2013 Memo to the Academy

(Re-posted from LimitéMagazine.com)

Dear Academy,

You get thanked an awful lot by Oscar winners, but you don’t always make the smartest choices (#justsayin). Allow us to help you along a bit so you don’t make another embarrassing blunder (Affleck, anyone?) come February 24th. Here’s who we say should win in some of the key races.

Your friends,

Dan Quitério

Limité Film Editor

Stephanie Dawson

Senior Film Contributor

BEST PICTURE

Nominees: AmourArgoBeasts of the Southern WildDjango UnchainedLes MisérablesLife of PiLincolnSilver Linings PlaybookZero Dark Thirty

What Should Win:

Dan – Argo. Last year was a truly terrific year in filmmaking (one of the best in recent memory), but among all the great movies, there’s something about Argo that sticks with you. It’s got the perfect blend of humor, drama, and suspense—and to top it off, it’s based on a true story. Several months later, I’m still thinking about it and finding new reasons to love it.

Stephanie – Life of Pi. It becomes a visual and sensual feast once Pi sets to sea. The film is a solid marriage of story, character, and visual effects, though not without its faults. It was the most captivating film this year and should be awarded as such.

What Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – Silver Linings Playbook

Stephanie – Silver Linings Playbook

What Will Win:

Dan – Argo

Stephanie – Argo

BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Who Should Win:

Dan – Ben Affleck. But since he’s not nominated, I’ll go with Ang Lee for this one. He took on and mastered the holy trinity of filmmaking no-nos: working with kids, animals, and water. And he did it in 3D (for his first time). And he successfully adapted a book that most thought was not adaptable. And he made it compelling.

Stephanie – Ang Lee. Life of Pi was crafted by a master of story, character, and visual effects. P.S. Ben Affleck should have been nominated.

Who Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – David O. Russell

Stephanie – David O. Russell

Who Will Win:

Dan – Ang Lee

Stephanie – Ang Lee

BEST ACTOR

Nominees: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)

Who Should Win:

Dan – Daniel Day-Lewis. This role was made to win an Oscar. But Abraham Lincoln aside, it’s hard for any actor to outshine Day-Lewis, considered by many (deservedly) to be one of the finest actors of our time. Come Oscar night, he will make history as the first person to win three Best Actor Oscars.

Stephanie – Daniel Day-Lewis. It was very difficult to discern whether Lincoln, himself, had been resurrected for this film. Once again, Day-Lewis completely transformed for the role. As much as the other nominees were amazing in their roles, Daniel Day-Lewis once again proved why he is one of the most sought after actors of our time.

Who Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – Bradley Cooper

Stephanie – Bradley Cooper

Who Will Win:

Dan – Daniel Day-Lewis

Stephanie – Daniel Day-Lewis

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Who Should Win:

Dan – Emmanuelle Riva. No other nominated performance comes close to what Riva did in Amour (save for maybe Naomi Watts). With few words, she took us through the various stages of dementia, and she did so with a delicate subtlety that could only be achieved by a master actor. Riva is the oldest nominee in this category’s history, and with her age comes a wisdom that shines through with such clarity in Amour. Here’s a perfect example that you don’t need a big screaming/emotional breakdown scene to get the Academy’s attention.

Stephanie – Quvenzhané Wallis. She carries the film. Beasts simply would not be worth watching without her performance. I can see no one else in that role. I cannot say that of the other nominees, save for Amour which I have not seen.

Who Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – Jennifer Lawrence

Stephanie – Jennifer Lawrence

Who Will Win:

Dan – Jennifer Lawrence (sad, because although she’s a talented actress, her performance is the least deserving among these nominees)

Stephanie – Jennifer Lawrence

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Who Should Win:

Dan – Christoph Waltz. Though I question his categorization as a “supporting” actor in Django Unchained (he was in nearly every scene and was the catalyst behind the majority of the action), Waltz brought forth the mix of comedy and drama that we’ve come to love from him. It’s not easy straddling that line, but he does it with ease.

Stephanie – Tommy Lee Jones. Lincoln was a very procedural, language-heavy film. Jones’s character and performance helped round out the portrayal, providing moments of entertainment or clarification when necessary and giving weight to Lincoln’s cause.

Who Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – Alan Arkin

Stephanie – Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro

Who Will Win:

Dan – Tommy Lee Jones

Stephanie – Tommy Lee Jones

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Who Should Win:

Dan – Sally Field. Anne Hathaway is the clear winner here, but as much as I love Les Mis and as much praise as she’s receiving for her performance, I found her slightly forgettable and her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” her way of begging for an Oscar. (You could almost tell while she was singing the song that she was thinking to herself, “Bravo, Anne. Bravo.”) Field, however, played a convincing Mary Todd Lincoln, exhibiting a flurry of emotion with natural ease.

Stephanie – Anne Hathaway. Hathaway has had a number of solid performances of late. Her “I Dreamed a Dream” wrenched tears from my eyes. Not only is this role deserving, it is also a good way to recognize her and her body of work thus far. 

Who Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – Helen Hunt (One should not win an Oscar based on nudity alone. Her performance was just okay. But since she bares all A LOT in this movie, critics call that a “brave” performance, and that’s why she’s nominated.)

Stephanie – Jacki Weaver

Who Will Win:

Dan – Anne Hathaway (#duh)

Stephanie – Anne Hathaway

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), John Gatins (Flight), Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom), Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)

Who Should Win:

Dan – Michael Haneke. I’m a sucker for anyone who can take a complex theme, strip it down to its simplest elements, and make a huge impact with it. That’s a tall order for any writer (regardless of the medium), and Haneke nails it with Amour.

Stephanie – Quentin Tarantino. Django Unchained is a new take on the antebellum South where the Western genre meets the Exploitation genre, which is uniquely Tarantino. He’s back.

Who Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – John Gatins (should not have even been nominated, since the worst part of Flight was, in fact, its screenplay)

Stephanie – Hmm … don’t know. I haven’t seen every nominated film, and among those that I have, I’d be happy with any of them as the winner.

Who Will Win:

Dan – Quentin Tarantino

Stephanie – Mark Boal

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Nominees: Chris Terrio (Argo), Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), David Magee (Life of Pi), Tony Kushner (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Who Should Win:

Dan – Chris Terrio. Argo is dramatic; it’s humorous; it’s suspenseful. And all of those elements marry together harmoniously. The characters are well defined, the story is tight. We’ve got a winner here.

Stephanie – Chris Terrio. Argo made a too-unbelievable-to-be-true story into a comedy/thriller/historical drama hybrid with a high number of distinct and interesting characters.

Who Shouldn’t Win:

Dan – Tough call, as they’re all great screenplays, but I’m going with David Magee

Stephanie – Tony Kushner

Who Will Win:

Dan – Chris Terrio

Stephanie – David O. Russell

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