Lesser known, not less
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 22:02
By now, the biggest Oscar categories have been dissected thoroughly by critics. The second biggest have too. But there are a few left whose remains haven’t been picked too thoroughly, and some people may have Oscar pools or ballots they’re entering to win some cash. Hopefully, these picks will help you get paid. However, as always these are educated guesses about an arbitrary award handed out based on 5,000 votes, so they might not be perfect.
Best Animated Feature: OK, OK, I know, this one’s been done before. But 2012 was a great year for animation, and it shouldn’t be forgotten so soon. While “Brave” wasn’t Pixar’s best, it was a sweet mother-and-daughter fairy tale that was beautifully animated. It’s got two stable-mates from parent company Disney: “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frankenweenie.” “Ralph” has a legitimate shot at the award as Walt Disney Pictures’ latest picture captured some old-school storytelling magic while making a modern-meets-classic gaming reunion full of surprises. Unfortunately, “Frankenweenie” and its fellow stop-motion nominees “ParaNorman” and “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” only serve as a sad reminder of last year’s financial failures, though all three (especially “Norman”) are legitimately good films.
Best Foreign Language Film: So… I don’t know a lot about this year’s foreign films, but when I try to pick this category based on research I’ve never picked it right. “Amour” has the advantage of its Best Picture nomination, but that seems too obvious. “No” from Chile has Gael Garcia Bernal, who I have heard of before, so it’s in the running. The Norwegian “Kon-Tiki” is a historical adventure, up the Academy’s alley. “A Royal Affair” has the guy playing Hannibal in the new “Hannibal” NBC TV series. It might be out of the running. But “War Witch” is the clear winner as it is “from” Canada but was shot in the Congo. Two countries for the price of one!
Best Animated Short Film: I’ve been following this one for years. It’s a shame Don Hertzfeldt’s “It’s Such A Beautiful Day” didn’t make it in, but apparently this one’s chosen by a very, very strange group of voters. Disney’s “Paperman” and The Simpsons’ “The Longest Daycare” aren’t sure things, as the other three- “Adam and Dog,” “Fresh Guacamole” and “Head over Heels”- have their own unique styles that could win a more contested vote. “Paperman” does have the advantage. It’s on Youtube and aired in front of “Wreck-It Ralph” in theaters. It’s absolutely fantastic in 2D, but the false-2D animation style truly pops best in the third dimension.
Best Original Score/Song: These celebrate one of my favorite parts of film, the music. The scores for “Anna Karenina,” “Argo,” “Life of Pi,” Lincoln” and “Skyfall” all cohered to their respective films’ styles, but all five were wonderful (they make great study/work music, too). My favorite was Mychel Danna’s fantastic soundtrack to “Pi.” It’s diverse, dramatic and holds the aura of the film’s most engaging scenes, such as its climactic shipwreck. That’s personal preference, of course. The Best Song… well, when you see Adele on a list of candidates for an award, she’s probably going to win. Seth MacFarlane got a nomination for “Ted” in exchange for hosting, “Les Mis” made a new song so they’d get an extra nomination to put on the DVD cover, and I have no idea what “Chasing Ice” is. “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi” has a tiny chance. But it’s tiny. Adele all the way.
Best Sound Editing/Mixing: Editing is making what’s recorded perfect in post. Mixing is the actual creation of the sound. These categories are really inconsistent, so I have no real clue which will work best. All of the nominees except “Skyfall” are nominated for Best Picture as well, meaning there’s no way to know which way the Academy will go. Sorry, you’ve gotta throw darts at a board for this one.
Best Cinematography: I know next to nothing about cinematography, but Roger Deakins needs to win this one for “Skyfall,” and if he doesn’t it’ll be a shame.
Best Visual Effects: These five are all blockbusters with budgets over $100 million. All of them made at least $400 million dollars worldwide. This is a fight to the death, as each of the five has strengths and weaknesses. “The Hobbit” may get upset by its mediocre hype. “Life of Pi” rode Richard Parker’s visually spectacular behind to its eleven total nominations, though “The Avengers” was the biggest film of all time. “Snow White and the Huntsman” was generally seen as a style-over-substance summer actioner, but its style was done well. My dark-horse favorite behind “Pi” is “Prometheus,” the madcap insane sorta-kinda-prequel to “Alien” that instead, went off on an unpredictable, ridiculous and sometimes striking tangent.