Tuesday, February 17, 2015

If I picked the Oscars: 2012

As I've done in three previous posts, in preparation for the Oscars telecast on Sunday evening, I've been looking at the winners from previous years, and sharing my thoughts as to those I would have voted for if I were a member of the Academy. (Check out my thoughts on who should have won the 2000 Oscars, the 2005 Oscars, and the 2009 Oscars.)

This time I'll look at the 2012 Oscars. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts—since this is just my opinion, I'm always interested in talking with people who both agree and disagree with what I think.

Best Picture
The Academy again nominated nine films for Best Picture in 2012—Amour; Argo; Beasts of the Southern Wild; Django Unchained; Les Miserables; Lincoln; Life of Pi; Silver Linings Playbook; and Zero Dark Thirty. (I wasn't, well, wild about Beasts of the Southern Wild, and would have nominated Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom in its place.) The winner was Argo.

My choice: Do I go with my head or my heart? My heart's favorite movie of 2012 was Les Miserables, mainly because I have loved that musical since it debuted in 1986, know every word by heart, and have seen it about 1000 times, and I thought the movie adaptation was really good, despite one notable flaw. (Cough, Russell Crowe, cough.) And perhaps that's why I'd go with my head, and agree with the Academy by picking Argo as Best Picture. As I said in my original review of the movie, despite having reasonable certainty about what happened in real life, this movie kept me in suspense, and I thought the acting was spot on.

Best Actor
The nominees in this category were: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln; Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; and Denzel Washington, Flight. There were a number of really strong performances delivered by actors in 2012, and I felt the most egregious oversight in this category was John Hawkes, whose absolutely fantastic performance in The Sessions, should have been star-making. (I also thought that legendary French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant deserved recognition for his emotional work in Amour.) Daniel Day-Lewis took home his third Best Actor Oscar for Lincoln.

My choice: Like there was a contest in this category? I mean, Cooper, Jackman, Phoenix, and Washington all were very good, but Daniel Day-Lewis was, once again, utterly mesmerizing. His portrayal of Abraham Lincoln was truly an acting master class—he was fiery, emotional, tender, stalwart, and there was almost a moment when I hoped that Steven Spielberg might subvert the course of history and have him decide to skip the play at Ford's Theatre that night in 1865. Honestly, just a phenomenal performance all around.

Best Actress
The Best Actress category in 2012 boasted the oldest and youngest nominees in history. The nominees were: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Emanuelle Riva, Amour; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; and Naomi Watts, The Impossible. Two years after her first nomination, Jennifer Lawrence took home the Oscar in this category. (I would have nominated 2007 winner Marion Cotillard for her amazing performance in Rust and Bone.)

My choice: Jennifer Lawrence was quite good in Silver Linings Playbook (I'd imagine every actress enjoys the opportunity to play a character struggling with emotional issues), but I would have given the Oscar to Jessica Chastain for her performance as a dogged CIA analyst in Zero Dark Thirty. She is quietly ferocious as she tries to prove that her instincts are correct, and they have found Osama bin Laden, she is emotional and, at times, humorous. It was a fantastic role—one which wasn't perhaps as showy as Lawrence's, but one I felt more deserving of the Oscar.

Best Supporting Actor
The nominees in this category in 2012 had all won an Oscar previously. They were: Alan Arkin, Argo; Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln; and Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained. (I believe Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in Django Unchained deserved a nomination, as did Javier Bardem's campy, unhinged performance in Skyfall.) Waltz took home his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar in four years.

My choice: Waltz is his usually hysterically dangerous self in this movie, but I felt like this performance was very similar to his Oscar-winning role in Inglourious Basterds, despite playing a Nazi in one and a bounty hunter of runaway slaves in the other. My choice for this award would be Phillip Seymour Hoffman, for his utterly mesmerizing performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, in which he plays an L. Ron Hubbard-like leader of a movement called The Cause, which is governed by psychological and spiritual mumbo-jumbo involving hypnosis and past life regression, among other things. While the movie was a bit bizarre (as Anderson's films often are), Hoffman delivers one of the best performances of his career, more complex and nuanced than his portrayal of Truman Capote, for which he won Best Actor in 2005.

Best Supporting Actress
This year's nominees were: Amy Adams, The Master; Sally Field, Lincoln; Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; and Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook. (I thought Ann Dowd did some marvelous work in the little-seen Compliance, and I'm still a bit shocked that Maggie Smith wasn't nominated for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.) Anne Hathaway won the Oscar for her role as Fantine in Les Miserables.

My choice: While it is difficult to compare a musical performance with a dramatic one, I would agree with the Academy, and give the Oscar to Anne Hathaway. I thought she sounded great (and as a fan of the show, I'm a tough critic) and really was able to convey the tragic drama of this role without really overacting. It definitely was one of the stronger portrayals of Fantine I've seen—usually casting tends to give this role to someone who can sing well but not necessarily act well.

Best Director
The nominees in this category were: Michael Haneke, Amour; Ang Lee, Life of Pi; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild. This category was more about those who were overlooked, namely Ben Affleck for Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, and Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained. Lee won his second Best Director Oscar (the first was for Brokeback Mountain in 2005) for his adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling book.

My choice: If I had my way, Lee would have already won two Best Director Oscars (for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, and Brokeback). I thought Life of Pi was more a triumph of visual effects and cinematography than anything else, so since Affleck wasn't nominated, I'd give the award to Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, for two reasons—for making a movie so compelling despite the fact that it's based on history and you know everything that will happen, and for getting a spellbinding performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, not to mention strong performances from Field, Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and others. But then again, I would expect nothing less from Spielberg!!

No comments:

Post a Comment