theaters around Christmastime. Sidebar: if you were ever wondering why all of those critically acclaimed movies come out right as your family comes into town, thus chaining you to your house to “spend quality time” with them and preventing you from heading out to experience “the motion picture masterpiece of the year” with your friends at your local cinema, it is simply because (2 reasons):

1. Those big-time Hollywood movie execs know human nature better than we, as consumers do and that is to say that when they say it is “the motion picture masterpiece of the year” and the date is let’s say December 23rd, that means you, the film lover that you are, has only a small window of time to see said masterpiece before the year is over and you would have wasted the past 12 months of your movie-going life suffering through the summer’s “blockbusters” aka Rock of Ages and Ted and lest we forget 2012’s crowning glory: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I mean, seriously Hollywood, have you ever picked up a history book? I digress…

2. The second reason is pretty apparent, awards season officially begins in January so what movies will be freshest in the minds of Academy voters when nominations occur on January 10, 2013 (changes each year but always early-January)? December films, actors, directors, producers, and their sound editing/mixer guys who also vie for a chance to hold Mr. Oscar, that’s who.

So back to my Oscar calisthenics. In early December, I began formulating my predictions based on the films I had already seen and the films poised to debut in the coming month. As I am sure you are already aware since you are reading this blog post as a well-informed lover of film, very few nominated films for 2013 graced the American cinema before fall 2012. In fact, at first glance I would say Skyfall is the only one that stands out since The Dark Knight Rises was snubbed even in the Visual Effects category. Since I couldn’t really come up with any real contenders, I began looking at those films that would be released in the coming weeks. I had been following Les Miserables’ progress through it’s early stages of production back in October 2011 when director Tom Hooper confirmed Anne Hathaway would play the much-coveted role of Fantine (the role, even then, many believed would win any actress an Oscar) so I knew it was on schedule for a Christmas Day release. More on Les Mis in a moment (ahh so many “m’s”)! 

One film that caught my eye from seeing its’ trailer was Flight starring none other than Mr. Denzel Washington himself. Not only is Denzel’s performance phenomenal and carries the entire movie, but a fave British journalist has a nice little cameo…it’s Piers Morgan! Another: The Hobbit, as this was another film I have had my eye on for the past year (I read the book in late 2011 and was highly anticipating its’ release). Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a special appreciation for any method actor or actress so it comes as no surprise that Lincoln with Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis as the titular character has been on my radar since Mr. Steven Spielberg had the thought to cast Day-Lewis and he began growing that beard and wearing that tall, tall top hat to get in abolish slavery and make America whole again-mode. It is important to note that Lincoln should not just be seen for Day-Lewis but also for Mrs. Sally Field and Mr. Tommy Lee Jones as they provide terrific performances you won’t soon forget. 

So…I must confess before going a sentence further that I have not seen every Oscar nominated film. I am embarrassed of this fact because I typically do not miss a beat (except for the foreign film category which I hope to correct this oversight next year). But these past few months have been busier than usual with a lot of traveling that has kept me broke away from seeing all of the wonderful films up for an Oscar tonight. Nonetheless, I feel I have seen enough, read enough, and watched enough clips to, without bias, provide my Oscar predictions in the eight biggest categories.

Before I do that–let’s dream a dream. Wow…so one of the most beloved musicals of all time was transformed into (for me) the movie experience and soundtrack experience of a life time. Though widely critiqued, the close-up shots, intimate angles, and casting all sang rang true for me. Anne Hathaway’s heart wrenching version of “I Dreamed a Dream” made me cry, smile, and actually SHUT UP instead of singing at the top of my lungs just so I could hear her sniffle and pause at just the right moments. In an interview, Hathaway was quoted as saying she felt it would be selfish of her to sing the song the beautiful way so she decided to make it more true, more real of her character–a prostitute who recognizes the gravity and finality of her situation. You feel that in her voice as she cries:

He took my childhood in his stride

But he was gone when autumn came

Seriously, click on that link because she is that good. You feel her anger, her hopelessness and you long to stop it just like Valjean hopes he can help. Great segue–Hugh Jackman cast as Jean Valjean, our tortured hero who vows to do a whole lot of stuff for everyone in an attempt to right all of his past wrongs is the perfect combination of acting ability, vocal range, and emotional depth. He just sells it to the audience and we buy it–wholeheartedly. I hope he wins the Oscar but as you will see from my predictions (scroll down), I don’t believe he will. As for the rest of the cast in question: Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Eddie Redmayne as Marius Pontmercy, and (my favorite gladiator) Russell Crowe as Javert…sweet, simple Cosette is spot-on for Amanda Seyfried with her doe-like appearance, Redmayne is the most convincing Marius ever and his rendition of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” is so poignant and emotionally driven that I can’t remember the last time a musical number touched me so deeply. As for the most criticized cast member, you will never hear me complain about Russell Crowe as I believe he is a genius (see, A Beautiful Mind). No, not a real genius like his character John Nash, but his huge presence allows him so much range and diversity that I never tire of watching him. Sure, maybe his voice isn’t the same caliber as the man who originated the role of Javert in the United Kingdom but at least he holds his own next to Jackman and is convincing as the police officer hell-belt on seeing any petty thief behind bars including Monsieur Le Mayor Jean Valjean.

Okay are you still with me? I think it is time to unveil my 2013 Oscar predictions in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Cinematography, and Costume Design.

Haley’s 2013 Academy Award Winner Predictions

Best Picture: Argo

Best Director: Steven Spielberg

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Cinematography: Life of Pi

Costume Design: Les Miserables

Well, no matter if I’m right or wrong in my predictions, 2012 was a great year for film and by 2012, I mean December 2012. I hope all of you enjoy tonight’s show, with Seth McFarlane hosting, it promises to be a night we won’t soon forget (but in a different way than two years ago when Hathaway and Franco took us by stoned…uhh, I mean storm.) That was such a train wreck. I feel confident that a comedian is who the role of Oscar hosting should fall in the hands of. Case in point: Billy Crystal has hosted like 100 of the 85 times the show has been around…and I hope he’s around for another 100 unless Seth proves to us he is up for the challenge. Hosting and winning aside, at least we can all agree that the dresses are the best part…which is what I will be up early Monday morning blogging about so COME BACK MONDAY!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, would love to connect with you to discuss my Oscar predictions or leave a comment here and I will do my best to reply!

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