The Oscars are boring when they’re predictable and a lot of fun when they’re not. Most years, it’s a mixed bag of categories for which the winners are easy to pick along with some not even Carnac the Magnificent could see coming, and this year is no different. Of the big six major categories covered here, three are virtual locks, two are a bit shaky and one is anyone’s guess. If nothing else, at least we have host Seth MacFarlane of "Ted" (up for Best Song for his "Everybody Needs a Best Friend") and “Family Guy” to entertain us.
“Argo” has won all the major awards, the story makes Hollywood a hero, which Academy voters will love, and I think I still have a lump in my throat from watching the last half hour. Except for “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Lincoln” (I respected those last two, but didn’t necessarily like them), the other nominees were superb: “Amour” made me cry, which never happens at movies; “Django Unchained” was terrific film art with a strong message; “Les Miserables” had a sweeping emotional resonance that's difficult to achieve; “Life of Pi” is the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen; and “Zero Dark Thirty” is a strong drama with a stirring finale.
Will win: “Argo.”
Should win: “Argo.”
Speaking of former Oscar winners, with a win for “Lincoln,” Daniel Day-Lewis will join Katharine Hepburn as the only actors with three lead actor Oscars. And who will be presenting Day-Lewis with the award? The woman largely considered the greatest actress of her generation, Meryl Streep. Even those, like me, who didn’t love “Lincoln” as a movie certainly appreciated Day-Lewis’ incredible, lived-in performance as the 16th president of the United States. In another year, any of the other nominees would be strong contenders to win, as all of the actors in this category were fabulous — Hugh Jackman in “Les Miserables,” Denzel Washington in “Flight,” Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master” and Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Will win: Day-Lewis.
Should win: Day-Lewis.
This category is a bit more up for grabs. Most speculate it’s between favorite Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty,” but don’t count out Emmanuelle Riva from “Amour,” a film that tugged at the heartstrings more than any other this year. Also nominated are Quvenzhane Wallis from “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Naomi Watts, who was phenomenal as a mother wanting to reunite her family after being in a devastating tsunami in “The Impossible.”
Will win: Lawrence.
Should win: Watts.
Best Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”) is the favorite, but any of the five nominees — all of whom have won in the past — could emerge victorious. Christoph Waltz proves he was born to speak Quentin Tarantino’s words in his great performance in “Django Unchained,” Robert De Niro actually acted again (for a change) in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the highlights of “The Master,” and Alan Arkin provided perfect comic relief in “Argo.” That said, Jones’ bombastic grandstanding should be enough to get him his second statue.
Will win: Jones.
Should win: Waltz.
Best Supporting Actress
For as much as Day-Lewis is a lock for lead actor, you can count on Anne Hathaway as even more of a lock as best supporting actress for “Les Miserables.” Her performance was, in a word, heartbreaking, and her stunning rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” gave even the most hardened, unfeeling cynics goosebumps. We also see her get a real, live haircut in the film, which is not a reason for her to win, but it does show a gutsiness other Hollywood-types will respect. Other nominees are two-time Oscar-winner Sally Field for “Lincoln,” Helen Hunt for “The Sessions,” Amy Adams for “The Master” and Jacki Weaver for “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Will win: Hathaway.
Should win: Hathaway.
Ordinarily the winner of the Director’s Guild of America award is the frontrunner but, inexplicably, the DGA winner for “Argo,” Ben Affleck, isn’t even nominated. Pundits are guessing it will be either Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) winning his third Oscar or Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”) his second, but don’t count out Michael Haneke for “Amour,” an emotional, unflinching story that's a notable highlight of Haneke’s considerable career. Also nominated are Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook,” which is the first movie since “Reds” in 1981 to have a nominee in all four acting categories.
Will win: Haneke.
Should win: Affleck. I don’t care that he’s not nominated, this award should be his.