2013 Oscars Challenge: [20] Silver Linings Playbook – Eight Nominations

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BEST PICTURE

The Oscars are never easy to predict. Sure, some categories are easier than others. There are locks, safe bets, and poor choices in all categories, but it always come down to a hand full of nominees that makes predicting hard. Following the Toronto International Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award win for “Silver Linings Playbook”, Roger Ebert predicted this film would go on to win it all. Now that’s not an exact science, but both “The King’s Speech” (2010) and “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) garnered that award as well and went on to win Best Picture. So it’s a safer bet than most to predict “Silver Linings Playbook” to win.

It’s also set up nicely with the appropriate awards to win. It not only has a Best Picture nomination, but it has the Best Directing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing to back it up. As with most years, the common sensibility is that if it’s the best film of the year, it was probably the best in most of the categories. Also producing four acting nominations is a huge feat and though it’s more of a testament to the director, having that many great performances in one film has to set it up on a higher playing field than most films. Looking to other awards from the season, David O. Russell has a DGA nomination that places him in one of three that have all the “prerequisites” normally needed to win Best Picture (though there are never guarantees).

“Silver Linings Playbook” faces to major adversaries in “Lincoln” and “Argo”. “Argo” is the lesser of the two evils, as Ben Affleck failed to acquire a Best Directing nominations. Since Best Picture and Best Directing almost always go hand in hand, it is slightly more difficult to lobby for “Argo” winning it all. It also lacks any acting nominations, which slightly hinders it as well. But the fact that it’s cleaning up at other awards like the Producers Guild and the Golden Globes puts it back on the map. However, there would be a lot of history making and upsets needed for it to win.

“Lincoln”, on the other hand, is matching “Silver Linings Playbook” shot for shot. It has all the prerequisites, including the DGA nomination and the Academy’s nomination for Best Directing. It also has Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing nominations along with its 12 total nomination, 4 more than that of “Playbook’s”. Also, with three nominations for acting and a locked win for Daniel Day-Lewis, it even matches “Playbook” in that sense.

So historically, Best Picture should come down to “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook”, which would give this film a 50/50 shot of winning. Even with “Argo” on the rise, “Playbook” still beats out six other films to make it at least the third best film of the year in the Academy’s standards, which isn’t a bad consolation prize. In my personal opinion, “Lincoln” stands a better shot of winning Best Picture, but I would not be upset one bit to see “Playbook” with the prize.

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominated Role: Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a man struggling to cope with daily life following his release from a psychiatric facility.

Here’s how you break this down, “Silver Linings Playbook” produces one of the best performances from Bradley Cooper that we have ever witnessed from him and for that we walk away with admiration. But in the grand scheme of this year’s Academy Awards, that could mean absolutely nothing come awards time, as with the acting categories stacked this year, Cooper’s best performance of career does not quite add up to say Daniel Day Lewis’ best performance of his career. These are two completely different playing fields. The same goes for Cooper stacking up against Hugh Jackman. But don’t fret, Cooper has a long career ahead of him and if he continues with roles like Pat in “Silver Linings Playbook”, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the upcoming Oscar years.

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BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominated Role: Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany, a troubled young widow who begins a complex relationship with a man recently released from a psychiatric facility.

It’s the Jennifer Lawrence-Jessica Chastain showdown this year at the Oscars, with both leading ladies winning Golden Globes for their work, it could be a 50/50 category this year which will make or break people’s Oscar ballots. One leg up for Lawrence may be her Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, in which Jessica Chastain was nominated for as well (as was Naomi Watts). Having that win over Chastain is still no shadow of a guarantee, however.

Jennifer Lawrence is stunning her role as the widow in “Silver Linings Playbook” and although she can play the crazy, wild girl with ease, it’s the maturity in her role (which she brings to most of her roles) that sets her apart from most performances this year. To clarify, Lawrence is only 22 years old, yet in her role as Tiffany, she never comes off 22, looking and portraying someone much older than herself, which is a great sign of control in a young actress.

This year is a toss up in the Lead Actress category and I love both Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. The fact of the matter is that these women were born to be actresses, having both only started their careers less than a decade ago and both having been nominated for an Academy Award before, with Lawrence’s lead role in 2009’s “Winter’s Bone”. Although I am more partial to Lawrence’s performance this year, I would be happy with either one of these women winning this category.

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Nominated Role: Robert De Niro plays Pat Sr., the sports-obsessed father of a man recently released from a psychiatric hospital.

Robert De Niro was the dark horse performance this year in nominations. Having seen “Silver Linings Playbook” early on, I marked De Niro’s performance as one of the most impressive in his career as of late and one of my favorite performances of the year, with humor, heart, and aggression all built-in to one character.

De Niro is a force of nature. This is his seventh Academy Award nomination, his first nomination in over twenty years, and would be his third win over all, winning for Best Supporting Actor for “The Godfather Part II” (1974) and “Raging Bull” (1980). His previous nominated roles were “Taxi Driver” (1976), “The Deer Hunter” (1978), “Awakenings” (1990), and “Cape Fear” (1991).

The truth is, De Niro’s chances of winning the Academy Award is slim, with Philip Seymour Hoffman delivering a career highlighting performance in “The Master”, Christoph Waltz proving Tarantino brings out the best of him in “Django Unchained”, and both Alan Arkin and Tommy Lee Jones giving true veteran performances in “Argo” and “Lincoln”. But just having De Niro nominated feels like an honor and ending his twenty-year-plus Academy dry spell is nice in and of itself.

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BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Nominated Role: As Dolores, Jacki Weaver plays the mother of a man undergoing treatment in a psychiatric facility who agrees to vouch for his behavior upon his release.

First of all, credit must be given where credit is due, and Jacki Weaver is a phenomenal actress. Having been nominated once before for her Supporting Role in the film “Animal Kingdom” (2010), she has proven herself a valuable entity in most of her films. But I cannot help but feel like this nomination belonged to Ann Dowd for “Compliance’ this year. Not only did Dowd deliver one of the most breathtaking and shattered performances of the year, but she also had to campaign for the film with her own money, since her distributing company failed to see the point of sending out screeners to the Academy members.

Yes, Weaver brings a radiance to her role as the matriarch of the family in “Silver Linings Playbook”, but comparing her performance side by side with Dowd’s, there is no question as to who deserves to be there on Oscar night. Perhaps it was the uneasiness of the film “Compliance” that kept her from being nominated, or perhaps the Academy just worships Weaver, but regardless, this category belongs to Anne Hathaway this year, so when it all shakes out, who got nominated doesn’t entirely matter.

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BEST DIRECTING

David O. Russell was nominated for Best Directing once before, with his film “The Fighter” (2010), where he faced some of the best film-makers in the business, including Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”), David Fincher (“The Social Network”), Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), and The Cohen Brothers (“True Grit). This year is slightly different, with his real only competition belonging to Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln” and Ang Lee for “Life Of Pi”. Many are saying this could be his year.

One of the only directors to have received a Directors Guild nomination this year and an Academy Award nomination for Best Directing, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture, David O. Russell is set in all the right places to take home not only this prize, but all prizes. The film was a big winner at many of the critics awards this season, but the biggest win was the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival where critic Roger Ebert predicted that “Silver Linings Playbook” would win it all.

Personally speaking, O. Russell’s only real competition this year is Steven Spielberg. Having directed a film that produced four acting nominations in all the four major acting categories is quite a testament to one’s ability as a director in getting your actors to where they need to be. Think back to the year of “The Fighter” where both Melissa Leo and Christian Bale won both major acting awards for their performances in his film. With Jennifer Lawrence in the hot seat to win her acting award, this could prove just the win O. Russell needs to push him into the win (despite Daniel Day-Lewis locked to win Best Actor and Tommy Lee Jones a favorite for Best Supporting). And though this would have been a different conversation had Ben Affleck been nominated for his directing work for “Argo”, which just keeps winning awards, O. Russell stands a 50/50 chance of taking home this prize.

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BEST FILM EDITING

“Silver Linings Playbook” falls fairly low on my picks to win Best Film Editing this year. With highly crafted films like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Life Of Pi”, it would be hard to pick a glorified romantic comedy to win for Best Film Editing (with no disrespect intended whatsoever). This is Crispin Struthers first Academy Award nomination and a second for Jay Cassidy, having been nominated for his work on “Into The Wild” (2007).

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicting the Academy Awards is a game of scenarios, most years (which this year is shaping up to be completely unpredictable). It’s about playing out certain scenarios and going with the most sensible and popular one, even though this may conflict with how you gravitate towards favorites, if you’re solely trying to pick winners, you have to go with “popular opinion”. So here are three big scenarios in relation with Best Adapted Screenplay:

1) Probably the most popular opinion right now is that “Lincoln” wins it all. So what that would mean in most years is that “Lincoln” needs to take both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Directing to ultimately take the gold for Best Picture. So in that scenario, “Lincoln” wins.

2) Since “Silver Linings Playbook” is one of the biggest competitors for “Lincoln” in “taking it all”, O. Russell has the second most logical chance of taking Best Adapted Screenplay.

3) With “Argo” on a role, I am slowly coming to realize that I would not be surprised to see that take some awards away from the major players. Had Ben Affleck been nominated, this would be a three-way tie for who I think would win it all, but with popular vote now coming up “Argo”, what if it took Screenplay and Best Picture? Not sure that anyone would be mad. And people would be talking about it for years to come.

In my opinion, it comes down to these three films, and with “Argo” on the rise, I would not be surprised to see that cash in on a few more awards than most films not nominated for Best Directing would normally take.

REVIEW

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence give two of the best performances of the year and of their careers. The brilliance of the characters and their say-anything-do-anything mentalities not only provides for entertaining and comedic banter, but allows for both actors to drive home their exquisite and completely natural chemistry. Although the pacing is sometimes jumbled and the arguments reach points of complete inaudible insanity, these elements often end up enriching the plot, as the line between normal and mental illness grows more unclear the longer the characters interact. With heartfelt performances from key supporting players like Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook” not only succeeds comically, but also passionately, transcending the everyday romantic comedy and becoming so much more sincere and meaningful.

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// Produced by Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon, & George Parra // Written & Directed by David O. Russell // Lead Actor: Bradley Cooper // Lead Actress: Jennifer Lawrence // Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro // Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver // Editor: Jay Cassidy // Based on “The Silver Linings Playbook” by Matthew Quick //

// Dated Viewed: Sunday, January 27th, 2013 // ONLINE STREAMING //  18 films – 29 days //

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