Tonight the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences will present this year’s Oscars on ABC. While Hollywood’s biggest night is normally always a newsworthy event, tonight is even more special. In addition to it being the award show’s 85th anniversary, this year voters have a chance to make history in numerous categories, which means a number of storylines are in play and given the Academy’s unpredictability it’s a night not to be missed.
The films with the biggest chance to make history are without a doubt Ben Affleck’s “Argo” and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” However according to the experts over at award site Gold Derby, “Argo” is expected to win in a landslide! The movie has completely defied the odds and now looks set to join a very elite group of movies to win Best Picture without having its director even earn a nomination. While it has happened before it hasn’t happened that often and the most recent film to pull it off was “Driving Miss Daisy” back in 1989 (and then you have to go way back to the 30’s for the next example).
After sweeping all the precursors, an “Argo” win seems in the cards, unless the Academy wants to put their own stamp on the year and go against the grain to remind everyone that they are the still the final word in film. In that case “Lincoln,” the film with the most nominations, has the edge.
Regardless, “Lincoln” star Daniel Day-Lewis is a lock for Best Actor and in the same Gold Derby poll was named the favorite by all participating critics. For portraying our nation’s 16th president, Day-Lewis is all but guaranteed to walk away with his third Best Actor trophy for his work and when that happens he’ll be the ONLY person in history to win three Oscars in that category. Currently he’s tied with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks as well as being just one behind Jack Nicholson in terms of total Oscar wins.
Interestingly enough despite the success of historical themed movies, no actor has ever won an Oscar for playing an American President. It’s also worth noting that no actress has ever won for playing a First Lady either, but that could also play out on Sunday as well as Sally Field still has a number of supporters thanks to her strong turn as Mary Todd Lincoln in “Lincoln” (yet “Les Miserables” star Ann Hathaway remains the favorite).
Age is also an important storyline this year as the Academy has nominated their oldest and youngest Best Actress contenders. Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”) at age 85 has overtaken Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) as this year’s dark horse and like Jean Dujardin did last year with his win for “The Artist,” Riva could easily shock the heavy favorite in her category; Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”). Meanwhile at age 9, Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) would be the youngest person to win Best Actress should she pull off the upset of upsets.
The age game continues in the Best Director category where Wallis’ “Beasts” director (and surprise nominee) Benh Zeitlin will try to become the youngest winner in his field. At age 30, Zeitlin is two years younger than Norman Taurog was when won for “Skippy” way back in 1931. However, John Singleton remains the youngest directing nominee period courtesy of his 1992 nod for “Boys In The Hood.” Still with Ben Affleck not in contention this category looks to come down to either Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln” or Ang Lee for “Life of Pi.”
You would also be hard pressed to count out David O. Russell, who has seen the lion share of praise for bringing “Silver Linings Playbook” to the screen. In fact, “Playbook” will also look to make history on Sunday after becoming the first film in 31 years to secure nominations in all four acting categories.
The most recent film to do that was Warren Beatty’s “Reds” back in 1981. It’s actually very rare a film can pull off the quadruple nominations and no film has ever pulled off the full sweep. In fact in most cases its feast or famine. While “Network” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” won three of the four categories, “My Man Godfrey” and “Sunset Boulevard” were completely shutout. According to the latest polls the experts seem to believe “Playbook” could snag at most two wins, with Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro being the most likely. However DeNiro will have to fight off “Lincoln” star Tommy Lee Jones who enters the weekend with a slight edge.
Yet what ultimately gets lost in all the predictions and previews is what happens on stage and those “it” moments that only really resonate year later. For example, 15 years ago when Ben Affleck won his first Oscar for co-writing “Good Will Hunting” with pal Matt Damon, the industry celebrated the crowning of a new power team, but what few remember is that the two men that presented them with their accolade, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, were themselves a power team during their day. At the time it was just a nice moment, but now a decade and half later it’s clear to see we were watching a passing of the torch and didn’t even know it.
That’s what makes the Oscars so interesting.
The 85th annual Academy Awards air tonight beginning at 7 p.m. on ABC.