An A to Z of the 2013 Oscars

Academy members have put down their pencils – the votes are being counted as we write for this year’s Oscar nominees, and in the lead-up to Thursday’s nomination announcement, we thought we’d bring you up to speed with an A-Z of this year’s Oscars. The 85th Academy Awards are coming up on the 24th February.

Argo – Ben Affleck has done it again, and by “it” we mean, proved that his average acting was a total red herring for his excellent skills as a director, judging by this retelling of an incredible true story of an ingenious CIA hostage recovery mission in 1980.

Beasts of the Southern Wild – despite missing out on Screen Actors’ Guild and Sundance berths, Beasts is still in with a chance for a best picture nomination. 
Special Mention: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Brave

Competition – there will be sh*tloads of it this year, more than the last few in recent memory, especially for Best Picture – think Les Mis, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom and Skyfall. That’s only ten – and it’s the maximum number the Academy can allow.

Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino delves into the Deep South in the era of slavery with Leo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx (who also contributed to the soundtrack) in the lead roles and he’s created quite a fuss (see G below).

Emmanuelle Riva, the 85-year-old French star of Michael Hanneke’s confronting Amour. She’s is likely to be in the race for Best Actress.

Flight – directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Denzel Washington as a pilot who saves an aeroplane from a crash that isn’t what it seems, is a tense drama with potential to come up and steal some of the more obvious nominees’ limelight.

Guns – it’s been argued that Django Unchained could be a little too controversial for Oscar judges. Could the sensitivity of US gun control politics cause judges to malign the gun-toting extravaganza? The movie has also been accused of promoting racist language and gratuitous violence, but then, what QT film couldn’t be accused of the latter?

Hunt and Hawkes – First names: Helen and John, both big contenders for Best Actress and Actor for their opposing roles in The Sessions, with Hunt playing polio sufferer Hawke’s very hands-on sex therapist.
Special Mentions: Hitchcock, Hope Springs

The Intouchables – it’s pretty much a certainty that this unlikely French bromance, which has proven popular around the world, will score a nom for Best Foreign Film.

James Bond – this year’s Oscars will celebrate 50 years of James Bond, and of course it coincides with the release of Skyfall. Thrilling direction by Sam Mendes makes up for Daniel Craig’s singular acting expression: brooding.

 Karenina, Anna, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law, is a dark horse this year and is on a lot of “spoiler” lists, so look out for it. Bonus credibility comes from Oscar-winning writer Tom Stoppard, who had the task of adapting Tolstoy’s epic novel.

Les Miserables – Anne Hathaway steals the show and is a shoo-in for Supporting Actress; Hugh Jackman will likely be in the running for Best Actor; Russell Crowe sings…yeah.
Special Mention: Lincoln

Moonrise Kingdom – this gorgeous piece of classic Wes Anderson whimsy, about two precocious kiddies in deeply serious L-O-V-E, will hopefully at least get some recognition, most likely for Best Original Screenplay, co-written by Anderson and Roman Coppola.

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in The Paperboy – a combination that spawned “a movie so off it’s almost become an instant cult classic” according to the NY Daily News. It probably won’t make the Oscars race, but it’s still so weird that it rates a mention.

Original Song and Score – from Adele (Skyfall) and Mumford and Sons (Brave) to Hugh Jackman (Les Mis) to Dolly Parton (Joyful Noise), anything could happen in this category.

Pi, Life of – an acclaimed (and, you would think, unfilmable) book adapted by a renowned director, it didn’t quite  live up to expectations – but there’s still hope yet for Best Director at least, to the wildly versatile Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
Special Mention: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Quvenzhane Wallis, the pocket rocket star of Beasts. At age nine, it’s safe to say she’ll be the youngest contender for Best Actress.

Russell Crowe is hopefully not going to win anything for his singing in Les Mis. If he does we’ll know the world has imploded.

Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell’s quirky rom com starring Robert de Niro, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is the only comedy with a real standing here – and while that could make it look less serious, it’s also a reason for it to be given some recognition.
Special Mention: Searching For Sugarman

The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson’s thinly veiled critique of Scientology, starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman as an L. Ron Hubbard-like figure and Joaquin Phoenix, could well be a little too dark and controversial for the Oscars but it’s a brilliant film.

An Unexpected JourneyThe Hobbit has had mixed responses, but it may yet get a look-in, particularly in Best Makeup and Hairstyles and Best Visual Effects.

Very funny MCing at the awards ceremony can be guaranteed from the creator of Family Guy and Ted, Seth McFarlane.

West of Memphis – an examination of the failure of justice in the case of the West Memphis Three, which still haunts the American South. Directed by Amy Berg, told and made by those who lived it, it’s a big contender for Best Documentary.
Special Mention: Wreck-It Ralph

XXX – It’s safe to say that James Deen’s first foray into “contemporary L.A. noir”, a “sex flick” written by Bret Easton Ellis and co-starring Lindsay Lohan titled The Canyons, will not be appearing in the Oscars this year. At all.

You also won’t see Sean Penn because uh, he is a convicted wife-beater and also rapist (of Madonna, in the mouth). Except you totally will. Hollywood. Urgh.

Zero Dark Thirty – our final entry is a serious one, one of the biggest contenders: director Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, who last teamed up for The Hurt Locker, tread similar war-torn ground in this account of the search for Osama bin Laden, and this one, too, has all the hallmarks of a big winner in 2013.

profile of Eliza Goetze