Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 January 2013

Oscar Nominees 2013: Part 4 of 13

Beasts of the Southern Wild
4 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Director: Benh Zeitlin
  • Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis
  • Adapted Screenplay: Benh Zeitlin & Lucy Alibar
Director: Zeitlin
Cast: Wallis, Dwight Henry, Gina Montana, Jovan Hathaway, Levy Easterly, Lowell Landes, Pamela Harper

This is my favorite film of the year, and it surprised big on nominations morning when Benh Zeitlin managed a well-deserved Best Director nod. Clearly there is a lot of for this film around, especially for the film's star, director, and screenwriter. With its Malick-inspired photography and sensibility, its insightful class critique, and its perspective on the material effects of climate-change, this is the must-see film of the year. It also manages to be an emotionally charged narrative about familial relations, childhood, imagination, and bravery. I can't say enough good things about this movie. It probably won't win any Oscars on awards' night, but I am glad Beasts of the Southern Wild was invited to the party. Go see this film.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #1 out of 61

Anna Karenina
4 Nominations
  • Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey (Atonement)
  • Original Score: Dario Marianelli (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
  • Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
  • Production Design: Sarah Greenwood (Sherlock Holmes, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) & Katie Spencer (Sherlock Holmes, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson, Matthew Macfadyen, Alicia Vikander, Emily Watson, Olivia Williams

Joe Wright's film version of Tolstoy's novel is set in a theatre, and though this conceit does not always work, it is always interesting. What interested the Academy even more, however, is how beautiful this film looks. Four nominations means that the Academy didn't dislike this film nearly as much as some of the people with whom I've chatted about the movie. In fact, it looks as though they rather liked it. Seamus McGarvey's nomination, for example, means that the film had broad support among the below-the-line folks. And the categories of Costume Design and Production Design have been going their own way lately – they are not linked nearly as strongly as they have been to Best Picture. I am expecting Anna to take home both awards, though Costume is the likelier of the two. (And they will be well deserved. Durran has yet to win, and really ought to.)
Will Win: Costume Design, Production Design
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #5 out of 61

The Master
3 Nominations
  • Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, Gladiator)
  • Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt, Charlie Wilson's War, Capote)
  • Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Fighter, Doubt, Junebug)
Cast: Phoenix, Hoffman, Adams, Laura Dern, Jesse Plemons, Rami Malek, Ambyr Childers, Christopher Evan Welch

This film clearly did not take off with the Academy, although Joaquin Phoenix is so good in it, that he was simply not to be ignored. The Master in a lot of ways is a retread of There Will Be Blood, and though the Academy loved that movie, this one is more flawed and certainly less lovable. And in reality P.T. Anderson has never been everyone's cup of tea. He is storyteller haunted by intense, epic tragedies, and he is fascinated by characters who often make very bad decisions, sometimes over and over and over again. These films have often rubbed people the wrong way. So it isn't really a surprise that The Master didn't quite connect with audiences the way TWBB did. Still, I'm glad Phoenix and Adams were nominated; their work really is excellent (Phoenix's in particular), and I am surprised that the film's cinematographer was ignored by the Academy. Oh yeah, and one more thing: Jonny Greenwood's score for this movie is perhaps the best film score of the year. Check it out.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #10 out of 61