Historical movies make their mark at the Oscars

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Commentary by Mark Johnson

On Feb. 24, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold its 85th annual Oscar celebration. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this year’s award nominees is the absence of any major blockbuster films in the Best Picture category. Three of the top grossing films of 2012, “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Skyfall” were completely shut out of the major categories.

So who will win? Here are my predictions for the major categories at this year’s Oscars:

 

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Hands down, Hathaway is the runaway favorite in this category, and she should be. Her performance, for which she performed her own singing, has been known to move some audiences to tears. Hathaway more than proved her versatility in the role of the sympathetic Fantine.

 

Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”

This category could turn out to be the surprise of the night. My money is on De Niro as he displays a wit and vulnerability in his role as Bradley Cooper’s beleaguered father in “Playbook.” Still, don’t be too shocked if Christoph Waltz of “Django Unchained” pulls off a major upset.

 

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain: “Zero Dark Thirty”

This should be no contest as Chastain gives one of the best film performances of the year as the brooding, driven CIA agent determined to hunt down Osama Bin Laden. Her biggest competition will be Jennifer Lawrence as the quirky love interest in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

 

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

As Abraham Lincoln, Lewis gives a grounded, heartfelt, yet commanding performance. Watching his steady-at-the-wheel take on Honest Abe was a true joy to watch. Anyone who doubts the versatility of Lewis should check out his two other Oscar-winning turns in “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood.”

 

Best Director: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

Seriously, Spielberg probably had this one in the bag from the moment he got the cameras rolling on this film. This is a master filmmaker who reminded us last year with “War Horse” that he hadn’t lost a step. He still hasn’t. “Lincoln” is an exquisitely made film, beautifully shot by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, also nominated.

 

Best Picture: “Lincoln”

This is interesting. Two months ago, I would have said “Lincoln” would be the Best Picture, no question. However, “Argo” has been receiving a great deal of acclaim this awards season, and deservedly so. Both films deal with crucial points in American history. Speaking of history, it is seldom the case that the Academy splits the ticket between film and director. However, with recent momentum behind it, “Argo” could pull off the night’s biggest upset.

This year’s Oscar Ceremony will be telecast on ABC at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. For a complete list of nominees as well as a history of the Academy Awards, go to www.oscars.org.

 

Mark Johnson is an entertainment reporter for Current Publishing. He can be reached at mark@youarecurrent.com.

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