Andy Bockelman: Oscar night know-how
Steamboat Springs — That time is upon us once again. The time when the biggest and best names in Hollywood get dolled up in gowns and tuxedos while the rest of us get a few glimpses of the grandeur of the Academy Awards.
Even if you can’t attend the ceremony, now in its 85th year, it’s always fun to gather a few friends to celebrate the past year in movies and maybe win a little money to cover your losses from the Super Bowl. Some people take these bets pretty seriously — who’s got a wager on how long it takes host Seth MacFarlane to break into the voice of Stewie Griffin? — and in case your pals have an inside line, here are some predictions and personal picks to help you fill out your Oscar ballot.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Who will win: Tony Kushner for “Lincoln”
As the most nominated film of the evening, it seems likely that one of the awards the biopic will clinch will be this one for “Angels in America” creator Kushner’s writing, which gets into the head of the eponymous politician as well as the numerous real-life figures surrounding him. The effort to maintain historical accuracy is well beyond the norm, but Kushner never forgets to play up the moments that mean the most to a modern audience.
Who should win: Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
It’s no easy feat to move from one medium to another, but the treatment of Alibar’s stage play “Juicy and Delicious” for the screen simply is magnificent, following the misadventures of a youngster learning to fend for herself amid tragedy in the Gulf region. Fellow category nominee David Magee’s script for “Life of Pi” comes close to this upper echelon, yet it isn’t quite the same level.
Best Original Screenplay
Who will win: Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained”
No filmmaker jam-packs his movies with references to classic cinema more than Tarantino, and his take on this particular genre is no exception. With allusions to Westerns like casting a character known as “Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter,” you gotta give him credit for his esoteric nature.
Who should win: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for “Moonrise Kingdom”
As long as you’re talking about writers who have a style all their own, you can’t ignore the wondrous tapestry Anderson and Coppola weave about two young lovers. And in a category that includes plenty of despair in “Amour,” “Flight” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” why shouldn’t the one whimsical entry take home the trophy?
Best Supporting Actress
Who will win: Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables”
From the moment she opened her mouth to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” as the tragic Fantine, Hathaway had to have known she was all but guaranteed to win the gold. Nice to know that such a sad personality ultimately can have a happy ending.
Who should win: Anne Hathaway
Besides Hathaway genuinely giving the best performance compared with her competition, we must make sure she wins to prevent legions of rabid musical lovers from rising up and destroying us all.
Best Supporting Actor
Who will win: Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”
As fiercely outspoken pro-abolition congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Jones not only had some of the funniest lines of “Lincoln” but also served as the contemporary mouthpiece for an audience that always has seen slavery as the worst thing mankind ever has thought up.
Who should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman for “The Master”
Almost no actor of the past year has played a character as simultaneously maddening and mesmerizing as Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, an author and orator with more than a few parallels to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Whether it’s Jones or Hoffman coming out on top, with every nominee in this category a previous Oscar winner — rounded out by Robert De Niro, Alan Arkin and Christoph Waltz — there’s really no wrong choice for Academy voters.
Who will win: Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”
Playing a social misfit in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Hunger Games,” Lawrence could take home the award for playing Katniss Everdeen and most viewers would have few complaints. Still, as the wildly unpredictable but entirely self-assured Tiffany, Lawrence’s unwavering talents are at their best.
Who should win: Jennifer Lawrence
Lawrence certainly is the clear winner in my opinion, but she’s got her work cut out for her against equally strong female leads like Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty” and Naomi Watts in “The Impossible,” not to mention the youngest and oldest Best Actress nominees in history, Quvenzhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour,” respectively.
Who will win: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”
Aside from his pierced ears, there almost was nothing out of place for Day-Lewis’ metamorphosis into Honest Abe. The master thespian known for his intensive method acting already is a two-time recipient of the statuette, and there’s little doubt his process will bring him a three-peat.
And unlike his approach to “My Left Foot,” he didn’t even have to crack a rib this time.
Who should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Just as our 16th president is No. 1 in our hearts, it’s almost unthinkable that anyone else could trump Day-Lewis. If anyone has a chance — and it won’t be Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman or Joaquin Phoenix — it’s erstwhile Oscar contender Denzel Washington as the boozehound airline pilot of “Flight.”
Who will win: Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln”
Having been given the nod six times previously for his work in the director’s chair, complete with two wins, it’s a good bet that Spielberg won’t be leaving empty-handed with lucky No. 7. Besides being one of the best movies of the year, “Lincoln” also confirms the man behind it is better than ever.
Who should win: Ang Lee for “Life of Pi”
Although a presidential portrait must have had its trappings, the tale of a boy and tiger lost at sea couldn’t have been more complicated to visualize. The story that was considered unfilmable turned out to be an amazing, dreamlike journey thanks to Lee’s ability to turn difficult material into something magnificent. The same can be said about novice filmmaker Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a hard concept made simple.
What will win: “Lincoln”
Out of the nine nominees, this movie seems to be the one with the greatest amount of buzz. Having 12 nominations doesn’t hurt, but with certain awards in other categories 99.99 percent locks, the greatest honor of the night is that much more likely.
What should win: “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Competing against mainstream crowd-pleasers like “Lincoln,” “Life of Pi,” “Argo” and “Les Miserables” as well as acquired tastes like “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Django Unchained,” it’s easy for littler films to get overlooked. However, this small-budget gem may deserve the win for being so radically different in tone and technique than any of its opponents. Oscar doesn’t always reward those who think outside the box, but here it would be quite warranted.
At any rate, it’s good to see a collection of worthy titles on the list, including “Amour,” proving even foreign-language favorites have a place in the Best Picture race.
Andy Bockelman is a Craig resident, freelance writer and Denver Film Critics Society accredited film fanatic who occasionally reviews movies playing in Steamboat Springs.
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