First, an Oscars analysis in light of Thursday’s nominations: The Golden Globes seem to indicate that Argo still has an edge over Lincoln but that Daniel Day-Lewis and Jessica Chastain are still frontrunners in the acting category. In the Comedy/Musical category, the competition was solely between Silver Linings Playbook and Les Misérables. Anne Hathaway is closer to a lock for Best Supporting Actress, but I think the momentum for the film itself and for Hugh Jackman, ends here. The real battle seems to be developing between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence…and I think Daniel Day-Lewis and Bradley Cooper.
Ben Affleck may win every directing nomination he’s received, and rightly so, which makes the Oscar snob all the more confusing. I get Oscar snubs are a necessary component of the process, and that this was a great year, but this is a head-scratcher. Nevertheless, he deserves the accolades. Go Ben! And Argo!
Not quite sure who was favored for Supporting Actor (perhaps Alan Arkin or Tommy Lee Jones?) but I adore Christoph Waltz, so *I* favored him. Then again, he has to contend with Robert De Niro for the Oscar, and that’s a tough race. Great performances in both. If Christoph Waltz was a surprise, Quentin Tarantino for Best Screenplay was shocking. I also think he was most deserving; I mean this is an original screenplay in a mixed category of both original and adapted. Weird category that makes much more sense separated, like at the Oscars.
Glad that pan over the audience showed I wasn’t the only one crying as her speech kept hitting different emotional beats (here’s the transcript). I was just so unprepared! Most of these achievement awards are, lets be honest, super boring. From the way she addressed her ailing mother and hints about “retirement”…it was like breaking the wall that glittery award shows put up. We like to see stars schmoozing with other stars and seeing them as “real” people. But it’s all so fake. Leave it to a notoriously private actor to shatter those expectations. We don’t know Jodie, but because of her celebrity…we do. And this swan song of sorts is affecting because of that familiarity. Fascinating, moving stuff.
The Competition for Most Distinguished Introduction to a Film
Bill Clinton for Lincoln, Jeremy Renner for Zero Dark Thirty, Christian Bale for Silver Linings Playbook, Catherine Zeta-Jones for Les Misérables, Tony Mendez and John Goodman for Argo, Jamie Foxx for Django Unchained…
Women on Television
Claire Danes: “very proud to be working in this medium, in this moment, in this company”
Lena Dunham: “This award is for every woman who felt like there wasn’t a space for her” and Girls “made me feel so much less alone in the world”
I don’t actively dislike Robert Pattinson, (he is Cedric Diggory after all) but I never give him much thought. However, I have to admit that this little GIF showing how momentarily shy and awkward he appeared to be meeting Quentin Tarantino has endeared him to me a bit:
SKYFALL and Adele win—she high-fives Daniel Craig (such delight!) and pisses off Taylor Swift
The Usual Favorites
How awesome is Jessica Chastain, seriously? So sincere. On the E! Red Carpet she stopped to tell Naomi Watts how great she is in The Impossible and how much she loved it (before being shooed away by Ryan Seacrest).
Can someone PLEASE mass publish the fact that Jennifer Lawrence was quoting The First Wives Club when she said “What does this say…I beat Meryl!” I love her more and more every time she speaks. I know how it feels to diffuse awkwardness with a movie quote only to have it sort of fall flat when no one realizes it’s a quote…
Benedict Cumberbatch (his second time at the Globes) lost to Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner winning also led to the most boring speech of the night. And Ben looked sad! Oh well…
Ewan McGregor not-so-shockingly did not win for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, but did get to have a chat with George Clooney (that I spied) and plenty of others, probably. I just wish he was there to support The Impossible.
Eddie Redmayne looked quite dapper, of course.
If we are all being honest, a Golden Globe nomination is little more than a chance for the real Oscar contenders to continue their campaign, and for some of the kookier nominees to enjoy in the randomness of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The SAG awards can be telling of Oscar contenders as well but it’s really all about “actors celebrating actors” and a really nice party, I’d imagine (and more campaigning). But things are looking good for some deserving folks, and I feel way more committed to this awards season than last year (ugh). Also, I can’t help but be excited for the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey power hour.
To recap, I LOVED Argo and despised The Master. Ben Affleck got a very deserving nod for a Golden Globe in the Best Director category. Alan Arkin was the only actor nominated, in a supporting role. The movie as a whole was nominated for both Best Drama and Best Screenplay, as well as Best Score. Argo is also nominated for Best Ensemble Cast at the SAGs, and I gotta say, it is tough to beat. On the other hand, while voters seem to be in agreement that The Master is not great, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman are still getting acting nominations. Which is okay, I guess. They did good work.
While I am championing Argo, I am full-on obsessed with Silver Linings Playbook (Golden Globe Best Comedy/Musical, SAG Best Ensemble). Bradley Cooper: best role I have ever seen him in (GG Best Actor Comedy/Musical, SAG Best Actor). Jennifer Lawrence is as fantastic as she is crazy and fragile (GG Best Actress Comedy/Musical, SAG Best Actress). And as the cleverest sort-of rom-com I’ve seen in years, it is very deserving of its GG Best Screenplay nod. However, it is shocking that the Golden Globes bypassed Robert De Niro, who gave his best performance in years; he was nominated for a SAG award, which hopefully keeps his Oscar nomination chances afloat.
The early praise for Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty is being supported by multiple nominations for both films. Where they fit in with Argo and Silver Linings Playbook, in my opinion, is yet to be determined but I am excited to check them out. Both are nominated in the Best Drama category for the Golden Globes and both directors, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino, are nominated. They also both received noms for Best Screenplay. For Django, one of my favorite people in the world, Christoph Waltz, is nominated alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. Meanwhile, another one of my favorite people, Jessica Chastain is nominated for Zero Dark Thirty, at the Golden Globes and the SAGs.
SURPRISE: For some reason, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association really felt the need to recognize Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, with a nod for Best Comedy/Musical, and acting nominations for Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. I don’t have anything against the film, I actually own it. (I am contractually obligated by myself to own every Ewan McGregor movie so this hardly counts either). It is just one of those bizarre instances when a little talked about film from months ago pops for a run at gold. But I would much rather have Ewan nominated for his work in The Impossible at the Oscars.
- I have not seen The Sessions but I will never not be ecstatic over recognizing John Hawkes, which the HFPA and SAG both do. People claim that The Sessions is pure Oscar bait and I see where they are coming from, but John Hawkes has so many more unrecognized performances that this makes sense to me.
- Not wholly unexpected, but still surprising: Rachel Weisz snags a Best Drama Actress nod for The Deep Blue Sea. It is always nice to see her recognized (I love her) and I did like the performance (and the presence of Tom Hiddleston, naturally).
- My poor beloved Cloud Atlas is nominated for Best Score. As well it should!
- The Hour is nominated for Best Miniseries (?), hooray!! Sherlock is not; but Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated for Best Actor in a miniseries. Weird.
Arguably, Argo and The Master are the most buzzed about Oscar possibilities in theaters thus far; I’ve seen them both and I feel pretty proud of myself. After all, I had seen about two Oscar-nominated films at the time of the announcement last year. But last year was a fluke year in which none of the films were that must-see. This year is already different: I’ve already hopped aboard the Argo train. I am stoked for Silver Linings Playbook, The Sessions, Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit, and Les Misérables, to name a few. And the early buzz about Skyfall is really, really exciting. So I’m about a million miles a head of where I was last year and jazzed to be there. Also, I didn’t like The Master.
The way that people were talking about the trailer for The Master is the way I talk about the Cloud Atlas trailer. It’s awesome to see Joaquin Phoenix back in the game and Philip Seymour Hoffman never disappoints. So I went in banking on their performances, which of course, were great. But mainly people were excited that it was a Paul Thomas Anderson film and worship the ground he walks on. So I looked into his filmography; I like Boogie Nights, but I haven’t seen Magnolia (except for that frog scene). Did the hero worship really start with There Will Be Blood? Because, sure I liked it, but my main takeaway from that is the milkshake line, so that can’t be a good sign for its posterity in my mind. Okay, Daniel-Day Lewis and and Paul Dano were fantastic.
So people were beside themselves waiting for The Master but watching it gave me a headache. Not in an Inception-y kind of way, but in a why-did-I-just-subject-myself-to-two-hours-of-that kind of way. It is over-stylized and sweepingly grandiose, self-congratulatory in a way that screams “Look, people are giving me money to show you my exact vision” sort of way. Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie is sadly child-like in everything he does, as if he skipped his adolescence in World War II, and unlike how most other boys became men, he decides to live in a perpetual child state when he gets back. The fact that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s cult leader is blatantly making things up the entire time is eerie, in that it should be painfully obvious to those around him, not just his son. By the time Laura Dern calls him on his contradictions, he packs up and moves to another country to continue building his cult. And seems by the end that Anderson just expects us to drink the Koolaid too and follow along without any further explanation. Freddie rides off in the desert, they go to look for him, and magically he is in his hometown, trying to reconnect with an old sweetheart. Next he is summoned to England, and we realize he has been separate from the cult for a long period of time. Oh. I can’t put it better than Owen Gleiberman, who wrote
Paul Thomas Anderson now wants to sever our connection with the people on screen, so that nothing gets in the way of our link to the magnetic pull of his directorial voice. It’s a warped vision of what a movie is. But when a director who, in Boogie Nights, made the humanity of his characters sing now insists on making movies as if he’s “the master,” and is hailed for it like he’s the indie-crossover answer to Orson Welles, maybe it’s not necessary for us to love his films. Maybe worship, in its way, feels better than love.
Argo, though, is well worth the hype. It has a suspenseful premise (the stakes couldn’t be higher), a wonderfully talented cast, and major resonance for today’s world. Ben Affleck couldn’t have known about the tragedy to occur in Benghazi, but it makes for a great parallel to Iran 1979. As the film started I felt like I was fighting tears (although full disclosure, I almost felt like crying when I saw the Cloud Atlas trailer for the first time in theaters moments before, so my emotional head space that day is questionable) but, as someone who wasn’t alive to see it occur, it was jarring to see images so similar to what I see now on CNN.
And personally, as a student of international relations who has entertained the idea of being a foreign service officer, this is scary. But it also appeals to the other side of my studies, the creative peacebuilding side. Tony Mendez, Ben Affleck’s character, is clearly a creative individual. As an exfiltration expert, he was required to envision all the different ways a person could be extracted from a hostile environment. My studies have led me to entertainment as a tool of peacebuilding, and in that way I feel a kinship with Mendez. If I were in that position, I don’t think it would’ve been odd for me to imagine a sci-fi B-movie as a plausible means of cover. So, yes, Argo appealed to me on a higher level than its crackerjack storytelling. It harkens straight to everything I hope to do in my future.
Rounding out the awesomeness is a cast full of “hey, that guy!” actors. Ben Affleck is great, but I would give extra attention (Supporting Actor attention) to Bryan Cranston. We can expect the guy to be great in anything but his greatness still surprises in how…great it is. I mean, he was on 30 Rock this week and just killed it. The man can do anything. Alan Arkin and John Goodman head up the Hollywood portion. But then, there’s Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Rory Cochrane (Dazed and Confused…anyone?), Kyle Chander. Titus Welliver, and Zeljko Ivanek. Also, proving that he is literally in everything, there’s Chris Messina, whose starring role in The Mindy Project does not seem to be holding him back.
I focused my attentions a lot on the actors playing the stranded Americans. Along with Tate Donovan, DuVall, and Cochrane, we have Kelly Bishé, recognizable (to me) as Lucy on the last season of Scrubs; Christopher Denham, I had to look up, but I know him mostly from being obsessed with Sound of My Voice, a movie I haven’t even seen yet. I saved the best for last: Scoot McNairy. He gets the juiciest material of the six, but he also proves himself as one to watch. He has been working steadily for years but appears ready to break out, with a role in Brad Pitt’s Killing Them Softly this year as well. I already added what I could find of his on Netflix to my Instant Queue. (I started Wreckage. It is not good, you guys. Aaron Paul got me through the first twenty minutes, and I am counting on Scoot to carry me through to the end. But…eesh. There is such a huge dichotomy at play: fantastic actors like Aaron Paul and Scoot McNairy paired against people who cannot act at all. Ugh.) I hope my Scoot quest continues more smoothly in the future.
Potential award-winning films are releasing now to December. I look forward to seeing how they stack up against Argo and (hopefully) overtake The Master.