On February 24, the 85th Academy Awards ceremony will take place in Hollywood, California. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, by Member voting, will honor the best films and finest performances, as they do each year.
I will report to you what the Vegas odds are for winning pictures/performances, who will win (in my humble opinion), and who should win. Historically, many ‘fan favorite’ pictures and performances have been overshadowed by the winner chosen being selected, in essence, for their career achievements versus being based on the merits of their nominated work. This year will be no different.
The nominees for Best Picture:
• Les Miserables
• Life of Pi
• The Silver Linings Playbook
• Zero Dark Thirty
• Django Unchained
• Beasts of the Southern Wild
Vegas odds: Lincoln
What Should Win: Argo
The Award goes to: Zero Dark Thirty
‘Zero Dark Thirty’ was arguably the best reviewed movie of the year. Director Kathryn Bigelow (winner for ‘The Hurt Locker’) will walk away with the award for her film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
The nominees for Best Director:
• Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
• Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
• Michael Haneke (Amour)
• David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
• Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Vegas odds: Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Who should win: Ben Affleck (Argo)
The Award goes to: Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Spielberg directed a talky, but well produced history of the passing of our 13th Amendment, which was an incredibly important part of American history. The subject matters’ historical gravity notwithstanding, ‘Lincoln’ the picture is moderately entertaining. ‘Argo’ in contrast, was a highly engaging glimpse into a little known part of American history; and directed with energy and wit that should have garnered Affleck a nomination. Spielberg will be rewarded for his considerable contribution to American film, but based on his volume of prior quality film directing.
The nominees for Best Actor:
• Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
• Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
• Denzel Washington (Flight)
• Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
• Joaquin Phoenix ( The Master)
Vegas odds: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Who should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
The Award goes to: Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis embodied American icon Abraham Lincoln in a performance that finally breathed life into a measurably important historical figure. His performance painted a President full of fatherly warmth and a common sense about the needs of our nation that hadn’t been previously captured on film. Jackman’s ‘Jean Valjean’ comes a close second but his performance suffered due to the epic suffering and unending drama of the film ‘Les Miserables’ itself. Still, the first third of ‘Les Miserables’ performance by Jackman is moving, passionate, and brilliant.
The nominees for Best Actress:
• Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
• Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
• Emannuelle Riva (Amour)
• Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
• Quvenzhane Wallis (Beats of the Southern Wild)
Vegas odds: Jennifer Lawrence
Who should win: No clear choice for this reviewer
The Award goes to: Anybody’s guess.
Historically, this is the ‘wildcard’ category for the Academy. There have been so many surprises in the past with actresses not named Streep that this is traditionally the ‘anything goes’ category.
The nominees for Best Supporting Actor:
• Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
• Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
• Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
• Alan Arkin (Argo)
• Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Vegas odds: Tommy Lee Jones
Who should win: Alan Arkin
The Award goes to: Tommy Lee Jones
Although Tommy Lee Jones performance added some vibrancy to ‘Lincoln’ with his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens, but his will be an award granted more for his body of work rather than for his performance in the film. Alan Arkin’s turn in ‘Argo’ as the foul mouthed, salt-of-the-earth film producer and CIA co-conspirator buoyed that films darker subject matter with energy and humor that actually made it a better film. ‘Argo’ is not the same film without Arkin. The same cannot be said for Tommy Lee Jones in ‘Lincoln’.
The nominees for Best Supporting Actress:
• Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
• Sally Field (Lincoln)
• Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
• Amy Adams (The Master)
• Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Vegas odds: Anne Hathaway
Who should win: Anne Hathaway
The Award goes to: Anne Hathaway
Hathaway is the ‘lock’ in this category, as her performance as the tragic ‘Fantine’ was widely praised among critics and fans. The fact that she seems to have surprised people not only with the depth of her performance but also with her singing talents defines a ‘breakout role’, even for an established actor such as Hathaway. Her performance was staggering. Her rendition of the musicals’ song ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ was raw, heartbreaking, haunting, and beautiful. Truly a star-making performance.
There are quibbles to be had with the Academy’s selection processes and how categories are defined. Ten Best Picture nominees, yet only five Best Directors for example? The inclusion of foreign films in the Best Picture category. We get it…you’re hip and all-inclusive, Academy Voters.
The truth is, the Academy Awards is the most important, most lavish, most lucrative (for filmmakers) of all of the Film/TV/Music awards season celebrations. And, it’s the most fun. Even when it’s bad (ahem, Anne Hathaway and James Franco…and you, Rob Lowe with Snow White!) it’s still culturally significant and a powerful force that shapes how future movies are made.
At this year’s awards, there is also scheduled to be a segment honoring the men who have shaken and stirred our movie-going world as James Bond. From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, all of the actors to have played Ian Fleming’s iconic action hero have been invited to appear together to celebrate the 50th film anniversary of the man with the ‘license to kill.’
The Academy Awards airs live on ABC on Sunday, February 24th at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific.