Oscar analysis: Bad day for 'Argo,' 'Les Mis' and 'Zero Dark Thirty'

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Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo, Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin,
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

The winner here: Tony Kushner for Lincoln. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Angels in America took just a section of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and crafted it into an epic historical and political thriller. He found a way to immerse us in the language of that era without losing us, and the achievement here is undeniable. He faces a list of worthy rivals, but I would be shocked if he doesn’t win on Feb. 24.

Prize Fighter Score:
Four for five. While I admired David Magee’s script for Life of Pi, it felt like writers considered that film more of a directorial achievement. But Magee deserves credit for capturing the elegant narration of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel. I had heard a lot of praise from writers for Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which he also directed. He probably came close, but fell just short.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes it pays to play it safe. If I’d done that, I’d have gone with Life of Pi — a movie I loved. But there was also a lot of vocal support for Perks — another movie I loved. So which way was playing it safe? If your humble Oscar prognosticator weren’t a Pittsburgh kid (which is where Perks was set) and hadn’t gone to high school in the early ’90s (which is when Perks was set), and didn’t have a soft-spot for rebellious teenagers (what can I say, I was trouble back then), might I have chosen differently? But that’s why this is an art not a science. If I’d played it safer overall I might have missed a few others (which is where I went wrong for director and actress — two categories where I should have taken more chances.)

In the end, I average about four for five correct picks. Now … the guessing begins for who will win.

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