I’ve been debating all morning whether or not to talk about the Oscars, and since I was just asked whether or not I was going to, I guess I will. My caveat is that I have seen VERY few of the nominees this year, and my perspective, as such, comes from my overall thoughts about the performers in question, from a fair amount of industry reading, and from my understanding of how Oscar politics tend to function. Additionally, I feel in no way qualified (ha) to talk about anything beyond the “major” awards, so we’ll just be looking at the Big Five. Shall we?
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Django Unchained
- Les Miserables
- Life of Pi
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Zero Dark Thirty
If I have not done so before, please allow me to express some slight frustration at the still-new “up to 10” clause here. It’s like they choose 9 nominees every year just to validate themselves, or something. Anyway. Prior to the announcement, my money had been squarely on Zero Dark Thirty. However, given the state of the nominations as a whole, I’m changing my bet to Lincoln. Because really, who doesn’t love Spielberg? I expected a smaller field this year, so the fact that they expanded out to accommodate Django Unchained, Amour, and Beasts of the Southern Wild is interesting, although it seems like a way for the Academy to make themselves look braver than they really are. Life of Pi is getting a lot of industry love because it was previously considered “unfilmable,” but Lincoln is still the front-runner here. Again, everybody loves Spielberg.
- Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
- Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
- Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
- Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
- Denzel Washington, Flight
I’ll just repeat what every film writer is saying, and what I myself said a year or so ago, upon learning that he would play the role: Daniel Day-Lewis has this in the bag. Cooper and Jackman will likely have their day, and I saw somebody refer to Denzel Washington as “the Meryl Streep of actors,” meaning if he’s in a movie, they’ll nominate him. Joaquin Phoenix is the surprise here. The Master had some early buzz, but then Phoenix made snarky comments about stumping for awards, and so he’d largely been written off. This is the most stable category this year, although John Hawkes is a major snub for his role in The Sessions. Mostly, though, I’m just wondering whether or not DDL will actually show.
- Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
- Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
- Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
- Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Some big surprises here. Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis were both outside chances, and both have pulled through, making Oscar history. Riva, at 85, is the oldest nominee ever, and Wallis, 6 at the time of filming, is the youngest. Still, this is Jessica Chastain‘s statue to lose. I don’t think that Lawrence or Watts will beat her out, and (again, not having seen any of the films in question) I don’t really think they should. She gave some major performances last year in the supporting category, and I think she’s getting her recognition now. Plus, it’s my understanding that she really carries Zero Dark Thirty.
Best Supporting Actor
- Alan Arkin, Argo
- Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
- Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
- Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
I think Best Supporting Actor is my favorite category. It’s always such a great-looking list, and this year is no exception. A very strong field indeed: all of these men already have Oscars. I have heard the most buzz in Tommy Lee Jones’ direction, and given the strength of Lincoln in general, I’d say he’s a pretty safe bet. The fun thing, though, is that you clearly cannot count any of these men out, and you can expect to see them around again soon.
Best Supporting Actress
- Amy Adams, The Master
- Sally Field, Lincoln
- Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
- Helen Hunt, The Sessions
- Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
This is, for all intents and purposes, a two-way race. Sally Field has gotten good reviews for Lincoln, but let’s face it: Anne Hathaway‘s powerhouse performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” is what she’s up against, and I don’t think she’ll make it. Plus, she’s gotten plenty of accolades over the course of her career, and Hathaway has been putting in her dues for a while now. It really is her year.
- Michael Haneke, Amour
- Ang Lee, Life of Pi
- David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
- Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
- Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
And now we come to the drama. One of the issues with allowing up to ten Best Picture nominees is that some of the directors of those films get left behind, and that is in serious evidence this year. Ben Affleck (Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (ZDT), Tom Hooper (Les Mis), and Quentin Tarantino (DU) are dealing with some mixed emotions today, for sure. The choices in this category have a direct correlation to those in the Best Picture race, and so we can fairly reasonably assume that none of their movies will win the top prize. My money is on Steven Spielberg and Lincoln to make a fairly clean sweep of the proceedings, although it can be argued that Ang Lee is seriously overdue.
The race this year has been pretty interesting, with no film staking a clear claim to Best Picture status. Adding in technical awards, Lincoln leads the field with 12 nods, and that sets up a strong challenge to all other comers. I think that voters were impressed with Life of Pi, but since it’s more a visual piece than a character-driven one, I don’t think it’ll come out on top. Silver Linings Playbook seems to be playing the “scrappy underdog” role, represented last year by The Artist, but the competition is very different this time around. Lincoln seemingly has it all: it’s a film with serious pedigree, from subject matter to supporting cast, and the truth of the matter is that the Academy almost always follows a more established route. I’m open to surprises, but this year, I don’t expect too many.
And now, your turn. What are your predictions for Oscar night?