So we’re now just a short time away from the start of the Oscars, and everyone appears to feel more and more certain about who’s going to win them. “Argo” has picked up a lot of momentum over the past few months thanks to Ben Affleck being criminally overlooked in the Best Director category. Daniel Day Lewis and Anne Hathaway are almost certain to win in the acting categories, and Steven Spielberg may very well be picking up his third Oscar for Best Director. Other than that, “Skyfall” seems to be a cinch for Best Original Song, and “Amour” is a dead lock for Best Foreign Film.
But at this point I am so sick of predicting who’s going to win as it feels like a lot of the wrong people are going to be taking home that famous golden statue this year. Rather than share with you my predictions (which are not all that different from anyone else’s), I’d like to share with you who I believe should win at the 2013 Academy Awards. While there were many people who were unforgivably snubbed, there are several nominees deserving of an Oscar.
Best Picture: “Zero Dark Thirty”
It’s absolutely frustrating to see that the controversy surrounding Kathryn Bigelow’s superb motion picture has all but killed its chances at the Oscars. This was my pick for the best movie of 2012 as I really couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it. Few other films were as enthralling as this one was, and it pinned you back in your seat throughout its two hour plus running time. Bigelow succeeded in giving us a very objective look at the men and women who worked to bring down Osama Bin Laden, and she never forces any sort of political agenda on us. Instead, she leaves us with a lot of questions that only we can answer as the war on terror continues on even after Bin Laden’s death.
And for the last time, “Zero Dark Thirty” is NOT a pro-torture movie!
Best Director: David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook”
This is a tough category to choose from as many of my favorite directors from 2012 (Bigelow, Affleck, Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson) were infuriatingly overlooked. My top two choices would be Steven Spielberg who gave us another one of his great movies with “Lincoln,” and David O. Russell who directed one of the most entertaining movies of the year with “Silver Linings Playbook.” It’s a close call, but I’m going with Russell because while his movie may seem like an actor’s picture more than anything else, he orchestrated it beautifully and got Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and even Chris Tucker to deliver the best performances of their careers to date. Russell also made “Sliver Linings Playbook” feels so much more alive than most other movies I saw this past year, and that’s saying a lot.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master”
I know Daniel Day Lewis has this one in the bag for his extraordinary performance in “Lincoln,” and the man should be getting an Oscar for every single performance he’s ever given. But as great as Lewis was, there’s something about Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” that makes me put him at the top of this list. He was such an unpredictable live wire as damaged war veteran Freddie Quell and you could never tell when he was going to strike next. From start to finish he was enthralling to watch, and I think he immersed himself into his character even more than Lewis did as President Lincoln. I don’t care that he shot himself in the foot regarding his comments about the Oscars, he gets my vote.
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty”
One of these days Naomi Watts will be taking home an Oscar and I loved Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook,” but my vote is for Jessica Chastain as she was nothing short of phenomenal as CIA undercover agent Maya. We watch as Maya goes from being a relatively inexperienced agent to one totally obsessed about bringing down Bin Laden. Chastain is never less than convincing, and it is mesmerizing watching her here after seeing her being the embodiment of grace in Terence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” She also has one of the best pieces of dialogue in any 2012 movie, and her delivery of it is insanely enjoyable. For those of you who haven’t seen “Zero Dark Thirty” yet, you will know it when it comes up.
Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman for “The Master”
For a bit I was thinking of Tommy Lee Jones as I loved his scene-stealing performance in “Lincoln,” but Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance in “The Master” ranks among the actor’s very best work. Just when you think the charismatic Lancaster Dodd is a total fraud, Hoffman comes around to make you believe that he might actually be the real deal. It’s a performance as implosive as it is explosive, and he sucks you into his powerful realm with what seems like relative ease.
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams for “The Master”
I was so close to going with Anne Hathaway who’s the favorite in this category for her work in “Les Miserables,” but Adams performance as Lancaster Dodd’s wife in “The Master” is impossible for me to shake. While much of the attention has been focused on Phoenix and Hoffman, Adams portrayed the one character that had the most power over the both of them. Her Lady Macbeth-like character of Peggy Dodd was a true believer, and her support of her husband’s work was unwavering. Adams in many ways gave “The Master” its most underrated performance, and she is mesmerizing to watch. I say just give her the Oscar already!
Here’s my picks for the other categories really quick:
Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal for “Zero Dark Thirty”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio for “Argo”
Best Animated Feature Film: “Wreck-It Ralph”
Best Foreign Film: “Amour”
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins for “Skyfall”
Best Editing: “Zero Dark Thirty”
Best Production Design: “Anna Karenina”
Best Costume Design: “Anna Karenina”
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Les Miserables”
Best Original Score: Thomas Newman for “Skyfall”
Best Original Song: “Skyfall”
Best Sound Mixing: “Skyfall”
Best Visual Effects: “Life of Pi”
Jessica Chastain on playing a CIA agent in ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
Amy Adams shows a menacing side in ‘The Master’
Joaquin Phoenix and his ‘brutally physical’ performance in ‘The Master’