In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a more divisive year for Oscar competition than 2013’s reeling lineup (and I’ve lived as long as Betty White). Safe bets for Best Picture can usually be dropped on a standout film. Here, we have several.
An ear to the door of the Academy board room will hear them leaning toward a few overdue winners, the Chosen Ones. Instead, we’ve been handed a nail-biter.
Of course, it’s my responsibility to throw my hat into the ring. Like other film fans, I make predictions as a challenge of expected results — first to be pretentiously pleased when I’m right, then in letter-writing rage when the Academy doesn’t take my advice.
After all, they’re to blame for my sunken gambles. The Oscars may be a nail-biter, but I can still bite the hand that feeds. So, in preparation for that magical night that I haven’t been invited to yet again, here’s a guide to who should win in my film-fandom fantasy.
Always start with the category that you can’t possibly fail. This year’s Best Foreign Film is practically in the arms of French slow- burner “Amour,” a movie already spoon-fed success by critics domestic and afar. Its well-deserving 85-year-old actress Emmanuelle Riva can turn your attention away from her age and directly into her sadness.
Hence, an accomplishment from the French who usually inspire resentment more than anything.
From here on out, though, the Oscars descend into guesswork Hunger Games; an 85-year-old geriatric and a six year old girl grapple over a Best Actress statue, while their contenders — young, attractive women like Jennifer Lawrence — woo the academy with their charm.
Despite six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis’s overwhelming performance in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” the Academy tosses aside young actors for later use.
More reasons to hate the Academy. Instead, take a chance on Emmanuelle Riva. The age factor is ever in her favor. Fans of “Les Misérables” are desperate to see Hugh Jackman sing his way towards an Oscar. That may have been possible if this had been another year (like 1832, maybe). But in 1865, Abraham Lincoln helped pass the 13th Amendment.
Or rather, Daniel Day-Lewis did. His down-to-earth embodiment of America’s Civil War president is so textured that you forget the date outside your theater, a mighty reincarnation of a historical figure you’ll never study with the same eyes. Day-Lewis is Lincoln, and expectedly, he’s the Best Actor winner.
Now the final blow. In the past decade, nine out of 10 Best Pictures have also hoisted up a Best Director with them. It’s not hard to couple the two together. It is difficult to pick which one, though. Such an exceptional repertoire of movies in a single year puts a safe guess in limbo.
But, when in doubt, narrow your choices down to “Argo” and “Lincoln,” straightforward, crafty and elegantly designed. If loan sharks demand an answer at gunpoint though take “Lincoln.” Steven Spielberg is a Hollywood heavyweight that tends to steal the show.
In the event that I rig the Oscars, expect to see Quentin Tarantino and “Django Unchained’ claim every award, even some Grammy’s. The Academy, in its closed door smog, begs to differ: take my predictions and you’re bound to maintain some minimum respect the morning after.
That or you’ll have a plausible explanation for why you lost so much money on an old dead white dude from the 1800s.