Let’s face facts: Academy Awards voters are kinda like that 80-year-old accountant you hate seeing. They’re predictable, uninspired, and rarely choose to colour outside the lines. Simply put, boldness scares them. Sometimes this mentality ensures statues aren’t given out all willy-nilly on a whim. Other times, it prevents deserving candidates from ever reaching that elusive award show podium. Below are five Oscar wins that won’t happen in 2013 for this exact reason. Ah, if only voters would grow a pair…
Actress in a Supporting Role
Who’s gonna win: Anne Hathaway
Who should win: Helen Hunt
I dunno, man — Anne Hathaway’s talented ‘n all. But add up her scenes in Les Miz and you’re looking at a scant 15 minutes of screen time. Plus, she’s singing the whole time. Is singing really acting? I say nyet! So let’s slap her with a Grammy and hand the Oscar over to Helen Hunt. After hiding under a rock lo these past twelve or so years, the Divine Miss H. emerged guns a-figuratively-blazin’ with a tour-de-force turn as sex surrogate Cheryl in The Sessions. Considering she was nominated, I can’t accuse the Academy of overlooking this career-best performance. But I can sure give them heck for not taking it to the hoop (a basketball expression, I think) by giving us a Helen Hunt win. Put another way, Oscar voters: I’m mad at you for snubbing Ms. Mad About You. (pun!)
Who’s gonna win: Life of Pi
Who should win: Prometheus
Yes, I’m well aware Life of Pi has the world’s most realistic CGI tiger. And that’s quite decidedly awesome. The CGI fish ain’t no slouches either. But what really steals the Life of Pi show is the stellar cinematography, direction, and storytelling. Prometheus, by contrast, is a tougher sell to the Academy. Reviews were decidedly mixed, while countless YouTube videos took to playing whack-a-mole with the numerous plot holes. To boot, Prometheus has one Oscar nomination to Life of Pi’s eleven, a statistic that does precious little on the momentum front. Nonetheless, this admittedly-flawed-yet-highly-enjoyable sci-fi romp blows the competition away on the visual effects front. We’re talking Avatar-level quality, minus the blue-tinged cartoonery. Take a gander at this trailer and tell me it ain’t more digitally ferocious than an entire army of Ang Lee tigers.
Actress in a Leading Role
Who’s gonna win: Jennifer Lawrence (probably), Jessica Chastain (possibly)
Who should win: Quvenzhané Wallis
Here’s this category’s Reader’s Digest breakdown: Jennifer Lawrence was excellent as troubled widow Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. She deftly balanced humour and physicality with dramatic gravitas, creating a unique character miles away from her roles in Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games. My praise for Jessica Chastain is far more tempered, mind you. To me, she was the weak link in Zero Dark Thirty: an adequate actress surrounded by an A-list nail-biter of a film. Which brings us to Beasts of the Southern Wild, the bayou-based quasi-fantasy flick that rests entirely on the shoulders of six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis. It’s a performance as moving as her name is difficult to pronounce; as rich as her character is poor. It’s often said the craft of acting is more about reacting; an adage that rings double true in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Despite her age, Wallis conveys in a single glance what other performers couldn’t pull of with pages of dialogue.
Actor in a Leading Role
Who’s gonna win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Who should win: Bradley Cooper (okay, just kidding)
Sure, I could sit here and tell you beloved Hollywood golden boy Hugh Jackman is deserving of an Oscar win for his heartbreaking turn in Les Miserables. Or that weirdo Joaquin Phoenix should get a little somethin’-somethin’ for his impressively weird weirdness in The Master. Heck, I could even make a case for Denzel Washington’s ultra-solid performance in the otherwise-quite-lightweight Flight. But here’s the thing: the Academy sometimes gets the answer right. Especially when 100% of the rest of the planet is screaming it from the rooftops. Daniel Day-Lewis will undoubtedly take home a little gold statue on Sunday, and he’s more than entitled. His take on the sixteenth American President is arguably one of the greatest performances ever put down on film. This despite the nearly impossible feat of converting one of history’s most revered figures into a blood-and-guts human being. Any other actor would have simply been a guy dressed as Lincoln, which in turn would have been the film’s death knell. Fortunately, Mistah Day-Lewis ain’t just any other actor.
Who’s gonna win: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln or Ang Lee for Life of Pi — pretty much a coin toss
Who should win: Ben Affleck for Argo
Yes, this is technically a cheat, given that Affleck wasn’t even nominated (!) in this category. But therein lies the rub. The Academy’s decision to shut the man out, despite Argo’s seven nominations (including Best Film), is already the stuff of legend. And not the good kind of legend, like the movie Legend — I’m talking the bad kind of legend, like The Legend of Bagger Vance. It’d be easy for me to argue why Argo is an incredible piece of filmmaking, but let’s review the tale of the tape instead. In recent weeks, Affleck has nabbed Best Director honours from the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Directors Guild of America, the National Board of Review, the San Diego Film Critics Society, the St. Louis Film Critics Association, and the Critic’s Choice Awards. ‘Nuff said.