The Nerd Is The Word: Academy Awards


Welcome to another spectacular edition of The Nerd is the Word: The Musical. In this issue, our hero teaches a group of violent street youths the power and joy of song so that they can all get college scholarships.

We are deep into award season with the next major ceremony being the 85th Academy Awards. In case you haven’t noticed, I am a major film nerd. I love movies, but in addition, I care about the work of different directors or writers and want to see the films that I enjoyed get recognized for their achievements.

This year sees a group of spectacular films and actors that have received many accolades throughout award season. Unfortunately for me, I don’t get screeners. It’s one of those sad things, not being a member of the industry. Because of that, I don’t see all of the films because A) it gets tough to find the time to go out and see them, and B) the costs associated with that become great and I have to pick and choose based on my interests.

While that is the case, I will attempt to make some picks for the top four categories (Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress) based off of what I have seen and from that has won other awards during the season.

Best Actress:

Out of the five actresses up for the award, two of them are being talked about as the only true options. First is Jessica Chastain, who plays CIA agent Maya in “Zero Dark Thirty”. Chastain was praised for her role and has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama). While not her first, this film was the one that made her a household name. The second is Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany Maxwell in “Silver Linings Playbook”. This was the third film starring Lawrence released this past year (the first two being “The Hunger Games” and “House at the End of the Street”). Lawrence also received the Golden Globe for Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. As a side note, the other actresses up for the award are Emmanuella Riva as Anne Laurent in “Amour” (being the oldest actress ever nominated for the award), Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Naomi Watts as Maria Bennett in “The Impossible”. While both women have a decent chance, my money goes to Lawrence purely for her SAG win. While both women played interesting characters, I believe the pattern will continue in the Academy Awards.

Best Actor:

The five actors up for this award create a much more difficult decision on my part for my pick. For this category, we have Lawrence’s co-star from “Silver Linings Playbook”, Bradley Cooper as Patrick Solitano; Daniel Day-Lewis as 16th president Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln” (a performance that won Day-Lewis the Golden Globe for Best Actor in Drama and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor); Denzel Washington as William Whitaker in “Flight”; Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” (which won him the Golden Globe for Best Actor in Musical or Comedy); Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell in “The Master”. Jackman and Cooper are all first time nominees for the Academy Awards. Phoenix has been nominated for Best Actor once (for “Walk the Line”) while Washington has won Best Actor once (for “Training Day”) and Day-Lewis twice (for “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood”). My pick for this will go to Day-Lewis, also for the SAG win. The SAG awards are a good indicator for Academy Award success.

Best Director:

I have issues with this category, not due to the directors nominated, but rather, the directors not nominated. The nominees for this category are Michael Haneke for “Amour”, Ang Lee for “Life of Pi”, David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook”, Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln” and Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. The missing directors are Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty” (her follow-up to “The Hurt Locker” which took home the awards for Best Director and Best Picture in 2010), Tom Hooper for “Les Miserables”, Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained” and the winner of this year’s Golden Globe and Directors Guild awards for best director, Ben Affleck for “Argo”. The omission of Affleck disappoints me. I think that “Argo” could have dominated the top slots, but it is only nominated for one of those awards. Of the directors nominated, “Silver Linings Playbook” is the only film I have seen, however, Russell did not receive director nominations from either the Golden Globes or the Directors Guild. Because of this, I will pick Spielberg for “Lincoln”, who received nominations from those two awards. Were Affleck nominated, I would have chosen him, but we will have to let the snub go this year and hope that one day Affleck will get recognized by the Academy for his directing.

Best Picture:

Here it is, this is the award that your average person cares about. The nominees are “Amour”, “Argo”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Django Unchained”, “Les Miserables”, “Life of Pi”, “Lincoln”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty”. If you read the above section, then you know where my pick is going, and that is for “Argo”. If you didn’t see the film, it comes out on Blu Ray and DVD on Feb. 19, get on it. “Argo” is based on the true story of the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979. In it, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) helps exfiltrate six members of the US Embassy staff in Iran that escaped to the Canadian ambassadors home before more than 50 staffers were taken hostage. The mission, which was declassified in 1997, involved Mendez bringing the six out of the country under the guise that they were members of a Canadian film crew (with Mendez as producer) scouting locations for a new Science Fiction film, “Argo”. The film has a compelling story, great direction and an amazing cast. Besides Affleck in the starring role, the film features fantastic performances from John Goodman (as Hollywood Make-Up Artist John Chambers), Bryan Cranston (as Mendez’s supervisor, Jack O’Donnell), Alan Arkin (as film producer Lester Siegel). Michael Parks even makes a small appearance as legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby (who created many of Marvel’s biggest heroes, such as Thor, Captain America and the Fantastic Four). This was my film of the year, without question.

Come back on Sunday, Feb. 24 for a live blog commentary of the night’s events. In the mean time, on to the pull list (for Feb. 20):

Superior Spider-Man #4 (Marvel): The story of Doc Ock’s hostile takeover of Peter Parker’s brain has been an extremely compelling story. The weekly release of this, while weighing heavily on the wallet, is something that can satisfy those who don’t like waiting a month for the next chapter.

Deadpool #5 (Marvel): I have loved the level of humor that Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn have been bringing to the series. The story arc of Deadpool re-killing former American Presidents has been absolutely fantastic (also, Posehn’s metal sensibilities have cropped up in the last issue when ‘Pool says that the upcoming murder montage should be set to Pantera’s “5 Minutes Alone”, classic!)

Be sure to find your Oscar party and get your ballot set for the upcoming ceremony. In the mean time, follow Ian Hand on Twitter @IanHand253.

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