2013 Oscars: A big day could turn out to be a big night for Kentucky

Daniel Day-Lewis, center, as Abraham Lincoln in a scene from the film “Lincoln.” The film was nominated Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 for 12 Academy Awards, including best picture, director for Steven Spielberg and acting honors for Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. © DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox photo by David James, via AP.

According to Google Maps, there are 2,143 miles between the Kentucky State Capitol and the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, where the Academy Awards are presented.

But somehow, the Bluegrass State always seems to have a rooting interest in the Oscars with names like Clooney, Depp and Shannon in contention.

With today’s nominees though, maybe the biggest name in Kentucky dominates the Oscar field: Lincoln. The 16th President of the United States’ bronze visage dominates the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, and Daniel Day Lewis is just one of 12 Oscar nominees for bringing Lincoln to life in Stephen Spielberg’s epic film. What’s more, Sally Field is a best supporting actress nominee for her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln, probably the biggest name in Lexington history — a history Field knew well enough she came to Lexington to research the icon she portrayed.

That’s a lot of Kentucky history on the silver screen and in the running for Oscars in a year dominated by historic films including the hunt for Osama bin-Laden in Zero Dark Thirty, which opens Friday in Lexington, and the Ben Affleck Iran hostage drama Argo.

Jennifer Lawrence, a cast member in the film “Silver Linings Playbook,” poses for a portrait at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. © AP photo by Chris Pizzello.

But we also see new history being made this year with Louisville-native Jennifer Lawrence, 22, receiving her second Oscar nomination for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. The honor caps a heady year for Lawrence, who started 2012 playing the world’s new heroine, Katniss Everdeen, in The Hunger Games – a role she’ll reprise later this year in the sequel, Catching Fire.

Lawrence’s first nomination came for playing another gritty mountain girl two years ago in Winter’s Bone. Back then, the prevailing thought was it was a great, breakout nomination for Lawrence, but obviously Natalie Portman was going to win for Black Swan, which she did.

But this year, even before the nominations were announced, Lawrence was getting some strong discussion as a potential winner.  The best actress category is really interesting with the oldest and youngest best actress nominees ever: Emmanuelle Riva, 85, for Amour and Quvenzhané Wallis, 9, for Beasts of the Southern Wild, respectively. Rounding out the field are Naomi Watts for the tough tsunami drama The Impossible and Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain may be a strong contender, but the way the nominations played out, it appears the Academy may be a bit cool to her movie, which has sparked controversy for its portrayal of torture by American agents searching for the 9/11 mastermind.

Director Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first woman to win the Oscar for best director for The Hurt Locker (2009), was not nominated for Zero. Also snubbed was Tom Hooper for Les Miserables. The snubs and generally anemic hauls for the films that were considered contenders make Lincoln look like an even stronger frontrunner than it did before 8:30 this morning.

At this point, Spielberg’s American epic has to be considered the favorite in numerous categories including best picture and director, and Lewis seems a lock to win his third Oscar. Field could well win her third as her strongest competition is Anne Hathaway from Les Mis.

And wins for Lincoln could be strong sources of pride for the Commonwealth, from being the President’s home state to the participation of Kentuckians from the Kentucky History Center and members of The President’s Own band in making the film.

More than ever before, Oscar nomination day has been a great day for Kentucky.

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