The Oscar noms are out! I love the Oscars. Even as a child, since I grew up in Canada, I would stay up late to watch the whole unedited splurge of ballgowns and orchestras and boom-tish jokes, hardly knowing who half the people were but fascinated by the ritual. It’s the closest thing America has in pomp and pageantry to a Royal wedding.
So believe me when I say I know already who’s going to win:
Best Picture: The nice surprises here are the lovely Beasts of the Southern Wild, and the extraordinary Amour – rare to have a foreign picture get the nod. Les Miserables will have a bucket-load of good will, Pi looks ravishing and there’s even an outside chance for Silver Linings Playbook, but really there’s just one possible winner: Lincoln. America feels bad about itself. Spielberg keeps reminding it of its racist past, through The Color Purple, Amistad and, if you will, E.T. Now he is eulogising the end of slavery.
Best Actor: A heavyweight line-up here. Hugh Jackman is well loved in the industry, and Hollywood loves a musical. Joaquin Phoenix was mesmerising in The Master, but does himself no favours with the Oscar committee (Anthony Hopkins has been pointedly snubbed for dissing the Awards a month ago). Denzel Washington also has a chance for a subtle, career-best performance in Flight. But who can stop Daniel Day-Lewis in full flow, accent and all?
Best Actress: Conversely, no heavyweights at all here. Jennifer Lawrence won’t win again, so soon. It’s cute to nominate nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, but good acting at that age is more down to director than performer. Emmanuelle Riva, at 85 the oldest ever nominee, has a very good chance at getting Amour deserved recognition, but then so does Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, which received fewer noms than expected. It’s a close call, but I think sentiment will triumph over jingoism (plus the Academy voters have a median age of 62, so like an older actress). The name in the envelope will be Riva’s.
Best Director: Can Spielberg win a fourth Oscar? Does the Pope say Hail Marys? Do bears eschew sanitary facilities in favour of the woods? It would be nice for Michael Haneke to win, and voters might just mistake technical accomplishment for direction and honour Ang Lee again, but Hollywood loves nothing more than an epic with a heart: Spielberg it is.
Best Screenplay: The voters in this category, ie fellow screenwriters, are a more discerning bunch. So best original screenplay will confound American expectations by going to Amour rather than to Django Unchained or Zero Dark Thirty. Best adapted screenplay could just go to the wonderful David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, since it’s so rare to find a genuinely great rom-com, with a brain as well as a heart. But Tony Kushner’s Angels in America was one of the great works of the 20th century, and if Lincoln‘s winning the other big awards, he’ll have to win this one too.
See you back here on Feb 24 so I can say “told you so”… or else to see photographic evidence of me eating my hat.
Now read this… When I stood on stage at the Oscars: http://bit.ly/WjCnhI