As Kris has mentioned before, it's a shame that "Searching for Sugar Man" appears to be cruising to such an easy win in the Best Documentary Feature race. That's not because the film, an engaging audience favorite that has won nearly ever major precursor in sight, wouldn't be a respectable Oscar winner, but because the standard of the competition this year merits a bit more of a fight. Someone who hasn't seen any of the films this year might simply look at how little the wealth has been spread and assume that "Sugar Man" stands inarguably apart from the field, and that simply isn't the case.
There are three ways to predict the Oscars. The first is to go strictly on facts, stats and precedents. The second is to use a mixture of sentiment and psychological projection. The third, and best, combines a bit of both with good old-fashioned gut instinct.
Statistician extraordinaire Nate Silver, unsurprisingly, opts for the first method. His election-style Oscar predictions are based purely on how nominees have fared in previous awards: a system that poses some problems this year, when the Academy's earlier-than-usual deadline for nominations voting resulted in less correlation than usual with several major precursors -- the Actors' and Directors' Guilds in particular. (Stat geeks love to tell us, or example, that Marcia Gay Harden is only person in the 19-year history of the SAG Awards to win the Oscar without a Guild nod -- but there's a strong possibility that number could triple on Sunday.)
(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale today, February 22.)
And here we are, the final category after two-and-a-half weeks of the 2013 Oscar Guide. I hope you've enjoyed the entries, which you can click back through in the dedicated section below this post. The Best Picture field proved, in its second year of featuring a slate that could include between five and 10 nominees, to be a full one. Nine films were nominated again, and they ran the gamut from foreign languages to political thrillers, big-scale musicals to epic fantasies, scruffy indies to prestige biopics and romantic comedies.
In the end, one film stood out and showed dominance at a time when it appeared to be at its weakest. Whether that perceived weakness was ultimately a source of sympathy is up for debate, but it asserted its dominance nevertheless. And in this, a year when the stats can absolutely go out the window given the shifting of the Academy's calendar and its introduction of online balloting, "history" was going to be made. And so it shall, no matter what happens.
The nominees are…
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
Amid all the fuss over Ben Affleck in the run-up to Sunday's Academy Awards -- with his path from surprise omission to probable vindication, all in the space of a few weeks, likely to be the lasting narrative of this year's Oscars -- there's been markedly little attention paid to his nominated co-producers. That wouldn't normally be very surprising: producers, by and large, don't tend to be as photogenic or as headline-friendly as the Ben Afflecks of this world. But it's slightly different when one of the co-producers in question in George Clooney.
Clooney has been a typically urbane, but graciously quiet, presence on the campaign trail for "Argo" all season long: it's Affleck's film, after all, and he's been selling the hell out of it, so there's no call for his fellow A-list star to switch on the jazz hands.
I'm not sure "Skyfall" represents the best work in the field -- though I prefer it to the presumed frontrunner in the category -- but it's hard not to root for Roger Deakins in the Best Cinematography race on Sunday. The British DP's perennial bridesmaid status at the Oscars has grown into a widely publicized sticking point, and Vulture has further highlighted the debt with a great piece on 10 key shots from his career, and how he got them. (Hey, that sounds not unlike one of our favorite annual features.) For "Skyfall," they've selected Bond's arrival at the Macao gambling palace for scrutiny. Deakins explains the difficulties of faking mass candlelight, and brushes off talk of how he excels in the digital department: "Whether or not it's film or digital, much more of my career has been about choosing the location, getting an idea of the look of something, and choosing the practical kinds of lighting and the positions of the windows, anything that enables you to get the look you want." [Vulture]
The 85th annual Academy Awards are right around the corner as Oscar weekend is ready to descend on Tinseltown and, indeed, the world stage. Is it smooth sailing for "Argo" and Daniel Day-Lewis? Did the tight races for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor yield surprises? What mysteries do the envelopes still hold? We'll know for sure next week and the Monday morning quarterbacking will be fascinating to behold, but in the meantime, it's last call on predictions.
Mychael Danna was awarded Film Score of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association for his work on Ang Lee's "Life of Pi." Danny Elfman was recognized as Film Composer of the Year while "Lincoln," "Ted," "Skyfall," "John Carter" and "Rise of the Guardians" won throughout the genre categories. Check out the full list of winners below and keep track of the 2012-2013 film awards season at The Circuit.
(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)
The race for Best Actress this year started out typical: it was thin. That's not a knock on the performances but really a knock on the kinds of roles open to women in this day and age. That dearth frequently yields a lackluster showing for the category, not that there aren't other great performances worth looking at. The problem is, those great performances aren't usually the sort that tickle the Academy's fancy.
By the end of the season, it got tighter. The supposed frontrunner first got some serious competition from a leading lady few saw coming, while things started percolating for a foreign film hopeful at just the right time. Meanwhile, performances nominated elsewhere from the likes of Helen Mirren ("Hitchcock") and Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone") were left by the wayside.
The nominees are…
I am already having withdrawal symptoms from this year’s Oscar race. I don’t need to repeat the litany of reasons this has become a unique year in Oscar history. I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it. SO many categories are exceptionally tight races. The crafts categories are no exception and there are many below-the-line artists to cheer for this year.
I think the Oscar Guides have been superb this year, and I don’t mean to duplicate them, so I’ll try to cut to the chase as I give a final preview of the 10 crafts categories set to be awarded at Sunday's 85th annual Academy Awards.