I love this time of year! It’s awards season for the movies and the granddaddy of them all are The Academy Awards. With the Oscars set to take place this Sunday, it’s time for me to look at the nominees and predict the winners and tell you who I think should win. Now last month I shared my Top 10 Films of 2012, Best Actress Performances, Best Actor Performances, Best Supporting Actress Performances, and Best Supporting Actor Performances. So this isn’t about my personal favorites for the entire 2012 movie year. This is all about the nominees. I’m going to tell you who I think will take home the golden statue Sunday night. I’m also going to share who I’ll be rooting for. One more note, click on any movie title to check out my review of that film. Ok, here we go.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
- Amy Adams – “The Master”
- Sally Field – “Lincoln”
- Anne Hathaway – “Les Miserables”
- Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”
- Jacki Weaver – “Silver Linings Playbook”
The supporting actress category is really, really strong this year. Helen Hunt’s performance is the only one I haven’t seen but that doesn’t matter. She doesn’t have a chance. Amy Adams was really good in “The Master” but that’s a film that I was mixed on and that has received limited love from the Academy. Jacki Weaver is a wonderful actress but I’m not sure she deserved the nomination considering how little she had to do. Sally Field is really good in “Lincoln” but I think she is way behind Anne Hathaway. This is one category that can be called before one person hits the red carpet. Anne Hathaway has it wrapped up and personally I agree.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
- Alan Arkin – “Argo”
- Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
- Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
- Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
- Christoph Waltz – “Django Unchained”
Here’s yet another really strong category filled with some seasoned talents. First off Christoph Waltz is wonderful. But he’s just coming off a recent Oscar win and he has very little buzz going into the big show. Hoffman has a lot of support from those who loved the film but that’s about it. Alan Arkin was outstanding in “Argo” and I could handle him winning except for one thing. He’s only in the film for about 10 minutes. So I see it coming down to two old veterans, Tommy Lee Jones and Robert De Niro. Jones had the early momentum but De Niro has really come on lately. A lot of people are happy to see him giving nomination worthy performances again. He hasn’t won since “Raging Bull” so this could be his night. I hope so because I loved his performance. But I think it’s going to Tommy Lee Jones.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
- Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
- Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
- Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour”
- Quvenzhane Wallis – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
- Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”
For my money this is the strongest of all Oscar categories. The women of cinema really brought it in 2012 and I loved every one of these performances. First there’s Naomi Watts. I was happy to see her nominated because I thought she was wonderful in “The Impossible”. But it’s a movie that hasn’t been on many people’s radar and Watts has no chance. One of my very favorite performances of 2012 came from young Wallis. Unfortunately she hasn’t a chance mainly due to the lack of support for child actors at Oscar time. That leaves us will Lawrence, Chastain, and Riva. At first it appeared that this was a two woman race between Chastain and Lawrence. But it seems that Riva has gained some steam and rightly so. I loved Chastain’s work and Lawrence was quite good. But no actress in 2012 did what Riva was able to do. It’s the most gripping and committed performance I’ve seen in a long time and she deserves to win. But I think too much is pointing towards Lawrence. Still, keep your eyes on this category.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
- Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
- Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
- Hugh Jackman – “Les Miserables”
- Joaquin Phoenix – “The Master”
- Denzel Washington – “Flight”
There’s a fantastic group of lead actors this year. I can’t say I have a problem with any of these performances being nominated. But this is a category with a sure winner. Denzel Washington gives yet another solid performance in “Flight” but he’s not going to win. Joaquin Phoenix was brilliant in “The Master” but there’s no buzz around him and his general disdain for the awards won’t help him. Hugh Jackman took home a Golden Globe and I thought he was mighty good in “Les Miserables”. But he won’t win here. Then there’s Bradley Cooper. I’m so happy to see Cooper actually taking on a substantive role and knocking it out of the park. But he, like every other nominee mentioned, has no chance with Daniel Day-Lewis in the race. Day-Lewis was nothing short of brilliant in his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln and if he doesn’t win something is terribly wrong.
- Michael Haneke – “Amour”
- Benh Zeitlin – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
- Ang Lee – “Life of Pi”
- Steven Spielberg – “Lincoln”
- David O. Russell – “Silver Linings Playbook”
This year’s best directing category is the most screwed up of any. It features more egregious and indefensible snubs than any category I’ve seen in a long time. But there are still some good choices here. Ang Lee’s nomination was a big surprise to me. He did a great job but I don’t think he belongs in this conversation. I loved what Zeitlin did in his small but powerful film “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. His nomination was a pleasant surprise but he has no shot to win. Michael Haneke is a director who uses incredible techniques in his films and his work on “Amour” was brilliant. I’d have no problem seeing him win. Then there’s David O. Russell. I know I’m in the minority but I don’t see how he’s on this list especially considering the snubs. His film was a performance driven picture and the movie’s only weaknesses could be traced back to him. I can’t imagine him winning. That leaves Spielberg who really blew me away with “Lincoln”. It’s an amazing accomplishment and I think he will win. Of this group I think I prefer Haneke but this one belongs to Spielberg.
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
- “Django Unchained”
- “Les Miserables”
- “Life of Pi”
- “Silver Linings Playbook”
- “Zero Dark Thirty”
And now it’s time for the big one. There’s some intrigue surrounding this year’s Best Picture category. First let’s do some pruning. “Life of Pi”, “Django Unchained”, “Les Miserables”, and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” are movies that should be really happy to be nominated because they have no realistic chance to win on Oscar night. “Zero Dark Thirty” was an incredible film and one of my favorites of 2012. But considering director Kathryn Bigelow’s directing snub and the pointless controversy surrounding the picture, I don’t think the Academy has any plans of touching this movie. What a shame. “Silver Linings Playbook” could bring in a few Oscars this Sunday. It’s picked up a lot of steam lately but I don’t see it being a contender for Best Picture. I loved “Amour” and I love that as more people are seeing it it’s gaining momentum. Sadly it will be to little, to late. “Lincoln” is still an interesting film. It has a lot of what the Academy seems to gravitate to and it was the early front-runner. That said, I still think it will fall short leaving “Argo” to win the biggest prize of the night despite director Ben Affleck’s snub. I think my personal choice would be “Amour” but I would have no problem with “Argo” winning the night.
So there’s the Big 6 categories for this Sunday night. What do you think? Where did I get it right and where did I miss the mark? Please take time to share your picks.