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Handicapping the Oscars :: Kevin Taft’s Choices

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Friday Feb 22, 2013
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Everyone, it seems, is weighing in on his or her Oscar choices. Even New York Times FiveThirtyEight blogger, ace statistician Nate Silver. (Click here to see his choices.)

While Silver uses sophisticated metrics to determine his choices, EDGE’s critics have made their choices from more subjective points-of-view.

Below critic and screenwriter Kevin Taft makes his picks as to who will win, who should win and who should have been nominated.


Best Picture

Who Will Win:
"Argo" - I originally thought that Ang Lee’s "Life of Pi" would surprise everyone and win the Oscar for Best Picture. It hasn’t gotten a bad review and it was a feat to pull off. While I’m still wondering if this will beat them all, I have a feeling Ben Affleck’s Oscar snub for Best Director will give his film the Oscar gold.

Who Should Win:
"Life of Pi "- Taking a book of philosophy and adapting it to the silver screen was an astounding accomplishment. The amount of realistic animal CGI and a terrific performance by a lead actor no one knew makes this the kind of grand epic filmmaking Oscar loves.

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
"Perks of Being a Wallflower" - Criminally underrated and hardly seen, this film was a heartfelt adaptation of a popular novel that stuck close to the source material and treated the teenagers in the story with respect and tenderness. It’s an incredibly lovely film.


Best Actor

Who Will Win:
Daniel Day-Lewis for "Lincoln" - Despite having already won a Best Acting Oscar twice, I do believe that he deserves the gold and I think he’ll win it. He disappeared into his role as Lincoln without making him a caricature or a wax figure. The movie might have been a bit dull, but his performance made it compellingly watchable.

Who Should Win:
Daniel Day-Lewis

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
Logan Lerman for "Perks of Being a Wallflower" - Perhaps Daniel Day Lewis would beat anyone in this category, but Lerman’s heartwrenching performance in "Perks" was the standout role of the year. Vulnerable, tortured, and ultimately an astute survivor, Lerman hit every nuance of the character of Charlie with incredibly subtlety and grace,


Best Actress

Who Will Win:
Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook" - I think American is pulling for her to win. Her offscreen personality is charming and elegant and she doesn’t give a bad performance, even in less than stellar fare like "The House at the End of the Street." Awards generally don’t go to actors in Rom-Coms, but I think this is her year.

Who Should Win:
Naomi Watts for "The Impossible" - Watts’ performance in this little seen film is both agonizing and stunning. A physically and emotionally challenging role, she keeps you absolutely riveted for the first 45 minutes of the film, so much so her presence is felt strongly even when she’s not on screen.

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
Ann Dowd for "Compliance" - This talented actress plays the role of a fast-food manager who is horrifyingly manipulated by a prank caller pretending to be a cop. After hours on the phone, he ends up getting the woman to willingly and unwillingly be an accomplice to a female employee’s eventual sexual assault. Dowd’s fragility, ignorance, and fear is a wonder to watch. This is a criminally overlooked performance.


Best Supporting Actor

Who Will Win:
Tommy Lee Jones for "Lincoln" - Jones’ performance in "Lincoln" was a good one, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t surprising at all. It’s exactly what I would expect, bad wig and all. For some reason the Academy loves him so I think he’ll win for that alone.

Who Should Win:
Christoph Walz for "Django Unchained" - Another comedic and quirky role for Christoph Walz who won for "Inglorious Basterds." Because of his recent win, I predict he won’t get the award, but I think out of all the nominees, his performance stands out as being more complex and memorable.

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
Tom Holland for "The Impossible" or Ezra Miller for "Perks of Being a Wallflower" - here I just can’t decide. I think the Supporting Actor race is a bit of a snooze with the usual players being nominated. (De Niro for "Silver Linings Playbook?" He was good, but it’s not as though it was a stretch for him.) Because of that, amazing actors get pushed aside and Tom Holland’s incredible performance in "The Impossible" matched Naomi Watts beat by beat. Ezra Miller stole the scene whenever he was onscreen in "Perks" and was able to create a compelling and layered character that spoke volumes.


Best Supporting Actress

Who Will Win:
Anne Hathaway for "Les Miserables" - I have not been silent about my loathe for this film. The pretentious live-singing. The ugly emoting that robbed the musical of the beauty of its songs. But I’ll admit I cried when Anne did her little one-take number. She nailed it. She gets it. But God forbid, I’m never going to listen to her version of the song again. I like my music without a side of phlegm, thankyouverymuch.

Who Should Win:
Well, I did like Hathaway in "Les Mis," my second choice would be Amy Adams in "The Master." Truly, her character is the master of that film and I sort of wish that aspect of the story was further evolved. But it’s the last scene when Joaquin Phoenix’s troubled character is granted entrance to the Master’s chambers that the chilling Adams delivers the one-two punch.

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
Britt Marling for "Sound of my Voice" - Marling has excelled in her very short career. Between "Another Earth" and the recent "Arbitrage" she proves to be an actress to watch. In "Sound of My Voice" she portrays a cult leader who may or may not be from the future that can be both genuinely caring and then understatedly menacing. It’s a difficult switcheroo to pull off and she does it perfectly.


Best Director

Who Will Win:
Ang Lee for "Life of Pi" - I think Lee will surprise us and take the Oscar for his adaptation of the popular novel. He took a book of philosophy and made it into an accessible and entertaining film, while also retaining its deeper messages. He worked extremely well with a new actor and was a master at creating a realistic setting from soundstages and fake CGI animals. The film had a distinct look and has that Epic Oscar feel.

Who Should Win:
Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild." The film was original, beautiful (physically and emotionally) and he pulled amazing performances out of two non-actors - one of whom was a very young girl. A difficult feat to pull off and he does it wonderfully.

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
Stephen Chbosky for "Perks of Being a Wallflower" - In continuing my undying love for this film, here is an author who is now a first-time director and gets these stunning performances out of his cast. He also wrote a gorgeous script and stages everything like a pro without falling into the traps that most films about teens fall into. He did a lovely job.


Best Adapted Screenplay

Who Will Win:
Chris Terrio for "Argo" - As a
screenwriter myself, I find that I am awful at predicting this category, mostly because I find something worthwhile in each of the nominations and can’t figure which one the Academy will most likely cling to. Here, "Argo" balanced intense drama with many light touches. Terrio had to make a ridiculous situation seem true - because it was. And personally, I find anything historical a beast to get accurate, so hats off to Terrio for that.

Who Should Win:
David O’ Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook" - While I was very close to choosing David Magee for "Life of Pi," I felt that O’Russell’s script didn’t really have any false moments. It’s a comedy so there are some conveniences, but for the most part the dialogue and situations felt real and worked to tell the story.

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
Stephen Chbosky for "Perks of Being a Wallflower" - Nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award, Chbosky took his own novel and wasn’t afraid to faithfully adapt it, while still transforming it into something cinematic. The beauty of the words became poetry on screen and made many of the lines become some of the most quotable of the year: "We accept the love we think we deserve." "I just want to make sure that the first person who kisses you, loves you." "And in this moment I swear, we are infinite."


Best Original Screenplay

Who Will Win:
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for "Moonrise Kingdom" - Not my choice as I was not a fan of this film, but it’s quirky and light and sure, it was original, so the Academy might want to give it some love. This was a year of depressing films so this might be the one place that Oscar can get a respite from the miserable.

Who Should Win:
Mark Boal for "Zero Dark Thirty" - The research alone for this script must have been daunting and impossible to work through. Somehow he comes out with a fresh and compelling look at the capture of Bin Laden as told through the eyes of the FBI agent who led the charge.

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win: N/A


Best Foreign Film

Who Will Win:
"Amour" - Michael Haneke’s study of a couple’s endurance as one of them slowly fades away is devastating and haunting. This will win - hands down.

Who Should Win:
"Amour"

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win: N/A


Best Animated Film

Who Will Win:
"Brave" - Yes it deserves the Gold. It’s well-made entertainment with a great message. Is it the best Pixar film to date? No. But any Pixar film still soars.

Who Should Win:
"Paranorman" - Inventive and clever, this beautifully rendered stop-motion film about a boy who can see ghosts and has to save his town from a witch is heartfelt and fun. It’s also adult enough to keep the older "kids" fully entertained

Choice NOT Nominated Who Should Win:
"Rise of the Guardians" - Why this wasn’t nominated and "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" was, I’ll never know. While the trailers and ads made it seem like a testosterone laden action fest, it’s actually an emotional, hilarious, and sentimental look at the "characters" behind the holidays. Clever and very well designed, this was my favorite animated film of the year.


Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

This article is part of our "Awards Watch 2013" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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