Oscar Index: Anne Hathaway Is A Sure Bet For Sunday, But Jennifer Lawrence Shouldn't Get Cocky
The Oscar season enters its last weekend, but one suspects it is far from over. Even if Academy members ultimately hewed to tradition and voted Lincoln and Steven Spielberg Best Picture and Director, respectively — as is the customary coronation for films with the most Oscar nominations — this outlier season will be studied and debated. For at least days to come.
The Final Countdown To The 2013 Academy Awards
The final week of voting saw pundits and bloggers get in their final shots, filibuster like Jefferson Smith for their lost causes (“the only causes worth fighting for”), issue their final predictions or revise earlier forecasts. Roger Ebert backtracked slightly from his self-described “cocky” “Outguess Ebert” boast that he had guessed every (contest category) correctly.
“Every year it is the same,” Ebert wrote. “I came out of the gate filled with certainty, and as the deadline draws near I begin to falter."
Several enterprising writers persuaded some Academy members from various branches to share—anonymously—their Oscar ballots, and the results might give pause to anyone convinced that any of the major categories (except perhaps Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress) are locks.
The Oscar Index views and duly notes these ruminations objectively. The reported (conjectured?) groundswells make for compelling Oscars storylines, last-minute cliffhanging drama and even, perhaps, better ratings for the telecast. The Index admits to a conservative risk tolerance here, but on Monday morning will probably say it knew De Niro would win Best Supporting Actor all along.
Let’s look at how the Gold Linings playbook plays out on Oscars eve.
In Oscar season, as in war, the first casualty is truth.
Three of the Best Picture nominees, frontrunners at various stages of Oscar season, took Battleship-like hits for remaking history. Critics of Zero Dark Thirty, said it was pro-torture — oh, for the days of the Orwellian Bush era and “enhanced interrogation techniques” — and heightened its role in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Lincoln slandered the state of Connecticut by depicting its representatives as voting against the 13th Amendment. And to read The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd and Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir this week, about the only things Argo got absolutely right was that there is a country named Iran and a CIA operative named Tony Mendez.
I’m bracing myself for the eleventh-hour revelation that Quvenzhane Wallis is actually a 32-year-old psychopathic Russian dwarf pretending to be a child.
Which opens the door for Silver Linings Playbook. Reconsiders Ebert: “(Argo) was also my choice of the year’s best movie. Now, more and more, from many different quarters, I hear affection for Silver Linings Playbook. People tell me, I have a brother-in-law exactly like that. I sense a groundswell.”
But just as those Iranian guards discovered as they chased the hostage-carrying plane down the runway (yes, I know; didn’t happen) there should be no stopping Argo’s awards season take-off, lifted by wins from such major Oscar precursors as the PGA, DGA, SAG, BAFTA and, most recently, WGA (you know; the guild supposedly more terrifying than the Ayatollah).
For awards bloggers, this Best Picture race has been all kinds of personal. Lincoln champion Sasha Stone at Awards Daily concedes the race to Argo, but will have none of it, diss-missing director Ben Affleck as “a movie star director…(who) finally made a movie people liked” and bemoaning the injustice suffered by “a film that good, that well intentioned.” Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells, too, picks Argo to win, but not before raging against the machine for the film he believes should win: “Zero Dark Thirty, Zero Dark Thirty, Zero Dark Thirty, and I don’t care…going down with the ship.”