Well, I can't believe I'm sitting down to do this again considering I had so little interest in the Oscars this year. In fact, I thought at one point that I'd finally broken my addiction to this useless, shallow charade. Yet here I am, embracing the pomp and circumstance all over again--albeit at the last possible moment. I have seen probably a record-low amount of movies from last year (although still more than most, I feel) and so I'm ridiculously under-prepared to make any sort of educated assessment or defend my own choices (especially in categories where I've seen like one or two of the nominated films). With that in mind, let's get right into it! I'm marking down who I think will win in each of the major categories with a W, and who I think should/ deserves to win with an S. And of course it would be SWeet if me and the Academy are in agreement. Haha-ha-ha-haaa... ugh. And then I'll try to give an explanation of why I think that or if I felt someone else should have been nominated (cough-Best Director category-cough). Cool? Cool.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
shoulda been nominated: Flight, Skyfall
I'm a huge fan of at least four of these, so needless to say I thought it was a good year. I really liked Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln (though I'm not on board with the consensus that the latter was the greatest thing since sliced bread), too, and Life of Pi and Django were good but not without some serious issues, while my feelings on Les Misérables are well-known at this point. For what I think deserves to win, I was waffling between Amour, Argo (which was atop my best of the year list for a while), and Zero Dark Thirty (ditto). But man, did Amour ever come out of left field and hit me like a tonne of bricks. Powerful stuff. Timeless, despairing, unflinching. Just great cinema. Argo, a huge crowd-pleaser as well as being hugely well-made and a deft balance of comedy and suspense, will ultimately take the cake, though, although a Lincoln upset may still be possible, although it will be more difficult than passing the 13th Amendment LOLOLOL I hate myself. Moving on...
Michael Haneke, Amour S
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg - Lincoln W
Behn Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
shoulda been nominated: Ben Affleck (Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), Sam Mendes (Skyfall)
Seriously, this category is garbage. Ben Affleck should win, dagnabbit! Or at least be thoroughly in the race. His movie is going to win Best Picture and he's not nominated for director. Just... what?! Well, I'll play along within the parameters of this stupid, stupid category and still try and make my predictions with this meagre material. Obviously, I'm rooting for Michael Haneke for Amour, since I find it relatively difficult to separate my favourite film from what is the best directed film. This is a bit of a close race (except for Zeitlin, which is unfortunate, since I loved Beasts, but goddamn nobody is talking about him in this race), but I'm pretty sure Spielberg's got this in the bag, and for good reason, although I do feel like Lincoln had a better script, oddly enough, than direction.
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln SW
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
shoulda been nominated: Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour), since Amour wouldn't have been the amazing thing it was without Trintignant and Riva playing so well off each other and making you feel every moment of their love and pain; maybe Daniel Craig (Skyfall), but I guess that would be too action-y for the Oscars
Rock-solid category. I loved all of 'em except Hugh Jackman, although he certainly wasn't the worst thing about Les Misérables. But do I even need to say anything? Daniel Day-Lewis has this so hard it's curious why there even are other nominees here. He's astonishing. He makes Lincoln a legend, a myth, but also a real guy with real edges and ripples of personality. Everyone knows it, especially the Academy. Look, Bradley Cooper, you did go a helluva long way towards winning me over, and in Flight, Denzel Washington was as good and intense as he's ever been, and Joaquin Phoenix was just downright mesmerizing in The Master--you couldn't take your eyes off him. But Day-Lewis was legendary. It's his year. And he'll take it handily and become the first person to ever win Best Actor three times.
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook W
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour S
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Well, as for who will probably win, it's between Chastain and Lawrence, two up-and-comers who were seriously on fire this year... and yeah, they were both tremendous. (I still have a lot of love for Wallis's brilliant turn in Beasts, don't get me wrong.) Lawrence all but burned up the screen in Silver Linings Playbook with the vitality she brought to her role and Chastain's performance of quiet determination and passion was downright heroic. I feel, if only because she also has a lot of momentum off her great work in The Hunger Games and because it's a bit of a flashier performance than Chastain's, that Lawrence has a very, very slight edge here. For me, though, nobody could touch the sheer power of Emmanuelle Riva's agonizing, impassioned, all-too-believable performance as an aging musician suffering from a slow shutdown of her body and mind from stroke. It's a performance for the ages.
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln W
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained S
Solid category again. Almost uniformly solid, which makes this difficult to pick who I think will win. Like, all of them? I suppose Tommy Lee Jones seems like the safest bet but De Niro's return to actually being halfway decent in anything may win over enough hearts to be a possible upset. Christoph Waltz may be shunned because he won too recently, but for sheer entertainment value, he's who I will be rooting for. Just a joy to behold. But yeah... Hoffman was pretty brilliant too, acting straight from the gut with just a stupid amount of intensity (he'd be my runner-up if I was in charge), and Arkin was an absolute blast. I'll be happy for any of 'em, really. I didn't even like Jones that much, the more I think on it, but he'll probably win. Hmm.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables SW
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
shoulda been nominated: Judi muthafuckin' Dench, just blowin' it outta the water in Skyfall, feisty and witty and poignant as can be. A goddamn travesty she ain't in this mix.
Well, Hathaway's got the buzz here and while I disliked Les Miz, I sure as hell liked Hathaway, so I'd say it's pretty well-deserved buzz. I liked Adams too, as well as Weaver, but they were pretty much just blips on the radar. I wasn't a huge Sally Field fan, but that may just be because I didn't think she had much to do in the movie. I guess she was about as good a Mary Todd Lincoln as could be expected. I haven't seen The Sessions but I'm reasonably sure I don't need to. But yeah, Hathaway's got this.
Best Original Screenplay
Amour, Michael Haneke W
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Flight, John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola S
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
shoulda been nominated: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Yeah, I'm going there. Takes guts to adapt your own novel into a screenplay and Stephen Chbosky succeeded with flying colours. Movie was downright magical.)
As great as all of these were except maybe Django (which had pacing issues, in my book... although maybe that's more of a directorial issue... but in this case, they're the same guy, so my point stands), Amour stands out as a heartbreaking sure-thing, beating out the in-depth character study coupled with intensity in Flight, the quirky, imaginative charms of Moonrise Kingdom, and the rigor of Zero Dark Thirty. However, as much as I loved Amour... and it was a lot... I think, especially given the 'original' part of the equation, that Moonrise Kingdom was actually the most stellar here. Anderson and Coppola sketched a brilliant, unique, and contained little snow-globe of a cinematic world here that was just a marvel to behold. It pains me to choose against the thousand little details that added up to create the wallopping impact of Amour, but the beaut that was Moonrise Kingdom deserves mention somewhere, and I think this is the place. I'll still be cheering when Amour takes it, though, for sure.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo, Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar & Behn Zeitlin
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner SW
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
shoulda been nominated: The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)... nobody's talking about this one and they really should be... the thing blew me away and should at least merit a script nomination, not to mention featuring assured direction and great performances from all involved
Argo was pretty marvelous but, besides Day-Lewis's brilliantly engaging disappearing act of a performance, where Lincoln really shone--and it definitely did shine, for the most part--was in the script department. A fine balancing act between mythologizing but also humanizing the legendary president, Kushner's sparkling script not only featured tremendous dialogue but also somehow made democratic procedure kind of thrilling to watch. It's a feat. Oscar will likely honour it, as he should. If Argo winds up sweeping the night, however, it could well win here too. Watch out.
In other races, Wreck-It Ralph seems like a safe bet for Animated Feature, but while I've heard good things, I haven't gotten around to seeing it, unfortunately. Life of Pi will probably win in many of the technical categories, especially Visual Effects, although Skyfall will probably take both sound categories and Original Song.