The final installment of The People’s Critic’s Oscar prediction series lists my picks for the six major film awards: Directing, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Actor, Actress, and Picture. These are the categories decided by the largest blocks of voters and, thus reveal the academy’s consensus feelings on the great films of the year. Readers are invited to continue to weigh in with their own opinions by submitting to the public polls following each category’s predictions.
The Best Director Oscar is basically the Cinematography Oscar crown jewel. The director oversees every chosen element on set to ensure his/her vision is secure and successful. In the Classic Hollywood Cinema days, this award was a bit easier to come by as directors like William Wyler, John Ford, and Frank Capra were nominated often and won more than any other directors in history. Over the years, the award has become much more aloof; very few directors earn more than one Best Directing Oscar. The award is closely associated with the Best Picture winner as well, however these awards are becoming more independent of one another now that the Best Picture field of nominees has been increased to up to ten films. This year will be an upset year no matter which way it goes. Not since the 1930s has it been more likely that the Best Picture will go to a film who’s director was not nominated. Additionally, it is quite likely that the Best Director will go to a film that does not win Best Picture. Therefore, it is critical to look at each of the nominated films for director’s merit alone. Haneke and Zeitlin turned out two emotionally charged human dramas that are deserving of immense appreciation. In terms of directing, Zeitlin is the better choice between the two, but these small films rarely make a dent in the voting pool. Spielberg does not deserve to be nominated for this award this year. Russell has once again made a great film that would have won last year, but he will find himself beaten this year. The award is between Russell and Lee. The Peoples Critic Selection: Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Best Supporting Actor:
Best Supporting Actress:
Acting categories need the least amount of explanation. The supporting role awards are traditionally a bit more exciting. These Oscars have gone to some surprising upsets over the years and is more likely to go to an edgier or younger performer than the awards for Best Actor/Actress. On the men’s side, this year’s field has two performances that are practically lead roles (Waltz and Hoffman), and this will most likely work in one of their favors. On the ladies’ side, there is a clear winner, so I’ll simply explain why she wins. Much has been made of the fact that Anne Hathaway is only in Les Misérables for a short period of time. However, this award has gone to many recipients whose screen-time is limited. The Oscar for Supporting Role is designed to recognize superior support, regardless of screen time. What Anne Hathaway does with her segment of an otherwise dull film is give a Hugh Jackman quality performance and then leave you wanting more. What worked for her will unfortunately not work for Jackman since his Best Actor field also has a clear winner who accomplishes a similar feat in that category. – The People’s Critic Selection for Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained. The People’s Critic Selection for Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables.
Nominees are Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, Emmanuelle Riva for Amour, Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, Naomi Watts for The Impossible, and Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Hugh Jackman picked the wrong year to turn out his best performance of his career. What he does as Jean Val Jean in Les Misérables is raw and spectacular. However, it will be the one-two punch of excellent writing by Kushner and flawless delivery by Day-Lewis that will allow him to make history as the first to win three Best Actor Academy Awards. Meanwhile, the Best Actress category has already made history by nominating both the youngest and oldest nominees ever considered for the Best Actress Oscar with Riva and Wallis. Unlike the men’s race, no clear winner exists here. Riva has enjoyed a surge as of late given her heart wrenching performance in Amour along with the fact that Oscar night just happens to be her 86th birthday. However, it seems that the “girl on fire” this year will come away with her first trophy, solidifying what will likely be a long and dynamic career. The People’s Critic Selection for Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. The People’s Critic Selection for Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook.
Nine films were deemed worthy of Best Picture honors this year. The jury is still out on this callback to the olden days where ten (even twelve!) films could be nominated for this award. In 2009, the Academy expanded the limit of nominees from five to ten, but finding that there are not always ten worth-while nominees, the rule currently allows the list to vary between five and ten nominees. This year’s collection of nominees would all have beaten last year’s winner, The Artist substantiating what an excellent year at the movies 2012 was. As stated earlier, this award is often tied closely together with the winner for Best Director; however, no year in recent history has provided a lower likelihood of this happening than this year. Therefore, how does one judge a film on its merits alone without necessarily taking the director’s choices into strong consideration? How much does one weigh the writing, the cinematography, the set design, the acting, etc.? These are tough questions. One major element is to examine the editing. Best Picture is more about conveying a message, entertainment, structure, and overall effect than anything else. Editing (along with direction) is the key to all of those characteristics that make a movie great. Therefore, if direction becomes a lowered value in the equation for determining greatness, the vacuum will be filled with editing. The result is an upset that has only happened three times in history and not at all since 1989 – a Best Picture winner where the director was not even nominated. The People’s Critic Selection: Argo