Off the Red Carpet: Week 1 Post Oscar Nominations

We’ve now had a week to digest the Oscar nominees, and although there are another five weeks to go (feels so far away!) people have already analyzed the nominations to death.

Everyone’s had words about Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck, and just as many have talked about how many records “Amour” seems to be setting, either as having the oldest nominee (but not the oldest living nominee), the lowest box office receipt, the chance to win multiple Oscars for Michael Haneke or its position as one of few Palme D’Or winners to get the Best Picture nod.

But that’s what I’m in this for. Not every statistic is going to be groundbreaking, but better that we have a hectic year than a boring one.

There have been a lot of fun articles and news in the past week consequently (read my own analysis of the race the morning of the nominations), and there have also been plenty of predictions. Time then I jumped back into the fray.

Critics’ Choice Awards and Golden Globes

“I’d like to thank the Academy,” said Ben Affleck after winning Best Director and Best Picture for “Argo” at the Critics’ Choice Awards the night of the Oscar nominations. The film’s strength in both award shows demonstrates just how strong “Argo” may be after all in the Oscar race. It would’ve been a different narrative if either show aired before the nominations, but this is a strange year.

And now we can only hope that the Oscar broadcast will not be as bad as the Critics’ Choice or that it will be as good as the Globes.

The Critics’ Choice Awards took a lot of heat for refusing to air Tony Kushner’s acceptance speech and needling the winners with negative reviews of their past work. In Anne Hathaway’s case, the quote that was aired about her work in “The Princess Diaries” spelled Hathaway’s name wrong, which she promptly bit back at.

The Globes on the other hand managed to even surpass Ricky Gervais’s controversial appearance. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were on fire all evening, bringing drinks on stage and making fun of Lena Dunham when she won the Best Actress prize they were both nominated for (“I’m glad I got you through middle school”). Most of the acceptance speeches were charming as hell, and then there was the matter of Jodie Foster’s eye-popping confessional as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. More on that right now.

70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Show

Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes Speech

On my first listen to Foster’s speech, her words were too much to unravel. I wasn’t listening and made some ignorant comments on Twitter. But she proved to be a brave, honest speaker even as she confused more people than inspired.

Many believed that she was using the opportunity to retire from acting, explaining that it’s been a long 50 years of her life and that having to endure celebrity pressure from when she was only a toddler was finally too much. But she quickly assured people she would not be retiring. Her comments can be seen here.

And yet others were upset by her words in the way she addressed her sexuality. Foster, a lesbian who was never publically “outed,” equated people who flaunt their personality and sexuality as mindless Reality TV stars. The obvious comparisons, including Foster’s own, could be Honey Boo Boo, and could conceivably include people like the Kardashians or Tila Tequila. But some, including one of my former colleagues, explained the hypocrisy of making such a comparison when there are plenty of publically lesbian celebrities who are completely normal, including Ellen Degenners or Jane Lynch, who was present at the Globes.

Foster wrote an op-ed piece for The Daily Beast on celebrity culture and privacy earlier this year, which helpfully sheds a little more light on her cryptic speech.

And for those wondering what her “SNL” reference was, it’s this:

Three Oscar categories available for full membership voting

Predicting the Short Film categories is next to impossible, but now that job is getting a little easier.

New rules have dictated that for Live Action and Animated Shorts, as well as Best Documentary, everyone in the Academy, not just the respected branches, can vote on the winner.

For the shorts, this is to promote the act of seeing the films, as well as to have short filmmakers recognized by people other than their peers.

But in all three cases, especially in the always interesting documentary race, all the popular titles will now have a better shot because now anyone can vote without having seen all the nominees. Does that mean that Ron and Bryce Dallas Howard will walk away with an Oscar in the Live Action category? Will Maggie Simpson? You can almost rest assured that “Sugarman” will now. (via In Contention)

Las Vegas odds predict “Lincoln” to win Best Picture

Entertainment Weekly reported that “Lincoln” currently has 1/4 odds in Las Vegas to win Best Picture. “Argo” is second with 8/1 odds and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has at a whopping 100/1. (via EW)

Categories full of former winners (in retrospect)

One of the surprising tidbits from the Oscar nominees was the Best Supporting Actor category, which was for the first time filled with former winners, meaning just about anyone could walk away with a second (or third in De Niro’s case) trophy.

But one blogger dug back through all the former acting nominees to determine if history has amended itself to create other fields full of former winners. He came up with eight categories in which this ended up being true, dating as far back as 1939’s Best Actor race. There’s even the possibility that if Anne Hathaway wins for “Les Miserables,” the 2008 Best Actress race will also be fully stacked. (via

Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal address Senate investigation

Having now seen “Zero Dark Thirty” (read my 4-star review, and if prodded, I would probably put it at around #4 or #5 on my Top 10 list for the year), I can finally jump into the controversy that’s been raging about Kathryn Bigelow’s film for nearly two months now.

The most recent development is that the Senate Intelligence Committee has begun reviewing the film and internal contacts that screenwriter Mark Boal interviewed in the process of making the film. Some time ago, the acting CIA director Michael Morell made public an email he sent to the entire CIA that the information in regards to torture as depicted in “Zero Dark Thirty” is inaccurate.

Bigelow and Boal’s initial position to the controversy, both in an interview with Charlie Rose and elsewhere, is that “it’s just a movie,” a line that differs from the narrative pushed by Sony that the film is a true story of our hunt for Osama bin Laden told by Boal, a noted journalist.

But more recently, the pair has been more vocal. Bigelow published an article in the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, writing, “Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement.” In addition, Boal made a joke at the New York Film Critics’ Awards that the French government is now looking into the accuracy of “Les Miserables.”

The point that Bigelow seems to be missing however is that although torture was definitely a reality in the hunt for bin Laden, the movie irresponsibly and unknowingly suggests that torture is effective in interrogation. Alex Gibney, an Oscar winning documentarian, best illustrated this idea in an article he wrote for the Huffington Post. He points out that the CIA waterboarded certain terrorists, or at least the ones made to be represented in the film, dozens, if not hundreds of times and still failed to get all the necessary results. When one terrorist was tortured, he writes, the CIA believed the intelligence he was giving while in fact it remained a lie.

My take on this is that Bigelow isn’t stupid enough to make a film that glorifies torture, nor is she so insensitive into believing it’s a good thing. This isn’t Jack Bauer badassery (by the way, I love “24,” so I guess that makes me a terrible person). We don’t see terrorists giving information while under duress, but as Gibney points out, the threat that torture will be used again later proves that it is ultimately effective. So there is some responsibility that needs to be taken on Bigelow’s part. Her film doesn’t twist the facts so much as it incidentally suggests something worse for the sake of narrative simplicity. (more info via Thompson on Hollywood)

Armond White skullduggery

The New York Press’ resident troll Armond White was at it again this past week, and not just because his annual “Better Than” list had the gall to call “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and “Taken 2” better than “Zero Dark Thirty.” He also heckled Michael Moore while he was on stage at the New York Critics Choice Awards, shouting the intelligent quip befitting a respected film critic, “Fuck you!” (via Indiewire)

Oscar Winners Predictions Week 1

Previously I was ranking potential nominees in tiers, not in exact likelihood of a nomination. But now with the nominees behind us, I’ve got to nut up and start making some serious predictions. So these then are ranked based on who/which is most likely to win.

Best Picture

  1. Lincoln
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Life of Pi
  4. Argo
  5. Zero Dark Thirty
  6. Django Unchained
  7. Les Miserables
  8. Amour
  9. Beasts of the Southern Wild

I’m having a hard time putting “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Amour” all the way at the bottom of my list. With the surprise Best Director nods, both seem much stronger than most would assume. With that said, I’m putting “Argo” so high because regardless of what happened with the nominations, it is riding a wave of success on the Awards Circuit.

But I’d be pretty stupid to not admit that “Lincoln” is by far the front-runner. To get as many nominations as it did is impressive, and it’s that logic that makes me believe “Silver Linings” or “Life of Pi” could stage an upset.

Best Director

  1. Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
  2. Ang Lee – Life of Pi
  3. Michael Haneke – Amour
  4. Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  5. David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

I don’t have it reflected here just yet, but I have a strong suspicion that there will be a split between Picture and Director this year. Praise has been reaching in any number of directions, and it’s likely that Spielberg has received all the praise he’s deserved over the years. Ang Lee’s work is a striking directorial effort, Haneke is a modern master that the Academy might not get a chance to honor again, and Zeitlin would be doing the unthinkable by coming all the way from Sundance last year to win.

Best Actor

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
  2. Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables
  4. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
  5. Denzel Washington – Flight

Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Daniel Day-Lewis will win his third Oscar? I’d like to believe that the Academy nominated Joaquin Phoenix because he’s really the one who gave the best performance of the year, but this field never looked so weak when it was just the matter of picking five. Now that there’s only one choice, who else but Day-Lewis could it be?

Best Actress

  1. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
  2. Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
  3. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
  4. Quvenzhane Walls – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  5. Naomi Watts – The Impossible

If “Silver Linings” wins any of its four acting nominations, it’ll be this one. But Riva seems more and more likely of actually walking away with this every day. The Academy recognizes that Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain will get another chance at this, but Riva won’t. Regardless, I’m on team Quvenzhane!

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
  2. Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
  3. Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
  4. Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
  5. Alan Arkin – Argo

God this is a crapshoot. I’m taking a stab in the dark with these rankings to be perfectly honest because all five are worthy and all five could win.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
  2. Sally Field – Lincoln
  3. Amy Adams – The Master
  4. Helen Hunt – The Sessions
  5. Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Sally Field is excellent in “Lincoln,” and she’s a serious dark horse contender in this race, but she’ll have to ride the success of her movie to an Oscar to beat the wave of enthusiasm behind Anne Hathaway.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Lincoln
  2. Argo
  3. Silver Linings Playbook
  4. Life of Pi
  5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

This is actually quite a strong field, with all five screenplays being daring adaptations in their own ways. But Tony Kushner more or less has this in the bag. He adapted our American history.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Django Unchained
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Amour
  4. Moonrise Kingdom
  5. Flight

Quentin Tarantino may be overdue for a second Oscar. The controversy may overwhelm “Zero Dark Thirty,” as might the apparent apathy for “Moonrise Kingdom” based on how poorly it was snubbed elsewhere.