It’s that time of the year again. Yes, the Oscars are finally upon us. After much build up and hype (as always), we reach the red-carpet stage, and the stars descend on the Dolby Theater for a night of celebration and wonderment, elation and disappointment.
As always, no superhero, sci-fi or fantasy film can exactly be said to be lead the charge, but then again, apart from a few occasions, they never have; however, the acting categories comprise a number of nominees you may recognize.
Hugh Jackman, famous to us as the grizzly, side-burn wearing freak spectacular, Wolverine, leads the charge in Best Actor, for his performance in Les Miserables.
Daniel Day-Lewis, however, will probably sweep it, along with his horde of other awards that he’s accumulated this season in his giant Lincoln hat.
Jennifer Lawrence is also nominated, alluring to us as Mystique in X-Men: First Class, and I think she stands a decent chance given her performance in Silver-Linings Playbook, which has proven to be a surprise favorite with many. She faces stiff competition, however, from the likes of Miss Sally Field, brilliant in her turn as Mary Todd Lincoln, and Jessica Chastain from Zero Dark Thirty.
It’s also worth mentioning Beasts of the Southern Wild, which has several big nominations, including Best Picture, as well as a lead actress nomination for Quvenzhané Wallis, and would definitely be an out of left-field win, should that prove to be the case. My money is on Chastain however (and the ever-reliable Argo for Best Picture).
I would have also liked to have seen First Class‘ Michael Fassbender nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Prometheus, as I think he did some terrific work in that film as conniving, T.E. Lawrence-obsessed android David, but hopefully his work in another film will be recognized at some stage.
Last but not least in the acting category, we have a certain feline bent, as Anne Hathaway is nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the aforementioned Les Mis. Her performance has commanded rave reviews from many, with some mentioning her long close-up as a particular highlight, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she took the award, as she’s swept the category so far, taking the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and the SAG Award, to name but a few.
It’s a shame that The Dark Knight Rises has not been nominated for any Oscars, but perhaps the Academy feels they have already acknowledged the series with Heath Ledger’s win in 2009, and that was as far as they were willing to go with a superhero film, which has never traditionally been high up in the nomination stakes.
Many critics and fans have proclaimed Christopher Nolan’s series to be far elevated beyond usual superhero fare, but I think the academy simply doesn’t consider the genre as being particularly “worthy”, which I hope will change at some point. Many superhero films provide astute social commentary, as well spectacular performances and set-pieces – X-Men being one example, as well as Rises itself.
This then leads us to the technical category, which is where the rest of the sci-fi/fantasy/superhero fare usually resides, and it’s no surprise to see some of the bigger films of the year in there: Skyfall, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Prometheus and The Avengers all have solid technical nominations, and at least three of the films – The Hobbit, Avengers, Prometheus – have visual effects nominations. I think The Hobbit might stand the best chance of winning, given its virtual character work and set pieces.
The Life of Pi, however, has proven to be a huge hit with critics and audiences, so if that swept that category I wouldn’t be surprised either, and Skyfall, I expect, will win Best Original Score, as it did at the BAFTAs, as well as best original song for Adele. Given the 50th anniversary of the series, it seems apt. With Judi Dench and Javier Bardem having failed to receive nods in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories for their roles in the film, the least the academy can do is honor the best (and arguably only truly decent) Bond song since Tina Turner‘s Goldeneye.
Prometheus has been left only with a visual effects nomination – which is not surprising to me, as it was a mixed bag in my view -, and I expect Avengers, spectacular as it was, to most likely come away with nothing. I would also at least liked to see The Amazing Spider-Man at least nominated for visual effects, given the digital character work on The Lizard, but with so many other films this year featuring equally excellent work – in particular, the return of Gollum in The Hobbit -, I can see why it was overlooked.
Skyfall’s cinematography was a highlight of films for me last year, and I think it stands an excellent chance of winning that category, Roger Deakins having served to give the Bond series a very distinctive new sheen, and Pi has already won a 3D cinematography award, so I think that will be left out in the cold, along with the rest of the nominees.
Hitchcock will come away with Best Makeup, I think, even competing against The Hobbit, and I think sound mixing will go to Les Miserables, given the plaudits the film has received for its live singing, and that the musical is such a fixture at this years’ awards anyway. Sound editing? No idea. Pi seems like a reasonable middle-of-the-road bet, though.
Production design is a tricky one, but I expect either Les Miserables or Pi will come away with it – seamy revolutionary France vs. boy stranded on a boat at sea with a live tiger – and Lincoln possibly being a close third; Pi, of course, featuring seamless melding of virtual environments that proved critical to the very nature of the story.
Overall, it’s an interesting bag, and, though many of my favorites aren’t necessarily represented as well as they might, it’ll be a lark, I’m sure. Plus, the speeches are always fun to watch. Kind of.
What are your predictions?