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

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 25, 2013 11:50 AM
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Oscars Snubs & Surprises

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.


Jamie Foxx & Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained"
"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.

Brave Wisp
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.

Wahlberg Ted Oscars
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.

Lincoln Production Design
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.

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  • rodion | February 28, 2013 6:48 PMReply

    Of course Brave won, it was completely obvious. It was the safest movie to give an Oscar to. Nothing scary, like stop-motion or being in Black and White. Just simple and boring, the academy's favourite choice.

  • Bill | February 27, 2013 12:51 AMReply

    Words which will not be spoken by Christoph Waltz any time soon: "I'm sorry Quentin, but I must decline your flattering offer. I've looked at the script, and this just doesn't feel like it's for me."

  • Kurskij | February 26, 2013 11:45 AMReply

    While "life of pi" BP win would have been well deserved, it's not surprising "Argo" managed an upset. They had to acknowledge Affleck after the snub (even if Oscars don't technically work that way).
    The fact that Lee won Best Director is a joy by itself.

    He'll definitely have another shot at Best Picture. The man is wonderful even if he somewhat failed to give R+H wizards their due in his speech.

    Miranda on the other hand... Sure, it's not easy to get this kind of consistency out of picture riddled with VFX, but Deakins outdid himself yet again on Skyfall.

    My reaction after watching it was "Don't know what all the fuss is about, but it's a terrific looking picture".

    11th should be a charm for Roger. He is outstanding.

  • John | February 26, 2013 9:37 AMReply

    I still don't understand how Ang Lee won Best Director and how the film won best cinematography. It's almost entirely CGI. What did he do, exactly?

  • Ranch | February 26, 2013 10:30 PM

    Congratulations to Oliver Lyttelton on apparently not having any idea what a director ONCE HAD TO DO.

  • Ranch | February 26, 2013 10:28 PM

    Congratulations to Oliver Lyttelton on apparently not having any idea what a director ONCE HAD TO DO.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | February 26, 2013 10:50 AM

    Congratulations on apparently not having any idea what a director does.

  • Milano | February 25, 2013 5:09 PMReply

    Technically, "Crouching Tiger" (and Ang Lee) won best picture; it was just best foreign picture....

  • Johnny Ronny | February 25, 2013 2:46 PMReply

    "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."

    That is just so very, very wrong. An incredibly unintelligent statement.

  • cirkusfolk | February 25, 2013 12:53 PMReply

    Lets not forget the SNL factor. Harvey Weinstein had both Jen Lawrence and Cristolph Waltz host the variety show before Oscar ballots were turned in. Looks like it worked in their favor.

  • Elie | February 25, 2013 12:18 PMReply

    With Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, and now Life of Pi, the Academy clearly loves Ang Lee a lot but not enough to ever give the poor man Best Picture.

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