Tonight is the one time of year when cinephiles all around the globe are glued to the tube. The 85th annual Academy Awards are being handed out, and every year, the producers of the show promise it will be better. Every year, the audience hopes it will be better. And maybe one of these days, it will be better. Will tonight be that night? We won’t know until it’s over. In the never-ending search for the perfect host, the academy is hoping that Seth McFarlane, creator of TV’s Family Guy, and writer / director of last year’s surprise hit movie Ted, will step up to the plate and hit a home run.
No doubt you have your list of nominees at hand, ready to mark your choices. Here’s how it may shape up tonight:
Best Documentary Feature – The nominees are 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, and Searching for Sugar Man. You could make a case for the merits of each of these worthy nominees, especially The Gatekeepers which is getting some rave reviews, but I have a feeling that the winner will be Searching for Sugar Man, a much-loved film about two South Africans who go in search of Sixto Rodgriguez, their rock hero who pretty much dropped off the face of the earth after just a couple of albums.
Best Foreign Language Feature – The nominees are Amour, Kon Tiki, No, A Royal Affair, and War Witch. The most high profile title is Michael Haneke’s Amour which should be the winner, especially since it won’t win Best Picture, for which it is also nominated.
Best Animated Feature – The nominees are Brave, Frankenweenie, Paranorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, and Wreck it Ralph. In this not particularly strong bunch of titles, you could likely flip a five-sided coin and come up with the winner. Or not. My coin is on Frankenweenie.
Best Original Score – The nominees are Anna Karenina by Dario Marianelli; Argo by Alexandre Desplat; Life of Pi by Mychael Danna; Lincoln by John Williams, and Skyfall by Thomas Newman. I have to go with Alexandre Desplat for Argo. The man is a genius at contemporary film scoring and his work on Argo is no exception.
Best Director – The nominees are Michael Haneke for Amour; Behn Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild; Ang Lee for Life of Pi; Steven Spielberg for Lincoln; and David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. The winner should have been Ben Affleck for Argo, but the academy neglected to nominate him. His revenge is winning just about every other directing award given out this season. But among these five nominees, I’m all for David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, a potentially difficult film that was masterfully handled.
Best Supporting Actress – The nominees are Amy Adams in The Master; Sally Field in Lincoln; Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables; Helen Hunt in The Sessions; and Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook. Anne Hathaway is likely to walk away with the little gold man tonight. After all, she got miserably skinny, had an awful haircut, and had to sing live with a camera lens shoved in her face. She’s entitled to “combat pay” for this one.
Best Supporting Actor – The nominees are Alan Arkin in Argo; Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook; Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master; Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln; and Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. As much as I would like to see Alan Arkin or Robert De Niro win again, I’m thinking that the repeat winner will be Christoph Waltz. He was the best thing about Django Unchained, and proved that his win for Inglourious Basterds was no fluke.
Best Actress – The nominees are Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook; Emmanuelle Riva in Amour; Quvenzshane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild; and Naomi Watts in The Impossible. In the category that boasts both the oldest and youngest nominees in Academy history for this prize, I’m still picking Jennifer Lawrence. Her performance in Silver Linings Playbook was completely mesmerizing.
Best Actor – The nominees are Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook; Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln; Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables; Joaquin Phoenix in The Master; and Denzel Washington in Flight. If there is anything like a “slam dunk” at this years’ Oscars, it’s Daniel Day Lewis.
Best Picture – There are nine films nominated for best film this year: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty. Remember how I mentioned “Ben Affleck’s revenge” during the director category. Well, since he was one of the producers of Argo that means he can claim the Oscar along with his partners. Affleck’s directing snub may well get Argo the Best Picture statue.
There you have it. Keep your list and check it against the winners as we all watch the 85th Annual Academy Awards tonight at 8 pm on ABC-TV. Oh… and for whatever it’s worth, last year at this time, in the same ten categories, I picked six of the winners. Place your bets accordingly!