You know it’s important when Thor takes charge.
The other day on Facebook, I got involved in a conversation about anticipating the Oscar nominations with an old friend, Clifford Galiher (2007 Jeopardy college champion, defeater of Andrew Rostan in that year’s Tournament of Champions), who compared Oscar Nominations day to Christmas Eve, all full of anticipation, but Oscar Night itself to New Year’s Eve—we all know what’s going to happen, but we still drink and have a great time.
I loved the simile, but I don’t think it entirely holds for 2013. This year, I don’t think there’s a single race you could call certain. Not even Best Animated Feature, because when you put Frozen up against what may be Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, you get a fight I don’t want to call.
Nowhere is this more pronounced than among the three largest nominees, which present me with an interesting dilemma. Since I first became obsessed with cinema, there are two kinds of movies I have loved and always wanted to see get more Academy recognition, and you can probably blame Annie Hall and 2001: A Space Odyssey and David Lean’s movies for this. First, films that aren’t serious and weighty with importance but are lots of fun, with great acting, clever writing, plenty of laughs, and still able to leave you with some insight into humanity.
Second, intelligent spectacle, films with imagery and production which take your breath away while still having more on their minds than pure adventure or robots and monsters punching each other (NOT to put down Guillermo…and on the other hand, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the rare exception that proves the rule).
Two movies exactly like these ended up leading the pack with ten nominations each, but they had the bad luck, in my opinion, to come out the same year as a movie that got nine and happens to be, further in my opinion, one of the greatest American movies ever made.
All of them were nominated for Best Picture and Best Director and wracked up a huge presence in the other major categories.
There are plenty of other films to consider besides American Hustle, Gravity, and Twelve Years a Slave, but I’m going to kick off what I think will be an annual conversation with Alex by focusing on these three to ask, and answer, a series of questions which will make me wish Damien Bona was still around to offer smart and sarcastic home truths.