Like last year, I saw all of the Academy Awards best picture nominees. I also saw a number of other movies, which left me missing only three of the films nominated in the big eight awards (Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts' The Impossible, Best Supporting Actress nominee Helen Hunt's The Sessions, and Best Writing- Original Screenplay nominee Moonrise Kingdom). To start off, here are my opinions on the nominees in each of those eight categories (when I didn't see the film, I did not rank the nominee).
This is a bit of a strange category- neither Flight or Moonrise Kingdom are Best Picture nominees, and neither Zero Dark Thirty or Amour are films that rely more on directing and acting than a great script. That leaves Django which is deserving of a few awards. This one may end up its best shot.
My number 1 director was Zero Dark Thirty's Kathryn Bigelow; she's not here. My number 2 director was Argo's Ben Affleck; he's not here. You could have presented me the category with Bigelow, Affleck, Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), and P.T. Anderson (The Master) and I'd be happy. Instead we have these five. None would be a terrible choice, but none are the best either. I went with Zeitlin who, in Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed a 6 year-old lead through a vast array of adventures.
This one is a runaway for Hathaway. There is a decent recent history for supporting actresses in musicals- Jennifer Hudson won for Dreamgirls in 2006 and Catherine Zeta-Jones won for Chicago in 2002, while Queen Latifah and Penelope Cruz also received nominations in this category for their musical work. The fact that Hathaway is only in a small portion of the film is an argument people make, but it's a silly one; Beatrice Straight won the supporting actress Oscar for Network in 1977 with a grand total of 5:40 in screen time. In years without this strong a candidate (like last year), Field and Adams would both be worthy winners. Weaver, on the other hand, had no place getting nominated. She wasn't bad in Silver Linings Playbook at all, just not memorable.
This is a fascinating category with, for the first time ever, all five nominees being former winners. Two of the nominees (Waltz in Django and Hoffman in The Master) are pretty close to being leads, while Arkin in Argo is close to being a cameo. I thought Waltz was the strongest, but I'd be pretty much okay with any of these winning.
I was pretty set with Silver Linings Playbook's Lawrence ahead of Amour's Riva for 2nd since watching Amour a couple weeks ago. While I think I liked Lawrence's performance a bit more, I think Riva's was probably objectively better. That said, neither of them hold a candle to Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty which was my favorite performance in a film in a long, long time.
This is another category where none of the nominees are weak, but Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln is great at a level that the others are not (and likely could never be; we're talking about Abraham Lincoln after all). That said, Washington carried Flight in a way that few actors could. And while I have Cooper at the bottom, he showed a side of himself, a side that included award discussion-worthy acting, in Silver Linings Playbook that I had never seen from him before. I assume it will carry over to The Hangover Part III.*
*I do not expect this to carry over to The Hangover Part III.
So I've gone over my feelings on all of these quite a bit on Twitter, so just some brief bullets:
-I've basically had Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty as 1 and 1a since seeing both and they're both movies I genuinely love. I went with ZDT as 1 just because I admit I have a pretty strong pro-Les Mis bias that would have made me love the film even if it was Rent quality (it isn't).
-All of my top 6 films would probably be in my top 2 (along with The Descendants) last year. I think Django is a great movie (and 45 more minutes of movie), but just not the same level as the five above it.
-I didn't dislike any of these movies. I don't feel the need to necessarily see any of my bottom 3 again, but none of them were difficult to get through in the way Tree of Life was. Man, Tree of Life was awful.
-Top 2 are a tier, Argo is a step below them, then a big gap, then the next 3, then another big gap and the last three.
-All 9 are impressive in their own ways, and I expect all 9 to walk away with at least one award tomorrow. Has that happened before?
So who do I THINK will win? Well here are my picks for who I want and who I predict, along with a slew of expert picks for the big 8 awards (click to see it larger):
And here are my (less educated) picks on the rest of the categories:
What do you think? Who do you pick?