Oscar Rewrite: 2012


Best Picture: Argo

A brilliant script about a fake script, Argo offered the thrills of Zero Dark Thirty without the controversy; the politics of Lincoln without the length; and the humor of Django without the excess, all while celebrating how Hollywood imagination can change the world. Who doesn’t love that?

Best Director: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)

Ang Lee did what James Cameron (Avatar) and Martin Scorsese (Hugo) couldn’t: legitimize 3D with a Best Director win. Lee took a Yann Martel fable that was widely thought impossible to adapt and transformed it into a serious commentary on why we choose to tell (and believe) certain stories. More than just Mowgli and Shere Khan on a lifeboat, Life of Pi is a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Parable.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

Every great actor has his magnum opus, and for Daniel Day-Lewis, it was his performance as Abraham Lincoln, becoming the first ever to win Best Actor three times. While Argo was the safer pick for Best Picture, Spielberg’s biopic may fulfill its own prophecy: “If you could look into the seeds of time, which will grow the largest?” Lincoln will sprout forever, despite its melodramatic opening and overwrought ending, with plenty of Euclid lessons left to teach from the greatest actor of this generation.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook / The Hunger Games)

We’re attempted to give this one to Emmanuelle Riva for Amour, but we’re already correcting her snub for Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959). So, this statue belongs to Jennifer Lawrence, who stole the show in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook while crushing the box office as Katniss Everdeen.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz (Django) Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained / The Avengers)

After Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino directed Christoph Waltz to another Oscar here. But it was Samuel L. Jackson who gave the most diverse supporting actor work of 2012, from Leo DiCaprio’s Uncle Tom in Django: Unchained to his superhero-assembling Nick Fury in The Avengers.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables / The Dark Knight Rises)

Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)  Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)

After The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow reunited with screenwriter Mark Boal to detail the hunt for Osama Bin Laden with plenty of trade craft and rising stars: Jessica Chastain (Interstellar), Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby), not to mention a cameo from James Gandolfini as Leon Panetta. Fifty years from now, we’ll look back at Bigelow & Boal as the collaborative lens through which we interpret this time of war, proving film cameras can deliver the most powerful shots.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo (Chris Terrio from Tony Mendez’s book) Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar & Ben Zeitlin from Alibar’s play)

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