2012 was an exceptional year for films. A year of memorable performances, spectacular visual accomplishments, fresh love stories, and way above average action entertainment.
So, can the Oscars now live up to all of that? Probably not. With malice towards none, there will be few surprises this Sunday night.
BEST ACTOR Daniel Day-Lewis has already won twice (My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood), but don’t let anyone convince you he has worn out his welcome - this one’s a no-brainer. He should win and he will win for his role as our 16th President in Lincoln. But let’s remember that the world’s greatest living actor did throw a well-deserved shout out to Joaquin Phoenix at the Globes. So…
BEST ACTRESS She starred in two of the most talked about films of the year, The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR I’ve come around to join the popular consensus that this one will go to Robert De Niro. A variety of reasons: it’s been over 30 years since he won (he has won twice, Raging Bull, Godfather: Part II), his career had steered towards caricature and his work in Silver Linings Playbook returned him to excellence, and finally, Tommy Lee Jones’ grumpy old man routine at the Golden Globes left no one wanting to spend more time with him, except maybe his dog. Philip Seymour Hoffman should win for his exceptionally layered performance in The Master, but De Niro will win for his Eagle loving, OCD remote control coveting, juju inspiring, sentimental work as B Coop’s dad in SLP.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS The criticism will be mostly aimed at her lack of screen time, but I suggest to those critics they go back and count the precious seconds Dame Judi Dench was on-screen in Shakespeare In Love to earn Oscar. Other critics will say that she has been too self-promoting and obnoxious on her way to singing for her supper. That argument may hold up in court. Regardless, Anne Hathaway is a lock. She should win and she will win for Les Miserables.
BEST DIRECTOR This is the most difficult one to predict. The smart money is behind Steven Spielberg for what will surely be the most celebrated film of the telecast, Lincoln. David O. Russell may sneak in and upset the apple cart for his “quirky indie” Silver Linings Playbook. Ang Lee accomplished the seemingly impossible, turning an amazingly difficult conceptual novel into a miraculously brilliant visual feast, Life of Pi; but he’s a dark horse at best. Benh Zeitlin somehow coaxed and/or steered an emotionally effective performance out of a five-year-old child and gave us the wonderful Beasts of the Southern Wild – an even darker horse, though. Paul Thomas Anderson directed the most impressive (albeit demanding) film of the year, The Master, and was not even nominated! Anderson should win, but Spielberg will win.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY This should be a lock. But…never discount the Harvey Weinstein insider trading media push. His Miramax pander-fest drivel, Django Unchained, scored a writing nomination for Quentin Tarantino, who even won the Golden Globe for his ridiculous script. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is hands down the most “original” gem in this nomination field. Anderson should win and he will win. He better win!
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Five excellent films. Five excellent adaptations. Because Life of Pi was mostly dazzling as a visual adaptation rather than a written, Tony Kushner should win and will win for Lincoln.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM Sad to report I have not seen one of the nominated films. I know, lame lame lame. I loved Rust and Bone, but it wasn’t even picked. I’ll go with the conventional buzz and predict that Amour, will win. But I hear it’s a real downer.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE Only one I saw out of this group (my kids are getting older, thank God!) was Brave. Didn’t care for it all that much – but it will win.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE John Williams has won five, count ‘em five! Oscars for his musical genius. Alexandre Desplat should win for Argo, but Williams will win for Lincoln.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG I wish there was a Best Title Sequence category, because Skyfall rolled out some vintage Bond imagery, made all the sweeter by Adele’s title song ballad. Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth should win and will win for “Skyfall.”
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY This one’s tough. How much of the spellbinding imagery in Life of Pi can be attributed to Claudio Miranda, and how much to the endless list of visual and special effects techs who toiled to pull off this canvas come to cinema? I’m going to give Miranda the benefit of the doubt and say he should win; however, it’s going to be a Lincoln kind of night, therefore Janusz Kaminski will win his third statue for his somewhat claustrophobic 1865 re-enactment.
BEST ART DIRECTION If the wall-to-wall singing was too much for you, I suggest you watch Les Miserables in the comfort of your home “theatre” with the sound off – you will recognize what a gorgeous and detailed film it is. Les Mis should win and it will win. BEST COSTUME DESIGN Les Miserables should win and will win.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING I guess The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey should win, but what a tepid viewing experience. It will win.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS If Life of Pi does not win this category, be sure to write a letter to your local congress representative. And stop paying your taxes. Boycott Applebees. It should win and it will win.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING One of the toughest calls of the night. Life of Pi probably should win, Zero Dark Thirty probably will win.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING Easier call here. Les Miserables should win and it will win.
BEST PICTURE Not even close. Yes, Argo and Silver Linings Playbook have legitimate dark horse buzz, but that more than likely means they cancel each other out. The Master should win, but last I checked a film must be nominated to win. So…Lincoln will win.
By my scorecard, that gives Lincoln seven wins for the night. Sounds about right. Mark your ballots accordingly – it’s gonna be a Lincoln kind of night.