Hollywood’s annual ritual of patting itself on the back will take place on 24 February. There’s a comforting predictability to the Oscars ceremony, but there’s also some degree of suspense about who will win, and in which category. Academy Awards members have been known to deny favourites their anticipated glory as well as shower several golden statuettes on a single production. We cast our eyes on this year’s Best Picture nominations, and place our bets on their chances. The Oscars will be telecast live on Star Movies on Monday 25 February from 6am onwards. Cast your own vote and tell us what you think.
Life Of Pi
Indians will probably be offering morning prayers for Ang Lee’s adaptation of the Yaan Martel bestseller, which is packed with local connections, from its lead character Pi Patel and the Pondicherry setting to the Bengal tiger and an Oscar-nominated song by Bombay Jayashri. The visual magic and the ability to breathe profundity into banality is the work of Lee, the Taiwanese director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain.
Chances are: Despite its bravura cinematography and visual effects, Life of Pi doesn’t stand much of a chance against all-American stories like Lincoln and Argo. We predict a sweep in the technical awards categories.
You decide: If you think Life of Pi should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
Silver Linings Playbook
David O Russell’s emo-rom-com tries to put further distance between Bradley Cooper and his bad boy antics in The Hangover. It’s about the relationship between a man with bipolar disorder (Cooper) and a neurotic widow (Jennifer Lawrence), who meet cute over their shared anxieties and enrol in a dance competition that might be the answer to their problems. Think Dance With Me on Lorazepam. The movie also stars the dependable Robert De Niro and Anupam Kher as the therapist who gets to put Cooper on a couch.
Chances are: The movie has been nominated in seven other categories, including four acting nods, so we are betting that it will score better for its histrionics.
You decide: If you think Silver Linings Playbook should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
Steven Spielberg’s biopic of American president Abraham Lincoln seemed destined for an Oscar or two as soon as it was announced, especially after Daniel Day Lewis was cast as the wily president. The plot centres on Lincoln’s backroom manoeuvring to ensure the passage of a vital amendment to the United States Constitution that will abolish slavery. The film reminds the USA of a proud moment in its history – also known as Oscar bait in some circles.
Chances are: Lincoln will pick up Best Picture, unless Argo spoils its moment.
You decide: If you think Lincoln should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
Ben Affleck used to be a slack-jawed pin-up for undemanding adolescents until he transformed himself into a serious-minded filmmaker. We think his doomed affair with Jennifer Lopez (give the girl some credit) was the trigger. Argo , set during the American Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran in 1979, is about the fantastic-sounding but real story of how a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative faked a sci-fi movie to gain entry into the Iranian capital and rescue trapped US Embassy staffers.
Chances are: If there is any movie that can upset Steven Spielberg’s latest bid for glory, it is this one. Affleck’s crowd-pleasing political thriller has been vowing several film award juries. He looks all set to cast the same spell on the Academy, unless it has been infiltrated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
You decide: If you think Argo should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
Zero Dark Thirty
We’re back with the CIA and this time, they’re saving the world from Osama Bin Laden.
Kathryn Bigelow’s procedural is about the manhunt for the Al Qaeda chief, which ended on May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad in Pakistan. Bigelow’s previous nail-biting military-themed thriller, The Hurt Locker, won her six Oscars. Will the Academy show the filmmaker her place this time and let somebody else take home the goodies? She has been dropped from the Best Director nomination for some reason.
Chances are: The Academy’s members, who are liberal to a fault, are likely to take into account the controversies around the movie’s depiction of custodial torture and give Bigelow the cold shoulder.
You decide: If you think Zero Dark Thirty should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
Hollywood is the land of musicals (mostly cheerful ones), so we’re not sure about the chances of Tom Hopper’s movie about social and economic turmoil and the revolt against the powerful and wealthy in nineteenth-century France. Hopper’s star-studded tale of blood, sweat and tears stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried.
Chances are: We’re guessing a blank for Best Picture, but most definitely gongs for music, costume and production design.
You decide: If you think Les Miserables should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Every now and then, the Academy will send out a dark horse into the race to prove that it’s not only about the big-name films made by big-name filmmakers, starring big-name actors and bankrolled by big-name producers. Benh Zeitlin’s low-fi film festival favourite Beasts of the Southern Wild is the oddball in the list – a part-magic realist, part kitchen sink drama about a little girl trying to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with only an alcoholic father for company.
Chances are: Slim – the movie is too indie and out there, not to mention dark and often despondent.
You decide: If you think Beasts of the Southern Wild should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
It pays to treat this drama, about a husband’s love for and care of his dying wife, as separate from director Michael Haneke’s other austere, cold and often cruel films. Featuring acting greats Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, Amour is a surprise entry in the list since it is an arthouse French production about illness, human endurance and the inevitability of death. Just the kind of cheerful stuff that Hollywood loves.
Chances are: Amour has some chances of being the invisible force that moves the hand wiping away tears towards the box that says yes, yes (sob), yes, for Best Picture.
You decide: If you think Amour should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
Quentin Tarantino’s typically profane and violent saga of an emancipated black slave’s quest to free his wife from a sadistic plantation owner is all that Lincoln is not, even though both films are about slavery. The pejorative term “nigger” occurs several times in the script; racist plantation owners are blown to bits; the Ku Klux Klan get their comeuppance. This is exactly what we don’t call Oscar bait.
Chances are: QT will have to wait for another day.
You decide: If you think Django Unchained should win the Best Picture Oscar, vote here.
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