Surprise, surprise. Ben Affleck’s Argo won the Directors Guild of America’s (DGA) top prize on Saturday. With the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) doling out its prizes on Sunday, we should again anticipate a win for the thriller, though Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln might instead prevail. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) unveils its winners seven days later.
All looks assured with these precursor wins, but don’t count out any possibility in an odd season like this. I’d like to take the time to briefly champion Emmanuelle Riva’s timeless performance in Amour. It’s not as if I haven’t rallied for this “cause” before, but it’s the kind of work we’ll be talking about for decades to come – and not for the wrong reasons. Riva’s performance hits no false notes and strikes all the right chords, those of sheer emotion and vulnerability. It’s so haunting and real that you can’t shake off the effects on her work.
I’m pegging Amour for three prizes, with its only misses being in the director and picture categories. It really should win those, too, but I won’t fight a battle I can’t win. Check out Kristopher Tapley’s recent piece in favor of the actress’ performance– a more thorough championing of Riva, no doubt.
Like I said, Argo all the way. Lincoln sits right behind it, ready to pounce if any weakness presents itself, but Argo isn’t slowing down. The campaign for Silver Linings Playbook now posits David O. Russell’s dramedy as an “important” film to people with mental illness and for others to understand mental illness, but I’m not sure that narrative can win this time around. Can Ang Lee’s Life of Pi make its way past wins in the crafts races? It’s doubtful, but you never know.
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Life of Pi
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
6. Zero Dark Thirty
7. Les Misérables
9. Django Unchained
Affleck clearly can’t win here, so expect Lincoln, the film’s chief rival in the best picture race, to take this prize for Spielberg.
1. Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
2. Ang Lee for Life of Pi
3. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
4. Michael Haneke for Amour
5. Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Actress in a Leading Role
I still see Riva walking home on Feb. 24 with the Oscar. Believe it or not, my delusions of grandeur aren’t clouding my vision. Buzz is building for the performance; the aforementioned Tapley piece can’t hurt. Still, Jennifer Lawrence might be an indomitable force since she won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG). Isn’t it odd that we’re not discussing Jessica Chastain anymore?
1. Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
2. Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
3. Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
4. Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Naomi Watts for The Impossible
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis will win this zzz…. Joaquin Phoenix should win this Oscar with ease, but I wouldn’t count on it considering the general distaste for The Master. (I’d also prefer Hugh Jackman or – I never thought I’d say this - Bradley Cooper.)
1. Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
2. Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables
3. Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
4. Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
5. Denzel Washington for Flight
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
It’s Anne Hathaway. There’s not much more to it than that. I haven’t fully given up on the idea of a Sally Field uspet just yet, but it’s still highly unlikely. Amy Adams will win one of these days, but The Master won’t do the trick (even though it arguably should).
1. Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
2. Sally Field for Lincoln
3. Amy Adams for The Master
4. Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook
5. Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
I’m finally switching this category in favor of Robert De Niro. Three of this category’s nominees won within the last decade. Only Tommy Lee Jones, who won the SAG and presents the most obvious threat, and De Niro won outside of the last 10 years. If Silver Linings Playbook will win somewhere, this might be the race. Then again, films like Up in the Air and True Grit earned quite a few nominations without picking up a single win, so perhaps Weinstein can’t find a silver lining for his Oscar playbook after all.
But this is the one acting race where we can’t count out any one of the nominees. Even Alan Arkin, who I’ve got in fifth, could win without surprising me but so much.
1. Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
2. Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
4. Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
5. Alan Arkin for Argo
Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal will probably get the WGA prize for Zero Dark Thirty, but the Oscar isn’t quite as assured. Quentin Tarantino could pull off his second win, but I think Michael Haneke will win for Amour since it’s the only film in this lineup with a director nomination.
1. Michael Haneke for Amour
2. Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
3. Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
4. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom
5. John Gatins for Flight
Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo probably won’t win the best picture Oscar without at least one more prize somewhere. Maybe it’s here; maybe it’s in a “below-the-line” race. I still see Tony Kushner winning for Lincoln, but let’s see what happens at BAFTA.
1. Tony Kushner for Lincoln
2. Chris Terrio for Argo
3. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
4. David Magee for Life of Pi
5. Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar for Beasts of the Southern Wild