An Academy Awards attendee picks the Oscars


Since 1929, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been recognizing cinematic excellence in a number of creative categories. Over the years, the films they selected have best embodied the creative spirit that has driven countless filmmakers to bring their dreams to the big screen. The Academy Awards have evolved into one of the biggest spectacles on television with millions tuning in each year to watch an obscure organization pass out small golden statues of a naked man holding a sword. The Academy Awards are truly the Super Bowl of film awards shows. For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work at the Academy Awards as a Talent Page. It is truly fascinating to see the amount of time and effort that goes into the production of this annual TV icon. The number of people working behind the scenes far exceeds the guests in the audience.

No Academy Awards article is complete without the requisite predictions. As a self-described movie nut, I have based these predictions on years of scientific research that has led to the development of complex mathematical formulas. These rather convoluted formulas factor in cultural trends, wild theories from critics, analysis of past winners, Academy voter preferences and what everyone else on the Internet thinks will win. Pass me the envelope please.

Best Picture

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Miserables”
“Life of Pi”
“Silver LInings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

This has proved to be an especially difficult year for Best Picture predictions with a number of prominent films competing for the biggest prize of the night.  At the moment, it looks like Ben Affleck’s spy thriller “Argo” is the frontrunner. This would be a rather disappointing selection in my opinion. The more deserving but less likely alternatives include Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”

Best Director

Michael Haneke (“Amour”)
Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)
Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”)
Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”)*
David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

In a surprising turn of events, “Argo” director Ben Affleck failed to receive a Best Director nomination. Since “Argo” will win Best Picture, it is likely that the Academy will give the Direction award to one of the runner-ups for Best Picture. I am predicting that Steven Spielberg will go home with the prize, but “Life of Pi” director Ang Lee could challenge him.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”)*
Hugh Jackman (“Les Miserables”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”)
Denzel Washington (“Flight”)

They should rename this category the Daniel Day-Lewis Award. Every time this man is nominated for Best Actor, he is the frontrunner. This year is no different. Quite frankly, this is his award to lose. Countless critics have lauded Lewis’ portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln and I would be shocked if the Academy gives the award to anyone else.  The only actor that stands a chance of pulling off an upset is Bradley Cooper for his role in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”)*
Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”)
Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)
Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”)

Out of all the categories, the award for Best Actress is the most difficult to call. Over the past few weeks, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence and Emmanuelle Riva have all received considerable Oscar buzz for their incredible work. Even though “Zero Dark Thirty’s” buzz has dulled slightly over the last few weeks, I still believe that Jessica Chastain is going home with the prize. A major upset win could go to French actress Emmanuelle Riva, who will be turning 86 on Oscar night.

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin (“Argo”)
Robert De Niro (“Silver Linings Playbook”)*
Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master”)
Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”)
Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”)

Famed American actor Robert DeNiro has been in a bit of a slump as of late but his compelling performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” put him back in the Academy’s good graces. I predict that he will win on Sunday night but the award could also go to Tommy Lee Jones who was spectacular in “Lincoln.” This is another close race.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams (“The Master”)
Sally Field (“Lincoln”)
Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”)*
Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”)
Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

Even though Tom Hooer’s “Les Miserables” turned out to be a bit of a critical dud (which still managed to receive a Best Picture nomination), critics have been seemingly unanimous in their praise of Anne Hathaway. Anyone else winning in this category would be a major upset. If anyone stands a chance of doing it, it is Sally Field for her portrayal of Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd Lincoln.

Best Original Screenplay

“Amour” (Michael Haneke)*
“Django Unchained” (Quentin Tarantino)
“Flight” (John Gatins)
“Moonrise Kingdom” (Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola)
“Zero Dark Thirty” (Mark Boal)

This is a tough call. At best, my prediction is a wild guess. I happen to think that Michael Haneke will win for “Amour” (which he also directed) but he has strong competition from Quentin Tarantino’s script for “Django Unchained.” Since both of these men wrote and directed their Best Picture nominated films, I believe that either one of them could win a shiny gold statue on awards night, with a slight edge going to Haneke.

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Argo” (Chris Terrio)*
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin)
“Life of Pi” (David Magee)
“Lincoln” (Tony Kushner)
“Silver Linings Playbook” (David O. Russell)

As of now, I will predict that “Argo” will win the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.  The better choice would be either “Lincoln” or “Silver Linings Playbook.” Due to the fact that “Argo” is not a frontrunner in any other major category besides Best Picture, I believe the Academy will go with Chris Terrio’s script, which contains a rather humorous portrayal of 1970’s Hollywood.

Best Cinematography

“Anna Karenina”
“Django Unchained”
“Life of Pi”

This is the category that is closest to my heart. As an aspiring cinematographer, I am holding out hope that my idol Roger Deakins will win for his stunning work on Skyfall. As of this year, Deakins has been nominated an astounding 10 times without a win. The poor Brit, who is the most talented working cinematographer in my opinion, cannot seem to catch a break from the Academy. Even though Claudio Miranda is likely to win for “Life of Pi,” I continue to pray that the Academy voters will realize the error of their ways and give Deakins his long overdue award.

Best Animated Feature

“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
“Wreck-It Ralph”

Movie nerds call Best Animated Feature the Pixar award for good reason. Even though “Brave” was less of a critical darling than some of Pixar’s more accomplished productions like “Toy Story 3,” I still think that they will win in this recently included category come Sunday night. An unlikely but hopeful upset could come in the form of a much deserved win for “ParaNorman.”

Andrew Rieger is a senior communication major  who has worked for the Academy Awards for the past two summers.