An air of predictability creeping into Oscars

Last updated 12:50 21/02/2013
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The Oscars for movies released in 2012 will be awarded on Monday (NZ time). Nelson Mail film reviewer Dave Manning looks at who's likely - and who he prefers - to win.

A month ago the 85th Academy Awards looked as if they might be far more uncertain than their usual predictability. But for the most part that has changed.

In the past month other awards - the Golden Globes, the Baftas and the Screen Actors, Producers and Directors guilds - have produced overwhelming favourites to win in several categories, although some of them are not favoured by such critic award groups as the New York Critics, the Los Angeles Critics, the National Board of Review and the Critics Choice Awards.

Computing the permutations of how all these earlier awards and recognition might affect the Oscars, and noting that The Master has had a limited release and is yet to screen in Nelson, the following in the eight major award categories are most likely to win - half of which coincide with my own preferences.

Best Adapted Screenplay

It's a toss-up between Tony Kushner's Lincoln and David O Russel's Silver Linings Playbook, with Chris Terrio's Argo an outsider.

Most Likely: Lincoln. Preference: Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Original Screenplay

Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained won the Golden Globe and the Bafta and is favoured ahead of Mark Boal's Zero Dark Thirty and Michael Haneke's Amour.

Most Likely: Django Unchained. Preference: Django Unchained.

Best Supporting Actress

If you're Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions) or Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), don't bother writing an acceptance speech. Anne Hathaway has won the Golden Globe, Bafta, Screen Actors and Critics Choice Awards, even if her performance in Les Miserables was also easily the most overwrought.

Most Likely: Anne Hathaway. Preference: Sally Field.

Best Supporting Actor

Looks like a two-horse race between Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained (Golden Globe, Bafta) and Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln (Screen Actors), despite a beautifully multifaceted performance by Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook and competition from the always impressive Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) and Alan Arkin (Argo). Waltz's problem is his role was much more a leading than supporting one - and his nomination in this category clearly made to increase his chances of winning.

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Most Likely: Tommy Lee Jones. Preference: Robert De Niro.

Best Actress

Two-way race for this award as well between Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), with Bafta-winner Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) possible if Lawrence and Chastain split the vote enough. Lawrence and Chastain both got Golden Globes, Chastain's performance is in a drama, which can carry more weight than comedy, but Lawrence won the Screen Actors award. Tough call. Maybe a tie, which has happened once for best actress with Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) and Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) in 1969.

Most Likely: Jennifer Lawrence. Preference: Jennifer Lawrence.

Best Actor

Can anyone beat Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)? No, but if there were a runner-up it should be Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), with Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Denzel Washington (Flight) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) all deserving of their nominations.

Most Likely: Daniel Day-Lewis. Preference: Daniel Day-Lewis.

Best Director

Much controversy in the nominations with Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) being overlooked. But the Academy's biggest snub, embarrassingly so, was its failure to nominate Ben Affleck for Argo, with Affleck now having won the Golden Globe, Bafta and Directors Guild awards. That leaves Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) odds-on favourite, perhaps only casting a look back at a distant David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), who would probably come in ahead of Ang Lee (Life of Pi) and Michael Haneke (Amour).

Most likely: Steven Spielberg. Preference: Steven Spielberg.

Best Picture

Three nominations appealed to American patriotism and pride - Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo. When the nine nominations were made, Lincoln was the early front-runner ahead of Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables and Argo, with this favouritism bolstered by Lincoln being the only film of these four to have its director nominated. In 84 years whatever film wins best director has won best picture 63 times. With the exception of twice in the academy's first five years only one film, Driving Miss Daisy (1990 awards), has won best picture without having its director nominated.

But Argo soon surprised and starting winning awards (Golden Globe, Bafta, Screen Actors and Producers guilds) as well as best director awards, plus a preferential balloting system is now used rewarding consensus favourites.

Probably too much an outsider but notable is Silver Linings Playbook, with nominations also for director, all four acting categories and adapted screenplay.

Meanwhile, violent Django Unchained, the French Amour, the visually spectacular Life of Pi and especially the indie Beasts of the Southern Wild are probably happy just to be nominated.

Most likely: Argo. Preference: Silver Linings Playbook

  • The Oscars screen live on Monday on the Sky Movie channel from 2.30pm.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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