11th hour thoughts on the eve of the nominations
Okay, so I went back and fiddled with some things this morning before getting on my flight to LA. It's all reflected there and in this afternoon's big gallery story presenting my final predictions along with Greg Ellwood's and Guy Lodge's.
I love how zany this year is. So much that we "know" about an awards season can just be thrown out the window. But of course, there will always be those who claim to have "the knowledge." Don't let 'em fool you.
I have a few wishes, if I might toss them out there. I'd like to see "The Grey " show up. Anywhere. Doesn't matter the category. Any hint that it was seen and loved, that would be great, thanks. (Fat chance, I know.)
I would like to see the actors do the right thing by Emmanuelle Riva. It's the year's best performance, a brave portrayal in the actress's twilight years. And frankly, I'd love to see Jean-Louis Trintignant right there beside her. Indeed, Trintignant and Samuel L. Jackson are my left-field hopefuls that have a fair enough chance to surprise.
Speaking of Jackson, though my hunch is that "Django Unchained" played better to BAFTA than to AMPAS, I hope that hunch is wrong. "They love it in the Palisades" is something I've heard this week, but, well, the Academy's membership stretches further and more varied than "the Palisades."
I want the writers to give a pat on the back to Stephen Chbosky and Rian Johnson. Both made it in with the WGA but their Oscar chances seem a taller order.
I would like Focus's last minute realization that "Moonrise Kingdom" was a real player to not matter all that much and for the film to have found passion within the Academy. To be fair, they couldn't have expected back in the summer that it would end up in a position to land a Best Picture nomination, particularly with that fall slate lying ahead at the time. But sometimes you have to make that gamble and bank on the passion.
My fingers are crossed for the below-the-line work on "Argo" that has received recognition in some quarters, hasn't in others. The cinematography, costumes, film editing and production design are all impeccable, detailed, thorough and, above all, not showy -- a rare feat for a period piece. It's also slowly but surely becoming my pick to win Best Picture.
Mostly, I just want to be delighted by the nominations. We might get a roll call of the expected, but with such an exciting, dynamic year as this one, the worst thing that could happen is reflecting it in a boring set of anticipated nominees. Give us McConaughey, give us "The Intouchables," give us Trintignant, give us anything to show that you had your own point of view, Academy, whether I agree with your ultimate picks or not. I know your backs were against the wall with the schedule and the voting snafus, but it was just too good, too intriguing a year to ignore what was on the periphery of the usual. There are other things out there. I hope you saw them.