This was the first year that except for Best Foreign Language and short subject categories, I was able to watch all nominees in the 20 other categories. As though that changes anything.
So here are my predictions for tomorrow night's show. As usual, I've separated what I want to win, from what I predict will win. Make sure you do some heavy gambling on the latter.
(Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty)
The announcement of the main award winner will probably be the depressing moment of the night. Artistically, technically, and historically (Oscar history, I mean), a movie like Lincoln should win, nine times out of ten. But then Argo won the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, and the AFI awards for Best Picture of the Year. I sincerely try not to buy into the conspiracy theory that movie awards are politically motivated - or at least not to the extent of naming a Iran-hostage crisis themed movie as the best film of the year, when there were so many superior options out there. But if Argo wins, I wouldn't fathom any other way to explain it.
Should win: Lincoln
Will win: Argo
(Michael Haneke for Amour, Ang Lee for Life of Pi, David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild)
When it comes to the Oscar for Best Direction, look for grand scale events. Amour Silver Linings, and Beasts were all small movies. I loved Lincoln (or better said, I love whatever Spielberg touches), but the sheer magnitude of directing film like Life of Pi must have been a killer. Spielberg already has two Oscars; Ang Lee has one. Lee may become the surprise of the night, but I'm still betting on Spielberg.
Should win: Steven Spielberg
Will win: Steven Spielberg
(Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables, Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, Denzel Washington for Flight)
Don't even bother betting on anybody else. Daniel Day-Lewis has proven he's the best actor alive. No, not De Niro, not Hanks, not Pacino. Daniel Day-Lewis is the best actor alive.
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
(Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, Emmanuelle Riva for Amour, Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild, Naomi Watts for The Impossible)
I believe hyping about Riva and Wallis being the oldest and youngest Best Actress nominees ever, respectively, is just part of the show. The main competition here is between Chastain and Lawrence, as both received a Golden Globe - Chastain for best in a drama role, Lawrence for best in a comedy role. Critics say Lawrence was brilliant at giving her character's manic-depressive personality a comedic tone in Silver Linings; I say Chastain was able to personify the frustration, the anger and the hopelessness of hunting down the world's most wanted man in Zero Dark Thirty. But I'm predicting Lawrence to win, just because she also won the Screen Actor's Guild Award.
Should win: Jessica Chastain
Will win: Jennifer Lawrence
Best Supporting Actor:
(Alan Arkin for Argo, Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook, Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln, Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained)
As opposed to every year where Best Supporting Actress is the toughest category to predict, this year Best Supporting Actor is almost impossible to predict. All five nominees are prior Oscar winners, and Arkin probably has the lowest chance here. Otherwise, Waltz got the Golden Globe, Jones got the Guild Award, and Entertainment Weekly gives De Niro the highest odds at winning ... but by only 1% over Jones (31% to 30%, respectively). Still, I'm voting for Jones; his Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln was a centerpiece against the hulk of Day-Lewis in the sprawling movie.
Should win: Tommy Lee Jones
Will win: Tommy Lee Jones
Best Supporting Actress:
(Amy Adams for The Master, Sally Field for Lincoln, Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables, Helen Hunt for The Sessions, Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook)
It's Hathaway, all the way. She's another one of those Hollywood sweethearts the movie business invests in, and are sooner or later bound to get an Oscar. And her unimaginably-long close-up singing and crying "I Dreamed a Dream" was one of the year's best movie moments. And this may be the Academy's apology for leaving her out there to dry by her weird co-host during the horrible Oscar telecast two years ago.
Should win: Anne Hathaway
Will win: Anne Hathaway
Best Original Screenplay:
(Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty)
Watch the movies, look at the list. It's obvious Django had this year's best original screenplay, because dialogue is Tarantino's greatest asset. But he already got an Oscar for Pulp Fiction's screenplay, and considering the number of times the N-word is used in Django, if he wins this one, there will probably be a riot. Zero Dark Thirty had the most fascinating script, but the subject was so caught up in controversy, rewarding it seems too risky. The Academy will likely go with Michael Haneke's more mellow but very compelling screenplay - a deep drama almost entirely happening between an old couple in a small apartment, which is no easy feat.
Should win: Django Unchained
Will win: Amour
Best Adapted Screenplay:
(Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook)
A no-brainer. Historians believe the screenplay written by Tony Kushner (of Munich and Angels in America fame), not only dived into the history of Lincoln politics, but also expanded upon it. And we're talking about a US president whose decisions have vastly contradictory historical interpretations.
Should win: Lincoln
Will win: Lincoln
Best Documentary Feature Film:
(5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, Searching for Sugar Man)
Wow, what a year for documentaries. And two that I thought were among the year's best (Bully and The Imposter) didn't even make the nominees' list! Predictions are that Searching for Sugar Man has a good chance to win (and I'm not denying that it was a decent film), but when it comes to documentaries, anything related to the Holocaust or the Arab-Israeli conflict is in priority. This year, two films (5 Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers) matched those criteria - the former from the Palestinian side, the latter the Israeli side. The latter is far superior, on multiple levels.
Should win: The Gatekeepers
Will win: The Gatekeepers
And for predictions in other categories, mainly based on hearsay:
- Best Animated Short Film: Paperman
- Best Documentary Short Film: Inocente
- Best Live Action Short Film: Death of a Shadow
- Best Editing: Argo
- Best Art Direction: Anna Karenina
- Best Cinematography: Life of Pi (Remember that underwater shot of the sinking ship?)
- Best Makeup: Les Misérables