I love good movies and I like average movies and I can get through some bad movies.
I think the Oscars are mostly hype and nonsense and pretense, but I get interested every year anyway.
It’s folly, really, to declare one film better than another if both successfully and compellingly told their stories and connected with audiences.
“Argo,” “Lincoln,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Silver Linings Playbook” — all told engaging and powerful stories expertly. And all delivered acting performances that showcased spectacular art and craft.
So now we pick the best. It’s like being a gymnastics judge with Olga Korbut and Nadia Comenici both in their primes competing against each other. You’re looking at a pair of 10.0 scores and trying to choose one perfection as better than the other.
Except, you know, Daniel Day-Lewis was the best actor in his Lincoln portrayal. Somehow that’s beyond dispute. I think he’s the male Meryl Streep, except he hasn’t made as many bad movies as she has.
One more note before I chance predictions: There always is a movie I personally enjoy most during a year and it always gets nominated and it never wins.
It usually is an understated drama with comedic touches marked by great writing.
Last year it was “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen. One year it was “Sideways.” Another year it was “Little Miss Sunshine.”
This year: “Silver Linings Playbook.” I could watch Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro — especially Jennifer Lawrence — in that film all day every day. A movie about the tragic behavioral affliction of a lead character that suddenly has you roaring in glorious happy laughter — now that is some serious filmmaking, a triumph, a genuine ode to a greater humanity.
So, as usual, my favorite movie has a boatload of nominations and won’t win much — an acting award, maybe two, at best.
Anyway, the following aren’t actually predictions. They are compilations and assessments of prevailing predictions:
Best movie — “Argo” has won practically everything in sight so far, suggesting it will defeat “Lincoln” again tonight. I don’t understand it.
Best director — Well, this is strange. The director of the favorite for best film, “Argo,” is Ben Affleck, and he isn’t even nominated. How can you have the best movie if it didn’t benefit from at least one of the better directing jobs? Anyway, Stephen Spielberg should win for “Lincoln.”
Best actor — Daniel Day-Lewis.
Best actress — Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe Jennifer Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty,” though that would irk me. Lawrence in “Silver Linings” was like Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight.” I felt empty when she wasn’t on the screen, and was delighted when she reappeared, maybe to stalk Cooper as he jogged with that plastic bag draped around him. What a movie.
Best supporting actor — This is the most wide-open contest. It also is laden with great talent: Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz, Philip Seymour Hoffman. So here’s what some people are starting to think: In some high drama, all these great actors will split the vote and the Oscar will go to ….. Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook.” I’d love it, except I worry about Bobby trying to make an acceptance speech.
Best supporting actress — Anne Hathaway in a musical I’ve not seen, and, alas, will not see. I’m sorry. I”m not going to pretend to have sufficient refinement to appreciate over-emotive singing where dialogue ought to be.
Best original screenplay — Mark Boal for “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Best adapted screenplay — Chris Terrio for “Argo” in an absolute outrage because what Tony Kushner did on “Lincoln” was a tour-de-force.
Best documentary — “Searching for Sugar Man.” A guy named Sixto Rodriguez in inner-city Detroit emerged briefly as a Dylanesque song-writing talent in the early 70s, then disappeared. Except, that is, in South Africa, where he remained legend, but where they were told he was dead. He wasn’t. He was a handyman in Detroit. These filmmakers found him. His back-from-the-dead tours of South Africa have been like Springsteen in Jersey. They say he may not make it tonight because he’s touring South Africa. Good stories. Man, I love ’em.