The 2013 Oscar Preview: Screenplay, Animation, Documentary & Foreign Film

We’re slowly heading into the bigger categories, though I personally love the cinematography, editing and other categories mainly because I love seeing movies root for their movies.  Teammates winning is always more rewarding than being rewarded yourself.  But moving forward…

Best Foreign Film

Amour (Austria)
No
(Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)Kon-Tiki (Norway)
War Witch (Netherlands)

This year’s foreign film nominees are heavily dominated by the Europeans, and deservedly so.  There are a lot of good films, and usually the best films are always regarded within the foreign branch.  But nothing stands in the way of the Amour train.  After the nominations were announced, the Academy proclaimed their love for Amour, rewarding it with five big nominations including Picture, Director, Actress, Screenplay and of course, foreign film.  Out of those five nominations, this one is in the bag.  There’s a slight possibility that Kon-Tiki could win, going after a Pan’s Labyrinth and The Lives of Others type year.  But I highly doubt it.  If you could put all your chips for one category, it’s this one.

Best Documentary Feature

Searching For Sugar Man
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive A Plague
The Invisible War
5 Broken Cameras

Documentaries this year were exceptional, as this list doesn’t even come close to the amount of films that were released in high quality and entertainment.  Leaving off The Central Park Five, The Queen of Versailles, West of Memphis and The Bully Project is a big problem.  But the rest of these documentaries are just as worthy of a nomination, so there’s not as much of a complaint.  The early favorite in this category is Searching for Sugar Man, as it has won much of the precursors.  But there is a slight chance for three other documentaries including The Gatekeepers, How To Survive a Plague and The Invisible War.  The most powerful of the three potential surprise winners is The Invisible War, which has a strong emotional, political and social message.  The other two are great films, focusing on an amazing story and journey that fulfill the purpose of documentaries.  I would easily consider these films as favorites, but Sugar Man has won constantly for the last two months.  Though Academy winners do have to watch these documentaries to vote, I still am sticking with Searching For Sugar Man to win this year.

Best Animation Feature

Brave
Wreck-It-Ralph
Frankenweenie
Paranorman
The Pirates!  Band of Misfits

Usually Best Animation Feature is an easy pick.  Considering Pixar has won the six out of the last 12, you would usually consider the Pixar film a lock.  And no doubt it has become the favorite out of the five, though I think it’s the weakest amongst the nominated films.  My personal distaste for Brave is somewhat clouding my judgment here, mainly because I don’t think it deserves to win.  But regardless of how I feel, it has been winning the last few weeks.  From the Golden Globes, BAFTA, PGA and DGA, it has almost swept the Animation awards, except for the Annies.  Right now it’s a two headed race between Wreck-It-Ralph (where it dominated at the Annies) and Brave.  But look out for Frankenweenie as the Academy loves Tim Burton and his animation.  If I had to make my pick right now, I would go with Brave, though it pains me to do so.  I prefer Wreck-It-Ralph to win, and I would love to see it beat Brave, but Brave is the hot pick right now, and I most likely think Pixar will pick up another Oscar.

Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Michael Haneke, Amour
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
John Gatins, Flight

This has been one of the hardest years to predict screenplays.  Can’t recall when both screenplay categories were this difficult.  You can make the argument that four of the five nominees have a shot at winning this thing.  The only one that doesn’t is John Gatins, who shouldn’t complain considering this is his first ever script and just to be part of a group that includes Tarantino and Anderson is an honor.  The unfortunate thing about this race is that there is no favorite.  It literally is a three-headed heat going down to the wire.  If we were going off of precursors, than Django Unchained is the pick.  It’s won the most precursors, and it most likely would’ve won the WGA (went to Zero Dark Thirty) if Tarantino was part of the WGA.  For that, it’s possible that Django is the favorite, but my gut feeling is that Michael Haneke for Amour is going to sneak this one out.  The main reason is that this is possibly the only spot where the Academy can reward Amour for its great film.  Yes, they are nominated in four other categories where it is a shoe-in for Foreign Film, but rewarding Amour just for the Foreign category is like giving a gift card to Walgreens for their birthday.  They like it much much more.  If Haneke wins here, then Riva could win for actress.  But a lot of things need to happen for that, and with the Weinstein Co. behind Tarantino, I don’t know if the Academy can ignore the monster that has been created.  Mark Boal’s script for Zero Dark Thirty is nothing short of an achievement, and I believe should win Original Screenplay, but I don’t think he will unless there’s a strong apologetic and remorse feeling for how ZDT has been gutted these last two months.  My money is Amour, but that might change in the next few days.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Chris Terrio, Argo
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
David Magee, Life of Pi
Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar, Beasts of the Southern Wild

It is very possible the winner of this category is going to win Best Picture.  There’s a slight chance that if Kushner wins, Argo will still take Best Picture, but I do feel that this category has a strong determining factor with how the Academy will vote for Picture also.  This category also pains me to write about because by far, Lincoln was the best script in this bunch.  There’s no question about it.  Kushner is a Pulitzer-winning screenwright who crafted a marvelous script that kept audiences intrigued and entertained based off a premise that’s about old men talking.  Brilliance indeed.  But the last time Kushner actually won was the BFCA awards where Argo took Director and Picture.  The biggest disappointment surprise was when Argo beat out Kushner for the USC Scripter, which awards both the original and adapted piece of work.  We’re comparing one of the greatest political and biographical books ever written in The Team of Rivals and Kushner’s brilliant script and Argo.  I don’t see how it was even remotely possible to even check Argo’s name without some sort of delusional state, but it’s not my place.  Argo here is the favorite, and it most likely will be Chris Terrio and Argo taking home Adapted Screenplay.  But if somehow Silver Linings or Life of Pi sneak this one out, it will definitely at least take Director and/or Picture.  If Kushner wins, then you will definitely hear Spielberg’s name for Director and potentially see an upset for Picture.

Tomorrow will be the acting categories.

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