The 85th Academy of Arts and Sciences Awards, better known as the “Oscars”, will take place this Sunday evening, February 24th.
I’ve waited until now to make any predictions. This is a quality year for movies, offering some dynamic performances by the actors and actresses.
Nominated films have mesmerizing stories offered in a variety of times and topics. Personal relationships, hostages, a courageous President, a musical based on a classic novel, the killing of the world’s most sought after terrorist, and acts of revenge by an escaped slave, are some of the stories offered by Hollywood in the past year. The nominees for Best Picture are: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
The directors nominated include those of legend, and those unknown. They are; Amour (Michael Haneke), Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin), Life of Pi (Ang Lee), Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell), and Lincoln (Steven Spielberg). The only one missing is Ben Affleck for “Argo”, who has won every major award this year.
Actors nominated in a leading role are; Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Denzel Washington. The only surprise initially was Cooper, but, as they say, “he nailed it”.
Actresses in a leading role are; Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Naomi Watts. Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhané Wallis are both the oldest and youngest females to have been nominated in this category.
Bust Performance by a Supporting Actor nominees include two actors admired by movie audiences for decades, Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook”, and Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”. Alan Arkin, Christopher Waltz, and Philip Seymour Hoffman round out the group.
Actresses nominate for a supporting role offer Jackie Weaver, Amy Adams, Helen Hunt, Anne Hathaway, and Oscar Winner, Sally Fields.
If it sounds like a competitive year, I would whole heartedly agree.
I believe that the Best Picture will be a close call between “Lincoln”, and “Les Miserables”. I predict “Lincoln” will receive the golden statue. Historically based movies are hard to resist. A recent Presidential election, combined with reluctance by some who make up the voting academy to cast their ballot for a musical, should result in a Spielberg film receiving the night’s major award.
I also will predict that Steven Spielberg will win The Best Director award. In recent years, the winning combination of picture and director has occasionally been broken. I don’t believe that will be the case this year.
The entertainment industry seems positive that the Best Actor race will come down to a choice between Daniel Day Lewis for “Lincoln”, and Hugh Jackman for “Les Miserables”. I agree, but offer one caveat. A film I did not see, but many of my friends have is “Flight”. They tell me that Denzel Washington gave the performance of a lifetime. But, every time I see him in a film, I think he deserves an award. I do, however believe Daniel Day-Lewis will carry the Oscar off of the stage. My nickname for him has always been the “male Meryl Streep”. His dedication and hard work make every performance a crown jewel.
That brings up Best Actress. This is a conundrum. Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhané Wallis are both first time nominees, and mostly unknown to academy voters. Wallis, who was 5 years old when she performed before the cameras, has an extremely small chance of winning. Hollywood’s attitude about young actors is that they have “plenty of time ahead for them to be nominated again”. Emmanuelle Riva, who celebrates her 86th birthday on Sunday, seems to be gaining in favorability among Oscar voters. I predict that Naomi Watts will win for her performance in “The Impossible”.
The movie is based on a true story about the survival of María Belón, her husband, and three sons during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Both academy voters and the viewing public love true stories. I have not seen this film, but I have seen many clips. I believe it is Ms. Watts’ year.
Best Supporting Actor should be a contest between to beloved veterans, both talented, and both deserving. Tommy Lee Jones was superb in “Lincoln”, but the award will be carried off the stage by Robert De Niro. Nominated for 6 Oscars and winning two, it has been 17 years since he has won. His portrayal of an obsessive compulsive, sports-betting Philadelphia Eagles fan, and father of Bradley Cooper, should end the drought.
Last, but never least, are the ladies in the Best Supporting Actress category. There are three contenders, all of whom truly deserve the prize. Sally Fields all but begged to get the part of Mary Todd Lincoln. Only when she performed a scene with Daniel Day-Lewis did she receive the offer. But her character does not have enough “likeability”. Anne Hathaway evokes enough emotion to force the audience into tears in “Les Miserables”. But a courageous film with a bold topic will have Helen Hunt making the acceptance speech. In “the Sessions”, she plays a licensed sex surrogate. Very early in the film she disrobes and stands completely naked in front of the camera. She made the film at age 38. Women 15 years her junior will be jealous.
In addition to great movies and great performances receiving their just awards, the night will be elevated by vocal performances from 4 of the finest women in music. Barbara Streissand, Adele, Norah Jones, and Shirley Bassey will all entertain the jewel-studded audience.
Having grown-up just west of Hollywood, the Oscars are in my blood. But this year I am especially excited. I can’t be disappointed if my predictions are wrong, there are too many deserving films, actors and actresses this year.
Columnist-The Guardian Express