Oscars 2013 Winners

Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Christoph Waltz

It was an exciting year for movies, which made for an equally exciting awards season that came to an end with Sunday’s Academy Awards. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane hosted the show with great laughs and amazing self-awareness, giving the show a new and fresh feeling that was much-needed by the producers of the show.

A run-down of the night’s winners…

BEST PICTURE: Argo 

With the movie picking up pretty much all the precursors leading up to the Oscars, it was nearly a sure thing that it would win the big prize. That, however, didn’t make it any less exciting to see it actually win and getting to hear producer/director/actor Ben Affleck’s incredibly touching speech. And can you believe that it’s been nearly 15 years since Affleck and Matt Damon won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Good Will Hunting? He has come such a long way.

ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln 

One of the few locks to win, Daniel Day-Lewis became the first actor to win 3 Oscars in the category. Though I myself could not watch Lincoln in its entirety (I’m just not the right demographic for it), I have to admit that he put in an incredible performance. I suppose there’s something to be said about being really careful in choosing the right roles in the right films.

ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

When I had made my initial comments upon hearing the nominees, I had thought the race would come down to Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts. Of course at the time, I had yet to see Silver Linings. Leading right up to the show, I still believed that it was a really tight race, but I was really happy about Lawrence’s win. For 22, Lawrence really continues to impress us all with just how real she seems and she handled herself wonderfully after her fall up the stairs to collect her award.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

It was anybody’s guess who would win the award, amongst a group of former winners. In the end, Waltz came out on top for yet another Tarentino role that seemed made for him.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

There was no doubt that Hathaway wasn’t going to win. There’s really nothing else to say about it.

DIRECTOR: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

With Ben Affleck absolutely snubbed in the category, the race ultimately came down to Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg, both great directors. While some believed that Spielberg would add a 3rd Oscar to his collection, I had the sense that Lee would win in the end. Everyone kept on talking about how Lee was able to make a movie based on a book that was deemed unfilmable. If filming the impossible doesn’t get you a win, I don’t what would.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Quentin Tarentino, Django Unchained

For some time, it seemed that Mark Boal’s script for Zero Dark Thirty would win, but having won the award for his The Hurt Locker script just three years ago (against Tarentino’s script for Inglourious Basterds, no less) and continued controversy over the story and the facts, Boal’s chances of winning were diminishing. Tarentino’s penchant for original stories ultimately gave him a win – his first since winning for Pulp Fiction.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Chris Terrio, Argo

With the swell of support for Argo, Terrio’s script based on a Wired magazine article and Tony Mendez’s book “The Master of Disguise” was clearly the favourite to win against David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook script and Tony Kushner’s script for Lincoln.

ORIGINAL SONG: “Skyfall” by Adele and Paul Epworth, Skyfall

It’s Adele. Was there really any doubt that she wouldn’t win?

ORIGINAL SCORE: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Amour

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Brave

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rick Carter and Jim Erickson, Lincoln

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi

COSTUME DESIGN: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina

FILM EDITING: William Goldberg, Argo

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Searching for Sugar Man

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Inocente

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell, Les Miserables

SOUND MIXING: Andy Nelson, Mark Patterson, and Simon Hayes, Les Miserables

SOUND EDITING: (TIE) Per Hallberg & Karen Baker Landers, Skyfall; Paul N.J. Ottosson, Zero Dark Thirty

VISUAL EFFECTS: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott, Life of Pi

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: Paperman

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: Curfew

Once again, with the great amount of movies in 2012, it was nice to see that wealth was spread, and not just one movie swept. Despite the expected long running time, the overall show was well-produced and provided some great moments. Here’s to hoping that 2013 will provide another great pool of movies by which audiences and critics alike will enjoy.

In the meantime, what were your thoughts on the show? Happy with the winners? How did Seth MacFarlane do as host? Since MacFarlane has already stated that his hosting gig was a one-time thing, who should helm the show next year?

The Hunger Games: The World of Panem Come to Life on the Big Screen

It has been a while since I’ve actually seen a movie on opening day (it’s the huge crowds that usually deter me), but I had to make an exception and see The Hunger Games Friday night.

I was a late-comer to the series, only reading after hearing that they were making the movie for it (general pattern that happens for me, especially seeing how I don’t work at a library anymore). But it didn’t take me long to realize why the books are so popular. Besides the fact that the books are actually very well-written, Suzanne Collins fully develops her characters, especially the series’ heroine Katniss Everdeen. Not to mention it is very much a satirical look at the role of the media in today’s world.

So forward to watching the movie, I have to give a lot of credit to Gary Ross and the movie’s writers for creating such a great adaptation of the novel. By no means was it perfect, but tell me a movie adaptation that perfectly encapsulates its source material and creates an outstanding standalone movie (more on this in a different post). The movie does a very good job at establishing the groundwork for the story, swiftly going through the events leading up to the games itself. It is all done in a way that allows non-readers of the series to understand what was going on, just as any movie should do in setting up the plot.

What should be noted is that even though the film does a good job setting everything up for non-readers, the movie works a lot better for those who have read the book. The book is in the style of a first-person narrative, so we are reading the thoughts and conversations of Katniss. The reader knows the struggles that Katniss goes through when it comes to her feelings about her family, the Games, Gale, Peeta, and so on. The way it plays in the movie is a lot of long looks and glances, which all the actors as their respective characters do quite well, but you can’t fully comprehend the intention behind those looks unless you’ve read the books. Another issue with the movie is that it doesn’t flesh out the character of Rue and the relationship that develops between her and Katniss. Readers of the book know full well of the relationship and Katniss’ intention late in the movie to have a mini-funeral for Rue right in the middle of the Games. Because that relationship wasn’t established fully, non-readers might not have entirely gotten the purpose of the action, and the effect Rue had on Katniss.

Any other issues I had with the movie was really just me being nitpicky. For the fact that Katniss is from the Seam (the poorest part) of District 12, the costume department could’ve given her something a little more realistic to wear while hunting instead of a quite nice-looking leather jacket. She’s supposed to be poor, where did that leather jacket come from? In terms of the music, I appreciated the fact that despite having a soundtrack featuring many music artists, none of those songs were actually used until the credits. Using a score is much more effective in a movie like this. But one scene in particular stood out by the non-use of any music and that’s during the reaping when Prim’s name is called and Katniss instead volunteers herself as Tribute. I really would’ve thought they would use some music to play up the emotions of that scene, but they decided not to use any music which in the end felt a little odd to me. Again, I’m just being nitpicky.

Before I forget, I also must commend the casting. I think the creators did a really good job casting for the movie, no one seemed out of place and even if there were reservations at the beginning, all the actors came into their characters. Jennifer Lawrence does very well as our heroine Katniss, but I think Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz as Haymitch and Cinna, respectively, were perfect in their roles. Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley, and newcomers Alexander Ludwig, Amandla Stenberg, and Willow Shields all deserve recognition for their roles in the movie as well.

All in all, a very good effort by the cast and crew. It’s truly a movie that can be appreciated by readers and non-readers alike. Also, unlike the Twilight series, this is a series that can reach a far greater demographic. And by the look of things, a lot of people agreed. With a $155 million opening weekend (according to Sunday estimates), The Hunger Games now has the distinction of having the third best opening weekend ever, behind only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II and The Dark Knight (and yes, besting all the opening weekends of the Twilight movies). We’ll see if this number holds up through the year as other highly anticipated movies like The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit get released, but one thing is for certain The Hunger Games is here to stay.