Is it time to thank The Academy?
American educators might be looking for more engineers and mathematicians, but the culture itself has a higher priority. Judging from shows such as “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “American Idol,” it’s singers and other performers we must be constantly looking for.
And once we find them, we must give them awards.
Singers and musicians were recently feted at the Grammys. On Sunday, movie makers to received their due. For actors and actresses, there are numerous critics awards and televised ceremonies, such as The Golden Globes, The Screen Actors Guild Awards, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, and of course the big daddy of them all, the American Academy Awards.
Daniel Day-Lewis is an example of just how rewarded one actor can be – he’s the front-runner to receive his third Best Actor Oscar, this time for “Lincoln.”
As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, I’m ready to share my own opinions, prejudices, and speculations (written prior to last night’s awards show).
I think the Best Actress category is weak – and puzzling. It includes both a child actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, and an octogenarian, French actress Emmanuelle Riva. Sandwiched in between are Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, and the likely winner, Jennifer Lawrence.
If there is any credence to the idea of acting as a “craft,” then probably the Best Actress should be older than six (at the time of her performance). What about Kiera Knightly in “Anna Karenina,” Rachel Weisz in “The Deep Blue Sea,” and even Barbra Streisand in “The Guilt Trip”?
For Best Actor, Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”) had a good shot until he apparently ranted that actors should not be in competition with each other. That left the field completely open to Daniel Day-Lewis, who has convinced just about everyone on the planet that he is our greatest living actor. Even the estimable Hugh Jackman won’t be able to overcome that.
Like Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway has pretty much swept all the awards so far in her category, so she seems like a sure bet for Best Supporting Actress, in “Les Miserables.” Her closest competition is probably Amy Adams.
Interestingly, nominee Jacki Weaver (from “Silver Linings Playbook”), had a role in a cult classic movie, “Mystery at Hanging Rock.”
The Best Supporting Actor category is notable because all five nominees already have Academy Awards. Tommy Lee Jones could have been nominated as Best Actor for his daring work in “Hope Springs,” but has to settle for being the front-runner in the supporting category, for “Lincoln.”
There is a late surge for Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Articles have stated that De Niro is a “national treasure” and reminded us that he hasn’t won an award for 29 years.
However, he does have two Oscars and if he receives another, would join Day-Lewis in the “We’ve got three” club.
Philip Seymour Hoffman might not belong in the supporting category – after all, he had the title role in “The Master” and screen time way beyond the typical definition of “supporting.”
Best Picture will probably come down to either “Lincoln” or “Argo.” There was a huge outcry when “Argo” was nominated for Best Picture but Ben Affleck was “snubbed” for a Best Director nomination. The Golden Globes, the Directors Guild of America and several others have tried to compensate Affleck by bestowing their awards upon him.
“Lincoln,” once widely regarded as the frontrunner, has lost a bit of steam to “Argo.” I’m reluctant to mention the hyper-violent “Django Unchained,” which still might win Best Original Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino – so much for Hollywood embracing peace and love.
So hum a few bars of likely Best Song winner “Skyfall” by Adele and give thanks to the Academy.