Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts on the 2013 Academy Award Nominations

I am not the biggest proponent of the Academy Awards, but it is without a doubt, the biggest celebration of the cinematic medium, so it deserves some of my attention I suppose. With today’s announcement of the nominations I was immediately struck by several thoughts and have surprisingly seen many of the films and performances nominated. I will refrain from going on about films here that would probably be considered the “usual suspects”. To see Lincoln nominated for so many awards is fitting for a film of its stature and will probably be a lead contender. I enjoyed its understatement as much as anything and think it’s one of Spielberg’s very best films. But I want to direct my attention at the surprises…both of the pleasant and not so pleasant variety.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Seriously? Well if this isn’t the most overrated film nominated, I’m not sure what is. I really disliked this film. I found that it never became comfortable with itself. There is a desire to combine the gritty with the fanciful here that just doesn’t work. Not to mention the shaky-cam all over the place which is so over-used these days. This is the dog of the bunch.

Amour: I haven’t seen it. What I’m really glad about is the fact that we have a foreign film nominated for best picture. If it allows the film to be seen and publicized across middle America, the nomination will be well worth it. I am hoping it comes to my town sometime soon and this nomination would probably have something to do with it (not that I'm holding my breath).

Silver Linings Playbook: Yes the film is a bit messy at times, but there is a lovable loser quality to it that is irresistible. The fact that the ensemble cast here is nominated nearly in totality is telling. It is an actor’s kind of film, despite the fact that David O. Russell is nominated for Director. I applaud the inclusion here of a film that is well written and well-acted and one of my favorites from 2012, even though it wasn’t perfect.

The Master: Why wasn't this one nominated? I know the film is somewhat maddening and frustrating. But was there a more memorable film this year? I still think this film contained the finest stretches of cinema in 2012, even if it couldn’t sustain it for the entire run-time.

 Joaquin Phoenix: Wow I’m really glad they included this nomination because if they didn’t, it would have been a crime. Simply put, Phoenix nearly reinvents the term “acting”, right before our eyes. As spectacular as Day-Lewis was as Lincoln, it is Phoenix that gives the epic performance to go down with other legendary turns from Jannings, Brando, De Niro etc. It is the best performance by an actor of the millennium so far.

De Niro: Speaking of…..has he given a better performance in the last few decades? There was something about his character in Silver Linings that was so human and so right. He continually struck the right tone. I’m not sure there is a more deserving performance in this category this year, perhaps only Jones in Lincoln, but his was a scene stealing part to begin with.

Quvenzhane Wallis: I’m sorry. Nominating this 9 year-old girl is a nice story, but she has no business whatsoever being nominated here. She cries on cue. She hides behind trees and garbage. She recites some lines as narrator. It’s not a performance. It is what you would expect from any decent child actor. Nothing more.

Rachel Weisz: The fact that Wallis’s nomination is perhaps the reason for Weisz NOT getting nominated for The Deep Blue Sea makes Wallis’s nomination even MORE of a crime. 

Emmanuelle Riva: Again, I haven’t seen Amour, but from the wonderful performances she gave so long ago in films like Kapo, and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, it makes me so happy for her. I will enjoy seeing her on the show.

I will inevitably tune into the Awards show even though I’m sure I will end up disappointed like usual. I guess part of the fun is arguing over who belongs and who doesn’t…..and that’s what I like best.


Patricia Perry said...

Jon -

I'm much in agreement with you, especially with regard to Joaquin Phoenix. Day Lewis was magnifcent in LINCOLN, but I kind of hate the way he has overshadowed Phoenix's work in THE MASTER. And although I liked BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD more than you did, I'd much rather have seen THE MASTER and P.T. Anderson take those Best Picture and Director slots.

Jon said...

Yes exactly. Phoenix has pretty much said he doesn't like the Oscars to begin with, and he's not likely to show....which means he's not likely to win. But I feel better knowing that his performance didn't get left out. It's such a fascinating portrayal, unlike anything I've ever seen really.

Sam Juliano said...

Well Jon, as much as I can stand with you on the performance of Joaquin Phoenix in THE MASTER, I do not see it standing with Day Lewis' LINCOLN. No performance in 2012 matches Day-Lewis' work in Spielberg's film. Yes there were stretches of brilliance in P.T. Anderson's film, but it remained maddening for me. I agree that BEASTS is seriously overrated, and it's critical reputation has me more than perplexed. I am no fan of SILVER LININGS, but I see what you are saying, and acknowledge it has delighted many viewers. Yep, young Wallis does bring up the emotional quotient, but she didn't at all deserve that nomination. I completely agree it should have gone to Weitz.

As far as Best Supporting Actor, I am not so up as you are with Smirking Bob DeNiro this year. Jones was exceptional, I agree, but the un-nominated Tom Holland from THE IMPOSSIBLE and Christophe Waltz from DJANGO UNCHAINED are my two choices. Hoffmann was very good in THE MASTER as well.

I am hoping that either Emmanuele Riva or Naomi Watts wins Best Actress, though Jessica Chastain was superlative as well.

Great post here Jon!

Jon said...

Thanks Sam for stopping by and commenting. I of course haven't seen Tom Holland yet in that film, so it is highly possible I would put my vote there. Christophe Waltz was certainly fine, although I didn't like the film. I will no doubt bet that Day-Lewis will win, there was something about Phoenix though that was incredibly troubling and deeply unsettling in a way that I can't quite describe. As for SLP, I will refer you to MetaCritic which I know is often a reference point. It has the same score as Django, and is ahead of Life of Pi, The Impossible, and Les Mis, which are 3 of your top 10. There are lots of superlative reviews for SLP, including many from top critics giving it 100 scores. Not that this means anything, but it's obvious it didn't strike the right chord with you. It DID however, for me.

Sam Juliano said...

Jon, SILVER LININGS did indeed do very very well with META CRITIC, I cannot deny this, and can't blame you at all for noting it. I feel as if I am on the outside looking in, and I will look at it again at first available opportunity.

You will be seeing THE IMPOSSIBLE and THE LIFE OF PI very very soon, that much I will assure you. That and several others.

I will say no more.

Jon said...

Thanks so much Sam! It happens from time to time, where we have opinions that differ from the consensus. That's part of what makes this fun. I will be surprised if you see things differently after watching again, but who knows.