Oscars 2013 Recap

ImageLet the nitpicking begin! To each his own but I loved Seth McFarlane for most parts as the host of the 85th Academy Awards.  A Year that Oscars decided to pay tribute to the music in movies considering that this was a good year for Musicals with Les Misérables being nominated for Best Picture among other big awards. A night that featured musical performances from Dame Shirley Bassey leading the 50th year of James Bond tribute, Norah Jones performing everyone needs a friend from Ted, Jennifer Hudson blowing the roof off the Dolby Theater with her Dreamgirl number “And I’m telling you” and the Magnificent ADELE singing and then later winning for Skyfall can be forgiven for Barbra Streisand doing In Memorium.

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My favorite moments from the show:

  1. Adele Singing Skyfall
  2. Daniel Day Lewis’s acceptance speech and his jokes on Meryl Streep and them switching roles of Thatcher and Lincoln. I just wish someone would cast these two together and make them both 4-time Oscar winners.
  3. Ang Lee Winning – like a dark horse Lee Swooped in and took the award and graciously at that.
  4. Seth McFarlane joking about the super secretive nature of Argo – so Secretive infact the Academy didn’t know who directed it and thus not nominating Ben Affleck
  5. Affleck’s acceptance speech and promising to not hold grudges 🙂

Most Disappointing moment of the night:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence winning instead of Jessica Chastain.
  2. Brave winning instead of Wreck it Ralph

I ended the night with 5/6 for the predictions on who I wanted to win with the only one I lost was for Jessica Chastain.

Below is the complete list of winners

Best Picture                                            Argo
Best Actor                                               Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Best Actress                                           Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Director                                          Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Best Animated Feature Film                 Brave
Best Cinematography                           Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)
Best Short Film Animated                     Paperman (director John Kahrs)
Best Short Film (Live Action)               Curfew (Directed by Shawn Christensen)
Best Original Screenplay                      Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Best Adapted Screenplay                      Chris Terrio (Argo)
Best Original Song                                 Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth (Skyfall)
Best Original Score                               Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)
Best Actor In A Supporting Role          Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Visual Effects                                 Life of Pi
Best Documentary Feature                   Searching For Sugarman
Best Documentary Short                       Inocente (Directed by Sean Fine, Andrea Nix)
Best Sound Mixing                                 Les Miserables
Best Sound Editing                                Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall
Best Film Editing                                    William Goldenberg (Argo)
Best Supporting Actress                       Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Best Foreign Language Film                Amour
Best Makeup & Hairstyling                   Lisa Westcott & Julie Dartnell (Les Miserables)
Best Production Design                       Lincoln
Best Costume Design                          Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina)

And the total wins for the movies (which will go up on their adverts now)

Life of Pi (4 Oscars)
Argo (3 Oscars)
Les Miserables (3 Oscars)
Lincoln (2 Oscars)
Skyfall (2 Oscars)
Django Unchained (2 Oscars)
Brave (1 Oscar)
Silver Linings Playbook (1 Oscar)
Zero Dark Thirty (1 Oscar)
Amour (1 Oscar)
Searching for Sugar Man (1 Oscar)
Anna Karenina (1 Oscar)

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Taking everything into consideration I feel much better about 2012 at the movies than I did before the show.  Almost all the right people won and were gracious in their acceptance speeches and Seth McFarlane was appropriately risqué and hilarious for most parts with some real zingers.

As for early 2014 predictions – I Have Meryl Streep for August Osage County

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Kai Po Che – A Review

ImageCricket, politics, religion and passion collide in Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel three mistakes of my life. The movie stars Sushant Raj Singh, Amit Sadh and Raj Kumar Yadav as the three friends and their travails through life.

Right off the bat the movie sets the tone right with the understated opening sequence with wide spanning vistas and I was floored by the visual artistry on display. All through the movie there are scenes of such beauty that will take your breath away. The music while limited in terms of the number of songs for a Hindi movie are perfect accompaniment to the rustic Ahmedabad and kick up a notch when garba comes calling.

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Of the acting all three actors are brilliant and the very embodiment of bromance that it is impossible to tell them apart. Sushant Singh Rajput’s dreamer cricketer Ishaan is the perfect foil to Raj Kumar Yadav’s business acumen displaying but clueless about love Govind. The standout for me though is Amit Sadh’s Omi who goes from being the charlatan and joker of the group to becoming the politician on the rise and the reluctant fundamentalist. The final scene and the quite breakdown in front of Vidya is understated but equivalent of an eruption of an emotional volcano. Another standout and the real heart of the movie is the young Digvijay Deshmukh who plays the gifted child cricket protégé Ali the common thread that brings the entire movie together. Amrita Puri as Vidya, Ishaan’s sister also does full justice to her role. For me personally a sign of a good movie is when the supporting cast is as strong as the lead actors, with Kai Po Che there is a plethora of memorable supporting actors essaying roles that provide more than just a plot point to move the story along but rather help weave the complete fabric of the story, be it the politician mamaji, the priest father, the Muslim leader and father of Ali, all come together to make Kai Po Che a storytelling success.

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Having gone in unfamiliar with Bhagat’s source material I was sufficiently full of dread as I hated Three Idiots and in general stay as far away from Chetan Bhagat as possible because of his novels.  But Abhishek Kapoor does a brilliant job translating the story to the screen and still managing to keep it relevant, realistic and uplifting. For those who are not familiar with the novel Three Mistakes of My Life I will not go into too many details but sufficient to say that it recreates some of the most memorable moments of the first decade of the new millennium in Gujarat and while doing so does not take a side and only makes a dispassionate commentary on the events that shape the lives of these 3 friends, events that would have no doubt affected many other young men who lived through that period.

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There is vibrancy to this movie and naturalness to the performances that make everything absolutely believable, something that I found lacking in both Three Idiots (Bhagat’s first novel to be adapted for the big screen) and Rock On (Kapoor’s previous movie). By taking on relative new comers to the essay the roles of Ish Omi and Govi Abhishek Kapoor is able to get the best possible performances out of them.

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To me this movie this early on in the year is hopefully a sign of things to come – I herald it as the next step in the evolution of the Indian film industry in its 100th year.  Go see the movie because this is probably one of the best movies this year and Abhishek Kapoor is a director who has got my attention

Oscars turns 85! and there’s a big party!

Roll out the red carpet the most important little golden man approaches.  The day when I fume at the fact that Rajeev Masand gets to ask the most important questions to some of the most beautiful and talented women in the world – “who are you wearing!?” and he probably doesn’t know his Elli Saab from Lanvin! But besides the pageantry that is the pre-awards red-carpet the day is also special because the best in the business are awarded the honor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts (dubbed the Oscars)

Love them or Hate them over 1 billion people tune in to watch the Oscars and despite the number holding steady and growing substantially there is much brouhaha being made about how Oscar Awards are losing audience and relevance.  And various arguments were made that a trilogy like Nolan’s Batman would’ve brought in the required audience had It been nominated and awarded a few statuettes. SURPRISE no nominations for The Dark Knight Rises this year! Zilch! But not to worry Snow White and the Huntsman has got 2 Nominations and it will bring in some of the twi-hards.

Now that I have that out of my system lets look at the nominations and I’ll share my thoughts and predictions on who should win and who might win and would love to hear your take on the same!

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Amy Adams (The Master)

For past several years this has been the most fiercely fought category with some standout performances which have actually stolen the show.  In my opinion Adams was amazing in The Master and showed brilliant range matching PSH step for step but this is a lock for Anne Hathaway. It is an Oscar moment waiting to happen – Hathaway’s mom played Fantine on Broadway and now she reprises the role on the silver screen and delivers one the most powerful performances singing through tears that breaks your heart.

Who Should Win: Anne Hathaway – the world might hate her over-eagerness but I love her!
Who will Win: Anne Hathaway – seriously watch her sing “I dreamed a dream”. You can pretty much walk out of the movie after that song.

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

A usually un-inspiring category has suddenly turned into the most talented one – PSH, De Niro (his best in years), Waltz and Tommy Lee Jones. All stellar in their own regard, and each of them delivering a performance which could easily win. A tough call

Who should Win: anyone but Alan Arkin
Who will Win: I’m tempted to say Tommy Lee Jones but with DDL it is easy to overlook Jones. And Waltz has been winning many leading up to this one. So I’m confused! But because I like Tarantino more than Spielberg I’m giving it to Waltz

Writing (Original Screenplay)
John Gatins (Flight)
Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)

This took me by surprise – but I thought Zero Dark Thirty was Adapted from some Ex-Navy SEAL’s book.  But turns out Boal and Bigelow were working on the failed attempts at capturing Osama when the news broke that he was indeed killed and they realigned themselves and the outcome was Zero Dark Thirty. The only argument against ZD30 is Torture and Tarantino is the only real competition and his movies are more violent than both hurt locker and ZD30 put together.

Who Should Win: Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
Who Will Win: Tarantino.

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

Argo and Life of Pi are favorite movies of the year but they are not backed by Weinstein.  Kushner is a well-respected playwright. An interesting category, which might eventually have a say in which movie takes home the best picture nod.

Who Should Win: Chris Terrio for Argo. The arguments that the end was exaggerated should be silenced by the fact that the story is adapted for dramatic effect!
Who Will Win: Russell for Silver Linings Playbook – the material while wonderful didn’t seem like it would’ve been difficult to adapt.

Cinematography
Anna Karenina (Seamus McGarvey)
Django Unchained (Robert Richardson)
Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
Lincoln (Janusz Kaminski)
Skyfall (Roger Deakins)

Deakins was the only thing I liked about Skyfall – especially the last scene where the house is blown up and the fire reflects off the face of Craig. But Miranda cannot be denied this prize. He created one of the most visually stunning movies of the past decade (which includes Avatar).

Who Should Win: Claudio Miranda
Who Will Win: Claudio Miranda

Production Design
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln

This is generally the domain of period or fantasy flicks and this year is no different.  I think this would be tossup between 19th century France vs. 19th century America.

Who Should Win: Lincoln
Who Will Win:  Lincoln

Film Editing
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

This also acts as a windsock for the final award and in that respect I think the editing should be a toss-up between Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.  Argo’s pacing was brilliant and the entertainment was edge of the seat. Supported by a brilliant script and screenplay ZD30 summarized the 10 year search in a compact and intense thriller.

Who Should Win: Argo
Who Will Win: Argo

Music (Original Score)
Dario Marianelli (Anna Karenina)
Alexandre Desplat (Argo)
Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)
John Williams (Lincoln)
Thomas Newman (Skyfall)

I’m a huge Desplat and Newman fan and I loved Danna’s score for Life of Pi. Williams and Spielberg is a lethal combination most times.

Who Should Win: Mychael Danna
Who Will Win: It will be close but Thomas Newman might snag it.

Music (Original Song)
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Suddenly” from Les Miserables
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted
“Skyfall” from Skyfall

My patriotic leanings (and love for Zara Zara ) aside I don’t think Bombay Jayashree is going to win. The reason is simple. ADELE ! I cannot wait for her to perform Skyfall live and then to gush over like an over grown school girl about how she won in front of all these famous people. I love her and each time I watch her I get the “one-of-us” feeling even though her talent is definitely not “one-of-us”.

Who Should Win: Adele
Who Will Win: Adele

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

One of my favorite genres of movies! And despite pixar presence I don’t think Brave is going to win this one. Franekweenie saw the return of burton to his dark twisted humorous best. But Wreck-It Ralph should have this locked down. Brilliant from animation stand-point , a story that was entertaining and intelligent and Disney needs a win! Come on Disney!

Who Should Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Who Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph

Time for the big guns to roll out!  These are the four of the most coveted trophies being handed out.

Best Actress
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Naomi Watts shouldn’t even be on that list. I think Amour will take home the Best Foreign Language film easily. And the BAFTA outcome not withstanding I don’t think Riva will win this one. This is a 2 horse race between Chastain and Lawrence. I loved Lawrence and I think she is the future of Hollywood. She also has Harvey “The Hammer” Weinstein in her corner.  But Zero Dark Thirty was all about Jessica Chastain. If she is denied the honor then it is a shame. She was stellar! And to go from best sup as the bubbly blonde from The Help last year to ZD30’s Maya shows range that JLaw hasn’t shown yet.

Who Should Win: Jessica Chastain
Who Will Win: Jessica Chastain

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Denzel Washington (Flight)
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

When there is a Daniel Day Lewis movie coming out there shouldn’t even be nominations. He is quite simply one of the greatest living actors who goes to legendary lengths to get into the characters he portrays. His performance as Abraham Lincoln has everything the Academy loves, political biography, racial issues, foreign actor, and Daniel Day Lewis.  The others are remarkable performances in their own right but they are not Daniel Day Lewis.

Who Should Win: Daniel Day Lewis
Who Will Win: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Director
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Enough noise has already been made about Ben Affleck not being nominated and it is all justified. His was one of the best movies of the year and for him to not be nominated is nothing short of a crime. Of the ones nominated I’d happily let Lee have his second win for one of the most beautiful films of this year, that too a story which was proclaimed to be unfilmable.

Who Should Win: Ben Affleck.  Of the nominated it should be Ang Lee.
Who Will Win: David O Russell or Steven Spielberg.

Best Picture
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Lincoln
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Amour
Django Unchained
Argo

Notable absentees: The Dark Knight Rises. LOTR:ROTK was buried under awards for the end of the trilogy and while it was great and I don’t hate the fact that it won what it won I am miffed at the constant snub that Nolan gets for his work. And in my perfect utopian world Ben Affleck would go up on stage and announce “Oscars F*@K yourself”. But I doubt that it will happen.

My top five
Argo
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
Silver Linings Playbook
Django Unchained

Who Should Win: Argo
Who Will Win: Argo

So there you have It –my predictions for the big categories – there are costumes, make up , sound mixing/editing  which while add to the final tally don’t interest me too much. I’ll be cheering and hollering like a lunatic and probably weeping with joy when ADELE performs (Oscar brings out the drama in me – more than usual) so let me know what you thought of the year 2012 at the movies!  Personally while there were some highlights I found the overall year a little underwhelming with a lot of the most anticipated movies not living up to the expectations.  Here is a momentous 2013!