My Oscar picks
For the fourth year in a row, The Gazette has sponsored a contest in which readers try to outguess my Oscar predictions.
Unlike most years, I haven’t had to race around like a maniac, catching up on all the films I hadn’t seen. I actually caught most of the movies up for Oscars before the nominations were announced, and so it’s actually been a fairly leisurely Oscar season for me.
I even had time to go out and see the horror film “Mama,” which in previous years, when I had 10 or 11 Oscar-nominated films to watch over the course of a month, I never would have bothered with. And though “Mama” isn’t a great film, I liked it better than “Les Miserables.”
As usual, I have opinions about the films I’ve seen. Here are my predictions, as well as my feelings about who should win.
Will Win: “Argo.” “Argo” was the favorite, and then it wasn’t, and now it’s the favorite again. It’s an obvious choice: It’s a well-made thriller about something important, and it makes movie executives and Hollywood in general look like a group of well-meaning and patriotic people. In other words: It’s the type of film Oscar voters will love, because it makes them feel good about themselves. But it’s also a good movie.
Should Win: “Zero Dark Thirty.” This film’s Oscar campaign was undone by the controversy over the torture scenes, which is too bad, because “ZDK” is a fantastic film, unafraid to raise uncomfortable questions about the moral cost of the war on terror.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis — “Lincoln.” Day-Lewis is magnificent in this film — I actually felt like I was watching Abraham Lincoln. Biopics are usually mediocre films elevated by good performances, but “Lincoln” is a very good film that occasionally reaches greatness, largely on the strength of Day-Lewis’ great performance.
In recent years, Day-Lewis has been turning in showy, somewhat mannered performances in films such “Gangs of New York” and “There Will Be Blood,” which won him an Oscar for best actor, and it’s nice to see him portray a quieter, thoughtful, depressed and grief-stricken man — a man who happens to be one of the country’s greatest presidents.
Should Win: Day-Lewis. But I was torn. I loved Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook,” and I wish he could get a special prize just for being awesome.
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence — “Silver Linings Playbook.” Like Cooper, Lawrence creates a memorable, original character: a mentally unbalanced young widow whose life is messy and marked my periods of emotional unrest. Her performance is nuanced and heartfelt, and since the Academy likes to award beautiful young women for portraying tormented, struggling people, she will probably win.
There is a slim chance that Emmanuelle Riva will win for her work in “Amour.”
Should Win: Lawrence. I’m a big fan of Jessica Chastain’s work in “Zero Dark Thirty,” but her chilly character isn’t nearly as likable as Lawrence’s, and doesn’t reveal quite as much. If I was a member of the Academy, I would probably vote for Lawrence, but I could see voting for Chastain, depending on my mood.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln.” Good as Day-Lewis is, “Lincoln” wouldn’t be nearly as good without Jones’ deeply felt portrayal of Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens, a staunch abolitionist who realized that slavery could only be ended through compromise and deal-making.
Should Win: I liked Jones, but I liked Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook” just a little bit more. His portrayal of a high-strung gambling addict is his best performance in years.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables.” Not only does Hathaway transform herself into a waifish prostitute as Fantine, but she also sings really, really well.
Should Win: Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook.” I loved the entire cast of “Silver Linings Playbook,” and Weaver in particular: Her character doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but she supplies the film with a lot of heart and funny moments.
Will Win: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln.” This is going to be one of those weird years when the film that wins best picture doesn’t win a best directing award, because “Argo” director Ben Affleck wasn’t even nominated.
Should Win: I was going to pick “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow, but it turns out that she wasn’t nominated, either. So hmmmm. I guess I’ll go with Spielberg, though I wouldn’t mind seeing David O. Russell win for “Silver Linings Playbook,” because he’s kind of a weird guy and I’d like to hear him give a speech.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Tony Kushner, “Lincoln.” Kushner had a difficult task. He had to make the process of passing the 13th Amendment exciting and interesting, and he pulled it off.
Should Win: Tony Kushner. Again, I wouldn’t mind seeing David O. Russell win for his screenplay for “Silver Linings Playbook,” but I think “Lincoln” is a fine choice.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: “Amour,” Michael Haneke. I cannot believe an austere French-language film that got on my nerves is going to win best original screenplay, but it is, and largely by default. “Django Unchained” is too crazy, “Zero Dark Thirty” too controversial, “Moonrise Kingdom” too quirky and “Flight” too square.
Should Win: This is a tough category for me. Much as I would love to see Quentin Tarantino pick up a screenplay award, I’m going with Mark Boal for “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Best Animated Film
Will Win: “Wreck It Ralph.” I’ll admit it: I haven’t seen “Wreck It Ralph.” But I hear it’s the favorite.
Should Win: I’ll abstain from making a selection here. But I really liked “Brave.”
Which Film Will Win the Most Oscars?
Ugh, I don’t feel like doing math. I’m going with “Lincoln,” on the assumption that it will pick up awards in a number of categories, such as best adapted screenplay and best actor, despite losing the big prize.
Foss Forward makes a weekly appearance in print, in The Gazette’s Saturday Lifestyles section. You can email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.