Movie awards race a wide-open one

05:00 AM, Jan 18, 2013

This image released by NBC shows Ben Affleck with his award for best director for 'Argo' during the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater) (Paul Drinkwater)/


If you like movies and you like a wide-open horse race, this awards season is for you. Only Daniel Day-Lewis is a shoo-in as Abraham Lincoln.

All the other races are up for grabs, even in the best picture category. Personally, I think Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is the clear champion of 2012, a riveting and brilliantly made historical masterpiece. However, both the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards went for Ben Affleck’s excellent CIA thriller Argo.

The Globes muddied the waters even more because they routinely put dramas and comedies/musicals in two different categories. So, they honored Les Miserables with a win in that latter category. Thus, the Globes lose a lot of their potential influence on Oscar voters because they dilute their winner’s circle.

In addition, the Globes put Silver Linings Playbook in the comedy/musical comedy, even though it’s a dramedy, at best. I sense that Playbook may offer Lincoln its toughest competition at the Oscars, even though it failed to win anything but an award for Jennifer Lawrence at the Globes, and its director, David O. Russell, has been ignored across the board (though he does boast an Oscar nomination).

The other major difference between the Academy Awards and both the Globes and Critics’ Choice honors is the makeup of the voters. The foreign film writers and the broadcast film critics are the voters for those two early award shows, respectively. The Oscars are honors from the filmmaker’s peers, their fellow workers and sometimes, competitors.

People in the industry often view things differently than those on the outside, for lots of reasons, good and bad, including artistry, box office success, friendship, and even whether a contender is overdue because of earlier achievements.

Of the various early award shows, the most consistently on-the-money predictor has been the Directors Guild of America, at least for potential winners in the best director and best picture category. They’ll be awarded at ceremonies on Saturday, Feb. 2.

The DGA nominees are Ben Affleck for Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark
Thirty, Tom Hooper for Les Miserables, Ang Lee for Life of Pi and Steven Spielberg for Lincoln.

Silver Linings Playbook would seem to be at a disadvantage in the Oscar race, since director David O. Russell wasn’t even nominated by the DGA. But he was nominated at the Oscars.

Meanwhile, Bigelow, Hooper, and Affleck all failed — inexplicably — to secure Oscar nominations, even though it is directors who select for that category, and many are presumably also in the DGA. Instead, the Oscar director nominations are for Lee, Russell, Spielberg, plus two offbeat choices, 70-year-old Austrian Michael Haneke for Amour and young first-time New York director Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

See what I mean? This is a very strange and unpredictable year for the Academy Awards.

In addition, box office returns tell us you have seen many more of the contending films than in previous years. In other words, come Feb. 24 you’ll have more invested in the Oscar choices than you have for a long time. And there will be plenty of opportunities to be surprised.

A NIGHT FOR CORA. Musicians and friends are getting together to raise money for Cora Holliday, well-known in the community for her work previously as manager at Parkleigh, and more recently at the desk and arts department of the Jewish Community Center. Holliday previously lost a leg to diabetes and then recently had her other leg amputated, and friends are organizing to help her retrofit her car for hand controls so she can continue to work.

The benefit concert by Chris Wilson, Warren Paul, Jerry Falzone and Bill Welch will be at JCC’s Hart Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, preceded at 6:30 by a silent auction, which includes two $500 shopping sprees at Parkleigh. Admission is by donation at the door ($10 suggested). Organizers hope to raise $2,500 for Holliday.

CHECK IT OUT, SWEETHEART. People often ask me to name my favorite actor. I have a standard response. For the era before Marlon Brando, it is Humphrey Bogart. For the era after Brando’s arrival it is, well, Brando. But I do love Bogart. Amazingly, he died 56 years ago last Monday, at age 57.

Bogart’s son, Stephen, and the Bogart estate are organizing a Bogart Film Festival for Key Largo, Fla., (a setting for a key Bogart film) May 2-5. Key films with the master will be shown and discussed, along with other films of his era. Veteran critic Leonard Maltin will contribute expertise, and memorabilia will be on display. Attendees also will have the opportunity to sail on the restored original African Queen. For information, go to bogartfilmfestival.com.

As you can imagine, I’m giving this serious consideration, because Bogart films were “the stuff that dreams are made of.” I’ll report back to you (especially if I go).