In less than a month the most prestigious and recognised film award ceremony in the world will return for the 85th time.
The Academy Awards are not exactly famous for delivering shocks or surprises, and in recent years this has become especially apparent. Last year, we all already knew The Artist would win Best Picture, and The King’s Speech the year before was almost a dead-cert as well.
This year may provide a few more surprises though as many of the categories are shared by numerous films and filmmakers genuinely deserving of recognition and celebration. There will always be front-runners when it comes to the Oscars, especially as the big day nears, but surely this year there will be a few surprises.
Let’s have a look at the films which could provide an upset:
This French language drama has been mostly met with high praise from critics and audiences everywhere.
Although not a mainstream Director, Michael Haneke has always impressed with films such as Funny Games – where he shrewdly comments on accepted levels of violence and its portrayal in the media.
So could Amour surprise us all by becoming the worthy winner of the Academy’s 85th Best Picture prize?
Even if it doesn’t, Haneke is also up for Best Director. The competition is also strong in this category, but unlike the Best Picture group of nominees, there is no stand-alone favourite.
As Amour is also up for best Foreign Language film, I doubt it will win both. As the Best Picture category is full of potentials, I think the Academy will play it safe (as usual) and award Amour with the best Foreign Language Film award instead.
Zero Dark Thirty
The only way Katherine Bigelow’s catching Osama drama is going to deliver any surprises, is if it wins less awards than most of us expect it to.
Zero Dark Thirty is up for Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role (Jessica Chastain), Film Editing (Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg), Sound Editing (Paul N.J. Ottosson), and Writing – Original Screenplay (Mark Boal).
Contention for Best Picture will mainly come from ‘Les Mis’ and Lincoln, but if Jessica Chastain doesn’t pick up the prize and at least one of the other categories isn’t won by Zero Dark Thirty, the film will have achieved much less than it was predicted to.
The last musical to win the Best Picture award was Chicago over 10 years ago. Is it time again for a treasured stage adaptation to take home the main prize? Les Misérables would certainly deserve the award if it was honoured, and although Spielberg’s Lincoln may be the favourite for Best Picture, I think Les Mis could just pip it with somewhat of a surprise victory.
Whether or not it does win Best Picture – as with Zero Dark Thirty – the main surprise with Les Mis would be if it picked up fewer awards than it is expected to win. As well as Best Picture, Hugh Jackman is up for winning the award for Actor in a Leading Role, and Anne Hathaway for Actress in a Supporting Role.
With numerous other Les Mis representatives on the list in other categories, I predict the epic musical to pick up the most gongs in total. If Tom Hooper’s version of the famous musical doesn’t collect at least a handful of mini golden men, it will be a disappointing surprise for both the film’s fans and contributors alike.
The talented director who doesn’t stop talking has pretty much been left to his own devices ever since Reservoir Dogs hit our screens. Quentin Tarantino has now made seven major motion pictures, and almost all of them have been met with rave reviews and an instant cult status.
While other filmmakers struggle to get budgets and green lights, Tarantino has managed to make any film he desires, on his own terms, when and how he wants.
This freedom has allowed him to deliver some of the most important and entertaining films of the last two decades, but for Tarantino, this loner-like freedom has contributed to just one drawback – his absence from the academy voters’ minds.
Although he has been nominated twice before as Director (Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds), Tarantino has surprisingly been overlooked in the category this time. I’m sure if he did want to win an award it would be for his directing, but interested or not, he does stand an outsiders chance for winning Best Picture.
If the Academy wanted to create a shock in this category but still give to a deserved recipient, Django Unchained would be the film to choose.
It is also worth noting that Django is up for the Writing – Original Screenplay award as well. This is a category Tarantino stands a great chance of winning.
A couple of months ago Ben Affleck’s Argo was probably in strong early contention for Best Picture. But as the weeks have progressed and the ‘awards season’ has arrived, inevitably, stronger contenders have been released and focused on.
Although Argo’s early release date may have dampened its chances of success at the Academy Awards, its subject material, the talented collaborators involved and a strong reception and box office performance still give it a fighting chance.
Ben Affleck is now rightly considered to be a genuine talent behind the lens, so is it time for him to be recognised for his contributions to film once more? Both Gone Baby Gone and The Town received one nomination each in 2007 and 2010 respectively, but with a total of seven nominations this year, I would be surprised if Argo isn’t given at least one Oscar.
Aside from Best Picture, out of the other ‘top’ categories, it is Alan Arkin who is nominated for Actor in a Supporting Role. As with Argo in the Best Picture category, Arkin is up against strong competition from the likes o f Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) and Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) – so any wins for the film and its talent will be well-earned.
Return for part two tomorrow…