Tonight, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will host the 85th Academy Awards – officially rebranded this year as The Oscars. Though only a handful of films have been selected to represent the year’s best, 2012 was an extraordinary year in Hollywood. Blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games attracted flocks of movie-viewers throughout the globe, while lower-profile hits like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook set critics abuzz. Here are my picks to win:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Though experts have agreed that this category is essentially a three-horse race between Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained was truly an example of cinematic excellence. With its unconventionality (its goriness is stomach-turning) stemming from the revolutionary mind of director Quentin Tarantino and unforgettable performances by Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and most notably Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained contained all of the elements of a Best Picture winner.
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Though the film itself was not as thrilling as Oscar opponents Argo and Django Unchained, Lincoln saw an amazing performance from Day-Lewis. He deserves to receive his due from the Academy. Day-Lewis shined, as his metamorphosis into one of the most powerful men in American history powered the movie throughout. Despite strong performances by the entire cast, Day-Lewis truly excelled as Lincoln, as his impersonation was quite possibly one of the most memorable in film history.
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 2012, Lawrence masterfully transformed from a dystopian heroine in The Hunger Games to a mentally unstable widow in Silver Linings Playbook. In the latter, Lawrence convincingly played the damaged counterpart (and dance partner) of the bipolar Bradley Cooper. Lawrence’s heartfelt and emotional performance should undoubtedly earn her an Oscar win, as her brilliance in a difficult role at such a young age will sway voters in her favor.
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
If you’ve seen Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Waltz’s performance is more of the same. Not because Waltz is predictable in any way, but because he was just as excellent and captivating as he was in his Oscar-winning performance in Tarantino’s 2009 hit. With just as many smirks and a bit more blood, Waltz excelled as a bounty hunter leading Jamie Foxx’s Django to his long-lost wife.
Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Hathaway’s haunting rendition of I Dreamed a Dream has single-handedly placed her atop this list. The trademark song from the iconic musical was filmed while Hathaway was actually cutting her hair off, adding to the raw emotion of the dramatic scene. Though she had a limited role in the film, the Dallas Morning News called Hathaway “angelic”, while the Washington Post argued that Hathaway’s Fantine was the “centerpiece” of the film.
Photo by Samantha Henze