It's that time of the year again - when, we in India, have stocked up on extra sleep and have set our alarms in place to not miss even one red carpet moment of the Academy Awards. Also, it has been long since either Lagaan or Slumdog Millionaire happened, and the thrill of spotting something to do with India in the Oscars blitzkrieg has been suitably renewed by Ang Lee's Life of Pi. With the media in the West, as usual, working itself up to a dizzying frenzy over the possible hits and misses and Facebook and Twitter, in our part of the world, showing the first symptoms of Oscar obsession, we at Firstpost bring you our list of favourites for the big awards this year.
Best Feature Film: Argo
The fact that Argo seems to indisputably top every favourite films list this year, probably makes Ben Affleck's exclusion from the Best Director category even more unreasonable. Nate Silver in The New York Times has predicted that Argo is all set to walk away with the Best Film Oscar this year. In a unique point system he has come up with, he establishes how Argo edges past even Lincoln by several points.
Los Angeles Times too chooses to put their money on Argo. Huffingtonpost.com on the other hand furnishes box office figures to bolster their prediction that Argo will pick up the Best Film Oscar this year. Though the figures show that Lincoln has grossed more ($177 mn) compared to Argo ($128 mn) at the box office, combined audience ratings, critics' rating and awards already own suggest Argo is in a better position to win.
Firstpost Take: Piyasree Dasgupta of Firstpost says about Argo: Argo is one of those films you watch with clenched fists as the coffee goes cold and the popcorn, limp. Ben Affleck's directorial venture is a film for the keeps, so to say - brilliant editing, great acting, a script that leaves you with no time to ponder over its flaws and yes, the drool factor that Affleck brings into the film. Based on a real life event, when an American CIA agent led a mission to rescue six US embassy workers from Tehran, when the Iran hostage crisis was on, Argo is just the right mix of thrill, emotion and good storytelling. It most definitely deserves the Oscar this time.
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln
Daniel Day Lewis spent a year preparing for Lincoln. Tabloids in the West have reported that Lewis, in what might go down in history as a Hollywood legend, spent one whole year in a set up similar to 19th century US. He moved homes, furnished his new place the way research showed Lincoln's home was done up, started dressing like an 18th century politician, scrupulously grew his beard and maintained a hairstyle like America's first president for one whole year. The story goes that he even worked on his accent and body language to make the character come alive on screen. For this effort alone, he deserves an Oscar.
Understandably, NYT predicts another Oscar win for him. Huffingtonpost.com figures show that Lewis seems to be way ahead of his closest competition Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) according to audience ratings.
Firstpost Take: Nikhil Taneja, in his review for our site, wrote about Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln: "While there’s hardly any need to say it, it must be said all the same: two-time Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis is a modern god of acting, and it’s hard to imagine if President Lincoln himself could have portrayed his self on screen so expertly. Day-Lewis gets under the skin of the role, just like he always does, and makes Lincoln his own, and from every pause he takes between his lines, to every twitch of his face, he is so utterly convincing, that there’s absolutely no way Lincoln could have been any different in real life."
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
While Bradley Cooper's nomination in the Best Actor category which left Leonardo Di Caprio out for Django Unchained, raised a few eyebrows, Jennifer Lawrence's nomination on the other hand, didn't come as a surprise. Her portrayal of a neurotic, just-widowed woman who strikes an unusual friendship with a man just released from a mental asylum, passes with flying colours in the Oscar-book of acting. From violent, insufferable distress to brooding silence, Lawrence gets every motion right in the film.
In Silver's NYT list, Lawrence manages to barely edge past Jessica Chastain of Zero Dark Thirty, though. Chastain is set to give stiff competition to Lawrence in this category. Huffingtonpost.com gives it too Lawrence too, but says that Emmanuelle Riva of Amour is a outside favourite in the category.
Firstpost Take: Ashish Magotra of Firstpost says about Lawrence's performance: "Robert De Niro can be a scary actor to work with. His meticulous preparation and method acting have been talked about for years. But then when watch you a 22-year-old stand her ground against him, you have to feel she is something special.
There is a scene in the movie, when De Niro, who is a big Eagles fan, blames his teams defeat on a date between Bradley Cooper and Lawrence. And that's when Lawrence rattles off numbers proving to him just how wrong he was. It's a funny, beautiful moment that showcases how she's come of age.
For the first moment you set eyes on her, she captivates you. The first time she meets Cooper, she strikes you as a little kooky, not that Cooper isn't. But then she just grows on you. You watch her with the kind of awe reserved for the 'really' good actors.
Lawrence beat Chastain and Watts to take home the Screen Actors Guild award. She also won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy and Silver Linings Playbook has scored eight Oscar nominations this time round. If there was a favourite for the Oscar, it has to be Lawrence."
Best Director: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Spielberg is one of those directors, on who, several of our childhood lores rest on. He is one director who doesn't disappoint easily - a lot of his fans have even sat through, say, a War of the Worlds, and had very little to complain about. However, despite several nominations, Spielberg's films have failed to make the Oscar cut over the last few years. Spectacular films like Catch Me If You Can or Munich have come a cropper at the Awards. His last big win was Saving Private Ryan, way back in 1998, which bagged five awards, including Best Film.
With Lincoln, Spielberg has a winner at hand. A film which grossed $177 mn at the box office, Lincoln had America at the subject itself. However, what got the rest of the world is Spielberg's treatment of a character of those proportions - part critical, part awe-inspiring, Lincoln is one of those films people will fall back upon to define biopic. Though NYT predicts a close fight between Spielberg and Ang Lee for Life of Pi, Huffingtonpost.com predicts an uncontested win for the former at the Awards.
Firstpost Take: Sandip Roy of Firstpost writes about Spielberg's approach to the protagonist of his film: "Steven Spielberg has not made the conventional hagiographic epic bio-pic though it’s respectful enough in a feel-good American way. Lincoln is actually a political thriller, the backroom story of all the wheeling and dealing that went into amending the American constitution to abolish slavery. By spending almost two and half hours focused on Abraham Lincoln’s dogged pursuit of the Thirteenth Amendment, Spielberg gets to show us the the arm-twisting, the sweetheart deals, the half-truths and plain old bluffing that go into bringing about historic change."