2012 Davis Award Winners and Favorite Scenes of the Year!


lesmiserables_1Happy Oscar Eve!  Tomorrow, the ceremony will begin at 8:00 pm Eastern Time.  The staff and I will be having a LIVE Power Hour beginning at 5:00 pm Eastern Time.  We’ll be available to take questions via phone or you can even Skype with us too.  Then at 7:00 pm ET, our LIVE Blog will begin where you can chat with us and fellow Oscar lovers about the red carpet and ceremony during the evening’s festivities.  Also, our Oscar pool is still open and awaiting your picks.  Winners will get all the Best Picture nominees on DVD or Blu-Ray as they become available.  Remember to check out all the final predictions to guide you through the process.

A little more than a month ago, I began revealing my annual Davis Award nominees for my personal ballot for 2012.  I’ll be revealing my winners here on Oscar eve and where my votes would have gone if I was voter, both nominees and winners.  I’ve also chosen my 15 favorite scenes from all the films I saw last year.

2012 was a year to remember for film.  I’ve never witnessed so many breathtaking film achievements that I’ll be sure to remember years from now.  For me, 2012 was the year of the Documentary.  I know they’re not usually popular with the demographic that the Awards Circuit serves but if any of you love movies, a good documentary is sure to leave you just as satisfied as any blockbuster or independent film.

I’m appreciative of my entire staff that have grown to be like family (yes…even Mark Johnson).  More importantly, I’m grateful for our entire readership as they continue to challenge us to be better and dare us to be better on a daily basis.  We look forward to talking movies with you this 2013.  Tuesday, I’ll reveal my Year-In-Advanced Predictions for the 2014 ceremony and we will kick off new series and articles that the staff has been working on.

The winners are down below:

Best Motion Picture

  • Amour
  • Arbitrage
  • Argo
  • Les Miserables
  • Lincoln
  • The Painting (Le Tableau)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Searching for Sugar Man
  • West of Memphis
  • Zero Dark Thirty

WINNER: Les Miserables

Best Achievement in Directing

  • Amy Berg – West of Memphis
  • Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
  • Michael Haneke – Amour
  • Tom Hooper – Les Miserables
  • Nicholas Jarecki – Arbitrage

WINNER: Tom Hooper for Les Miserables

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
  • Logan Lerman – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
  • Jean-Louis Tringnant – Amour

WINNER: Joaquin Phoenix for The Master

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
  • Emayatzy Corinealdi – Middle of Nowhere
  • Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
  • Naomi Watts – The Impossible
  • Michelle Williams – Take this Waltz

WINNER: Emmanuelle Riva for Amour

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Garrett Hedlund – On the Road
  • Dwight Henry – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Michael Pena – End of Watch
  • Eddie Redmayne – Les Miserables
  • Sam Rockwell – Seven Psychopaths

WINNER: Dwight Henry for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Doona Bae – Cloud Atlas
  • Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
  • Kelly Reilly – Flight
  • Susan Sarandon – Arbitrage
  • Kerry Washington – Django Unchained

WINNER: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables

Best Original Screenplay

  • Nicholas Jarecki – Arbitrage 
  • David Ayer – End of Watch
  • Wes Anderson & Roman Copppola – Moonrise Kingdom
  • Jean-Francois Laguionie, Anik Leray – The Painting (Le Tableau)
  • Mark Boal – Zero Dark Thirty

WINNER: Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Chris Terrio – Argo
  • Richard Linklater & Skip Hollandsworth – Bernie
  • William Nicholson – Les Miserables
  • Tony Kushner – Lincoln
  • Stephen Chbosky – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

WINNER: Tony Kushner for Lincoln

Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble

  • Les Miserables
  • Lincoln
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Seven Psychopaths
  • Silver Linings Playbook

WINNER: Lincoln

Best Achievement in Production Design

  • Alex DiGerlando – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Simon Bowles – Hyde Park on Hudson
  • Eugenio Caballero – The Impossible
  • Eve Stewart– Les Miserables
  • Rick Carter, Jim Erickson, Peter T. Frank– Lincoln

WINNER: Rick Carter, Jim Erickson, Peter T. Frank for Lincoln

Best Achievement in Cinematography

  • Masanobu Takayanagi – The Grey
  • Danny Cohen – Les Miserables
  • Claudio Miranda – Life of Pi
  • Mihai Malaimaire, Jr. – The Master
  • Ron Fricke – Samsara

WINNER: Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi

Best Achievement in Costume Design

  • Jacqueline Durran – Anna Karenina
  • Dinah Collin – Hyde Park on Hudson
  • Paco Delgado – Les Miserables
  • Joanna Johnston – Lincoln
  • Colleen Atwood – Snow White & the Huntsman

WINNER: Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina

Best Achievement in Film Editing

  • William Goldenberg – Argo
  • Lee Smith – The Dark Knight Rises
  • Chris Dickens – Les Miserables
  • Billy McMillin – West of Memphis
  • William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor – Zero Dark Thirty

WINNER: William Goldenberg for Argo

Best Achievement in Makeup

  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Impossible
  • Les Miserables
  • Lincoln

WINNER: Lincoln

Best Achievement in Sound

  • The Avengers
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Les Miserables
  • Skyfall
  • Zero Dark Thirty

WINNER: Les Miserables

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

  • The Avengers
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Flight
  • The Impossible
  • Life of Pi

WINNER: Life of Pi

Best Original Score

  • Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer – Cloud Atlas
  • Danny Elfman – Frankenweenie
  • Mychael Danna – Life of Pi
  • Pascal Le Pennec – The Painting
  • Alexandre Desplat – Rise of the Guardians

WINNER: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer for Cloud Atlas

Best Song From/Used in a Motion Picture

  • “Ancora Qui” from Django Unchained
  • “Freedom” from Django Unchained
  • “Who Did That to You?” from Django Unchained
  • “Skyfall” from Skyfall
  • “Dull Tool” from This is 40

WINNER: “Who Did That to You?” from Django Unchained


15. “I See a lot of Lawbreakers…” from Magic Mike

magicmike-lawbreakerI wasn’t a fan of Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike.  Found it very hard to engage with but there was no denying the outstanding and charismatic turn by Matthew McConaughey and in his opening monologue, he brings forth the film’s biggest laughs.

14. The Crash from The Grey

grey2One of the underrated gems of 2012 that showcased why Masanobu Takayanagi is the next great Director of Photography working today.  As Liam Neeson imagines his wife, cuddled in bed, and then abruptly ripped away in a crash that leaves him and a crew stranded in frigid temperatures, the film begins to soar.

13. Cid Becomes the Rainmaker from Looper

LOOPER-cidAs Loopershield Mark Johnson, places this film in the highest regard, there’s one scene in particular where the film takes awesome to a whole new level.  As our little enigmatic boy falls down a flight of stairs and a beautiful Emily Blunt, in slow motion, runs towards the door, grabbing our young Joseph Gordon-Levitt with her, we see the nature of a future monster come alive.

12. The Cemetery Shootout from Seven Psychopaths

seven-psychopaths-still06-620xNot to mention that Sam Rockwell delivers one of his finest turns yet, this spoof, or real-life depiction, I’m not sure yet, of screenwriters fusing comedy, action, and independent cinema together in a dynamic way.

11. “Puny God” from The Avengers

punygod_avengersDo we really need an explanation?  No one can stop the Hulk.  Challenge him, even if you are a God, and he’ll use you as a broomstick and wipe the floor with you.

10. The Monsters Unleashed from The Cabin in the Woods

cabin-in-the-woods-monsters-attackAs the film revolutionizes the monster and horror genre, an elevator bell rings before all hell breaks loose on a business floor where zombies, dragons, the strangers, and blue merman make everyone wish they had taken a sick day.

9. The Plane Crash from Flight

la-not-coming-to-an-airline-near-you-flight-20-001After seeing a hungover Whip Whitaker take a nap in the cockpit, Zemeckis’ film captures emotion in the air as we witness a genuine heroic act from a concerned Katerina, and pure fear and adrenaline in what can only be described as my worst nightmare.

8. The Reading of the Votes from Lincoln

LincolnJonesBallotOne of the brilliant directorial choices from Steven Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner is to have the full reading of all the votes of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Despite obviously knowing how the vote turns out, we share the anxious waiting to find our country’s dirtiest stain begin to wiped away.

7. Opening Airjack from The Dark Knight Rises

dkr_hardyShowing the clever-minded process behind Bane in this opening action sequence, Christopher Nolan allowed us to get fixated immediately into the conclusion of his Batman trilogy.  ‘The fire rises…” lets us know we’ll be in for a hell of a ride.

6. The Getaway from Argo

ARG-FP-008It’s interesting how real, historical events we know the outcome to, can take a dramatic effect in films.  Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio team up to make a presumed simple escape process and have us sit at the edge of our seats, hearts pounding, and just wanting to know, what the hell was Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy) was saying in Farsi.

5. “Is this Sugar?” from Searching for Sugar Man

SEARCHING-FOR-SUGAR-MAN-1080-1As Searching for Sugar Man takes a beautiful turn in documentary filmmaking, the big reveal about this musician that killed himself on stage with either a gun or a tank full of gasoline, is so tender and exciting, the music bleeds from the sunglasses as he looks out of his Detroit window and speaks to us for the first time.

4. “Where do you want to go?” from Zero Dark Thirty

chastain_zd30If Oscar wanted to do Jessica Chastain justice, this scene would be her Oscar clip for the ceremony.  A blank stare, gazing out into the side of an airplane where casualties run through her mind, and a tear falls subtly down her cheek is one of the single best instances of human emotion captured on film.  No words needed.  The picture above isn’t it because I believe it’s one that should be experienced in context.

3. Bane Breaks Batman’s Back from The Dark Knight Rises

dkr_breaksbackWhat’s greater than seeing a hero beat the bad guy is seeing the hero fall.  In a battle where Batman meets his match, both physically and mentally, Bane reveals his knowledge about who Batman is, breaking him down with every word and every blow.

2. “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables

hathaway_dreamedadreamWhile many have problems with Tom Hooper and Danny Cohen’s choice to shoot many of the key scenes in Les Miserables up close, I found the portrait as intimate as any musical I’ve watched in years.  Anne Hathaway’s heart pouring following her first “client” is so powerful that even the most vocal Les Miz haters can find some redemption with Fantine’s big number.

1. “If you blink, we go back to the start..” from The Master

master_process“Freddie Quell.  Freddie Quell. Freddie Quell” — Joaquin Phoenix’s slurred Freddie Quell repeats his name as Lancaster Dodd performs his first “process.”  Besides being the finest acting piece of the year, Paul Thomas Anderson conducts this orchestra of acting and giving them the words to deliver their two finest performances.

Discuss your personal ballots and favorite scenes of the year!

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Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of AwardsCircuit.com. Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He’s also an active member of New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times, CNN.com, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.
  • Ben

    My top ten Scenes in order-

    10. Skyfall – Sniper Scene
    9. Lawless – Bridge shootout
    8. The Do-Deca Pentathlon – The Do-Deca Pentathlon montage
    7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Tunnel scene
    6. Seven Psychopaths – Serial Killer killing
    5. The Comedy – Driving the taxi
    4. Zero Dark Thirty – Storming the house
    3. Take This Waltz- “Video Killed the Radio Star”
    2. Killer Joe – Finale
    1. Bernie – The shooting + “76 Trombones”

    • Clayton Davis

      I wanted to put something from “Perks” and couldnt decide anything.

  • Alex

    You should have included ¨Do you hear the people sing?¨

    • Clayton Davis

      Wanted to.

  • Steve Glansberg

    Wow, most of my favorite scenes from the year are already on your list (#14-10, 7, 3, 1). I would add the opening compound riot in Argo, the closing compound raid in Zero Dark Thirty, the rain shootout, beating of Ray Liotta, and Jackie Cogan’s closing speech in Killing Them Softly, the neon lit Shanghai battle in Skyfall, “blame Ernest Hemingway” and the dance-off in Silver Linings Playbook, the opening monologue in End of Watch, Big Daddy’s confused posse in Django Unchained, the shocking workplace shooting in Bourne Legacy, the drug phases in 21 Jump Street, and most every fight in Haywire and the Raid.

    What a good year for movies. There was a little something of everything, a high quality representative for nearly every genre. And to think it was looking like a slow year last June.

  • Will

    Clayton your love for Arbitrage is fantastic, I love that film as well and have very high hopes for Jarecki. Extremely disappointed Gere couldn’t get a nom from that one.

    And I know I dreamed a Dream is the highlight of the film, but the way Hooper staged One Day More was just pure cinema. That number really floored me. Good picks all around.

    • Clayton Davis


      I was hoping for Arbitrage in at least screenplay this year but couldn’t even manage that. Likely not enough voters saw it. Small film.

      One Day More, Do You Hear the People Sing?, and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables were all in contention. Unfortunately, I didn’t want a list that reads “Top Scenes of Les Mis”

  • JamDenTel

    Totally agree with #1, 10, 11, and 12 (which would be my own #1); I remain obstinate on #2, though. I don’t hate LES MIS, but I found Hathaway’s work there to be overwrought, and not in a good way. To this list I would add:
    – The “entr’acte” from HOLY MOTORS
    – The whole dinner-table scene from DJANGO UNCHAINED
    – The confrontation between Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta in SAVAGES (“Stop telling me to think!”)
    – The accusation scene in RED HOOK SUMMER (It comes out of nowhere and really knocks you for a loop)
    – The “What a…BITCH!” scene in DAMSELS IN DISTRESS
    – The opening scene of SINISTER (one of the best cold opens for a horror film I’ve ever seen)
    – Either of James Gandolfini’s scenes in KILLING THEM SOFTLY

  • arthur schiavelli

    Silver Linings Playbook – diner scene (Jennifer Lawrence is amazing in the scene)

  • Ryan

    15. Valjean at the Church – Les Miserables
    14. The Ship Sinks – Life of Pi
    13. The Burial – Frankenweenie
    12. “We Are Infinite” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    11. Ralph Wrecks the Kart – Wreck-It Ralph
    10. Coulson Dies – The Avengers
    9. The Stories Connect – Cloud Atlas
    8. “How Safe Do You Feel?” – Skyfall
    7. Dancing Tournament and Finale – Silver Linings Playbook
    6. The Screentest – Argo
    5. Lincoln Leaves the White House – Lincoln
    4. Seeing the Future – Looper
    3. “Anyone Can Be a Hero” – The Dark Knight Rises
    2. Storm of God – Life of Pi
    1. I Dreamed a Dream – Les Miserables