10:57PM — I want to thank all of you for following my live-blog and commenting below! The Oscars, though misguided, do stand as the most important night in cinema every year. Each Academy Award telecast is a chance that we can all come together and appreciate the role that movies play in our lives.
Please go to the movies. Go out to the theaters. Not just for the blockbusters—please visit your local independent theater and give yourself over to compelling filmmaking. Goodnight and good luck.
10:56PM — This is it! Best Picture: Argo. “Ar, go f*** yourself.” Oh well.
10:55PM — Michelle, I love movies too!
10:54PM — Michelle Obama wins Best Actress in 2018.
10:53PM — FLOTUS.
10:52PM — Danny: “And Jack Nicholson is still stuck in the character of the Joker.”
10:51PM — Prediction: Best Picture: will win: Argo (should win: Zero Dark Thirty).
10:52PM — Meryl would rock Lincoln. YOU KNOW IT.
10:49PM — Sarah’s dad: “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” You can see Meryl’s kiss on his cheek.
10:48PM — Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. No hestitation; Meryl just knew it.
10:47PM — Look at Joaquin! He doesn’t even care. Danny: “Because he’s stuck in character. He’s still being Johnny Cash.”
10:46PM — Meryl didn’t just flub her line. Obviously it must have been written that way. Prediction: Best Actor in a Leading Role: will win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln (should win: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master).
10:45PM — SHHHHH. It’s Meryl.
10:44PM — Oscars, I wish I knew how to quit you.
10:43PM — Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence. I just don’t know anymore.
10:39PM — Prediction: Best Actress in a Leading Role: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour.
10:37PM — HOW will this Samsung “Unicorn Apocalypse” saga end?
10:36PM — Chris: “Life of Pi is one movie that has to be seen on the big screen.”
10:34PM — Best Director: Ang Lee. YES. Life of Pi was so underrated.
10:33PM — Prediction: Best Director: will win: Spielberg, Lincoln (should win: Lee, Life of Pi).
10:32PM — Enter feminist critique. “Here’s Seth MacFarlane’s Boob Song” from Vulture.
10:30PM — Grey Poupon for Best Picture 2014.
10:29PM — Me & Sarah: “They’ll do Best Director, Best Actress, commercial, Best Actor, something stupid, commercial, and then Best Picture.”
10:28PM — This award isn’t for Django; this is a holdover award from Pulp Fiction.
10:27PM — Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained. I don’t believe in movies anymore.
10:26PM — Prediction: Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty.
10:25PM — Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo. Globviously. Ugh.
10:24PM — Actually, I bet Argo will win.
10:23PM — Predicted: Best Adapted Screenplay: will win: Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild (should win: David Magee, Life of Pi)
10:22PM — These noms are for British eyes only.
10:19PM — My review for Zero Dark Thirty
Of all the films to make this year’s nominee list, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty has stayed at the forefront of my mind. Editing, acting, score, and cinematography—ZDT was by far the most overall polished film nominated this year. Bigelow’s first feature since The Hurt Locker (which won both Best Picture and her Best Director in 2009) tells the story of the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden by CIA operatives from the viewpoint of Jessica Chastain’s expertly aggressive role as Maya
While Argo made that point that a non-existent Hollywood movie is more fun to watch than the destruction of an entire nation (taking place during the 1979 Iranian Revolution), ZDT pushed distress over enjoyment by revealing both the personal and national stakes for curbing the U.S.’s flawed War on Global Terror. Much was made of the film’s depiction of torture as necessary to finding Bin Laden, but it likewise showed how unreliable information also comes from torture. What is overlooked is that the film’s organization gives equal weight to torture, intelligence, and execution in completing the job.
Bigelow’s frenetic editing, unlike that of Michael Bay and other action directors, doesn’t push the narrative into hyperspeed. The invasion of Bin Laden’s Pakistani complex is frantic and messy, but plays out intensely slow. Argo had me gripping my chair for 20 seconds (“Will they make it!?”). ZDT easily had me white-knuckled for 30 minutes and still contemplating its final question—“Where do you want to go?”—for weeks to come.
10:16PM — Best Original Song: “Skyfall,” Skyfall. One step closer to EGOTing, Adele. Also so happy for Skyfall which is horribly underrated.
10:15PM — Did you know Norah Jones is Ravi Shankar’s daughter? I mean–what!?
10:14PM — Not only was he chasing ice, he was chasing himself.
10:13PM — Prediction: Best Original Song: “Skyfall,” Skyfall. I am personally rooting for “Pi’s Lullaby.”
10:12PM — Danny: “Renee couldn’t read it because she was squinting as always.”
10:11PM — Best Original Score: Life of Pi.
10:10PM — Prediction: Best Original Score: Life of Pi. (The Master should win but wasn’t eligible for nomination.)
10:09PM — And where is John C. Reilly? Sarah: “He was a quiet wonder in Chicago.”
10:07PM — “The stars will fall”? A little unnerving after the memoriam.
10:04PM — Fun fact: Hamlisch was one of only 11 people to EGOT.
10:01PM — Chris Marker’s Grin Without a Cat (1977) is phenomenal. Go watch it now.
10:00PM — I’ll miss you, Nora Ephron. I just rewatched Silkwood. Truly great.
9:58PM — Chris, my equal in cinephilia: “This is the music from Out of Africa.”
9:57PM — An appropriately solemn George Clooney.
9:53PM — My (scathing) review for Beasts of the Southern Wild
This sleeper-hit worked itself through the art house circuit and into mainstream consideration; often this is the route for other truly deserving best pictures (remember the Best Picture nominees of 2005?). Other times, this being one of them, catchy subject matter can push a lesser film into the spotlight.
Quvenzhané Wallis, who was six when it was filmed, did give a heartfelt performance as the Bath’s tiny fighter, Hushpuppy. However, judging the performances of children actors is difficult. The process usually involves filming many takes and choosing the best from those. Some young actors appear more polished, like Anna Paquin who won Best Supporting Actress at the age of nine in 1993 for Jane Campion’s The Piano.
Despite an undeniably great performance by Hushpuppy’s father Wink—played by first-time actor Dwight Henry—the overwrought narrative consisted of contrived (and yet somehow still unclear) metaphors, questionable racist undertones, and a problematic revisionist history. Tarantino’s bent for revisionist revenge history is playful, righteous, and appropriately retrospect. Benh Zeitlin re-imagines one of recent history’s most horrific disasters and, further damning the underprivileged, places blame on those most deeply affected by Hurricane Katrina. As much as I wanted to enjoy his unconventional filming techniques (16mm and never looked at dailies) I just couldn’t overlook Beasts problematic narrative to really appreciate the movie as a whole.
9:50PM — Salma sounds so much better than she did last night at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Feel better, Salma.
9:48PM — Happily proved right! Best Production Design: Lincoln. Blankets—this season’s hottest accessory.
9:47PM — Prediction: Best Production Design: will win: Les Misérables (should win: Lincoln).
9:47PM — Don’t fall for her charms, Harry! K-Stew is a trap.
9:45PM — We all agree: Jonah Hill and Don Johnson made Django Unchained.
9:43PM — Nicole Kidman almost looks like a human. Did someone give her a sandwich backstage?
9:43PM — Sarah’s mom: “WTF is EGOT?”
9:40PM — Props Coldwell Bank—women do need a cave! (This one is for Wendy.)
9:38PM — Do you think Adele will EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)?
9:36PM — Danny: “Adele has the same fingernails as Willem Dafoe in that commercial where he plays Satan.” Yes.
9:35PM — My review for Silver Linings Playbook
It took the work of David O. Russell with a healthy dose of mental illness to show America that Bradley Cooper is a seriously great actor. The first half of Playbook was truly impressive: Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers’ frenetic editing matched Bradley’s mania perfectly. Even though we can now respect Cooper’s acting chops, this is not his year (I predict he will lose out to Daniel Day-Lewis).
The movie falls apart about midway through as Russell attempts to transition the audience from Bradley’s story to that of Jennifer Lawrence. While Lawrence was engaging, enough to undeservedly take the Golden Globe from Emanuelle Riva and to jokingly call into question her Meryl-loyalty (a criminal offense in Hollywood). Thought Lawrence is engaging, the perfectly emotionally-matched editing of the first half collapses into same-old by the film’s ending musical number. What began as an intriguing look at mental illness through a romantic comedy ends in as just a romantic comedy (and a sub-par one at that).
9:33PM — Best Film Editing: Argo. Admittedly, I kind of have a vendetta against Argo.
9:31PM — Prediction: Best Film Editing: Zero Dark Thirty.
9:30PM — Bye ya’ll. Live-blogging cut short because I’m going to work in the AMPAS Museum.
9:28PM — HAWK KOCH? Hot crotch?
9:26PM — Great article on why people hate Anne Hathaway: “In Defense of Anne Hathaway” by Forrest Wickman.
9:23PM — Danny: “I have to thank Hugh Jackman… and his gigantic Ackman.”
9:22PM — Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables.
9:20PM — Prediction: Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables. Hands down. Even though Amy Adams was the master.
9:18PM — Von Trapp family singers—best joke of the night.
9:16PM — There was once a tie before: Katherine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) and Barbara Streisand (her acting debut in Funny Girl) tied for Best Actress in 1969.
9:14PM — A tie!? A TIE!? Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty & Skyfall
9:13PM — Prediction: Best Sound Editing: Skyfall.
9:12PM — Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables. Yup.
9:11PM — Prediction: Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables..
9:10PM — I’d rather see some muppets than Ted.
9:09PM — They love the Sci-Tech awards so much that they do them a month ahead of the other awards. Woops.
9:05PM — My review for Django Unchained
Oh, Tarantino. Though being one of the few truly interesting mainstream directors working today, I couldn’t help but see Django as unfettered genius—in a bad way. His characters have become extremely one-note. Christoph Waltz was a sad version of his Inglorious Basterds counterpart. Jamie Foxx was pushed into the extremely jaded (and problematic) “angry black man” role. And when will Tarantino realize that Samuel L. Jackson needs a starring role to himself? The only two to give a freshness to Tarantino’s stale style were Kerry Washington as Broomhilda and the underrated Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie. (Can you believe DiCaprio has never won an Oscar!?) Not since the meta-reclamation of Pam Greer in his consistently overlooked Jackie Brown (1997) have I been as intrigued with Tarantino’s content as his style.
9:01PM — Some hobo in the rafters peed on your French flags. Sorry guys.
8:59PM — Chris: “So many divas on tonight!” Jennifer, Barbara, Adele, Hugh Jackman.
8:53PM — Musicals—my favorite! It’s been TEN YEARS since Chicago took Best Picture. Can you believe it?
8:50PM — Best Foreign Language Film: Amour. My review for Amour
I am not usually one for durational movies—those films that push our Internet-age attention spans to the test. Few directors can pull the art of too-long takes off without sacrificing purpose and interest. No one this year did it better than Béla Tarr in his final film The Turin Horse. On the other hand, Paul Thomas Anderson almost lost it all with his dreadfully slow pacing in The Master. Michael Haneke, however, managed to hit the sweet spot between timelessness and meaning in Amour.
Though Haneke still manages to surprise while exploring the slow decay of paralysis on the body and soul, the real accolades go to the film’s two actors: perennial French favorites Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva. Riva’s performance is breathtaking as Anne, who attempts stoicism in the face of life ending before death comes. Oscar voters tend to award “last chance” awards to actors over fifty (also known as “almost dead” in Hollywood) despite their best work being years behind them. Sure Meryl Streep can turn herself into any historical figure, but what real zest has she had since The Hours (2002)? It’s my hope that tonight Riva will win the Oscar for giving us this season’s truly best performance.
8:49PM — Prediction: Best Foreign Language Film: Amour.
8:45PM — My review for Lincoln
I like Steven Spielberg. This puts me in the majority with filmgoers and the minority with film critics. While his penchant for self-formulation does grow tiring, his films never become as jaded and unoriginal as other directors (Tim Burton, for example). And when Spielberg gets it right, he goes to town on it (revisit his spectacularly overlooked Empire of the Sun featuring a 13-year-old Christian Bale).
With that being said, Lincoln is certainly one of Spielberg’s stronger triumphs. It was interesting to see him take on a historically complex plotline without all of his trademark simplification. Though he cannot resist throwing in the Spielberg face and numerous feel-good speeches into the mix. Where Lincoln really shines is in the supporting cast. Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis became Abraham Lincoln, but his predilection for method acting stops short any inventiveness for the role.
8:44PM — Of course, the one I didn’t see. Best Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man.
8:42PM — Prediction: Best Documentary: will win: The Invisible War (should win: 5 Broken Cameras).
8:41PM — I’m rooting for ZDT to win. See all my predictions at the bottom of the page.
8:38PM — My review for Argo
Argo and its director, Ben Affleck, have thus far swept the awards season. The picture picked up major wins at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors’ Guild Awards while Affleck took home both the Golden Globe and Directors’ Guild Award for Best Director. Argo is highly anticipated to continue the streak through the Oscars, picking up Best Picture.
Many awards followers have been eagerly discussing Affleck’s Oscar snub for not receiving a Best Director nomination. Without the previous awards sway over the category, voters are forced to break their voting streaks and look at—in my opinion—more deserving directors. While Argo revealed Affleck’s ability to master both comedy and thriller, essentially intertwining two separate plots into one cohesive film, nothing besides this essentially stood out. What I found most frustrating was his insistence on cutting short the film’s absolutely magnificent supporting cast and allowing his own nonplussed scowl more screen time.
Though Argo may be the category’s most entirely pleasurable movie in terms of watching, the Best Picture should represent the film that most pushed the cinematic art to its limit. This, in the post-Star Wars age, is merely my own pipedream. Argo was enjoyable, but far from inventive. (Danny: “And according to Jimmy Carter far from the truth.”) Despite this, I expect it to take Best Picture.
8:37PM — Danny: “He’s having a Fiona Apple moment.”
8:35PM — Best Documentary Short: Innocente. I didn’t see it but I did do my research.
8:33PM — Best Live-Action Short: Curfew. I figured it would win. Asad was robbed.
8:32PM — Prediction: Best Live-Action Short: Asad, Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura. It truly was amazing.
8:28PM — “I’m Chloe Sevigny and it’s recently come to my attention that it’s Oscar season.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL84eAT1Ml0
8:25PM — This James Bond sequence is great. Top three Bond films ever: Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), and GoldenEye (1995). Also: they completely missed an opportunity to have gyrating gold-painted scantily-clad women dancing on stage. Next year.
8:21PM — Skyfall was one of the best pictures this year. Really inventive for one of film’s oldest institutions. Should have been nominated over Les Misérables.
8:19PM — Best Makeup: Les Misérables. Knew it.
8:18PM — Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina.
8:16PM — Prediction: Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina. At least it should. Prediction: Best Makeup: Les Misérables. The makeup was horrible but it will win because everyone was in big dresses.
8:11PM — My review for Life of Pi
Ang Lee’s visually stunning Life of Pi, though not a contender for Best Picture, is certainly deserving of Best Director. The movie, adapted from Yann Martel’s novel of the same name, tells the story of Pi—son, brother, faith-seeker, zoo keeper—who, after befalling tragedy during a Pacific-crossing voyage aboard a freighter and set adrift on a lifeboat, must battle to survive both life at sea and himself.
Though deserving, Lee is still a Cinderella case for winning Best Director. The story, though frustratingly simple, is given a sincere treatment by Lee. Sincerity seems to be his calling card. Revisit the earnest devastation of The Ice Storm (1997) and Brokeback Mountain (2005), which did win Lee a directing Oscar. Lee took an essentially unfilmable book and turned it into a compelling visual joyride while also utilizing 3D not for spectacle but for metaphor. If 3D sticks around, we can look to Life of Pi for giving it the Oscar-standard. I also have to give a shout out to the smooth yet driving score of Mychael Danna.
While most of the acting was hit or miss, I am still shocked at Suraj Sharma’s snub from Best Actor. Keep in mind that Richard Parker was completely CGI. That’s right—there was never a tiger on set—and this was Sharma’s first role. He was coaxed to audition by his brother, who also tried out for the part of Pi, who offered to buy him a Subway sandwich. Word is that he has yet to get the sandwich.
8:08PM — Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi.
8:06PM — Best Cinematography: Life of Pi. Good! Truly underrated. In other news: he deserves to win for that hair.
8:01PM — My review for Les Misérables
Despite coming off his Best Picture win in 2010 from The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper’s flair for intimate character studies was not best utilized in this diluted-to-the-point-of-convoluted adaptation of the famous stage musical Les Misérables. In order to keep every song from the show (short of two minor songs) as well as stuffing in the soppy and boring “Suddenly” (also an obvious ploy for an Original Song nomination), never allowed Les Miz’s heavy and heart-wrenching storyline to settle on its viewer.
The focus on theatrics, exacerbated by having the actors provide the vocal recordings on set instead of dubbing in studio-recorded tracks, proved detrimental to reaching the dramatic standard set by the 1998 non-musical film adaptation. Hugh Jackman sang wonderfully but his acting was dry while Russell Crowe’s role was more nuanced despite being given a key he couldn’t sing in. Only Anne Hathaway hit a balance by sacrificing pitch in “I Dream A Dream” and providing the utter desperation needed for the defeated Fantine.
The movie hits its high point with “Dream” and is downhill from there. “Master of the House” is hard to ruin as the only comedic relief in the dismal plot (to it’s credit the movie is called Les Misérables). Thanks goes to the perpetually underappreciated Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen for making the entire experience a little less misérable.
7:59PM — Best Animated Film: Brave. Admittedly the only one I saw.
7:58PM — Yep. Best Animated Short: Paperman, John Kahrs. Same old, same old. PES os fresh and excited (and signed on to make the Garbage Pail Kids Movie).
7:57PM — This is confusing me. Prediction: Best Animated Short: will win: Paperman, John Kahrs (should win: Fresh Guacamole, PES).
7:50PM — WHAT!? Starting off with an upset. Very surprising. Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained.
7:47PM — And here come the awards. Prediction: Best Actor in a Supporting Role: will win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln (should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master).
7:44PM — Oscar host with a bad review? Did you see Billy Crystal’s corpse host last year? Even worse, the crash and burn of James Franco and Anne Hathaway the year before?
7:42PM — WHOA. At least Ricky Gervais was straightforwardly offensive when he hosted the Golden Globes.
7:38PM — Did Tarantino direct this revisionist Oscar history?
7:37PM — I actually have seen all of these boobs so far.
7:31PM — Make me proud, Seth.
7:30PM — Here we go!
7:27PM — Post comments or questions below. I’ll answer them as the night progresses.
7:24PM — That guy has crazy eyes. Get him out of the production booth!
7:23PM — Stay tuned: as they announce the Best Picture nominees throughout the night I will post mini-reviews of each.
7:18PM — I want to see Louis C.K. host the red carpet.
7:14PM — Anne Hathaway’s consolation prize is Gwyneth Paltrow’s head.
7:08PM — Danny and I agree that Jonny Greenwood’s score for The Master is probably the best this year. Not eligible for Best Original Score (uses three jazz classics) but definitely worth checking out.
7:04PM — Really touching moment between Halle Berry and Robin Roberts. We’re glad you’re here too, Robin!
7:01PM — “Dustin Hoffman looks great in that red dress.” — Danny
6:57PM — I hope we see some of this tonight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G2jMY3j3mM
6:51PM — I haven’t seen Gwyneth Paltrow yet. Maybe the mystery box is a replay of Se7en?
6:41PM — Charlize Theron looks great. She was underrated in her performance for Diablo Cody’s Young Adult (2011).
6:31PM — The red carpet would be a great place to talk about performance, production experiences, etc. Oh well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s socks are equally as interesting.
6:19PM — So far all we know is that Kristen Chenoweth and Amanda Seyfried are bloated. This revelation is developing.
6:00PM — Hello! I’m Joshua—your live-blogging host for the evening. On record: I unabashedly love the Academy Awards. Sure, not everyone shares that sentiment, but what other day do millions of us collectively revel in the magic of movies? (Even I watch the Super Bowl.)
I myself am enjoying the company of a few co-conspirators whose commentary may pop up throughout the night: Danny Floyd, Chris Fotopulos, Sarah Hamilton, and F News editor Michelle Weidman.
To begin, here are some interesting links (to fill the commercial breaks) collected during my Oscar preparations:
- Check out the past winners throughout Oscar history. “Oscar History”
- Why do we really watch the Oscars? “Oscar Psychology: Why We Love Watching The Academy Awards” by Laura Schocker
- The Oscars are far from perfect. “Foreign Policy: How The Oscars Short Global Cinema” by Zelda Blay
- Similary: “Unmasking the Academy: Oscar Voters Overwhelmingly White, Male” by John Horn, Nicole Sperling and Doug Smith
- Catch up on any films you might have missed with n+1’s utterly truthful synopses. “2013 Oscars: This is something you down for a billion years or not at all” by A.S. Hamrah
- An in-depth look at the Best Song category. “The Screaming Aural Nightmare That Is the ‘Best Song’ Category (and a Humble Suggestion for How to Fix It)” by Alex Pappademas
- Check out Nate Silver’s “Oscar Predictions, Election-Style” over at Five Thirty Eight.
- Tired of the same 10 movies? Check out Film Comment’s “50 Best Films of 2012.”
- And remember: the Oscars aren’t everything. “Boomer Actors Who Have Never Won Oscars”
Remember to keep refreshing the page to see my up-to-the-moment commentary on tonight’s events and my reviews for all the Best Picture nominees. Also, please put your observations and questions in the comments and I’ll respond to them as the night goes on.
And finally, here are my final predictions for tonight:
- Best Picture: will win: Argo (should win: Zero Dark Thirty)
- Best Director: will win: Spielberg, Lincoln (should win: Lee, Life of Pi)
- Best Actress in a Leading Role: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
- Best Actor in a Leading Role: will win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln (should win: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role: will win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln (should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master)
- Best Adapted Screenplay: will win: Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild (should win: David Magee, Life of Pi)
- Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
- Best Animated Film: Brave
- Best Foreign Language Film: Amour
- Best Documentary: will win: The Invisible War (should win: 5 Broken Cameras)
- Best Cinematography: Life of Pi
- Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina
- Best Production Design: will win: Les Misérables (should win: Lincoln)
- Best Makeup: Les Misérables
- Best Film Editing: Zero Dark Thirty
- Best Sound Editing: Skyfall
- Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables
- Best Original Score: Life of Pi
- Best Original Song: “Skyfall,” Skyfall
- Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi
- Best Animated Short: will win: Paperman, John Kahrs (should win: Fresh Guacamole, PES)
- Best Live-Action Short: Asad, Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
- Best Documentary Short: Innocente