The Academy has in recent years descended into somewhat of a farce, becoming predictable and sterile and celebrating only a certain selection of films rather than diversifying a bit more. In other words, they're playing it safe, and it's boring.
So many films and performances have been overlooked this year it's unbelievable. Major unexpected snubs were Ben Affleck's work on Argo, who was omitted from both Acting and Directing awards despite the film itself being up for the big one.
On the other hand, people were unnecessarily surprised about some of the categories, expecting films to be included that weren't. Mostly I'm talking about Skyfall, which I never even entertained as to get a nomination in any of the major categories. For one thing, the Academy are probably too scared to do something as "out there" as put a Bond film up for major Oscars. But also, the BAFTA nominations were announced the day before, and if Skyfall was not up for Best Film at the BRITISH film awards then why would the American film awards include it? The same goes for Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig for Best Director and Actor respectively.
Two of my favourite films starring two of my favourite people should have been up. I can't believe that On The Road isn't up for any acting nominations. I know that the film in general divided critics so I wasn't hopeful that it would get any major nods, but whatever you thought about the film, the performances were brilliant. The main trio of Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart deserve recognition, as well as Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst. It's ridiculous that it was overlooked. Also the cinematography was stunning and that should have been up for something too.
And also Cosmopolis should have been up for, in my opinion, Best Actor for Robert Pattinson, Best Director for David Cronenberg, Best Supporting Actor for Paul Giamatti, Best Supporting Actress fr Sarah Gadon, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. The fact that this film was so overlooked not just in awards season but throughout the whole year makes me unspeakably sad, because it was genuinely incredible, one of the most intelligent, complex films of this year. I should actually do my own awards this year just to honour it, because I can't actually give it enough praise.
I was also quite surprised at the lack of recognition for Hitchcock, which I thought would be mingling up there with the rest of them. This isn't just the Academy, I admit - there's nothing at the BAFTAs either and hardly anything at the Golden Globes - but from what I've heard it's meant to be very good. I thought Helen Mirren would get a Best Actress nod, and maybe the film itself. The same goes for The Sessions, which did in fact get Helen Hunt a nomination but I thought would have got more, but that's probably because it wasn't prolific enough. And also The Hunt, which got rave reception at Cannes this year and I thought was a real contender for nods at the Oscars, but apparently they're ignoring most films that aren't major Hollywood blockbusters. I would have liked real recognition for Mads Mikkelsen who I think is brilliant, and also I think it would have done The Academy a favour to acknowledge a film with such sensitive material. The Master wasn't up for nearly as much as I thought it would be, with exclusions on the Best Director (Paul Thomas Anderson) and Best Film lists, which was again surprising from the amount of buzz around it and the rave reviews it got from critics.
Anyway, I'll crack on with discussing the major awards and pointing out why they're wrong and spoiling the ceremony by revealing the the obvious winners for you all.
It will go to either Les Miserables or Zero Dark Thirty because they are the obvious choice. Les Mis is the sort of stylish tragic story the Academy love, though admittedly they haven't held favour with musicals for quite some time. Zero Dark Thirty is the gritty, real-life drama they also appreciate, and you can't overlook the similarities the film has to The Hurt Locker, which of course was also directed by Kathryn Bigelow and about recent wars. However, recent controversy surrounding the film may put it out of favour with the voters, so we'll have to see. I have yet to see any of the nominees (but I plan on seeing Les Mis, Django and Lincoln in the next couple of weeks so look out for reviews of them!) but at the moment I'm just really disappointed at the shortlist.
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) seems to be the best bet at the moment, with the closest contender probably Joaquin Phoenix for The Master based on the rave reviews he got (but again, the Academy may be a bit peeved with him after his recent comments about them - he basically told them to shove their egotistic ceremony). The curveball here was probably including Denzel Washington (Flight) where one might have expected Jamie Foxx (Django), Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt) or Ben Affleck (Argo).
Jennifer. Bloody. Lawrence. People need to stop going crazy about her. The inclusion of her on this list made me so angry the other day I had a massive rant on Twitter for about 8 hours. I like The Hunger Games, okay? I just don't like her, and I think she's a massively overrated actress. If she wins, I'll never watch the Oscars again and the Academy will have lost all respect from me. I would like to see Jessica Chastain get it for Zero Dark Thirty, but we'll have to see. It's pretty much between those two, though. Well done too to Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) and Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) for being the oldest and youngest nominees respectively in this category, that's quite an achievement. Wallis especially makes me question what I've done with my life if she's nine and has been nominated for an Oscar.
Affleck. Bigelow. Tarantino. Hooper. Where are they on this list? I understand that with five to ten Best Film nominees and only five Director slots, some people are going to miss out, but really, the wrong ones did. I don't understand this at all. David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), really? I can't even say anything else because I'm so surprised and annoyed about the inclusions and exclusions on this list. Affleck has just won a Golden Globe! I would have put money on Bigelow and Tarantino being up. And Tom Hooper has famously been revolutionary with Les Mis by making his cast sing live, apparently with good results. The outcome of this strange list is harder to call than some other categories this year, but I'll go for Spielberg (Lincoln) or Michael Haneke (Amour).
Best Supporting Actor
I do like the line-up in this category (I know, I'm giving praise!) and I also like the fact that every nominee has already won this award. I don't know why, since maybe some newcomers should have been included, but anyway. The smart money is on Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) but I wouldn't rule any of the contenders out this year. I was expecting Leo DiCaprio to be nominated over Christoph Waltz if one of them was going to be up from Django, but I'll have to reserve judgement on that until I see it. I also personally think Garrett Hedlund should be up for On The Road, or Paul Giamatti for Cosmopolis, but hey, apparently the Academy and I are not on the same wavelength here.
Best Supporting Actress
It will go to Anne Hathaway. It's the most obvious result in recent Oscar memory, I don't even know why they bothered to nominate anyone else when they're all going to get overlooked anyway. It's another classic Academy view that actresses should suffer for their work (if losing weight and cutting off your hair is "suffering") and that they like tragic stories more than anything else. At least now maybe Hathaway will stop being so unbelievably desperate for recognition. And hey, maybe it will make her more interesting, because right now I find her to be the human equivalent of beige, i.e. so incredibly dull it makes me want to hurt myself to not look at or listen to her. Apparently, it should go to Amy Adams for The Master (but I'm just parroting what other people are saying, I haven't actually seen for myself), but really it's irrelevant, because it's not going to happen.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Not too sure about this one, because it depends what the Academy members are thinking when they're voting. It could go to Lincoln if they're feeling patriotic, or Life of Pi, which was the supposedly "unfilmable film", or Silver Linings Playbook because apparently they're in love with that. I don't think Argo is in with a chance because they seem to be ignoring this, sadly. Personally I think Perks of Being a Wallflower should be there, because I did not see a better page-to-screen adaptation this year. I think the problem with both screenplay awards is that they forget it's about the script and focus on the finished movie, which really kind of rejects a lot of films which may actually have better scripts than those nominated.
Best Original Screenplay
I thought for sure this was going to Zero Dark Thirty, but now based on all the incoming reviews and the fact that it won the Golden Globe last Sunday, I'd have to say now it's going to Django Unchained. Which I'm happy about, because any nod for Tarantino is a bonus in my eyes. He is the best writer/director of his generation and I'm glad he's still getting credit where it's due. Again though, a lot of these I can't comment on because I haven't actually seen them, but since the Academy seem to be celebrating the prolific films this year, I think Django's got this.
Danny Leigh of BBC Film 2013 basically summed up the main points here, give him a watch. His hatred of Silver Linings Playbook is particularly apparent and he makes an interesting point about Kathryn Bigelow too. Also what he says about the inclusion of foreign and indie films is completely true. Ranting starts around the 13:25 mark (he's just wrapping up talking about The Sessions):
So the question is, will you be tuning in? I know I certainly won't be staying up to watch something I really don't care that much about. If there's a highlight show I might flick over to that but honestly, this "hooray for Hollywood" attitude they have going on right now is getting on my nerves too much to tolerate.