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Oscar 2013: The Year Of The Snub

Peter Travers calls the Oscar race this year “defiantly contentious”

Peter Travers Feb 22, 2013
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Ben Affleck. Photo: Claire Folger/Warner Bros. Pictures;

Best Picture


  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Faves Ben Affleck’s Argo can’t help winning for losing. Ever since the ass-backward Academy nominated Argo for Best Picture but kicked Affleck to the curb as Best Director, Argo advocates have been all up in Oscar’s gold-plated face. Vote Argo for Best Picture ”“ that’ll show the bastards. Well, it’ll sure show Lincoln. Steven Spielberg’s constitutional epic, boasting a record 12 nominations this year, had been the Best Picture favorite. Until events showed that hell hath no fury like an Affleck fan scorned. Since Affleck got the shaft, Argo keeps winning prizes, from the Golden Globe to the producer, director and actor guilds. Is Lincoln a better movie than Argo? You bet. But who cares when the smell of an underdog victory is in the air?

Dark Horse The smart money says it’s a race between true-life dramas ”“ Argo vs. Lincoln. Quentin Tarantino’s visionary Django Unchained ended slavery in a bloodbath that stayed true to his own head. And what of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, the actual best movie among the nine? Politics killed that one. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and John McCain claimed the film implied that waterboarding helped capture bin Laden. And they say Oscar voters are blind.

Rejects No-go for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, so his Batman trilogy is 0-for-3 for Best Picture. Jeez. But the snub of shame is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a film of such originality and daring, Academy voters ran for the hills of their own mediocrity.

The Winner For playing the Affleck snub card, not ruffling feathers and making Hollywood the hero of its fact-based Iran hostage drama: Argo.


Jaoquin Phoenix in ‘The Master’. Photo: Phil Bray/©Weinstein Company/courtesy Everett Collection


Best Actor


  • Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
  • Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
  • Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
  • Denzel Washington ”“ Flight

Faves Let us not kid ourselves. Day-Lewis is heading for his third Oscar as Best Actor, a feat unmatched in 85 years of Oscar. As ever, Day-Lewis immersed himself in the role, being Lincoln on and off set. Crazy? Don’t care how he does it. Nobody does it better.

Dark Horse All these nominees outdid themselves. But Phoenix went beyond acting as a World War II vet lost in a cult in The Master. Day-Lewis himself gave Phoenix a shout-out at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Of course,Phoenix has referred to Oscar campaigning as “bullshit.” Will it hurt him? Why should it? He’s right.

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Rejects I’d have traded John Hawkes in The Sessions for Jackman. Or Jack Black in Bernie. Or Richard Gere in Arbitrage. Otherwise, I’m cool.

The Winner If Day-Lewis doesn’t win, there will be blood.

Jessica Chastain is the dark horse for the Best Actress Oscar. Photo: Jonathan Olley/Columbia Pictures


Best Actress


  • Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
  • Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts – The Impossible


Faves Call it a dead heat between Lawrence as a young widow dodging a meltdown in Silver Linings Playbook and Chastain as a young CIA agent feeling the toll of a decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty. Toss a coin or call for a tie. They’re both dynamite.

Dark Horse Wallis, 9, is the youngest nominee ever. Riva, 85, is the oldest. If Lawrence and Chastain cancel each other out, Riva could be it. The Academy clearly is all in for Amour, the rare foreign-language film with a Best Picture nomination. Who better than Riva to show Oscar amour for Amour?

Rejects It stings that Marion Cotillard is not named for Rust and Bone. Conspiracy theories are merde. With Riva on the list, voters probably couldn’t find room in their provincial hearts for two French femmes.

The Winner If only because Chastain is absent from the climactic raid on bin Laden’s compound and lacks a pop phenom on her résumé like The Hunger Games: Lawrence.

Tommy Lee Jones in ‘Lincoln’. Photo: David James/©DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox

 Best Supporting Actor


  • Alan Arkin – Argo
  • Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
  • Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
  • Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

Faves Every actor here has already won an Oscar ”“ Hoffman (Capote), Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) in the past decade. De Niro (The Godfather Part II, Raging Bull) hasn’t been this good in years. And Jones (The Fugitive) cuts through the political hot air in Lincoln with such witty, wounding intensity that I’d vote for him next election.

Dark Horse Hoffman would win hands down if his mesmerizing performance as a cult leader weren’t so clearly a lead role. Hell, the movie is called The Master.

Rejects I could make up a whole new category out of the snubbed: Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike), John Goodman (Argo, Flight), Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained). In fact, I’m convinced Jackson’s time-capsule-worthy portrayal of a diabolical house slave is a landmark of great screen acting.

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The Winner For showing the hurt and the healing that come with political compromise in the name of a cause (the abolition of slavery): Jones.

Anne Hathaway is the favorite for Best Actress. Photo: Universal Pictures


Best Supporting Actress


  • Amy Adams – The Master
  • Sally Field – Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
  • Helen Hunt – The Sessions
  • Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Faves To play the unwed-mother-turned-19th-century-French-prostitute in Les Misérables, Hathaway dropped 25 pounds, chopped off her hair, refused makeup and ”“ take that, Beyoncé! ”“ sang live on camera. The Academy adores actors who suffer for an Oscar. It also helps that Hathaway, who is onscreen for barely 15 minutes, sings the shit out of her big emo ballad, “I Dreamed a Dream.” Try competing with that, you other nominees.

Dark Horse Only one nominee could possibly do it. That would be two-time Oscar winner Field, whose portrait of feisty First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln is a thing of beauty and terror.

Rejects Judi Dench deserved a nod for her gritty, graceful farewell in Skyfall, but nothing here to really bitch about.

The Winner Despite a viral video parody in which a faux her (Emma Fitzpatrick) pleads with Academy voters in song to give her the award: Hathaway.

Quentin Tarantino. Photo: Andrew Cooper/TWC

 Best Director


  • Michael Haneke – Amour
  • Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Ang Lee – Life of Pi
  • Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
  • David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

Faves Before the nominations were revealed on January 10th, Spielberg had the directing Oscar locked up for Lincoln. Then Ben Affleck happened.

Dark Horse Or Ben Affleck didn’t happen. Shockingly, Spielberg’s chief rival was shut out by the 371 members of the Academy’s clearly dodgy director branch. With apologies to the gifted newcomer Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and the risk-taking Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), the only directing nominee with the chops to take down Spielberg would be Ang Lee for his visionary Life of Pi. Can a director win if his movie doesn’t? Ask Spielberg, who took the directing Oscar for 1998’s Saving Private Ryan while Best Picture went to Shakespeare in Love.

Rejects Boo for shutting out Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained). Double boo for ignoring Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), the best of the bunch.

The Winner A write-in vote is unprecedented but mouth-watering. Instead of watching Spielberg take Best Director while Affleck draws cheers as Argo wins Best Picture, let’s hope for an off-the-ballot revolution on February 24th. What better way to symbolically take the unholy 371 out to the woodshed? It’s about time Oscar made some real history.


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