Arts writers offer Oscar predictions for Sunday

by Kate Sullivan, Varun Bhuchar and Julian Danziger | 2/20/13 11:00pm

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Not sure who to count on to score this year's Academy Awards on Sunday? The Arts staff experts share their picks so you can be informed before the ceremony.

BEST PICTURE

Kate: "Argo" and "Lincoln" are clear Academy bait and it seems unlikely that any other nominated film will achieve an upset. "Argo" will probably prove to be the winner: the dramatic yet witty banter of Ben Affleck combined with the all-American rough-and-tumble in a dangerous country, seasoned by the endearing inclusion of Hollywood staples Alan Arkin and John Goodman, make it tough to beat.

Varun: After winning every guild award imaginable, "Argo" looks like it will be the inevitable victor. However, cinema's highest honor should go to a film that reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place. To that extent, I would be ecstatic if "Django Unchained" walked away with the night's top prize. Hilarious, thrilling, packed to the brim with fantastic acting and filled with enough kitsch and references to entertain the most die-hard film nerd, Tarantino's epic will go down as one of the greatest films ever made and should receive official validation of this fact.BEST DIRECTOR

Kate: I would like to see Michael Haneke win here for "Amour," as the film is simply beautiful. It takes place primarily in the couple's apartment, and every shot is presented as a work of art. I'm guessing, though, that the race will be between Steven Spielberg for "Lincoln" and David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook." Either way, Affleck will probably be swearing in his seat after being snubbed for this category.

Julian: Russell turns "Playbook," a script about two slightly crazy people falling in love amidst twists of dancing and football, into a tear-jerking and emotionally manipulative masterpiece in the best possible way. I full-heartedly believe he deserves and will win the award for best director Sunday night. Although this Oscar will be highly contested (Spielberg for "Lincoln" is hard to beat), Russell's directing feat should earn him the coveted award.

Varun: With Affleck's, this is the most unpredictable race of the night. My money, however, would be on Ang Lee for "Life of Pi." Lee managed to film an "unfilmable" novel about a boy stranded on a boat with a tiger and make it more interesting and heartfelt than 90 percent of the schlock that gets produced these days. It also doesn't hurt that "Pi" is one of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous movies you'll ever see.BEST ACTOR

Kate: Daniel Day-Lewis will take this one for his iconic performance in "Lincoln." He's certainly an Academy favorite, as this is his fifth nomination in this category; he previously won for "My Left Foot" and "There Will Be Blood."

Julian: I see Oscar viewers rolling their eyes at the thought of Day-Lewis' expected win, but I wouldn't be so quick to assume his victory. Although he was nothing short of incredible in "Lincoln," Joaquin Phoenix's performance as the troubled World War II veteran in the intricate and unsettling "The Master" may have been one of the best I've ever seen. Although I still can't say for certain whether I liked the film, Phoenix moved me to almost uncomfortable levels of self-reflection and thought and should take home the Oscar for the performance of his career.BEST ACTRESS

Julian: Despite one of the strongest and most competitive fields for best actor in recent memory, I think this was a down year in the category of best actress. Quvenzhane Wallis stole my heart as the fiercely independent little girl in "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and I may or may not have fallen in love with Lawrence in "Playbook," but on a whole I was slightly underwhelmed. With that being said, this award is either going to Riva for her lovely role in "Amour" or Lawrence, and I've got to stick to my silver lined guns and predict that Lawrence will receive the win.

Varun: Many people have criticized the inclusion of Wallis in this category because she was only six years old at the time of the filming for "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and, as such, couldn't possibly act in the sense of transforming herself into someone else. This line of thinking is, quite frankly, incorrect. Not only does Wallis deserve the Oscar, she acts circles around the rest of her competitors. The fact that she was so young during filming only serves to make her performance as the strong-willed and prodigal Hushpuppy all the more impressive.