Finally nodding in the right direction
Jake's Oscar predictions
Preference: Beasts of the Southern Wild
When I read Beasts of the Southern Wild was one of the films voted for Best Picture, my appreciation for human existence was restored. Beasts is the best film of the year, a tale of the gob-smacking tragedy of survivors living amongst the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina. Shot on-location in the bayous of Louisiana, Beasts reiterates the devastation of Katrina has still not been restored and will forever linger in the hearts of the survivors.
Other worthy Best Picture nominees are Stephen Spielberg's masterful Lincoln, Ang Lee's elegant Life of Pi, Kathryn Bigelow's ambitious Zero Dark Thirty, Ben Affleck's thrilling Argo, Quentin Tarantino's controversial Django Unchained and Michael Haneke's perfect Amour. Amour is one of the longer shots, but I'm grateful that films like this are becoming more known to the public. The first five films mentioned are the front-runners and any of them could win. But I'll take a leap of blind faith and predict that Argo will do it.
The only two nominees I'm reluctant of are Tom Hooper's restoration of Les MisÃ©rables and David O. Russell's quirky Silver Linings Playbook. Les Mis is very good for its tremendous acting and production design, but the singing diminished the characters' presence. Playbook opened with an exciting first half about family conflicts, similar to Russell's masterpiece The Fighter, but the final acts are so jarringly conventional I felt cheated. Films like Cloud Atlas, End of Watch, Arbitrage, or Skyfall were better candidates.
Prediction: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Preference: Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild
I'm most proud of the Best Director category, especially Benh Zeitlin's recognition for Beasts and Michael Haneke for Amour. There's normally a correlation between who wins Best Director and Best Picture; usually, the same film wins both. But look elsewhere this year.
Affleck and Tarantino are the two victims of snubbing this time, both somehow beaten by O. Russell. Although I want Zeitlin to win his rightful award, I almost guarantee Spielberg will get it.
Prediction: Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
Preference: Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
I proudly admit that these are the best leading female performances of the year. All five actresses should earn one-fifth of the statuette in an agreeable tie.
QuvenzhanÃ© Wallis makes history as the youngest person to have an Oscar nomination. She was five years old when she auditioned for Beasts of the Southern Wild, six when it was filmed and is now nine. Conversely, the French legend Emmanuelle Riva from Amour becomes the eldest Oscar nominee in history and will turn 86 come ceremony day. I'll take another blind stab and predict Riva gets the win, although the slight front-runners are Jennifer Lawrence for Playbook and Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.
Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Preference: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Most of my objections are in this year's Best Leading Actor category. Daniel Day-Lewis and Denzel Washington both remain in the first rank of modern acting and deserve nominations, but there are three oddities - Bradley Cooper for Playbook, Hugh Jackman for Les Mis and Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, who are all great actors but were misdirected in their roles.
My choices would instead be Richard Gere for Arbitrage, Suraj Sharma for Life of Pi, and Michael PeÃ±a who stole the show in the underrated End of Watch. John Hawkes was also robbed for his transformational polio patient in The Sessions. Not that any of this matters, because Day-Lewis is a sure lock to win his third Oscar for his effortless incarnation of Abraham Lincoln.
Best Supporting Actress
Prediction: Anne Hathaway in Les MisÃ©rables
Preference: Helen Hunt in The Sessions
The talk-of-the-town for Best Supporting Actress has been Anne Hathaway for her earth-shattering voice in Les Mis, and she deserves all of the praise. But she had minimal screen time compared to her competition, such as my favorites: Sally Field, for her powerful role as Mrs. Lincoln in Lincoln, and Helen Hunt for her brave performance as a sex therapist in The Sessions. I'm all in on Hunt upsetting Hathaway, but I won't count on it.
As for unworthy nominees, I only have one: Amy Adams for The Master, whose role couldn't have been bleaker. I'm also hesitant on Jacki Weaver as the mother from Playbook, but I'll accept her. Better choices would have been Judi Dench for Skyfall or Susan Sarandon for Arbitrage.
Best Supporting Actor
Prediction: Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
Preference: Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
Alan Arkin for Argo, Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln and Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained are the three favorites for Best Supporting Actor. The two oddballs are Robert De Niro for Playbook and Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, two of the most misguided performances I've witnessed. Two easy replacements are Dwight Henry's destructive father in Beasts and Samuel L. Jackson's overlooked performance in Django. My bet is on Waltz to steal the gold.
See if I'm right or wrong, on Feb. 24 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC network.
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