Mr. Movie rolls out his Academy Award picks

Gary Wolcott, Special to the HeraldFebruary 22, 2013 

The Academy Awards airs at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 24 on ABC.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences continues its host experiment to draw in younger viewers. The last couple of Oscar telecasts failed and had hosts that pretty much sucked. And I'm being nice. The first effort was Hugh Jackman at the height of his Wolverine popularity. It was a major flop, and he was followed by the less-than-sizzling pairing of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.

An Anne Hathaway and James Franco fizzle followed.

Last year, they brought back Billy Crystal. It was a giant step forward but Crystal -- who is arguably the best of the modern era hosts -- is a faded star, and if the goal is to attract a younger audience and compete with the MTV Movie Awards and the popular People's Choice awards, it's time to move into this century.

Ta da. The Academy introduces its new host Seth MacFarlane. He's often very funny. The downside? MacFarlane -- who created TV's popular Family Guy and did the movie Ted -- isn't a stand-up comic or an experienced master of ceremonies.

As always, I'm doing two picks. What I think the Academy will do and what I would pick if it was up to me. We start with the Oscar host.

The Academy picks MacFarlane.

Mr. Movie predicts a bomb.

Best Picture

There are nine best picture nominations. Five are great movies. Four are pretty good. Seven of them don't have a prayer. Two do. Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Les Misérables, Django Unchained, Life of Pi and last year's best movie Silver Linings Playbook won't be named.

That leaves Lincoln and Argo. To date at awards shows, Argo has been upstaging the Steven Spielberg-directed Lincoln. Ben Affleck, who directed Argo, didn't get nominated as best director. Spielberg did. Usually, that omission is fatal to a flick. That may not be the case this year.

The Academy will pick Argo.

Mr. Movie would pick Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Director

One pick in the category doesn't make sense, and neither does a horrible non-pick. Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild is an interesting movie that no one saw. It's original, too, and explores a place we've never been. It's not as worthy as Ben Affleck's Argo, but Affleck wasn't nominated.

That opens up the category and a likely win for Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. Ang Lee, who did the year's most beautiful movie Life of Pi, could slip in.

The Academy will pick Steven Spielberg.

Mr. Movie would pick Ang Lee.

Best Actor

Some great performances dot this category. I loved the work of Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook and Joaquin Phoenix's brilliant acting in The Master, but Daniel Day-Lewis is a shoo-in for bringing Abraham Lincoln to life in Lincoln.

Best Actress

Five great actresses gave incredible performances last year, and just two have a shot at this one. Unfortunately, one of them isn't Jessica Chastain for her terrific work in the nail-biting Zero Dark Thirty. Jennifer Lawrence's soul-baring Silver Linings Playbook and Emmanuelle Riva's incredible acting in Amour are the two.

The Academy will pick Jennifer Lawrence.

Mr. Movie would pick Jennifer Lawrence.

Best Supporting Actor

Acting doesn't get any better than in this category. Battling for the Oscar are five of the best actors on the planet: Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz, Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Arkin.

The odds favor Jones' performance for Lincoln, but Waltz's deadly dentist in Django Unchained puts him close.

The Academy will pick Tommy Lee Jones.

Mr. Movie would pick Christoph Waltz.

Best Supporting Actress

This is the year's most boring category. It's a lock for Les Misérables' Anne Hathaway. No one else has a prayer, though the critics did rave about Helen Hunt's exceptional work in The Sessions.

The Academy will pick Anne Hathaway.

Mr. Movie would pick Helen Hunt.

Best Animated Feature

My favorite of the year is Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and it is the best of the five. It doesn't stand a chance.

The Academy will pick Brave.

Mr. Movie would pick Frankenweenie.

Best Cinematography: Life of Pi

Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained

Best Adapted Screenplay: Lincoln

Best Foreign Film: Amour

Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi.

*To comment, go to Mr. Movie's blog at www.tricityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.

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