Well, it’s another year and another slate of Oscar nominations and I thought I’d do it a little differently this year. I thought I’d actually try and get it right this time. Hey, even a blind squirrel finds the odd acorn. Some years are easy to predict and others not so much. Oscars to be presented at the 85th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Occasionally, Hollywood will fall in love with itself and its pretensions. Last year was a case in point with The Actor cleaning up.
I’m just too low brow to appreciate the art of it all. In terms of my film IQ I’m slightly above the guy who told me there just weren’t enough killin’ in The English Patient for it to be a real war movie; but well behind anyone who can name a working director in the Danish Dogma movement. I like that I know there is a movement, but kill me before I watch three minutes of those movies.
So here we go.
I don’t know that there’s a clear favorite for best picture or director, although there are some huge favorites for actor and actress.
Let’s start there.
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day Lewis – Lincoln
Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
Denzel Washington – Flight
So, Cooper won’t win because he’s too good looking without the body of work to be considered Best Actor and while it’s a great film he’s not exceptional in it.
Denzel goes very dark in a role that takes us into a seriously disturbed psyche, but he went there already in Training Day so it’s not totally new. He was meaner in that, here he’s just sadder.
My personal choice is Joaquin Phoenix who brings this bizarre compelling character to the screen in The Master. He won’t win, partly because this film is a thinly veiled bio pic on scientology and also because he did that little minor meltdown a few years ago. That boy is odd but it’s a really good movie and a very strong role.
Jackman in Les Mis is a strong performance but Hollywood loves Daniel Day-Lewis and it really is a remarkable performance. He’s one of those method actors who stays in character the entire filming period, so I’m sure that never gets tedious, but the dude can act. I also like the fact that he disappears after the movie is over. He wins.
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Quevenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts – The Impossible
Jennifer Laurence – Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Rice – Amour
I can eliminate Chastain Watts and Laurence right off the bat because I just don’t think the roles have the gravitas needed to win Best Actress.
Zero Dark Thirty is a strong film about the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden and so we all know how it ends and this tells us how it ended that way. Ok it’s good, but nothing special.
The Impossible is an important film about the Indian Ocean Tsunami and while it chronicles the devastation of that natural disaster, this role just doesn’t have the chops. Laurence is an actress who will be around for a very long time. She owns the screen and really can disappear into any role she chooses, but I think it misses the mark by just a little.
I haven’t seen Amour or Beasts but I want to.
My guess is that Emmanuelle Lewis will win for her portrayal of the wife in Amour, a beautifully filmed story of two people in love for a very long time and the inevitable end of that story. It’s French, so that may be an issue for the Academy, but of all the performances I think it’s Hollywood’s most likely.
I would like to see Quevenzhane Wallis win. She was 5 when she was cast and 7 when the film finished filming. I want to see this movie. The more I researched it, the more my enthusiasm grew. It’s new and exciting filmmaking. Wallis has never acted before but most critics agree that the film isn’t possible without her. I suppose by my own twisted logic it’s the role not the performance but she does bring something to it.
My pick is Wallis even without seeing the film. Go figure.
Alan Arkin – Argo
Robert DeNiro – Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Christopher Waltz – Django Unchained
Arkin plays his usual slightly off centre curmudgeon and DeNiro is Bobby D but nothing exceptional.
I always think the academy goes for anything Tarantino and Waltz was remarkable in Inglorious Bastards and won an Oscar there but I think this one is between Hoffman who is the best male actor working right now, and Tommy Lee, who has an uneven career at best but has had a great year. I think Jones gets it even though Hoffman’s charismatic cult leader in The Master is strong, it just leaves us lacking somehow.
Jones as the republican dealmaker who Lincoln needs to save abolition is Jones’ best performance in a long while.
Amy Adams – The Master
Sally Field – Lincoln
Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Jackie Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook
Ok biases aside, I love Amy Adams in anything. I would watch her fold pillow cases and think it was entertaining. Conversely, Sally Field irritates me to no end and it’s not even because of her ‘You like me’ speech although that didn’t help. So they’re out.
Jackie Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook has no shot. She’s the fifth in a field of five and Anne Hathaway will win hands down and I would be ok with that, except for two things. It’s a leading actress role bumped down to supporting so she will win and because The Sessions is one of the best films in a very long time, not just this year, and Helen Hunt is impossible good as the sex surrogate hired to help a near invalid lose his virginity. If any one wants to learn the difference between intimacy and sex watch this film. It was overlooked for best picture and everything else but it’s a really wonderful film and John Hawkes should have been nominated for Best Actor.
Hathaway wins, Hunt was robbed.
Ok. That’s it for this week because I’m running out of words and time and space. Between now and when I write next week’s column I’m going to go and see Amour, and Beasts of the Southern Wild. My research has inspired me. I need to see those films.
I have a hunch one of them is going to be my pick for movie of the year.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s int he mail and I’m outta here. Paul
About the Author: