It’s ZERO DARK THIRTY now and we are just hours away from the annual Academy Awards. The media, critics, and studio BEASTS are winding down from the fervent campaigning (Mr President LINCOLN would know a thing or two) during the awards season and looking to enjoy the Oscars hosted by Seth MacFarlane (and Ted) at the Dolby Theatre. RONALD WAN predicts the winners from his trusted PLAYBOOK or maybe you should just ARGO figure out yourself.
A lock down for Daniel Day-Lewis for one hell of a method role in Lincoln as the iconic President in his last few months where he waged on a closing civil war, grieved over the death of a son, and indulged in a Congressional gridlock of political wrangling, bargaining and arm twisting. Academy members will be up on their feet applauding the President, um, Day-Lewis. Asides: Joaquin Phoneix’s intense rage and inner demons trapped in a hunched frame in The Master deserves mention. Similar for Denzel Washington portraying a conflicted man ridden with guilt and seeking redemption from the bottles, who does not resort to over acting or shouting where a lesser actor would.
The buzz is focused on Jennifer Lawrence for her manic performance in Silver Linings Playbook and possible cat fight with another young actress Jessica Chastain for her cold and indifferent role as a CIA agent in Zero Dark Thirty. But my sentimental and intuitive feel is on Emmanuelle Riva as the tender other half of an old couple who chooses to live out her days by her own conviction and design in the heart-wrenching Amour, to win.
Best Supporting Actor
The category is too close to call with all 5 nominated actors of having pedigree and won Oscars before. But just like what Tommy Lee Jones‘ character Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln would do, vote we must and Jones shall prevail, much like the 13th Amendment. Asides: Christoph Waltz’s role as the sociopath mentor and bounty hunter in Django Unchained might create an upset here with such a riveting performance.
Best Supporting Actress
Nobody is stealing the Oscar away from Fantine in Les Misérables, or Anne Hathaway who has all but sealed the category up with her painful and heartbroken rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’. Much has to be said about Helen Hunt in The Sessions, whose bold and special performance as a sex therapist brings softness and love to the harsh realities of a man with polio.
Ben Affleck, who? Moving on from the snub, the Academy members will probably throw their weight around Steven Spielberg who deftly pulls off a masterpiece steeped in history and long discourses, two surmountable challenges in cinema today. But kudos to Ang Lee for taking on even far bigger challenges filming Life of Pi in the magical 3D coupled with the deep blue sea, an unknown actor, and a damn tiger. Lee to win by the skin of, what else, a tiger.
The voting patterns of the Academy are often inclusive and parochial, where the acting, directing and writing branches tend to vote for “one of their kind”. Argo is one of them. It’s more than just a thriller about the Iranian hostage crisis. It’s a movie that celebrates Hollywood and film-makers who boldly use the cinematic art form to re-imagine a plan to rescue fellow Americans. Remember the nail biting scene in the airport departure hall where one of the crew showed the Iranian guards storyboards of the ficticious Argo film? That had the audience hooked — including Hollywood. And the best part? Hollywood loves a comeback kid story, and Ben Affleck/Argo is the proverbial comeback kid now. After a snub in the directing category, the members are piling sympathy votes and award after award of late on the film, which isn’t a bad thing altogether if you ask me. Lincoln may surge as it resonates with the older members with a penchant for history (and Spielberg because that man has influence) but Argo might just pull another fast one on us, like how it did with the Iranian revolutionary guards.
And the rest of the Oscars goes to…
Original Screenplay: Zero Dark Thirty
Adapted Screenplay: Lincoln
Foreign Language Film: Amour
Animated Feature: Brave
Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Production Design: Les Misérables
Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Cinematography: Life of Pi
Makeup: Les Misérables
Film Editing: Argo
*I have omitted predicting Sound Editing and Mixing for the first time because for the death of me, I still can’t tell (or hear) the difference.