The Oscars, Analysed, Best Director

Oscars2013-620x350So, our penultimate category, Best Director, before the big one. In which the Oscars truly threw all expectations out of the window.

The Nominees:   Steven Spielberg  ‘Lincoln’;  Benh Zeitlin  ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’; David O. Russell   ‘Silver Linings Playbook’;  Michael Haneke  ‘Amour’   and   Ang Lee ‘Life Of Pi’.

The Oscars threw a bombshell by not nominating Ben Affleck for his film ‘Argo’. ‘Argo’ was expected to dominate the awards season, and it more or less has, winning BAFTAs and Golden Globes. So it was weird that the Oscars ignored him.

At this point it must be said that I think the five nominees are all excellent, but such the quality of this year that this category could’ve been increased to ten nominees and it would still have been hard to get. High profile snubs include Tom Hooper for ‘Les Miserables’ (It’s not deserved in the first place, but ‘Les Miserables’ was quite a big movie and the Oscars might have gone for it, glad they haven’t though).

Also Kathryn Bigelow for ‘Zero Dark Thiry’, and she and Affleck were expected to be there instead of Zeitlin and Haneke. Also, I don’t think Russell, as good as his movie ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ was, deserved a nomination, not with other directors who I thought did better jobs, like Quentin Tarantino for ‘Django Unchained’, Wes Anderson for ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and Paul Thomas Anderson for ‘The Master’. But, for me, I would actually have loved to see Sam Mendes in there, for his magnificent work on ‘Skyfall’. Finally a Bond movie with a conscious and self awareness. As I mentioned earlier though, all the five films are accomplished, and this only helps make the Oscars more interesting.


Who Should Win: Ang Lee  ‘Life Of Pi’. No doubt about it. Lee has made a full blown blockbuster (More than $600 million dollars grossed worldwide), but that’s not too special these days. What he did was a full blown spiritually enticing, uncynically straightforward and thought provoking, and lyrically beautiful blockbuster. And he also manufactured the best use of 3D ever. It’s quite an achievement. I wouldn’t be against Haneke winning for “Amour” as well, and Spielberg is a hero of mine so him winning always cheers me up.


Who Will Win: To be honest, I don’t have any idea. If Affleck was there I would’ve said him. I can rule out Benh Zeitlin, that’s the only certainty I can offer. Russell could win it, especially as I think ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ has a chance at Best Picture, and his BAFTA screenplay win has given him some momentum. ‘Lincoln’ has the most number of nominations, and the movie has been a big hit in America, so Spielberg might take as part of a big sweep. ‘Amour’ has gotten plenty of love from the academy this year, same with ‘Life Of Pi’. I would say Ang Lee has a chance, maybe the Oscars will want to give the award to a 3D film finally. I think the votes will be pretty split up, and I think it’s gonna be between Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg at the end, with maybe Spielberg edging it.

Yazen Al Samen

The Oscars, Analysed, Best Actor

Oscars2013-620x350We wrap up the acting categories with the Actor in a Leading Role category.

The Nominees:  Bradley Cooper  ‘Silver Linings Playbook’;  Denzel Washington  ‘Flight’;  Daniel-Day Lewis ‘Lincoln’;  Hugh Jackman  ‘Les Miserables’ and  Joaquin Phoenix  ‘The Master’.

OK, this category has plenty of credible nominations. Plenty of snubs as well. Hugh Jackman was the best thing about ‘Les Miserables’, but still not good enough to get this nom, but I still can see why he got it. The other 4 are all great nominations. The long list of snubs include John Hawkes for ‘The Sessions’, Jack Black for ‘Bernie’, Matthew McConaughey for ‘Killer Joe’ and Richard Gere for ‘Arbitrage’.

Personally, though, I would’ve loved to have seen Jean Louis Trintignant nominated for ‘Amour’, all the love seems to be falling for Emmanuelle Riva’s performance, which is amazing in its own right, but I liked Trintignant’s more, and I would’ve loved if he would’ve been there instead of Jackman or even Cooper, as good as both of those were.


Who Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix  ‘The Master;. Hands down. No question. The best performance of the year and one of the best of the last few years.  His figure, gestures, mannerisms, all stay imprinted in our heads. It was a captivating performance. I won’t be angry if Day-Lewis wins, how can I? He was brilliant as well, but Phoenix’s performance is something else, in my view.


Who Will Win: Well, who else? Daniel Day-Lewis  ‘Lincoln’. It is quite a performance. Again, he transforms his body, showing us a Lincoln more moulded by grief, politics and war. With the signs of wear and tear of years of struggle, both personally and professionally. Apart from Phoenix, no other performance comes close to this one, and it should rightly win.

Yazen Al Samen

The Oscars, Analysed, Best Original Screenplay


Now off to the Best Original Screenplay category, where again competition is rife.

The Nominees:   Michael Haneke  ‘Amour’;  John Gatins  ‘Flight’;  Quentin Tarantino  ‘Django Unchained’;  Mark Boal  ‘Zero Dark Thirty’  and  Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola  ‘Moonrise Kingdom’.

Again, quite a lineup. Quiet a great set of nominees, maybe John Gatins script for ‘Flight’ can be omitted, I liked flight but I thought it didn’t contain anything overly special, and most of the depth came from Washington’s performance.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s script of ‘The Master’ should have been there, though. ‘The Master’ got no love from the awards syndicates, and I did expect director and picture snubs, but thought it would be a contender for best original screenplay, but ‘Flight’ got that nod, to my amazement.


Who Should win: Anybody but ‘Flight’. I still don’t know who out of the four other scripts is the best, maybe ‘Amour’ or ‘Django Unchained’, but then again ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ were excellent pieces of writing as well. So really, for me, Any of the four nominees apart from ‘Flight’ are worthwhile winners.


Who Will win: Not sure about this either, but will probably be Quentin Tarantino for ‘Django Unchained’. He hasn’t won an oscar since Pulp Fiction, which is 20 years ago nearly, so the Oscars will want another appreciation of him. And It would be deserved, In my opinion. I won’t be surprised if ‘Amour’ wins though, the Oscars are loving this little French gem from Michael Haneke.

Yazen Al Samen