Year after year, I look upon Oscar night as the equivalent of Christmas morning. It’s that special time of the season when we are repeatedly told that wishes will come true and our good behavior will finally be rewarded with uncomparable presents and treats. Year after year, I end up unwrapping socks or underwear, which also sort of happens on Oscar night. The last time my favorite movie of that year won the big award was 1998—in what some still consider the greatest upset the category has seen in recent years—and after struggling with trying to convince myself that maybe someday my favorite movie would be crowned once again, I just gave up and now enjoy the Oscars for the same reason I enjoy Christmas: because it’s tradition.
I was absolutely flabbergasted this year when my favorite movie of 2012 came out of nowhere and scored nominations in key categories, including Best Picture. For a few hours I dared to dream that this tiny movie about two octogenarians approaching death stood a chance against all the Hollywood productions. It was during these cynicism-free moments that I decided to write this wishlist. Why a wishlist and not predictions you ask? Predicting the Oscars has become a common sport and as such involve the same amount of horrible competitiveness that sometimes plagues the good spirited nature of sportsmanship. There is absolutely no pleasure in predicting, while wishing, ah, wishing warms the heart and makes one smile… that is until Ben Affleck comes and steals your Christmas.
Best Picture: Amour, just because it’s the little movie that could. It defeated the barriers of language, dark auteurism, existentialism and lack of a happy ending and rode a miraculous wave to nominations for Best Picture, Director and three other categories. This year in particular, since the film probably stands no chance at winning the top prize, I would’ve loved to see it go to the second best in the category: Zero Dark Thirty a movie that in a single scene outdoes Argo, Lincoln and Django Unchained in terms of clever political insight, historical reevaluation and cinematic inventiveness.
Best Director: Michael Haneke for Amour. He is one of the top five working auteurs on the planet and this chance will never happen to him again. Will an Oscar mean anything to a man who has won two Palme d’Ors, a directing prize and endless awards at Cannes? (not to mention European Film Awards and trophies from every single important critics group in the world) Perhaps not, and this is precisely why an Oscar would be so great for him. It would inspire people in our continent to seek out his work, to relish in the movies of the one man who pushes the boundaries of filmmaking and humanity in every single project he tackles.
Best Actor: Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, Before watching him in this, I couldn’t stand him, heck I didn’t even think he was attractive. Leave it to David O. Russell (my second pick for Best Director) to allow him to bring his limited range to a new level of creativity. By allowing his Pat to play out like a drugged version of the assholes Cooper has played in the past, he let him shine through in ways that didn’t require him to show off his six pack or exploit his million dollar smile. His anxiety came through every pore of this character and made him someone you want to punch and then hug.
Best Actress: If I could have my way, I’d want a three-way tie in this category (this is a wishlist after all…) because I love Jessica Chastain and think she has the potential to become the most important actress of our times and because I’m devoted to Jennifer Lawrence and think she can become the most important movie star of our time. If Marion hadn’t been so ridiculously snubbed, then I’d want a four way tie…but my biggest Oscar wish for Sunday is to see Emmanuelle Riva crowned as queen for one night. She was terrific in Amour in ways we rarely have seen onscreen before. Sure I’ll be thrilled if J.Law’s modern take on Barbara Stanwyck or J. Chas’ Bergmanian restrained performance get the gold, but no other adjective but Riva-ian can be adhered to the French actress’ work.
Best Supporting Actor: Bobby De Niro so moving in Silver Linings Playbook or Christoph Waltz who I was campaigning for right in this very blog before he was nominated…
Best Supporting Actress: I love Anne Hathaway, but Les Miserables was utter bullcrap. Does that mean her performance was bad? No, of course not. But the movie is so terribly done that it robbed me the chance of enjoying what some say is outstanding work. She’ll win of course but if there was any justice this one would go to Amy Adams, who in The Master turned soullessness into an artform. Hathaway’s weight loss and commitment to her performance are impressive, but the effortless way in which Amy doesn’t alter her appearance and still becomes another person is what acting is all about.
Original Screenplay: Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty is the greatest Newsweek piece to ever be put on film. Whoever said journalism was dying needs a lesson or two from Mr. Boal.
Adapted Screenplay: Silver Linings Playbook it captures the zany essence of the book and changes what wouldn’t work onscreen. Also, it’s endlessly quotable.
Foreign Film: shall I even say it?
Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design and Score: I didn’t like Anna Karenina but since my favorite in these categories weren’t even nominated (where the hell are Greig Frasier’s and Alexandre Desplat’s nods for Zero Dark Thirty?) I’m all about Joe Wright’s epic taking the techs.
Editing: Anything other than Zero Dark Thirty will be a joke…
Original Song: When Adele gasps, runs to the stage and blurts out a “fuck me mate” we’ll all know picking “Skyfall” as the Best Song of the year wasn’t faulty. Also, it’s about time AMPAS recognized the brilliance of the Bond songs…
Visual Effects: I thought Life of Pi was gaudy. Everything in it looked like someone made a movie about those Lisa Frank folders from the ‘90s. This should go to The Hobbit.
Best Sound and Sound Editing: Skyfall because I get a kick out of the orchestra playing music I like and I’m pretty sure they’ll love doing some Bond notes.
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Hobbit hands down…
Animated Feature: I am not a Tim Burton fan at all, but Frankenweenie was the most precious animated movie in ages. Burton should stick to this and stop doing all those awful movies with Johnny Depp!
Documentary Feature: The Gatekeepers for being both important and entertaining.
Who would be on your wishlist?