Best Visual Effects
Who Won: Life of Pi
Who Should Have Won: Life of Pi
Verdict: Nailed It
Richard Parker, the CGI tiger that Pi shares the screen with for most of the film, is beautiful, terrifying and downright real. Add that to the impressive work during the shipwreck and all of the other gorgeous visuals that were created in post-production and this is truly a no-brainer. Good start.
Best Sound Editing
Who Won: Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty (TIE)
Who Should Have Won: Skyfall
I mean, really? A tie? You'd think they'd have some sort of procedure in order to keep this from happening, but I guess that isn't the case. They got this one half right, anyway. Skyfall is where it is at - just watch the subway scene again and you'll see what I mean.
Best Sound Mixing
Who Won: Les Misérables
Who Should Have Won: Sinister
Verdict: BZZZZZT! Wrong
Pretty sure everybody who voted here just heard "recorded live on set" and penciled Les Mis in, no matter what. However, the un-nominated Sinister should have taken home the prize on this one. The atmosphere was thick, due in no small part to the audio mix featuring some great drone artists and wonderful work by the sound team. But, of course, the Academy would never give an Oscar to a simple horror film.
Best Original Song
Who Won: "Skyfall" - Adele and Paul Epworth
Who Should Have Won: "Skyfall" - Adele and Paul Epworth
One of the easiest predictions of the night, "Skyfall" was by far the best of the nominated songs. I agree completely with this one - I only wish that Snow White and the Huntsman would have gotten some love here for "Breath of Life" from Florence + The Machine. It certainly could have replaced "Before My Time" on the nomination list.
Best Original Score
Who Won: Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)
Who Should Have Won: Jonny Greenwood (The Master)
The fact that Greenwood's perfect score wasn't even nominated was an absolute joke and the nomination list was really weak as a whole. Nominating Lincoln, Argo and Anna Karenina instead of the superior choices in The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Cloud Atlas. The Academy really lost their way here, though at least they gave the award to a score that was worthy of being nominated.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Best Costume Design
Who Won: Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina)
Who Should Have Won: Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina)
Verdict: Sure, why not?
Unless something comes completely out of left field, this is basically a gimme category for the most well regarded period piece of the year. Nothing else caught my eye, so Anna Karenina it is.
Best Production Design
Who Won: Lincoln
Who Should Have Won: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The production value of Lincoln was obviously top-notch, so I can't really complain about this selection. I'm simply far more impressed by projects that successfully bring to life a world that never actually existed, rather than recreating the past (unless it is recreated on a massive scale). As it stands, I would have given the award to The Hobbit and considered recognizing Looper here for its near-future aesthetic, which was subtle but effective.
Who Won: William Goldenberg (Argo)
Who Should Have Won: William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor (Zero Dark Thirty)
Verdict: Solid selection
Goldenberg is getting a statue in either case, I guess I just wanted to be a bit more generous and hand out a second one. To be honest, I'm perfectly happy with both of these. I simply think that the final act of Zero Dark Thirty leans more heavily on the strength of its editor than Argo's final act does and based my decision on that - both are top notch choices.
Who Won: Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)
Who Should Have Won: Roger Deakins (Skyfall)
Verdict: Sorry, try again
Don't get me wrong, Life of Pi looks great. But an award for Cinematography should be awarded based on skill in capturing images on film, not creating them in post-production. Look at Bond's fight in the Shanghai skyscraper, shot in silhouette, amidst reflective glass walls and backlit by massive neon lights. Then look me in the eye and tell me that wasn't the most impressively shot piece of film in 2012 - and then I'll proceed to tell you that you don't know what you are talking about and should go home, you're drunk. Following Deakins my pick would have been Mihai Malaimare Jr. for his work on The Master, which was not even nominated.
Best Animated Feature Film
Who Won: Brave
Who Should Have Won: ParaNorman
Verdict: Did they even watch them?
Brave was the third best of the nominees, if I am being generous. Bland and uninspired, it was one of the weakest films that Pixar has released to date. It doesn't come close to matching the concept and charm of Wreck-It Ralph which, in turn, is weaker than ParaNorman - your real winner. As my verdict states, I'm wondering how many people simply checked the "Pixar" box on this one. A brand name buys you statuettes, it seems.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Who Won: Chris Terrio (Argo)
Who Should Have Won: Chris Terrio (Argo)
I almost handed this one to Kushner for the Lincoln screenplay, since it was an impressive feat to keep that kind of dialogue-heavy, political drama interesting for that length - but then I remembered the extreme cheese that made up the prologue and epilogue of that film and went with my next pick, which was Argo.
"Argo **** yourself!"
Best Original Screenplay
Who Won: Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Who Should Have Won: Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Verdict: They got one right, anyway
Seven Psychopaths, Ruby Sparks and Looper really deserved nods here instead of Amour, Flight and Zero Dark Thirty. But at least they got the top spot right. Django does a damn good job of balancing drama, humor and action with some amazing exchanges of dialogue throughout. An extremely easy choice from that nominee list - I think my version is a much stronger sampling.
Who Won: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Who Should Have Won: Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
This is the one category that was jacked up by the time the nominations were announced. Ang Lee was the right choice out of the nominees, but the Academy completely whiffed on their nominations. A list of nominees that included the truly superior directorial efforts of the year would have featured: Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty). The Academy really screwed the pooch with this one.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Won: Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Who Should Have Won: Charlize Theron (Snow White and the Huntsman)
Pretty sure everybody gave up on this category as soon as that teaser trailer came out with Anne singing "I Dreamed a Dream," but I'm not about to give Les Mis the satisfaction of being able to put "Oscar Winner" on the Blu-Ray case. No, instead I'm giving the award to the most entertaining scenery-chewing villain since Gary Oldman in The Fifth Element. Sure, it is a bad movie, but Theron single-handedly makes it entertaining every time she is on screen.
Best Supporting Actor
Who Won: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Who Should Have Won: Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
Verdict: Toughest choice, by far
If I could give this award to Leonardo L. Waltz-Jackson for his/their work in Django, I absolutely would. As it stands, I would have given this one to Leo, though all three are absolutely deserving. This is truly the most competitive category, as Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones are both worthy of a statuette as well and it is very tough for me not to award a five-way tie. Loved all of those performances.
Who Won: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Who Should Have Won: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
What to say here? It was a two-horse race between Emmanuelle Riva and Jennifer Lawrence - and my choice was Lawrence by a hair.
Who Won: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Who Should Have Won: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Verdict: Admiral Obvious
Let's be perfectly honest, this one was a lock from the moment it was announced that DDL would be playing Abe. I have nothing against this pick, because both of these performances were absolutely brilliant. I found Pheonix's raw energy as Freddy Quell a bit more engaging than the more relaxed and sedate role of Lincoln, but that's pure personal preference. Daniel Day-Lewis bein' a boss, setting Academy records and giving the best speech of the night is totally fine with me.
Who Won: Argo
Who Should Have Won: Django Unchained
Argo wasn't the best film of the year, but it was the second-best out of the nominees. So, while I wouldn't have voted for it, I've no quarrel with those that did. The worst part of this category was that it included Les Misérables, rather than any number of the far superior films that didn't get the recognition that they deserved (eg. Skyfall, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Looper, etc.).
So, there you have it. They did right by a lot of categories, but when they missed... it was often by a long shot.