Mac’s Top 10 Movies of 2013

10) Stoker
Directed by Chan-wook Park and Written by Wentworth Miller

The tension is so taut in Chan-wook Park’s horror-thriller Stoker that it feels like one wrong move and the whole thing would collapse, luckily it sustains a perfect feeling of eery suspense, mixed with some classic horror campiness, throughout its 99 minutes.  The cast is uniformly excellent including the reliably amazing Nicole Kidman, a breakout performance from Matthew Goode, and my favorite turn yet from ‘it’ girl Mia Wasikowska.  Combined with crackerjack film editing, beautiful production and costume design, and an impressive score, Stoker is perhaps the years most underrated gem.

9) American Hustle
Directed by David O. Russell and Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

The hair.  The costumes.  The music.  American Hustle is not only a ton of fun to watch, it’s a return to great moviemaking for David O. Russell after the uninspired Silver Linings Playbook and the showboating misfire The Fighter.  Sure, there is a lot of showboating and scenery chewing in this one too, especially from a delightfully unhinged Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, but there is also some genuine pathos and heart, especially by Amy Adams who gives a spectacular performance.  It all balances out into a great time.  Even if overall it’s a bit of a mess, it’s the most fun mess I saw this year.

8) Cutie and the Boxer
Directed by Zachary Heinzerling

While I have not caught up with nearly enough documentaries this year, of the ones I have seen, Cutie and the Boxer is my favorite.  A true ‘fly-on-the-wall’ experience, the film is an in-depth exploration of marriage, love, gender, and importance of artistic expression in a quick 80 minutes.  It also lacks the intrusive director/narrator/star that has become so popular in the past five years (I blame Michael Moore) which has become a real strain on the genre.  Trust me, you’ll fall in love with these two artists in this moving portrait–plus it’s already available on Netflix!

7) Enough Said
Directed and Written by Nicole Holofcener

Perhaps the best romantic comedy in a decade or so, Enough Said is both unflinching and tender, sweet and sad.  Anchored by incredible lead performances from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini, the film is filled with dualities of love–bitterness and hopefulness, regret and resolve, standards and compromises.  And of course it’s also really really funny.  I can’t wait to see it again.

6) Short Term 12
Directed and Written by Destin Cretton

Raw, natural, emotionally unwound performances fill the world of Short Term 12, a small-budget indie drama set in the world of the titular short term foster care facility where aimless 20-somethings just out of college are charged with the safety and care of troubled young people who have been bounced around the social safety net for years.  This isn’t your typical inspirational tale of obstacles overcome and young minds molded: the teachers lives are as much of a mess as the students.  But the film inspires nonetheless.  Especially strong are the performances of Brie Larson and Keith Stanfield, who share one of the most breathtaking moments on screen this year.

5) Frances Ha
Directed by Noah Baumbach and Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig

The funniest film this year could easily be compared to HBO’s Girls, a story about a lost generation of millennial fumbling around unemployed and undate-able, the products of the ‘me’ culture we were raised in.  And while I also like Lena Dunham’s take on the subject, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach get at the same topic with more generosity, more humor, and probably more truth.  Because Frances Ha doesn’t make broad strokes about a generation, but just one lost woman, a type that’s recognizable, but also humanely portrayed and likeable as she is clueless.  This one is already on Netflix too.

4) Blue Jasmine
Directed and Written by Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s latest work proves that the greatest screenwriting talent in cinema history is still in a class of his own, producing work that is nuanced, layered, and still full of great one-liners.  Blue Jasmine is a gripping satire on the bubble excesses of the new wealthy, a clever modern re-interpretation of A Streetcar Named Desire, an unnerving character study of the supremely narcissistic Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), and a broad ensemble piece that allows for rich performances from Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin, and Andrew Dice Clay.

3) Nebraska
Directed by Alexander Payne and Written by Bob Nelson

Alexander Payne has done it again.  His latest, Nebraska, is a wry, witty, and warm look at the people and places who define us–for better or for worse.  Bruce Dern deserves all the accolades he has received for his turn as Woody, the film’s centerpiece, and he is surrounded by a great ensemble who bring Hawthorne, Nebraska to life.  A poignant screenplay, and magnetic score round this out as an instant classic.

2) 12 Years A Slave
Directed by Steve McQueen and Written by John Ridley, based on the memoir by Solomon Northup

Harrowing, unrelenting, and unforgettable, 12 Years A Slave should be required viewing for all Americans.  The ugliest truths about humanity are juxtaposed with the natural beauty of Louisiana.  Perhaps our first major historical drama that takes the kid gloves off when it comes to recognizing the human atrocities that made the US an economic superpower.  This is our history, and we must recognize that if we expect to create a better, less hateful future.

1) Her
Directed and Written by Spike Jonze

Spike Jonze’s Her is my favorite film of the year.  A genius take on modern human connection, this movie is funny, romantic, startling, and intuitive.  Joaquin Phoenix gives the best performance of the year as a man falling in love with an operating system, a premise that could be obvious, cheap, and gimmicky that is instead seriously considered.  In addition to being expertly performed and brilliantly written, Her is phenomenally design, gorgeously filmed, and has the best score of the year (written by Arcade Fire).  For me, it’s without a doubt the defining film of the year.  GO SEE IT!

Honorable Mentions:
Blue Is The Warmest Color, The Spectacular Now, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Blackfish, and The Conjuring



Biggest Disappointments:
The Act of Killing, All Is Lost, Stories We Tell, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Bling Ring

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Mac’s Tony Ballot for 2013

The good news for those of us who wait all year for the big gay Christmas that is the Tony Awards: it’s a pretty strong year.  Many categories are much more competitive, which is great.  Even better, we should have some knockout performances to look forward to.  There are also very few this year that you could categorize as egregiously overlooked with such strong competition.  As I do each year, I assembled my rankings, predictions, and gripes for you all–especially those who haven’t had the chance to see these but will be watching with baited breath nevertheless (I’m looking at you, Ari).  So let’s get to it…

Best Musical

What Should Win (Rankings):
1) Matilda
2) Kinky Boots
3) Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical (italicized means I missed the show before it closed)

What Will Win: Kinky Boots
What Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

The race is neck and neck between Matilda and Kinky Boots.  Matilda is far better, and will stand the test of time as an expertly crafted, clever, emotionally rich new musical.  My hunch is that the unabashed joy ride of Kinky Boots will best Matilda, which wasn’t afraid to delve into the darkness of Roald Dahl’s original text.  When I skim through the Best Musical winners of the last 15 years, Kinky Boots just feels more in line with what the Tonys like.  It reminds me a lot of the highbrow Sunday in the Park with George vs. the old-fashioned fun of La Cage Aux Folles contest in 1984, and I think it will end up much the same.  And will possibly be debated at Marie’s Crisis for just as long.


Best Play

What Should Win:
1) The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
2) Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang
3) The Assembled Parties by Richard Greenberg
4) Lucky Guy by Nora Ephron

What Will Win: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
What Should Have Been Nominated: The Nance

The Testament of Mary was by far the best-written new work of the season, and unfortunately couldn’t find an audience to stay open–Broadway, this is why we can’t have nice things.  Fortunately, we have Durang’s Bucks County Chekhov fantasia Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a deliciously delirious comedy.  It will easily win, and I’m more than fine with that.  The real problem for me is the exclusion of two wonderful plays The Nance and The Other Place for the professional but shrug-able Assembled Parties and Lucky Guy.


Best Revival of a Musical

What Should Win:
1) Pippin
2) Annie
3) Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
4) The Mystery of Edwin Drood

What Will Win: Pippin
What Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

This is a pretty great line-up.   I wasn’t completely taken with Drood, but I won’t begrudge anything that is vehicle to seeing Chita Rivera on the boards.  Annie is masterfully revived by James Lapine, pulling off a fresh take with a heaping helping of Broadway nostalgia.  Cinderella is a great re-imagining of a classic score.  However, the prize will go to Pippin, in a big top revival that thrills, overwhelms, and delights the senses on top of Schwartz’s one great musical theatre score.

Best Revival of a Play

What Should Win:
1) Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?
2) Golden Boy
3) The Trip to Bountiful
4) Orphans

What Will Win: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
What Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

There were three fantastic play revivals this season that  took new takes on beloved classics and made them feel as fresh, vital, and urgent as if they were written today.  If Virginia Woolf, Golden Boy, or Bountiful wins–you’ll hear no whining from me.  Personally, I would have just had 3 nominees instead of including the flat Orphans.

Best Actress in a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Laurie Metcalf as Juliana in The Other Place
2) Amy Morton as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
3) Cicely Tyson as Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful
4) Kristine Nielson as Sonia in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
5) Holland Taylor as Ann Richards in Ann

Who Will Win: Kristine Nielson as Sonia Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Fiona Shaw as Mary in The Testament of Mary

This category BREAKS MY HEART.  Simply because it’s un-rankable.  My top 3–Metcalf, Morton, and Tyson give three of the greatest stage performances I’ve ever seen, performances that will stay with me for years.  I re-arranged them over and over before finally settling on this order–but in my heart they are unranked and I would be over the moon for any of the three to win.  However, my hunch is that Kristine Nielson breaks through the pack for the win, bumped by the love for her show and by a howlingly funny role that differentiates itself from the devastating turns of the aforementioned three.   I would have swapped Fiona Shaw for Holland Taylor, but there’s no real reason to complain here–what a strong year!

Best Actress in a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Patina Miller as The Leading Player in Pippin
2) Stephanie J. Block as Edwin Drood in The Mystery of Edwin Drood
3) Carolee Carmello as Aimee Semple McPherson in Scandalous
4) Valisa LaKae as Diana Ross in Motown: The Musical
5) Laura Osnes as Ella in Cinderella

Who Will Win: Laura Osnes as Ella in Cinderella
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Adrienne Warren as Danielle in Bring It On

Another talented line-up this year to be sure, though not quite as satisfying as the Play category.  Block was fantastic in Drood, but it was disappointing to see such a great comedienne play the straight man.  Carmello gave a dynamo, belt-your-face off performance in the worst show of the season (the Kathie Lee Gifford-penned evangelical musical).  LaKae is a fabulous Diana Ross (her Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand was a real highlight) but the script doesn’t give her much more to chew on.  Osnes is charming and has a lovely voice but fairy tale princesses aren’t generally very exciting performances.  Patina Miller is the standout of the group, giving a sexy and commanding turn as Pippin’s Leading Player.  Yet we all know awards aren’t given fully on performance, and I think the industry-loved Laura Osnes will take the Tony as Broadway’s own Cinderella story, the winner of a flop reality show that has been turning in consistently great work for 6 years.

Best Actor in a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbowl in Matilda
2) Billy Porter as Lola in Kinky Boots
3) Santino Fontana as Topher in Cinderella
4) Stark Sands as Charlie in Kinky Boots
Rob McClure as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin

Who Will Win: Billy Porter as Lola in Kinky Boots
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Anthony Warlow as Daddy Warbucks in Annie

This category is one of the most exciting horse races: the battle of the drag performances.  I would pick the frightening transformation of Bertie Carvel over the fierce diva Billy Porter, but I imagine the Tony voters will go the other way.

Best Actor in a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Nathan Lane as Chauncey Miles in The Nance
2) Tracy Letts as George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
3) David Hyde Pierce as Vanya in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
4) Tom Hanks as Mike McAlary in Lucky Guy
5) Tom Sturridge as Phillip in Orphans

Who Will Win: Tom Hanks as Mike McAlary in Lucky Guy
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Seth Numrich as Joe Bonaparte in Golden Boy

Listen, I like Tom Hanks as much as the next guy.  He’s funny, charming, and is as synonymous with the 90’s as Bill Clinton.  However, he is coasting on that in Lucky Guy, giving a charming non-performance in a non-play.  But the Tonys love big stars, and the Tony voters especially love big stars who are willing to schmooze and show up to a litany of events and make them feel all warm and special–and Hanks does just that.  So he will beat out Nathan Lane and Tracy Letts for their far superior work.  Such is life!

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Andrea Martin as Berthe in Pippin
2) Annaleigh Ashford as Lauren in Kinky Boots
3) Victoria Clark as The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella
4) Lauren Ward as Miss Honey in Matilda
5) Keala Settle as Norma Valverde in Hands on a Hardbody

Who Will Win: Andrea Martin as Berthe in Pippin
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Rachel Bay Jones as Catharine in Pippin

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Keith Carradine as JD Drew in Hands on a Hardbody
2) Gabriel Ebert as Mr. Wormwood in Matilda
3) Terrence Mann as Charlemagne in Pippin
4) Will Chase as John Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood
5) Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical

Who Will Win: Terrence Mann as Charlemagne in Pippin
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Gregory Haney as La Cienega in Bring It On

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Condola Rashad as Thelma in The Trip to Bountiful
2) Judith Light as Faye in The Assembled Parties
3) Carrie Coon as Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
4) Shalita Grant as Cassandra in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey as Lavinia Penniman in The Heiress

Who Will Win: Condola Rashad as Thelma in The Trip to Bountiful
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Yvonne Strahovski as Lorna Moon in Golden Boy

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Billy Magnussen as Spike in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
2) Richard Kind as Marcus Hoff in The Big Knife
3) Tony Shalhoub as Mr. Bonaparte in Golden Boy
4) Danny Burstein as Tokio in Golden Boy
5) Courtney B. Vance as Hap Hairston in Lucky Guy

Who Will Win: Billy Magnussen as Spike in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Lewis J. Stadlen as Efram in The Nance

Best Score of a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Tim Minchin, Matilda
2) Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots
3) Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, Hands on a Hardbody
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, A Christmas Story, the Musical

Who Will Win: Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, and Amanda Green, Bring It On

Best Book of a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Dennis Kelly, Matilda
2) Douglas Carter Beane, Cinderella
3) Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots
Joseph Robinette, A Christmas Story, the Musical

Who Will Win: Dennis Kelly, Matilda
Who Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Best Director of a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
2) Pam Mackinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
3) Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
4) George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy

Who Will Win: Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Jack O’Brien, The Nance

Best Director of a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Matthew Warchus, Matilda
2) Diane Paulus, Pippin
3) Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
4) Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Who Will Win: Diane Paulus, Pippin
Who Should Have Been Nominated: James Lapine, Annie

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Rob Howell, Matilda
2) Scott Pask, Pippin
3) Anna Louizos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
4) David Rockwell, Kinky Boots

Who Will Win: Rob Howell, Matilda
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Anna Louizos, Cinderella

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Kenneth Posner, Pippin
2) Hugh Vanstone, Matilda
3) Kenneth Posner, Cinderella
4) Kenneth Posner, Kinky Boots

Who Will Win: Hugh Vanstone, Matilda
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Natasha Katz, Motown: The Musical

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Gregg Banres, Kinky Boots
2) William Ivey Long, Cinderella
3) Dominique Lemieux, Pippin
4) Rob Howell, Matilda

Who Will Win: William Ivey Long, Cinderella
Who Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Who Should Win:
1) Jonathan Deans and Garth Helms, Pippin
2) Nevin Steinberg, Cinderella
3) Peter Hylenski, Motown: The Musical
4) John Shivers, Kinky Boots

Who Will Win: Jonathan Deans and Garth Helms, Pippin
Who Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Best Orchestrations

Who Should Win:
1) Danny Troob, Cindrella
2) Christopher Nightingale, Matilda
3) Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, Motown: The Musical
4) Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots

Who Will Win: Danny Troob, Cinderella
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Michael Starobin, Annie

Best Choreography

Who Should Win:
1) Peter Darling, Matilda
2) Andy Blankenbuehler, Bring It On
3) Chet Walker, Pippin
4) Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots

Who Will Win: Chet Walker, Pippin
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Josh Rhodes, Cinderella

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Who Should Win:
1) John Lee Beatty, The Nance
2) Michael Yeargan, Golden Boy
3) Santo Loquasto, The Assembled Parties
4) David Rockwell, Lucky Guy

Who Will Win: John Lee Beatty, The Nance
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Tom Pye, The Testament of Mary

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Donald Holder, Golden Boy
2) Japhy Wiedeman, The Nance
3) Jennier Tipton, The Testament of Mary
4) Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy

Who Will Win: Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Rui Rita, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Costume Design of a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Ann Roth, The Nance
2) Catherine Zuber, Golden Boy
Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac
Albert Wolsky, The Heiress

Who Will Win: Ann Roth, The Nance
Who Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Best Sound Design of a Play

Who Should Win:
1) Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy
2) Leon Rothenberg, The Nance
3) John Gromada, The Trip to Bountiful
4) Mel Mercier, The Testament of Mary

Who Will Win: Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Fitz Patton, The Other Place

Mac’s Oscar Ballot 2012

It’s that time of year again.  I made my top 10.  I’ve caught up on documentaries and foreign.  Now I venture forth into the upcoming Oscars with expectation for them to make the wrong decisions and a tiny little hope that they won’t.  Unlike previous years, I did not complete all the nominees–I just had too much on my plate this winter to sit through The Hobbit or the few others that I just had no real interest in watching.  But nevertheless, I’ve seen most–so here..we..go…

Best Picture

What Should Win (by ranking):
1) Zero Dark Thirty
2) Lincoln
3) Beasts of the Southern Wild
4) Argo
5) Django Unchained
6) Les Miserables
7) Amour
8) Silver Linings Playbook
9) Life of Pi

What Will Win: Argo
What Should Have Been Nominated: The Master

Two masterful, complicated, ruminating pics on American history will most likely go down to the solid but simple Argo.  Not a surprise given the organization that picked The King’s Speech over The Social Network and The Artist over The Descendants.  However, I hope they will take back the bolder mantle of the Oscars of The Hurt Locker and No Country for Old Men.  That Academy seem a world away.


Best Actress

Who Should Win:
1) Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
2) Naomi Watts, The Impossible
3) Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
4) Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
5) Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone

Best Actress loves an ‘it’ girl in her 20’s, no matter how one-note or shrill the performance (see Natalie Portman, 2010).  Despite great work from Chastain and Watts, I’m assuming they’ll go for Lawrence’s pretty quirky crazy girl.

Best Actor

Who Should Win:
1) Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
2) Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
3) Denzel Washington, Flight
4) Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
5) Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths

I’m totally good with a third Daniel Day-Lewis win.  If in some backward universe Bradley Cooper pulls an upset, look for my TV heaved onto 46th Street.


Best Supporting Actress

Who Should Win:
1) Amy Adams, The Master
2) Helen Hunt, The Sessions
3) Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
4) Sally Field, Lincoln
5) Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

They went with the most safe, boring slate of nominees in this category that I’m already over Supporting Actress this year.  Adams is the only one who would have made my top 5.  And while I’m not Anne Hathaway’s biggest hater (I liked Rachel Getting Married, and thought she was solid in TDKR) I’m just not ready for her to be an Oscar winner.  I would give this song an Oscar though—my philosophy is that when crying on film, less is more (and Prince is a better songwriter than Boublil & Schonberg.)


Best Supporting Actor

Who Should Win:
1) Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
2) Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
3) Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
4) Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
5) Alan Arkin, Argo

Who Will Win: Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Christopher Walken, A Late Quartet

It’s a shame that Hoffman won’t win for the best performance of his incredible career.  Tommy Lee Jones is the safe bet.  I’m predicting an upset here for the late-surging Silver Linings Playbook and the veteran actor who doesn’t have a Grumpy Cat disposition toward Oscar campaigning.


Best Director

Who Should Win:
1) Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
2) Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
3) Michael Haneke, Amour
4) Ang Lee, Life of Pi
5) David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will Win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Wes Anderson, Stephen Chbosky, Leos Carax

These 5 completely missed my top list.  While I love Lincoln, it’s more an achievement of screenplay and performance than a director’s vision.  I’m split 50/50 between predicting Spielberg or Haneke.  So I’m going with wishful thinking

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who Should Win:
1) Tony Kushner, Lincoln
2) Lucy Alibar & Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
3) Chris Terrio, Argo
4) David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
5) David Magee, Life of Pi

Who Will Win: Chris Terrio, Argo
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I am afraid the genius Tony Kushner will be passed over for a competent screenplay of Argo.  If you hear cheers and delight coming from Queens, that might mean Lincoln pulled it off.

Best Original Screenplay

Who Should Win:
1) Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
2) Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
3) Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
4) John Gatins, Flight
5) Michael Haneke, Amour

Who Will Win: Michael Haneke, Amour
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master

This one is a true toss-up, I could see it going to Amour, Django or Zero Dark Thirty.  I’d give a slight edge to Amour.

Best Cinematography

Who Should Win:
1) Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina
2) Roger Deakins, Skyfall
3) Janusz Kaminski, Lincoln
4) Robert Richardson, Django Unchained
5) Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi

Who Will Win: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master

Best Production Design

Who Should Win:
1) Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Anna Karenina
2) Rick Carter & Jim Erickson, Lincoln
3) Eve Stewart & Anna Lynch-Robinson, Les Miserables
4) David Gropman & Anna Pinnock, Life of Pi
(Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent & Simon Bright, The Hobbit)

Who Will Win: David Gropman & Anna Pinnock, Life of Pi
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Florian Sanson & Emmanuelle Cuillery, Holy Motors

Best Costume Design

Who Should Win:
1) Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
2) Paco Delgado, Les Miserables
3) Joanna Johnston, Lincoln
4) Eiko Ishioka, Mirror Mirror
(Colleen Atwood, Snow White and the Huntsman)

Who Will Win: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Kasai Walicka-Maimone, Moonrise Kingdom


For your consideration: Cinematography, Costume and Production Design–the stunningly beautiful Anna Karenina.

Best Film Editing

Who Should Win:
1) William Goldenberg & Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty
2) William Goldenberg, Argo
3) Michael Kahn, Lincoln
4) Tim Squyres, Life of Pi
5) Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers, Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will Win: William Goldenberg, Argo
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Andrea Chignoli, No



Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Who Should Win:
1) Lisa Westcott & Julie Dartnell, Les Miserables
2) Howard Berger, Peter Montagna & Martin Samuel, Hitchcock
(Peter King, Rick Findlater & Tami Lane, The Hobbit)

Who Will Win: Peter King, Rick Findlater & Tami Lane, The Hobbit
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Bernard Floch & Olivier Seyfrid, Holy Motors


While the bizarre Holy Motors was never going to be the Academy’s cup of tea–the fact that it didn’t get nominated for (and win) the  Makeup/Hairstyling category is a joke.

Best Original Score

Who Should Win:
1) Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
2) John Williams, Lincoln
3) Thomas Newman, Skyfall
4) Alexandre Desplat, Argo
5) Mychael Danna, Life of Pi

Who Will Win: Alexandre Desplat, Argo
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Jonny Greenwood, The Master

Best Original Song

What Should Win:
1) “Skyfall” from Skyfall
2) “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted
3) “Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
4) “Suddenly” from Les Miserables
5) “Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi

What Will Win: “Skyfall” from Skyfall
What Should Have Been Nominated: “Who Were We” from Holy Motors (as well as this Dolly Parton gem)

Best Sound Editing

What Should Win:
1) Zero Dark Thirty
2) Skyfall
3) Argo
4) Django Unchained
5) Life of Pi

What Will Win: Skyfall
What Should Have Been Nominated: The Dark Knight Rises

Best Sound Mixing

What Should Win:
1) Argo
2) Skyfall
3) Lincoln
4) Life of Pi
5) Les Miserables

What Will Win: Les Miserables
What Should Have Been Nominated: Zero Dark Thirty

Best Documentary Feature

What Should Win:
1) Searching for Sugar Man
2) The Invisible War
3) How To Survive A Plague
4) The Gatekeepers
5) 5 Broken Cameras

What Will Win: How To Survive A Plague
What Should Have Been Nominated: Queen of Versailles and Central Park Five

Best Animated Feature

I dropped the ball on this one, and only saw Frankenweenie and Brave–didn’t much care for either one.

What Will Win: Brave

Best Short Film, Animated

What Should Win:
1) Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare
2) Paperman
3) Head Over Heels
4) Fresh Guacamole
5) Adam and Dog

What Will Win: Paperman

Best Short Film, Live Action

What Should Win:
1) Curfew
2) The Buzkashi Boys
3) Asad
4) Death of a Shadow
5) Henry

What Will Win: The Buzkashi Boys

Best Short Film, Documentary

I didn’t catch any of the doc shorts this year either.

What Will Win: Inocente

All in all, a pretty good solid crop of nominees this year.  Sure, I would have Zero Dark Thirty win 5 Oscars, and it will be lucky to scrape out one.  I also would have nominated The Master for 11–so clearly we don’t line up in taste.  The bigger fun in this is seeing things I may not have the motivation to watch otherwise.  From searing documentaries like Searching for Sugar Man and The Invisible War, to the gorgeous Anna Karenina which got past my ambivalence toward costume drama.

If you haven’t seen most of these movies, a lot of them will be available to rent or on Netflix soon–check them out!

Mac’s Top 10 Movies for 2012

10) The Paperboy

Lee Daniels’ pulpy The Paperboy practically has sweat dripping off the screen.    Like a late-career Tennessee Williams play gone astray, or perhaps a 60s noir in the vein of In The Heat of the Night, the film is campy, over-the-top, and at times deliciously silly.  Much of the fun stems from how game Nicole Kidman is for the ride, camp of this sort only works with a full commitment of the performer, and oh boy does she commit as an Everglades trailer park vixen with a fried peroxide blonde do.  It’s may technically be a supporting role, but she runs the show aided by solid work from Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Macy Gray and David Oyelowo.

9) Queen of Versailles and Central Park Five

The most accomplished documentaries I saw this year don’t have much in common to lump them together (besides the fact that I couldn’t choose just one).  Queen of Versailles, the story of David and Jackie Siegel–1%’ers with gaudy taste and more money than they knew what to do with.  The documentary crew joins them as they seek to build the largest house in America, a larger-than-life replica of Versailles in central Florida.  And then the bottom of the economy drops out, and the subprime mortgages their time share empire was built on leaves them ill equipped to pay for their lavish lifestyle.  The doc is too smart to stoop to pure schadenfreude, instead it uses this laughable excess to shed a light on the economy and the American family in 2012–it’s just all a matter of scale.  Central Park Five is a gripping piece of film journalism that never results to hysteria to explain how five clearly innocent teenagers could be locked in jail, their lives turned upside down, in order to appease a mob mentality in racially tense early 90s New York.  It would be easy to derail this film into a paranoid rant, but instead uses razor-sharp focus to illuminate how it happened and why it shouldn’t have.  I’ve probably never seen a more important film about our criminal justice system.

8) Holy Motors

The trippy French film Holy Motors leaves you a bit baffled, but it thoroughly entertains and dazzles with brilliant imagery including accomplished make-up, costumes, and art direction.  It’s a ride through Paris that you won’t easily forget, and months later I’m already itching to see it again.  Added to its favor, there is a delightful musical interlude from Kylie Minogue.

7) Rust and Bone

The other French film on my list Rust and Bone shares none of the surrealist whimsy of Holy Motors, but rather is a brutally grounded portrait of loss, and how it can mature, embitter, and transform us.  Marion Cotillard gives my favorite performance of the year, her emotional journey is heartbreaking and beautifully crafted.  That performance alone would be enough reason to love it, but the cinematography, score, and pacing make it one of the years most accomplished films.

6) Seven Psychopaths

The funniest movie of the year is the shoot ’em comedy Seven Psychopaths, both a celebration of the genre, and a satire on the preeminence of violence in American culture.  Irish playwright and director Martin McDonagh has achieved what I believe Quentin Tarantino thinks he’s been doing for the last 20 years.  And he does so to much funnier results.  The fantastic ensemble includes A-game performances from Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, and Tom Waits, though Sam Rockwell runs the board with his explosively hilarious performance.

5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Not since The Breakfast Club has a film captured the angst, heartache, and manic emotional rollercoasters of high school so perfectly.  Freaks and Geeks came close on the small screen, and Superbad and Mean Girls milked these years for some great comedy–but The Perks of Being  a Wallflower is so heartfelt and so specific to the challenges of young people struggling with anxiety and depression that even I got a little choked up.  Like the aforementioned titles, this will be added to the canon of teen classics–perfect Sunday afternoon viewing for 14 year olds and 40 year olds alike.

4) Moonrise Kingdom

I have a mixed track record on Wes Anderson films.  I adore The Royal Tenenbaums, yet I found The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic long and tedious, and Fantastic Mr. Fox charming but soulless.  His best work yet is Moonrise Kingdom, where Anderson’s trademark visual aesthetics sync perfectly with the story he is telling.  It’s not only a visual feast, music from Benjamin Britten, Hank Williams, and Alexander Desplat provide the perfect soundtrack.  The whimsical tale of childhood love is the most purely delightful film I’ve seen in quite a while.  Also notable is Tilda Swinton’s blue smock–alone worth the price of admission.

3) Lincoln

I would not have expected a director whose recent work includes War Horse, Indiana Jones 4, and The Terminal to deliver one of the finest films on American history and political theory I’ve ever seen.  Sure, I love Jurassic Park and E.T. as much as the next guy, but you wonder if decades of being one of the richest men in Hollywood makes you a bit disconnected, his last decade of work certainly suggests his best films are behind him.  Then along comes Lincoln.  The screenplay by Tony Kushner is one of his tightest in form, yet in typical Kushner style provides far more questions than answers using the history (adapted from the nonfiction Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin) to launch into great national themes–service, sacrifice and the costs of progress.  It’s the perfect complement to an election year where we have heard so much about our divided nation, proving that it is now what it ever was–a fiercely fought battle between progress and status quo.  Daniel Day-Lewis is expectedly excellent, bringing one of the few deitized figures of American history into scale.  Yet this has the feel of an ensemble work and features strong performances from esteemed character actors Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Lee Pace, and Stephen Spinella.  Sally Field probably could have taken it down a notch or two, but it’s not distracting enough to hurt the film.  There’s just something about this movie that made me think, “somebody I’ll sit my kids down and we’ll watch this together”.  I can think of very few others that merit that distinction.

2) Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty is a masterpiece of filmmaking, the first of the post-9/11 era to tackle, ya know, what’s been going on in the world for the last 10 years.  I’ve been thinking in the time between seeing it and writing that this is what The Deer Hunter must have felt like in 1978.  It works on two levels, first as a nail-biting thriller–the greatest manhunt in history, and it certainly lives up to that tagline.  It’s amazing how expertly Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal pull off an edge-of-your-seat ride that’s based on known history–and they do it so much more adeptly than Ben Affleck’s Argo.  In fact the movie is so quick and so exciting, that it wasn’t until the last moments of the film–then the subway ride home–then the next day, and the next–that I began to understand what I just saw.  In fact, I hesitate to say anymore as I’m assuming most of my friends reading this won’t yet have seen this film given its late release.  So, go see it, wait a day, and then let’s talk.

1) The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood) unveiled his third masterpiece, The Master, this year, an even more impressive feat considering it’s only his sixth film.  The film features an unnerving performance from Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell, a sociopathic drifter who finds his way onto the boat of a small religious cult sailing from San Francisco to New York.  One of our finest living film actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has been on autopilot playing the same sad-sack, professorial characters since Capote is electric as Lancaster Dodd, the sect’s leader (modeled on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard).  Easily my favorite Hoffman turn, it is a masterfully layered performance.  While he should take the Best Actor trophy at the Oscars, the Weinstein Co. will slot him in Supporting Actor category to increase the nomination chances for both him and Phoenix.  I can see how The Master was a hard sell, even for arthouse audiences, as it is one of the more opaque and challenging mainstream films to come along in a few years (perhaps since Anderson’s There Will Be Blood).  However, if you invest your energy into it (I had to see the film twice) it rewards.  It’s a movie to feel and experience, and provides insights into our relationships to power, authority, and faith.  Can we ever truly belong to something larger than ourselves–or are we simply always acquiescing to one master or another?  That’s one question.  The film will provide 100 more.

Just Missed The List…

My Favorite Blockbusters: The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall

My Favorite Low-Brow Comedies: The Dictator and For A Good Time, Call…


And The Big Disappointments…

Life of Pi–Pretentious I can handle, but long and boring too…

Silver Linings Playbook–I’m not sure why this has any sort of awards buzz, it’s just painfully mediocre with stock characters, a contrived plot, and a lack of understanding of mental illness.

The Campaign–I love Will Ferrell and Zach Galifanakis but this really just went nowhere.

To Rome with Love–When Woody is good, he’s great.  When he’s not, well…

Amour–Haneke’s theatre of misery continues with this one.  It’s painful to watch, which I can handle.  But Amour is just misery for misery’s sake, disguised as high art.  No thanks.

Les Miserables— With the incredible score of this musical which I dearly love, it is either shocking or inevitable  that this disappointed so much.  The performances are a mixed grab-bag of style and ability from the outstanding (Redmayne, Hathaway) to the solidly respectable (Jackman, Barks) to the misguided (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter straight out of the Tim Burton remake of Les Mis) to the miscast (Seyfried, an alto) to the embarrassing (Russell Crowe).  The performances don’t gel together, but are all rather standalone efforts that never form a cohesive ensemble.  Director Tom Hooper has shot the most epic musical of all time almost entirely in close-up and even those close-ups are frenetic and insecure, never trusting that material alone would make the film engaging.  We never see the scope of the French revolution, the grandeur of Paris, or the fact that the actors are even standing in the same room.  Also, a note to Hugh Jackman, you have a decent voice–you don’t have to Rex Harrison it for half the film.  Les Mis the musical is a grand, operatic adventure.  Les Mis the movie is never grand, rarely operatic, and probably the biggest missed opportunity of the year.

Mac’s Tony Award Breakdown 2012

Best Musical

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Once
2) Nice Work If You Can Get It
3) Newsies
4) Leap of Faith

Will Win: Once
Should Have Been Nominated: Ghost: The Musical

Once is really in a league of its own this year.  Powerful, emotionally potent, and with a real sense of time and place.  It is phenomenal, where that word doesn’t come close to any other new musical this year.  Nice Work was joyous and a lot of fun.  Newsies is a generally good time, though not necessarily ‘good’.  With the threat of my snob credentials being taken way, I really enjoyed Ghost and thought it was a campy and was genuinely wowed by some of the effects–I would have definitely included it as the fourth of the tepid Leap of Faith.

Best Play

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Clybourne Park
2) Venus in Fur
3) Peter and the Starcatcher
4) Other Desert Cities

Will Win: Clybourne Park
Should Have Been Nominated: The Lyons

Now, this is a category worthy of the adjective ‘best’.  All four of these are thrilling productions.  Clybourne Park is my personal favorite, but Venus in Fur and Peter are both statue-worthy too.  I would have personally picked the less polished, more potent production of The Lyons over Other Desert Cities but there’s really nothing to complain about here.

Best Revival of a Musical

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Follies
2) The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
3) Evita
4) Jesus Christ Superstar

Will Win: The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
Should Have Been Nominated: Eh, it doesn’t really matter if On A Clear Day… was slightly less horrific than JCS

It’s all between the top two here, the brilliant incomparably brilliant Stephen Sondheim masterwork Follies, and the solid incredibly-performed (and still open) Porgy & Bess.  It could go either way.  Also in the mix you have Evita with two disastrous leads, and Jesus Christ Superstar with disastrous direction.  I wish they would have just gone with two nominees again this year.

Best Revival of a Play

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
2) Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
3) Wit
4) Master Class

Will Win: Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Should Have Been Nominated: A Streetcar Named Desire

This category is a bit odd for me.  I really enjoyed all four of these productions, and I enjoyed them all with some pretty solid caveats.  Death of a Salesman has stuck with me the most.  Despite feeling the production was a bit ‘screamy’ and poorly paced for the emotional rollercoaster of Arthur Miller’s text, I can’t get that great American classic out of my head. I must give the production credit for that.  Master Class was my least favorite, though perfectly fine, it seemed a bit dusty–a bit ‘why now’.  No major complaints here, but nothing I feel the desire to champion either.

Best Actress in a Musical

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Audra McDonald as Bess in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
2) Cristin Milioti as Girl in Once
3) Kelli O’Hara as Billie Bendix in Nice Work If You Can Get It
4) Jan Maxwell as Phyllis Stone in Follies
Laura Osnes as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie & Clyde

Will Win: Audra McDonald, The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
Should Have Been Nominated (And Won): The Foremost Interpreter of Stephen Sondheim, Ms. Bernadette Peters as Sally Plummer in Follies

Looking past the egregious overlooking of Ms. Peters (an American treasure), you still have four incredible leading ladies here, which were each so uniquely suited for their show and role it was hard to rank among them.  Audra will take the big prize, but Cristin’s emotional center, Kelli’s surprisingly adeptness as physical comedy, and Maxwell’s firey Could I Leave You? will be noted as worthy competitors.  (I missed Bonnie & Clyde, as it was open slightly longer than Bobbi Boland)

Best Actress in a Play

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Linda Lavin as Rita Lyons in The Lyons
2) Nina Arianda as Vanda in Venus in Fur
3) Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow
4) Stockard Channing as Polly Wyeth in Other Desert Cities
5) Cynthia Nixon as Vivian Bearing in Wit

Will Win: Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Wow.  This is the category for the record books.  Five knock-your-socks-off performances.  I have went around in circles for weeks on my rankings and prediction.  Four of the five carry their shows with perfect comedic timing, pathos, and gravitas (and Stockard is a remarkable team player in a well-rounded ensemble).  Lavin ends up with the slightest of edges for me, but only the slightest.  I will be thrilled (and not surprised) by any outcome–though I think Bennett gets an edge for being the biggest, brashest, most scenery-chewing of the five in her haunting take on Judy Garland’s last months.

Best Actor in a Musical

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Steve Kazee as Guy in Once
2) Danny Burstein as Buddy Plummer in Follies
3) Norm Lewis as Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
4) Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly in Newsies
5) Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone in Follies

Will Win: Steve Kazee, Once
Should Have Been Nominated: Richard Fleeshman as Sam Wheat in Ghost: The Musical

The top three are all great.  Kazee is my personal favorite, but I would be happy with a win from Burstein or Lewis.  Jordan and Raines are both servicable.  I would swap one of them out with Richard Fleeshman, he succeeds admirably with what he’s given.

Best Actor in a Play

Rankings/Should Win:
1) James Corden as Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors
2) Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
3) John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop in The Columnist
4) James Earl Jones as President Arthur Hockstader in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Frank Langella as Gregor Antonescu in Man and Boy

Will Win: James Corden, One Man Two Guvnors
Should Have Been Nominated: Stacey Keach, Other Desert Cities

This competition between James Corden and Philip Seymour Hoffman is the most ‘apples and oranges’ of this year’s Tonys.  Corden’s exuberantly silly in the commedia del arte-inspired One Man, Two Guvnors is tough to put up against Hoffman’s take on the great American tragic hero Willy Loman.  I prefer the absolute commitment to the ridiculous over this brooding, boiling version of Loman.  But Tony could go either way.

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Oda Mae Brown in Ghost: The Musical
2) Judy Kaye as Estonia Dulworth in Nice Work If You Can Get It
3) Jessie Mueller as Melinda Wells in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
4) Elizabeth A. Davis as Reza in Once
5) Jayne Houdyshell as Hattie Walker in Follies

Will Win: Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Should Have Been Nominated: Liz Mikel as Heratia in Lysistrata Jones

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Rankings/Should Win:
1) Celia Keenan-Bolger as Molly in Peter and the Starcatcher
2) Condola Rashad as Cheryl in Stick Fly
3) Linda Emond as Linda Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
4) Judith Light as Silda in Other Desert Cities
5) Spencer Kayden as Suzette in Don’t Dress for Dinner

Will Win: Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Should Have Been Nominated: Christina Kirk as Bev/Kathy in Clybourne Park

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Michael Cerveris as Juan Peron in Evita
2) Philip Boykin as Crown in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
3) Michal McGrath as Cookie McGee in Nice Work If You Can Get It
4) David Alan Grier as Sportin’ Life in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
Josh Young as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar (he was out when I saw the show, and it was way too bad to pay for twice)

Who Will Win: Michael Cerveris, Evita
Should Have Been Nominated: Paul Whitty, Once

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Jeremy Shamos as Karl/Steve in Clybourne Park
2) Andrew Garfield as Biff Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
3) Christian Borle as Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher
4) Tom Edden as Alfie in One Man, Two Guvnors
5) Michael Cumpsty as Anthony in End of the Rainbow

Who Will Win: Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Should Have Been Nominated: Michael Esper as Curtis in The Lyons

Best Director of a Musical

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) John Tiffany, Once
2) Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
3) Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
4) Diane Paulus, The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess

Who Will Win: John Tiffany, Once
Should Have Been Nominated: Eric Schaeffer, Follies

Best Director of a Play

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher
2) Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
3) Mike Nichols, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
4) Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors

Who Will Win: Mike Nichols, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Should Have Been Nominated: Walter Bobbie, Venus in Fur

Best Original Score

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Wayne Barker and Rick Elice, Peter and the Starcatcher
2) Frank Wildhorn and Don Black, Bonnie & Clyde
3) Grant Olding, One Man, Two Guvnors
4) Alan Menken and Glen Slater, Newsies (new material)

Who Will Win: Alan Menken and Glen Slater, Newsies
Should Have Been Nominated: Dave Stewart, Glen Ballard and Bruce Joel Rubin, Ghost: The Musical

Best Book of a Musical

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Enda Walsh, Once
2) Douglas Carter Beane, Lysistrata Jones
3) Joe DiPietro, Nice Work If You Can Get It
4) Harvey Fierstein, Newsies

Who Will Win: Enda Walsh, Once
Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Best Choreography

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Steven Hoggett, Once
2) Rob Ashford, Evita
3) Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
4) Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Who Will Win: Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
Should Have Been Nominated: Dan Knechtges, Lysistrata Jones

Best Orchestrations

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Martin Lowe, Once
2) Danny Troob, Newsies
3) William D. Brohn and Christopher Janhke, The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
4) Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Who Will Win: Martin Lowe, Once
Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) George Tsypin, Spider-man: Turn off the Dark
2) Bob Crowley, Once
3) Rob Howell and Joe Driscoll, Ghost: The Musical
4) Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies

Who Will Win: George Tsypin, Spider-man: Turn off the Dark
Should Have Been Nominated: Christopher Oram, Evita

Best Scenic Design of a Play

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher
2) John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
3) Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park
4) Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors

Who Will Win: Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Should Have Been Nominated: Eugene Lee, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Gregg Barnes, Follies
2) ESosa, The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
3) Eiko Ishioka, Spider-man: Turn off the Dark
4) Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Who Will Win: Gregg Barnes, Follies
Should Have Been Nominated: Christopher Oram, Evita

Best Costume Design of a Play

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher
2) Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
3) Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
4) William Ivey Long, Don’t Dress for Dinner

Who Will Win: Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher
Should Have Been Nominated: Anita Yavich, Venus in Fur

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Christopher Akerlind, The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
2) Natasha Katz, Follies
3) Natasha Katz, Once
4) Hugh Vanstone, Ghost: The Musical

Who Will Win: Natasha Katz, Once
Should Have Been Nominated: Neil Austin, Evita

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher
2) Brian MacDevitt, Death of a Salesman
3) Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to mecca

Who Will Win: Brian MacDevitt, Death of a Salesman
Should Have Been Nominated: Edward Pierce, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Kai Harada, Follies
2) Clive Goodwin, Once
3) Acme Sound Partners, The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
4) Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Who Will Win: Clive Goodwin, Once
Should Have Been Nominated: Mick Potter, Evita

Best Sound Design of a Play

Rankings/Who Should Win:
1) Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher
2) Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow
3) Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
4) Scott Lehrer, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Who Will Win: Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher
Should Have Been Nominated: John Gromada, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man

 

2012 Oscar Predictions & Rankings

Best Picture

Will Win: The Artist

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) The Descendants
2) Moneyball
3) Midnight in Paris
4) The Help
5) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
6) The Artist
7) War Horse
8 ) Hugo
9) The Tree of Life

Should Have Been Nominated: Margaret, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Higher Ground, 50/50, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Don’t get me wrong, The Artist is fun.  It’s light-as-air and a cute nod to Hollywood past.  There’s nothing wrong or disqualifying about not being serious drama, but this feels almost confectionery.  For a 100 minute movie, it’s about an hour too long.  The Descendants, Moneyball, and Midnight in Paris are near-perfect films, they will all last the test of time.  The Help and Extremely Loud are majorly flawed but have enough truly great moments and performances to warrant inclusion.  Then there are the others…though it should be noted that only Tree of Life falls into an ‘D’ or ‘F’ grade from me.

Best Actress

Will Win: Viola Davis, The Help

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Viola Davis, The Help
2) Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
3) Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
4) Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5) Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Should Have Been Nominated: Vera Farmiga, Higher Ground

An incredibly solid line-up, one of the best in this category in many years.  Viola and Meryl were neck-and-neck for me for weeks, flipping into either spot.  I will be happy if either wins, but I think it’s the year of Viola Davis.  While I might have taken out Williams (who is incredibly good, but not her best work) for Farmiga or Anna Paquin in Margaret, it’s hard to quibble with this line-up.

Best Actor

Will Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Brad Pitt, Moneyball
2) George Clooney, The Descendants
3) Jean Dujardin, The Artist
4) Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
5) Demian Bechir, A Better Life

Should Have Been Nominated: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50

I’m afraid that Dujardin is going to happen.  Sure, he holds up the movie.  But is an hour and a half of schtik worth an Oscar?  Pitt and Clooney give masterfully-crafted, nuanced performances which are the best of their careers.  Unfortunately, they will probably be side-swiped by The Artist mania.

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
2) Octavia Spencer, The Help
3) Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
4) Jessica Chastain, The Help
5) Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Should Have Been Nominated: I’m proposing an entirely new line-up here as there is no overlap with my list; J. Smith Cameron, Margaret/Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus/Dagmara Dominczck, Higher Ground/Jeannie Berlin, Margaret/Anjelica Huston, 50/50

It’s Octavia’s year, and I’m at peace with that.  She gave a performance much better than it was written, and brought the humanity, soul, and spirit out of what could easily have been an offensive stereotype.  None of these five fit into my top five, but that’s not too rare with the Supporting category which has dozens and dozens of great performances each year to choose from.  None of mine received proper momentum.  Though who can complain about Melissa McCarthy being an Oscar nominee for pooping in a sink.

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Christopher Plummer, Beginners
2) Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
3) Jonah Hill, Moneyball
4) Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
5) Nick Nolte, Warrior

Should Have Been Nominated: Jeremy Irons, Margin Call

My least favorite performance line-up.  Plummer is incredible, so I’m glad he will win.  But I would have swapped out von Sydow with Jeffrey Wright from that film.  Is Branagh’s Olivier really better than Corey Stoll’s Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris?  Nick Nolte? In that? I get he’s an old pro, but how about Jeremy Irons?

Best Director

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Alexander Payne, The Descendants
2) Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
3) Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
4) Martin Scorsese, Hugo
5) Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Should Have Been Nominated: David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Cue the sweep!

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Midnight in Paris

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Midnight in Paris
2) Margin Call
3) A Separation
4) Bridesmaids
5) The Artist

Should Have Been Nominated: Margaret

If the silent film with one overlong gimmick wins for writing, let that be your sign of the unstoppable sweep.  I have faith that Woody Allen’s dense, clever, and perfectly constructed Midnight in Paris prevails here.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: The Descendants

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Moneyball
2) The Descendants
3) The Ides of March
4) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
5) Hugo

Should Have Been Nominated: Higher Ground

This will be the consolation prize of the night.  Alexander Payne, Miss Congeniality.

Best Cinematography

Will Win: The Tree of Life

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2) The Tree of Life
3) War Horse
4) The Artist
5) Hugo

Should Have Been Nominated: Moneyball

Here will be another tell-tale sign early in the evening, if The Artist topples the beautifully photographed The Tree of Life.

Best Art Direction

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Hugo
2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
3) Midnight in Paris
4) War Horse
5) The Artist

Should Have Been Nominated: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I think with 11 nominations, we can expect to see some love for Hugo early in the night, luckily in this category and Costumes they actually earned it.

Best Costume Design

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Hugo
2) The Artist
3) Jane Eyre
Anonymous
W.E.

Should Have Been Nominated: Pina

Best Film Editing

Will Win: The Artist

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2) Moneyball
3) The Artist
4) The Descendants
5) Hugo

Should Have Been Nominated: The Skin I Live In

This category has a tough time seeing beyond its overall favorites, expect the Best Picture winner to prevail.

Best Original Score

Will Win: The Artist

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) The Artist
2) War Horse
3) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
4) Hugo
The Adventures of Tintin

Should Have Been Nominated: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The effervescent score which holds up half the film is the only win The Artist will get that I won’t grumble about.  Though I wouldn’t have nominated any of these.  Dragon Tattoo, Take Shelter, The Skin I Live In, Contagion, and Moneyball had far better scores that really elevated their films–but this is one of those Oscar categories where ‘Best’ actually means ‘Most’. (The below isn’t actually part of it’s original score, but it is AWESOME)

Best Makeup

Will Win: The Iron Lady

Should Win:
1) The Iron Lady
2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
3) Albert Nobbs

Should Have Been Nominated: Contagion

Best Visual Effects

Will Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
2) Rise of the Planet of the Apes
3) Hugo
Real Steel
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Best Documentary Feature

Will Win: Undefeated

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Pina
2) Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
3) Undefeated
4) Hell and Back Again
5) If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Should Have Been Nominated: The Interrupters

This category is the WORST.  Year after year they nominate a bunch of mediocrity over the best documentaries of the years, every damn time.  Of course they tend to like things that bludgeon you over the head with its ‘message’ and leaves no actual critical thinking up to the viewer (I mean, this is the Academy that awarded Crash).  Having said that, Pina is absolutely spellbinding but it’s not actually a documentary.  Paradise Lost 3 is also great.  Though none of these come close to The Interrupters, one of the best films of the year of any category.  Bill Cunningham New York and Project Nim are also far superior to the bottom three on my ballot.  I expect the slickly-produced (it looks and feels like The Blind Side) and Weinstein-backed Undefeated to walk away with the big prize.

Best Animated Feature

Will Win: Rango

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Rango
2) Puss in Boots
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2

Should Have Been Nominated: Abstain

After two nominees were announced without New York releases, and my desire to see Kung Fu Panda 2 was lower than my desire to see Transformers–I decided to take a pass on this category this year.  But Rango is great!  Go Rango!

Best Original Song

Will Win: “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets
2) “Real in Rio” from Rio

Should Have Been Nominated: “Life’s A Happy Song” from The Muppets

This category is in desperate need of an overhaul by the Academy.  Its confusing rules lead to an unpredictable number of nominees and deprive the telecast of all fun.  Last year instead of 5 nominees, it had 4 and snubbed Cher.  This year, it left out possible performances by The Muppets, Sinead O’Conner, and Mary J. Blige to instead have only two nominees.  Granted, “Man or Muppet” is clearly the best of the year, so I guess it has less competition now.

Best Sound Editing

Will Win: War Horse

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2) War Horse
3) Drive
4) Hugo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Should Have Been Nominated: Rango

It’s hard for me to get excited about Sound categories, but over the years of Oscar watching I have started to notice it more and more.

Best Sound Mixing

Will Win: Hugo

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Moneyball
2) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
3) War Horse
4) Hugo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Should Have Been Nominated: Take Shelter

Moneyball’s sound is so delicately weaved and adds a lot to the story.  But once again, ‘Best’ will mean ‘Most Sound in a Movie We Liked’

Best Live Action Short Film

Will Win: Time Freak

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Raju
2) Tuba Atlantic
3) Time Freak
4) The Shore
5) Pentecost

Just a shot in the dark on that prediction

Best Animated Short Film

Will Win: La Luna

Should Win (in ranked order):
1) Wild Life
2) Morning Stroll
3) The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
4) Dimanche/Sunday
La Luna

Since Pixar isn’t nominated (and therefore can’t win) feature this year, I’m assuming La Luna (their short film entry) might take it.  Just a hunch though.

Best Foreign Language & Documentary Short Film

Skipped those this year, due to availability.

But I’ll put my money down on In Darkness and Saving Face.

FYC: Mac’s Oscar Ballot

So ballots for the Oscar nominations are due tomorrow, right before the Golden Globes really get the whole mess of awards season into full swing.  I don’t get a vote, but that won’t stop a boy from dream voting either (I mean, when have I not done that–I wore a Ross Perot outfit for kindergarten Halloween, and had more John Kerry buttons that a Portland book store).

Best Picture

1) Margaret
2) The Descendants
3) Moneyball
4) Midnight in Paris
5) We Need To Talk About Kevin

Best Actress

1) Viola Davis, The Help
2) Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
3) Anna Paquin, Margaret
4) Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
5) Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Best Actor

1) Brad Pitt, Moneyball
2) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
3) George Clooney, The Descendants
4) Thomas Horn, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
5) Michael Fassbender, Shame

Best Supporting Actress

1) J. Smith-Cameron, Margaret
2) Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
3) Dagmara Dominczyk, Higher Ground
4) Jeannie Berlin, Margaret
5) Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Best Supporting Actor

1) Jeremy Irons, Margin Call
2) Christopher Plummer, Beginners
3) George Clooney, The Ides of March
4) Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris
5) Jeffrey Wright, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Best Director

1) David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2) Bennett Miller, Moneyball
3) Kenneth Lonergan, Margaret
4) Alexander Payne, The Descendants
5) Lynne Ramsay, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Best Original Screenplay

1) Margaret
2) Midnight in Paris
3) 50/50
4) Margin Call
5) Rango

Best Adapted Screenplay

1) Moneyball
2) The Descendants
3) We Need To Talk About Kevin
4) Higher Ground
5) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

Best Cinematography

1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2) Moneyball
3) Take Shelter
4) The Tree of Life
5) War Horse

Best Editing

1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2) Moneyball
3) We Need To Talk About Kevin
4) The Skin I Live In
5) Take Shelter

Best Art Direction

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
2) Hugo
3) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
4) The Artist
5) Melancholia

Best Costume Design

1) Hugo
2) The Skin I Live In
3) The Muppets
4) My Week with Marilyn
5) The Artist

Best Original Score

1) The Girl with Dragon Tattoo
2) The Artist
3) Take Shelter
4) The Skin I Live In
5) Contagion

Best Original Song

1) “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets
2) “Life’s A Happy Song” from the Muppets
3) “Lay Your Head Down” from Albert Nobbs