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Alynda’s OSCAR PICKS

You’d have to be trapped in the secret hiding space under the Canadian embassy in Tehran not to know that the wind is at Argo’s back going into the 85th Academy Awards. I’m actually perfectly fine with that (particularly in protest of the unforgivable snubbing of Ben Affleck for a Best Director nomination). Still, I’m rooting for my sentimental favorite for Best Picture.

Silver Linings Playbook is about as divisive and unsettling as family comedies get. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s characters are so disturbed you might overlook his codependent mom (Jacki Weaver) and dad (Robert De Niro) with OCD, rage issues and a gambling addiction. But the revelation is Lawrence, who showed such vibrance as Tiffany, the funny, brilliant, lying, trampy widow down the road. Her comic timing is impeccable, her range apparently unlimited, and her dancing skills, um, well, I said she’s funny, right? Thanks to bold direction from David O. Russell (who deserves Best Director in Affleck’s stead), she and the rest of the cast get a safe space to play with daring ideas, like that mental illness is something to live with, not simply endure. That’s worth applauding-even if Silver Linings doesn’t win.

Best PICTURE

Amour

Argo

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

Best ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain

Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence

Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva

Amour

Quvenzhane Wallis

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts

The Impossible

Sally Field has said that when she met Day-Lewis as she prepared to be the Mary Todd to his Abraham, they spent the entire time chatting in character. I’ll wager that by then he didn’t have much of a choice. No one goes deeper into roles than Day-Lewis, transforming in what seem to be feats of sorcery. With direction from Steven Spielberg and a fresh, surprisingly funny script from Tony Kushner, Day-Lewis delivers a Great Emancipator who is principled and conniving, witty and subtle, gentle yet commanding. Most astonishing, though, is that he digs under the weight of all that history and brings us a man.

Best ACTOR

Bradley Cooper

Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis

Lincoln

Hugh Jackman

Les Miserables

Joaquin Phoenix

The Master

Denzel Washington

Flight

Best SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams

The Master

Sally Field

Lincoln

Anne Hathaway

Les Miserables

Helen Hunt

The Sessions

Jacki Weaver

Silver Linings Playbook

While not as pithy as Judi Dench’s eight-minute sprint for the gold in Shakespeare in Love, Hathaway’s turn as a young mother left to wither in the streets of France is all the more poignant for its brevity. She conveys the tragedy of a life wasted in a choking sob of a solo, “I Dreamed a Dream,” that gives Les Mis emotional heft before it’s even finished introducing the cast. That, my friends, is how you seize a moment.

Best SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin

Argo

Robert De Niro

Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman

The Master

Tommy Lee Jones

Lincoln

Christoph Waltz

Django Unchained

The movie is titled Lincoln, and Day-Lewis gave it the performance of his life. But Jones was so thunderous and aflame with rectitude as Sen. Thaddeus Stevens that I left the theater wondering when I could see his biopic. With Waltz and Hoffman dazzling voters in roles so substantial they nearly warrant Best Actor consideration, an Oscar for Jones is far from assured, but it is merited.