2013 Oscar Nominations: Best Picture

I rarely sit through the Grammys or VMA’s, have never seen the Golden Globes, hold a passing interest in the Emmy’s and, despite my love for the theater, I only watch the Tony’s for Neil Patrick Harris. The one awards show that really gets me riled up, however, is The Academy Awards.

Although they almost always fail to honor any films not in the box office top twenty, and tend to get more things wrong than right, for some reason I can’t help but get all up in arms about nominations and wait breathlessly on Oscar night glued to my TV, hanging on each announcer’s every word (Obviously I’ve got some issues).

Anyways, the 2013 nominees have been announced and I’m here to lend you my entirely engrossing and insightful take on what is and what should have been.

I was expecting more films in the category for Best Picture, quite honestly, but I think they’ve got a pretty good selection. Kathryn Bigelow’s buzzworthy and somewhat scandalous Zero Dark Thirty (code speak for ‘really, really early’), Tom Hooper’s musical version of Les Miserables, Ben Affleck’s sensational Argo and Spielberg’s frontrunner Lincoln were all sure bets for nomination, with Ang Lee’s stunning Life of Pi nearly equally expected.

The rest are hardly surprises, but didn’t exactly have the lock-in status the previous five claimed. Benh Zeitlin’s much-talked about indie Beasts of the Southern Wild, it’s greatest boast being the impressive performance of then six-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy, and Michael Haneke’s emotional Amour, a poignant French tale of love in old age, are probably Lincoln‘s greatest competition for Best Picture, right after Argo. I say this because they’re the only  (relatively) small-budget imports that didn’t break the American box office, and although The Academy is rather predictable regarding its nominations they have an aversion, at crunch time, to letting themselves appear too mainstream. So naturally if Lincoln doesn’t walk away with the award it seems likely one of the more ‘artistic’ options will, to satisfy The Academy’s image of themselves as upholders of artistic integrity (Wow, that sounds so sassy, my bad. I’m dialing it down a notch.).

The other nominees are David Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, which personally I find the weakest of the bunch, and Tarantino’s Django Unchained. While I don’t think The Academy will choose Django for the win, it’s nice that they’ve loosened up enough to again honor Tarantino with the distinction he deserves.

I guess it was really too much to expect a nomination for The Dark Knight Rises, which I felt, along with it’s predecessor The Dark Knight, transcended typical comic-book fare and delivered a tense, gripping and emotional story. And of course The Avengers isn’t exactly the type of film to get lauded at the Academy Awards but hey, it was funny, clever, well-made, and artfully brought together what was previously four separate story arcs into one coherent plot. I know Oscars usually go to films with a little more emotional resonance and somber storylines, but it is an award for best-made film, not film that got you most misty-eyed, right? I’d list Skyfall among this collection of films as well; excellently made and stunningly shot, why doesn’t Bond get a shot at one of those statuettes?

Some of the most surprising absences go to The Master, Flight and Moonrise Kingdom. Although I’ve only seen the last of the three, The Master struck me as standard Academy shoe-in material, and I’ve heard only good things about the dramatic Flight and Denzel Washington’s forceful performance. And while I’m slowly learning Wes Andersen’s not exactly my cup of tea, I can appreciate the quality of his latest creation, Moonrise Kingdom, and am moderately surprised the quirky coming-of-age-esque tale didn’t at least get a nod. Did this have something to do with hanging chads?

Anyway, I’m still equally excited for the awards and all the glitzy glamouressness and silly show antics and promenading, and of course the celebration of the craft. That too. Here’s to hoping they bring back Franco and Hathaway as hosts, huh? Those two slayed it.

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