And the OSCAR goes to…

Best Picture Oscar Nominees 2013
Pic: The Academy and Gallery1988

Here are my Oscar predictions made on the eve of the biggest entertainment show in the World along with the winners updated after the ceremony… For most categories, I listed who I thought will win and who was more deserving in my opinion. I did not include documentaries and short films in my original predictions (winners are updated now) as I have not seen them except Paperman – nominee, favourite and eventual winner in the Short Film (animated) category.

Let’s see how many predictions came true, how many favourites won and how many upset wins ruined the leading nominees’ evening…

Best Picture

Will win: Argo, unless the Academy voters do not want to own up to the mistake they made by not nominating Ben Affleck for Best Director

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty, but there is too much negative (and unnecessary) buzz around the film

Upset potential: Lincoln – a good film, but not the best (drags too much). However, it is tailor-made for the Oscars… the Academy loves biopics and add the element of patriotism to it… oh, and there is the Spielberg factor!

What about the others: The Academy seems to love Life of Pi but it’s more like Hugo – too many nominations, too little love in the main categories except the technical ones. Silver Linings Playbook is really a romantic comedy and the Academy rarely rewards rom-coms with the top prize. Django Unchained is a serious contender for Original Screenplay, not for Best Picture. Amour should be happy with an assured win in the Foreign Film category. Beasts of the Southern Wild… other nominees are asking this question – “where did this come from? How many people have seen this film?”

Who actually won: Argo. Hoorah!

Direction

Will win: I do not want to name him but I have no choice, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

Should win: Ben Affleck for Argo or Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty; but I’m in denial, these

two are not even nominated

Upset potential: Michael Haneke for Amour, though I want Ang Lee to be the one for Life of Pi

Slim chances but Affleck’s votes may go there: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook

Good intentions but seriously, who? Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Who actually wonAng Lee. Not as predicted but as I hoped. Respect.

Actor in a Leading Role

Will win: Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln – the safest bet and he was very good in the film

Should win: Daniel Day Lewis (since John Hawkes is not even nominated for The Sessions)

Upset potential: Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables – who doesn’t like a singing Wolverine?

Upset delight: Denzel Washington for Flight… his win calls for a round of Tequila shots!

Academy is too snooty to vote for you but if you win, it will be the Sandra Bullock moment once again: Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

You killed your own chances: Joaquin Phoenix for The Master. You don’t call the Oscar season bullshit while the voting is on.

Who actually won: Daniel Day Lewis

Actress in a Leading Role

Will win: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty… for all the negativity around the film, her performance has been unanimously appreciated

Should win: Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence, though the latter can wait for the next time

Upset potential: Emmanuelle Riva for Amour, if the Academy shows extra love because of her age. Naomi Watts for The Impossible – it was a film designed to make you cry but Watts’ suffering in the film does not match up to Maya’s (Jessica) determination or Tiffany’s (Jennifer) craziness.

Not possible: Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild… she has too difficult a name to be pronounced by any presenter for a live telecast. On a serious note, she is sweet in the film but I was surprised with her nomination.

Who actually won: Jennifer Lawrence. She was in my deserving list but this one belonged to Jessica Chastain really. 

Actor in a Supporting Role

Will win: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Should win: Tommy Lee Jones or Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master or Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook… all are so good!

Upset potential: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

Why was he nominated again? Alan Arkin for Argo

Who actually wonChristoph Waltz. What was I thinking?

Actress in a Supporting Role

Will win: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables because life killed the dream she dreamed as Fantine

Should win: Anne Hathaway or Helen Hunt for The Sessions (but hers was really a lead role)

Upset potential: Sally Field for Lincoln if the Spielberg love rules the evening

Did we forget she’s in the running? Amy Adams for The Master

Why was she nominated again? Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

Who actually won: Anne Hathaway. It came true.

Adapted Screenplay

Will win: Lincoln or Argo

Should win: Life of Pi, this book was once considered un-filmable!

Upset potential: Silver Linings Playbook

Who actually won: Chris Terrio for Argo

Original Screenplay

Will win: Django Unchained

Should win: Zero Dark Thirty or Moonrise Kingdom

Upset potential: Amour

Who actually won: Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained

Animated Film

Will win: Wreck It Ralph

Should win: Wreck It Ralph

May have a chance: Frankenweenie

Major upset: Brave

Who actually wonBrave. The most undeserving winner. It is not about the animation only but how the whole film was! Brave is one of the dullest films from the Disney stable. I have a theory here… Disney really pushed for Brave and got what they wanted. It makes business sense as they are trying to establish Merida among the other much loved Disney princesses – Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, etc. Just go to any Disney store or Disney Land and you’ll see how much they are pushing Brave and most merchandise is on sale. After the Oscar win, I think Merida has a second chance. Sorry Ralph, she stole your Oscar.

Foreign Film

Will win: Amour (Austria)

Should win: Amour

Upset potential: I have not yet seen Kon-Tiki (Norway), War Witch (Canada) and No (Chile) but Amour seems to be the favourite. A Royal Affair (Denmark) is good but not better than Amour

Who actually won: Amour

Film Editing

Will win: Argo

Should win: Argo

Upset potential: any other film will be an upset if Argo doesn’t win

Who actually wonArgo

Cinematography

Will win: Life of Pi

Should win: Life of Pi or Moonrise Kingdom, which is sadly not nominated

Upset potential: Lincoln

Who actually wonClaudio Miranda for Life of Pi

Original Score

Will win: Mychael Danna for Life of Pi

Should win: Mychael Danna for Life of Pi

Upset potential: Lincoln

Who actually wonMychael Danna for Life of Pi

Original Song

Will win: “Skyfall” from Skyfall (Music and Lyric by Adele and Paul Epworth)

Should win: “Skyfall” from Skyfall

Upset potential: “Suddenly” from Les Misérables as a consolation prize (Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil)

Who actually won: “Skyfall” from Skyfall (Music and Lyric by Adele and Paul Epworth)

Visual Effects

Will win: Life of Pi

Should win: Life of Pi

Major upset:  any other film

Who actually won: Life of Pi

Costume Design

Will win: Anna Karenina

Who actually wonAnna Karenina

Makeup/Hairstyling

Will winLes Misérables

Who actually wonLes Misérables

Production Design

Will win: Anna Karenina or Life of Pi

Who actually wonLincoln. Did the voters even watch Anna Karenina?

Sound Mixing

Will win: Les Misérables

Who actually wonLes Misérables

Sound Editing

Will winZero Dark Thirty

 

Who actually won: Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall (a tie)

Other winners (not predicted in this post earlier):

Animated Short Film: Paperman

Live Action Short Film: Curfew

Documentary Short Subject: Innocente

Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man

Out of 20 predictions, I got 15 right. Happy about getting the Best Director prediction wrong and pleased with the Best Actress too (Lawrence was in my “should win” bracket along with Chastain). I under-estimated Christoph Waltz’s potential win (his nomination was in my upset category); I should have seen the signs! Regarding Brave’s win over Wreck It Ralph and Lincoln over Anna Karenina for Production Design, I stick with my picks and think the Academy voters failed the deserving winners. 

Post updated: February 25, 2013

 

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

We accept the love we think we deserve…

Pic Source: Wikipedia

Stephen Chbosky’s beautiful novel (1999), The Perks of Being a Wallflower, can be summed up in this one line from the book – “We accept the love we think we deserve”. Told from the point of view of a freshman year student, Charlie, it is a coming-of-age story about friendship and love, insecurities and fear, exclusion and acceptance. Last year, the author managed to do something exceptional – he adapted (screenplay, direction) the acclaimed novel to a superior motion picture. Yes, in my opinion The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those rare films that surpass the beauty of its much-loved source material. It is also the most ignored film of 2012 with none of the major film award shows acknowledging the film and the fine performances by the three lead actors. For me it is not only one of the best films of 2012 but also among my favourite films of all time.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy teenager who in his own words is both happy and sad. He is nervous about high-school and his only real friend committed suicide a year ago. He hates school till he meets two seniors, Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), who become his best friends and much more. Sam is a free-spirited girl with excellent taste in music; she is smart, beautiful but not popular because of her excesses in the freshman year. Her step-brother, Patrick is flamboyant, witty and in love with a jock from the school football team. Sam and Patrick welcome Charlie to the island of misfit toys and for the first time Charlie feels like he belongs somewhere. They understand him and celebrate him for what he is – a wallflower that sees things, keeps quiet about them and understands.

Writer-director, Chbosky makes us a part of this intimate group of friends and we find ourselves driving with them through a tunnel, listening to mix tapes and feeling infinite; drinking and playing truth-and-dare; having a crush and falling in love; sharing their disappointments and consoling them when they suffer heartbreaks. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is sincere, heartfelt and very well acted. Emma Watson manages to break free from the image of Hermione (Harry Potter series) and delivers a mature performance… for me she is no longer a young witch from Hogwarts but Sam of “Slut and the Falcon” fame (watch the trailer below to know why, or better watch the film).  Logan Lerman is also the introvert Charlie now and not Percy Jackson (which isn’t a great franchise in my opinion anyway). But the show stealer is Ezra Miller who has the smartest lines and gets to showcase a wide range of emotions. He is one fine actor who is at equal ease with a likeable character like Patrick and a disturbing one like Kevin in 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. The film has an interesting cast of supporting actors including Paul Rudd as Charlie’s English teacher, Joan Cusack as his psychiatrist, Mae Whitman and Johnny Simmons as other students.

The film has an interesting soundtrack; it’s actually a mix tape with songs by various artists and original score by Michael Brook. My favourite track is the catchy song that plays in the film’s trailer also; it’s called “It’s Time” by a band named Imagine Dragons. The cinematography is nice with Andrew Dunn maintaining an intimate feel along with the 90s look for the film. Congratulations to Mr. Rudd Productions (the guys who made Juno) and Summit Entertainment (distribution) for backing this gem of a film.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is now available on DVD in the US and for digital download on iTunes/amazon. I also recommend reading the book, which is simply unputdownable.

Best of Bollywood in 2012

I know I am late but there is never a wrong time to discuss films… here is my list of the best of Hindi cinema in 2012. It was an average year for Bollywood with most big films ending up as major disappointments but there were some innovative films that put script, great acting and technical talent in focus. From Sneha Khanwalkar to Juhi Chaturvedi to Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bollywood had a lot to cheer in 2012 along with some embarrassing films churned out by major stars and filmmakers. So, here it is… My Bollywood Top 10 from 2012, in this order:

Parma and Zoya’s violent love story

10. Ishaqzaade: When are we ever tired of the Romeo-Juliet saga? This one is set in a trigger-happy small town in Northern India and director, Habib Faisal gets the small-town details right. Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor are confident new-comers who make the same old doomed lovers’ story refreshing and entertaining. Yes, there is too much violence and sexist remarks in the film but a lot of it is reality. Shalmali Kholgade sings “Main Pareshaan” beautifully and Amit Trivedi’s album has some more good tracks. Gauhar Khan is another highlight of the film (she needs a bigger, meatier role now). Read my full review here.

A refreshing rom-com

9. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: I have often complained about Bollywood not getting it right with romantic comedies but I was pleasantly surprised with Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. It is a refreshingly different rom-com from Bollywood standards and I quite enjoyed it. Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy falls in love but… that’s where the writer wins by redefining what happens in a Bolly romance. Kareena Kapoor is a good actor when she wants to be and in this one she did well but I was surprised by Imran Khan who was not his usual lost self here by playing a lost guy. Read my full review here.

A better study of grief than a suspense thriller

8. Talaash: With all its flaws, Talaash is an interesting film for Indian cinema. There is an interesting plot and an unexpected ending from Bollywood standards. While the whole thriller bit did not work for me, the film tackles the emotions of grief and guilt very well. Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji are brilliant as grieving parents and director, Reema Kagti presents their story sensitively. Kareena Kapoor and Nawazuddin Siddiqui make the film even more interesting despite a different yet disappointing climax. Read my full review here.

A taut political thriller with great performances

7. Shanghai: Since Prakash Jha stopped making good political films, I had given up hope on the genre but Dibakar Banerjee brought us Shanghai. It is a brave film that exposes the murky politics, scams and crimes that take place in the name of development. We can be proud of all the progress we have made as a country but at what cost? Emraan Hashmi and Abhay Deol have winning roles, with an excellent supporting cast. Read my full review here.

Cheeky, bold and fun

6. Vicky Donor: This one clearly belongs to the writer, Juhi Chaturvedi. Who would have thought that Bollywood will deliver a crowd-pleasing entertainer about a sperm donor? Director, Shoojit Sircar gave us a light-hearted comedy with two promising new actors – Ayushmann Khurana and Yami Gautam. The best scene in the film: Vicky’s mother, Dolly (Dolly Ahluwalia) and grand-mother, Biji (Kamlesh Gill) enjoying whiskey and discussing the disappointments in their lives, including each other. Despite a dull ending, it is one of the most enjoyable films Bollywood has produced in the recent times. Read my full review here.

Smile, you’re designed to do so

5. Barfi!: Leave all the plagiarism debates and enjoy the sweetness in this film. Yes, there are scenes that remind you of Charlie Chaplin films or the more recent The Notebook, but it is a different film that will bring out the child in you. Director, Anurag Basu creates a special mood with the film that takes you back in time when life was simpler, childhood meant chasing fireflies and playing with soap bubbles. Ranbir Kapoor once again proves why he is the ultimate combination of an actor and a star; Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’Cruz also do not disappoint and what lovely music by Pritam… Read my full review here.

Sridevi’s on-screen triumph after 16-years

4. English Vinglish: What a beautiful film and what a wonderful come back for 80s and 90s reigning diva, Sridevi. Gauri Shinde made a brilliant directorial debut with this sensitive film that hits the bulls-eye on most parameters. A regular Indian housewife whose kids make fun of her broken English decides to learn the language in Manhattan of all the places! A refreshing new concept and the simple narration make the film enjoyable and make you aware of all the times you have not valued your parents. Sridevi makes it look so easy on screen after a long hiatus and you want to see more of her. It is definitely the heart-warming film of the year from Bollywood.

This is Irrfan Khan, not the one in The Amazing Spiderman

3. Paan Singh Tomar: An army man, an athlete, a father, a husband, a dacoit… Director, Tigmanshu Dhulia tells us everything about Paan Singh Tomar’s life and his relationships in this brilliantly made biographical film. Irrfan Khan is first rate in this compelling real life drama. It is a tragic film that does not glorify the lead character but portrays him as a regular man with needs, desires and hopes like everyone else.

And that’s how you make a thriller

2. Kahaani: You don’t need to blow up cars and have complicated stunts to make a good thriller. You can make it with a heavily pregnant woman as the lead character. Director, Sujoy Ghosh hit gold with this Vidya Balan starrer that presents Kolkata as one of the lead characters. Nawazuddin Siddiqui delivers a powerful performance and Saswata Chatterjee’s Bob Biswas, an LIC agent who is also a contract killer, is probably one of the best written characters in recent times. Read my full review here.

Hunter, Womaniya, Perpendicular and Tangent… superb writing wins

1. Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & 2: Over five hours of violent revenge drama with a lot of style and humour… Director, Anurag Kashyap’s Tarantino style pair of films not only entertained but brought to light a number of talented actors and technicians. From Richa Chaddha to Huma Qureshi and of course the brilliant, Nawazzudin Siddiqui, GoW made stars of these actors. Sneha Khanwalkar’s music combined folk, Bollywood and even Chutney music from the Caribbean to deliver a fantastic album. We re-discovered the talent powerhouse called, Manoj Bajpai and the acting prowess of filmmaker, Tigmanshu Dhulia. The real winners however are the writers, Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia and Kashyap himself, who wrote the films without any inhibitions. Read my full reviews here and here.

Disappointments of the Year

While these are my favourite films of 2012, I was disappointed by biggies like Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Agent Vinod, Agneepath, Cocktail and Dabangg 2. I never expected much from films like Rowdy Rathore, Student of the Year, Housefull 2 and Heroine but they managed to go further below my expectations. Thankfully, I did not watch films like Players, Raaz 3D, Jism 2, Bhoot Returns, Khiladi 786, Tezz and Chakravyuh among others… I understand and relate to your pain if you have watched any of these films and so do the folks at the third annual Ghanta Awards. Vote for the worst film and other categories for the Ghantas here and watch the show live/online on February 15, 2013.