Oscar Watching: One Last Hoorah
Every day of this Oscar season has been, as Sheryl Crow would say, a winding road – more than any other awards season I can recall. At last, we’ve almost reached the end: Oscar Sunday is just two days away. All the red carpets, all the acceptance speeches, all the annoying ads for David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook: it all comes down to this. Seth MacFarlane will host what will be a very musical Oscar ceremony where Ben Affleck’s Argo sits as the favorite to win best picture – even if Affleck missed out in the best director category.
Voting ended Tuesday at 5 p.m., so nothing that’s happened since will affect Sunday night’s outcomes. But hey, at least MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth will close out the night with a musical number.
I’ve written about the top eight races for weeks, but now I delve into all of Oscar’s categories now, just in time for my final predictions of the season.
Argo leads, but what’s on the outside looking in? I say it’s Silver Linings Playbook, which could very well win the Big Five (more on that later). Also lurking is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, but has the film lost too much steam to pull off a win in best picture? Might Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, with its technical prowess and surprising box-office success, emerge as the surprise victor? Michael Haneke’s Amour and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables will to have settle for wins elsewhere, while Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild likely go home empty-handed.
2. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Life of Pi
6. Les Misérables
7. Django Unchained
8. Zero Dark Thirty
9. Beasts of the Southern Wild
I surmised two days ago that Russell would win and honestly found myself stunned with that conclusion. But it makes sense: Spielberg already has two under the belt. What’s more, Lincoln will (likely) prevail in the best actor race, so voters might not rush to honor it here as well. Lee could win his second trophy, but I ultimately see Life of Pi being restricted to the crafts races. A win for Haneke is possible, but it’s doubtful that a foreign-language film wins three major Oscars (not including the token foreign language film prize). And we’re not talking Zeitlin, are we?
Russell functions more or less as a default winner, but think about it: he’s the primary creative force behind Silver Linings Playbook. The same is true for Haneke with Amour, but he likely takes the original screenplay prize. I can’t see Russell going home empty-handed, and this category is up for grabs.
1. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
2. Ang Lee for Life of Pi
3. Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
4. Michael Haneke for Amour
5. Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Perhaps it’s been wishful thinking that kept Emmanuelle Riva’s masterful performance in Amour at or near the top of my list since first seeing Amour back in November. But BAFTA voters went for it, and many Oscar pundits have since aligned with Riva. Then again, quite a few expected her BAFTA win and predicted her for the Oscar accordingly. Jennifer Lawrence is the front-runner by the standards of the season, sure, but she’ll have many more chances for Oscar in the future – perhaps even next year for Susanne Bier’s Serena (but let’s not get off track).
The bottom line is, if Lawrence does lose, it’ll be to Riva. It won’t be to Jessica Chastain, whose emotionally detached performance would only be a true threat if Zero Dark Thirty could pull off a picture win. (For the record, Chastain’s work is completely appropriate for the film.) And it won’t be to Quvenzhané Wallis since she’s too young. Lastly, I can’t see Naomi Watts triumphing either since The Impossible scored no other nominations.
1. Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
2. Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
3. Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
4. Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
5. Naomi Watts for The Impossible
Best Actor in a Leading Role
As anyone keeping tabs on this awards season knows, Daniel Day-Lewis breezed through the precursors without a hitch. Assuming voters take up a spread-the-wealth mentality this year, a win in the actor race would be the consolation prize for Lincoln. But it took 29 years for Meryl Streep to win a third Oscar, so maybe voters will refrain from handing Day-Lewis his third so easily…
Remember how I said Silver Linings Playbook could pull off the Big Five? Yes, it’s possible, and yes, that means a Bradley Cooper upset is a possibility. Relax, I’m not actually predicting him to win, but if this season hasn’t bothered to play by the rules so far… hey, I’m just saying anything goes. Day-Lewis remains my pick for the win, but again, this is the awards season that’s in so many ways already defied the so-called logic of the awards season.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
2. Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
3. Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables
4. Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
5. Denzel Washington for Flight
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
You know, Anne Hathaway: she gave the most widely acclaimed performance of the bunch; she won’t have to overcome the hurdle of already being a two-time winner like Day-Lewis, the only other true acting front-runner, does; and her win will function as a token prize for Les Mis (the film might also win for sound mixing, by the way). A Sally Field upset? Yeah, it can happen, but she already has two wins like her Lincoln co-star does and comes into the fray with nowhere near as much heat.
I’d love to see Amy Adams take this home (seriously), but holding my breath would be in vain since she missed out with SAG and Oscar more or less greeted The Master with the cold shoulder. I suppose Jacki Weaver lurks as a possibility for the win – watch out for Silver Linings Playbook to win best picture if some trick of fate results in a Weaver win. Helen Hunt faces the same problem that Watts faces in the best actress race: her film, The Sessions, scored no other nods. That she’s a previous winner with a mostly less-than-enviable post-Oscar career does her no favors.
1. Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
2. Sally Field for Lincoln
3. Amy Adams for The Master
4. Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook
5. Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Silver Linings Playbook should nab an acting prize somewhere, and I’m convinced Robert De Niro gets that honor. He already has two Oscars to his name, but his second win came before the others even won their first (and only) trophies. Love for Silver Linings Playbook puts De Niro in the hunt, and the mentality that he’s due for a third after more than 30 years only helps.
However, the overabundant love for Argo might see Alan Arkin Argo f***ing his way to the Oscar podium. Maybe Tommy Lee Jones’ SAG-winning turn prevails? Christoph Waltz, who upset for the BAFTA, isn’t out of it either. I’m convinced this race goes any which way but Philip Seymour Hoffman, honestly.
1. Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
2. Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
3. Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
4. Alan Arkin for Argo
5. Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Best Original Screenplay
The WGA deemed this race’s arguable front-runners – Haneke for Amour and Tarantino for Django Unchained – ineligible. The latter won with BAFTA and, less importantly, with the Globes, so the season seems to favor a second win for Tarantino. Still, Haneke is one of only two screenwriters also nominated for directing this year, which would seem to give him the edge. I can hardly imagine Zero Dark Thirty winning anything at this point, but screenwriter Mark Boal, who won the WGA, might surprise in this race since there’s no clear winner.
1. Michael Haneke for Amour
2. Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
3. Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
4. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom
5. John Gatins for Flight
Best Adapted Screenplay
I think Russell wins here if someone else snatches the director trophy. On the flip side, a win for Russell in the director race would give voters room to throw Argo some love in the adapted screenplay race. After all, Chris Terrio did win the USC Scripter Award and the WGA’s top prize. Still, “screenwriting = WORDS!” to quite a few voters, so maybe Tony Kushner’s wordy Lincoln tome gets the last laugh.
I’d love to think David Magee can pull this off for Life of Pi, but it’s seen as more of a visual achievement than as a masterful piece of writing. Sigh. (Too late to lobby for it now.) Finally, it’s a cliché to say it, but and Lucy Alibar’s nomination is their award.
1. Chris Terrio for Argo
2. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
3. Tony Kushner for Lincoln
4. David Magee for Life of Pi
5. Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar for Beasts of the Southern Wild