Op-Ed: Hollywood is the Land of 'Lincoln' but other films are lurking

Posted Jan 10, 2013 by Tim O'Brien
Hollywood became the Land of 'Lincoln' today. Not a bad thing for someone who was born and raised in Illinois, but will the film about the 16th president be elected as the best on Feb. 24?
Oscar s art collection by Marc Friedland
Oscar's art collection by Marc Friedland
Marc Friedland
That remains to be seen, but "Lincoln" is surely the front-runner now after sifting through the Oscar nominations. With 12 heading in, it leads the way and in the back of the mind, one can hear the usual phrase, "the film that has the most nominations usually wins best picture."
It is true that "Lincoln," directed by Steven Spielberg is the the favorite, but with 11, "Life of Pi" may be lurking, or that may be the film that has a boat load of nominations but will not fare well. Spielberg knows something about that. One only has to go back to "The Color Purple," which was loaded with nominations and failed to win any.
However, as I look at it, the one picture that may beat "Lincoln" is "Silver Linings Playbook." No, not "Les Miserables," which faded in many eyes after its release, for many reasons. There is no reason to think that cannot gain momentum again. A musical up against these dramas may be able to win it all. For a reminder of my top films of 2012, head here.
Let's take a look at the top six categories and not necessary look at the snubs, which is commonplace after an award announcement, but rather, some trends emerging as well. For a complete list of nominations, head here.
Getting ready.
Getting ready.
Best Picture
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Misérables”
“Life of Pi”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Notes: The academy might be playing it safe this year with a solid showing from "Lincoln." The controversy surrounding "Django Unchained" and "Zero Dark Thirty" is something to think about, but not enough to knock them out of this category. The sad thing is politics does play a role in the process and so does campaigning. Dramas continue to rule this category, but this year, a musical may come out on top. That will not be lost on this year's Oscar producers. Neil Meron and Craig Zaden were behind the last musical to win best picture, "Chicago." Now, when the Academy upped the ante to 10 nominations, it would seem like that would be easy to fill. It hasn't been that way. This year, only nine are in, and last year was the same. Think to yourself of many other fine films that could round this one out. "The Master" is perhaps one or even "Amour" and even "Rust and Bone." One more - how about "Moonrise Kingdom"? Another phrase one hears is "the film that is seen last" usually ends up winning. The last wide release was "Les Miserables," which opened on Dec. 25 and then "Zero Dark Thirty" goes wide on Jan. 11.
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”
Notes: This category is the most intriguing since it usually triggers the healthy debate that suggests if one wins this one they get best picture. That will be true if "Lincoln" gets elected. If it doesn't go that way, could there be a split? That would make for an exciting night for those who cover this extensively. Even more intriguing is by putting David O. Russell in, it puts that film back in the overall discussion. Especially after the directors left him out of their annual award. Now, Bigelow, Tarantino and Affleck are out. So, that usual thing we do may not come into play here. Take the five best directors and team them up with their films in the Best Picture category. Wait. That would mean Haneke would be out, too. That does narrow the the category down to four. Not sure that is a wise thing this year. Listen to podcast attached for this one, too.
Best Actor
Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”
Notes: Too bad Bill Murray didn't squeak in here as it would then pair up FDR and Lincoln. That would have made for some political battle lines and interesting sidebars along the way. This is solid but one can remember when Phoenix came down on that Oscar campaigning, and yet he is here, with a fine performance, too. Can anyone truly beat Daniel Day-Lewis? The only way he loses this is if Academy voters think he has two already and it wasn't long ago that he won with "There Will Be Blood."
Best Actress
Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”
Notes: This one pits the oldest nominee ever with the youngest. Quvenzhane Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild," is just nine years old. Emmanuelle Riva from "Amour" is the oldest best actress Oscar nominee in history at 85. She is not the oldest overall, though. That goes to Gloria Stuart, who was 87 when she was nominated for supporting actress for "Titanic" in 1997. "Whale Rider's" Keisha Castle-Hughes was 13 when she was nominated in 2003. Tatum O'Neal was 10 when she won supporting actress for "Paper Moon." The gut feeling here is that Riva just mind ride this one to victory. The competition right now seems to come from Lawrence, who was also big in "The Hunger Games."
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”
Notes: With the addition of the overlooked for the most part this season, De Niro, adds a twist here. Could a win and a career honoring win be that far-fetched? Plus, something happened along the way for "The Master," but the acting is getting its due. But with a "Capote" win behind him, he may be the odd person out here. If the wave of "Lincoln" lovers is on, an award to previous Oscar winner Jones, may indicate what kind of night it will be. This award is one of the first handed out Oscar night, and it may be the key to see if the film has momentum. Oh, by the way, it would have been easier to say all of these actors have won before.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Notes: Another nod for someone from "Silver Linings Playbook," that despite the headlines and about "Lincoln" and ""Les Miserables," may be the film that spoils the party. A win here and that may do what supporting actor does as well. Right now, one would bet on Hathaway, but Hollywood history plays in, too - in all categories. Field, now playing older roles, plus Hunt, who the industry loves, cannot be counted out - yet.
A sidebar item of note is that Seth MacFarlane, who will be hosting, was on hand to announce the nominations. He was joined by Emma Stone. MarFarlane may have tipped his hat as to what to expect come Oscar night Feb. 24.
Here are two from this morning's announcement: "I'm Seth MacFarlane, the host of the Oscars. If you don't know who I am just pretend I'm Donny Osmond." Well, he does kind off have that look. And this - "I'm not sure why we don't wait until noon to do this, since the only people up right now are either flying or in surgery."
He is also a nominee with “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted." It features music by Walter Murphy and lyric by MacFarlane.
How did we get here: Academy members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. In the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominees are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.
Now, one may ask, do they see the films? Official screenings of all motion pictures with one or more nominations will begin for members on Saturday, Jan. 19, notes their press release.