Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 20, 2013

And the winner is...

Andy Stuckey, Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The 85th Annual Academy Awards air at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Here’s our predictions in the six major categories.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Master); Sally Field (Lincoln); Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables); Helen Hunt (The Sessions); Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook).

Ryan: There’s two categories that appear to be no-brainers, and this is one (the other being Best Actor). Anne Hathaway has won almost every significant Oscar precursor and I would be shocked if she didn’t win Sunday. Les Miserables, as a film has its issues, but Hathaway’s performance as Fantine transcends whatever shortcomings the movie has.

Andy: I have long been a fan of Hathaway, so I went into Les Miserables primed for the performance that had already garnered so much attention. She does not disappoint; all but earning the Oscar during a 4 minute song that is sung with the camera just inches from her face. A shot that simple shouldn’t contain that much depth, and the fact that Hathaway is able to communicate so much with so little is evidence that she is one of the best actors working today. Honorable mention goes to Adams and Weaver, both of which would have been real contenders in a different year.

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin (Argo); Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook); Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master); Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln); Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained).

Andy: This category is hard to make a call on. All are distinguished actors in very solid roles. The only courtesy nomination here seems to be DeNiro, who seems to have been rewarded for not phoning in a performance for the first time in a decade. I would have to lean toward Arkin’s turn in Argo, as perhaps the most memorable character in a very memorable movie, or perhaps Hoffman’s dominating performance in the year’s best movie to not get nominated for best picture, The Master.

Ryan: This is definitely a loaded category as this is the first time in Oscar history where every nominee is already an Oscar winner. I really believe any of the five could win. But in the end I would put my money on Waltz. In really what could be considered a leading role, Waltz just commanded the screen in an award-winning manner.

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty); Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook); Emmanuelle Riva (Amour); Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild); Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Ryan: This is shaping up to be a two-horse race between Chastain and Lawrence. Both are deserving candidates to win their first Oscar, but I would give the edge to Lawrence. In a film with several award-worthy performances, it was Lawrence’s performance that shined the brightest.

Andy: I would agree that those two are the only ones who seem to have a serious chance to win. Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis’s nomination seems like a down payment on a potential career, Riva’s nomination seems like a life-time achievement award, and nobody really saw Watts in The Impossible. I would love to see Lawrence walk away with an award for her tight blend of comedy and drama, but Chastain dominated one of the most talked about movies of the year, so it seems likely that the Oscar will be hers.

Best Actor: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook); Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln); Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables); Joaquin Phoenix (The Master); Denzel Washington (Flight).

Andy: All of the performances listed above are superb, but there is only one that is historically transcendent, and that belongs to Daniel Day-Lewis. Lincoln is the only movie that I watched twice this year, and the second viewing was almost entirely to leer at the spectacle of Day-Lewis’s remarkable achievement of creating Abraham Lincoln. It is hard to finish watching that film without thinking that you know what Lincoln acted like on a day-to-day basis, even though most of the dialogue, performance, and mannerisms are speculation. The ability to create what seems like reality where no reality can exist is certainly worth an Oscar.  

Ryan: Not to belittle the other performances (because all of them are noteworthy in their own regard), but this category is a no-brainer. Daniel Day-Lewis will take home his third Oscar. When a performance redefines how one processes and thinks about a historical figure, then, in all actuality, winning an award doesn’t seem to capture the full impact of that.  

Best Director: Michael Haneke (Amour); Ang Lee (Life of Pi); David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook); Steven Spielberg (Lincoln); Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

Ryan: With Ben Affleck’s apparent snub in this category this is clearly the most wide open race. I feel like Spielberg is the favorite — because he’s Spielberg — but I could see Lee and Russell also winning.  But ultimately I believe Spielberg will take home the award for such a crowd-pleasing film.  

Andy: I actually found every movie on this list to have some major shortcomings that could be attributed to the director, so it is a bit hard declare a clear favorite. In thinking about the name of the award, Best Achievement in Directing, Ang Lee seems like the most logical choice, as he took a story that simply should not work as a film and made it entertaining and visually stunning. Lincoln seems like the safe choice, as it is Spielberg’s best film in a long time.  

Best Picture: Amour; Argo; Beasts of the Southern Wild; Django Unchained; Les Miserables; Life of Pi; Lincoln; Silver Linings Playbook; Zero Dark Thirty.

Andy: There does not seem to be a clear favorite in this slate of nominees. I obviously have a soft spot for Lincoln, but I do not necessarily think it should be the best picture. My preference would probably be Zero Dark Thirty for its triumph in storytelling combined with its ability to instigate conversations about geopolitical topics. While the exact same comment could be made about Argo, ultimately Zero Dark Thirty is the more polished piece of film, making it my choice for Best Picture.

Ryan: 2012 was a banner year in cinema and much of that is reflected in a highly-stacked field of the nominees. I feel like I could make a strong case for six of those nominated films to win Best Picture. If I was a voter I would vote for Silver Lining Playbook. I have a strong affinity for that modern day screwball comedy; but in the end I think Argo is going to win. And I don’t have an issue with that. I truly believe that Hollywood is not going to pass up an opportunity to pat itself on the back for playing a true part in such an unbelievable real-life-story.    

Next week we will be fully into 2013 with a look at a new release.