Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 02:02
In the crowded field of Best Picture, one film stands as tall as its subject: Lincoln, which emerges with 45 percent of our vote as the clear frontrunner. It’s not a huge surprise that a movie on such a prominent historical subject and backed by such Oscar heavies as Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis should take home the big award, but it does face some serious competition. Ben Affleck’s Argo, coming in with 22 percent of the vote, could certainly cause an upset, especially given the hefty slate of awards it’s been racking up this season. Les Miserables is the third-place contender at 19 percent, while our poll also showed marginal chances for Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty, which are nonetheless likely too controversial to win. Meanwhile, Oscar hopefuls Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook seem to be crowded out, and for the lesser-seen Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, the nomination is the real achievement.
Sean's Take: I predict that Spielberg will be unstoppable again with a Lincoln victory, and given how good the movie is, I’m fine with that. But I also love the riskier Amour, Django, and Zero Dark Thirty, and would love to see the Academy recognize any one of these films with the big award.
Ariana's Take: Though Lincoln seems to be the popular choice for Best Picture, I actually think that Les Miserables should take home the Oscar. With its impeccable direction, cast, and music, it made a strong impression on me, that I think, without a doubt, is worthy of the Academy Awards’ recognition.
John's Take: Whatever Lincoln has in brains, Les Miserables has in heart—this masterwork reinvented the musical film genre entire with its unprecedented recording techniques and cinematography, and features the year’s best collective acting effort.
Two-time Best Director winner Steven Spielberg—who’s previously won for his serious historical efforts Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan—is set for repeat Oscar success with Lincoln, garnering 70 percent of the votes in our poll. The runner-up seems to be Ang Lee at 15 percent. Though his Life of Pi seems to have little chances in the Best Picture race, the Academy may recognize Lee for the impressive feat of turning a seemingly un-filmable book into a dazzling display of seamless computer generated animation and tactile 3D. For their smaller-scale efforts, Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin, and David O. Russell earned a handful of votes—but this race seems to belong to Spielberg, with the distant possibility of a Lee upset.
Sean's Take: Call me crazy, but I predict a massive upset as fresh-faced newcomer Benh Zeitlin wins for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Such a surprise would be just the kind of feel-good Oscar story that Academy voters love. As for who deserves the award, I go with the consensus in handing it to Spielberg for his masterpiece about politics, compromise, and character.
Ariana's Take: Already a winner of three Academy Awards, Steven Spielberg is no stranger to the Oscars. In Lincoln, he presents the complex subject matter of the Civil War with mastery and apparent ease. So he’ll probably win another Oscar, and honestly, I think that he should.
John's Take: Michael Haneke tells the story of old age and death no audience wants to be told with Amour, and in the heartbreaking capacity of its portrayal of fleeting humanity, Amour establishes itself as the best directing effort of the year.
In the category of Best Actor, we see Daniel Day-Lewis as the clear favorite for his work depicting our 16th president in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Day-Lewis has twice before received this very honor, once starring as Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989) and again as Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (2007). Few actors are as immersive in their craft as Day-Lewis—he requested a year of preparation for the role of Lincoln from director Spielberg before Lincoln started filming. The resulting performance was nothing short of iconic, erecting a new monument for the great president. Hugh Jackman is most likely of stirring an upset in the Best Actor category, for his consummate portrayal of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.
Sean's Take: Day-Lewis will win this contest, hands down, and deservedly so. He turns our most iconic and revered president into a real person, and he masters every nuance of the performance, from the high reedy voice to the long gait, without ever upstaging the outstanding ensemble cast around him.