Friday, February 22, 2013

Win Your Oscar Pool: Who to Bet On

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Page 12 of 24

Amour Emanuelle Riva
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
Will win: This one is a tough call; only Naomi Watts seems to be completely out of contention (and even she apparently has her supporters; in an unscientific Entertainment Weekly article asking a few anonymous industry folk, she was a popular Best Actress vote, proving once again how thoroughly onscreen suffering has been equated with great acting). Wallis could win for the novelty factor, but the other novelty-age candidate seems a bit more urgent, as Emmanuelle Riva turns 86 on Oscar night. I don't know if voters will follow this line of thinking, but check it: presumed frontrunners Lawrence and Chastain have already been nominated twice each; they will assuredly be back in this category. Riva has pretty much capped off her career (though as much as I admire her work, I do wonder if she's just doing the French version of Watts in The Impossible: convey physical suffering, elicit sympathy, acting!). So I'm going to predict her to take down all of those under-80 whippersnappers.
Should win: If we're going by characters that heterosexual males are most likely to get crushes on, obviously Jennifer Lawrence deserves it, which is kind of why I wouldn't feel right voting for her even though her (slightly fantastical) character is the most enjoyable person to be around in the category outside of possibly Wallis's Hushpuppy (and I'm not sure how much acting Wallis was doing there; I think more likely, she's "just" an awesome little kid being awesome, and we all know being an awesome person is not how you win awards!). If we're going by leadingest lead performance, the person who most forcefully holds her movie together without showing off or playing pretend at suffering, then it should go to Jessica Chastain. I can imagine a blanker version of Zero Dark Thirty very easily, and I credit her for a lot of the movie's success.
Missing: Melanie Lynskey didn't suffer visibly enough in Hello, I Must Be Going, but she's terrific as a mid-30s woman who moves back home after a big break-up.

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