|2012's Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist)|
We are in an exciting time for Oscar enthusiasts. We are officially one week away from the announcement of this year's nominees. In order to contribute some thoughts, I will be going down the major categories (Acting, Directing, and Best Picture) and predicting who will be the most likely to get nominated, as well as a few tidbits on why I agree with these decisions. Be warned that every story that I am going to write in relation to predictions will not actually feature any bias towards who should win. However, I will be detailing why I think each should be nominated. Also stay tuned for post-coverage in which I will actually be sharing my thoughts on the nominations and solidify who I believe should win in each category.
I've already done Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Actress. Continuing the list is probably the one that I have been tempted to call the hardest category to predict this year: Best Actor. Yes, there are some notable front runners, but it has quickly evolved into a roulette wheel of the Top 5 consistently changing. That is why this is probably my second most anticipated category (Best Picture of course is my most anticipated) when the nominations are announced. As usual, I have broken the list up into my definitive Front-Runners who I will believe will get a nomination, and the Possible Upsets, which there are going to be many of.
WHO: Joaquin Phoenix
WHAT: The Master
WHY: Ever since I saw the film, he has been my vote for Best Actor. No ifs, ands, or buts. Joaquin Phoenix remains the only performance that I saw all year that I felt was worthy of a definitive Oscar nomination. True, he said some controversial statements that may end up costing him a slot, but that shouldn't interfere with the fact that his fearless, neurotic performance is so unhinged and glorious that it may be his best role to date. The only way that I wouldn't pick him was if Denis Lavant for Holy Motors (a definitive must-see) was in contention. However, The Master remains a personal favorite and while I am sure it will be too scrappy to win all of the prizes, I still hold out hope for Phoenix to finally get an award.
WHO: Hugh Jackman
WHAT: Les Miserables
WHY: Say what you will about the movie, but one of the highlights of the film is definitely Hugh Jackman. His performance of Jean Valjean was so impressively deep and emotional. While some of his singing was problematic, he still could emote through song. Now that's impressive. Also, Jackman is just ripe for finally getting Oscar consideration after years of bland superhero roles and hosting one of the past decade's more memorable ceremonies. It may not win Best Picture, but of all performances, next to Anne Hathaway, Jackman is definitely well deserving of at very least a nomination.
WHO: John Hawkes
WHAT: The Sessions
WHY: Because the Academy loves disabilities. Also, being formerly nominated for Winter's Bone, John Hawkes is already an established performer and helped to elevate the movie from campy farce to a solid, human story. It is also easy to overlook that it is harder to act with only your head than the rest of your body. Daniel Day Lewis previously won for My Left Foot for doing similar, and it wouldn't be surprising if Hawkes got nominated just for the physicality that he puts into the role. At very least, the Golden Globe nomination will help a lot in getting him recognition.
WHO: Daniel Day Lewis
WHY: Because the Academy loves Daniel Day Lewis. He previously won for My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood, and he seemed to be poised just to win by the way he looked. However, he turned in an apt performance and that may be enough to give him a nomination. While I feel the film is overall not worthy of all of its praise, I cannot deny that Lewis gave one of the more intriguing performance in the film. However, the Oscar Buzz around him getting his third Best Actor win seems to be the gimmick that is over hyping this role. I really don't feel like he is deserving of it here.
WHO: Denzel Washington
WHY: Besides a Golden Globe nomination, this has been consistently hyped as Denzel Washington's best role in years. After winning for Training Day, he has been an inconsistent force, and with Flight, he is returning to top form. The problem may lie in that alcoholism is not high on the Oscar totem pole right now, though the Academy will probably give Washington the spot because when he's giving his all, he is such a magnetic force.
WHO: Bradley Cooper
WHAT: Silver Linings Playbook
WHY: I am really tired of talking about this overrated film. Just know that if the movie stands any chance of a nomination, it is Jennifer Lawrence. She was great. Bradley Cooper was mediocre. However, his traction for a nomination bugs me because it is so undeserved.
WHO: Anthony Hopkins
WHY: Because I believe that the Academy likes when people play famous people, notably in cinema. Consider it similar to how My Week with Marilyn sent both Kenneth Branagh and Michelle Williams into acting nominations last year. While the race is too packed to consider it happening again, it is still possible that Anthony Hopkins will sneak in, just like Helen Mirren, and get the film some recognition.
WHO: Jamie Foxx
WHAT: Django Unchained
WHY: So we know that Leonardo DiCaprio is a lock for Best Supporting Actor, but what are the odds of Jamie Foxx getting in Best Actor? Sure, the revisionist history movie is suffering some backlash because of racism and violence, but it cannot be argued that director Quentin Tarantino brings his game and always makes interesting characters to compensate. While the whole "which acting category is Christoph Waltz in?" charade has kept many busy, it is hard to overlook that Foxx, who previously won for Ray, carries the film in an intriguing fashion.
WHO: Jean Louis Trintignant
WHY: This film has garnered so much Oscar Buzz in the past few weeks that it may very well win Best Foreign Film. This will be largely based on how well its two leads are able to portray vulnerability and romance in the story. While I haven't seen it yet, I am almost sure that they are both more than capable and turn in surprisingly effective performances. The only question is if they can garner enough traction to earn acting nominations.
WHO: Suraj Sharma
WHAT: Life of Pi
WHY: I love Life of Pi and despite initial concern that it wouldn't deliver on acting, I feel like Suraj Sharma turns in one of the best screen debuts of the year. The way that he acts against an equally effective CGI tiger is impressive and in many ways I feel trumps Daniel Day Lewis' Lincoln performance. However, the Oscar Buzz around him hasn't been that strong and while the film seems to be definitively on its way towards a Best Picture nomination, Sharma will be left in the dust for now. However, I feel like he is too promising to have this be his only bout at the Oscars. I cannot wait for his next film.
Can Joaquin Phoenix get an Oscar nomination despite the insults? Will Amour sneak into the acting categories? Is Denzel Washington capable of returning to the Best Actor category after a long stretch of absence? Is it wrong to hope that Suraj Sharma gets a surprise slot?