Star-studded storylines from the Oscar nominations

Dust off that old tuxedo and take that floor-length gown to the tailor. It is Academy Awards season once again.

Leonardo DiCaprio didn't score a nomination for his role in "Django Unchained," but the film scored a Best Picture nod. Photo via imdb

Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t score an Oscar nomination for his role in “Django Unchained,” but the film scored a Best Picture nod. Photo via imdb

That’s right, folks; Hollywood’s biggest night is upon us. Although Tinseltown’s brightest stars get dressed up and deck themselves out, the most beautiful part of the ceremony will once again be the snubs and surprises.

Some may say that placing actors or directors in direct competition is pointless. Film is subjective, these people say, and it may be impossible or useless to try to predict who will come out a winner.

I disagree. I believe there is a standard to greatness in cinema, and while you might not like the Best Picture, that does not detract from the true quality of the film. With this standard in place, predictions are feasible and not flawed.

With this being said, there are some intriguing storylines and predictions worth looking at before the Academy Awards are presented on Feb. 24.

“Lincoln” still the front-runner for Best Picture, but “Argo” is on its doorstep

From the time “Lincoln” was released in theaters – and even way back to when the film was originally announced – it has been considered the front-runner for Best Picture at this year’s awards. But with the recent Best Motion Picture-Drama win for “Argo” at the Golden Globes on Sunday, this once locked-down category has left the door open for “Argo.”

Whether this will have any effect is doubtful. No one who knows cinema pretends that the Golden Globes are an accurate predictor of Oscar winners. People rebuke the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which votes for the Globes, as a group of cinema misfits easily persuaded by glad-handing.

However, many watched the Globes with greater intensity and hope the HFPA actually got it right. This year, it seemed as though the association followed consensus in nearly all the major categories, which is giving industry insiders pause as to whether the Globes could prove an accurate Oscar gauge. If this is true, “Argo” may just have a great night come February.

Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow snubbed for Best Director

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the nominations resided in the Best Director category. Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, heavily praised directors for their work on “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” respectively, were shut out of the category, while Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and Michael Haneke (“Amour”) were nominated. Both choices made the Best Director category the biggest shock of the season.

As much as people want to gripe and groan about the snubs, I believe Affleck will still be awarded, though unfortunately for the wrong reason.

As I mentioned above, “Argo” is catching up with “Lincoln” in the Best Picture race. What may put “Argo” over “Lincoln” involves the Academy seeking redemption for not nominating Affleck. No doubt it has felt the heat for its decision, and I believe that if “Argo” does win, it will be a consolation prize for the director.

Best Actress category a toss-up

The most unpredictable category of the 85th Academy Awards is Best Actress. The category features front-runners Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and is making history in boasting the youngest and oldest Best Actress nominees ever, with nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis is nominated for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour.”

It appears that Chastain and Lawrence are frontrunners, but the little whirlwind Wallis might just claim the prize.

Chastain plays a fiery CIA analyst determined to find Osama bin Laden, and the long hunt for bin Laden is portrayed through her tenacity. Lawrence shines in “Silver Linings Playbook” as a complex character, bursting with emotion and looking for solace from depression. The underdog, Wallis, shines as an energetic girl looking for her mother in a fantasy bayou world.

Final Predictions: Don’t expect “Lincoln” to go home with the most awards

Although “Lincoln” towers over the competition with 12 nominations, don’t expect it to be the most decorated film of the night. Sure, it is the front-runner for Best Picture, but that may be one of the few awards it takes home.

I like Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”) for Best Director and Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Django Unchained.” It’s hard to bet against Steven Spielberg for Best Director, and the race is tight between Waltz and Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor, but I am giving the edge to the non-“Lincoln” folk.

Daniel Day-Lewis is a lock for Best Actor, as is Tony Kushner for Best Adapted Screenplay, but this is where the winning streak ends for the great biopic. I expect “Life of Pi” to be the most prolific winner, as it should win for most technical categories as well as Best Original Score.

If fans of “Les Miserables” thought the movie was sad, they may not want to watch the awards. I predict that the polarizing musical will have a bad night come February. Perhaps the only award the musical will win is Best Supporting Actress, with Anne Hathaway as a lock in that category. At last, this deserving young actress will be awarded. The musical may come away with Best Makeup or Best Costume Design, but that will be all.

Lastly, Adele will win Best Original Song for “Skyfall,” and I predict “Brave” will win for Best Animated Feature. It’s hard to bet against Pixar, and I believe it will continue its winning streak.

The nominations were some of the most unpredictable we’ve had in a while – an unpredictability that threatens to spill over to the winners themselves creating a night of upsets and possible underdog victories.

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