Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oscar Madness!

It's Oscar weekend, friends, and I've come out of hiding to make my picks and predictions for tomorrow night's festivities.  For the first time in a long time, the major studios have actually released some quality pictures that racked up a bunch of nominations, so instead of spending this weekend scrambling to see little indie films that never came anywhere near my small town multiplex, I'm relaxing.  I've seen seven of the nine nominees, and I'm probably going to see one of those this weekend before the ceremony.  (Beasts of the Southern Wild is on DVD -- might as well see it!)  This is the most relaxed I've been on Oscar weekend in years.  Thank you, Hollywood!

With that, I'm ready to make my predictions with a much more solid knowledge base than I've had in a while, too.  I'm making my predictions, but I'm also sharing how I would vote if I were lucky enough to be a member of the Academy.

The nominees:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty 
WHO WILL WIN:  About a month ago, I kind of thought Lincoln had this thing locked up.  And then a funny thing happened.  The Academy snubbed Ben Affleck for his beautiful direction of Argo.  It was a dick move on the part of the Academy, and the industry reacted passionately.  First, Argo took Best Picture at the Golden Globes, an award decided before the nominations came out.  Then, Argo just started winning EVERYTHING.  I think it might have even won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club.  The general consensus is that Argo is unstoppable at this point.  
IF I COULD VOTE....:  This is a really tough one.  I loved Argo, but I also really loved Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook.  All three are smart, funny, engaging films that stuck with me for days after I saw them.  If I could vote, though, I think I would cast my vote for Silver Linings Playbook.  I love the heart at the core of this film.  It never wallows in sentimentality but creates real, flawed and yet still lovable characters that you root for.  There is an optimism in Silver Linings that is infectious.  Plus, wouldn't it be nice to see a comedy like this take the award?

Bradley Cooper/Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis/Lincoln
Hugh Jackman/Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix/The Master
Denzel Washington/Flight
WHO WILL WIN:  I have a hard time imagining a scenario where Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't win this.  His performance is a master class in character transformation.  He is absolute perfection in this role.
IF I COULD VOTE.....:  Yeah, I'd vote for Daniel Day-Lewis.

Jessica Chastain/Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence/Silver Linings Playbook
Emanuelle Riva/Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis/Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts/The Impossible
WHO WILL WIN:  Here is where Silver Linings will get its acting victory.  Jennifer Lawrence pretty much owned this film, and this gives the Academy the chance to recognize the Next Big Thing before she either loses her heat (ala Hillary Swank) or gets sucked into crappy box office fare that dulls her shine (ala Angelina Jolie).  Besides, J.Law went toe to toe with Robert DeNiro and ROCKED it.  How do you not recognize that?
IF I COULD VOTE....: Again, I'd go with Lawrence here, although I have a feeling if I'd seen The Impossible, I might be pulling for Naomi Watts.  (The previews for that movie KILL me!)

Alan Arkin/Argo
Robert De Niro/Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman/The Master
Tommy Lee Jones/Lincoln
Christoph Waltz/Django Unchained
WHO WILL WIN:  I think this is the toughest of the night to call.  I think Tommy Lee Jones was the early favorite, but it seems as though things are cooling off for him whether it's because of his surly demeanor or more people seeing the other nominees.  Christoph Waltz won the Globe, but I could see the Academy shrugging him off here since he just won three years ago for his mesmerizing work in Inglorious Basterds.  Lately, it seems as if pendulum of love is swinging toward Robert De Niro.  It's been more than thirty years since De Niro went home with an Oscar (for Raging Bull) and twenty since his last nomination (for Cape Fear).  Granted, it's been a twenty years filled with a lot of questionable film choices on the part of the man many consider the greatest living American actor (Little Fockers?  Really, Bobby?) and lately, he seems more like he's doing a poor man's imitation of DeNiro on screen rather than acting.  His work in Silver Linings, though, is pretty gorgeous and the first time in a long time where it felt like DeNiro was actually enjoying his work and not just cashing a paycheck.
IF I COULD VOTE....:  This is a tough call, but I'm going with Jones.  I absolutely loved his work in Lincoln.  I thought it was impassioned  intelligent, and provided an emotional gravitas.

Amy Adams/The Master
Sally Field/Lincoln
Anne Hathaway/Les Miserables
Helen Hunt/The Sessions
Jacki Weaver/Silver Linings Playbook
WHO WILL WIN:  Does anyone really think it won't be Anne Hathaway?
IF I COULD VOTE....:  I really loved Sally Field's work in Lincoln, but Anne Hathaway had be spellbound.  What she accomplished with her performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" is overwhelmingly beautiful.  I felt every ounce of Fantine's pain.  She proved that musicals can have grit and passion and are more than just pretty people singing pretty songs.

Michael Haneke/Amour
Benh Zeitlin/Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Lee/Life of Pi
David O. Russell/Silver Linings Playbook 
Steven Spielberg/Lincoln
WHO WILL WIN:  I initially thought Spielberg might get Oscar number three here, but I'm leaning more toward Ang Lee who accomplished a lot of major miracles in bringing the seemingly unfilmable Life of Pi to the screen.
IF I COULD VOTE...:  Well, I'd write in Ben Affleck who is quickly becoming one of our finest working directors.  But since the Academy doesn't allow write-ins, I'm going with Ang Lee if only to prove to him that I've forgiven him for Hulk.

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