Want to go?
What: Oscar Experience black-tie party (officially sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: O. Henry Hotel, Greensboro
Cost: $125 per person, $225 per couple or $850 for table of eight
Info: www.ctgso.org or 333-7469, noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.
Want to watch?
What: 85th Academy Awards
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: WXLV (Channel 45, ABC)
Will it be “Lincoln” or “Zero Dark Thirty” for Best Picture? How many speeches will ramble? Who will get political? What will the stars be wearing — and is Joan Rivers going to like it?
Our Oscar preview tells all.
• “Amour” Continue Reading
• “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
• “Django Unchained”
• “Les Miserables”
• “Life of Pi”
• “Silver Linings Playbook”
• “Zero Dark Thirty”
Joe’s pick: “Argo”
If it were up to me, the winner for Best Picture would be a film that challenged viewers and inspired future generations of storytellers.
Of this year’s crop of nominees, I would pick “Zero Dark Thirty” for its engrossing, politically neutral account of our nation’s hunt for Osama bin Laden.
I would select director Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a magically surreal odyssey inspired by the films of Terrence Malick and Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
I would even choose “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino’s blood-spattered revenge epic that uses stylized western fantasy to equate American slavery to the Holocaust.
That said, when that final envelope is torn open Sunday, you can bet that none of these films will take home the golden statue.
Both “Zero” and “Django” managed to offend select groups of liberals and conservatives in equal measure, and being a low-budget film by a firs-time filmmaker, “Beasts” lacks the profile to catch enough voters’ attention.
In terms of likely winners, this year’s Best Picture race comes down to three films — “Argo,” “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables.”
All carry a serious pedigree in terms of budget and talent involved, and more importantly, they are completely free of political baggage. Of the three, I would have to give the edge to “Argo.”
Aside from its recent Golden Globe and Producers Guild of America wins, “Argo” is the likeliest winner simply because it has been in theaters longer — 19 weeks — than any other nominee.
• Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook”
• Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”
• Hugh Jackman for “Les Miserables”
• Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master”
• Denzel Washington for “Flight”
Joe’s pick: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”
Although I might enjoy impersonating his Oscar-winning performance in “There Will Be Blood” for the rest of my life (“I drink your milkshake!”), I’m sad to report that Day-Lewis is likely to win again for his performance in “Lincoln.”
Why the change of heart?
Because although he dazzled audiences with his suitably over-the-top-and-back-again theatrics in “Blood,” with “Lincoln” there’s not a single moment when he doesn’t seem constrained by the importance the entire film is supposed to signify.
That said, Day-Lewis gives Academy voters something that makes them gaga — a radical transformation.
With his stooped shoulders, chin whiskers and permanently furrowed brow, even his greatest detractors (myself included) must admit he disappeared into this role.
• Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty”
• Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”
• Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour”
• Quvenzhané Wallis for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
• Naomi Watts for “The Impossible”
Joe’s pick: Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty”
The closest race by far at this year’s awards is between Lawrence and Chastain.
Both actresses have been nominated before (Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone” and Chastain for “The Help”), and both arguably delivered the best performances of their careers in the roles that earned their nominations.
But I think I would have to choose Chastain.
As a relentless U.S. intelligence agent, Chastain convinced me she had more chutzpa than all of this year’s male action movie heroes combined.
As a bonus: If Chastain takes the Oscar, it will almost make up for the Academy’s failure to nominate Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Alan Arkin for “Argo”
• Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook”
• Philip Seymour Hoffman for “The Master”
• Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”
• Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained”
Joe’s pick: Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”
I wouldn’t be surprised if Waltz won for “Django Unchained.”
Deservedly, Waltz edged out commendable performances by co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and especially Samuel L. Jackson.
The only hurdle that might prevent Waltz’s victory is the fact that he just won a Best Supporting Actor award in 2010 for “Inglourious Basterds.”
Although it’s not unprecedented for an actor to win an Academy Award more than once in a short span of time — Tom Hanks won two years in a row with “Philadelphia” in 1994 and “Forrest Gump” in 1995 — Waltz lacks the star power to make a double-dip likely.
Instead, I think the Oscar will go to the reliable, scene-stealer Jones for his work in “Lincoln.”
Like a fine wine, Jones’ trademark cragginess only gets better with age.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Amy Adams for “The Master”
• Sally Field for “Lincoln”
• Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables”
• Helen Hunt for “The Sessions”
• Jacki Weaver for “Silver Linings Playbook”
Joe’s pick: Anne Hathaway for “Les Miserables”
When I watched “Les Miserables,” I knew two things: (1) Russell Crowe can’t sing. (2) When they give Best Supporting Actress at this year’s awards, Hathaway is taking the gold.
Hollywood loves a prom queen — a young, beautiful actress who will get emotional and start to cry when she receives her award (see Halle Berry’s 2002 acceptance speech for “Monster’s Ball”).
Of this year’s set of nominated actresses, no one fits the bill more than Hathaway, who’s readying those acceptance speech tears as you read this.
• Michael Haneke for “Amour”
• Ang Lee for “Life of Pi”
• David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook”
• Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln”
• Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Joe’s pick: Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln”
Three of the year’s best directors — Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”) and Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom”) — were not even nominated.
Aside from French director Haneke and newcomer Zeitlin, all that we have left is a group of boring, uninspired directors who brought nothing to their films beyond an obvious desire to win awards.
Despite my consternation, my pick would have to be Spielberg.
The man was my hero when I was a kid, but I would be lying if I failed to admit that I found “Lincoln” to be mired by the heft of manufactured importance.
Joe Scott owns and operates Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema in Greensboro and is a co-founder of the Mixed Tape Film Series. You can contact him at email@example.com.