In many respects, the Oscars feel like a sporting event as nominees tirelessly campaign to win and award analyzers place bets on which horse will cross the finish line. Even a loyal Oscar viewer such as myself is bound to make several incorrect predictions come Oscar Sunday. Regardless, I’m going to do my best to forecast who will be taking home the awards on Feb. 24.
It seemed like “Lincoln” was the certified Best Picture frontrunner when it achieved 12 Oscar nominations last month. Since then, however, “Argo” has received overwhelming recognition from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, Producers Guild, Writers Guild, and various other awards. The one factor holding “Argo” back is that Ben Affleck was not nominated for Best Director. Given its unstoppable momentum, “Argo” will more than likely become the fourth film in history to pull this off. I’ll be beyond content with “Argo” winning since it was my second favorite movie of 2012. What would make me even happier though, is if the award went to my absolute favorite movie of the year. Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” took me on a spiritual and visual journey unlike anything I’ve ever experience at the movies.
What Will Win: “Argo”
Potential Spoiler: “Lincoln”
My Preference: “Life of Pi”
With Ben Affleck absent from this category, Steven Spielberg seems bound to win his third Best Director Oscar for “Lincoln.” It will be a worthy triumph for the immortal director, who fashioned the most authentic representation of Abraham Lincoln’s final months in office, the Civil War, and 1800s politics the silver screen has ever seen. Still, my preference to win this category remains Ang Lee for “Life of Pi.” Through his extraordinary film, Lee proves that he’s one of the few working directors that not only understands how to use 3-D effects, but CGI as well.
Who Will Win: Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln”
Potential Spoiler: Ang Lee for “Life of Pi”
My Preference: Ang Lee for “Life of Pi”
When everyone first heard Daniel Day-Lewis would be playing Abraham Lincoln in a Steven Spielberg movie, it became crystal clear who would be walking home with the Best Actor statuette on Oscar night. Day-Lewis fully lived up to expectations through his hauntingly believable portrayal of our 16th president. As laudable as the four other nominees are, there’s no stopping Day-Lewis here. He deserves to become the first man ever to win three Best Actor Oscars.
Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”
My Preference: Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln”
For a while this looked like a two-horse race between Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty” and Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook.” But in the past couple weeks Emmanuelle Riva has been gaining more support for her tragic performance as a woman slowly losing her life in “Amour.” While it will be great to see Riva become history’s oldest Oscar-winning performer, my personal favorite of the bunch is Lawrence. In “Silver Linings Playbook,” Lawrence is fearless without being tasteless, sexy without being trashy, and idiosyncratic without being over-the-top in what just might be the pinnacle of her already remarkable career.
Who Will Win: Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour”
Potential Spoiler: Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty”
My Preference: Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best Supporting Actor
Just about anybody’s name could be called on Oscar Sunday and it wouldn’t be at all surprising. If I had any say in the matter, the winner would undoubtedly be Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained.” Since Waltz already won this award only a few years ago though, the Academy probably isn’t in any rush to award him a second Oscar. As of now, Tommy Lee Jones appears to be the frontrunner for his scene stealing performance as the crabby Thaddeus Stevens in “Lincoln.” It’s also possible that the Academy will give Robert De Niro his first Oscar in more than 30 years for his splendid work as the aggressive father in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Who Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”
Potential Spoiler: Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook”
My Preference: Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained”
Best Supporting Actress
Aside from Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway winning for “Les Misérables” is the closest thing there is to a lock in the acting categories. Even though she’s on screen for only about 20 minutes, Hathaway gives the single most gut-wrenching, tragic performance of the year as Fantine. Every expression, every note, every queue, every raw emotion Hathaway emits in this anguishing “I Dreamed a Dream” number will tear you up inside. If she doesn’t win the Oscar, it will be a great tragedy.
Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway for “Les Misérables”
Potential Spoiler: Sally Field for “Lincoln”
My Preference: Anne Hathaway for “Les Misérables”
Best Original Screenplay
Screenwriter Michael Haneke seems like a safe bet here for “Amour” since he also managed to score a surprise Best Director nomination. Not too far behind Haneke is Quentin Tarantino, who penned his most financially successful and funniest film to date with “Django Unchained.” Personally, I’m routing for Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola to pull an upset for their endlessly unique “Moonrise Kingdom.”
What Will Win: “Amour”
Potential Spoiler: “Django Unchained”
My Preference: “Moonrise Kingdom”
Best Adapted Screenplay
Most people are predicting Tony Kushner to win here for “Lincoln.” While Kushner did an absolutely remarkable job at adapting Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” I’m going with Chris Terrio for “Argo.” Terrio crafted an intense, smart, and occasionally very funny script based on an unbelievable true story.
What Will Win: “Argo”
Potential Spoiler: “Lincoln”
My Preference: “Argo”
Best Animated Feature
“Brave” might have been the highest-grossing animated feature of 2012, but “Wreck-It Ralph” was easily the more inventive and original film on every level. Here’s hoping that the Academy makes the right choice by awarding this inspired love letter to video games that can appeal to all ages.
What Will Win: “Wreck-It Ralph”
Potential Spoiler: “Brave”
My Preference: “Wreck-It Ralph”
• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.