Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar hype, with emphasis on science fiction, fantasy, and local subjects

ABC talks about the usual suspects for the top awards in Oscars 2013 Preview: Winners, Losers and Upsets.

Chris Connelly previews the Academy Awards ceremony.

Of the top five awards, the only one I'm officially rooting for is Jennifer Lawrence, not on the strength of her acting in "Silver Linings Playbook," which, other than the sustainability theme of mental health parity, is not really on topic for this blog, but for her leading role in "The Hunger Games."  I like the idea of top-flight actors in genre films.

Speaking of genre films, there are two fantasies up for Best Picture and Best Direction, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Life of Pi," but both of them could best be described as magical realism.  That's not my favorite fantastic subgenre, so I'd rather root for the historical dramas of "Argo," "Lincoln," or even "Zero Dark Thirty," even if Al Jazeera English has legitimate reservations about at least two of them.

History, nature, violence and love make up some of the heady ingredients of the films at this year's Academy Awards in Hollywood.But as always, it's not without controversy. One film, 'Zero Dark Thirty', a Best Picture nominee, is being criticised for distorting the role of torture played in tracking down the Al Qaeda leader. The historical accuracy of another film, 'Argo' , is also questioned. The 85th Oscars spectacle also features the oldest and youngest nominees for Best Actress. Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reports from Hollywood.
On the other hand, the animated nominees are rich in fantasy, science fiction, and horror.  My favorite so far is "Brave," but I bet I'd get a kick out of "Frankenweenie," as my wife and I own a pair of dachshunds.  I also have a favorite among the animated short subjects, "Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare.'"  I marched with the film's director/producer David Silverman in the UCLA Band, where he and I played tuba together.

At this place in the nominee list come the five nominations for Skyfall, Cinematography, Original Music Score, Original Song, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.  The nominators at least think the movie looked and sounded great, regardless of what they thought of the direction, acting, and script.

The two Snow White movies, "Mirror Mirror" and "Snow White and the Huntsman," are competing for Best Costume Design.  I enjoyed the latter more than the former, but I suspect the two will probably cancel each other out, letting one of the period films defeat both fantasies.

I've already talked about the documentary feature nominees in Crazy Eddie at the Movies 3--"Searching for Sugar Man" favored to win an Oscar.  As for the documentary and live-action fiction short subjects, I don't have an opinion.  Nor do I have one for Foreign Language film or Editing.

As for Make-up and Hair Styling, I'm rooting for the first installment of "The Hobbit."  It's the only genre film nominated for the category.  It also shares a nomination for Production Design with "Life of Pi."

If one is looking for a category in which genre films dominate, it's Visual Effects, where all five nominees are science fiction and fantasy (I'm including comic books as fantasy).  Both "The Hobbit" and "Life of Pi" are there, along with "The Avengers," "Prometheus," and "Snow White and The Huntsman."  I'd be happy with any of them.

The two magical realism films, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Life of Pi," also have nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, although I think they'll lose to one of "Lincoln," "Argo," or "Silver Linings Playbook."  As for Best Original Screenplay, my favorite is "Moonrise Kingdom."  As soon as I saw that movie, I knew it would be nominated for an Oscar, although I didn't know which.

That's it for my Oscar opinions.  Happy viewing and may the fantasy and science fiction films, including "Skyfall," make a great showing tonight.

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