With Oscar Sunday but three sleeps away, it's now time to take a long hard look at the 2013 Academy Award nominees and make as educated a guess as possible as to who we believe will adding to their trophy cabinet this weekend. Also worth pointing out is who we feel deserves to win, as sometimes the two are far from one and the same.
First up it's Best film; the most hotly contested award of all, perhaps. The nominees are as follows:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
Who will win? Well until recently, this was very much up for debate. Of course, all movies listed here are worthy of their respective nods. But since Ben Affleck's latest directorial effort has pretty much sweeped across the board, where all other awards ceremonies are concerned, hopes are now high that it'll reign supreme here too. Especially now that the Academy may feel somewhat idiotic for having snubbed him in the Best Director category below. Personal favourites of ours in this category were Silver Linings Playbook and Argo (of course) while our reviewer Gav had a particular soft spot for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Personally I'm of the opinion that Zero Dark Thirty's been on the receiving end of more credit than it deserved so we won't be rooting for Kathryn Bigelow here; having read about the lengths at which the Seal team had to go in preparation for the climactic assault on Bin Laden's compound, the mock invasions they mapped out to painstaking detail, I felt the movie should have made more of this. A toss up between Argo and Lincoln, we reckon.
Next we have Best Director. The nominees are as follows:
David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Who will win? Our bets are on Steven Spielberg here for Lincoln although we feel it's three time Oscar nominee David O Russell who really deserves a gong for creating something truly special, original and heartfelt with Silver Linings Playbook. With fantastically nuanced performances all round, the most delicate handling of a very important subject matter and a good dose of wit thrown in, Silver Linings Playbook was indeed one of the greatest movies from the past 12 months. His directing efforts on The Fighter lost out in 2011 to Tom Hooper's The Kings Speech so we'd really like to see him in receipt of the credit he's due this time round. Doubtful though, with Lincoln expected to clean up at the 85th annual Academy Awards.
Best Actor. The nominees are as follows:
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Denzel Washington (Flight)
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Well I think we all know Mr Day-Lewis who first wowed us in My Left Foot has this one in the bag. The Master was an enormous disappointment, though there's no debating the brilliant performance offered up by the ever-captivating Joaquin Phoenix. In fact, looking at the nominees here, this is perhaps the most evenly balanced list of actors - each one fully deserving an acknowledgement for their top leve acting chops - and the most difficult category from which to choose a winner. Had we our say, it'd be a tie between Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper, both of whom moved us (well certainly me) to tears in both Flight and Silver Linings Playbook respectively. Extra props to Cooper who had the task of portraying a man with a bipolar disorder; no doubt a difficult tightrope to walk for even the most accomplished of actors.
Time now for Best Actress. The nominees are as follows:
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Another tough one here. Perhaps the academy will surprise us by reigning the 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis with the Best Actress title for her stunningly impressive turn in Beasts. Then again, maybe they'll stick with the safe option of awarding it to last year's hopeful but this year's surefire contender, Jessica Chastain. Yes, she was brilliant in Zero Dark Thirty; fully convincing in her role and, thankfully, she managed to avoid verging on an Independence Day tendency level of patriotism. I'll even forgive her the line - 'Bin Laden is there. And you're going to kill him for me', even if it was a little too cheesy when set against the extremely gritty realism of the film as a whole. Our top choice here would be Jennifer Lawrence for that whole crazy/sexy/cute/brilliant/challenged thing she had going on in Silver Linings. What a talented young lady.
Then you have Best Supporting Actor. The nominees are as follows:
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Alan Arkin should not be nominated here. I'm sorry. Of course he's a legend, funny as f*ck - there's no question there - but he was hardly what you'd call a 'supporting actor' in Argo. He merely helped to carry the movie along, providing it with some of its lighter (fantastic) moments, but he was given hardly any screen time. Especially when compared with Robert De Niro, however, who played a blinder in Silver Linings Playbook. His was aother performance that had us almost reaching for the Kleenex. Also fantastic was Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. Waltz is an actor whose every word you can't help but hang on; no matter what the role, he is one of the most watchable on screen performers. As he charmingly manipulates almost every character he comes in contact with throughout the course of Django (and you know where Tarantino's concerned there'll always be great language), so too do we fall for his way with words, delivered with panache through his pleasant, germanic lilt. Our money is on Waltz here and if he does win, this will be his second Oscar for the same category in a Quentin Tarantino film (his turn as Jew hunter Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds being the first, back in 2010).
Best Supporting Actress. The nominees are as follows:
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Amy Adams (The Master)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Here it'll be a toss up between Sally Field and Anne Hathaway. Personally I'm rooting for Helen Hunt whose performance as a sex surrogate in The Sessions was incredibly moving. It wasn't just her naked body that impressed us (at 49 years of age she looks unbelievably well in her birthday suit, fair play to her), it was the subtlty with which she approached the character. If you haven't seen The Sessions yet, please do. And on another note, we're not a bit happy that her co-star, John Hawkes was snubbed from the Best Actor list. If his frighteningly truthful, tear-inducing portrayal of Mark O'Brien, a man who, living in an iron lung (capable only of moving his neck), decides he wants to lose his virginity is not what you call an Oscar worthy performance, than nothing else listed above is either.
We're going to hold off on betting on the remaining categories. In short, expect wins for Argo, Lincoln and as for any of the technical awards, it'll be the beautiful Les Mis that'll get a pat on the back there. Check back on Monday to find out how right/wrong we've been!