Oscars 2013: A Preview

Published February 24, 2013

The ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles, California, is hosted this year by Seth MacFarlane. — File Photo
The ceremony, will be held at the Dolby Theatre in the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles. — File Photo

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of the year again: The Oscars have arrived.

The stars are set to turn out for the most ostentatious night in Hollywood, from the "Who are you wearing?" hysteria of the red carpet to the ecstatic acceptance speeches to the inevitable after-parties.

The ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles, California, is hosted this year by Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame.

Like many of you we here at Dawn.com have Oscar fever, and we figured we’d run through a few of the main categories and nominees, and highlight what to expect on Oscar weekend.

Best Picture

Ben Aflleck (left) and Brian Cranston (right) in a scene from  "Argo". — Courtesy Photo
Ben Aflleck (left) and Brian Cranston (right) in a scene from "Argo". — Courtesy Photo

Only six times in Oscar history has the winner of the Best Director not corresponded to the Best Picture honoree, and when Ben Affleck wasn't nominated in the former category, the odds seemed stacked against Argo taking the top prize.

Since then, however, Argo has turned into the frontrunner and seems poised to make history as the seventh Best Picture without a directorial trophy to match.

Months ago, though, when his film was about to hit theatres, Affleck paid no attention to awards season speculation, saying, "When you work for as long as we all have on something like this, the focus is just on the audience coming to see it. Otherwise, you’re just a tree in the woods."

No movie bested Lincoln in terms of sheer tonnage, as the historical drama amassed a whopping twelve nominations total. Unsurprisingly, the Best Picture nominee also secured a nomination for Academy Award all-star Steven Spielberg

Zero Dark Thirty, which has by far become the most controversial movie of the year, sparked furthers controversy in Pakistan over its portrayal of the country, and it will likely not be shown on the local big screen anytime soon.

Partly, the film taps into national discomfort that bin Laden was found to be living for years near Pakistan's equivalent of West Point, and anger over the US decision to enter its airspace and raid the compound without giving advance notice.

Doubts about whether bin Laden was really hiding out for years in the city of Abbottabad are also common across Pakistan,  where conspiracy theories often have more weight than fact, and are fertile ground for Hollywood directors looking for ideas.

Best Actor.

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

What can you say about Daniel Day Lewis that hasn’t already been said? The man has made winning Oscars look easier than shooting fish in a barrel. He’s a lock for Best Actor for what could only be called a genetic re-creation of Abraham Lincoln unless the Academy feels it’s time to give others a shot. In that case, Joaquin Phoenix, who was ...  well … masterful with his performance in The Master, is a deserved choice. But really, who’re we kidding?

Best Actress

This undated publicity film image provided by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. shows Jessica Chastain playing a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives stationed in a covert base overseas who secretly devoted themselves to finding Osama Bin Laden in Columbia Pictures' gripping new thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty.”–Photo by AP.
Jessica Chastain plays Maya in Zero Dark Thirty. — Photo by AP

After seemingly emerging from nowhere into ubiquity in 2011, Jessica Chastain racked up her second consecutive nomination this year thanks to her performance as Maya, the doggedly determined CIA analyst out to find Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty.

Jennifer Lawrence’s nomination was something of a puzzle for me. Granted it was a great character performance, but is it Oscar worthy? Not quite. Perhaps it’s an element of the Academy trying to stay relevant by jumping on to the Lawrence bandwagon given the hot commodity she’s become lately at just 22.

Emmanuelle Riva, in Amour would ideally be my call to take the gold. In what many critics gave been calling the best movie of the year, Riva without doubt gave a sublime performance, which for me, makes this category a bit of a mixed bag, even if the smart money is on Lawrence.

Best Documentary

5 Broken Cameras has been nominated for Best Documentary. — Courtesy  Photo
5 Broken Cameras has been nominated for Best Documentary. — Courtesy Photo

There are no guarantees during the awards season, but Searching for Sugarman is supposed to be as close to a lock as you can find, as the documentary about mysterious 70s musician Rodriguez has been sweeping documentary categories at all manner of awards ceremony for the past several months.|

But let’s not forget 5 Broken Cameras, an extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism. It’s a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat and edited by Israeli co-director Guy David, it’s been making waves in the news for a while now.

But the story this year certainly has to Ben Affleck. In what he called his second act, his career has seen some mighty highs and the lowest of lows. If anything Hollywood is about second chances. And Affleck not only took a chance and ran with it but has handled limelight that as come with it with a class and humility that’s refreshing to see.

In hindsight, his snub for Best Director may be the best thing that’s ever happened to him.



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