Sheldon’s If I Picked The Oscars® for 2013

Oscars 2013

Tomorrow night, the Academy Awards® will be handed out for the 85th time. Despite doomsayers, 2012 was a very good year for film – from blockbusters to the tiniest indies. I don’t like predicting Oscar® recipients and I’m not that good at figuring out what the Academy will honor (despite being in demographic of the majority of members, I find them far less open-minded).

There are a number of categories where everything is wide open and a few that are down to a couple of major contenders. There are also a couple of categories where it would seem that one entry has a lock. But this is the Oscars®. And for every seemingly inevitable winner, there is a dark horse who came out of nowhere to upset a seemingly inevitable winner. So, if I picked the winners, these would be my choices. Beware intermittent commentary.

Best Picture

Nine nominees out of a potential ten slots create a pretty wide variety, though there are no genuine blockbusters (the constant exclusion of which was the reason the category was expanded to that potential number). On the other hand, all but a couple have done upwards of $100 million at the box office, so the public would seem to echo the critics here.

Amour – fine film, very depressing. Will win Foreign Language Film.

Argo – slick treatment of a truly unique historical event but not best film I saw last year (that wasn’t nominated, but I’m not bitter…)

Beasts of the Southern Wild – the strangest film of the year, in the best ways. This what magic realism looks like – Gabriel Garcia Marquez would love it.

Django Unchained – not even Quentin Tarantino’s best film (though very close).

Les Misérables – seriously flawed by an overwhelming experience.

Life of Pi – an unfilmable film and ambitious in other ways (a story spun by a man who claims that hearing it will make you believe in God). Easily the most amazing use of CG in a live action movie, ever.

Lincoln – very much a stagey treatment of Lincoln’s maneuvering to pass the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The performances of an all-star cast lift it even beyond Tony Kushner’s excellent script.

Silver Linings Playbook – I know these people.

Zero Dark Thirty – tense and complex with a truly brilliant performance by Jessica Chastain.

My selection as Best Picture: Silver Linings Playbook. (I expect Argo to win.)



Amour – Michael Haneke

Beasts of the Southern Wild – Benh Zeitlin

Life of Pi – Ang Lee

Lincoln – Steven Spielberg

Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell

See above comments. My selection for Director is David O. Russell.


Lead Actor

Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln

Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables

Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

Denzel Washington – Flight

There are no weak links here, but for me at least, it comes down to Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day-Lewis. The difference, for me, is that Phoenix acts the hell out of his role, but Day-Lewis is Lincoln.

My selection for Best Actor is Daniel Day-Lewis.


Lead Actress

Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva – Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis –Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts – The Impossible

This is another collection of incredible performances with not a lot to choose between them. For me, it comes down to Wallis and Lawrence. The difference is that Lawrence is required to do more without being showy. And like I said above, I know this character.

My selection for Lead Actress is Jennifer Lawrence.


Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin – Argo

Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master

Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln

Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

There are no losers here – every one of these actors has an Oscar® win under his belt. The obvious choices would be Jones for his hardcore abolitionist in Lincoln and Waltz for his loquacious bounty hunter in Django Unchained – but in Silver Lings Playbook, DeNiro gives a performance worthy of the young guy who won for The Godfather II in 1974, and Hoffman really captures the nerve and desperation of the man who’s making it up as he goes along in The Master.

My selection for Supporting Actor is Robert DeNiro.


Supporting Actress

Amy Adams – The Master

Sally Field – Lincoln

Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables

Helen Hunt – The Sessions

Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

The trend to impressive collections of nominees continues here. Adams is fierce as the power behind the throne in The Master; Field might too old for the role, but she captures Mary Todd’s strengths, weaknesses and frustrations in Lincoln; Hathaway owns the screen as the doomed Fatine in Les Miz; Hunt bares her character’s soul as well as her body in The Sessions, and Jacki Weaver perfectly inhabits the role of loving, worried, yet tough Philly mom in Silver Linings Playbook.

My selection for Supporting Actress is (surprise!) Anne Hathaway.


Animated Feature Film

Brave – Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman

Frankenweenie – Tim Burton

ParaNorman – Sam Fell and Chris Butler

The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Peter Lord

Wreck-It Ralph – Rich Moore

There are weak entries in this category, either, though I suspect that the Academy will mostly go for either Brave or Wreck-It Ralph.

Brave is a creative rebound from the mediocre (though financially successful) Cars 2, but the shifts in tone between Merida’s story and the linking bits featuring her parents are not particularly smooth and the film as a whole suffers from that.

Wreck-It Ralph is the first truly great videogame movie. It could not have been made ten years ago, but now videogames have so pervaded our culture that even non-gamers get most of the references. It may also be the best ‘hero’s quest’ movie since Star Wars. The animation is a match for Pixar. Wreck-It Ralph is Disney’s best non-Pixar animated movie in a decade.

My selection for Animated Feature Film is Wreck-It Ralph.



Anna Karenina – Seamus McGarvey

Django Unchained – Robert Richardson

Life of Pi – Claudio Miranda

Lincoln – Janusz Kaminski

Skyfall – Roger Deakins

My selection for Cinematography is Skyfall’s Roger Deakins.


Costume Design

Anna Karenina – Jacqueline Durran

Les Misérables – Paco Delgado

Lincoln – Joanna Johnston

Mirror Mirror – Eiko Ishioka

Snow White and the Huntsman – Colleen Atwood

My selection for Costume Design is Mirror Mirror’s Eiko Ishioka.


Documentary Feature

I have not seen any of the nominees.

Documentary Short Film

I have not seen any of the nominees.


Film Editing

Argo – William Goldenberg

Life of Pi – Tim Squyres

Lincoln – Michael Kahn

Silver Linings Playbook – Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers

Zero Dark Thirty – Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

My selection for Film Editing is Life of Pi’s Tim Squyres.


Foreign Language Film

Amour – Austria

Kon-Tiki – Norway

No – Chile

A Royal Affair – Denmark

War Witch – Canada

My selection for Foreign Language Film is Amour.


Original Score

Anna Karenina – Dario Marianelli

Argo – Alexandre Desplat

Life of Pi – Mychael Danna

Lincoln – John Williams

Skyfall – Thomas Newman

My selection for Original Score is Skyfall.


Original Song

Before My Time – from Chasing Ice, Music and Lyric by J. Ralph

Everybody Needs A Best Friend – from Ted, Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane

Pi’s Lullaby – from Life of Pi, Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri

Skyfall – from Skyfall, Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

Suddenly – from Les Misérables, Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

My selection for Original Song is Skyfall (not a great song, but better than the rest of this fairly mediocre lot).


Production Design

Anna Karenina – Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright

Les Misérables – Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson

Life of Pi – Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

Lincoln – Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

My selection is The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey (which looks great in non-48fps screenings).


Animated Short Film

Adam and Dog – Minkyu Lee

Fresh Guacamole – PES

Head over Heels – Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare – David Silverman

Paperman – John Kahrs

For the first time in years, I’ve seen every nominee for Animated Short Film and they are all extraordinarily well executed. It all comes down to imagination and there, Adam and Dog and Head Over Heels are easily the most imaginative.

My selection for Animated Short Film is Head Over Heels (all the nominees can be found online – go watch them!).


Live Action Short Film

I have not seen any of the nominees.


Sound Editing

Argo – Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn

Django Unchained – Wylie Stateman

Life of Pi – Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton

Skyfall – Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers

Zero Dark Thirty – Paul N.J. Ottosson

My selection for Sound Editing is Argo.


Sound Mixing

Argo – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia

Les Misérables – Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes

Life of Pi – Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin

Lincoln – Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins

Skyfall – Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

My selection for Sound Mixing is Skyfall.


Visual Effects

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White

Life of Pi – Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott

Marvel’s The Avengers – Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick

Prometheus – Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill

Snow White and the Huntsman – Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Two words: Richard Parker.

My selection for Visual Effects is Life of Pi.


Adapted Screenplay

Argo – Screenplay by Chris Terrio

Beasts of the Southern Wild – Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin

Life of Pi – Screenplay by David Magee

Lincoln – Screenplay by Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook – Screenplay by David O. Russell

My selection is Lincoln.


Original Screenplay

Amour – Written by Michael Haneke

Django Unchained – Written by Quentin Tarantino

Flight Written by John Gatins

Moonrise Kingdom – Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty – Written by Mark Boal

This is the only category for which my favorite film of 2012 is nominated.

My selection is Moonrise Kingdom, by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola.