Quite possibly the craziest Oscar season that I have witnessed has come to a close. That’s what tends to happen when most of the seasonal fare lives up to the hype of being a probable Oscar contender. Save for maybe Anna Karenina, who was still nominated in the technical categories and was far from being a critical miss, there was nary a movie in November or December release that we could place the label of bust upon. And not only did these movies deliver quality-wise, a good number of the films were able to cross the $100 million mark as well, bringing together the critical and general audiences together like no year before.
Despite missing out on a Best Director nomination, Argo has all but won the award for Best Picture. Lincoln seemed to be the heavy favorite just one month ago, especially on the morning the Academy announced their nominations, but Argo was able to grab momentum for several reasons; Affleck not getting a nomination gave him and the movie plenty of sympathy, and helped escalate the thriller to new heights. Argo claimed the top prize at pretty much every pre-cursor that matters, whether it be the WGA, PGA, or BAFTA. And when it didn’t win, Zero Dark Thirty or Silver Linings Playbook took top honors, not Lincoln. At the end of the day, Lincoln was too long and too dull to win over such a massive crowd as the Academy, especially when matched up to this years group of nominees.
And that brings us back to Argo. It’s a safe film. While some will look down up on the film for it, Affleck didn’t take too many chances with the film. And arguably his biggest gamble – that Hollywood chase scene at the end – couldn’t ruin the gripping yet fun experience that we had just went through. If only Zero Dark Thirty hadn’t faced that ridiculous torture scandal, we might’ve found ourselves with an actual race here.
And much like Best Picture, the races for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress have all but ended. We saw the Daniel Day-Lewis win coming from a mile away (even if yours truly thought it was too easy of a pick at this time last year, won’t be making that mistake again), and Anne Hathaway’s emotional performance left nearly everybody in tears. And while Supporting Actress is all but won, Supporting Actor is still open to all five candidates, all of whom are previous Oscar winners. Tommy Lee Jones has the backing of the SAG, and in tight races such as these, that’s always a great tie-breaker to go by.
Over in Best Actress, this is Jennifer Lawrence’s award to lose, as the backlash against Zero Dark Thirty has dampened the spirits of Chastain supporters, even though she still manages to bring in other awards. And while Lawrence is still the clear favorite, I can’t help but think that Emannuelle Riva has a solid chance at winning Sunday night. Here is a beloved performance in a film that manged to grab Best Picture and Director nominations that few had predicted, and you have to think that she has plenty of backing from the older crowd of the Academy. Limited visibility hurts her, though, as does the performance being in a different language. Marion Cottilard won just seven years ago for a French performance as well, but that was such a rarity and a win that many people were shocked by. And for the final of the big six, Spielberg still appears to be the heavy favorite since neither Affleck or Bigelow were nominated for their efforts. And while he’s been picking up momentum as of late, I’m going with a bit of a sleeper in Life of Pi director, Ang Lee. While being a deeper movie, Life of Pi is the more accessible of the two movies, and a worthy adaptation of a beloved source material. This isn’t as crazy of a pick as it would’ve been a month ago, but it’s still a decent gamble. Keep an eye out for a possible Haneke win, however.
And now onto the picks. I went back and forth between how I would deliver these (include alternates, who should vs who will), but at the end of the day, went with simplicity. Make sure you tune into the live Oscars telecast, which will air this Sunday at 7 EST.
Best Picture- Argo
Best Director- Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Best Actor- Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Supporting Actor- Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Best Actress- Emmanulle Riva, Amour
Best Supporting Actress- Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Best Adapted Screenplay- Argo
Best Original Screenplay- Django Unchained
Best Editing- Argo
Best Cinematography- Life of Pi
Best Art Direction- Les Miserables
Best Costume Design- Anna Karenina
Best Makeup- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Best Music, Original Score- Skyfall
Best Music, Original Song- “Skyfall” from Skyfall
Best Sound Editing- Life of Pi
Best Sound Mixing- Les Miserables
Best Visual Effects- Life of Pi
Best Animated Feature- Wreck-It Ralph
Best Documentary Feature- Searching for Sugar Man
Best Foreign Language Film- Amour, Austria