Seven of the Digital Fix's writing team have gotten to grips with the Academy Awards and attempted to predict ten key categories...
Best Picture should go to Zero Dark Thirty for a current, controversial and well-written film. Jessica Chastain took the lead and is a strong contender for Best Actress. Best Actor could easily be taken by Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln but I have my fingers crossed for Hugh Jackman due to his passionate portrayal. Supporting Actress will be taken by Anne Hathaway for her raw physical and vocal performance. Christoph Waltz should walk away with Supporting Actor; he took the lead in Django Unchained for me.
Django may have won the BAFTA for Original Screenplay but I would like to see John Gatins take a bow with Flight for a familiar story brilliantly told with some original twists. Adapted Screenplay should go to Chris Terrio for Argo, an intricate story written simply when it could have been severely over-dramatized by Hollywood. With the hype surrounding Amour it will probably take the Oscar for Foreign Film. Best Animation is a breath of fresh of air in the Oscars breaking up the familiar nominees for each category; Wreck-It Ralph is the clear winner here. Finally, Best Directing to Ang Lee for his beautiful translation of Life of Pi from book to motion picture.
Best Film is looking increasingly like Argo. Amour is a lock for Best Foreign. Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained are too controversial. Ten years or so ago Lincoln would be the obvious front-runner but the Academy skews younger and (relatively) edgier these days, and it likes to reward actors who direct, so it's Argo for me. The only stumbling block is that it isn't nominated for Best Director, so that will probably go to Lincoln.
Best Actor and Supporting Actress are both no contest. Best Actress is more open: either Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence but they're both young and relatively new and will have other chances, so the Academy may reward a veteran, Emmanuelle Riva. Best Supporting Actor is the most open acting category. All five men have won before, so there's no sense of someone's time having come. I'd like Philip Seymour Hoffman to win, to give The Master some recognition, but this could go any way.
Perhaps less easy to predict than in recent years, the Oscars this time around nonetheless seem poised to reward Ben Affleck’s Argo in the Best Picture category. Such a choice might be partially out of sympathy for Affleck’s snub as well as for Argo’s general ability to ruffle the fewest feathers should it win. What’s interesting is that the long-presumed frontrunner, Lincoln, is actually the better and more daring film.
The Academy could divide up its prizes in the remaining categories, as I’m predicting, or it could focus on either Silver Linings Playbook or even Lincoln. Either of those films might yield three or more major awards. The race I’m most looking forward to is probably Original Screenplay, which seems wide open. If it’s not deemed a consolation prize for one of the losing Best Picture nominees then I’d love to see Wes Anderson take the prize for his lovely Moonrise Kingdom.
My guess is that Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Argo will be most favoured, whilst Zero Dark Thirty and The Master will be side-lined because of controversy and abstruseness respectively. For Steven Spielberg it feels like another Schindler’s List moment, though Argo will probably get Best Picture as it is altogether superior in edification and entertainment value. Similarly for Daniel Day-Lewis a third Oscar surely beckons, as his impersonation of Abe is as uncannily spot on as Anthony Hopkins’ of Hitch is not.
For a touchy-feely Hollywood movie, Silver Linings Playbook is surprising gritty on bipolar disorder and OCD, and so could well be rewarded for Adapted Screenplay and the bravura performances from Jennifer Lawrence, now a bone fide superstar, and Robert De Niro, as a much nuttier father than he played in the Meet the Parents franchise. Helen Hunt is a good outside bet for her wonderful turn in The Sessions, and Amour is a no-brainer for Foreign Film.
Three of the awards look like dead certs – Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress – whereas the rest of the field looks to be wide open. So many awards could go in any number of directions, yet I’ve a feeling Silver Linings Playbook will surprise everyone and take away a sizeable haul including Best Picture. Ben Affleck’s snub for Best Director seems to have counted out Argo from the major prizes as has Zero Dark Thirty’s controversy, whilst Lincoln is very much an actors’ film so will make do with Day-Lewis’ Best Actor nod.
Original Screenplay is a toss-up between Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, though Tarantino already has an Oscars to his name which makes me think this is Anderson’s award. Similarly Animated Feature could go Pixar (Brave) or Disney (Wreck-It Ralph) but I’m predicting the former. Plus there is always one major upset which, for me, will materialise in the form of Amour getting ignored in favour of the (very good) Danish period drama, A Royal Affair.
While, for me, the acting categories are all-but sewn up (Chastain or, on the strength of the BAFTA win, Riva could still nab Best Actress, mind, and Waltz could sneak away with Supporting Actor), the Best Film race is as thrillingly open as I can remember in recent years. A directing snub for Affleck meant everyone thought Argo was out of it but since then, the hostage thriller has been winning every major award going, leading me to think it’s got the Oscar with Spielberg picking up Best Director as a sort of consolation prize.
I’d be surprised to see the Screenplay categories go another way (Silver Linings Playbook or Argo might sneak Adapted), as I would be to see the Foreign Language Film go to anything other than Haneke’s devastating Amour. This leaves animation and while Brave might have won at the BAFTAs, I think Wreck-It Ralph has the momentum following its Annie and PGA wins.
This is a tough one to guess for! 2012 hasn’t been a great year for ‘great’ films in my opinion, but it was a good year for ‘good’ ones, and most of the films & performers this year are all in the same ballpark for me. The ‘safe’ bets are obviously Day-Lewis and Hathaway for Best Actor and Supporting Actress, so I’m going to cling to them and just wing it with the rest...
Lincoln has a good chance of sweeping up the big two awards (Director/Picture) with the less grandiose films taking the other creative categories: Argo and Django Unchained for their writing (both pretty good scripts) and Jennifer Lawrence is looking good for Best Actress after her Golden Globes win, she’s the kind of star Academy voters tend to love and Jessica Chastain’s performance in Zero Dark Thirty was perhaps a little too understated to capture their attention.
And there you have it. Argo took Best Picture as predicted by four of the team, Day-Lewis nabbed his third Best Actor award, as all but one of us had assumed, and Jennifer Lawrence the Best Actress. Ang Lee’s Best Director nod was the big surprise of the night, though Claire had her finger on that pulse, just as she did with Christoph Waltz picking up the gong for Django Unchained. Amour’s win was no surprise as correctly surmised by six of us, and Brave managed to fight off Wreck-It Ralph.
So who came out top? That’d be our Matt with seven out of ten correct predictions, making him the man to ask in 2014...