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ImageWriting about The Academy Awards as Titanic plays in the background made me feel nostalgic about the past.

I’m trying to remember when the first time I’ve seen this show when I was a kid but can’t quite put the pieces together. What I do remember quite distinctly was the moment when the Oscar bug bit me. I will never forget this moment because it felt like some validation in myself that hey… the movies are something I would actually, honestly enjoy.

It was the Oscar race of 1991.

Now I have to admit, my understanding of this race, back then, was nothing more than the movies I had seen. A casual viewer, if you will, that based my opinions and understandings on what I saw (kinda like an Academy member only watching the screeners he/she gets today). The five nominees that year for best picture were: Beauty and The Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides and The Silence of The Lambs. And the two films I did see? Beauty and The Beast and The Silence of The Lambs.

Beauty and The Beast I saw in the movie theater and I remember being genuinely happy that an animated film had received a nomination for best picture. God how great it was to see a film I liked be part of the five best films of the year!

I also remember, while watching at home, with eyes half open seeing The Silence of The Lambs for the first time. A movie that completely absorbed every part of my being in a complete and total realization that this is what a movie is. The idea that one can feel emotionally scarred by seeing violence on screen and in the same film, be emotionally attached to a character facing her demons that are NOTHING like you’ve ever experienced. It’s a film that constantly sticks with me, even to this day, and it is, without argument or hesitation, the best movie I have ever seen. I just wish I saw the film when it was in theaters.

So when it came down to those two, I chose, quite naively… everything for The Silence of The Lambs and on Oscar night… everything did go to The Silence of the Lambs. And somewhere deep inside myself, I felt vindicated! Now granted I did not see the rest and today, my perception of choosing the best film is now clouded in an understanding that when one sees the rest of the films nominated, one’s appreciation and opinion is formed of what is considered the best of them. Yeah… that wasn’t me back then. But I still felt that connection of the films I watch and the Oscars themselves from that moment on, and from there I started paying much more closer attention to the movies and the impact it has on things like these.

So flash forward to 1998. Titanic was the juggernaut that was the movie event of 1997. Everyone and anyone had seen and fell in love with Titanic. Hell I think I saw that movie four times I loved it so much. BUT one film, i knew deep down, was better. One film that I paid close watch to ever since I saw it the weekend it came out, I knew was the greater film, the more important film and the more entertaining film. That was L.A. Confidential. A movie I loved so much I ended up seeing it three times in the theater. I even tried, unconvincingly, to let my family know that this was the better movie! But everyone fell in love with the big boat, Jack Dawson, and Kate Winslet. I don’t fault Titanic, it is a beautifully made movie but in the true heart of the movie, the message, the story, the way everything about it is told… one can find flaws in Titanic, but I don’t think people can find one in L.A. Confidential. And even though my heart picked that film, I knew Titanic was going to win in the end.

I write about this moment in my history with Oscars for two reasons. The first is my realization that I can see more than just the film that’s “winning” to be considered the best. I think prior to this, I had watched the best picture films and relegating myself to the understanding that yes… that’s why it will win. But this time, I fought long and hard to say to myself, “No, this CAN’T win, its NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS THIS!” And much to my family’s annoyance of me fighting for that movie, they knew my film that I championed for, wasn’t winning it. Which leads me to my second reason I remember this moment quite distinctly in my life – that was the final year I’d have film conversations with my father about the Oscars. How’d I’d remember we’d all watch and mark off our own ballots and pick who’d win and this time, I’d lost, he’d won and how happy he was about it too. (and how he knew I cheated by faking my old ballot where I picked LA Confidential and changed it to a new ballot where I picked Titanic.) I’ll never forget that time and me telling him “no the box office for Titanic is going to lose when the new Star Wars film comes out next year!” 🙂

And now we’re back to the present.

So who wins? Who loses? My passion for the films nominated is now stronger than ever. Having seen all nine, I feel like I can make that bold prediction again to have that sense that while the tide is turning for the consensus to pick their eventual winner, I can fight to say that my film should win EVEN MORE. I can’t say I’ve agreed with the choices Oscar has made recently – ever since 1998, I think only five films that won were my choice to win that year (American Beauty, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Departed, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Hurt Locker – the five of which were my favorite films in their respective years they were released).

Alright, I’m shutting up already – here’s my picks.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

NOMINEES

Argo: Alan Arkin

Silver Linings Playbook: Robert De Niro

The Master: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Lincoln: Tommy Lee Jones

Django Unchained: Christoph Waltz

Will win: Robert De Niro. It’s essentially anyone’s game, all these actors won an Oscar already and all of them put in a great performance. De Niro’s campaigning right in the heart of voting leads me to think he’s getting this, and its a great movie he’ll be getting it for. So much deserved.

Should win: I loved De Niro in Silver Linings. And as much as both Waltz and Hoffman pulled off amazing performances, it all felt very much a co-lead performance. Jones is great in Lincoln and much deserving as well but in terms of entertainment value that had me enjoying every moment of him being on screen and stealing every scene – Alan Arkin deserves the win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

NOMINEES

The Master: Amy Adams

Lincoln: Sally Field

Les Misérables: Anne Hathaway

The Sessions: Helen Hunt

Silver Linings Playbook: Jacki Weaver

Will win: Anne Hathaway. Only because for the love of God, SHE’S ONLY THE BEST THING ABOUT THAT DAMN SHITTY MOVIE!

Should win: Jacki Weaver. Look I LOVED Hathaway but the movie was so horrifyingly bad, I don’t even WANT to give it any Oscars. She’ll win it and she’s great in it, but that still doesn’t escape the fact that the movie was a walking pile of shit. Weaver on the other hand was the glue of the family that kept it together and as much as people say her performance is nothing in comparison to the other three, look at it this way: It takes alot more talent to play someone with a quiet, motherly strength that doesn’t necessarily grandstand but is still in your mind as someone just as important to the story. It also helps that her accent was pretty fuckin’ amazing considering she’s Australian. And plus she convinced me to want me to try out her Crabby Snacks and Homemades.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

NOMINEES

Anna Karenina: Seamus McGarvey

Django Unchained: Robert Richardson

Life of Pi: Claudio Miranda

Lincoln: Janusz Kaminski

Skyfall: Roger Deakins

Will Win: Claudio Miranda. The visuals for Life of Pi pretty much is the greatest sell for that movie so winning this award seems to be the obvious choice.

Should win: Roger Deakins. Sweet Jesus Academy, this man photographed possibly some of the great movies of the last ten years and you STILL haven’t given him an Oscar?!?! Skyfall had some amazing visuals in it as well (the night shots of the fight in the tower come to mind), so a Deakins win here is much deserved and maybe, just a little… make up for all the snubs.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

NOMINEES

Anna Karenina: Jacqueline Durran

Les Misérables: Paco Delgado

Lincoln: Joanna Johnston

Mirror Mirror: Eiko Ishioka

Snow White and the Huntsman: Colleen Atwood

Will win: Anna Karenina. OK so this MIGHT go to Les Miz, just because they probably want to throw it a bone. But screw that, give it to a movie that at least deserves it.

Should win: Having only seen three of the films nominated – I’m still going with Anna Karenina (nope didn’t even see it). 🙂

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

NOMINEES

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: Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ron Judkins

Skyfall: Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Stuart Wilson

Will win: Les Miserables. It pains me to say it but when a musical is nommed for this category, it tends to win. And the whole “new” thing about singing live probably helps this category more than hunders it.

Should Win: Life of Pi. For the aural sounds alone of the CGI’d tiger and the massive undertaking of the storm and the sinking of the ship Pi was in.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

NOMINEES

Argo: Erik Aadahl, 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

Will Win/Should win: Zero Dark Thirty – taking a risk on this one, its probably gonna be Pi but I think ZDT can pull it off only for the last 30 minutes alone.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

NOMINEES

The Avengers: Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick

The Hobbit: An 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

Will win/Should win: Life of Pi – bitch please.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

NOMINEES

Hitchcock: Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane

Les Misérables: Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell

Will win/Should win: Les Miserables. Fine, I will concede this, it takes a village to make all those beautiful people into poor, downtrodden whores.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

NOMINEES

Les Misérables: Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics), Alain Boublil (lyrics), Claude-Michel Schönberg (music)

For the song “Suddenly”.

Life of Pi: Bombay Jayashri (lyrics), Mychael Danna (music)

For the song “Pi’s Lullaby”.

Ted: Walter Murphy (music), Seth MacFarlane (lyrics)

For the song “Everybody Needs A Best Friend”.

Chasing Ice: J. Ralph

For the song “Before My Time”

Skyfall: Adele, Paul Epworth

For the song “Skyfall”

Will win/Should win: Yeah… Skyfall’s got this in the bag. Now Adele needs to do is write a Broadway musical or perform in one and do some sort of TV special that will garner her an Emmy to make the illustrious EGOT.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

NOMINEES

Anna Karenina: Dario Marianelli

Argo: Alexandre Desplat

Life of Pi: Mychael Danna

Lincoln: John Williams

Skyfall: Thomas Newman

Will win/should win: sorry John, but I gotta hand it to Mychael Danna for Life of Pi on this one.

Best Short Film, Animated

NOMINEES

Adam and Dog: Minkyu Lee

Fresh Guacamole: PES

Head Over Heels: Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly

Paperman: John Kahrs

The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare: David Silverman

Will win: Head Over Heels – because the consensus says so.

Should win: Having seen all of them… Paperman, but the spoils of Pixar can only go so far.

Best Short Film, Live Action

NOMINEES

Asad: Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura

Buzkashi Boys: Sam French, Ariel Nasr

Curfew: Shawn Christensen

Death of a Shadow: Tom Van Avermaet, Ellen De Waele

Henry: Yan England

Will win: Death of a Shadow…. I… guess?!?!

Should win: I hear Curfew’s really good and funny. It should win.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

NOMINEES

Inocente: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix

Kings Point: Sari Gilman, Jedd Wider

Mondays at Racine: Cynthia Wade, Robin Honan

Open Heart: Kief Davidson, Cori Shepherd Stern

Redemption: Jon Alpert, Matthew O’Neill

Will/Should win: Inocente – only ‘cuz… I hate this category and it always kills my Oscar pool.

Best Documentary, Features

NOMINEES

5 Broken Cameras: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi

The Gatekeepers: Dror Moreh, Estelle Fialon, Philippa Kowarsky

How to Survive a Plague: David France, Howard Gertler

The Invisible War: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

Searching for Sugar Man: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

Will/Should Win: Searching for Sugar Man – that hands down deserves it!

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

NOMINEES

Amour

– Austria

War Witch

– Canada

No

– Chile

A Royal Affair

– Denmark

Kon-Tiki

– Norway

Will/Should win: Amour – yeah, like this is going to be difficult.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

NOMINEES

Brave: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Frankenweenie: Tim Burton

ParaNorman: Sam Fell, Chris Butler

The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Peter Lord

Wreck-It Ralph: Rich Moore

Will/Should Win: Wreck-It-Ralph – Sorry Brave. although a groundswell of support has been happening the past few weeks, I just can’t see it taking over the love of Ralph.

Best Achievement in Editing

NOMINEES

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

Will win: Argo. It sorta does deserve it.

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty. Toss up between this and Life of Pi for me (the blending of special effects and live-acting took some creative editing cuts). But I’d give this to ZDT for just the way they cut into certain sequences with a jagged touch that created some extremely tense moments.

Best Achievement in Production Design

NOMINEES

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Ra Vincent (set decorator), Simon Bright (set decorator), Dan Hennah (production designer)

Lincoln: Jim Erickson (set decorator), Rick Carter (production designer)

Life of Pi: David Gropman (production designer), Anna Pinnock (set decorator)

Les Misérables: Eve Stewart (production designer), Anna Lynch-Robinson (set decorator)

Anna Karenina: Sarah Greenwood (production designer), Katie Spencer (set decorator)

Will/Should Win: Lincoln. You gotta give it up to Lincoln for this one. It was like you were literally immersed in that world.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

NOMINEES

Amour: Michael Haneke

Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino

Flight: John Gatins

Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal

Will/Should win: Django Unchained. Tough call. I liked the dialogue in Amour but hated the direction the dialogue was going towards. Django, while controversial, was SO entertaining that I’d be extremely happy to give Quentin his second screenplay oscar.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

NOMINEES

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

Will Win: Argo. three words: ARGO. FUCK. YOURSELF.

Should win: Silver Linings Playbook. The dialogue in this movie went from personal to intense to comedic in certain moments that happened in the same scenes. Russell wrote this with such great depth and yet added these light touches here and there that it balanced the whole film perfectly.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

NOMINEES

Silver Linings Playbook: Bradley Cooper

Lincoln: Daniel Day-Lewis

Les Misérables: Hugh Jackman

The Master: Joaquin Phoenix

Flight: Denzel Washington

Will win/Should win: D.D.L. – anyone who says otherwise is a bold-faced liar.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

NOMINEES

Zero Dark Thirty: Jessica Chastain

Silver Linings Playbook: Jennifer Lawrence

Amour: Emmanuelle Riva

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Quvenzhané Wallis

The Impossible: Naomi Watts

Will win: Emmanuelle Riva – only because its the woman’s birthday and my God, what an awesome moment that will be.

Should win: Jennifer Lawrence. JLaw could very well take this, but seeing Riva get this will bring the whole damn show to tears. I liked JLaw better than Jessica’s dramatic moments – I think Chastain didn’t show much range for this role but that’s ok because the script didn’t necessarily ask for that. Whereas Jennifer combined alot of emotions in single expressions that completely took me by surprise – and yes, the screenplay did ask for that. Who knew she was capable of so much!?

Best Achievement in Directing

NOMINEES

Amour: Michael Haneke

Life of Pi: Ang Lee

Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

Lincoln: Steven Spielberg

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Benh Zeitlin

Will win/Should win: Ang Lee. I’m sorry Mr. Spielberg, I just can’t see you winning your third Oscar here. I love you man, I really did like Lincoln! Your deft hand was extremely subtle in your approach to this film and I like the way you did this movie, it wasn’t heavy and you restrained yourself very much in getting those great shots and just let the screenplay/acting take over. I liked that. BUT ANG LEE DIRECTED A FUCKING TIGER! A TIGER! EVEN THOUGH IT WAS PARTIALLY CGI, HE STILL GOT TO… DIRECT A TIGER! That should be enough to give him the damn Oscar. (And yes, the director most deserving of this award is not even nominated – Kathryn Bigelow pwned all your bitches for Zero Dark Thirty!)

Best Motion Picture of the Year

NOMINEES

Amour: Stefan Arndt, Margaret Ménégoz, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz

Argo: Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald

Django Unchained: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone

Les Misérables: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi: Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark

Lincoln: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Silver Linings Playbook: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon

Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

Will Win: Argo. Because it’s fucking Argo! In all honesty, Argo, to me, was a better film than most of these nommed. It’s a great movie, there’s no denying that Ben Affleck can direct and he acted in it fine with a pretty amazing cast as well. And Argo is definitely an Academy movie, so I can dig that.

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty. Haters gonna hate, but this movie, out of the whole 9 nommed had the most intense moments I’ve seen in all of 2012. It was the emotional gut-punch of Bigelow’s satisfying last 30 minutes that sold it for me. Movies tend to flow and ebb in your memory but there are certain films out there that stick with you, long after the film credits roll and long long after this meaningless controversy ends – ZDT is, for me, one of those movies. ZDT is the kind of film that should be studied, should be talked about, and should be appreciated – this is storytelling of a different breed in films, and that alone should garner it a win.

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