Hello, dear readers! I've missed you much. Glad to be back, and glad it's Oscar season! While Seth MacFarlane is currently projected to drive me crazy every time he breathes, I can't wait for the rest of the broadcast. This year is going to be a doozy - for the first time in years, I'm going in with a mix of educated guesses, gut instinct, and the knowledge that anything could happen in several categories.
To help me break this down for you, I'm delighted to welcome back my friend and fellow cinephile Robbie Iobst!
Robbie: Thanks for having me! Ever since I snuck out of my bedroom at age 12 and turned on the TV in the middle of the night to watch "Stella Dallas" with Betty Davis, I've been hooked. I try to have Oscar parties most years, with my largest party having 75 guests, three TVs, a ballot and prizes. This year I'll will be wearing my lovely gown at home, watching in earnest while sipping something decadent and sugar free (oxymoron, yes).
Hillary: I am in awe of your party prowess! I'm throwing a very last-minute get together this year - diamonds optional ;-)
Well - there is a lot to talk about in several of the categories, so let's dive in!
Actor in a Leading Role
Hillary: Daniel Day-Lewis has had a lock on this category from the word “Four.” I had hoped Hugh Jackman might challenge that position, but it hasn't shaken out that way.
Jackman is a rare man in Hollywood - he can do pretty much anything, from stage to superhero to musical to host. But like I said, the Oscar is DDL’s this year. Here’s hoping it’ll be Jackman’s in the near future.
Will win: Daniel Day Lewis
Dark Horse: Hugh Jackman
Robbie: I agree, Hillary! Daniel Day-Lewis is a shoo-in for best actor. I loved the voice he gave Lincoln and his intense and quiet portrayal carried the film. However, if I were voting, I would vote for Denzel Washington in Flight. Denzel’s portrayal of an alcoholic pilot was mesmerizing and surprising. His character was tremendously arrogant and lost, yet Denzel brought sympathetic moments that had me hoping for the pilot to somehow see his way through. This was great acting to me. But there is no way Denzel will win.
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should win according to me: Denzel Washington
Hillary: Denzel was very, very good in Flight. Can we take a second to talk about how many strong films released this year? Last year was definitely an off year - some good releases, but nowhere near the lineup we had in 2012. You see it happen that way, directors getting into a particular schedule and end up all on the same schedule. They're basically all cycling together, creatively.
Actress in a Leading Role
Hillary: I've gone back and forth on this A LOT. And after swinging from one side to the other, I really think Emmanuelle Riva may have this.
Robbie: Wow, Hillary. Emmanuelle Riva? Have you moved to France? I bet you most of the voters know very little about her. :) Of course, when I saw Amour she dazzled me with her ability to create a woman dying a little at a time. Outstanding. But I really like Jennifer Lawrence in Sliver Linings Playbook for this. Her portrayal of a grieving crazy widow was wonderful. Her character is weird and at the same time, likeable. Jennifer infused both an intensity and a softness to her character that I feel is Oscar worthy. Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty is amazing but lacked the depth of an Oscar winning performance. Her character was zealous and driven, but proved to me one-sided to me.
Should win: Jennifer Lawrence
Hillary: I tell you, I’m really going back and forth. But Riva did win the BAFTA (that's the British Oscars, for the uninitiated), and there’s a lot of voter crossover. Even before then, though, I had concerns about Jennifer Lawrence. You must believe me when I say I love her - both on and off the screen.
But at its heart, Silver Linings doesn’t have that sort of self-important gravitas that Academy voters prefer, and neither does Lawrence. Actors like to spend a lot of time talking about craft and character and preparation and how challenging their work is, but Lawrence has been very clear in every interview how she doesn’t prepare, and underscored it when she turned down an appearance on Actor’s Studio.
I truly believe she will go on to win more than one Oscar, and appear in many movies. In many ways, I think Lawrence is Hollywood’s Great White Hope in a time when they desperately need a real-life star who’s under 45. But she’s so young, and I think the aged demographic that comprises the Academy is going to look at her, read her interviews that include fart jokes, and check the box for Emmanuelle Riva.
May well win: Emmanuelle Riva
Not particularly dark horse: Jennifer Lawrence
Robbie: Hillary, you’ve made me think. Thank you! And I didn't know she turned down Actor’s Studio. Wow.
Actor in a Supporting Role
But Tommy Lee Jones was commanding in his performance in Lincoln. I loved him. So to me it’s between Alan Arkin and Tommy Lee Jones. I have to go with Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln.
Who might win instead: Alan Arkin
Hillary: I agree. I love Alan Arkin’s turn, but it was as Alan Arkin-y for me as Robert Deniro was Robert Deniro-y. I wish John Goodman had gotten a nod, and maybe he did in a parallel universe. But in this universe, my money’s on Tommy Lee Jones, the most compelling character in his film.
Will win: Tommy Lee Jones
Dark Horse: Alan Arkin
Actress in a Supporting Role
Robbie: Anne Hathaway has dominated all the award shows in this category. She is well liked and her performance in Les Misérables and that song, well, wow. She really nailed it. Oscar worthy, definitely. However, I really liked Sally Field as Mary Lincoln in Lincoln. Her strength and borderline craziness came across the screen to make her a complicated and interesting character. I feel that her performance throughout Lincoln is better than one song in Les Misérables. I am sticking my neck out on this and say Sally Field.
Will win: Sally Field
Should win because she acted for more than 10 minutes: Sally Field
Hillary: I applaud your neck stickage! Every time I want to vote Field (and you have to know, I really love her), I see a clip of Anne’s singing and my skin goes goosebumpy and I start to get misty. EVERY TIME. Any other year, this would be Sally Field’s award. But miserably, I have to give it to Annie H, her misery, and her two squares of oatmeal paste.
Will win: Anne Hathaway
Dark Horse: Sally Field, because we really, really like her.
Animated Feature Film
Hillary: Wreck-It Ralph won the Annie award, and most everyone is predicting its win, so that’s where my guess is going.
Robbie: My boy is 14 now so I am seeing a lot less of these animated wonders. However, we did see Brave and oh my goodness, I loved it! I’m hoping by just saying this "I’ll change the fate of this award."(That was said in a Scottish accent. Pretty bad one, especially since I have to explain that.) I choose Brave, bravely.
Writing - Original Screenplay
That said, I tip my hat to Moonrise Kingdom. I see you, Wes Anderson, and I liked your movie very much.
Will win: Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
Dark Horse: Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Other Dark Horse: Amour, Michael Haneke
Robbie: I choose Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty. It was written well and interesting. It’s the kind of movie I would like to rewatch after I study some history on Al Qaeda.
Will win: Zero Dark Thirty - Mark Boal
My second choice: John Gatins for Flight
Hillary: Ooh, Flight was a good script. (Though after watching it I wondered if we needed Kelly Reilly's character's backstory in the first act. Either way - SO MANY GOOD MOVIES THIS YEAR!)
Writing - Adapted Screenplay
Hillary: Chris Terrio won the WGA for Argo, beating Tony Kushner and David O’ Russell. My hunch is that Argo will take best pic, and because it takes best pic it’ll win here. Much of the strength of the film is how well-structured the script is, creating tension until the very last moments over an event that most of America remembers (not the Bieber fans - the other rest of America).
- Chris Terrio
Dark Horse: Lincoln - Tony Kushner
Robbie: In this category, I completely agree with everything you said. I could just cut and paste your remarks, but I won’t do that. I wish I’d written it first. So basically my choice is:
Will Win: What Hillary said
Dark Horse: What Hillary said
Hillary: Ha! Upon reflection, when they win - likelihood that someone will yell a version of “Argo f-yourself”? I say high.
Robbie: I don’t like profanity, but that would be very funny!
Hillary: I tell you, it will happen, and it shall be bleeped. I imagine they're stretching out the delay for the telecast mainly for that particular catchphrase...
Music - Original Song
Hillary: Ever since “Skyfall” dropped, it’s had the award in the bag. Adele’s single reminded us that sometimes Bond songs can be really, really great.
Robbie: It will be fun to watch Adele at the Academy Awards. I love her. I so hope she wears something that doesn’t look like a tablecloth like she did at the Grammys.
Hillary: Ugh, that was a terrible dress. And so sad, because she was adorable at the Golden Globes.
Will win: “Skyfall”
My other choice: “Pi’s Lullaby"
Hillary: I haven't seen the full canon of Bond films, but I do enjoy Daniel Craig's Bond. But I applaud your film rebellion.
Foreign Language Film
Will Win: Amour
Robbie: The only foreign film nominee that also got a best picture nominee is pretty much going to take it. This is a “Duh” category in my humble, extremely humble opinion.
Even though I've never and will never see a Bond movie.
However, the cinematography of Life of Pi was magical, so if not Roger for Skyfall, then Claudio for Life of Pi.
Will Win: Roger Deakins - Skyfall
If not, I hope: Claudio Miranda - Life of Pi
Hillary: Roger Deakins won the guild award, but I really think this award is going to Life of Pi. While Deakins’ work elevated the visual style of Skyfall, Life of Pi is so visually arresting that I think it’s the one to beat.
Will Win: Claudio Miranda - Life of Pi
Could Win: Roger Deakins - Skyfall
Hillary: This is always such a tricky category to predict! Both Anna Karenina and Mirror Mirror won Guild awards (historical and fantasy categories, respectively). Eiko Ishioka could win a posthumous award for Mirror Mirror, and it could always swing to Lincoln or Les Misérables - but Jacqueline Durran’s designs for Anna Karenina also won the BAFTA (and remember, there’s a fair amount of voter crossover there). So I’m going with Anna Karenina. THOSE are the dresses I’d want to wear!
Will win: Anna Karenina
Dark Horse: Lincoln
Will win: Snow White and the Huntsman
Dark Horse: Anna Karenina
Documentary - Feature
Hillary: Again, another tricky category to predict. But I've heard a lot of good things about Searching for Sugar Man, so - sure!
Will win: Searching for Sugar Man
Dark Horse: How to Survive a Plague
Robbie: Searching for Sugar Man has gotten a lot of buzz, so I am going with it.
Will win: Searching for Sugar Man
Documentary - Short
Robbie: I am guessing so I am going with Redemption because I love redemption. Excuse my ignorance of this category. And others.
Hillary: The shorts are almost always super tricky! I'm going to flip-flip again and go with Inocente for the win. The combination of topics smells like Oscar Bait to me.
Will win: Inocente
Dark Horse: Mondays at Racine
Hillary: Both Argo and Silver Linings Playbook won A.C.E. Eddie Awards, but I think the award will go to Argo. Again with the terrific pacing of Argo, and a lot of that is due to the editing. As well as being a piece of good film making let’s be honest - Argo is a Hollywood vanity trip. It’s about how a movie, even a fake one, can save lives. I’ll go for Argo.
Robbie: I hope Argo wins. Wonderful suspense is often a product of excellent editing and this movie creates wonderful suspense. But I have this sneaky feeling it won’t win. Why? Could be my breakfast or the fact that it didn’t get any best director love. I don’t know.
Will win: Argo
If it doesn’t: Silver Linings Playbook
Hillary: Am now very curious about your breakfast...is your oatmeal anti-Argo? (I feel like there's a cornstarch joke in there somewhere...)
Makeup And Hairstyling
Hillary: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Hollywood does not often vote for Hobbits. So I’m giving this one to Les Misérables. WE SHALL SEE.
Robbie: Hillary I raise you and call you. I bet they will. WE SHALL SEE!
Will win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Music - Original Score
Hillary: I’m thinking Mychael Danna for “Life of Pi.” Voters like to go with the cool scores (see: Social Network) or the iconic ones (see: The Artist). And three of the last four winners have been nomination newbies, so I'm going with Danna. Also - I loved his score for Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding.
Will win: Life of Pi
Dark Horse: Lincoln (and yes, I’m saying Williams is a dark horse - dude hasn’t won since Schindler’s List. Is this score as iconic? I don’t think so. But it is pretty.)
Robbie: I absolutely loved the score from “Life of Pi.” Second place would go to “Lincoln” in my opinion. Very sweeping.
Will win: “Life of Pi”
Robbie: I would give this to Les Misérables. The genius of translating this stage production to a movie lay in the wonderful design of each set. I absolutely loved how they made prison, the priest’s home and the blockade “come to life.”
Will Win: Les Misérables
Dark Horse: Lincoln
Hillary: Hmmmmmm.....Anna Karenina won the Art Director’s Guild Award, and its concept is basically predicated around the production design. But my gut says Lincoln, so...
Will Win: Lincoln
Palomino Horse: Anna Karenina
Chestnut Horse: Les Misérables
Short Film - Animated
Robbie: Can I just admit I have no idea? I don’t have a five sided coin or I’d toss it for this and the next category. So I guess I will give it to “Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare.” I’ve heard about that one and she is well, a Simpson.
Hillary: It’s tricky! Adam and Dog won the Annie award for short film last year, and Paperman won this year. I saw and *loved* Paperman (and made Danny sit down and watch it with me), so that’s where I’m voting. But Adam and Dog could also win because, you know, dogs. They’re tops.
Will win: Paperman
Palomino Horse: Adam and Dog
Short Film - Live Action
Robbie: This is like choosing food in a foreign buffet. What looks good? My uncle’s name is Henry, so based upon that scientific and well researched knowledge, my vote goes for Henry.
Hillary: I can respect that! I've heard a lot of good buzz for Curfew, so that’s where I’m going. Also: I think I had one once. So there’s a connection.
Robbie: HA! Excellent reasoning.
Hillary: Thanks for checking on that! I think I’m leaning toward Life of Pi. For now.
Will Win: Life of Pi
Various Sundry Horses: Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables
Robbie: Based on my recent world wide web education, I feel that “Life of Pi” had extremely good sound mixing, with all of the animal sounds with the ocean and the lovely score.
Hillary: I agree that Pi is a strong contender. But one of the biggest selling points of Les Misérables was all of that live singing. I’m veering to Les Misérables for this one.
(Note: How many different pronunciations of Les Misérables will there be during the telecast? For some people, this could turn into a drinking game.)
Robbie: My vote would go for Life of Pi. I was dazzled by the dichotomy of a dream like world at sea which looked realistic on the screen. The shipwreck scene was marvelous and tragic, the flying fish and the jumping whale were terrific and the scene with the jellyfish lighting up the dark ocean felt like visual poetry. If Life of Pi gets the Oscar, it will be well worth it.
Hillary: Agreed! It was the most visually stunning film of the year - I loved the jellyfish. When you saw Pi, did you see it in 2D or 3D?
Robbie: 3D. It was definitely the way to go.
Hillary: We did too. I thought it was the best 3D I’ve seen.
Robbie: Absolutely. I remember seeing Avatar in 3D and just getting a headache. This actually added to the story.
Hillary: YES, on both counts. It was the first 3D film to not make my eyes crazy. Well, scratch that. I think Kung Fu Panda II was okay on that front. But Pi is still the superior film ;-)
Hillary: Another tough call! Steven Spielberg seems like the default choice because no one gets to vote for Ben here, but is it really the best call? In contrast, Ang Lee took a book everyone thought to be unfilmable and made a breathtaking film out of it. And out of left field, there’s Michael Haneke, and if the Oscar night turns into an Amour love-fest, a win for Haneke could certainly happen.
Will win: I’m going with Ang Lee for now. WE SHALL SEE
Beige Horse: The ‘Berg
Dark Horse: Michael Haneke
I loved what Ang Lee did with “Life of Pi” but I believe it was mostly due to the joy and miracle of computer effects. One more note, the up and comer Benh Zeitlin did a masterful job with “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” His name is going to come up in the future.
Will win: Steven Spielberg
Future winner: Benh Zeitlin
Evidence the Academy doesn’t always get it right: Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow
Robbie: I saw all the movies except Django Unchained. I went to see Argo in October with my sister-in-law in Albuquerque. I knew the story and I knew how it would end. But here is why I believe this movie should win the Academy Award: my sis-in-law and I were on the edge of our seats the entire time! That is a great movie well done when you can give the audience a suspenseful experience even they know the ending. It was truly a ensemble piece with Ben Affleck leading the pack but subtly. I especially enjoyed Bryan Cranston but I love him in everything he does.
Will win: Argo
Should win: Argo!
Hillary: When I saw the first trailer for Argo, I thought - That’s it. That’s the Best Picture. And I felt the same way after seeing it in October. When it began losing Oscar momentum I was concerned, but things turned around when Ben Affleck didn't receive a Director nod and everyone cried foul. After that, Argo starting to win, you know, everything. And while some people think it’s still because of Affleck milking the Director snub, I disagree. The fact of the matter is it’s an extremely strong film, which everyone happened to remember once they started to watch the screener DVDs. Conversely, everyone had the opportunity to fall asleep on their own couch during the Lincoln screeners.
And let’s take a sec to chat about Lincoln. It looks like an Epic film, smells like an Epic film but HEAVENS is it self-satisfied and ponderous. Would that the film were framed from the perspective of Thaddeus Stevens, the most complicated man in the film. Even better, I wish the Coen Brothers had made a movie about the lobbyists, who were doing good things with squirrely motives. Anything but a film about a good, not very complicated man doing a good thing for good (though never very defined) reasons.
And while Lincoln was certainly one of our greatest presidents, and I truly believe his death stunted the regrowth of the South to this day, I wasn't convinced that he made a compelling enough protagonist for the film.
Robbie: We agree completely on Argo and disagree completely on Lincoln. As I watched the story of the last fight of Lincoln’s career I was anything but bored. This was a man who has defined leadership in the American presidency. I believe that Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis brought his style of leadership to life on the screen, surrounded by a complicated mess of political debates. Sure it’s a movie and can’t truly be a history lesson. I mean it’s Hollywood, for crying out loud. But the story made me and two of my friends go to the library and the internet and read about Mary Todd Lincoln’s housekeeper and the senators who fought on both sides. This kind of movie making transcends a simple story. It gives credence to thought about what was and what might be. I liked it. A lot!
Hillary: That’s cool that it inspired further research! What did you think about Silver Linings Playbook?
Hillary: I loved the dance scene! I thought the third act of SSL was very strong. But I also had a hard time with the suspension of disbelief in the first act, particularly in the way they treated mental illness.
Robbie: I totally agree with your third act point. I don’t understand what you mean about how they treated mental illness. If you are talking about that doctor playing the song to “get to” Bradley Cooper’s character, then yes, that was ridiculous.
Hillary: I actually really liked the doctor, but my issue was that some of the portrayals of both Bradley Cooper’s character Pat and Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany made them seem less intelligent, particularly Pat. That seemed to change by the third act, but it was hard to believe for a long time that Pat would have ever been high-functioning enough to be a married history teacher.
Hillary: Well, he's not my type, but you do make a good point ;-) There was a lot to like about the film, and I thought was one of the strongest motifs was how everyone has their mental quirks, even if they haven’t been stuck with the “mentally ill” label. A strong film, but best? That one goes to Argo.
Will win: Argo
Dark Horse: Lincoln
Hillary: Whew! So - now that we're at the end, we've come to the most important part. Robbie - what would YOU wear to the Oscars?
Robbie: Hillary, I will be wearing a dress extremely similar to the one Mrs. Ben Affleck (aka Jennifer Garner) wore to the Golden Globes. I love this color and of course I will be decked out in Harry Winston diamonds.
Hillary: I love that dress!
Well, this is my pick - it's from the Oscar de la Renta Pre-Fall 2013 collection, and...it's pick. And it's got pockets. I bet it twirls.
(Note: Katy Perry wore the yellow dress in this shot to the inaugural ball, and said she felt like Belle, which I thought was pretty great.)
In other news, I'm thinking there will also be a Red Carpet Fashion Gown-a-pol-ooza again, so do check back. I'll also be tweeting through the festivities, so be sure to check in here.
Thanks again for joining me, Robbie! And happy Oscar viewing everyone!