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Top Picks For the 2013 Academy Awards


A movie lover weighs in on who will be taking home a gold statuette.

A decade-long manhunt, a singing ex-con, an assassinated president, a dramatic CIA plot and a boy in a boat with a tiger. These are just a few of the stories nominated for a coveted Best Picture statuette at the 85th Annual Academy Awards.

We're less than a week away from Hollywood's biggest night and there are plenty of things to keep our eyes on — starting with Ben Affleck's snub in the Best Director category despite "Argo" cleaning up at nearly every other awards show. Also, Jennifer Lawrence has been gaining plenty of traction for her performance in "Silver Linings Playbook," but can she grab the Best Actress statue from Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty")?  To add to the excitement, we get a chance to see the youngest and oldest nominees in history walk the red carpet: Quvenzhané Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") and Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour"), respectively. Too bad neither stands a chance to win an Oscar.

So who’s in, who’s out and who shouldn’t have been considered? Check out my picks for the Oscar shoe-ins and shoulda-beens:

Nominees For Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams, "The Master"Sally Field, "Lincoln"Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook"

Who’s Gonna Win: Anne Hathaway

Who Should Win: Amy Adams

Anne Hathaway, for her all-but-twenty-minutes-on-screen-solo, will definitely hit a high note with Academy voters (as it did with every other award voter this season). Shame, since Weaver and Hunt sorta got shuffled to the side, and Field, who stands a good shot, may not pull through (but it could happen). Amy Adams was really the standout, playing a suppressed and cagey wife in "The Master." Anyway, sing it Annie, it’s your time to shine. 

Nominees For Best Supporting Actor:

Alan Arkin, "Argo"Robert De Niro, "Silver Lininigs Playbook"Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained"

Who’s Gonna Win: Tommy Lee Jones (close tie with De Niro)

Who Should Win: Christoph Waltz

Arkin, Hoffman and Waltz are out, although to me, "Django Unchained" would not have been half as good without Waltz, and the same goes for Hoffman in "The Master." So between De Niro and Jones, I think Jones will squeak out a win, but it’s close. Bobby D may bull his way to the top for his portrayal of the football-loving OCD dad in "Silver Linings Playbook," but when it comes to picking winners, my philosophy this year is simple: When in doubt, vote for "Lincoln." 

Nominees for Best Actor:

Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"Denzel Washington, "Flight"

Who’s Gonna Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Who Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix

This award is going to Daniel Day-Lewis. His performance in "Lincoln" was like watching the 16th president come back to life. But if I was to argue the point for another contender, I’d put my weight behind Joaquin Phoenix for his stunning portrayal of a World War II vet turned drifter/moonshiner in "The Master."  The film itself was polarizing to critics and fans alike, but Phoenix hit this role out of the park.

Nominees For Best Actress:

Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"Naomi Watts, "The Impossible"

Who’s Gonna Win: Jessica Chastain

Who Should Win: Emmanuelle Riva

In "Zero Dark Thirty," Jessica Chastain stepped into some serious combat boots to play the woman who led the charge against the world’s most wanted terrorist. She was a force to be reckoned with, and Chastain's on-screen performance oozed star quality. But what about the oldest nominee in Academy history, 83 year-old Emmanuelle Riva? In "Amour," Riva masterfully plays a stroke victim who slowly unravels onscreen. It's a wonderful film, but did you see it? Didn't think so.

Nominees for Best Director:

Michael Haneke, "Amour"Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"

Who’s Gonna Win: Steven Spileberg, "Lincoln"

Who Should Win: NONE OF THESE

The biggest snub category of the season: No Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), no Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained"), no Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables"), no Ben Affleck ("Argo") and no P.T. Anderson ("The Master"). The Academy really botched this one up.  With a couple of stragglers in the running, the award will hands-down go to Spielberg. It’s easy to knock-off newbie Zeitlin for "Beasts" and Russell for "Silver Linings." Ang Lee has a shot, but a lack of buzz leaves him stranded. Haneke’s "Amour" is my personal favorite, but a long shot. So (yawn), let’s all hear a round of applause for Steven Spielberg. If I was to vote a non-contender, however, then I’d have to nominate Ben Affleck for "Argo" and P.T. Anderson for "The Master."

Nominees For Best Picture:

"Amour""Argo""Beasts of the Southern Wild""Django Unchained""Les Misérables""Life of Pi""Lincoln""Silver Linings Playbook""Zero Dark Thirty"

Who’s Gonna Win: "Lincoln"

Who Should Win: "Argo"

Presidents, period pieces and Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s all you really need to lock up an Oscar win these days. Throw in Steven Spielberg and you might as well call it a night. Listen, "Lincoln" was great: beautifully shot, perfectly designed, and superbly acted. But there’s a reason "Argo" has been gaining some traction this season. There's a lot of buzz saying Affleck’s political thriller is going to take top prize, but the numbers don’t lie: "Lincoln" is leading the pack with 12 nominations, and if we look to past Academy trends, there has been only once time in recent history when a film won Best Picture without a director nomination ("Driving Miss Daisy," 1989).

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the chances of it happening are slim…