Broken promises, stealth campaigns, expensive campaigns and voter influence – a Presidential race, no – the Oscars. Though this post strays from the primary purpose of this blog, I don’t care, I like it.
Hollywood According to Geoff Willis
My completely uninformed opinion based on actually watching this year’s Oscar nominated movies. These are not my predictions (I have little faith in the Academy to actually put petty politics aside and choose the best) but my humble option of what is best:
Best Picture – Lincoln
I thought that there were five really good movies this year, but I thought that I was captivated the most my Spielberg’s masterpiece. Anytime that you can take the incredibly boring process of passing legislation fascinating, you have created art. My second pick would be Zero Dark Thirty which also takes actions that we all know and still manages to have you on the edge of your seat. I frankly lean towards Lincoln because of the riveting performances of Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones and it was a close call for me between the two. Third for me is the nerve-wracking but incredibly well acted Silver Linings Playbook which depicts the story of developing love between two mental patients. Django Unchained and Argo round out the best of the top five, but I would not consider them as in the same class as the top three. Argo may well win the Oscar, but that will be because of the strange politics of Hollywood and not because of the quality of the film.
Actor – Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings)/Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln) (too close for me to differentiate)
Truthfully Daniel Day Lewis should probably win this award with one of the best acting performances that I have seen in quite some time and I will always envision Lewis’ performance when I think about Lincoln. From my perspective, that performance WAS Lincoln. I put Bradley Cooper performance in Silver Lining Playbook performance on the same plane as Lewis primarily because it was the first time that Cooper has actually acted. Until now he had played the good-looking, smooth talking pretty boy and had not demonstrated any real depth. His portrayal of Pat, the bi-polar teacher obsessed with his ex-wife was an incredibly textured performance. Without doing anything to diminish his looks (except running in a garbage bag), Cooper is able to convey Pat’s tortured soul throughout the film and he appears broken, manic and teetering on the edge of sanity.
Actress – Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings)
This was the clearly the easiest category for me to pick. Playing the heroine in the Narnia and Hunger Games series, Lawrence has shown that she can play the heroic action figure. Breaking out of that mold with a vengeance, Lawrence jittery, wired performance was genuine and spectacular. Jessica Chastain’s performance as a CIA agent in Zero Dark 30 was the only nominated performance in the same class as Lawrence. Many have celebrated Chastain’s quiet, intense performance but I did not find it as complex and rich as Lawrence’s flighty broken mental patient.
Supporting Actor – De Niro (Silver Linings)
I thought that this category, along with Best Director, were the toughest to pick. I ultimately selected De Nero’s portrayal of the father of a mental patient. Through De Niro’s performance you can clearly see the source of Cooper’s mental illness. But it is not a one-dimensional “crazy man” performance, De Niro’s character is clearly a man who loves his son but can only show it through his obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles. On top of everything else, De Niro’s portrayal brilliantly shows the quirky. intense and ritual based obsession of a sports fan who thinks that he is actually part of the team and acts like who holds the remote can actually impact his team’s performance on the field. Tommy Lee Jones was amazing in Lincoln as did Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained, and I would not be at all disappointed if either took home the hardware.
Supporting Actress – Hathaway (Les Miserable)
OK, I might be voting with my heart and not my head here, but I was really mesmerized by Hathaway’s performance in an otherwise disappointing film. Hathaway’s brief tortured crawl across the screen was memorable and unique. Jackie Weaver was good in Silver Linings Playbook as the loving but co-dependent Philadelphia house wife, Sally Field’s was solid portraying Mary Todd Lincoln and Helen Hunt was more interesting than usual as the sex therapist in Sessions. But Hathaway was the only truly compelling performance in this category
Director – Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Hollywood is a petty little place where personal relationships can have as much to do with winning awards as the quality of the work. President Obama’s Administration has had conniption fit ever since Zero Dark Thirty came out frustrated with the directorial decision to show that water boarding actually worked as an interrogation technique. Hollywood loves Obama and is an unfriendly place for anyone that dares break away from the liberal line and Bigelow paid the price when she was snubbed and not even nominated. Spielberg will probably win in Bigelow’s absence although Lee may swoop in because Hollywood generally doesn’t like to reward financially successful directors.
Adapted Screenplay – Kushner (Lincoln)
Every word of Lincoln was carefully crafted and captivating. This was storytelling at it s best. Every line of dialogue is imbued with a level of intelligence we simply do not see anymore. Plus, he wrote the line “Buzzards’ guts, man!”
Original Screen Play – Boal (Zero Dark 30)
With 10 years of history to process, many writers would make the mistake of oversimplifying or glorifying this story. Instead we get a compelling story about grit and determination that does deliver the payoff without over glamorizing it. Solid work all around. Django was also well written, but so reliant on violence and gore that it simply turned me off.
I don’t really give Argo anything and I will probably be wrong early and often. I thought that it was a fine movie, just didn’t stack up on a category by category basis.
Best Picture – Argo
Not sure why this movie is picking up momentum since I found it interesting but not in the same league as several other nominees.
Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
Hollywood likes to reward break-out performances and this would certainly qualify.
Best Actress – Jennifer Lawrence
I think this one is easy.
Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Lee Jones
Best Supporting Actress – Anne Hathaway
This kind of performance is the kind that Hollywood always fall for.
Best Director – Ang Lee
Given the lack of strong acting performances, it is reasoned that Life Of Pi was completely dependent on Lee’s film making.
Adapted Screenplay – Chris Terrio
Definitely NOT the best screenplay, but chalk this one up to Argo love.
Original Screenplay – Quentin Tarantino
While not bad writing, Tarantino’s win here is more about Hollywood punishing Zero Dark Thirty than celebrating Tarantino