If you think Anne Hathaway’s got this in the bag, think again. Sure, she shed about 25 pounds to play the tragic heroine in “Les Misérables,” and as everyone knows, the bigger the weight gain or loss, the better the Oscar chances. Yes, she shaved her head and let out a fountain of tears in her no-holds-barred performance of “I Dreamed A Dream.” And she is, admittedly, one of the few singers in “Les Mis” who doesn’t induce cringing.
Perhaps her melodramatic camera-hogging will bring home the gold. But that doesn’t mean it should. For all its apparent one-sidedness, this category actually has one of the strongest lineups of this year. Veteran Sally Field deftly gave us both sides of Lincoln’s first lady, Helen Hunt showed sensitivity—and more—as a sex surrogate in “The Sessions,” and Amy Adams once again demonstrated her adaptability as the icy wife in “The Master.” But hiding among these heavyweights is the truly deserving winner: the timid, loving mother in “Silver Linings Playbook.” As Dolores Solitano, Jacki Weaver both nails a Philly accent and portrays a mother holding a disintegrating family together with sheer resolve—not easy when that family includes a bipolar Bradley Cooper and an obsessive-compulsive Robert De Niro—all while whipping up the best crabby snacks and homemades a family could want.
—Staff writer Tree A. Palmedo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.