Since Ballots have been mailed this week to members of the Academy, now is the time to mention Oscar consideration for movies that are considered a long shot. Here are my picks for movies and performances that shouldn’t be overlooked in various categories:
Best Picture: The Master
Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece was a polarizing drama few understood, but many cinephiles passionately appreciated. The solid performances, dense screenplay, and stunning cinematography were some of the best of anything witnessed on the big screen. As the history of 21st century film begins to emerge, “The Master” will be viewed as a classic. Like “2001” or “Vertigo” more people will begin to comprehend this excellent movie as time passes. The Academy will look foolish neglecting “The Master” a Best Picture Oscar nomination over say, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
Best Director: Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of Southern Wild
Director Benh Zeitlin wooed audiences at Sundance and Cannes winning first and second place awards. This is a rarity and stands as a testament to or the impressive blast of originality. Out of nowhere, the performances of newcomers Quvenhane Wallis and Dwight Henry dazzle like amateurs performing as natural experts. It takes a talented director to overcome challenges in making a wild directorial debut such as ‘Beasts.’ As critics raved that this was one of the best first feature to premiere at a festival “in decades,” the Academy cannot afford to ignore a fresh talent such as Benh Zeitlin.
Best Original Screenplay: Safety Not Guaranteed
Though an improbably long shot, “Safety Not Guaranteed” is the true organic indie darling of summer. Quietly grossing over $4 million at the box office, its screenplay was the strength of the sincerely quirky film. Featuring dry humor with a heart of gold, Derek Connolly’s writing of snappy dialogue and unexpected turns was like lightning in a bottle unleashed. The characters banter was a hoot. Out of the countless screenings I attended in 2012, I never witnessed an audience react so passionately like they did during the climax. A perfect start for the Academy to embrace the mumblecore genre.
Best Supporting Actor: Andy Serkis, The Hobbit
The Lord of the Ring series was handily rewarded multiple Oscars with 2003’s “Return of the King.” One person who was forgotten was the stunning towering achievement of Andy Serkis as Gollum. Compared to the three predecessors, Serkis delivers an emotional performance in need of serious rewarding. He isn’t overwhelmed with visual effects. They enhance his acting. As Gollum, never has Serkis been this believable, unsettling, and haunting. Andy Serkis is becoming the definitive performance actor for the digital age. Anything short of an eventual lifetime achievement award is an insult.
Best Documentary: Invisible War
Though “Invisible War” is considered a likely nominee, nothing is a sure shot in the documentary category. After all, the documentary committee have denied some of the most exceptional documentaries the ability to compete in this category. Nobody really knows what will be nominated until it happens. This is an unpredictable category. Kirby Dick’s “Invisible War” is an enraged documentary that exposes sexual assault and rape in the military. ‘War’ succeeds in an emotional engaging journey that brings awareness to an unknown issue. Its the best and most important documentary of the year!
Best Animated Feature: ParaNorman
In a year full of cute Disney animated features and stale, mediocre kids films from various other studios, “ParaNorman” veered off toward an alternative path from the conventional. Focus Features took a risk with their largest opening in the studios history and it performed decently despite opening not on Halloween, but Back to School season. Filmmakers Chris Butler and Sam Fell created an irreverent, very political incorrect zombie children’s movie that combined elements of a John Hughes and John Carpenter. From the unorthodox premise to final execution, “ParaNorman” deserves a nomination!
Best Foreign Film: Sister (L’enfant d’en haut)
Though this category will come down to the voter preference of medium size studios art house fair of either the critically acclaimed, haunting experience from “Amour” or the feel good commercial success of “The Intouchables,” the poignant sibling drama “Sister” must be considered. The category was shortlisted to 9 entries on Friday and this quiet gem made the cut! Lea Seydoux (Midnight in Paris, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol) stars that primarily focusing on her relationship with her younger brother who picks pockets of tourists on a ski-lift gondola in the Swiss mountain. The Swiss selection deserves viewing for its quaint display of family dysfunction and how sudden events alter the human experience.