Mr. Shabadoo's reign of terror as Oscar Pool champion continued unabated last year. Here's my picks in the the big six categories that will hopefully lhelp aunch me back into Oscar victory!
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
This is one of the two big locks of the night, as Anne Hathaway has gobbled up every possible pre-Oscar award for her turn as Fantine in Les Mis. If anyone can upset, it'll be Sally Field, nominated for her turn in Lincoln, the film which garnered the most nominations this year (and thus likely has widespread Academy support). Field is also two-for-two in terms of Oscar nominations, meaning she's never lost whenever she's been nominated. But it ain't gonna happen; Hathaway may as well clear one more space on her trophy shelf. So here's a little trivia to fill space: all five nominees this year are previous nominees, the first time that has ever happened in this category. Also, all five women are nominated for playing mothers to onscreen children, the first time that's ever happened in the category.
1st Pick: Anne Hathaway
2nd Pick: Sally Field
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Each year it seems like one of the two supporting categories is a crap shoot, and this year that honor falls to Supporting Actor. All five of the nominees are previous Oscar winners (the first time that's ever happened in this category), and a case can be made for each of the nominees winning. Arkin turns in a showy, Hollywood-friendly role for a film that, despite the much-hullabooed Affleck slight, seems to have a fair amount of Academy support. De Niro is a longtime vet who hasn't won an Oscar in decades, in a film that scored an acting nomination in every category (and thus is likely a favorite of the Academy's largest block of voters). Hoffman turned in reportedly the strongest performance of the five in what was essentially a lead role. Jones won the SAG, while Waltz won the Globe and the BAFTA, and has never lost a major award for which he's been nominated. Right now, I'm going with Jones, thanks to the SAG win and the overall Lincoln support, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Waltz wins his second Oscar for his second nomination. And you can't count out Bobby D. This one is going to go down to the wire.
1st Pick: Tommy Lee Jones
2nd Pick: Christoph Waltz
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
In a category featuring both the youngest and oldest nominated performers, ever, this had largely been a race between Chastain and Lawrence, with both picking up an assortment of precursor awards before the field eventually seemed to settle on Lawrence. But then Emmanuelle Riva emerged late in the race as a possible spoiler, winning the BAFTA (the last major Oscars precursor award) in a year in which the BAFTAs altered their voting process to more closely resemble the Academy's (thus making them a more accurate predictor of the Oscars). Since then, there's been a lot of buzz that Riva could win this, much of which also points that Amour scored best picture and directing nods outside the foreign film category, an indication that many inside the Academy are pulling for the film. My gut still says Lawrence will come away the victor, but this is another one I'll be debating right to the end.
1st Pick: Jennifer Lawrence
2nd Pick: Emmanuelle Riva
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Denzel Washington (Flight)
The biggest lock of the night, with Daniel Day-Lewis scooping up pretty much every pre-Oscar award (he may or may not have even won a Grammy for it). You could maybe put Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman in a tier above Phoenix and Washington, but it doesn't really matter. Daniel Day-Lewis will win this award. So here's some fun trivia about his category: with his nomination, Denzel Washington has become the most nominated African-American in Oscar history with six, surpassing Morgan Freeman. Also, when Daniel Day-Lewis wins, he'll become the first actor to win three Best Actor Oscars, and the first actor to win Best Actor for portraying a US President.
1st Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis
2nd Pick: Me
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Thanks to the much ballyhooed Academy snub of Ben Affleck, who, like Daniel Day-Lewis, has gone on to win nearly every possible Oscar precursor, including the Directors Guild Award, which tends to predict the Oscar with uncanny accuracy, this is another wide open category. As a result of Affleck's run, the Oscar nominees have barely any precursors to their name. Of the group, Lee and Spielberg seem to be the favorites to win, in part because their films earned the most and second-most nominations of the year. Life of Pi is largely viewed as a technical achievement, and being unable to give the award to Affleck, voters may view this as a chance to reward Lee's work. Spielberg is, well, Spielberg, and Lincoln was largely considered the front runner for Best Picture until Argo began its onslaught. A win for Spielberg would put him in rare company as a three time director winner (alongside John Ford, William Wyler, and Frank Capra). (Curiously enough, both Lee and Spielberg were involved in some of the few cases where the DGA and Oscar didn't lineup: Lee won the DGA for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000 but lost the Oscar to Steven Soderberg, while Spielberg won the DGA prize in 1985 despite, like Affleck this year, failing to score an Oscar nomination.) All things considered, this is another category I'll be going back and forth on leading up to the ceremony.
1st Pick: Steven Spielberg
2nd Pick: Ang Lee
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
When the nominations were announced back in January, Lincoln was immediately crowned the front runner for this award. Then Argo, despite what was widely perceived as the snubbing of its director by the directing branch of the Academy, proceeded to clean up nearly every precursor award, including the SAG award for best cast and the DGA award for directing. So now the question remains: will Argo be the next Driving Miss Daisy (the last film to win best picture without an accompanying best director nomination) or the next Apollo 13 (the last film to win nearly every precursor award only to lose out on Oscar night)? If you believe these things have momentum, Argo definitely has it, and despite the Affleck snub, it is widely seen as the kind of "celebrate Hollywood" back-patting film the Academy likes to reward (which isn't to say it isn't worthy of recognition on more critical merits). There's still a chance Argo could pull an Apollo 13, in which case I'd expect a Lincoln upset, but the fact that anything other than Argo winning would be considered an upset is telling.
1st Pick: Argo
2nd Pick: Lincoln