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Oscars: The Snubs & The Surprises Of The 85th Academy Awards

Oscars: The Snubs & The Surprises Of The 85th Academy Awards

The 2013 Oscar season finally came to an end with the 85th Academy Awards. The major prizes of the night went to Argo,” which, as expected, won Best Picture, Ang Lee took Best Director, while Christoph Waltz, Anne Hathaway, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence won the acting prizes.

For the most part, the ceremony didn’t have one last final shocker: many of the more high profile results had narrowed down enough that they could be guessed (there was more than one joke during the telecast about Anne Hathaway‘s expected win for Best Supporting Actress). But that didn’t mean there weren’t a few eyebrow-raising announcements, and a few films or people who were ultimately denied a prize that many thought they’d take. Below, we’ve run down the snubs, upsets and surprises of this year’s Oscar ceremony. As always, share your thoughts below.


Django Unchained
The love was spread pretty widely this year (four wins for “Life of Pi,” three for “Argo” and “Les Miserables,” two for “Lincoln” and “Skyfall,”), but the big surprise, to us at least, was “Django Unchained.” The film even getting a Best Picture nomination wasn’t deemed to be a sure thing, and with five nods, it was way behind most of the other big nominees. But there was more proof that you should never undervalue Harvey Weinstein, with the film coming away with two awards, in two of the more surprising wins of the night. It’s not that no one had predicted them — the categories were two of the tougher ones — but most predicted that Best Supporting Actor was between Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones, while Mark Boal and Michael Haneke were equally likely to take the Best Original Screenplay prize. It’s a real indicator that, after “Inglourious Basterds,” Tarantino is now a firm favorite of the Academy, and we wonder if ‘Django’ might have turned out to be closer to a best Picture win than most were anticipating.

Ok, so we did call this one. But even we were a little surprised when “Brave” took the award for Best Animated Feature; the Pixar film got better notices than predecessor “Cars 2,” but not by much, and in a competitive (but unexceptional) category, had several close contenders, including two others from Disney. But ultimately, it was “Brave” that they liked the most, its BAFTA win two weeks ago showing the way to its vanquishing of “Frankenweenie,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “ParaNorman” and “The Pirates!” It feels to us that an intimate story aimed principally at female audiences ultimately went down better with voters than it did with the animation geeks, but the victory still raised a lot of eyebrows, and ruined a lot of people’s Oscar pools.

A Tie!
There have only been six ties in the history of Oscar — the statistical chances of it occurring are slim enough that it’s surprising that it’s happened at all. The first was in 1932, when Frederic March and Wallace Beery came within a vote of each other (which at the time meant a tie was declared) for “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” and “The Champ.” Seventeen years later, “A Chance To Live” and “So Much For So Little” split the Best Documentary Short prize, while Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Streisand shared Best Actress in 1968 for ‘The Lion In Winter” and “Funny Girl.” In 1986, “Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got” and “Down And Out In America” both won Best Documentary, and the most recent until yesterday came in 1995, when “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life” (directed by “The Thick Of It” star Peter Capaldi) and “Trevor” tied for Best Live-Action Short. As such, it was definitely one of the big shocks of the show (even if it came for a small category, in Best Sound Editing) when “Skyfall” and “Zero Dark Thirty” came in a dead heat.

Best Production Design
Lincoln,” The most nominated movie of them all, only took two prizes, but one of them was a surprise, coming in the shape of Best Production Design. The dusty detail of Rick Carter and Jim Erickson‘s work in the film was undeniably fine, but “Anna Karenina” was showier, and a BAFTA win had indicated that “Life Of Pi” could be in contention as well (also considering it did well last night in other other tech categories). So Carter and Erickson’s prize certainly came as a surprise to us, as deserved as it was.


The “Skyfall” Team Lose Again
007 film “Skyfall” (which won two awards) was notable for having a number of bridesmaids, so to speak, among its crew. Roger Deakins‘ nod was his tenth without a win, composer Thomas Newman was on eleven nods with, again, no victory, and Greg P. Russell, up for Sound Mixing, had a whopping sixteen nominations  without being asked up on stage. And yet, despite the success of “Skyfall” elsewhere in the evening, all three lost out. Part of the reason is probably down to the Oscar ballots, which list the film, rather than the nominee (even for Best Director, interestingly enough). So even if the voters knew who Deakins was (and it’s entirely possible that many don’t), they’re still going to be more inclined to go for the film that they thought was prettiest, in this case “Life of Pi.” 

“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Silver Linings Playbook” & “Lincoln”
Not every film that poured millions into their awards campaigns justified the expense. “Zero Dark Thirty,” an early front-runner thanks to critical plaudits, picked up only a single award, for Best Sound Editing (and even that proved to be a tie). The writing had been on the wall for a while, but it still has to be disappointing (especially as it was the best of the nominated films). Meanwhile, “Silver Linings Playbook,” which some had touted as having the potential for some major upsets, also took only the single prize from its eight nods, Jennifer Lawrence‘s Best Actress trophy. Not a disaster, but Harvey must be feeling the sting this morning. Finally, Steven Spielberg‘s “Lincoln,” the most nominated film, won only two prizes from twelve nods. It’s not quite “The Color Purple” (which went 0 for 11 back in the day), but for a film that many had assumed ahead of release could be a beast, it’s not a happy result.

Ang Lee Denied Best Picture Again
Argo” winning Best Picture was hardly a surprise, but it did mark the second time that Ang Lee has won Best Director without the film itself taking Best Picture (Lee’s victory for “Brokeback Mountain” was trumped by “Crash” wining the big prize). It’s hardly a “snub” we suppose; Lee joins a fairly exclusive club of people who’ve won Best Director twice. But one wonders what it’ll take for a Lee-directed film to win Best Picture. Perhaps his mootedCleopatra” with Angelina Jolie?

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