Friday, February 22, 2013


I've already predicted Argo to win Best Picture, a film which (as Billy Crystal said about Driving Miss Daisy back in 1990), "apparently directed itself"—meaning director Ben Affleck wasn't nominated. (See my last Oscar post.)

So, who else is going to the Winner's Circle? Read on...

BEST DIRECTOR  Steven Spielberg, Lincoln. But anything goes in the biggest smackdown of the night, with DGA winner Affleck not even nominated. The only other DGA nominees in the race are Spielberg and Ang Lee (Life of Pi), and Spielberg's Americana epic seems likely to trump a tale of a boy and a tiger, however gorgeous. But it wouldn't be the first time Lee has snagged a directing Oscar for a film that didn't win Best Picture. (Remember the debacle of 2006, when Lee won for Brokeback Mountain, but the film lost to Crash?) Don't discount, Michael Haneke, whose Amour is nominated for both Best Foreign Film and Best Picture. But the strongest upset candidate may be David O. Russell, whose bipolar romantic comedy, Silver Linings Playbook, has also earned nominations in all four acting categories. Only Benh Zeitlin for his poetic and visionary Beasts of the Southern Wild lacks momentum.

BEST ACTOR Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln. The only sure thing this year is another win for Day-Lewis for his extraordinary alchemical transformation into Honest Abe. Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Denzel Washington (Flight) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) should all bask in the glory, but they shouldn't bother to write a speech.

BEST ACTRESS Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook. If Zero Dark Thirty had racked up more pre-season awards, or won Kathryn Bigelow a directing nomination, then it's star, Jessica Chastain, would be the favorite.

Chastain won a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Actress, but the Globes are handed out in both comedy and drama categories, and the Globe winner for comedy, Lawrence, went on to snag the SAG award.

This category also includes the oldest and youngest acting nominees ever, 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva (heartbreaking in Amour, and my favorite dark horse for an upset victory) and six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), along with the excellent Naomi Watts in The Impossible.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln. He has strong competition from Golden Globe-winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), the beloved Alan Arkin (Argo), and even Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook). (Not so much Philip Seymour Hoffman in the overrated The Master.) But who doesn't love Jones as cantankerous anti-slavery advocate Thaddeus Stevens? He deserves an Oscar just for wearing that wig.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables. This one is virtually in the bag for Hathaway, who's cleaned up at the pre-Oscar awards, and is the only player in Les Miz who benefitted from the tricky device of shooting all the songs live, in one take. Sally Field (Lincoln), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), and Amy Adams (The Master) round out the category.

BEST of the REST Zero Dark Thirty may snag a Best Original Screenplay award for Mark Boal as it's biggest win of the night. Tony Kushner's script for Lincoln should edge out Chris Terrio (Argo) and Russell (Silver Linings) for Best Adapted Screenplay. I like Amour for Best Foreign Language Film (possible upset: Denmark's A Royal Affair), and Brave for Best Animated Feature. And expect the visually stunning Life of Pi to take home awards for Cinematography, Visual Effects and Production Design, while Anna Karenina sneaks off with the Costume prize.

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