Sometimes it seems that you cannot glance at the internet or television schedule without noticing another awards show in the offing – the Grammys, Emmys, VMAs, World’s Best Stamp Collection (probably) appearing to roll into one another. And wouldn’t you know, the countdown is now on to perhaps THE biggest of them all: the Oscars.
In this multi-part series in the buildup to the 2nd March showcase, the frontrunners and underdogs to land the coveted Best Picture prize will be showcased. All nominees will be looking to follow in the footsteps of recent winners The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, The Artist and last ceremony’s recipient of the Academy Award of Merit, Argo, the story set during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in the 1970s but with a liberal use of screen-writer’s license.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual celebration of the best films of the year will not be held until March 2014, but the fervour of excitement over who will walk away with the golden statuettes clicked into motion as the last explosion of Blockbuster Season hit the screen. Superheroes, big-budget Disney live-action vehicles starring Johnny Depp and the latest iteration of car chase tour-de-force Fast and Furious have all had their moment in the dark on the silver screen. British historical films with three-hour running times, emotional melodramas and flicks about Nazis in every shape and form are the order of the day in Oscar season.
Flashback to last year
The 85th Academy Awards (held in February 2013 and broadcast in the UK on Sky Movies) had a strong field competing for gold. Ben Affleck-directed Argo only rose to almost nailed-on Oscar success late in proceedings, with a host of other films in varying genres in with a shot. Lincoln, the 3-hour epic starring esteemed method actor Daniel Day-Lewis in the iconic role of the American president, put in a strong bid, but had to settle for Day-Lewis taking the individual medallion for his performance.
Adaptions of two of my favourite books were also contenders. Yann Martel’s beautiful prize-winning book Life of Pi, about an Indian boy lost at sea with only a tiger for company, was turned into an awe-inspiring visual feast by director Ang Lee. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s turns – the latter Oscar-winning – in David O. Russell’s page-to-screen adaption of Matthew Quick’s Silver Lining’s Playbook, concerning a man with bipolar disorder and his quest to be reunited with his wife, also struck a chord with audiences and critics.
There were several other titles that were nominated but buzz fell as the awards got closer. Zero Dark Thirty – Kathryn ‘The Hurt Locker‘ Bigelow’s drama based on the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden – was well received but shrouded in controversy, even post-Homeland, about the scenes of torture on screen. Anne Hathaway stunned audiences and Academy voters with her spine-tingling vocals in Les Miserables, but the film could not join the ranks of Chicago (2002),Oliver! (1968) and The Sound of Music (1965) as musical Oscar winners.
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained was another milestone for Christoph Waltz, who added this Best Supporting Actor gong to the one for Inglourious Basterds in 2010, but concerns over the level of violence stemmed the films bid. Foreign language film winner, France’s Amour, and the wonderful Beasts of the Southern Wild, with the breakout performance from 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis were always outside bets but deserved their place among the top 10 nominations list.[tabgroup][tab title=”Captain Phillips”]
[/tab] [tab title=”12 Years A Slave”]
[/tab] [tab title=”Blue Jasmine”]
[/tab] [tab title=”Nebraska”]
[/tab] [tab title=”Other contenders”]