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I dreamed that Hathaway is the only sure Oscar bet

Chet Greason, Popcornucopia

The 85th Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. Here are my picks to win the major categories:

Best Picture: Amour; Argo; Beasts of the Southern Wild; Django Unchained; Les Misérables; Lincoln; Life of Pi; Silver Linings Playbook; Zero Dark Thirty.

This is actually a tough category to call this year, so by process of elimination…Amour, no. France was so last year. Definitely Best Foreign Language Film, though.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is this year’s shaky-cam entry. Seriously, dude. Use a tripod. Life of Pi is represented here for the visuals and received a ton of technical nominations, but there’s a severe lack of buzz surrounding it in the actually-interesting categories.

Silver Linings Playbook is a sometimes funny, sometimes ominous look at mental illness that suddenly goes all Happy Madison right around the time they make the parlay. Great movie, dumb last quarter. (The big lift fail is a nice touch, though.)

Zero Dark Thirty is this year’s The Hurt Locker. Two big wins for the military in four years? Let’s hope not. Django Unchained was great, but just not Best Picture material. Lincoln is likely there for the acting and possibly directing awards, but not the big prize.

That leaves Argo, which won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, and Les Mis, which also won a GG for Best Musical or Comedy. Based on the Academy snubbing Affleck for a directing award, I’m going to predict they’ll cast aside grit for grandeur and go with Les Mis.

Should win: Les Misérables. Probably win: Les Misérables.

Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln); Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook); Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables); Joaquin Phoenix (The Master); Denzel Washington (Flight).

Washington really stretches his legs by playing a man in uniform with a dark side and estranged kids. Way to branch out there, bud. Cooper surprised me with a funny-yet-edgy turn as a bi-polar mess. Congratulations, Cooper. You’ve climbed out of the LaBeouf zone and have entered a probationary period for respectable actors.

Hugh Jackman does what is needed of him in Les Mis, but fails to stand out amongst the cast.

Joaquin Phoenix…WOW. Easily the biggest chameleon turn of the year with his wretched and gnarled drunk character Freddie in The Master. He even out-acts King Chameleon Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, who, while engaging as the soft-spoken, story-telling president, is really just doing his best impersonation of an animatronic character from the Epcot Center attraction. It’s too bad more people didn’t see The Master…it’s easily Phoenix’s best role.

Should win: Joaquin Phoenix. Probably Win: Daniel Day Lewis.

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty); Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Lining Playbook); Emanuelle Rive (Amour); Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild); Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Jennifer Lawrence was my personal favourite out of the group, but buzz would have Chastain’s empty, plot-driving function masquerading as a character walk away with the award. Look for Wallis as a shocker, but it’s doubtful. Naomi What?

Should win: Jennifer Lawrence. Probably win: Jessica Chastain.

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin (Argo); Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook); Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln); Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained); Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master).

Best Supporting Actor, like last year, is this year’s crap shoot category. None of these five actors really do anything unexpected, with all performances seeming like rehashes of characters we’ve already seen multiple times. De Niro plays old, sad De Niro. Jones plays grumpy T.L. Jones. Arkin plays his character from Little Miss Sunshine, for which he’s already won an Oscar. Waltz plays the Jew Hunter, except not evil this time; and Hoffman, one of my favourite actors, is charismatic with an underlying threatening nature…a character we’ve seen from him before. Jones or Waltz will likely win it. As Waltz won the Golden Globe, he’s our best bet to win here as well.

Should Win: Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Probably Win: Christoph Waltz.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Master); Sally Field (Lincoln); Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables); Helen Hunt (The Seasons); Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook).

If there was a sure bet category this year, this is it. While Field was ho-hum and Weaver evoked both pathos and laughs (a tough combo), Anne Hathaway has this award in the bag for one reason and one reason only: Her single-take, choking, crying, and altogether moving rendition of I Dreamed a Dream.

Should win: Anne Hathaway. Probably win: Anne Hathaway.

Best Director: Michael Heneke (Amour); Ang Lee (Life of Pi); David O. Russell (Silver Lining Playbook); Steven Spielberg (Lincoln); Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

Ang Lee should definitely win with Life of Pi out of pure vision, but the Academy may, in all probability, give it to Spielberg as a kind of “Welcome back, King of Hollywood” award.

Should win: Ang Lee. Probably Win: Steven Spielberg.

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