2013 Oscar Nominations: Reactions


The Oscar nominees this year were announced two weeks early, and it so happened I was on vacation. It was tough not to include my annual predictions, but considering how wild award season has been so far, it wouldn’t have been pretty. As such, I still have lots to say about this year’s nominees.

Usually the films with the higher number of nominations tends to win Best Picture, so in that case, “Lincoln” has to be considered the favorite, leading the way with an impressive 12 nominations. But the bigger surprise is Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” which earned 11 nominations despite not a single acting nod. It is the year’s technical marvel among all the films, 2013’s “Avatar.”

Not far behind is “Silver Linings Playbook” with nine nominations, including a nomination in each of the four acting categories, making it the first to do so since 1981. After the acting award success of “The Fighter,” if you’re an actor, boy do you want to work with David O. Russell.

Other decorated nominees include “Les Misérables” with eight nominations and “Argo” with seven. Here’s the full list with my reactions.


Best Motion Picture of the Year

  • “Amour”
  • “Argo”
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • “Django Unchained”
  • “Les Misérables”
  • “Life of Pi”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”

Reaction. In the second straight year of anywhere from 5-10 nominees we get nine yet again. It looks like this system will likely yield this amount each year. Based on the number of nominations in other categories for each film, it looks like every film with at least five nods got in — except “Skyfall.” Of course. A special mention to “Amour” for being just the ninth foreign language film to receive a Best Picture nomination.


Best Achievement in Directing

  • Michael Haneke – “Amour”
  • Ang Lee – ”Life of Pi”
  • David O. Russell – “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Steven Spielberg – “Lincoln”
  • Benh Zeitlin – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Reaction: This is where it gets really interesting. My first reaction was great joy for Zeitlin, someone whose amazing work would normally be overshadowed and not nominated, especially with the crop of directors available to nominate this year, but nothing for Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow? Apparently directing thrillers was not “in” this year. The discrepancy between the Academy’s list and the Directors Guild list this year is literally astounding. Bigelow, Affleck and Tom Hooper received DGA nominations this year, with Lee and Spielberg the only two nominees to make this list here. Wow. Normally you can consider the DGA the precursor to this Oscar, but with only two names in common it makes this year’s Oscar winner almost impossible to predict.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams – “The Master”
  • Sally Field – “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway – “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver – “Silver Linings Playbook”

Reaction: This list has been one of the few surefire ones out there, with the one surprise being Jacki Weaver, who was good but clearly is riding the coattails of her co-stars. Still, the Academy likes her, having nominated her twice in the last three years. After her Golden Globe win, Anne Hathaway has to be the current favorite, but Sally Field should never be counted out. In my opinion, however, she should be. I’ve seen all these performances, and she gives what I would say is the third or fourth best.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Alan Arkin – “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz – “Django Unchained”

Reaction: What a group of heavy hitters. I would argue for all these nominees to be on this list, with my only question mark lingering near Waltz. I won’t deny he’s a great actor and so good yet again in his second role for Tarantino, but I think it’s a matter of voters and audiences still loving his shtick. I personally don’t think he showed us anything new: he just proved his talent Tarantino’s writing are a perfect marriage. Still, better for him than co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. Javier Bardem in “Skyfall,” however? I’m not so sure. Waltz has moved up the leader board with his Globe win, but I still think it’s anyone’s game. My early guess would be Jones.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis – ”Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”

Reaction: If I had been predicting this year, I’d be furious because I would’ve definite left off Wallis, who gave my favorite performance of the year, thinking the Academy was bound to snub her after the Globes and the SAG awards did (though I don’t know their rules on age) even though we can all think of the many youngsters to get nominated over the years. I’m thrilled for her, and think it’s awesome that this category boasts the oldest and youngest nominees in the Best Actress category ever. Wallis is 9, and Riva is 85. Chastain and Lawrence are neck and neck for this award, but the former seems to have the edge, even if Lawrence would be the likeliest winner of all of “Silver Linings'” acting nods.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman – “Les Misérables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix – “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington – ”Flight”

Reaction: Another dependable list, though I really think John Hawkes should have been nominated. If any bigger-name actor had played that part, they would be a shoo-in, but having seen four of these five performances, I can’t make a case against any of them. (Need to see “Flight.”) The favorite is obviously Day-Lewis. As a voter, I’d be scared not to pick him — straight frightened.


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
Reaction: The big surprise of this group is “Flight,” which no one had pegged for anything but a Best Actor nod. The other uncertainty was “Amour,” but the Academy clearly loved that film. I would’ve liked to see the push for “Looper” come to fruition, but it would not have won anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go to Haneke, even with most people likely considering Tarantino a favorite.


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
Reaction. All good picks, and I would’ve been 5/5 if I were guessing. I figured this would be the only love “Beasts” got, but I’m glad I was wrong. This is a tough category, but if I were voting it’d be between “Argo” and “Beasts.” If you watched the Globes, you understand just how much Ben Affleck credited the “Argo” screenplay and he’s right.


Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

  • “Amour” (Austria)
  • “War Witch” (Canada)
  • “No” (Chile)
  • “A Royal Affair” (Denmark)
  • “Kon-Tiki” (Norway)

Reaction: This category doesn’t matter because “Amour” will win.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

  • “Brave”
  • “Frankenweenie”
  • “ParaNorman”
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
  • “Wreck-It Ralph”

Reaction: Yes, yes, yes! What a list. I have yet to see “Frankenweenie,” but this here is proof of yet another amazing year for animated films. I’m glad the Academy finally changed the rules so five films get nominated every year.


Best Achievement in Cinematography

  • “Anna Karenina” – Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained” – Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi” – Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln” – Janusz Kaminski
  • “Skyfall” – Roger Deakins

Reaction: A much deserved nomination for “Skyfall,” which if you had to pick one blockbuster to be nominated for this award, deserves it over “The Dark Knight Rises” (sorry Wally Pfister). Miranda has to be the favorite with all the technical accolades for “Pi,” however. I also don’t doubt “Karenina” is gorgeous as Joe Wright’s films always are.


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

Reaction: This category name has changed to combine the work of art direction and set decoration into one award. Obviously “The Hobbit” deserves its due here, as does “Les Mis” considering the scale of production.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

  • “Anna Karenina” – Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables” – Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln” – Joanna Johnston
  • “Mirror, Mirror” – Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” – Colleen Atwood

Reaction: Same as usual: a bunch of period films and a nomination for Colleen Atwood. “Mirror, Mirror” is the interesting nomination, the first for Ishioka since she won for “Dracula” in 1993.


Best Achievement in Film 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

Reaction: Big year for Goldenberg! You rarely see that in a technical category, but he probably deserves the award making both Middle Eastern thrillers feel so damn suspenseful. Hopefully he doesn’t botch his thank yous if he wins.


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

Reaction: Anthony Hopkins’ transformation looked amazing and considering if you saw “Hobbit” in 48 frames per second, that makeup job was immaculate.


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

Reaction: Danna just won the Globe, Williams is Williams who did a great job with “Lincoln,” and Marianelli has previously won for his work on a Joe Wright film.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

  • “Before My Time” by J. Ralph from “Chasing Ice”
  • “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” by Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane from “Ted”
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” by Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree
  • “Skyfall” by Adele, Paul Epworth from “Skyfall”
  • “Suddenly” by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer from “Les Misérables”
Reaction: The rule change creating five nominees has started to turn this category around. Inclusion of Adele’s “Skyfall” theme is big for the Academy.


Best Documentary, Features

  • “5 Broken Cameras”
  • “The Gatekeepers”
  • “How to Survive a Plague”
  • “The Invisible War”
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”
Reaction: My knowledge of docs this year is extremely limited. I’ve heard of the last three on this list but don’t know much about them.

Best Documentary, Short

  • “Inocente”
  • “Kings Point”
  • “Mondays at Racine”
  • “Open Heart”
  • “Redemption”

Best Short Film, Animated

  • “Adam and Dog”
  • “Fresh Guacamole”
  • “Head Over Heels”
  • “Paperman”
  • “The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare”


Best Short Film, Live Action

  • “Asad”
  • “Buzkashi Boys”
  • “Curfew”
  • “Death of a Shadow”
  • “Henry”

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

  • “Argo” – Erik Aadahi; 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

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” – Gary Rydstrom, Andy Neslon, Ron Judkins
  • “Skyfall” – Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Stuart Wilson

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

  • “The Avengers” – Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick
  • “The Hobbit: Any 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


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