It’s a cinephile’s dream: all of the brightest stars, directors and names coming together for a celebration of the theater. It’s a night completely dedicated to the excellence of America’s greatest media outlet and I couldn’t be more excited. Oscar Season is the only time of the year that I can justify spending all of my money to go see every nominated picture on the ballot. And of course, it’s money well spent…at least it is in my eyes.
You see this is the beauty of the Oscars. They’re the only major awards show that I can take seriously. There’s the Grammy’s, which I can barely say without wanting to gag. How can you give Taylor Swift a stage to exact her petty revenge against her ex-boyfriend that no one except for herself cares about, and still demand to be taken seriously? And don’t even get me started on the atrocities in their nominations.
Then there’s the Emmy’s, televisions finest evening. The Emmy’s aren’t totally disgusting like the Grammy’s, but they’ve gotten too predictable. You can pick the winners from a mile away. And even they don’t always get their nominations right.
The Oscars however, have held onto credibility and continue to entertain year in and year out. Maybe they don’t always get their act together (this year’s Best Director category is an abomination), but they still tend to represent the best of the cinema, even if they don’t always get it perfect. So, without further ado, let me do my best to predict the minds of the Academy.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Will win: Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Should win: Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
I feel like this shouldn’t be too much of a shock for anyone reading. Hathaway is a shoo-in for her first Academy Award and for good reason. Her critically praised performance as Fantine in Les Misérables was moving to the point of tears…and she was only in the film for half an hour! I’ve heard arguments that she didn’t do enough to impact the film, but that’s just silly. Her character, and more importantly the way she portrayed her character, were crucial to the development and mood of the story. It doesn’t hurt her that the rest of the field is noticeably weak, but if you’re still unconvinced, go watch her sing “I Dreamed a Dream” and tell me she doesn’t deserve this.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Will win: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Should win: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
This was one of the tougher categories, as there were three very worthy candidates in Waltz, Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) and Alan Arkin (Argo). But ultimately I believe Waltz will win his second consecutive nomination for Supporting Actor. His portrayal of Dr. King Schulz in Django Unchained was extremely thought provoking. As the morally repugnant, yet strangely caring bounty hunter who teaches Django how to be a ruthless killer, Waltz provided a beautiful contrast to the development of Foxx’s Django. While Django descends into an obsessive quest for vengeance, Schulz slowly but surely softens at the sight of husband and wife reunited. The two characters move in opposite directions and it couldn’t have been done better. I won’t be upset if Jones or Arkin come out as the winner, but Waltz deserves it.
Will win: Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Should win: Someone who isn’t nominated
Clearly the winner of this group is Spielberg. His work with Lincoln was brilliant as always and this should be yet another award to add to his closet. But I want to take a paragraph to lament the tragedy that is this category. You could easily replace all five of the nominees with five different names. You ready? Katherine Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty); Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained); Tom Hooper (Les Misérables); Ben Affleck (Argo); Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom). Okay so maybe Spielberg couldn’t easily be replaced. But all five of those directors deserved to be recognized for their respective works, and the nominations given by the Academy were downright shameful. I can’t even give them props for getting Spielberg right because it was almost too obvious. If I had to pick a winner, it would be Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, but sadly, she won’t be taking home her second Oscar. Color me disgusted.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Will win: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Should win: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
This category has been a two-headed monster since the announcement of the nominations, and it seems like Lawrence has emerged as the favorite. I don’t disagree that she should be considered. Her pseudo-crazy character in Silver Linings Playbook was brilliant and she pulled it off flawlessly. However, Jessica Chastain is the winner in my eyes. She carried Zero Dark Thirty on her back up until the final scene (beautifully shot and edited, by the way) and it was a far superior movie to Silver Linings. Yes, I realize that Lawrence is probably winning because she’s been passed over in the past. No, that’s not a sufficient reason to give her the award. I’m not too worried though. As long as Chastain stays away from movies like Mama, she’ll have her day soon enough.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Should win: Tie: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) & Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
I don’t care if it’s considered cheating, I genuinely cannot pick one. If my life depended on it, I’d have a winner (I won’t tell you which), but both of these turns were absolutely brilliant. Jackman’s Jean Valjean was stunning, despite unnecessary criticism of his vocal talent. I’ve always loved Jackman and it was nice to see him take a role that displayed his broad talents. Day-Lewis was equally fantastic, portraying the most controversial president in American history just as he likely was: another human being who was just doing what he thought was best. Jackman probably had a better supporting cast around him, but he also rose to the challenge of live singing, a bold move by Tom Hooper. Day-Lewis benefited from superior directing, but he also had a much more important figure to portray. I’m calling a draw.
Will win: Argo
Should win: Argo
I saw seven of the nine nominations. So maybe I’m not best qualified to make this call. But I’ve seen the seven that I feel like were most deserving and within those seven, I saw a few that I considered the favorites. It was tough making the call among Argo, Zero Dark Thirty and Les Misérables. Les Mis was probably my favorite movie of the past year and Zero Dark Thirty was probably the best technological cinematic achievement I’ve seen in quite some time. So, naturally, I go in the middle to get the winner. Argo was pure movie bliss: the directing was nearly flawless, the casting and acting was spot-on and the adrenaline was very present. Not to mention the writing, which was beautiful and very witty. Did I like it as much as I liked Les Mis? Probably not. Was it quite the movie that Zero Dark Thirty was? Not exactly. But it was the perfect combination of the two and it should pay off as a result.