Sunday, February 24, 2013

Final Oscar Predictions

Tonight is the night. At 8pm Eastern, the film industry has its annual, back-padding celebration known as the Oscars. I'm excited. I'm excited because this might be the first ceremony in many years where several of the major categories have legitimate suspense. Will Roger Deakins finally win his first Academy Award? Does Steven Spielberg pick up no. 3? Is there really a chance that a 9-year-old girl can win Best Actress? How about an 86-year-old woman (on her birthday, no less)? For the first time in a while, it's going to be an exciting show. And the truth is, in a lot of the categories, I really don't have a definitive feeling about who will win. But because I'm a sucker for tradition (as well as sticking my foot in the conversation), here are my official Oscar predictions.

Best Actor
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Daniel Day-Lewis has been driving a freight train toward this award for several months now. It's pretty much a done deal and the single least suspenseful award of the night. Day-Lewis is movie legend now, and a professional who does a great job at making acting look really hard while also creating fluid, fully-fleshed characters effortlessly. It's a tremendous piece of work from a great actor, and even a true, groundbreaking tour-de-force from Phoenix will prevent the inevitable.

Best Actress
Will Win: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Should Win: Riva

Jennifer Lawrence has probably stacked up more awards than Riva (including an Independent Spirit Award just last night), but she's had the benefit of not having to face Riva in several of the races. For reasons that mostly have to deal with Amour not being an English, Riva has seldom been nominated against Lawrence, and I feel like Riva is really the performance that has the edge here. For one, it's the best performance of the bunch, but also it's the best story. A legendary French actress who can win an Oscar on her birthday. I wouldn't mind seeing Quvenzhane Wallis sweep up and take the award, and I'm not saying Lawrence has no shot, I'm just saying Riva just has the edge.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

This is an odd category. Django Unchained's Christoph Waltz has won the most precursor awards, but there just doesn't seem to be anything pushing him toward his second Oscar in four years. Meanwhile, Robert DeNiro's charming turn in Silver Linings Playbook has been murmured to be a possible upset, and everyone who's actually seen The Master is making the case for Hoffman (even though he's very much NOT a supporting character, but then again, neither is Waltz). But Jones is very spirited in Lincoln and its the kind of performance that can sweep up these kind of awards. Jones has enjoyed front-runner status even with this particularly category that has been so up and down. I have a feeling that Jones is going to hold on here, because enough people haven't seen The Master and there just isn't enough enthusiasm for awarding DeNiro for not sucking for the first time in nearly a decade and a half.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Should Win: Amy Adams, The Master

I know I'm the only person who thinks Adams deserves this award, and that's fine. Let's just say that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. No, onto the people who actually have a chance to win. Hathaway has been a pretty solid frontrunner going for almost the entire season. There's only one of the other four that even has a chance and that's Sally Field's Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln. I personally wasn't much blown away by Field's highly-affected performance as most were. I know I'm in the minority there. But I also don't think the Academy is in a big rush to give Field her THIRD Oscar (on three nominations, no less), and while there seems to be a poisonous feeling toward Hathaway recently, I see her taking home her first naked gold man.

Best Director
Will Win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Should Win: Michael Haneke, Amour

I honestly have no idea what's going on with this category. If Affleck or Bigelow had managed to get the nomination they were expected to, it would be a toss up between those two. But it's Spielberg and four little rascals. I think too many people were turned off by the religious connotations in Ang Lee's Life of Pi, and as respected as David O. Russell is these days, he's still not exactly popular in the industry (plus, I found the direction in Silver Linings to be really sloppy). But I wouldn't be surprised if the formerly "un-Oscar-able" Michael Haneke or the youngster Behn Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild pull a major upset. They were the two surprise nominees, and since they supplanted the frontrunners, they replace them as Spielberg's main competition. I pick Spielberg simply as a default, since the overall mood doesn't seem much interested in awarding him. I really don't know who's winning.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Should Win: Michael Haneke, Amour

Original Screenplay has always been the place where Oscar goes the most "off the board", usually (which is why Paul Thomas Anderson not getting a nomination was such a disappointment - he really could've won). All five have a chance, but Marl Boal and Haneke are the two frontrunners. It's neck-and-neck between the two of them, but I think Boal's taut Zero Dark Thirty script has the edge because, you know, it's in English and Americans have actually seen it. Not to mention, Haneke's aforementioned "un-Oscar-able-ness".

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Chris Terrio, Argo
Should Win: Tony Kushner, Lincoln

Another up in the air category. I find Kushner's script to be the very best thing about Lincoln and I think his weaving of history and characterization is a perfect complement to Kushner's genius as a writer. That being said, Terrio's Argo screenplay is almost equally as impressive as it weaves through various characters, while Silver Linings' script has snappy dialogue and Beasts' had a script that invented a fascinating world of surreal reality. Then there's Life of Pi, a screenplay based on a book that seemed to be impossible to adapt. In the end, I think Argo mania will carry this award with it.

Best Picture
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Interestingly enough, Best Picture is one of the few awards that seems essentially decided. Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook are the only other films that really have an opportunity, but that opportunity doesn't seem great. When the nominations rolled out, Argo seemed like it had peaked already, but starting with its Golden Globes win, it has seemed like a parade for Ben Affleck, leading to his third film taking home the ultimate prize. Argo is a terrific film amongst a surprisingly good group of Best Picture nominees (Les Miserables and Life of Pi are the only nominations that seem to me to not warrant it), so you could really do a lot worse.

Here are the predictions for the rest of the categories:

Best Animated Feature: Wreck-It-Ralph (Yet another category where it could go several ways. Total guess)
Best Foreign-Language Feature: Amour
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, Skyfall
Best Editing: William Goldenberg & Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Production Design: Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Anna Karenina
Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Best Make-Up: Les Miserables
Best Original Screenplay: Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Best Original Song: "Skyfall" by Adele from Skyfall
Best Sound Mixing: Les Miserables
Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugarman
Best Animated Short: Paperman
Best Documentary Short: Open Heart
Best Live-Action Narrative Short: Curfew

No comments: