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Justice League

justiceleague

After the mixed responses to Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman demonstrated that given the right level of care and attention, DC could deliver an effective superhero film both for audiences and critics. Justice League sheds the ponderousness of BVS: DOJ and avoids the jumbled storytelling of Suicide Squad, borrows plot elements from both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and presents a colourful array of characters. The new arrivals – Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) – receive short shrift in the rush to squeeze everything into two hours, and would have benefitted from earlier standalone films to give them and their respective worlds more detail. The lack of balance between characters is mirrored by the imbalance between the wit of Joss Whedon and Chris Terrio’s script and the portentousness of Zack Snyder’s direction, a problem that also affected BVS: DOJ. Despite this, Justice League still manages to deliver on the promise of multiple super-powered individuals, with a sometimes dazzling display of spectacular abilities, all of which are neatly tied to character development. From Bruce Wayne’s Batman’s (Ben Affleck) array of wonderful toys (composer Danny Elfman also references his own score from 1989’s Batman) to Diana Prince/Wonder Woman’s (Gal Gadot) reluctance to lead, Cyborg’s fear over the loss of his humanity to Aquaman’s cynicism and the Flash’s youthful exuberance, powers work as part of identity, and the appropriate use of this power is a recurring conceit of the film. Some of these potential heroes have to mature into their powers, others need to be reminded of its responsible use or restraint. Against all this, poorly-rendered (in both written and visual terms) villain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) is rather underpowered despite his goal of planetary conquest, and the film’s chief pleasure is watching the members of the League bounce off each other verbally and physically. Several spectacular set pieces – one with a semi-assembled League and another with them complete – deliver smackdowns of varied spectacle and visual impact, while a neat strand of humour (largely coming from Flash) adds further pep to the concoction. Justice League falls someway short of the standard set by Wonder Woman, but it is far from kryptonite for the DCEU.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

batmanvsupermanheader

There is a widely held misconception that BVS: DOJ is about an epic physical showdown. It isn’t. What the title refers to, and what the film portrays over its sometimes ponderous running time, is an ideological debate between saviour and vigilante. Perhaps surprisingly for a filmmaker best known for bombastic action set pieces, Zack Snyder grapples valiantly with this political debate, resulting in a film where the most interesting sequences are those that feature actual debates. A brooding, melancholic and traumatised Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) debates with reluctant but loyal Alfred (Jeremy Irons); an idealistic yet doubtful Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) debates with Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and Perry White (Laurence Fishburne); senator Finch (Holly Hunter) debates with fellow politicians as well as twitchy billionaire Alexander Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Meanwhile, the mysterious Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) seems to have more answers than everyone else, yet raises questions herself. In-between the debates are immense set pieces, many shot in Snyder’s trademark slo-mo that recalls 300 and Sucker Punch (other references to Snyder’s back catalogue also appear). DOP Larry Fong lenses the film in gloomy shades, especially the ruin of Wayne Manor and the urban wastelands in which our ‘heroes’ battle. At times, the grand portentousness does overwhelm the drama, the wit of Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer’s script hamstrung by Snyder’s lumpen pacing. Yet while the film lacks the lean muscularity of Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy or even the more focused bombast of Man of Steel, it does make a strong contribution to the fundamental questions of superhero cinema – what does it mean to be a hero and what does it mean to be super? Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice may not be the zippiest superhero film, but it is one of the more thoughtful.

Awards Predictions Part Five: And the Oscars Will Go To…

85 Oscars

I always get annoyed at this time of year, as everyone, their cat and the cat’s veterinarian insists that they know better than the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  The Academy consists of filmmakers, writers, producers, directors, actors, cinematographers, editors, make-up artists, production designers, sound engineers, visual effects artists and so on, yet any random blogger or Facebook poster somehow knows better than they do.  The Academy members have opinions like the rest of us, and are possibly better informed about what counts as “good” cinematography, editing or sound mixing than lay people.  But if they do not, I hardly think my opinion or that of any one else is superior to that of AMPAS.  The awards presented are based on the opinions of the voters, so they are only opinions like any other.  You may disagree, which is fine, but that doesn’t make your opinion better.  I am not so arrogant, so I offer no position on who should win, but on who I believe will win, and why.  On a similar note, here is an example of how an actual Academy member has voted.

Right, rant over.  The critics awards, the Golden Globes, the PGA, the DGA, the BAFTAs and the WGA have come and gone.  On 24th February the 85th Annual Academy Awards take place, so it’s time to get predictions in.  The votes have all been cast so the decisions are made, and results kept under security comparable to that of nuclear missile launch codes.  The presentation of other awards can indicate the way the Oscars will go, so here are my predictions for the 85th Annual Academy Awards.

Picture

Amour: Margaret Ménégoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz

Argo: Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald

Django Unchained: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone

Les Misérables: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi: Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark

Lincoln: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Silver Linings Playbook: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon

Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

Prediction – Argo

A month ago I would not have believed it, but if the Oscars follow the other awards, as they usually do, Argo will be the first film to win Best Picture that is not nominated for Achievement in Directing since Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.  Based on its track record, I predict Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov will add to their collection this Sunday.

Of the nine nominees, I have seen seven, and they are all strong films.  Les Misérables is a fine musical, but its strengths seem to mostly derive from the music, its cinematic elements working less effectively.  Django Unchained is a strong story, firmly directed, that takes an interesting approach to screen violence, but is overlong and indulgent.  Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi are the lighter films though both deal with serious material.  Silver Linings Playbook presents people with mental illness in a way that is neither indulgent nor patronising, not asking for our sympathy yet generating it anyway, which is impressive.  Life of Pi is a meta-fictional bonanza with extraordinary technical accomplishments, but perhaps a little whimsical for the Academy members’ taste.  Lincoln is an impressive “important” film, that presents its worth themes as a cracking political drama.  Argo is a great comedy thriller, balancing many disparate elements and promoting international co-operation, and it’s based on a true story, which the Academy love.  Zero Dark Thirty is a fantastic thriller that had me clenched in my seat as the events unfolded, which is impressive as the end result was of course known.  Like Argo, ZDT is based on a true story, but a much darker one and the controversy around the film has likely hurt its chances.  It’s a shame that arguments other than cinematic quality influence Academy voters, but on the other hand it demonstrates social awareness, which not a bad thing.

In several ways, Argo fits the bill for a Best Picture winner – positive true story; America gets to be a hero without doing anything nasty; it’s politically correct as the film does not present the Iranian revolution nor Iranians in a negative light; and it pokes fun at Hollywood itself.  A win for Argo will prove that Hollywood does have a sense of humour about itself!

 

Achievement in Directing

Michael Haneke for Amour

Ang Lee for Life of Pi

David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Prediction – Ang Lee

This is the hardest category to predict, because the obvious contender isn’t nominated.  Ben Affleck has won the Golden Globe, the DGA and the BAFTA, and all well deserved.  Unlike his previous directional efforts, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Affleck did not write Argo and it is not about his hometown, so Argo proves that he can handle different material and, with such a range of tones and concerns in Argo, the film is a triumph of direction.  But AMPAS have not nominated him, which means the field is fairly open.  Not completely, however.  Michael Haneke is a long shot, especially as Amour is very likely to win Foreign Language Picture.  First time nominees do occasionally win, so Benh Zeitlin has a chance, but a very small one considering the weight of the other nominees.  David O’Russell has a slightly better chance, since Silver Linings Playbook is a very honoured film, the first film since Reds in 1981 to be nominated for Best Picture, Directing, Screenplay and in all four acting categories.  Furthermore, SLP has superb direction, generating pathos and bathos with excellent balance, judgement and pace.  A win for O’Russell would be well deserved.

However, I think this category comes down to the two previous winners.  Steven Spielberg won Achievement in Directing in 1993 for Schindler’s List and again in 1998 for Saving Private Ryan.  Interestingly, Saving Private Ryan, unlike Schindler’s List, did not win Best Picture.  Similarly, Lincoln is unlikely to win Best Picture, so it could be a repeat performance of 1998.  That said, Spielberg might pull an upset and pick up both a third Directing Oscar, and a Best Picture win as well.  If I had a vote, it would go to Spielberg.

However, I think it more likely that Ang Lee will win a second Oscar.  He previously won in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain, which missed out on Best Picture.  The reason I think he is likely to win over Spielberg is simply that Life of Pi is a more directed film than Lincoln.  Spielberg himself has said that he took a backseat and let his camera record the actors’ performances of Tony Kushner’s script, rather than employ the range of directorial tricks he has developed over an illustrious career.  Life of Pi, however, is a very mobile film, directed to within an inch of its life.  It uses 3D in a remarkable way, creating depth of field and utilising different planes within the frame, and this was clear to me even though I saw it in 2D.  A great assembly of visual effects, both seascape and character, combined with a meta-fictional story about storytelling, which can appeal to all ages, adds up to a film that is a remarkable achievement in directing.  Therefore, I predict that Ang Lee will pick up his second Oscar.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master

Denzel Washington for Flight

Prediction – Daniel Day-Lewis

No contest really.  If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t win this after his success at the Golden Globes, the SAG and the BAFTAs, the sound of jaws hitting the floor will drown out the applause for the surprise winner.  If there were a runner-up prize, I’d predict Hugh Jackman.  But let’s be honest, Day-Lewis has this in the bag.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva for Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Prediction – Emmanuelle Riva

This is another tough one, as the results have been varied.  Both Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain picked up Golden Globes, but the BAFTA went to Emmanuelle Riva.  Chastain also picked up the SAG, which might give her a slight edge as most of the acting members of the Academy are also guild members.  Of the two I’ve seen, I would pick Chastain because of the steady change her character goes through over the course of Zero Dark Thirty, from brittle to steely to drained.  But age could be a factor here.  Riva is the oldest Best Actress nominee in the history of the Academy, and at the age of 85 is unlikely to be nominated again.  And it was only a few years ago that Marion Cotillard won Best Actress for Ma Vie en Rose, so being in a foreign film is no embargo either.  Furthermore, Riva is playing a character suffering from a disability, which the Academy loves (see previous winners Cotillard, Jamie Foxx, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kathy Bates, Anthony Hopkins).  I have not seen Amour, but based on age and type of performance, I predict that Riva will be the recipient of Best Actress this year.  And I certainly hope she does, as February 24th will be her 86th birthday, and there could be no greater gift than that.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin for Argo

Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

Prediction – Christoph Waltz

A two-horse race, but a very fine set of performances from some very fine actors.  Everyone here has at least one award (and De Niro has two), so who is going to add to their collection?  Based on awards already given, Tommy Lee Jones received the SAG award, while the Golden Globe and the BAFTA went to Christoph Waltz.  I predict the Academy will follow suit, and Waltz will be thanking Quentin Tarantino again come Oscar night.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams for The Master

Sally Field for Lincoln

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

Helen Hunt for The Sessions

Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

Prediction – Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway has won every award available for her stunning performance in Les Misérables, and there is no reason to suspect that will change at the Oscars.  Hopefully her laryngitis will have cleared up by the time she has to make her speech.

 

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Amour, Michael Haneke

Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino

Flight, John Gatins

Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Prediction – Quentin Tarantino

A fistful of impressive screenwriters, and the only non-contender is John Gatins.  Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola have an outside chance, as do Mark Boal and Michael Haneke.  It’d be interesting for Amour to pull off some upsets, but I predict this will go to Tarantino.  Three years ago, Tarantino and Boal competed for this award, and Boal was victorious for The Hurt Locker.  This time, I think QT will get his second award, eighteen years after winning for Pulp Fiction.

 

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Argo, Chris Terrio

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin

Life of Pi, David Magee

Lincoln, Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

Prediction – David O’Russell

Benh Zeitlin is doing well, having this nomination as well as various others (shared, obviously).  That said, I think he’ll have to make do with the nomination, as there are some very strong contenders in this category.  Much of Argo’s power comes from its screenplay, which details the complex events without getting bogged down in detail.  Life of Pi was touted as unfilmable, so to have made a screenplay out of it is a feat in itself.  Lincoln has attracted a lot of admiration, but of all the awards Silver Linings Playbook is up for, this is its best chance to win.  David O’Russell has already won the BAFTA, although the WGA went to Chris Terrio.  SLP has many great features, but its screenplay may be its best element, delicate yet harsh, warm and witty but filled with pain and suffering.  It seems unlikely that a film nominated in all the major categories will leave with nothing, so I predict Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, will got to David O’Russell for Silver Linings Playbook.

 

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Brave, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Frankenweenie, Tim Burton

ParaNorman, Sam Fell, Chris Butler

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, Peter Lord

Wreck-It Ralph, Rich Moore

Prediction – Brave

Pixar’s reign over animation looks set to continue, as Brave picked up the Golden Globe and the BAFTA.  I predict it will receive the Oscar as well.

 

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Amour (Austria)

War Witch (Canada)

No (Chile)

A Royal Affair (Denmark)

Kon-Tiki (Norway)

Prediction – Amour

Anything can happen, but I expect Amour will get some amour from the Academy.

 

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey

Django Unchained, Robert Richardson

Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda

Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski

Skyfall, Roger Deakins

Prediction – Life of Pi

Roger Deakins is long overdue an Oscar, and with Skyfall he did something remarkable with digital cinematography.  But in this extremely technical category, I predict the Academy voters will reward the latest advance in 3D cinematography, Life of Pi.  3D may not be the next big thing in cinema, but it is a major development in cinematography and, like Avatar and Hugo in previous years, I anticipate this award going to the major 3D movie, Life of Pi.

 

Best Achievement in Editing

Argo, William Goldenberg

Life of Pi, Tim Squyres

Lincoln, Michael Kahn

Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers

Zero Dark Thirty, William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

Prediction – Argo

It is a common pattern that the winner of Best Picture also wins Achievement in Editing – note all of these nominees are up for Best Picture as well.  Since Argo is the frontrunner to win Best Picture, I predict it will also win Editing.  Furthermore, much of Argo’s tension and humour is generated by its editing, so it is fitting that it should win this award.

 

Best Achievement in Production Design

Anna Karenina, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright

Les Misérables, Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson

Life of Pi, David Gropman, Anna Pinnock

Lincoln, Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

Prediction – Les Misérables

Tough call, as the production design on all of these is impressive.  Period films often pick up this award, so Lincoln, Les Misérables and Anna Karenina are all possibilities.  It is hard to draw a line between visual effects and production design in Life of Pi, so that is less likely.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has a good chance, as the design of Middle Earth is breathtakingly realized.  It could go many ways, but I predict Les Misérables.

 

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran

Les Misérables, Paco Delgado

Lincoln, Joanna Johnston

Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White, Eiko Ishioka

Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood

Prediction – Anna Karenina

Another one that often goes to costume dramas, unsurprisingly.  I predict Anna Karenina.

 

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane

Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell

Prediction – Les Misérables

Les Misérables pulled off the remarkable feat of making the impossibly gorgeous Anne Hathaway look ugly, so I see it attracting an award here as well.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli

Argo, Alexandre Desplat

Life of Pi, Mychael Danna

Lincoln, John Williams

Skyfall, Thomas Newman

Prediction – Skyfall

I so want Skyfall to win awards that I don’t care what they are.  John Williams’ score for Lincoln is masterful, but I barely remember the music of Argo or Life of Pi.  Thomas Newman has already won a BAFTA, and I predict he will win the Oscar as well.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Chasing Ice, J. Ralph (“Before My Time”)

Les Misérables, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer (“Suddenly”)

Life of Pi, Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree (“Pi’s Lullaby”)

Skyfall, Adele, Paul Epworth (“Skyfall”)

Ted, Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane (“Everybody Needs a Best Friend”)

Prediction – “Skyfall”

And Original Song should be a no-brainer – Skyfall again.

 

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Argo, John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, José Antonio García

Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes

Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Drew Kunin

Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ron Judkins

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

Prediction – Les Misérables

At the Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards, Life of Pi picked up sound editing, music in a feature film and sound editing, dialogue and ADR in a feature film.  Its chances of picking up awards on Oscar night are pretty good.  That said, Les Misérables picked up the BAFTA, and pulls off the impressive feat of balancing live-recorded singing with the other parts of the soundtrack.  Could go either way, but on the night I pick Les Miserables.

 

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Argo, Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn

Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman

Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton

Skyfall, Per Hallberg, Karen M. Baker

Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson

Prediction – Life of Pi

I pick Life of Pi for this award.

 

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Avengers Assemble, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick

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

Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott

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

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

Prediction – Life of Pi

Life of Pi, easily, because it uses its effects in a rich and immersive manner.  Ang Lee’s film has already won other awards for its effects, and I predict it will continue its winning ways.


Best Documentary, Feature

5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi

The Gatekeepers, Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky, Estelle Fialon

How to Survive a Plague, David France, Howard Gertler

The Invisible War, Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

Going out on a limb, because it has won some awards already, Searching for Sugar Man.

 

Best Documentary, Short Subject

Inocente, Sean Fine, Andrea Nix

Kings Point, Sari Gilman, Jedd Wider

Mondays at Racine, Cynthia Wade, Robin Honan

Open Heart, Kief Davidson, Cori Shepherd Stern

Redemption Jon Alpert, Matthew O’Neill

No idea.

 

Best Short Film, Animated

Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee

Fresh Guacamole, PES

Head Over Heels, Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly

Paperman, John Kahrs

The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare, David Silverman

I’d be very pleased if The Simpsons picked up an award, so I’ll speculatively predict that it will.


Best Short Film, Live Action

Asad, Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura

Buzkashi Boys, Sam French, Ariel Nasr

Curfew, Shawn Christensen

Death of a Shadow, Tom Van Avermaet, Ellen De Waele

Henry, Yan England

No idea.

If I’m right, Life of Pi and Les Miserables will be the big winners this year, each potentially winning four awards.  If Ang Lee wins Directing, that will put him in the unenviable position of having won Directing twice, but neither time having his film win Best Picture.  Conceivably, upsets could be pulled and Pi might have a big sweep, collecting Adapted Screenplay and Picture as well, or I might be very wrong and Lincoln sweeps the board, collecting Supporting Actor, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Picture.  I think this unlikely, but then again, this is Hollywood, where, as we all know, nobody knows anything.

Oscars

Awards Predictions Part Three: Oscar Nominations Reactions

Oscars

On 10th January 2013, Seth McFarlane and Emma Stone announced the nominees for the 86th Annual Academy Awards.  There were quite a few surprising entries and omissions among the nominees, and already responses are cropping up, both praising and criticising the decisions of the Academy members.  I wonder what prompts the vitriol of negative responses – what anyone these commentators to be wiser than the Academy members?  If everyone is allowed their own opinion, what makes one opinion better than another?  The answer is nothing, and similarly there is nothing to be gained by slamming the Academy for nominating X over Y.  For me, it is interesting to examine the nominees, consider why these are the case, and predict who will win.  Now that the Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes have been awarded, some possible winners emerge.  This may change, as the Directors’, Producers’, Screenwriters’ and Actors’ guilds of America present their awards, as well as BAFTAs.  It shall be very interesting to look for an emerging pattern.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Amour, nominees to be determined

Argo, Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald

Django Unchained, Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone

Les Misérables, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi, Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark

Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Silver Linings Playbook, Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon

Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

There are some surprising entries here.  The last time a foreign language film was nominated for Best Picture was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, so it is perhaps surprising that such a film has not been nominated since the number of nominees was expanded beyond five.  Amour is a hot contender, nominated in several major categories, and perhaps demonstrates a more open approach than the Academy has shown historically.  Beasts of the Southern Wild is another surprising but very welcome entry.  A low budget film with a limited release, it clearly captured the attention of enough voters to earn this accolade.

Silver Linings Playbook is in the extraordinary position of being nominated for every major award, including all four acting categories.  No film has been nominated in every acting category, not to mention also being up for Writing (Adapted), Directing and Picture since Reds in 1981.  It seems statistically likely that Silver Linings Playbook will pick up something come Oscar night, but films with multiple nominations have walked away empty-handed before.

The other nominees are not surprising, as the various critical organisations as well as the Golden Globes have nominated Argo, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty.  They are fairly typical Oscar fare, with two literary adaptations, two concerned with American history (both with slavery) and two true stories (both concerned with American involvement in the Middle East).  Now Argo has picked up the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama), and Ben Affleck was awarded the Golden Globe as well as the Critics Choice Award for Best Director.  However, Affleck is not nominated for the Directing Oscar, and it is very rare for a Best Picture winner to not at least be nominated in that category – the last time was Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.  As a biopic (sort of) concerned with American history, Lincoln is the most traditional nominee and does have the most nominations.  But that is no guarantee of success, and awards could be spread among various films come February 24th.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master

Denzel Washington for Flight

Not many surprises here.  Daniel Day-Lewis has been a dead cert for some time, and after the Golden Globes, Hugh Jackman and Joaquin Phoenix are also not surprising.  Now that Day-Lewis has won the Golden Globe, the likelihood of him picking up the Oscar is even greater.  Denzel Washington is nominated with surprising regularity, and he is here playing the right sort of role (guilty conscience, struggling with alcoholism).  Bradley Cooper up for an Oscar is surprising, mainly because he is Bradley Cooper, best known for comedic roles.  Like Robin Williams (though not Jim Carrey), Cooper’s move into respectability is facilitated by portraying mental illness.  This seems to be part of the appeal of Silver Linings Playbook: it deals with mental illness in a way that is amusing, serious and moving.  And it has made the star of The Hangover and The A-Team an Oscar nominee, remarkable!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva for Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts for The Impossible

This category is surprising for including both the oldest ever nominee for this award, Emmanuelle Riva, and the youngest, Quvenzhané Wallis.  Jessica Chastain has been a rising star over the last two years, with turns in The Tree of Life, The Debt, Lawless and The Help (for which she was nominated in 2012); Zero Dark Thirty continues her rise.  With a Golden Globe win, she is now a strong contender to pick up the award, especially as this could be the only win for Zero Dark Thirty.  Naomi Watts and Jennifer Lawrence have been here before and attracted great acclaim for their roles, so to see them nominated is not unexpected.  Although Lawrence picked up a Golden Globe as well, her film is a comedy, and these tend to be overlooked.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin for Argo

Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

It’s the old guard!  Between them, these five titans have six Oscars, four of them in the category of Best Supporting Actor.  Furthermore, three of them won within the last decade – Alan Arkin picked up Best Supporting Actor for Little Miss Sunshine in 2006; Christoph Waltz received Best Supporting Actor for Inglorious Basterds in 2009, which, like Django Unchained, was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and now that Waltz has won the Golden Globe, he may be on track to pick up another award.  Philip Seymour Hoffman was awarded Best Actor for Capote in 2005.  Tommy Lee Jones has long been a reliable supporting player, receiving this same award for The Fugitive in 1993.  And it’s the return of Robert De Niro, slumming it for over a decade, except for his fine comedic turns in the Fockers franchise.  De Niro won Best Supporting Actor in 1974 for The Godfather Part II, and then Best Actor in a Leading Role for Raging Bull in 1980, but his last nomination was for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Cape Fear in 1991.  Good to see you back, Bob.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams for The Master

Sally Field for Lincoln

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

Helen Hunt for The Sessions

Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

And here is Silver Linings Playbook again, with Jacki Weaver’s 2nd nomination (her first was for Animal Kingdom in 2010).  Another familiar face is Amy Adams, up for Best Supporting Actress for the 4th time (previous nominations include Junebug [2005], Doubt [2008] and The Fighter [2010]).  Sally Field and Helen Hunt are previous winners, but neither have been seen for some time, as Field’s last nomination was for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Places in the Heart in 1984, while Hunt picked up Best Actress in a Leading Role for As Good As It Gets.  Like them, Anne Hathaway is a major actress in a supporting role.  Her nomination is not a surprise, and Fantine in Les Misérables is a classic role that warrants a powerful performer (not to mention singer).  With a Golden Globe to her credit, Hathaway can likely look forward to more success.

Best Achievement in Directing

Michael Haneke for Amour

Ang Lee for Life of Pi

David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

This category features the biggest surprises and possibly injustices (depending on who you talk to/which comments you read, including mine at a later date).  I confidently predicted that Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow and either Quentin Tarantino or Tom Hooper would be nominated, along with Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee, but instead we get Michael Haneke, David O. Russell and Benh Zeitlin.  This could indicate an upcoming sweep for Life of Pi or Lincoln, or indeed Silver Linings Playbook, or suggest a spread of awards among several films.  It also restricts the likely Best Picture winner, as it would be very surprising for a film to win Best Picture that has not been nominated for Achievement in Directing.  Many are likely disappointed by this, especially fans of Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.  To make matters more confusing, though, Ben Affleck has won the Golden Globe for Best Director and the Critics Choice Award.  If he wins the DGA, then it will be very hard to pick a winner.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Amour, Michael Haneke

Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino

Flight, John Gatins

Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

For a while, it looked like Moonrise Kingdom might attract some major Oscar attention, but it has been largely overlooked other than this nomination, which feels somewhat like a bone thrown its way.  Similarly, while Flight has certain prestigious qualities in its subject matter and pedigree, this and Best Actor are its only nominations.  For the other three, it will be interesting to see if Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen becomes the only award for Amour, Django Unchained or Zero Dark Thirty, or part of a sweep.  Django Unchained has won the Golden Globe, so that makes Tarantino a little more likely.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

Argo, Chris Terrio

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin

Life of Pi, David Magee

Lincoln, Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

As in the Directing category, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a surprise over the others.  David O. Russell seemed a more likely contender here than in Directing, and the other three were always likely.  At this stage there is no clear frontrunner, although I can see Argo picking this up if nothing else.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey

Django Unchained, Robert Richardson

Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda

Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski

Skyfall, Roger Deakins

This category pleases me greatly, as I had/have high hopes for Roger Deakins.  Nice to see Janusz Kaminski again, and Claudio Miranda is not a surprise due to the remarkable 3D cinematography in Life of Pi.  I have little comment on Anna Karenina and Django Unchained as I am yet to see them, but historically cinematographers are a very professional, technical assembly of voters, so we can expect the actual work on display to rewarded (after all, the display is the work).

Best Achievement in Editing

Argo, William Goldenberg

Life of Pi, Tim Squyres

Lincoln, Michael Kahn

Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers

Zero Dark Thirty, William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

Editing is something of a silver bullet, as that which wins Editing often also wins Picture – examples include Crash, Chicago, Unforgiven, The Hurt Locker, as well as huge sweeping winners like Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Slumdog Millionaire.  Therefore, to see five of the Best Picture nominees, as well as three Directing nominees, in this category is unsurprising.  Furthermore, the editors who have won this award for the last two consecutive years, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, are not up this year, so no surprise win like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last year.  I can see Argo picking this up, if only for its remarkable crosscutting.

Best Achievement in Production Design

Anna Karenina, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright

Les Misérables, Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson

Life of Pi, David Gropman, Anna Pinnock

Lincoln, Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

The somewhat archaic term “Art Direction” has now been replaced with Production Design, which is a better description for this category.  All of these nominees require extensive production design so they all appear sensible nominations.  Three are period pieces, and both Les Misérables and Anna Karenina are highly staged, the latter taking place largely on a theatrical set, so considerable effort will have made on the design.  The design of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is exquisite, so no surprise to see this here.  Life of Pi is perhaps the surprise here, as a great deal of the design is digital rather than physical.  Is that not more a visual effect that a production design?  Hard to say, and the nomination in this category may be indicative of the increasingly blurred line between the two.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran

Les Misérables, Paco Delgado

Lincoln, Joanna Johnston

Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White, Eiko Ishioka

Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood

No surprise to see the period films Anna Karenina, Les Misérables and Lincoln here, the costume designers having been nominated before.  It is rather amusing that 2012’s two Snow White films are in competition here.  Different release dates meant the two films barely competed with each other for audiences, but here they clash for costume.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane

Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell

More love for period films in this category, and the costumes of Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves are just as detailed as those of 18th century France, as well as 1960s America.  Quite a spread really.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli

Argo, Alexandre Desplat

Life of Pi, Mychael Danna

Lincoln, John Williams

Skyfall, Thomas Newman

Some previous winners such as John Williams and Dario Marianelli, and it is very pleasing to see Thomas Newman as well, nominated in this category for the 9th time (he’s never won), as well as Alexandre Desplat in his fifth nomination.  Life of Pi I recall having a very evocative score, so not much of a surprise either.  It is interesting to see Anna Karenina cropping up a lot in these categories – while its acting, directing and overall quality have been ignored, it seems to have been admirably put together.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Chasing Ice, J. Ralph (“Before My Time”)

Les Misérables, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer (“Suddenly”)

Life of Pi, Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree (“Pi’s Lullaby”)

Skyfall, Adele, Paul Epworth (“Skyfall”)

Ted, Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane (“Everybody Needs a Best Friend”)

It was very amusing to see the host of the Oscars, at the announcement of the nominations, himself nominated in this category; Emma Stone capitalised on the comedic opportunity.  Hopefully Seth McFarlane will be more entertaining than the last host to be nominated (James Franco).  It’s nice that an Original Song was written for the film version of Les Misérables, amongst all those pre-existing songs, and it is a common occurrence for a famous stage musical, that is adapted for the screen, to have an original number written for it, which is then nominated for an Oscar.  Previous nominees include Evita (“You Must Love Me”) and Chicago (“I Just Move On”).  I am very pleased to see “Skyfall” in here – the film was never likely to receive much Oscar love, and hopefully Adele will perform it live at the ceremony.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Argo, John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, José Antonio García

Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes

Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Drew Kunin

Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ron Judkins

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

Les Misérables is not a surprise at all, considering the unusual live recording of the performers’ singing which then had to be mixed with other sounds.  Argo’s soundscape is a remarkable cacophony of voices and bustle, so it is fitting to see it here.  It is somewhat surprising that Skyfall is the only major action movie, as this is traditionally a category for such offerings as The Dark Knight Rises – indeed The Dark Knight collected this award as well as Sound Editing, but Christopher Nolan’s trilogy closer has been completely ignored.  Clearly there is a lot of impressive Sound Mixing in Lincoln and Life of Pi.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Argo, Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn

Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman

Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton

Skyfall, Per Hallberg, Karen M. Baker

Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson

Much the same as the previous category, although Les Misérables is apparently less impressively edited than it is mixed.  Not that I know what that means.  This might be a pair of bones thrown to Skyfall.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Marvel’s The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick

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

Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott

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

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

The surprise here is five nominees, as in previous years there have been fewer.  Those represented here are not surprising, however, as this award is often another bone thrown to blockbusters like The Avengers, Prometheus and Snow White and the HunstmanLife of Pi demonstrates its spread across the range of awards, but there seems to be far less love for The Hobbit than there was for The Lord of the Rings.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Brave, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Frankenweenie, Tim Burton

ParaNorman, Sam Fell, Chris Butler

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, Peter Lord

Wreck-It Ralph, Rich Moore

Some leftfield choices here, such as Wreck-It Ralph and The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists!, but I did predict that Paranorman could crop up here.  Now that Brave has picked up the Golden Globe, it is a much stronger contender, but I can still see Frankenweenie pulling an upset.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Amour (Austria)

War Witch (Canada)

No (Chile)

A Royal Affair (Denmark)

Kon-Tiki (Norway)

With Amour appearing so prominently in other categories, it is no surprise to see it here, and A Royal Affair is unsurprising as well.  The nominees in this category are often quite random, but with a Golden Globe under its belt I anticipate more awards are coming the way of Amour.

Best Documentary, Features

5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi

The Gatekeepers, To Be Determined

How to Survive a Plague, To Be Determined

The Invisible War, To Be Determined

Searching for Sugar Man, To Be Determined

I know very little of these, so have no comment.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

Inocente, Sean Fine, Andrea Nix

Kings Point, Sari Gilman, Jedd Wider

Mondays at Racine, Cynthia Wade, Robin Honan

Open Heart, Kief Davidson, Cori Shepherd Stern

Redemption, Jon Alpert, Matthew O’Neill

I know nothing of these, so no comment.

Best Short Film, Animated

Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee

Fresh Guacamole, PES

Head Over Heels, Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly

Paperman, John Kahrs

The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare, David Silverman

Nice to see The Simpsons nominated.

Best Short Film, Live Action

Asad, Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura

Buzkashi Boys, Sam French, Ariel Nasr

Curfew, Shawn Christensen

Dood van een Schaduw, Tom Van Avermaet, Ellen De Waele

Henry, Yan England

These sound very nice.

With different nominees between the different organisations, this year will be difficult to predict.  I think it likely there will be a spread of awards, rather than one dominating sweep.  But I’ve been wrong before.  As further awards trickle through, including the BAFTAs, the DGA, PGA, SGA, I’ll post my predictions as we approach February 24th.

Golden Globe Winners

Affleck

It is said that in Hollywood, no one knows anything.  As I am not in Hollywood, how much do I know, especially about what will win at the Golden Globes?

 

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Argo

Django Unchained

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

I said: Zero Dark Thirty.  The Globes said: Argo.  I have no problem with this as I loved Argo, and am yet to see Zero Dark Thirty.  I also said that if Zero Dark Thirty did not win, the field would go wide open.  It’s open.

 

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Les Misérables

Moonrise Kingdom

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Silver Linings Playbook

My hunch was Les Misérables, and I was right!  This barnstorming musical was the big winner at the Globes, and perhaps it will continue in this vein.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Richard Gere for Arbitrage

John Hawkes for The Sessions

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master

Denzel Washington for Flight

No surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis picked up this gong, but what is surprising is that no other awards came the way of Lincoln.  Expect Mr Day-Lewis to continue his winning ways.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone

Helen Mirren for Hitchcock

Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea

I bet on Marion Cotillard, and lost (fortunately I did not bet money).  Zero Dark Thirty may not be the film to beat, but Jessica Chastain could be the woman to watch, and I have no problem with that.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Jack Black for Bernie

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables

Ewan McGregor for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Bill Murray for Hyde Park on Hudson

My leanings were toward Hugh Jackman, and whose wouldn’t be?  No surprise as he picked up this award.  Enjoy it Hugh, you are unlikely to get another.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Judi Dench for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Maggie Smith for Quartet

Meryl Streep for Hope Springs

I rated Jennifer Lawrence a strong contender and she walked away with globular gold.  This makes her a prime contender for further awards, so keep your eye on this one (I also have no problem with this).

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Alan Arkin for Argo

Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman had a good chance here, but instead Christoph Waltz adds another award to his cabinet.  Perhaps his fortune will continue.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Amy Adams for The Master

Sally Field for Lincoln

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

Helen Hunt for The Sessions

Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy

I said overall awards for Les Miserables would be scant, but it was actually the biggest winner at the Globes, Supporting Actress bringing its tally to three.  This spread of awards may be seen again at future ceremonies, with no one film sweeping the board.

 

Best Director – Motion Picture

Ben Affleck for Argo

Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty

Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained

I thought this would be either Lee VS Bigelow, but instead it went to Affleck.  Interesting that the HFPA rewarded (probably) the most political film of the bunch here, but from a technical, directorial standard, Argo is masterful.  It is interesting that Affleck has a few awards now, collecting both this and the Critics Choice Award.  He could well get the DGA and the BAFTA as well, but is not up for the Oscar.  Again, the field is pretty open.

 

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Argo: Chris Terrio

Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino

Lincoln: Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal

I anticipated a sweep for Zero Dark Thirty and was so wrong, not expecting much for Django Unchained.  But Tarantino pulls it off, and perhaps he will continue to do so.

 

Best Animated Film

Brave

Frankenweenie

Hotel Transylvania

Rise of the Guardians

Wreck-It Ralph

Having won this, Brave demonstrates the continued dominance of Pixar.  I thought Frankenweenie had a shot, but this is less likely now.

 

Best Foreign Language Film

Amour

Untouchable

Kon-Tiki

A Royal Affair

Rust and Bone

Tentatively, I went with Love, and won with Amour.  Considering the multiple awards Michael Haneke’s film is up for, this was not a surprise.

 

Overall, I got 6 correct predictions out of 12, which isn’t that good.  The Golden Globes tend to be a good indicator for future awards, but when the nominations vary, as they certainly have in the Directing category, predictions become harder.  But then, that makes things more interesting.

Awards Predictions Part One

Globes

Awards season is upon us, and speculation is already running wild about what will pick up nods, nominations and naysaying.  I believe there is little to be gained in stating what should win and how awful it is that X was nominated and Y was not – far more interesting is predicting what will be nominated, what will win and, crucially, why.  Out of the plethora of films released in any year, some stand out and some are forgotten.  While there are certain genres, subjects and people who seem to attract attention, films that feature these elements can easily be overlooked.  It is useful, therefore, that critical organisations help us out in this respect.

The American Film Institute, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Film Critics Associations and Societies of various cities, create a nice unofficial short list with the films that they honour.  Already Zero Dark Thirty has received Best Film from the AFI, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association.  This is notable as Zero Dark Thirty is Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s first film since their award magnet The Hurt Locker in 2009, and the plaudits heaped upon their film about the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden shows no sign of letting up.

Among these plaudits are the Golden Globes, as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has capitalised on the critics’ choices with their 2013 nominations.  Already the following are up for awards and some likely winners are clear among them.

 

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Argo

Django Unchained

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty

 

There is little reason at this stage to suspect that Zero Dark Thirty will not continue its winning ways.  If it does not, the field for future winners goes wide open.

 

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Les Misérables

Moonrise Kingdom

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Silver Linings Playbook

 

This comes down to between a musical and a comedy, as Silver Linings Playbook has been garnering a lot of love.  But Les Misérables is the kind of earnest, heart-on-sleeve melodrama that award-givers lap up.  Of the others, only Moonrise Kingdom looks to be a strong contender, and if the HFPA feel like honouring Wes Anderson for an impressive career (thus far), the film might pip the others to the post.  On a hunch, I would pick Les Misérables.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Richard Gere for Arbitrage

John Hawkes for The Sessions

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master

Denzel Washington for Flight

All the buzz is about Day-Lewis and he fits the bill to win, playing a famous and much-respected historical figure who balances personal and social demands.  It is interesting that Joaquin Phoenix, rather than Philip Seymour Hoffman, is up for Best Actor, but he is unlikely to pose a serious challenge to Day-Lewis, although I think Hoffman could have.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone

Helen Mirren for Hitchcock

Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea

Marion Cottillard has attracted a great deal of admiration for Rust and Bone, as has Naomi Watts for The Impossible.  That said, slightly more obscure films often win in the Best Actress category, so Rachel Weisz is in with a chance.  Helen Mirren is the oldest of the nominees and older performers often do well, but there seems to have been little attention paid to her, while Chastain seems a little young.  At this stage, I would bet on Cotillard.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Jack Black for Bernie

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables

Ewan McGregor for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Bill Murray for Hyde Park on Hudson

This could be Hugh Jackman’s year.  He has been a dependable, likeable leading man for over a decade, but this is his first film to have garnered awards attention.  The same could be said of Ewan McGregor, but the film he is nominated for seems too lightweight to receive serious consideration (and is itself a surprising nomination when he also stars in The Impossible).  Bill Murray may be due some attention for long service, but the nomination may serve as sufficient recognition.  I lean towards Jackman.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Judi Dench for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Maggie Smith for Quartet

Meryl Streep for Hope Springs

Normally I would expect the older nominee, but the rise of Jennifer Lawrence’s career is such that I think she could eclipse Dench, Smith and Streep.  Furthermore, Silver Linings Playbook is the most awards friendly film of this bunch, as the others are all rather light.  I know this is the category of Musical or Comedy, but Silver Linings Playbook is a comedic film with a serious subject, so I think Lawrence is a strong contender.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Alan Arkin for Argo

Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

Fairly open.  DiCaprio and Waltz may cancel each other out, being in the same film, and Jones and Arkin could be dark horses.  I lean slightly towards Hoffman as reviews indicate that he and Joaquin Phoenix are equal stars in The Master, and as Joaquin Phoenix is unlikely to beat Day-Lewis in the Best Actor category, perhaps Philip Seymour Hoffman has a better chance here.  I also wonder if the BAFTAs and the Oscars will nominate them the same way – a few years ago Kate Winslet won two Golden Globes: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Revolutionary Road and Best Supporting Actress for The Reader; then was nominated for the Best Actress BAFTA in a Leading Role for both Revolutionary Road and The Reader (she won for The Reader), and then won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Reader while Revolutionary Road was largely overlooked at the Oscars.  The Master may follow a similar pattern, especially if Hoffman wins this award.

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Amy Adams for The Master

Sally Field for Lincoln

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

Helen Hunt for The Sessions

Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy

Anne Hathaway has an even better chance than Hugh Jackman of picking up an acting award for Les Misérables.  I think actual awards for this film will be scant, but Hathaway is likely to walk away with a Golden Globe and possibly more.

 

Best Director – Motion Picture

Ben Affleck for Argo

Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty

Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained

I expect this to come down to Lee VS Bigelow.  Thus far Zero Dark Thirty has done very well indeed, but if anything can unseat it I would anticipate Life of Pi.  At this stage though, I expect Bigelow, and perhaps her success will continue.

 

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Argo: Chris Terrio

Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino

Lincoln: Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal

Mark Boal is probably likely to continue the winning ways of Zero Dark Thirty, especially as it is a “true” story that tends to impress award-givers.  Lincoln and Argo are also “true” stories, and the wit of Argo might serve it well, especially among journalists who write about Hollywood.  Although Argo plenty of attention, I think it is unlikely to actually win.  Screenplay might just be the category where it pulls an upset, but Zero Dark Thirty is a safer bet.

 

Best Animated Film

Brave

Frankenweenie

Hotel Transylvania

Rise of the Guardians

Wreck-It Ralph

If Brave wins, at this and subsequent events, it will demonstrate the continued dominance of Pixar.  But Frankenweenie might be in with a shot as something of a lifetime achievement award for Tim Burton.  Burton is unlikely to ever be nominated for a live action film (his best chance was Big Fish), and reviews have described Frankenweenie has been that it is his best film in years.  It will be between Pixar and Burton in this category, and I might lean towards Frankenweenie.

 

Best Foreign Language Film

Love

Untouchable

Kon-Tiki

A Royal Affair

Rust and Bone

Tough call.  Love (or Amour) was voted Best Film by the National Society of Film Critics, so it might well scoop up a further award here.  A Royal Affair and Rust and Bone have also attracted a lot of attention, although the latter’s best chance for glory is Best Actress.  Tentatively, I’ll go with Love.

 

The Golden Globes are announced on 13th January 2013, at which point we shall see how right I was (or wasn’t).