Oscars 2012 Recap
Another year is in the books, and so is another Oscar ceremony. The 85th Academy Awards were handed out last night, and we have our winners. This was an even better year than the last two years were, and I liked the last two years. I thought 2012 was a better year for movies and a better year for Oscar movies than the previous ones. Which is always a nice thing to be able to say.
Overall, I think the show was terrific. It clocked in at something like 3 hours and 35 minutes, which is terrific. Nothing really slowed it down, and they did a lot of things right. So I’m a fan of that. I kind of wish they did a bit more with MacFarlane as host. It felt like they went broad with a lot of the jokes, and some of them were a bit too… childish. Like the song about boobs. But whatever. I love that it was a tribute to musicals.
Anyway, let’s just get into the recap, that’s what we care about here anyway:
Best Picture: Argo
No one is surprised by this outcome. I’m curious to see how well this one holds up, historically. I think it was a pretty solid choice, but it’s hard for me to be objective about this one quite yet. I’m very open about the fact that, while I loved Lincoln and really respected Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty — I hated them as winners. I just did. Django was my favorite film of the year, but I get that it never would have won. Amour was never going to happen (nor should it have). Beasts of the Southern Wild would have been magical, but it wouldn’t have held up over time. You’re deluded if you can’t recognize that. Which really only leaves –and rightfully so — Argo, Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook, to me, as the films that I’d have been happy with winning that theoretically could have won. I know Les Mis didn’t really have a shot, and I get why it didn’t win, but I think it would have held up just fine. The production value and those musical numbers — put it this way — the last five musicals to win Best Picture were Chicago, Oliver!, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and West Side Story. I’d say Les Mis holds up better than at least three of those. I think we all agree that West Side Story is king there, but after that, I think Les Mis is better than all but one of those (if not actually better than all of them. But I’ll give you one). So I think that would hold up fine. And Silver Linings — I would have had the same question about it holding up, so I guess, all things considered, that’s why I never had a problem with it winning. Since, in a year with all great films but divided preferences, it was the film most people agreed upon. We all liked it. So I’m cool with the win.
It is, however, one of the Best Picture winners to win less than four Oscars. That’s a very rare feat for something nowadays. It’s only happened five times since 1952. Midnight Cowboy had three wins (I believe Anne of the Thousand Days won the most that year, off the top of my head. Don’t hold me to that if I’m wrong), The Godfather had three wins (Cabaret won everything else that year), Rocky had three wins (because look what it was fucking up against. That year is actually pretty comparable to this year in a lot of ways), Crash had three wins (which… ha ha), and now Argo only has three wins. So, that’s one of those things people will look at. How come it didn’t win more? (Personally, my question is, how did some of those Best Pictures like Out of Africa win as many as they did? I did my ballot and Argo barely came out with three. If we’re betting by category, a Best Picture should only have about 5 wins unless it’s exemplary. There’s actually way too much of people just checking one film off for everything. So I don’t see a problem with the three wins.)
Also, in case you’re interested, the less than four wins (which… King’s Speech only won four too. As did No Country and most of the winners since Return of the King. Didn’t I say in one of those articles that only Slumdog, Hurt Locker and The Artist are the only three to win 5 or more since 2003? And The Artist only had 5 and Hurt Locker only had 6, so even there, reasonable amounts. And Slumdog had padded totals because of the music) Best Picture winners is actually pretty rare, overall. It’s mostly reserved for pre-1940s stuff, which makes sense. Other than the five, the only films from 1940 on that won less than three Oscars including Best Picture are: Rebecca (2 wins), Casablanca (3 wins), Gentleman’s Agreement (3 wins), All the King’s Men (3 wins) and The Greatest Show on Earth (3 wins). So only ten times since 1940. That’s rare.
But anyway, I think they made a solid decision and did the best they could, given the way the year went.
Though again, I still say Les Misérables. I’m biased, of course, as I’m sure the Zero Dark Thirty people are. But I think it’s an okay choice.
Oh, also, I’d like to say — I said Argo still had a shot at this the day of Oscar nominations (or like right after). Affleck didn’t get nominated and I still said, “I don’t think this one is out. I still think it can make a play for it.” I feel very good about that, since normally I’d rely on my instincts and be like, “No, it needs a Director nomination,” but here I just saw it winning. I wanted to point that out. Maybe everyone else had the same thought, but I just remember having that feeling all the way through.
Also, my predictions on both ballots are 1/1 so far.
Best Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
I felt this one coming from last night. I knew it. I changed my vote to him, and then I spoke to my friend, who convinced me to stick with Spielberg. I ended up with the mindset that I put in the Quick Picks article, which is, “I might as well go down with the ship, since I went off of it so late. Don’t be a pussy and bail, be a real captain. Plus I can just tell other people to get it right and still be awesome when it happens and I said it would.” So that’s what happened. I told everyone else to take him, and he won, and I stuck with my guns, knowing I shouldn’t. So it’s kind of a wash, and to me, I don’t feel bad about it (mostly because I know how my picks ended up).
In terms of the win — I think it was deserved. I watched all the nominees again, and… Spielberg, I didn’t see much there, effort-wise. Less than War Horse, certainly, which I felt was appropriate enough for a win in a weaker year than last year was. Russell’s direction was okay, but it shouldn’t have won outside of, “David O. Russell should have an Oscar.” I’d vote for him and not for the effort, which would have been okay, but, now that Lee won, I’d rather that have happened. Haneke I don’t think should have been nominated at all. I’ve said it all along. Put on Quentin, put on Hooper, put on Affleck, put on Bigelow. They’re all better choices. Zeitlin I know wouldn’t have won, but he’d actually have been a great choice here, had it happened. Lee, though — while I have some problems with the film, his direction was terrific, and, in this category, actually stood out as best. So it makes perfect sense that he won, and I support it. The category sucked, so given what was there, I think this is probably the best possible outcome. Giving Spielberg this win would be like Capra winning his third for You Can’t Take It With You. Ehh… it’s not his best, but we get it. (The Best Director that year wasn’t nominated either. Grand Illusion or Adventures or Robin Hood, take your pick.)
On my ballots, I’m 1/2 on my personal ballot (though not really. The ballot in my hand had Lee on it, even though this is the internet and we don’t count that sort of thing) and 2/2 on the ballot I told you to have.
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Everyone saw this coming, and no one can argue with it. The great thing about this category is, in the future, we’ll all be able to go and be like, “Man, Bradley Cooper/Joaquin Phoenix should have won,” and get into arguments about it. It always happens that the years with the easy winners are the years with the contentious categories. (Bridge on the River Kwai over 12 Angry Men, anyone?) I love that.
But of course he won and of course he was brilliant. This makes him the only male actor to win three Best Actor Oscars. Him and Katharine Hepburn are the only two people to have more than two Oscars in a lead category. He’s been nominated five times now and has won three times. He lost in 1993 for In the Name of the Father (he shouldn’t have won anyway. He lost to Tom Hanks and Liam Neeson should have won) and in 2002 for Gangs of New York (which… jury’s still out on that decision). So he’s doing all right, percentage-wise.
My favorite was that Meryl didn’t even really open the envelope when she said it. We all just knew.
He’s great, it’s a great win, and we can’t really argue against it no matter how much we liked Joaquin Phoenix’s performance.
Anyway, I’m 2/3 on my personal ballot and 3/3 on the ballot I told you to take.
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
It was my favorite lead female performance of the year, so of course I’m happy about this. I never liked Riva’s performance as a winner. I said it from the start. And now that she lost, I can go back to respecting her performance. Since I really didn’t see what made it so good that it required a win. I’m not saying it was shit, I just didn’t see it. This is how these things work. We see different things. That said, I loved Lawrence’s performance, and I’m glad she won.
In terms of the winners in this category over the last 15 years, I think we can say that at the very worst, she’ll rank at least midway between the best and the worst winners. At worst. She’s already better than Witherspoon, Bullock, Paltrow, Kidman (because Kidman is so clearly supporting), and Roberts (in terms of actual performance), and then I think she’s better than Mirren and Berry, and that’s before taking some others into account. Then it gets into personal preference. But she’s definitely not a bad choice. So there’s that. Here’s hoping she makes good choices in the future and doesn’t turn out like some of the past winners.
I’m 3/4 on my personal ballot and 4/4 on the ballot I told you to take.
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
I kind of saw this coming, but this category was so fucked I saw at least three outcomes happening. Personally, I saw Jones and De Niro happening before Waltz, but I did see him over Hoffman as a third choice. The BAFTA win made me think it was a legitimate possibility. De Niro didn’t have any precursors, so that guess was more about how hard the Weinsteins were campaigning for him and how much I did end up liking the performance.
Overall, in terms of performances here, I think I prefer De Niro to the lot. I love Waltz, but I still say Leo was better and should have been there. I liked Hoffman, but I don’t know if I’d have voted for him. I think because I’d rather have Joaquin win than him, and to see him and not Joaquin win would be like having Karl Malden win for Streetcar and not Brando (oh, wait…); it’s nice, but, we’re getting past what actually is the better performance. (Though I know some people prefer Hoffman, don’t get all up in my shit about that.) Arkin was cool, but he’s easily #5. And then Jones, I loved, but he didn’t need to win. The more I see the performance, the more I get it. I get why he didn’t win. And like I said, I’d have had a wildly different category here, so my feelings on it are meaningless.
Either way, I like Waltz, it was my favorite movie of the year, and the performance was entertaining as all hell, so in terms of who could have won this category, this is probably my second favorite overall choice, behind De Niro, and maybe first overall. So I’m totally cool with the win. But, objectively — ehh, it didn’t really need to happen. It’s the same thing he did last time, but good instead of bad. It’s one of those wins that is cool because we like him, we like the performance and we like the film, but we all agree it’s not one of the best ever in the category. I’m okay with that.
I’m 3/5 on my personal ballot and 4/5 on the ballot I told you to take.
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
It was a lock, and no one is surprised the inevitable happened.
I said a bunch already, I disliked the category, I thought she dwarfed the competition, which is saying something, since in another year, I probably wouldn’t want to vote for her because of how little she’s in the film.. But here, everything worked out for her, and she won. Deservedly. The category is the category.
4/6 on my personal ballot and 5/6 on the ballot I told you to take.
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
Fuck yeah! This was, to me, the best original screenplay of 2012, and I’m so happy it won. I thought Amour was gonna take it, but it turned out, that was all internet noise. I’m glad I stuck with Quentin, because I’d have hated myself if I went off of it. Sorry I told you all to take it. But to me, this category began and ended with this, and it so clearly needed to win. This script was better than Basterds.
I’m 5/7 on my personal ballot and 5/7 on the ballot I told you to take.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo
This was a no-brainer. It was gonna win the second it was gonna win Best Picture.
I still think Lincoln was the better screenplay and should have won. And I think Silver Linings was a better screenplay too, the more I think about it. But after Lincoln, I can live with this beating Silver Linings on the Best Picture tiebreaker. Lincoln, though — that was the best script by far. I still think that should have won.
I’m 6/8 on both ballots right now.
Best Editing: Argo
This was an obvious choice. I was worried Zero Dark Thirty was gonna take it, but they gotta give the Best Picture something, and this was one of the only categories left. It made sense.
I also, as I’ve made known, really disliked this category, so I didn’t give a fuck what won, so my guessing was purely academic here, and since I was right, I’m done with this category, and will think about it no more.
I’m 7/9 on both ballots.
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi
Skyfall should have won, but I get it. I don’t even dislike the decision all that much. I just dislike that Roger Deakins doesn’t have an Oscar. (2007 was the year, man. You fucked up, Academy.)
I’ll stop talking now, before I start bashing the lovely cinematography in this film. Which it doesn’t deserve. (Kind of like Roger Deakins not having an Oscar. That’s something he doesn’t deserve.)
I also said flat out this was winning, despite my feelings. Do you know how hard it is for me to not say, “Fuck it,” and go with my personal choice on something that doesn’t matter like this? I hope you all listened.
I’m 8/10 on both ballots.
Best Original Score: Life of Pi
Another one that was locked. Nothing else had the support this had. Skyfall wasn’t getting votes because it was an “action” score (despite my feeling that it was the second best score of the year behind an un-nominated Clou Atlas). Anna Karenina is a film not enough people saw. Argo was never going to win. Lincoln, I feel, suffered from the whole, “It’s John Williams doing himself over again” feeling. So this was the only choice, and we all should have had an easy winner here.
I’m 9/11 on both ballots.
Best Original Song: “Skyfall,” from Skyfall
I’m so glad they didn’t fuck this up. This is the only nominee that would have held up over time. Since 2000, the dearth of great original songwriting in movies has become a crutch to this category, and there are really only about six or seven memorable songs that have won. “Lose Yourself,” “Into the West,” “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” “Falling Slowly,” “The Weary Kind,” and this. And even then, this stands out. I’m glad they didn’t fuck up. We’ll leave it at that. It’s a good stepping stone — let’s hope they keep trending upward.
I hope you weren’t dumb enough to vote against this.
I’m 10/12 on both ballots.
Best Production Design: Lincoln
This can be considered the one and only surprise of the night. Maybe Christoph Waltz, and maybe the tie that’s coming could also be considered, but honestly, category-wise, this was the only surprise, because this wasn’t even on most people’s radars. We all figured Anna Karenina or Les Mis. Life of Pi made sense as a non-winner, because it’s literally a boat and a life raft and computer generated shit. And The Hobbit wasn’t winning. Come on, now. And then Lincoln comes out of nowhere. The sets were good-looking, but who actually thought this had a shot here? I have no idea where it came from.
So yeah. It won, not many people actually picked it, I’m guessing, and we all probably missed this one. Which is good, because this was one of four categories that was giving me fits right up until the end (coincidentally, two of the other three were Sound Editing, which — look where that went — and Director, which I already explained about. And the other was Actress, which turned out all right, in the end). So I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one who missed out on this.
I’m 10/13 on both ballots. I told you to take Les Mis and I took Anna Karenina and they were both wrong. Typically that only happens once every year. There’s only one category where I won’t have mentioned the eventual winner. (I did mention Waltz, so that doesn’t count. I didn’t say to take him, but I mentioned him as the third choice.) Which, one out of twenty-four is pretty damn good. Especially given the shorts and shit and how it’s never one of them.
Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina
This was a no-brainer. They gravitate to costumes like this. Even if they didn’t see the film, they knew the costumes. Mirror Mirror may have had a shot because the designer died, but they don’t know that sort of stuff when they vote. This was always the choice, and really only Les Mis had a shot at upsetting, but it’s clear that film was only gonna win the awards that made sense for it, which were the three that it won. This was really the only choice, and it seems weird that anyone would go against this for a vote.
I’m 11/14 on both ballots.
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Les Misérables
This was another no-brainer. I was worried The Hobbit might take it, having won three times before, that franchise, but ultimately class won out and they voted the way I expected them to, which is like Visual Effects — when something is Best Picture nominated, they’re gonna throw it another bone. Especially something like this. It’s not just Makeup anymore. That little change made all the difference. Otherwise this might not have won. This was a pretty easy one to guess. I had some reservations, but I felt pretty good about my chances, and it worked out. I didn’t even tell you to go against it, that’s how solid I felt the bet was.
I’m 12/15 on both ballots.
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi
It was a lock, it should have won, there’s nothing that needs to be said.
Except — seriously, never bet against a Best Picture nominee in the Visual Effects category. Ever. Please learn this lesson if you want to be competitive on your ballots.
I’m 13/16 on both ballots.
Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables
They recorded the singing live. There was no other choice. I bet Skyfall came close to winning, but you’re not gonna be a musical with the intangible this one had. A regular musical, maybe. But not this one. I was worried, but this was the choice, and it panned out.
I’m 14/17 on both ballots.
Best Sound Editing: (TIE) Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty
The first tie since 1968 and the only tie in a non-acting category. Which is pretty great, I feel. Since two deserving sound designs get to win and more people get to be right. (Or we strike the category entirely, in which case all of our percentages go up.) Of course I’d have said to take Life of Pi here and didn’t have either on my ballots, which is just my luck. Though again, this and Production Design were the two that I really had no fucking clue about. I had a hard time thinking that Skyfall was gonna win one and not both, and I wasn’t going against Les Mis in Mixing, which is why this was so hard for me. Ultimately, Skyfall came within one vote (presumably. I don’t know what the official rules are at the moment, if anything under three becomes a tie or it’s an exact tie) from winning or losing this category, so I was kinda right. That said, I’m glad it won rather than Zero Dark Thirty winning on its own. Either way, I probably should have had it on my ballot, and I hope no one actually listened to me blindly on the Life of Pi thing. In hindsight, it seems like a stupid guess.
I’m 14/18 on both ballots, and this is the one category I regret not being smarter about.
Best Animated Feature: Brave
I fucking said it. I knew it all along, when this started picking up some wins here and there. I just felt like they were gonna go with this. My, how the tide changes over the course of a year. Remember last year, when everyone was sick of Pixar and didn’t even nominate them because they fucking hated their guts? Maybe it’s just the Animation branch that hates them. Since in an open field, Pixar has only lost once in this category.
I don’t feel bad about this, since I was always gonna take Wreck-It Ralph and I think that should have won, but — man… I don’t know how I feel about this. I’ll have to watch it again, but I just think this is a pretty weak winner. Which is something I don’t say often about this category. I’ll admit to not being as in love with Wreck-It Ralph as others are, but I still think it should have won here.
I’m 14/19 on both ballots, and I’m curious to find out how many people picked this one flat out on their ballots (and how well those people did overall).
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour
It won, it was going to win, this is a surprise to no one, and you’re an idiot if you didn’t guess it.
I didn’t see all the nominees and I don’t give a fuck about this category, so we’re moving on.
I’m 15/20 on both ballots.
Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Basically what I said up there, only much more so.
I’m 16/21 on both ballots.
Best Documentary, Short Subject: Inocente
I told you either this or Open Heart was winning. My gut told me this was the choice, yet I stuck with the odds, since who fucking knows anyway? (Apparently I do.) I told you flat out to take one or the other, and one of the two won. So I’m half right, even though I’m marking it wrong. I feel completely right about this one, even if I guessed wrong. Because seriously, I said — Open Heart or Inocente is winning this. And Inocente did. And I haven’t seen these nominees, I don’t know anything about them except basic premises, and I’m sure you don’t either. So comparatively, that’s pretty fucking impressive.
I’m 16/22 on both ballots.
Best Live-Action Short: Curfew
I knew nothing about the shorts, and I got this one right on feeling alone. You have to hand it to me, I got 2/3 shorts right, and I’m pretty sure I have for a number of years running now. This is the shit people concede, but I steer you really close to perfection on them.
I’m 17/23 on both ballots.
Best Animated Short: Paperman
The reason I stuck with this over Adam and Dog is because they sent out the nominees to the entire Academy and everyone got to vote on them. Before you had to go to the screenings of them and only those people could vote. Which lead to shit like Adam and Dog winning. But here, in an open vote, something like this was clearly the right choice. It’s emotional, and for a voting body that went for The King’s Speech — this was gonna be the one. I’m glad I didn’t cave. I knew better.
I’m 18/24 on both ballots.
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So, tallying up what I got wrong:
Best Director — I stuck with Spielberg even though I said I thought Ang Lee was winning. I think I deserve a point in spirit for that one. I won’t add it to my total, but… I told you. I honestly just left Spielberg because I had been talking it up for weeks and felt I had to stick with it.
Best Supporting Actor — I figured this one would happen. Going into it, I just wasn’t comfortable with Jones, but I figured I’d play the odds. I had this nagging feeling all along that Waltz was gonna sneak another one in, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually think it was going to happen. I’d already mentally marked this as a “wrong” one in my head, so I didn’t feel bad about it. Still, though — this was a bizarre category, all the way through.
Best Production Design — we all pretty much got this wrong. Who saw Lincoln coming? This can really be counted as the one and only surprise of the night (minus the next category). It’s like when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won Best Editing last year. We all went, “Wait, what?” and then went, “Oh, right, it means no one else got that right too.” So we were all okay with it.
Best Sound Editing — No one saw a tie coming. It was pretty badass, actually. Unfortunately, neither Zero Dark Thirty or Skyfall were my choices, so instead of automatically getting it right, I got it flat out wrong. However, in my Quick Picks article, I said, “If Life of Pi doesn’t win, then either Skyfall or Zero Dark Thirty will.” So… how ’bout them apples?
Best Animated Feature — But I told you Brave could win all along, didn’t I? I stuck with my guns, but I was nervous as shit going in, because I saw this one coming. I was always gonna go with Ralph, so it’s not like Director. I was always gonna get it wrong. But I saw this coming. I feel good about missing this, because at least I was aware that it was coming.
Best Live-Action Short — I said flat out, “If Open Heart doesn’t win, Inocente will.” So I was wrong, but I wasn’t wrong. You know? I told you flat out what was gonna win if my choice didn’t. In a category like this, I think we ought to recognize that. I don’t feel bad about this one bit.
(Also, even though I got the same score on my ballot and the ballot I told you to take, I did get Original Screenplay wrong on that one. I said to go with Amour because I bought into the chatter that he was gonna win that. So if you listened to me there, I apologize. But on the other hand, I got you 18 winners, so fuck you, you ungrateful little shit.)
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So I got 18/24 categories right, for a cool 75% correct percentage. Add to that the fact that I had Director cold and voted differently on this particular ballot and the fact that pretty much everyone got Production Design wrong — I did all right. I try to do 16/24 and I did two better than that, practically three. That’s a good fucking year. Especially considering I didn’t even bother reading the internet/Oscar sites until the very, very end. (And by that I mean, after there was no chance of my picks being swayed.)
The only categories I think I fucked up on this year were Production Design and Sound Editing. Otherwise, Director I pretty much had, Supporting Actor is whatever, Animated Feature is whatever, and Live-Action Short — we should all assume we’re getting at least one of the shorts categories wrong, and even though I did, I TOLD YOU it was one or the other. So had I split the vote, I’d have had 19 on one ballot (bordering on 20)! So two I had flat out wrong (one of which most of us got wrong), two were completely up in the air, and two I got wrong, but also was right there in the ballpark for (had I either not stuck with something for whatever reason or played it safe and split the vote, I might have gotten either or both of them). I’ll take those odds every year. Normally there are more surprises and I miss more than I did this year. So I lucked out.
So I got 18/24, and I think they made pretty good decisions all around here. They were helped by a pretty strong set of nominees, overall. Not to mention a pretty strong year for movies overall.
And before we go, let’s go over which films won Oscars:
Life of Pi — 4 Oscars (Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects)
Argo — 3 Oscars (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing)
Les Misérables — 3 Oscars (Best Supporting Actress, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing)
Lincoln — 2 Oscars (Best Actor, Best Production Design)
Django Unchained — 2 Oscars (Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay)
(And here imagine if these were your Best Director nominees…)
Skyfall — 2 Oscars (Best Original Song, Best Sound Editing)
Silver Linings Playbook — 1 Oscar (Best Actress)
Anna Karenina — 1 Oscar (Best Costume Design)
Zero Dark Thirty — 1 Oscar (Best Sound Editing)
Brave — 1 Oscar (Best Animated Feature)
Amour — 1 Oscar (Best Foreign Language Film)
The other winners were Searching for Sugar Man, Inocente, Curfew and Paperman.
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So that’ll conclude our Oscar season, and from here on out, it’s other stuff until next January.
(P.S. I also updated my Oscar Facts, Trivia and Miscellanea article with last night’s results. Just FYI.)