The Oscars are scheduled for February 24th. Nominations were released Jan. 10th. I pour over the nominations each year, and I’ve taken time to review the predictions. My Emmy predictions were 50 percent correct last fall, but I think I have better odds here.
Will Win: “Lincoln”
Should Win: “Argo”
Really, “Flight” should win. It is hands down 2012’s best picture, but I have to hold my tongue because the Academy did not see fit to nominate the film for Best Picture. “Lincoln” has the prestige Academy members want, and the film features Daniel Day-Lewis’ knockout performance as the 16th president. Director Steven Spielberg pursued this project for 10 years, and his passion shows. “Argo,” depicts historical events much like “Lincoln,” but the concept is much more offbeat and original. “Argo” is simply more enthralling.
Will Win: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Should Win: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Several excellent directors are mercilessly excluded here, such as “Argo”’s Ben Affleck and “Zero Dark Thirty”’s Kathryn Bigelow. Affleck matures with each film, and “Argo” proves his talent. Bigalow directs “Zero Dark Thirty” with finesse, and the film is better than her last Oscar nominee, “The Hurt Locker.” Spielberg’s dedication will win the day, but Russell is the best nominated director. “Silver Linings” is both hilarious and moving.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Should Win: Denzel Washington, “Flight”
Here is “Flight”’s recognition. Day-Lewis does a great job as Lincoln, but Washington’s performance is astounding. I felt genuinely concerned for his character as he wandered down a path to destruction while he tells lie after lie to protect himself. Day-Lewis’ character populates dark conference rooms and senate halls, but Washington’s character is forced to deal with his dark side in the public’s full view. He gives the best performance I’ve seen in the past five years.
Will Win: (Too close to call) Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook” or Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Should Win: (Too close to call) Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook” or Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
I can’t decide! Both actresses give marvelous performances, so they equally deserve the award. Lawrence’s performance as a young widow is probably more daring, but Chastain’s commitment to Maya, “Zero”’s driven CIA agent, is astounding. The good news, however, is these actresses’ Oscar chances. The race should be incredibly close, which speaks volumes to their dedication and craft. I’ll give a slight edge to Lawrence, though, as she has an Academy following because of her nourish “Winter’s Bone” turn.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Should Win: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
I’m not a huge “Master” fan, but Hoffman is the film’s highlight. His performance as a cult leader is quite unsettling. Jones should continue “Lincoln”’s winning streak, as Academy members seem to gravitate toward his performance as a senator and abolitionist. Robert De Niro, Alan Arkin, and Christoph Waltz also offer worthy performances, but the Academy has recognized each actor before, and Waltz’ last Tarantino role netted him an Oscar. Jones has been out of the limelight for a considerable amount of time, but he is the likely winner here.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Should Win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Even critics who bash “Les Miserables” praise Hathaway’s performance. She’s a lock, and she gains momentum with each passing awards show. Although her character doesn’t have too much screen time, she certainly leaves her mark when she performs “I Dreamed a Dream,” the movie’s showstopper musical number. Hathaway’s film repertoire has established her worthiness, and “Les Miserables” will absolutely launch her to the next level.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Should Win: Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty” or John Gatins, “Flight”
So I think “Flight” should take it all. Sue me. Washington embodied his character, but Gatins provided the dialogue. The plane crash may be the plot’s catalyst, but it is also a clever parallel to the film’s tragic alcohol-abuse story — a different crash — and the concept is unique. However, the screenplay category is often a runner-up category, one the Academy uses to honor films they deem not quite Best Picture, and “Zero Dark Thirty” could be “Lincoln”’s runner up. Boal does an outstanding job, so a “Zero Dark Thirty” win here would be well deserved.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Tony Kushner, “Lincoln”
Should Win: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
The Academy loves Kushner’s “Team of Rivals” adaptation, as he condensed long chapters into a concise film. Mark Boal used interviews and history for “Zero Dark Thirty,” but he didn’t use a book, so Kushner is not incredibly impressive. “Argo” could pull out a win here, but “Lincoln” is the clear favorite. My two cents? “Silver Linings Playbook.” I love the film’s back-and-forth dialogue, and Russell balances crass humor and sentiment. His characters are well written, so Russell should get his due here.
Best Original Score
Will Win: Mychael Danna, “Life of Pi” or John Williams, “Lincoln”
Should Win: Thomas Newman, “Skyfall”
Several days ago I would have said Williams owned this category. However, Danna’s Golden Globes win positions him to steal the award. Academy members might feel Williams has had his time and present Danna the award. Narration comprises most of “Life of Pi”s dialogue, and the music tells the story. Newman is the outside choice here, but as a huge James Bond fan I like how “Skyfall”’s score fuses different Bond theme elements to celebrate the series’ 50th anniversary.
Best Original Song
Will Win: “Skyfall” from “Skyfall,” music and lyric by Adele Atkins and Paul Epworth
Should Win: “Skyfall” from “Skyfall,” music and lyric by Adele Atkins and Paul Epworth
This category is sealed, but I want to note how much Adele deserves this award. She emulates Shirley Bassey, who crooned 1964’s “Goldfinger.” Her theme adds to the series’ anniversary celebration, and her voice is simply stunning. Bravo.
Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 536-3311 ext. 255.