85th Annual Academy Awards: Predictions
Because I’m a film critic and confessed movie addict, I’ve spent many hours each year pondering over -- and writing about -- the Annual Academy Awards event. What film will win the Best Picture Oscar? Who will be named Best Actress and Best Actor? Which director will go home with the coveted little Golden Guy? And so forth.
This year is no exception, so below are my predictions and preferences for the 85th Annual Academy Awards. Although Oscars are given out in 24 categories, I always concentrate on six key categories.
Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
My Prediction: Argo
My Preference: Les Misérables
Comments: Although I prefer happy musicals with singing AND dancing, the ultra-cinematic version of the beloved Les Misérables stage production is something impressive to see and hear – a true film masterpiece. However, because Ben Affleck got snubbed for Best Director in the nomination process, I believe Academy voters will make it up to him by voting his Argo as Best Picture of 2012. To me, that CIA thriller comes across as a bit too talky until the suspenseful hostage escape segment, so after Les Misérables, I would pick the highly entertaining Silver Linings Playbook, which concluded with one of the most hilarious dance routines I’ve seen in many a year.
Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
My Prediction: Steven Spielberg
My Preference: David O. Russell
Comments: Russell helmed Silver Linings Playbook -- a comedy about a bi-polar guy and a spunky ballroom-dancer wannabe -- with great skill and sensitivity. But Spielberg could be hard to beat because of the Lincoln gravitas. However, Lee can’t be counted out. His Life of Pi is quite remarkable -- and he took on this challenging project that other directors were afraid to attempt.
Winner: Ang Lee
Nominees: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)
My Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis
My Preference: Hugh Jackman
Comments: Although Jackman gives a masterful dramatic and singing performance as Jean Valjean, Day-Lewis appears to have a lock on another Oscar because of his uncanny Abraham Lincoln portrayal. If Day-Lewis does win, he will be the first one to earn three Best Actor Academy Awards. Jack Nicholson has earned three acting Oscars, but one was a Best Supporting Actor win. And the great character actor, Walter Brennan, also received three Oscars, but they were for his fine supporting work.
Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis
Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild ), Naomi Watts (The Impossible )
My Prediction: Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence (tie)
My Preference: Naomi Watts
Comments: In one of the best screen performances ever filmed, Watts reaches deep within herself to portray a mother struggling to reunite her family during the aftermath of a horrific Tsunami. More history could be made if either Riva or Wallis takes home the Oscar. Riva (85) is the oldest actress ever nominated, and Wallis (9) the youngest. But Chastain and Lawrence (more deserving because her role as a quirky young widow required the emotional range missing from Chastain’s obsessed CIA agent) are the front-runners here, and since I predict a tie each year, this seems the category with the best chance of that happening -- just like Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) and Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) back in 1969.
Winner: Jennifer Lawrence
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
My Prediction: Tommy Lee Jones
My Preference: Christoph Waltz
Comments: I couldn’t take my eyes off Waltz as the erudite bounty hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s outrageous western. Plus he has the most impeccable delivery of any actor working today. This category emerges as the most challenging to predict, for each nominee delivered an excellent performance. And yet I can’t help feeling it’s about time for Tommy Lee Jones to be recognized with an Oscar, and I think his work as the fierce abolitionist Thaddeus Stephens in Lincoln certainly stands out. The spoilers in this category? De Niro as a superstitious father with OCD and Hoffman as a manipulative cult leader.
Winner: Christoph Waltz -- Yay!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
My Prediction: Anne Hathaway
My Preference: Anne Hathaway
Comments: Adams never disappoints; Field had her moments; Hunt tried to maintain her dignity in the difficult role of a sex therapist; and Weaver’s exasperated expressions as a long-suffering wife and mother were priceless. But one extraordinary sequence won me over to Hathaway’s side here. When she sings “I Dreamed a Dream” while putting her whole soul into the character’s desperate plight, my heart opened to her, and I realized the wide range of this actress’s awesome talent. Hathaway is probably the closest to a “sure thing” for an Academy Award this year.
Winner: Anne Hathaway, of course.
(Listen to the Oscar predictions of five other film critics by clicking here.)