Well, it's Oscar season and once again I am very excited to see who will take home the prize this year. I have so many opinions on just about all of the categories, but let's take a look at the acting nominations.
For Best Actor, it should be a two-horse race between Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day Lewis for The Master and Lincoln, respectively. My gut tells me Phoenix because he carved out such a compelling character in The Master, and I was more emotionally invested in his character than I was by Lewis' portrayal of our 16th president. Both were fantastic; Lewis was flawless and believable as ever, but Phoenix has to bring to life a much more troubled soul and showed more vulnerability. Phoenix by a nose.
Other thoughts on the men's category: Where the heck is John Hawkes for The Sessions? You can take Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper off the list and I'd be fine with that. Both were very good, but just short of great. Washington gets in because he is Denzel and Cooper gets in because we never realized he was this good. Was he very good? Absolutely, but not fantastic.
For Best Actress this should be Jennifer Lawrence's to win for Silver Linings Playbook. It's a tougher character to make us care about than Jessica Chastain's (Zero Dark Thirty), and she pulls you in and rivets you. Chastain was great, but she was also given a great story to work with and the novelty of having a role usually reserved for men. (Nod to Lawrence for being good enough to elevate Cooper and Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver to Oscar nods.)
For the best supporting roles, I go with Amy Adams in The Master, because her role was the toughest sell, not the sympathetic woman in the huge tear-jerker, which applies to Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and Helen Hunt (The Sessions) this year, not the quasi-hero role of being the First Lady, and not the martyr role of the matriarch in a house full of nut jobs. Amy Adams crafted like an artist the role of the strong, fierce, true believer to Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Hubbard-esque Renaissance spiritual/New Age leader.
And last, but not least, the Best Supporting Actor role. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) had a great role that he was about to run with, but I think a lot of other actors could have done the same with that well-written role. Alan Arkin (Argo) was sharp and funny, but was playing the same role he's been playing for a few years now. I go with Hoffman (The Master) because he plays his role right down the middle, and it's up to you to decide whether this guy is for real or a fake. He could have played this role to make the guy look like a buffoon or a con artist, but he played it with passion and made you decide for yourself the authenticity of the character he played.
Should be a ton of fun watching the Oscars this year. I'll handicap some of the other races later.
In case you haven't seen Beasts of the Southern Wild, go see it. It's a very strong movie and one of the best this year and you'll understand the nomination of young Quvenzhané Wallis. The nine-year old is the youngest nominee ever to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She was very good, probably not great, and not one of the best five performances by an actress this year, though. She gets in based on the surprise factor that a kid's role could be so inspiring and powerful. Like Chastain, she benefits from the role she was given.
The 85th Academy Awards air on ABC on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. PT.