by Greg Akers
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Greg Akers: Will Win: In the biggest lock of the night, Anne Hathaway gets her first Oscar. All of the actresses are good, but the reason Hathaway is a lock: Because. A butterfly flapped its wings in China in October 2007. I don't know. But Hathaway is a locomotive carrying nitroglycerine and blowtorches. (I actually don't know the science involved in this analogy.)
Should Win: Despite how sleepy Les Misérables made me, there's no denying how utterly riveting Anne Hathaway is. When Fantine dies (spoiler alert), they should just roll the credits. She's the life of the film. As for the others, Amy Adams has been nominated for four Supporting Actress Oscars and one day will win one or two of the things. She's excellent in The Master, particularly that one scene. You know the one I'm talking about. Sally Field is as good as she's been in ages and keeps Mrs. Lincoln from falling into a pop-psychology crazy lady ball-and-chain. I liked Helen Hunt okay in The Sessions, and would've liked to have seen even more of the subplot between her and her husband (a rough-looking Adam Arkin). As for her sex scenes, I couldn't — Hunt's nudity aside — keep my eyes off John Hawkes. I liked Jacki Weaver a lot, too, but she was given the least to work with of the four main actors (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro).
Got Robbed: I never get to do this, so I can't resist naming the same person three times: Anne Hathaway, this time in The Dark Knight Rises. Her Selina Kyle/Catwoman is an Occupy Wall Street-type crusader who is as driven to bring down corporate criminals as Bruce Wayne/Batman is to defeat the physically violent. The two extremists pair up and form a perfect whole to right society's wrongs, provided they can moderate each other's approach. The film seems at first blush to be thematically schizophrenic but really it's just willing to present multiple perspectives and see where it goes. It mostly works. If only Christopher Nolan had given more time to Hathaway.
Chris Herrington Will Win: I actually have no idea what Amy Adams scene you're talking about. Field has a shot here, but I don't think she really stands out amid a deep, great cast of supporting characters in Lincoln, despite having the only prominent female role. But the smart money is indeed on Anne Hathaway, who steals Les Miserables so thoroughly with her brief, early turn, that the rest of the film never recovers from her subsequent absence. I was going to suggest that it warrants re-writing Victor Hugo's centuries' old story to keep her Fantine around a while longer, but given how I feel about the rest of the film I'll yield to your superior idea of just letting the credits roll. All that said, this is the lock of the night? Already I'm rolling my eyes at you.
Should Win: I'm a little more torn on the merits. But while the other four nominees are all good, none give the best performance in their own films. If I had a real vote, I might go with Helen Hunt just to be a contrarian, but I think Anne Hathaway has earned this.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained).
Herrington Will Win: This seems like a two-way race between Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones. I flipped a coin and it came up Jones, but I'm going to buck chance for the less reliable strategy of following my gut and say Robert De Niro takes this for giving his most purposeful performance in many years in a film driven by its actors.
Should Win: I love a well-crafted character turn and would have no quarrel with De Niro or Jones, who were deeply enjoyable. But my non-existent vote is going to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is nearly a co-lead in The Master once he finally makes his entrance and who holds his own opposite Joaquin Phoenix's force-of-nature centerpiece.mother could cameo. Somebody tell the Academy I'm available to produce next year.
Akers: First: The Amy Adams scene I'm talking about involves a mirror and Philip Seymour Hoffman and an expectant penis (off-screen).
Second, I want to apologize in advance for the person I'm picking to win this category. I don't feel good at all about this one. I'm fairly certain just by picking someone, I'm dooming him to lose. But, there it is: Christoph Waltz Will Win. I think voters certainly remember the film (it's got a real shot in the screenwriting category) and don't get a chance to vote for anyone else from the film's ensemble cast. I also remember feeling relief eventually, when it turned out Waltz wasn't in some way really a villain but was actually as likable and good as you wanted him to be. I mean, for a bounty killer. All that said, sorry, Christoph, and congratulations whomever does win the Oscar.
Got Robbed: There are a lot of contenders here, so I'll do a Bizarro-world cast of nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson for Django Unchained, James Spader in Lincoln, Dwight Henry for Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Javier Bardem for Skyfall. And Michael Fassbender in Prometheus. And how about mi amour Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Bruce Willis in Looper? (You didn't think I'd let an Oscar year go by without mentioning him, did you?) All that said, I'd give the award to David Strathairn in Lincoln, who was William Seward, a quiet, forceful presence at Lincoln's right hand throughout the film.