Top Picks for the 85th Academy Awards

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Joe Klamar/ Getty Images

Joe Klamar/ Getty Images

Jennifer Cleary
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Jennifer Cleary
jennifer cleary Top Picks for the 85th Academy AwardsJennifer Cleary is a proud UGA alum and a television, film, and pop culture junkie to the point of becoming the go-to person for celebrity gossip. By her own admission she knows an obscene amount of useless trivia. If you've got a question about a show, film or celebrity, chances are she has an opinion. You can follow her on Twitter at @clearyje.

Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards marks the end of the 2012-2013 awards season. No more pageantry, Harvey Weinstein jokes, disingenuous acceptance speeches (cough, Anne Hathaway, cough) and rigged voting systems. Still, I’m sad to see the awards season come to a close. For over eight years, I’ve watched the Oscars religiously, and for the past three years, I’ve excitedly filled out my own Oscar print out ballot. For the first time ever, I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee. This doesn’t make me an expert on the Oscars, but I am well-versed on Academy politics and this year’s favorites.

Here are my picks for this year’s Oscar winners:

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, “The Master”

Sally Field, “The Lincoln”

Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”

Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”

Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Unfortunately, “The Sessions” is one of the few films I did not see before the Oscars, though I’m sure Helen Hunt’s so-called comeback performance is phenomenal. With a year of so many standout performances, it’s difficult to concede that Hathaway will win. Her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dreamed” was heartbreaking, inspired even. However, her forced humility has made her acceptance speeches tough to watch.

Hathaway didn’t give the best supporting performance of the year, but she hacked off her beautiful hair and became emaciated for the role, which is why she’ll win. Like Hathaway, Field sacrificed her looks, gaining 25 pounds so that she could resemble Mary Todd Lincoln. Field is my personal pick. Her performance is transformative and complex, and her scenes with Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones are mesmerizing. Weaver and Adams give excellent supporting performances, but neither can compete with Hathaway’s star power or Field’s tenacity.

Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway

Who Should Win: Sally Field

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”

Besides the Best Director category, this is the most difficult to predict, as well as to choose my favorite. Everyone is already an Oscar winner, making it even harder to pick a frontrunner.  While Arkin gives a gruff, comical performance, it’s too similar to his role in “Little Miss Sunshine,” in which he won Best Supporting Actor, so he’s out. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s turn as a charismatic cult leader is electric, but too few people have seen “The Master” for his performance to really resonate with voters. While I’d like to see Robert De Niro or Christoph Waltz walk away with the statue, both performances pale in comparison to Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens in “Lincoln.” It may not be my favorite film of the year, but it spawned some of the best performances of the year, including Jones as a stubborn, passionate abolitionist.

Who Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones

Who Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”

Quvenzhané Wallis “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”

I feel most strongly about this category, and while I haven’t seen Naomi Watts in “The Impossible,” I’m absolutely certain I’d still pick Jennifer Lawrence as the one to beat. Her performance, more specifically the scene where she goes toe-to-toe with De Niro is my favorite scene of the year, and it’s mostly because of her stellar acting skills. Others in this category, like newcomer Wallis, give career-making performances, but they don’t stand a chance against Lawrence, Chastain or Riva. Chastain is Lawrence’s main competition, though some believe Riva could cause an upset. Chastain as a tough-as-nails, obsessive CIA agent is the glue that holds “Zero Dark Thirty” together, while Riva’s role as an 85-year-old woman suffering from a debilitating ailment is raw and incredibly emotional. If Riva does best Lawrence, it will be because the Academy likes to reward aging actors with Lifetime Achievement Awards disguised as Oscars.

Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence

Who Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables”

Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”

Denzel Washington, “Flight”

On Sunday, Daniel Day-Lewis will make history as the only actor to win three Best Actor Oscars. As much as I love the performances given by the other nominees, there’s just no way Daniel Day-Lewis won’t win the award. He disappeared into his character, Abraham Lincoln, transforming his voice and mindset so that he could accurately portray this larger than life historical figure.

Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Director

“Amour,” Michael Haneke

“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Benh Zeitlin

“Life of Pi,” Ang Lee

“Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg

“Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell

With Ben Affleck absent from the list, everyone has a fighting chance. The two least likely to win are Haneke and Benh Zeitlin. Haneke is sure to win for Best Foreign Language film, so I’d be surprised to see him win again in the Best Director category. While “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is an enchanting film, its unknown director can’t compete against heavyweights like Spielberg, Lee, and Russell. As much as the Academy loves Spielberg, I don’t think Lincoln will earn him yet another Oscar for directing. For me, it’s a toss up between Lee and Russell. For “Life of Pi,” Lee took a novel touted as unfilmable and turned it into a visually stunning piece of cinema. Russell, on the other hand, made a realistic yet uplifting movie about mental illness. Do you reward Lee for creating a visual spectacle, or do you give the award to Russell for making a movie that’s truthful and resonates with so many people? Put it this way, “Silver Linings Playbook” is the only movie I’ve seen more than once, and it’s also the only one that has kept me thinking long after the credits.

Who Will Win: Ang Lee

Who Should Win: David O. Russell

Best Picture

“Amour”

“Argo”

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

“Django Unchained”

“Les Misérables”

“Life of Pi”

“Lincoln”

“Silver Linings Playbook”

“Zero Dark Thirty”

It’s going to be “Argo,” which has won virtually every Best Picture award this season. However, if it were to lose, either “SLP,” “Life of Pi” or “Lincoln” could take top honors. “Django,” “Beasts,” “Amour,” “Les Misérables” and “Zero Dark Thirty” don’t have enough momentum to become the Best Picture of the year. Interestingly enough, with the exception of “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” these films couldn’t be less similar. While the versatility might split some votes, it won’t be enough to end Affleck’s winning streak, even if “SLP” is my personal favorite.

Who Will Win: “Argo:

Who Should Win: “Silver Linings Playbook” 

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