If someone was to mention that this year was going to be break many precedents, the usual history and connections with guilds and completely ruin some of contenders’ chances at Best Picture, then I would actually not be that surprised. Just a quick note, I got 63/92 correct… Yikes.
This year was asking for it, ever since they moved up the nominations ballot a few weeks up. The Academy never got a chance at BAFTA nominations, DGA nominations and other awards including Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes. And with the decreased amount of time, those big holiday films like Django Unchained, Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty (though I don’t think is particularly the case for ZDT) didn’t get enough time to relish within the Academy, especially Django. But nonetheless, let’s talk about the nominations first.
Lincoln leads all films with 12 nominations. That’s not much of a surprise. Box office hit, excellent cast and a director that runs Hollywood, it was always the favorite. It’s a monster of a film, and I’m not sure if there’s a chance that another film can take its current status. Nominations that include Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor and Actress, Screenplay, Editing and more alludes to the fact that they just couldn’t ignore this film. No matter what the opinions of the Academy are in regards to Lincoln, it just had too much momentum.
Right behind Lincoln is Life of Pi, which surprisingly received 11 nominations including Picture, Director and Screenplay. The quality of the film is up there with Lincoln, and it is definitely one of the finest achievements in film to date. The reason for the surprise is because of recent news of 20th Century Fox pulling all award advertisements for the Ang Lee picture. So if anything, we obviously now know that the Academy went gaga over Life of Pi. Without much publicity or Oscar campaigning, the film still was the second most nominated film in 2013. That says a lot. Now I firmly believe it’s a Best Picture contender, and it has a strong possibility of upsetting Lincoln during the big night.
Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of The Southern Wild and Amour were also Academy darlings this year. You usually can tell how the Oscars personally feel about specific films in terms of how many nominations they give certain films that aren’t favorites/contenders in the big categories. Considering this, these three films managed to land nominations in major categories including Picture, Director, Acting and Screenplays. The biggest surprise is the directing category, where David O. Russell, Michael Haneke and Behn Zeitlin (first time feature) all crashed the party, taking almost guaranteed spots from Affleck and Bigelow. What a shocker that was. Instead of discussing the Academy’s opinions on Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, I think what’s more important is that these three films played up to exactly what the Academy loves. Pleasing their tastes is exactly what equates to Oscar recognition, and though I felt that Beasts wasn’t exactly an Oscar cliche, they do love small budget films making it big in Hollywood.
But as I mentioned before, I think more people are shocked at the ignorance of Affleck and Bigelow, not even including Hooper and Tarantino in director. As always, the Oscars is all political, and the importance of timing and appeal is quite necessary for success. Argo, though is a prefect fit for Oscar bait, lost too much of its steam in the long run, releasing too early and having to fall behind other films the Academy felt were stronger. Though it still received eight nominations, the non-nomination for Affleck could directly contribute to the Academy’s attitude against Affleck more than the film, but whatever the case, it’s a damn shame.
Zero Dark Thirty is a tricky one, mainly being hurt from its political accusations and the potential pro-torture message. Though it’s one of the most ridiculous labellings of any film I’ve recently witnessed, it was enough to take away from the film. It only received five nominations, and the biggest one it got snubbed for was obviously Director for Bigelow. Unfortunately, if the film doesn’t receive a Director’s nom, it’s almost a guarantee that it’s out of the Best Picture race, even with a nomination. But if there’s any year Oscar can break those general tendencies, this would be the year. But my overall perception of the Academy’s take on ZDT is that it’s not worth the controversy, and considering that Bigelow and Boal both recently won 3 years ago, it’s almost a lock that it won’t happen.
Other films like Django Unchained and Les Miserables’ nominations aren’t a surprise, though some will be considering Leonardo DiCaprio was not nominated. Django, though extremely entertaining, doesn’t tune in with the Academy’s notes, and Les Mis was just not as good of a film as everyone expected it to be. Add in the late December release, it couldn’t have received more than it did.
Honestly, when you follow the Oscars as closely as I have, you learn to disconnect from favoriting films and getting emotionally attached. This happened numerous times with The Dark Knight and The Social Network. We all must remember that the Academy can give a rat’s crack about what we, the bloggers, critics, fans, nerds, geeks and the average fan think. They do as they please, and that’s honestly the best way to vote. If that’s how they feel about the films of 2012, then that’s how they feel.
At least The Dark Knight Rises got no nominations. Victory indeed!