Oscar Results 2013

Argo (3): Best Picture, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay

Life of Pi (4): Best Director Ang Lee, Cinematography, Original Score, Visual Effects

Les Misérables (3): Best Actress in a Supporting Role Anne Hathaway, Makeup & Hairstyling (hair’s new this year), Sound Mixing

Lincoln (2): Best Actor in a Leading Role Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Production Design

Silver Linings Playbook (1): Best Actress in a Leading Role Jennifer Lawrence

Django Unchained (2): Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, Original Screenplay Quentin Tarantino.

Skyfall (2): Best Original Song Adele, Best Sound Editing (draw with ZDT)

Zero Dark Thirty (1): Best Sound Editing

Anna Karenina (1): Costume Design

Amour (1): Best Foreign Language Film

The above is a list of the major winners. For a full list, CLICK HERE.


The film winning Best Picture is always considered the major winner. So Argo it is. Interesting that the director of a Best Picture is not even nominated. No matter, the 1979 Iran hostage crisis came to a glorious end for Ben Affleck. “… it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up.” Glad he thanked Canada in his acceptance speech, along with Iran. Equal opportunity thanker he is.

Life of Pi has the most Oscars. I’m excited for them. Canadian composer Mychael Danna wins with his Indian-influenced score. Director Ang Lee gave a gracious acceptance speech thanking Taiwan, where he filmed the majority of the movie, all the 3,000 people involved in the production, and yes, the author of the Booker Prize winning novel, Canadian writer Yann Martel. For those who are book lovers and don’t want to spoil their good memory of their reading experience, I say, go see the film. It’s worthy of its literary source.

Glad to see Les Miz being honored with three awards. The dream came true for Anne Hathaway, winning her first Oscar, as expected. Deservedly, the Make-up and Hairstyling people won as well, with hairstyling being the first time recognized at the Oscars. Just look at Hugh Jackman at the opening scenes you’d appreciate their effort. That he didn’t eat or drink for over 13 hrs to shoot those scenes helped too. The highlight of last night’s Awards Show for me was the whole Les Miz cast singing on stage.

While I’m at that, get the orchestra back in the Theatre where the action is next time. You can hear the discrepancy in timing with the singing at certain points. And please, don’t rush people off stage by playing all those irrelevant (or maybe tackily relevant) old movie themes. So rude to the present winners and disrespectful to those past productions. Here are some I remember… Jaws, The Magnificent Seven, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind (that’s when Quentin Tarantino was speaking).

Why, with all the technical talents around, the tribute to fifty years of James Bond was done with such a lack-lustre montage? To help us forget it, Shirley Bassey came on stage to sing Goldfinger after that. In my opinion, Goldfinger is probably the best James Bond song. And Bassey just showed, at 76, the unfading colours of a great voice. So’s Barbra Streisand, at 70, delivered a moving The Way We Were after the Memoriam clip, paying tribute to Marvin Hamlisch who wrote the Oscar winning song (1974). Memories flooded back as she sang at the Oscars the first time last night after 36 years. With all due respect to Adele and her Skyfall win, these two veteran singers made a sharp contrast to her shaky performance.

Now, Lincoln‘s disappointing results baffled me. Coming into the Awards Season, it was the strongest contender, with 12 nominations. The only major win was Daniel Day-Lewis who was almost locked-in for Best Actor, and deservedly so. He is now the only actor winning three Oscar Best Actor awards. I’ve seen all his winning films. While his Lincoln portrayal is impressive, I remember being captivated by his first Oscar winning role in My Left Foot (1989) as Irish writer Christy Brown who was afflicted with cerebral palsy and could only use his left foot to write.

And then there’s Jennifer Lawrence, what a good sport. It’s embarrassing falling on the steps going up the stage, but getting an Oscar way over compensates for it. Her performance in Silver Linings Playbook confirms her position as a leading female character actor at 22. I’ve seen her much younger performances before all the Hunger Games hype, and knew that she would be a rising star. The two films I’m thinking of are The Burning Plain (2008) and Winter’s Bone (2010).

As for the film and the actress I’ve been silently rooting for, Zero Dark Thirty and Jessica Chastain, well, at least it has one Oscar. I’m not too disappointed though for I trust Kathryn Bigelow‘s talent and skill can only create more strong productions, and hopefully not being marred by unnecessary controversies like she has with ZDT. As for Jessica Chastain, I know she will deliver in whatever film she’s in… given a good role and in the hands of a capable director. I wish her all the best.

As for next year’s Oscars? Captain Kirk is right… you’d want to honour the film industry, not to spite it with a bad host and degrading jokes, no matter how entertaining the singing and dancing are. Yes, I’m referring to the opening number, plus some other ones that left us with a bad aftertaste. So please, bring on a different perspective, one that represents the other half of the human race. Let’s have Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to co-host next year’s Oscars.


CLICK ON the following links to my review of:

Life of Pi the movie

Life of Pi the book

Zero Dark Thirty and Argo


Les Miserables

Anna Karenina the movie

Anna Karenina the book


Skyfall (2012)

And now for something totally different…

After 50 years, this 23rd instalment of the James Bond film franchise has just raised the bar and anchored its place in the 21st century spy action genre. Ian Fleming has long passed, but his iconic character lives on, portrayed and later resurrected by different suave British actors beginning with, and still my man, Sean Connery, to now Daniel Craig.

Resurrection is the word. You’ll hear it, and see its effect, for with Skyfall, looks like the franchise has just been resuscitated to a brand new life, just like the hero in the film. Kudos to Sam Mendes, the Oscar winning director who helmed such human drama as American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, working with cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose talent has enhanced some of my favorite films like Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, A Serious Man, True Grit

So what we have is a slick and stylish action thriller but not just in form. Sure, Daniel Craig in his Tom Ford suit, always standing straight and legs apart is all about style, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. Here, we see some internal tapping into the Bond character, just enough to tie over to the next action sequence. And we see too Bond shedding a few tears, for a good reason.

The villain is Javier Bardem. The cold-blooded psychotic killer in No Country for Old Men is just as ruthless and haunting here, but with a change in hair-do. He is Raoul Silva, a vengeful ex-MI6 agent who has gotten hold of a list of all the identities of MI6 agents embedded in terrorist organizations. His pleasure is to kill them down the list. Bardem’s image of Silva reminds me of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, especially the scene with that transparent cylindrical cage… just gives away what would be coming next.

And our beloved Judie Dench, who’s so versatile that one minute you see her in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the next transported into MI6 headquarters as M. Of course, she’s long been M before Marigold. In Skyfall, Dench deservedly gets more significant screen time than in previous Bond movies. In a later part of the film, M is called to a public hearing to justify her actions and even the existence of MI6. She has some powerful lines which make the scene so gratifying. Her voice-over juxtaposes with the urgent sequence in which we see the villain Silva leaving a trail of violence heading over to get her. Here are the poignant lines she delivers, from Tennyson’s poem ‘Ulysses’:

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Can you sense a bit how this is quite a different Bond film?

A fine cast is always the major asset. Another veteran is Albert Finney, who appears almost incognito (to me that is) but a good match with Dench.

With the new life comes two new faces. Both are excellent choices. One is Ralph Fiennes, and he definitely suits the part. Another is Ben Whishaw. Can’t imagine his transformation from John Keats in Bright Star to the digitally savvy young Q. Playing alongside Craig, Whishaw makes an interesting contrast, the gun-wielding old-timer in the field and the young computer geek in the office, taking control of situations with his fingertips.

Further, there are the exotic locations, Istanbul and other places in Turkey, Shanghai, Macau and… Scotland, which not for its exoticism but atmosphere. Cinematographer Deakins has crafted some very stylish scenes that distinguish Skyfall from just any other action flick… aesthetically appealing, moody and atmospheric, a mixed bag of nostalgic noir and contemporary, and in the last part, even a dash of gothic. If not for that iconic Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger parked outside the old stone mansion by the moor, you’d think it’s right out of Wuthering Heights.

Adele also joins the league. She co-wrote the Skyfall theme song and sings it in a way that echoes previous Bond numbers, most obviously, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’.

Skyfall has propelled the Bond film to a new era and up a notch. I’ve appreciated the internal character exploration but of course, there are still the spectacular explosions and car chases, the over-the-top mayhem and implausible escapes. We need those to ensure the audience that our hero is alive and well, after given a new lease on life. He’s still the same old Bond, James Bond.

~ ~ ~ Ripples