Is the Oscar race Lincoln versus Silver Linings?
Flashback to 1998, when Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Harvey Weinstein’s Shakespeare in Love galloped neck and neck down the Oscar track and Shakespeare took five statuettes, including best picture, to Ryan‘s five. Love conquered war, in part because Weinstein spent a reported $15 million on the campaign.
The announcement of the Oscar nominations this morning likewise pit a Weinstein-distributed romantic comedy, The Silver Linings Playbook, against a Spielberg-directed historical drama, Lincoln.
Although drama usually trumps comedy at Oscar time, I wouldn’t bet against the Weinstein campaign. Silver Linings has been in limited release and will go wide, getting increased media attention over Lincoln, and perhaps accumulating momentum during the runup to the Academy voting.
Which is the better film? I would argue Lincoln, anchored by Daniel Day-Lewis’ masterful performance, it is a sharply-written (by Tony Kushner) historical story that telescopes the present-day difficulties of a deadlocked congress and nation.
My hunch is that Day-Lewis takes best actor as the personable and anguished 16th president, Jennifer Lawrence best actress for her engaging portrait of a borderline personality, and that the best picture and director statuettes are up for grabs.
Most egregrious omissions this morning were Ben Affleck for his direction of Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for her direction of Zero Dark Thirty and Matthew McConaughey for his physically and emotionally naked performances in Magic Mike and The Paperboy.