Oscars 2013: First Reactions

The nominations for the 2013 Oscars have finally been announced, and as ever the Academy’s pick of the film-making pinnacle has caused film goers to question what’s included, what’s not included, how strong categories are and just who has the best chance to pick up a golden statuette come 24th February. So here at Inside Media Track, we’ve broken down the list of nominations and picked out the top highlights. 

Instant reaction would point out no Best Director nomination for Tom Hooper with Les Miserables, after he took that honour two years ago with The King’s Speech. Or even Ben Affleck, who showcased his directing talents with Argo, a film setup perfectly for the die hard Oscar voters who thrive on great against-all-odds American success stories which Affleck had created brilliantly.

It’s no secret though, especially for us Brits, that Skyfall has been the most overlooked, with only a well deserved cinematography nomination for veteran Roger Deakins and Adele for providing a proper big-bang Bond tune with Skyfall, the likes of which have been absent of late in the series. The Academy allows a maximum of ten Best Picture picks, but the voting procedure has settled with a total of nine, making the suggestion on a tenth pick being all the more obvious and making more common sense, for which my pick would have indeed been Skyfall. With Bond celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Academy have announced they will celebrate the longest-running film franchise, but there was no room for any Best Picture nomination, or indeed supporting awards for Judi Dench or Javier Bardem.

Having said that, this year’s supporting categories look just as hotly contested as the leading actors group. Amy Adams, Sally Field and Anne Hathaway all providing a rich scene-stealing performances, making it the hardest group to call, whilst in the men’s, it’s just as close as ever. Philip Seymour Hoffman looks to be favourite, but both Christolph Waltz and Alan Arkin could sneak away with it, with Robert De Niro being the dark horse of the group. In the leading actor groups, Daniel Day-Lewis almost looks a certainty to pick up his record-breaking third Best Actor award for his performance as Abraham Lincoln, with Joaquin Phoenix and Hugh Jackman providing tough competition. Whilst the Best Actress category is already breaking records, with Emmanuelle Riva at 85 becoming the oldest nominated actress in Oscar history for Amour and young Quvenzhane Wallis becoming the youngest actress ever nominated, at the age of 9, for her fantastic showing in Beasts Of The Southern Wild.

In other groups, no inclusion of The Imposter in the documentary categories, whilst The Pirates are nominated in the Best Animation category, deservedly so as it was indeed the best animated film of the year. No best picture, director or even writing nomination for Paul Thomas Anderson with The Master which was easily the best film of  last year, whilst none of the big blockbusters getting recognised in any of the big awards, pointing out just how strong a year it was in film. Great to see many seasoned artists nominated in the technical categories, with Steven Spielberg‘s long time collaborators Janusz Kaminski and John Williams nominated for cinematography and original score respectively. Also, for the writers, it’s no surprise Tarantino is in the mix along with Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal for the original screenplay, but the adapted screenplay list should see David Magee get the award for Life Of Pi for his script on a virtually unfilmable book.

As ever, the Academy have left out some big players that would rattle even the most hardened film fan, but they do get things absolutely right, with the inclusion of three films in particular – Beasts Of the Southern Wild, Amour and Silver Linings Playbook. Three films which we included on our Top 10 list of last year, and deserve all the praise that has been bestowed upon them this awards season.

Amour getting five nominations including Best Foreign Language Film, Director, Original Screenplay and Best Picture perfectly encapsulates and pays tribute to director Michael Haneke‘s tough-watch universal drama on coming to terms with old age and illness. With it being so universal, playing to any audience who are able to experience it’s massive human themes, it’s great to see Oscar voters praising just the intense level and bravery of Haneke’s vision. On the other hand, Beasts Of The Southern Wild celebrates the younger and more vibrant side of human life, getting four nominations including Best Picture and director for Benh Zietlin, it’s fantastic to see this Indie-spirited take on a young girl’s inquisitive imagination, coming of age midst the poverty of a disaster-hit Louisiana, get the recognition it earns. Just a genuinely joyous film with a tough, fierce, outstanding central performance from a nine year old Quvenzhane Wallis who has every chance of winning the Oscar. But the big eye catcher is Silver Linings Playbook which has earned itself a total of eight Oscar nods with nominations in each of the four acting categories including its leads Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. A fantastic drama tackling people’s takes on mental illness whilst having a swaying upbeat family narrative that conjures together nicely. At first glance, it may appear to be a film that tick everything Oscar voters go for, but it’s a far deeper drama that’s directed brilliantly. Whether these three films go on to win the big prizes or not, it’s still gratifying to see the Academy recognising good hearted cinematic experiences.

So come the night of February 24th, we may see Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln sweep the show after receiving the most nominations with twelve. But the beauty of this year’s picks is that it really is too close to call, each category have very strong contenders and it may come to the finest of margins. But overall, with a rich selection of great films that have gripped and excited us over the last twelve months, the Academy’s picks for this years awards main event have once again recognised the true understanding of film making.