As anyone who has followed the Academy Awards closely before will know, they never choose everyone you would have chosen had you been making the decisions. Yet this year I was pleasantly surprised with the academy – granted, I’m happy with them every time they get even one important award right. That being said, I think this year’s awards showed that while Oscar politics and campaigns are still far more influential than they should be, the base of who wins awards is starting to change.
Firstly, Lincoln wasn’t the big winner everyone predicted it to be. The film with the most nominations, Steven Spielberg’s biopic about our country’s most famous president only took home 2 awards – tying with Skyfall and Django Unchained. I think this is a sign that the academy is beginning to select from a broader range of films, as a few years ago a film like Lincoln would have been a near certain victory in almost every category. Instead, Ang Lee won Best Director – a choice I’m glad they made, as his achievement with Life of Pi was nothing short of masterful. Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor, and rightfully so, his relation with Quentin Tarantino has created two marvelously memorable characters, and I hope to see further collaboration in the future. Tarantino also took home the screenplay Oscar, an award he deserved three years ago for Inglourious Basterds as well, but at least he has two statuettes to his name now.
Next I have to discuss Argo. While no one is arguing about its winning Best Editing, or even screenplay (which I think should have gone to Lincoln in fact), there seems to be some opposition to its selection as Best Picture. For the record, I thought that Argo was a phenomenally well-crafted thriller, blending satire and historical-political tension near-flawlessly. That being said, even I’m not sure if it is Best Picture material. It was one of the best films of the year in my mind, but I feel that to win a Best Picture award one needs to be great on every front. Argo was passionately directed, and both written and edited with great skill, as well as making a great thriller out of a situation that even today is politically tense. However, I do feel it lacked the outstanding performances that, fellow nominees presented, and Ben Affleck’s directing nomination snub may have unfairly influenced its win.
All that being said, if it couldn’t be Django, I probably would have chosen Argo next myself. Overall it is one of the best made films of the year, and its certainly a step away from a film like Lincoln, which while expertly made and tremendously well acted, was a little dry and stereotypical of an Oscar winner. I wouldn’t place Argo anywhere near the greatest Best Picture winners like The Godfather, Casablanca, or On the Waterfront; it’s still better than Shakespeare in Love or Chicago.
Despite some awkward moments in the broadcast, this year’s Academy Award ceremony was by and large a fun night, with the theme of celebrating the best of music in film – although its far too soon for Dreamgirls nostalgia (even Chicago was pushing it a little). Naturally some films were missed out of the nominations or were snubbed for awards, as happens every year at the Oscars, but at least some of the right people went home with the right award. Regardless of how you found the show this season, this past year was a great year for film, and the Academy Awards showed that with a mixed field of winners.
Most Oscars Received in 2013:
Life of Pi (11 nominations) – 4 wins
Les Misérables (8 nominations) – 3 wins
Argo (7 nominations) – 3 wins
Lincoln (12 nominations) – 2 wins
Django Unchained (5 nominations) – 2 wins
Skyfall (5 nominations) – 2 wins