David Larsen’s picks
Should win: Amour. A vanishingly rare instance of the Academy nominating an actual masterpiece in this category, but since it’s a harrowing, slow-paced, French language masterpiece, it will have to be content with winning Best Foreign Language Film. Beasts of the Southern Wild is the next-best film on the ballot. It won’t win either.
Will win: a month ago I would have said Lincoln, and I would have said it happily, because despite a bit of Spielbergian patriotic over-egging, it’s a great film. But the Academy’s failure to nominate Argo‘s Ben Affleck for best director appears to have won him a massive sympathy vote, and at time of writing I’d give this likeable, competent thriller about 50/50 odds of winning. Which would be absurd, but no more absurd than Oscar’s norm; it isn’t the worst film on the ballot (that would be Les Misérables), and I don’t know anyone who saw it and didn’t more or less have a good time.
Should win: Michael Haneke, for Amour. The absolute control with which this film deploys raw emotion has to be seen to be believed. It could so easily have felt rigid. It could so easily have overflowed its bounds. Haneke’s touch is completely sure throughout.
Should win: Emmanuelle Riva is extraordinary as a woman facing death in Amour, and it isn’t really fair that I’d be just as happy if Quvenzhané Wallis won for her powerhouse turn in Beasts of the Southern Wild. But there you go, I would be. And although Silver Linings Playbook dresses timid sentimentality up as brave, issue-
confronting drama in a way that ought to annoy me, the film is kept afloat by a stellar performance from the divine Jennifer Lawrence. If I have to choose, then Riva deserves this award, but if Lawrence were to win I’d be much happier than I will be when it goes to…
Will Win: …Jessica Chastain, who’s perfectly fine in Zero Dark Thirty, and is the only major nominee for that embattled film Academy members are going to feel politically able to vote for. (Is the torture controversy a beat-up? No, it isn’t: the film claims the authority of being fact-based, and it’s quite straightforward about presenting waterboarding and other torture techniques as necessary evils, i.e. not really evils. I would also comment that I found it rather boring, but in this I’m very much in the minority).
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis, for playing Lincoln in Lincoln. The film has a lot more than this performance going for it, but if it didn’t, I’d still tell you to go see Day-Lewis. Acting as whole-body alchemy. I’ll have his Lincoln’s voice in my head for the rest of my life.
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis, for playing Lincoln in Lincoln. This year’s one sure thing.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Should win: Amy Adams, for playing the scary power behind the cult leader’s throne in The Master.
Will win: Anne Hathaway, for being very very sad in Les Misérables. I dreamed a dream that I wasn’t watching this film. But then I woke up, and Hathaway’s wronged-mum-turned-prostitute still wasn’t dead yet.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, for an astonishingly nuanced performance as a man mostly – or somewhat? – convinced by his own charismatic brand of bullshit, in The Master.
Will win: I actually have no idea. There isn’t a weak performance on the list. Robert De Niro’s is the least substantial part – tied with Alan Arkin’s film producer in Argo, maybe – but it’s also De Niro’s first really decent bit of acting since Stardust in 2007, and before that you have to go back a full ten years to Wag The Dog. There may be a sense at the Academy that they should grab the chance to award the great man while they can.
Dominic Corry’s Picks
Best Picture: Argo - In a crowded field of legitimate contenders, this film’s momentum should take it across the line.
Best Director: Ang Lee – Feels like anyone’s prize at this point, but Lee deserves it most.
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – Late surge for Amour’s Emmanuelle Riva won’t overcome Lawrence’s Cinderella story.
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis – Unstoppable at this point.
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway – Focal point for all the love for Les Miserables.
Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro. He’s the best he’s been in years and results should reflect that.
Read Dominic’s NZ Herald movie blog here.
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