For us in Rwanda, our first surprise should be a pleasant one. We may not be expecting any silverware from Kodak Studios tonight, but we can at least take solace in the fact that the country has been represented, thanks to a 39-minute long documentary, writes Moses Opobo
THE STEVEN SPIELBERG-directed movie, Lincoln is a clear favourite for the Best Picture accolade in tonight’s Oscars. The gala, broadcast live to a worldwide audience of over 100 million, is slated for the glitzy Kodak Theatre in Hollywood leading with 12 nominations. But Ben Affleck’s Argo and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi could stage an embarrassing upset for Spielberg.
Daniel Day-Lewis is widely expected to win his third Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of America’s most beloved president in Lincoln. Sally Field, who played the president’s moody wife, is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Traditionally, by this stage of the awards season, Oscar lovers are out foraging for any odd bits of news on the awards, if only to kill boredom before crunch time.
For us in Rwanda, our first surprise should be a pleasant one. We may not be expecting any silverware from Kodak Studios tonight, but we can at least take solace in the fact that the country has been represented, thanks to a 39-minute long documentary, Open Heart. This is the story of eight Rwandan children who leave their families behind to embark on a life-or-death journey seeking high-risk heart surgery in Sudan. Open Heart is a revelation into the selfless endeavors of Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza, the country’s only government cardiologist, as he fights to save the lives of his young patients.
It not only got nominated under the Documentary Short Films category, it will be screened to a live audience.
Back to the awards proper, and Ben Affleck’s Argo could prove to be Steven Spielberg’s worst nightmare. Argo has been clinching award after award of late, scooping gold at the Critics’ Choice Awards, the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). It has what it takes to win the Best Picture accolade, but it lacks the additional nomination for Best Director that is usually required for an Oscar victory.
But, if history is anything to go by, then indeed Argo stands a slim chance against Lincoln: only three times in the Oscar’s 85 years has a movie without an accompanying Best Director nod taken the Academy’s top prize. The last time was for Driving Miss Daisy, in 1990!
Similarly, it’s not practical to count out Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables (eight nominations), Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty (five), Michael Haneke’s Amour (five), Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (five) and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild (four) to give Lincoln a run for its money.
But the strangest category of all this year is the one of Best Director. Traditionally, Oscar’s Best Director was among the first five nominees from the Director’s Guild of America, and the top choice from both groups also pointed to the film that would eventually win Best Picture. This year, only two of the people nominated by the Director’s Guild of America for directing excellence have been repeated in the matching Oscar category. The two are Spielberg and Lee.
In a year of uncertainty, this is one of the few sure things. Well, at least one can almost be sure that Daniel Day-Lewis is going to win his third Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of America’s most beloved president in Lincoln, as all signs seem to indicate. He will become Oscar’s first three-time Best Actor winner, and deservedly so.
Of the other four nominees — Denzel Washington (Flight), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) — only Washington and Jackman are considered serious threats to Day-Lewis. But nobody expects them to win.