The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a reputation as tame, dust-covered fossils that shirk from innovation and gravitate towards the crowd-pleaser. This was true for the Best Picture winners of the last two years—both The Artist and The King’s Speech are fine, but not spectacular, eulogies for a golden age lost to time—and results are likely to be the same this season.
Still, if there is anything to be learned from Meryl Streep’s (Iron Lady) surprise win over Viola Davis (The Help) last year, it’s that there is no such thing as a sure-thing with the Oscar races. With that in mind, the Tribune tries its hand at some Oscar prognostications.
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Could Win: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Should Win: Chastain or Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Lawrence has been praised for her role as a troubled nymphomaniac in David O. Russell’s self-consciously unorthodox rom-com. Chastain, however, is nipping at her heels, as the CIA operative who found Osama bin Laden—an understated performance that belies formidable talent. Riva seems unlikely to win, but her crushingly poignant portrayal of mortality is both terrifying and mesmerizing.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Could Win: n/a
Should Win: Day-Lewis
Not many are daring enough to bet against Day-Lewis’ win at this point; even fewer are able to make a compelling case for another. Nominees are strong of course, particularly Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) and Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables). But Day-Lewis’ magnanimous portrayal of America’s 16th President is on a plane of virtuosity all of its own.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Could Win: n/a
Should Win: Hathaway
All the nominees have memorable moments in their respective films, such as Jacki Weaver’s “crabby snacks and homemades” from Silver Linings Playbook, Sally Field’s Mrs. Lincoln and her fierce tongue-lashings, and Amy Adams’ now-infamous bathroom handjob in The Master. But no moment is as memorable as Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” a devastatingly raw swan song that leaves one reeling from its power.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Could Win: Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Should Win: Lee Jones
Lee Jones and De Niro are more or less neck-and-neck at this point, though the former began as the early favourite, playing the delightfully scathing congressman Thaddeus Stevens. De Niro gives his best performance in years in Silver Linings Playbook—but is that really saying much? Sadly overlooked is Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), whose commanding performance would be a strong contender were it not for the juggernaut that is Lincoln.
Will Win: Argo
Could Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Smart money was on Lincoln, Spielberg’s glowing tribute to the eponymous emancipator, until Argo—Ben Affleck’s white-washed but thrilling portrayal of Iranian history—began picking up key awards. The clash of these two historical dramas have sidelined Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, an accomplished and masterful telling of “history’s greatest manhunt” that is easily the strongest of this year’s bunch.
Will Win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Could Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Should Win: Michael Haneke, Amour
Spielberg seems poised to add to previous wins for Schindler’s List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998) with a third statuette come Sunday. Though unlikely, some have pondered whether the Academy might feel guilty for snubbing Lee’s Brokeback Mountain in 2005. The only true auteur of the nominees, however, is Haneke, whose Amour continues in his tradition of uncompromising, brutal portraits of human frailty.
The 85th Academy Awards will take place Sunday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m.
Best Original Screenplay: Zero Dark Thirty
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Best Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph
Best Foreign Film: Amour
Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi
Best Editing: Argo
Best Score: Life of Pi
Best Song: Adele, “Skyfall”
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Best Sound Editing: Life of Pi
Best Sound Mixing: Life of Pi
Best Production Design: Anna Karenina
Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Hobbit
Best Animated Short: Paperman
Best Live Action Short: Curfew
Best Documentary Short: Open Heart