2013 was an unexpected year, starting off less than spectacular and actually wowing us towards the end. The majority of the Oscar contenders were exceptional and seeped with talent on all fronts, from the casts’ portrayals to the crew and hard-working departments that allowed them to hit the ground running.
First off, a big applause to the team of ‘Argo’ who brought home the Best Picture prize. The core story and the care that Affleck and his producers took to adapt a touchy Iranian conflict to the screen was done with true heart and suspense. It was a great film all around and the world must be wondering what Affleck has up his sleeve next.
The women of the night were truly the best in their category, Anne Hathaway taking home Best Actress in a Supporting Role for ‘Les Misérables’ and a surprised Jennifer Lawrence walking away with the Leading Role award for the incredible ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’ Hathaway may have had an easier win compared to Sally Fields, Amy Adams, Helen Hunt, and Jacki Weaver though. The music and raw emotion necessary alone set the film apart enough that Hathaway was bound to stand out. And Lawrence took her confidence to a new level and showed a very different side to human nature, family, and the world of mental health where it was treated with understanding and respect rather than distinguished as abnormal. But her competitors were stronger, with the young breakout Quvenzhané Wallis (‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’), Jessica Chastain (‘Zero Dark Thirty’), Emmanuelle Riva (‘Amour’), and Naomi Watts (‘The Impossible’) giving her a run for her money.
The gentlemen were slightly less easy to predict, with Daniel Day-Lewis winning Best Actor in a Leading Role for ‘Lincoln’ and the charismatic Christoph Waltz for Supporting Role in ‘Django Unchained.’ Both performances were pretty undeniable, but some may have wondered if Bradley Cooper (‘Silver Linings Playbook’) or High Jackman (‘Les Misérables’) would have taken Leading Role because all three men were particularly distinct and the top of their game. Cooper especially might just have made a new name for himself, taking on a role about someone struggling with bi-polar disorder. It was serious step in his career that was beautiful to watch, as every turn of his performance struck deeply and beyond what we might have expected from him after having done more rough comedy and thrillers in the past. And Waltz is just a winning actor, taking home the same award for ‘Inglorious Actor’ in 2009. He has a wit and fierce charm that always keeps us intrigued. Robert De Niro (‘Silver Linings Playbook’) was a much talked about competitor who would have also been deserving if not for the striking uniqueness of Waltz’s bounty hunter character, Dr. King Schultz, that worked really well.
Other big prizes like Best Director (Ang Lee for ‘Life of Pi’), Best Foreign Film (‘Amour’), Best Original Song (Adele’s ‘Skyfall’), and Best Animated Feature (Pixar’s ‘Brave’) were for the most part expected although David O. Russell could have been a close second for Best Director with ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’ Many were surprised when Ben Affleck wasn’t even nominated for Best Director back in January because ‘Argo’ was such a success. Even the questionable host Seth MacFarlane delivered a nice joke saying the story of ‘Argo’ was ‘so top secret that the film’s director is unknown to the academy.’ And a moment of recognition for other talents and products in the industry that were wrongfully snubbed from this year’s nominations: for Best Director, Quentin Tarantino (‘Django Unchained’), Kathryn Bigelow (‘Zero Dark Thirty’), and Tom Hooper (‘Les Misérables’) didn’t somehow make the cut. For Best Foreign Film, France’s multi-award winning ‘The Intouchables’ about the bond formed between a quadriplegic and his one-of-a-kind caretaker, failed to make the running. And some original songs like ‘Learn Me Right,’ a collaboration between Mumford & Sons and Birdy for ‘Brave,’ were left out of the race. These omissions did not go unnoticed and were buzzed about in the media quite a bit. Nominee or not, it was a talented year and no worries Ben, you and the team still stole the show.