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85th Academy Awards Best Dressed List   Leave a comment

And with the Oscars wrapping up the awards season yesterday, it is safe to say that the fashion and the red carpet ended with a bang. As actresses walk the red carpet at yesterday’s Academy Awards, we got a good representation of the glitz and the glamour that is Hollywood. Here are my picks for this year’s best dressed list at the Oscars.

Once again, you can click the photos to enlarge them. All photo credits go to: Yahoo! OMG coverage

Amy Adams

12. AMY ADAMS in Oscar dela Renta

This design has been done a lot of times at the Oscars (more notoriously by the ethereal Charlize Theron in baby blue back in 2005 ), but what makes this light gray Oscar dela Renta creation work was that Amy sashayed this on the red carpet very effortlessly. I’m liking the natural look both with her hair and make up too.

Jessica Chastain

11. JESSICA CHASTAIN in Armani Prive

There is an unwritten rule in red carpet fashion to not wear a dress that perfectly matches the color of your hair, with black being the sole exception. With that said, Chastain’s Armani Prive gown is an exception to that rule as she gave a throwback to early Hollywood in this very sexy and classic ensemble.

Queen Latifah

10. QUEEN LATIFAH in Badgley Mischka

It has been exactly ten years when Quene Latifah herself was nominated for the Oscar, but she’s still looking every inch a winner in the red carpet. This clean white Badgley Mischka creation that she wore last night quickly trumps both her Chicago co-stars Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Sandra Bullock

09. SANDRA BULLOCK in Elie Saab

I just love it when Sandra ditches sexy for fab. Well, it does seem like she managed to hit both in this lacy black Elie Saab dress which revealed enough skin, but at the same time, showed movie star vibes too. Plus points for that hair brooch she wore.

Naomi Watts

08. NAOMI WATTS in Armani Prive

The second Best Actress nominee in the list, Naomi Watts, is also wearing Armani Prive. This metallic ensemble with some very unique details need some warming up to do, but for an event such as the Oscars, it worked for Naomi who’s looking fresh and fab in it.

Charlize Theron

07. CHARLIZE THERON in Dior

Though not nominated this year, Oscar winner Charlize Theron was a hoot all night. One of the reasons definitely is this white Dior dress that looked simple but elegant to her. I imagine this as the better version of what Anne Hathaway wants to achieve at the Golden Globes.

Jennifer Garner

06. JENNIFER GARNER in Gucci

She might not be going home with an Oscar, but she’s going home with an Oscar winner. That, and some fabulous remarks with her purple Gucci gown that had some very interesting back details. Garner didn’t just look like a plus one that night; she’s definitely a star in her own right.

alicia vikander

05. ALICIA VIKANDER in Elie Saab Couture

Supporting her nominated film A Royal Affair is such an easy task when you have the lovely Alicia Vikander, here in an intricately beaded blue Elie Saab creation, to grace the event.

Nicole Kidman

04. NICOLE KIDMAN in L’Wren Scott

While it was husband Keith Urban who chose this dress for her, Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman proved that the best way of responding to an Oscar snub is by going up to the event in this head turning L’Wren Scott creation that playfully gave the viewers a glimpse of her sexy body. How one achieves that at 45 is simply astonishing.

AManda Seyfried

03. AMANDA SEYFRIED in Alexander McQueen

Third time seems to be the charm for Les Mis star Amanda Seyfried, as she finally hit it right the red carpet at her third Oscar appearance. Wearing this Alexander McQueen gown bearing these dragonfly design that fits her like a glove is her easy way en route the best dressed list.

Corinne Bishop

02. CORINNE BISHOP

Just eight years ago, we witnessed this young woman at 11 seated beside her father who won Best Actor for Ray. Fast forward to now, Corinne Bishop isn’t just a companion to her father, but she’s also showing signs of fashion greatness when she stepped out the red carpet in this teal blue gown.

Jennifer Lawrence

01. JENNIFER LAWRENCE in Dior Haute Couture

Who said you can only win one at a time? Aside from taking home the Oscar Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence is also red carpet’s best dressed woman yesterday as she stepped out of this Dior Haute Couture ensemble yesterday. You know how some Best Actress Oscar frontrunners just look “winners” in their coronation night? That trend continued yesterday with J.Law. As far as Oscar appearances go, J.Law is 2/2 for me (that red dress in 2010 was also loooove).

That’s it! Who are your best dressed picks at yesterday’s Oscars? Did you also fall in love with J.Law’s Oscar dress?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

What My Oscar Ballot Looks Like   Leave a comment


oscar ballot
That’s how I’ll probably vote at the Oscars. But of course I’m not a voter, so this does not hold any weight. But then again, just being an O

Oscar prognosticator, this is one of the most fun things to do prior to Oscar season. And here are the reasons behind my votes:

BEST PICTURE: Amour. It’s not my number one film of the year, but the Oscar Best Picture lineup rarely nominates foreign language films in it. This is a once in a blue moon case, and among this pack, it’s clearly the best in show.

BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee. Life of Pi is such a director’s vision. For a book that is deemed as un-filmable, all it takes is one captain that will guide the whole process. That’s what Ang Lee did, and if only I was a voter, I’m casting my vote for him.

BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix. For all the crap that DDL has received for his “method” acting, it’s quite ironic that people are praising Phoenix for an OTT performance. With that said, I was totally sold on him in this film. It seems as if he really entered this world that Paul Thomas Anderson brought him, and he was game. I would have voted for DDL, but seeing that this will be his third Best Actor Oscar, I’m inclined to spread the wealth.

BEST ACTRESS: Emmanuelle Riva. Simply heartbreaking. In any other year, I would have voted for Jessica Chastain.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz. I know he’s category fraud, but he was such a hoot in Django. I don’t get the “he’s playing the same role” comments in Basterds. Blame Tarantino, not Waltz.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway. Helen Hunt is running on her heels, but I Dreamed a Dream is pretty hard to pass on.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Amour. Haneke aimed to tell a compelling story, and that’s what he did. Second place would have been Moonrise Kingdom. I enjoyed Django but liked his writing in Basterds more. ZD30, controversies aside, was also a good choice.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Lincoln. Definitely one of the film’s strongest points. It’s like Gosford Park, in the sense that it’s a “talky” movie, but you won’t get bored with it.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Amour. If I can vote for it in the top prize, why not here right?

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Searching for Sugar Man. Ha! It was sentimental, engaging, and heartfelt. Stands out in the pack despite some solid co-nominees.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Wreck it Ralph. It’s the film in the group that I enjoyed the most. It’s somewhat reminiscent of my childhood. fascination with simple video games.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Skyfall. Give Roger Deakins a frickin Oscar! He definitely deserves it.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Mirror Mirror. Due to lack of choices. Not a fan of Les Mis or Lincoln’s costumes. They were just okay. Anna Karenina’s were also so-so. Call it the Keira Knightley overload in this category. And I like the fun playful costumes in Mirror Mirror.

BEST EDITING: Zero Dark Thirty. Have you seen the last thirty minutes of the film? ’nuff said.

BEST HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: Les Miserables. Suck group of nominees. Where’s Lincoln here? That’s a more convincing make up achievement than Hopkins’ man in a fat suit.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Life of Pi. Hypnotic. Love Marianelli’s outputs, but Atonement was clearly his best. Lincoln‘s sound sounds recycled and dated. Argo‘s and Skyfall‘s were good but not best.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Skyfall. Academy Award winner Adele = LOVE.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Life of Pi. The ship. The zoo. The swimming pool resort at the start. All eye candies!

BEST SOUND EDITING: Zero Dark Thirty. It’s the one that stood the best for me.

BEST SOUND MIXING: Les Miserables. I’ll give them their due with the live singing schtick they risked to do.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Life of Pi. Have you seen Richard Parker?

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM: Adam and Dog. Sure, Paperman is getting all the buzz, but this dog-man friendship is the one that gets in to me the most.

How about you? What will your Oscar ballot look like? Who would you have voted for? Also, my complete final Oscar predictions tomorrow!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Posted February 22, 2013 by Nicol Latayan in Awards

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85th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress Rankings   6 comments

suppactress

Hi everyone! It’s been a week since I last did any blog post here, and I’m kinda swamped with work. But enough about that, I guess. First up, I’m so happy because I’m already done seeing the 20 nominated acting performances for this year’s Oscars. So to continue the rankings special that I did the past few weeks (I’m already done with Picture, Animated Feature, and Original Song), here comes the first acting category for this season. If I’m an Oscar voter, here’s how I’ll rank the five female supporting performances for 2012 (according to the Academy).

05. JACKIE WEAVER, “Silver Linings Playbook”

While I’m already past the stage of heartbreak over those who weren’t nominated (Legend Kidman! Ann Dowd! Dame Dench!), I still don’t see anything special with Jackie Weaver’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook. It’s pretty clear that she was just carried along the Silver Linings Playbook love train seeing that she did not get any major precursor prior to the Oscar nod. Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not hating on Jackie Weaver. As a matter of fact, she’s my personal winner from 2010 (her Animal Kingdom performance is still a tour de force show), and it’s amazing that she received a follow up nod when everyone quickly labeled her as a one hit wonder just two years ago. But I still don’t see how many thought of this performance as anywhere Oscar worthy. I’d say that she cracks me up though every time she mentions crabby snacks in the film.

Suggested Oscar clip: a montage of crabby snacks would have been perfect, but “You lied to me Pat! Danny’s not allowed to come.”

04. SALLY FIELD, “Lincoln”

It’s nice to see that the fruits of Sally Field’s labor has finally been recognized. Back from the fighting of this role up to her consistent Oscar snubs since her infamous speech 27 years ago, it’s probably bittersweet for Mama Gump to finally be back in awards traction for her movie performances (remember Legally Blonde 2? barf!). As for her turn in Lincoln, I like that she toned it down a bit, especially since most of her performances suffer from criticisms of going too over the top. Her Mary Todd was indeed a supporting presence above anything else, though most of her scenes involved her just sitting and watching in court. Field was able to capture Mary in a way that she knows her boundaries in the film. She knows when to limit it as per usual, but she also knows how to push all buttons when the scene calls for it. It’s a controlled performance that does not go beyond that, but in Sally’s case, that’s also how her performance reaches its greatest heights.

Suggested Oscar clip: I’ll show what heartbreak. Real heartbreak looks like…”

03. AMY ADAMS, “The Master”

Amy Adams is probably one of the actresses that the Academy loves to nominate, but not give the win to. Among her four nominations, the closest she was in terms of chances was back in her first nom for Junebug where she was clearly third in line after Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. All the succeeding noms were pretty much filler (Doubt) to no chance at all (sadly, The Fighter). The same can be said for her performance in The Master. But it’s also noteworthy that she got two major critics wins for this performance. Truth be told, I don’t see this as an Oscar winning performance as well, let alone a nominated one. But what I like about her in this was that despite not being given too much to work on (she was clearly the third best in show in terms of screen time and in storyline too), she made her presence felt. Most of her scenes required her to play second fiddle to on screen husband Philip Seymour Hoffman, but her presence was clearly there despite just sitting down or standing behind him. It’s also one of the times where she used her doe eyes feature to her advantage, as it’s a perfect fit especially during the times when she’s not talking (which is most of the time). Also, just props for giving Philip Seymour Hoffman a “hand.” What a daunting task. LOL.

Suggested Oscar clip: And this is where we’re at! At the lowest level. To have to explain ourselves. For what!?!?”

02. HELEN HUNT, “The Sessions

15 years after her first nomination (and win), Best Actress Helen Hunt comes back for a second nomination to prove her win is no fluke via The Sessions. Hunt takes the award for most number of nude scenes in a long time among all Oscar nominees, and in any other year, this could have been a bonafide frontrunner. After seeing the film, I’ve always felt that Hunt is one of those that can go either lead or supporting, but I think she was much better in Lead. With that said, this is one of the surprise performances of the season, as I don’t think that I will like it that much, only to take it back because I actually did! As Cheryl, she already made it clear that she is a sex therapist and not a prostitute, but either way, she gets to take all of her clothes off for the most part in the film. However, thanks to Hunt’s astonishing performance, it is clear that a woman (or in this case, a sex therapist) does not need to take away her dignity with her when she takes her clothes off. Hunt made it pretty transparent how much what we want to  know about Cheryl, and she answered all of this with this vulnerability that made her, like all other else, a person that is not devoid of attachments and emotions. And I find this as one of the better acting nominations of the year.

Suggested Oscar clip: Car scene in the end after the last session

01. ANNE HATHAWAY, “Les Miserables”

While this win was already bestowed to her the moment she was announced to play this role, Anne Hathaway definitely delivered to all the expectations with her performance in Best Picture nominee Les Miserables. As Fantine, Anne is definitely one of the few bright spots in this mess of a movie, and the one who benefits from the live singing as well. But before that, let’s clear some facts first. Anne Hathaway is not the best singer in the world, and I’m certain that even she is aware of that. But she is a more capable one. And she only needs one song to nail this performance, and she definitely crushed it! Her I Dreamed a Dream is one of the standout moments of the film, as she was able to make the most out of her limited screentime. In this number, she puts all these emotional gravitas of Fantine’s suffering and bursts it out in a heartbreaking and highly emotional manner that will put most viewers to tears (guilty as charged). Yes, it was brief, and yes, she disappears for most part in the film, but she already built enough momentum and impact that by the end,hers is one of the moments you’d remember the most. So regardless if you felt that Hathaway is self absorbed and narcissistic and self entitled, I’d give her a free pass with this performance as she gave justice to it, and than an Oscar is really warranted.

Suggested Oscar clip: I Dreamed a Dream. Duh.

How will you rank these performances? Who would you have voted in this category? And do you think Jackie Weaver really deserve her nod?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

 

85th Academy Awards: Best Original Song Rankings   8 comments

Hey everyone! It’s Part 2 of the Oscar competition analysis this year. Two days ago, I reviewed all Best Picture nominees. Now, we’re off to the second one, and it’s one of my favorite categories every year: Original Song! Below, I’ll rank the five nominated songs (and provide links) as if I’m an Oscar voter. Here we go.

You can click the titles and it will lead you to the YouTube clip of the video.

ted

05. “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted

This Norah Jones song which is one of the sweetest parts of Ted was penned by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane with Walter Murphy. There’s nothing really bad about it per se, though it belongs to a packed group of nominees this year that all had strong materials to boot that’s why I’m ranking it last.

les mis

04. “Suddenly” from Les Miserables

Now this one is a special song written just for this 2012 film version of the famous musical. Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer, and Alain Boublil’s Suddenly was a perfect fit for the song and was on one of the “transitional” parts of the movie. However, the song, as a stand alone, does not appeal much for me, as I think it drowns from all the more established songs in the musical.

life of pi

03. “Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi

The second of the two Best Picture songs in the line up belongs to Mychael Danna’s Pi’s Lullaby, which was a surprise nominee, though in hindsight, it should have been expected. Danna’s music is hypnotic, like a true lullaby, though the song itself could pass as too similar to the musical score of the film. Still, it was able to capture the environment of Pi’s situation.

chasing ice

02. “Before My Time” from Chasing Ice

Probably the actual surprise in this category is this obscure song from the documentary Chasing Ice. What’s more surprising is it features the vocals of Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson in it! The song was actually good; it was calm yet very haunting! And the lyrics was really good too. This has no chance of winning, but it was surprise nomination that’s worth it.

skyfall

01. “Skyfall” from Skyfall

And of course, there’s nothing I’d rank here first than Adele’s Skyfall. I really enjoyed her take on the latest Bond film, and probably one of the best Bond songs ever. I specifically love how it’s a throwback to the past Bond songs, and the only Bond song I like since Daniel Craig took over the role. If I get to vote, I’ll rank this one instantly on top.

What’s your favorite from the list? Will we hear Academy Award winner Adele? How will you rank them? 🙂

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

85th Academy Awards: Best Picture Rankings   6 comments

oscar

Since the Academy’s timeline for this year’s awards ceremony is pretty much different from the previous years, it gives both the voters and viewers more chance to catch up on all the nominated films at this year’s Oscars. Luckily for me, I was able to finally see all nine of the nominated movies for Oscar’s top award. It’s an eclectic group of films this year ranging from musicals to biopics to rom-coms and war films with some foreign language movie also in the mix. And it’s not as if the Academy is lazy this year, as there’s no The Blind Side or Chocolat type of nomination from this year’s group. With that said, here’s how I’ll personally rank the nine films in contention. So, if I was an actual AMPAS voter, this would be my ballot. But since I’m not and I can only dream of that, I’d do it as a blog post. LOL.

9. LES MISERABLES
Director: Tom Hooper

Exactly ten years since the last musical was nominated for Best Picture (FYI that was Chicago and it even won Best Picture), the next in line that followed it is Tom Hooper’s adaptation of probably the most famous musical in history Les Miserables. There’s a lot of things that one can like in the 2012 version. For one, the live singing worked well in its favor as it was able to make the emotions more captured specifically during Hathaway’s I Dreamed a Dream number. The visual technical aspects were really good as well. Costumes, production design, and cinematography were such eye candies that it’s good to see it in the theaters for full maximum effect. Heck, the opening scene alone was well done. With that said, the main problem lies with Tom Hooper’s direction. The energy that he had during the opening parts instantly died down and wasn’t able to overcome it until the credits rolled. There’s a lot of dizzying and confusing shots (which was my concern during The King’s Speech too), but it was more visible here. With that said, the movie, as a whole, was just okay. I really felt that for a musical with this caliber, just okay is not enough. But see it for Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and the revelation that was Eddie Redmayne. 3/5

8. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
Director: Benh Zeitlin

Beasts,which focuses on the relationship of a female kid named Hushpuppy and her ailing father in the middle of an unknown community on the brink of being cut off from the rest of the world, is one of the most heartwarming films in this year’s line up. What I particularly like about the movie is how it works up the viewer’s imagination in the juxtaposition of the feelings of Hushpuppy and the current environmental situation in their place. Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (the youngest ever) was more than capable enough as the lead performer in the film and gives not only her character but the film itself so much heart with her performance. Her chemistry with onscreen father Dwight Henry was raw and organic that it makes you more impressed knowing that these are both their breakthrough performances. Zeitlin’s first feature is remarkable that I’m excited to see what else can he bring to the table in his succeeding efforts. 3.5/5

7. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Director: David O. Russell

David O. Russell’s Oscar comeback was more than welcomed than his previous effort which was The Fighter. In Silver Linings Playbook, we meet crazies Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) as we’re treated to some football, dancing, and Mi Cherie Amour in between. For the most part, I was really hooked and I enjoyed it, particularly thanks to Russell’s writing of the two characters. However, it can’t help but remind us at the end of the film, that it was still a rom-com after all. I could have done without the dolly pan near the end nor the contrived dance scoring. Among the two simultaneous stories though, I prefer the dancing one more than the football. With that said, I’m still a big fan of the film. It was a good character study of two engaging characters that I could also have lived without the other characters popping every now and then, and even if it just focused on Lawrence and Cooper, I’d still buy it. Jennifer Lawrence is the Oscar frontrunner for Best Actress for this performance, and she is, indeed, memorable here and there’s a lot of Oscar clips they can choose from. As a stand alone performance (and not the competition), I wouldn’t be upset if she wins the Oscar this year. However, I wish more attention was given to Bradley Cooper as I find him equally (if not better) here, and while it’s up against President Lincoln, his is one of my favorite film performance this year. This is probably one of the few films in the group that I think I will see again. 4/5

6. DJANGO UNCHAINED
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Inglourious Basterds is probably in my three favorite Tarantino films, so expectations were quite high with this one, but nevertheless, Tarantino succeeds in coming up with an enjoyable take on a film whose main theme is slavery. The violence is prevalent more than ever, and can I just say how much I love the techs here. Quentin’s strongest suit lies with his writing interesting characters to watch and he has a lot of those in here. Ironically though, despite the 2 hour 40 minute screentime, it still somehow feels incomplete or a bit rushed. It occurred to me that he still has some things he’d like to polish or add but they’re probably rushing for Oscar season. I just mentioned that Tarantino has a knack of writing interesting characters, and the two that takes the cake for me are Christoph Waltz and Leonardo di Caprio. I don’t pretty much get the Waltz is playing the same role argument, because while I love Hans Landa, it’s not as if he’s the same here. di Caprio was probably the one who expanded the most in terms of approach and I would have been fine if this was his Oscar winning role (which sadly won’t be because he wasn’t even friggin nominated). Jamie Foxx was restrained here (which is good in my book), but felt quite blah-ish at times. But this was still a fun treat from start to end, though I’d understand if you ahve some reservations with the long screentime. 4/5

5. LINCOLN
Director: Steven Spielberg

The last Steven Spielberg film that I thoroughly enjoyed was way back in 2005 with the Oscar nominated Munich. But alas, after seven years, Spielberg comes back with a film that will doubt those naysayers that he can’t come up with a great film anymore via this year’s Lincoln. The movie, which was the most nominated this year with 12, focused on the process of passing the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution which focused on the abolishing of slavery and involuntary servitude. This is probably one of the more important films in the line up, but the credit doesn’t go to a sole person. If anything, this film was one of the best collaborations this year. Tony Kushner’s script might come off as wordy, but it was one of the film’s strength. That meshed well with Spielberg’s direction of the movie.  And boy Daniel Day Lewis was magnificent in this. All talks of a possible third Oscar is really warranted. In the movie, he defied all the criticisms about him being a character actor that’s dependent on showy hammy approach. If there’s a performance that will win a deserved third lead Oscar, it’s his Lincoln’s. 4.5/5

4. ARGO
Director: Ben Affleck

Well I already did a review about this, but this is one of my favorite films of the year. While I was already sold with Ben Affleck the director way back in 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, it’s only in this that he made a movie that even casual fans can really appreciate. Well for one, the story is really too good to be true, but given that, I don’t know anyone who wasn’t tensed during the climax airport scene. I still think that there’s artistic license inserted in that part to make it more interesting, but for the most part, it was a solid thriller that was cleverly written by Chris Terrio and tightly directed by Ben Affleck. The film’s strongest aspect is showing that Hollywood, amidst the glitz and glamour, is still in touch with the country and a part of the whole US community. Like what I mentioned in my earlier review, “It is safe to say that Argo is one of the best thrillers of the past few years, and it certainly deserves that distinction. If anything, this is a solid impressive film that benefits from a lot of good characteristics that mix together. That’s enough to be considered as one of the best pictures of the year.” 4.5/5

3. LIFE OF PI
Director: Ang Lee

Probably the ultimate visual treat of the year, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is one of the films that made me cry this year. For a novel that was deemed as “unfilmable”, Lee managed to do more than just film it, but deliver a heart-wrenching story that does not dictate you with what to believe but gives you the freedom to discover it for yourself. I’m in awe of these directors that managed to use the 3D format not for solely ticket sales, but as an integral part of bringing the experience more spectacular to its viewers. Rarely do we use the 3D format in a necessary format and I think before this, only Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and to a certain extent, James Cameron’s Avatar as the more successful ones. But past the 3D efforts, it also managed to convey this story of someone off to discover more about survival and faith without being preachy and being dictated on what to act or how to feel. Life of Pi is actually the opposite of that. It gives you the option to feel and understand and internalize it for yourself, and the credit mostly goes to Ang Lee’s concrete vision. Indeed, it’s one film I’ll recommend you to go straight to the theaters as downloading it won’t give it justice. 5/5

2. ZERO DARK THIRTY
Director: Kathryn Bigelow

On the outside, Zero Dark Thirty can easily be identified as the film that shows the killing of Osama bin Laden. But then again, it was more than that. It was simply not only about that. And that’s what I like the most about this. Bigelow’s follow up to 2009 Best Picture The Hurt Locker is something that even surpasses it, in my opinion. For the most part in the film, it follows a procedural format of what transpired. But it was just never bombing left and right, and I’d even say there are more quiet moments in the film. And in those quiet moments is where the best parts happen. It is where the room is opened for the viewer to take in what’s happening and what’s about to happen. The team up of Mark Boal as the screenwriter and Kathryn Bigelow as the director hit aces once again, and while most of the fouls were directed towards Ben Affleck being snubbed, Bigelow was indeed snubbed as well, and it is such a crime (though she can look at her Best Director Oscar at home if she wants to). And can we spare a moment to talk about how Jessica Chastain totally nailed this role. As Maya, you can see the enthusiasm that she puts into this character and how she’s more focused on portraying it as part of the bigger picture and not as an acting vehicle. So when the final scene sets in, that’s when she all lets loose and that moment was really golden. Definitely a must see! 5/5

1. AMOUR
Director: Michael Haneke

Definitely my favorite from this bunch is the surprise (or was it actually surprising?) inclusion of Palme d’Or winner Amour in the Best Picture line up. Michael Haneke’s take on a specific old couple where in the wife, Anne, was just waiting for her final days. If some of the films here are what I instantly recommend, I don’t think this belongs to that group. Haneke’s take on undying love is something that is not of the conventional, and in the shallowest way, one can see it in the form of “in pain, there is love.” The movie was mostly quiet, and we’re just confined to Georges and Anne’s house, but it helped in defining an environment of what happens from the most external (their day to day activities) up to the internal (their relationship with each other). And wow at the performances of both Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. By the near climax part, I was already sobbing.  If there was only a way to nominate them both, it would have been better. The love for Amour (no pun intended) is one of the sweetest surprises in this year’s Academy Awards nominations, and I’d be happy if it gets even three trophies this year. I’d always say that it Haneke finally decides to stop doing filmmaking after this, then I’d be alright with that as it’s one helluva way to close his filmography. 5/5

Whew that was pretty long! Anyway, that’s it! That would have been how my Oscar ballot would look like. How many have you seen so far? And how would you rank the contenders? Write them in the Comments section below!

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

 

10 Things You Need to Know About the 85th Academy Awards Nominations   4 comments

Hey everybody! How are you all doing? So yeah, Pandora’s box was finally opened as Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone unveiled the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards. For now, I’m still nursing a heartbreak due to Nicole Kidman’s snub, but then again, so are many of the supposed to be contenders. My predictions this year were just okay getting more or less 3-4 of the nominees per category (except for my 2/5 in Song and 1/3 in Make Up), but I have no 5/5 prediction for this year. Sucks to be me I guess. And by this moment, I’m wondering if you’re still reading this or you just closed the window already because what the hell am I still talking about when I can’t even get my predictions right. But so is the rest of the predictors as this has been one of the shocking years in terms of actual nominees. Anyway here  are ten things you need to know about the 85th Academy Awards Nominees:

besties

THE CURSE OF THE 2007 FEMALE OSCAR WINS

2007 Best Supporting Actress winner Tilda Swinton was shafted at the final minute last year despite getting BFCA, Globe, SAG, nad BAFTA nods for her turn as the mother in We Need to Talk About Kevin. It was the first time in awards prognostication history where in a performance hit all precursor noms only to miss in the end (likely, for Rooney Mara). That seems to be the exception to the case though. However, this year, a similar occurrence happened to (incidentally) 2007 Best Actress winner Marion Cotillard who received the same precursor support for her performance in Rust and Bone only to miss again. Mind you, both of these actresses have churned out some of the best post-Oscar resumes in history and they have been shafted countless times since their win. Swinton had Julia in 2009, I Am Love in 2010, and Kevin in 2011. Cotillard had Nine in 2009, Inception in 2010, and even in BP nominee Midnight in Paris last year. What does it take for these gorgeous women to be called back again for another nomination? Hmm.

costume

SNOW WHITE vs… SNOW WHITE?

While one Snow White themed movie Blancanieves failed to connect with the Foreign Language voters, there are two other Snow White films which are in contention…for the same category. Colleen Atwood was nominated for Snow White and the Huntsman while Mirror Mirror‘s Eiko Ishioka was the other one in competition. While there’s a large possibility that both designers will lose to Jacqueline Duran for Anna Karenina, can we do a write in vote that says Snow White is the most fashionable fairy tale character? Yes?

amour

AMOUR RECEIVING A LOT OF AMOUR 

One movie that received a lot of amour (that means Love if you still don’t get it by now) is Michael Haneke’s Amour receiving four major nods this year for Picture, Directing, Lead Actress for Emmanuelle Riva, and Original Screenplay together with a Foreign Language Film nod. While the possibility of the film making it to all those categories is not far fetched, it’s still unbelievable that voters went all the way to give it nods for such. This is the first film since 2000′ s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to make it both to best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, and the consecutive Palme d’or winner to be Best Picture nominated after last year’s Tree of Life. Of course, there are others that even won such as 1957’s Marty but what I’m referring here is back to back nods.

directed

MOVIES THAT DIRECTED THEMSELVES

Best Director is the biggest fuckery this year (and probably ever?), as both Ben Affleck and Katheryn Bigelow were snubbed after hitting BFCA, Globes, DGA, and BAFTA nods (plus critics prizes for both of them). Who replaced them? Benh Zeitlin of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and to a lesser extent, David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. While I was over the moon happy about Haneke getting in (which there was a really huge probability of happening especially with the BAFTA Director nod, and he was always in fifth place), but this category just felt weird with no Affleck and Bigelow in it especially since they’d probably be winning the televised awards. To be fair though, both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are in a good company with the likes of The Color PurpleSense and SensibilityMoulin Rouge!The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Inception who all received Best Picture mentions without their helmers getting the nod.

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BEST NOMINATION ANNOUNCEMENT EVAH!

Since the 60s, it has been a tradition of the Academy to have its current president together with a past Oscar acting nominee to present the nominations. It was a in a formal manner where the ten major categories are announced and the names of the nominees were alphabetically one by one mentioned starting from Best Supporting Actress up to Best Picture. However, for this year, we got host Seth MacFarlane and still Oscarless actress Emma Stone to do the presentation job and boy was it the best announcement evah. Starting from Stone’s fake entrance as if she was called to win an award to the Hitler joke in between up to Bryan Cranston’s teeth, this was such a breath of fresh air in terms of announcing. Not only that, but names were randomly announced too that adds the pleasure of the prediction process. If this is an indication of MacFarlane’s hosting stint, then count me in.

skyfall

BOND. JAMES BOND.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise, Skyfall was the first Bond movie in 31 years to receive nominations in any Oscar category. Add to that is the fact that it got five(!) nods for Cinematography, Original Score, Original Song  (for Adele’s Skyfall), Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, and it becomes the most nominated Bond movie ever. As for a quick Bond history with Oscar, prior to Skyfall, there have been only nine nominations since its inception winning two; one is for Goldfinger in Sound Effects in 1965 and a Visual Effects win for Thunderball the following year. The last nomination though was in 1981 in the Original Song category for For Your Eyes Only from the Bond movie of the same title.

silver linings playbook

MAJOR, MAJOR ACTING NOMINATIONS

Four acting nominations for a film is really possible within the Academy. In the past few years, Chicago and Doubt managed to achieve that feat. However, it’s more interesting when the four acting noms came from the four acting categories. After 31 years, Silver Linings Playbook becomes the 14th movie in Oscar history to grab nods for the four acting categories for its stars Bradley Cooper (Lead Actor), Jennifer Lawrence (Lead Actress), Robert de Niro (Supporting Actor), and Jackie Weaver (Supporting Actress). There’s a huge possibility that with this, SLP is expected to win at least one acting trophy (as per history), and our bet is on Jennifer Lawrence to take Best Actress. From the thirteen prior films that managed this feat, only two went Oscarless in all four acting categories: My Man Godfrey in 1936, and Sunset Boulevard in 1950.

riva wallis

BEST ACTRESS… OLD AND NEW

Presenter Emma Stone already mentioned this yesterday, but for Best Actress, a record was made when we had the oldest and the youngest Best Actress nominees ever and they happened to be competing with each other. French actress Emmanuelle Riva, currently at 85 (though her birthday will exactly be on the Oscar telecast), becomes the oldest Best Actress nominee ever for her turn as the wife in Amour. Previous title holder was 1989 winner Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy who was 80 when she was nominated and won the Oscar. On the other hand, the youngest now is Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild who was nominated at the age of 9. It’s pretty fascinating to learn that while shooting the movie, Wallis was just 7. She beats previous record holder, 2003’s Keisha Castle Hughes, who was nominated for Whale Rider at the age of 13. Moreover, co-nominee Jennifer Lawrence became the youngest actress to receive two Best Actress nods by the age of 22.

levitt

THE JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT SCREENPLAY CURSE

If you’re an aspiring Hollywood writer, there’s no better person to write a screenplay for than Joseph Gordon Levitt. Maybe it’s because of his immense talent, or he really has just a knack for interesting stories, but for the past four years, Joseph Gordon Levitt has made films whose screenplays always receive Oscar buzz particularly in the Original Screenplay category. However, there always seems to be a hurdle at this. The buzz is there, but the nod is not. In 2009, his 500 Days of Summer despite getting WGA and NBR wins failed to make it to the final list. The same can be said for his cancer movie last year 50-50. And despite getting critics nominations and a WGA nod again, Looper also failed to make it to the final line up. You know what the exception was? The one film he starred that nabbed an Original Screenplay nom is the one where he was in supporting… Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

amy adams

ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID… FOREVER THE BRIDESMAID?

In a span of eight years, Amy Adams has already received four Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for 2005’s Junebug, 2008’s Doubt, 2010’s The Fighter, and this year again for her role in The Master. Pretty impressive achievement I must admit. However, with no such luck, she still wasn’t able to snatch an Oscar of her own for the four performances (yes, four, because Anne Hathaway has that thing locked up). Now while it’s an achievement of its own, I fear for dear Amy, sweet Amy, that she’ll belong to the list of voters just want to nominate but not win. After all, eight years is pretty quick to gain 4 Oscar nods (Julianne Moore got 4 in five years), what lies for her future Oscar chances? Among all actresses, Thelma Ritter, Deborrah Kerr, Glenn Close (the only one left still alive) hold the record for most nominations without winning (6), followed by Irene Dunner (also gone now) with five. From those living, Adams is currently in the same page as Annette Bening, Jane Alexander, Marsha Mason, and Julianne Moore that can still win despite four losses while Rosalind Russell and Barbara Stanwyck are the other four time Oscarless winners who were already departed. Here’s wishing the next time Amy Adams get nominated, she’ll finally win.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

85th Academy Awards Nominations Predictions   14 comments

oscar

After months and months of predicting, it all boils down to this. Tomorrow, we’d figure out who the 85th batch of nominees for Hollywood’s top film awards were. This year has been pretty weird with the early announcement date, so precursors can be hit or miss this year. So before host Seth MacFarlane and the lovely Emma Stone mention the nominations tomorrow, here are my predictions on whose names will be called. For the record, I’ll be putting my sixth choice in a parenthesis just to see how coward am I in case the sixth spot eventually gets nominated (but I would not count it in my official tally score). Let’s start!

BEST PICTURE
• Argo
• Beasts of the Southern Wild
• Django Unchained
• Les Miserables
• Life of Pi
• Lincoln
• Moonrise Kingdom
• Silver Linings Playbook
• Zero Dark Thirty

10th (but not predicted): The Impossible

For the second year in a row, we’d have the unsure number of Best Picture nominees in the top Oscar category. Last year, I predicted only seven though we got nine (and a surprising Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) films all in all. As for this year, I’m sticking with nine films as well. Argo, Django, Les Mis, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver, and Thirty  are pretty safe bets and I won’t be surprised if it stops there. However, Beasts (while underperforming at the precursors) still got a PGA nod and Moonrise Kingdom with all the talent involved in it can easily land too. Both also benefits from the 5% rule. Lastly, if there’s a tenth spot this year, I’m thinking The Impossible gets in as it really resonates well with what Academy goes for: a sappy true to life fare that rekindles the faith in the human spirit.

BEST DIRECTOR
• Ben Affleck, “Argo
• Katheryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty
• Ang Lee, “Life of Pi
• Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln
• Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained

Ain’t that fifth slot a bitch? Affleck, Bigelow, Lee, and Spielberg are sure bets now. And yes, despite the Spielberg BAFTA snub, it’s not as if they’re actually fond of him in the first place. The fifth slot I guess goes to Tarantino who, despite missing a DGA nod, got in for Globe and BAFTA. It’s a flashy work that voters might actually appreciate and be compelled to rank first. In sixth place, I’d probably go with Tom Hooper who got boosted by the DGA earlier in the day only to be shafted when his own BAFTAs dismissed him. Most of the negative crticisms re: Les Mis was pointing to the direction, and that will probably cost him the nod.

BEST ACTOR
• Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook
• Daniel Day Lewis, “Lincoln
• John Hawkes, “The Sessions
• Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables
• Denzel Washington, “Flight

Truth be told, aside from DDL, no one is safe. And I can see a scenario where each of the four remaining contenders miss. After all, there’s a viable contender with The Master‘s Joaquin Phoenix. But with no one really solid that can easily be eliminated, I guess it’s safe to stick with the SAG line up.

BEST ACTRESS
• Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty
• Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone
• Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook
• Helen Mirren, “Hitchcock
• Naomi Watts, “The Impossible

Chastain and Lawrence are locks here. Then I’m also confident with Helen Mirren here. After all, this is the type of performance and role that makes these Academy voting bloc’s wives relatable. Plus, she got in in 2009 with only GG + SAG, and she even had a stronger backbone now. I’m also confident about Naomi Watts. She’s really hitting the campaign trail like crazy, and had the likes of Reese Witherspoon publicly endorsing her. As for the last spot, I see it as a battle of the Frenchies. On one hand, one must not doubt Marion Cotillard. After all, she even had a better precursor run that Mirren and Watts. But then, you have Emmanuelle Riva who’s slowly gaining momentum despite Globe/SAG snubs. I really want to predict Riva, but there’s no one I can replace here, so I’d stick with Cotillard in my final line up.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Alan Arkin, “Argo
• Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master
• Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln
• Ewan McGregor, “The Impossible
• Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained

And this is where gets messy. Hoffman, Jones, and Arkin are in hitting all the necessary precursors. di Caprio was the more buzzed Django contender on paper, but I see it as a The Departed scenario (woops another Leo film) where in two guys from the film got nommed for the Globes (Nicholson and Wahlberg) and both being snubbed at the SAG, then the lesser expected contender gets in at the Oscars. With that said, Waltz is stealing all of the thunder, and it’s enough for me to predict him. I just don’t see Leo getting in with solely a Globe nod. And while the logical fifth slot goes to a comeback Robert de Niro, this can also be room for a surprise contender, and with that I’m going with my NGNG prediction Ewan McGregor. in The ImpossibleI feel that voters might check both him and Watts easily especially since they got sappy Oscar clip moments in the movie. Anybody supporting Watts can easily list him for a nod as well.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Amy Adams, “The Master
• Sally Field, “Lincoln
• Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables
• Helen Hunt, “The Sessions
• Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy

The triumvirate of Hathaway, Hunt, and Field can sleep safe and sound for tomorrow. They’re easily in. I see Amy Adams going fourth place with her fourth nom (and loss) with The Master. Despite missing the SAG, she has built enough momentum for a filler nomination. Speaking of SAG, Maggie Smith was once supposed lock Smith seems to be the fluke nom this year when even BAFTA did not recognize her for such an Oscar baity role. You know who got the BAFTA nod? Judi Dench. But then again, Oscars have such a hard time recognizing anything major for the Bond series. I seriously would have wanted Ann Dowd to get in, but her film’s theme is something that’s uncomfortable for these conservative voters. In the end, I went with my mind (and mostly my heart) and predicted Nicole Kidman to close the category. Globe + SAG is enough for an Oscar winner and three time nominee like her to get in the final list.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
• Michael Haneke, “Amour
• Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained
• Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master
• Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom
• Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty

This seems to be the final line up, but it breaks my heart that there exists such a Joseph Gordon Levitt curse in this category as his films probably always ended up in sixth place in this category like what happened in 2009 (500 Days of Summer), 2011 (50-50), and the same can be said this year for Looper. The only time his movie got in was in 2010 for Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
• Chris Terrio, “Argo
• Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild
• Tony Kushner, “Lincoln
• Stephen Chbowsky, “Perks of Being a Wallflower
• David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook

I’m taking a risk here with Perks of Being a Wallflower over Life of Pi. However, the writing branch isn’t as lazy as the others, and they might go and reward an author who successfully translated his own writing into another film thus giving him a nomination. If all else fails, then yeah, expect David Magee getting in here.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Amour  (Austria)
• The Intouchables  (France)
• A Royal Affair  (Denmark)
• Sister (Switzerland)
• War Witch (Canada)

Austria, France, Denmark, and Canada seems shoo-ins already. As for the last spot, I’m going with Switzerland’s entry Sister over the Chilean Gael Garcia Bernal starrer No.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
• Brave
• Frankenweenie
• The Painting (La Tableau)
• The Rabbi’s Cat
• Wreck It Ralph

This category is one that embraces foreign films the most (after FLF duh), so I’m predicting the pair of La Tableau and The Rabbi’s Cat in the top five. I won’t be surprised to see Paranorman get in over one of the two though.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
• The Gatekeepers
• How to Survive a Plague
• The Invisible War
• Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
• Searching for Sugar Man

I just listed those that performed the best among the precursors to get nominated here. With that said, Bully can still get in here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
• Django Unchained
• Life of Pi
• Lincoln
• Skyfall
• Zero Dark Thirty

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
• Anna Karenina
• Django Unchained
• Les Miserables
• Lincoln
• A Royal Affair

BEST EDITING
• Argo
• Les Miserables
• Life of Pi
• Lincoln
• Zero Dark Thirty

BEST HAIRSTYLING & MAKE UP
• Les Miserables
• Lincoln
• Men in Black 3

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
• Anna Karenina
• Argo
• Life of Pi
• Lincoln
• Zero Dark Thirty

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Ancora Qui (Django Unchained)
Learn Me Right (Brave)
Skyfall (Skyfall)
Still Alive (Paul Williams: Still Alive)
Suddenly (Les Miserables)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
• Anna Karenina
• Argo
• Les Miserables
• Life of Pi
• Lincoln

BEST SOUND EDITING
• The Avengers
• The Dark Knight Rises
• Django Unchained
• Les Miserables
• Skyfall

BEST SOUND MIXING
• Les Miserables
• Life of Pi
• Lincoln
• Skyfall
• Zero Dark Thirty

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
• The Avengers
• The Dark Knight Rises
• The Hobbit
• Life of Pi
• Prometheus

The following categories, I have no idea what they are so I’m just picking random names out of the list.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
• The Education of Mohamma Hossein
• Inocente
• Mondays at Racine
• Open Heart
• Paraiso

BEST ANIMATED SHORTS
• Adam and Dog
• Dripped
• The Fall of the House of the Usher
• Maggie Simpson in the Longest Day Care
• Paperman

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
• Curfew
• Death of a Shadow
• Kiruna-Kigali
• The Night Shift Belongs to the Stars
• when you find me

NOMINATION TALLY:
13 – 
Lincoln
10 –  Les Miserables
8 – Django UnchainedLife of PiZero Dark Thirty
7 – Argo
4 – Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall
3 – Anna KareninaThe Master
2 – Amour, The AvengersBeasts of the Southern Wild, Brave, The Dark Knight Rises, The Impossible, Moonrise Kingdom, A Royal Affair, The Sessions

That’s it! Who are you predicting tomorrow? Will McGregor pay off? Can Nicole Kidman finally get a fourth nod? How many Best Pic nominees do you think will there be? Pipe them in below!

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl