The Oscars are coming up on Sunday, February 24th, and many of us are looking forward to this star-studded night of red-carpet fashion, entertaining speeches, and golden awards. If you haven’t had the chance to see all of this year’s “must-see” movies, below are brief summaries of those that have been nominated in some of the main Oscar categories, along with the critics’ predictions for who will win in each category.

Enjoy the show!

Best Picture

  • Amour: Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers who have been married for sixty years.  The couple’s bond of love is severely tested and the nature of their life together irrevocably changed when Anne has two debilitating strokes and Georges becomes her caregiver.
  • Argo: Based on true events, Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation that unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis – the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades.  When six Americans take refuge in the Canadian embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, U.S. government agent Tony Mendez devises a rescue mission that centers on the creation of a fake film production company scouting locations in Iran.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild:  In an isolated bayou community known as the Bathtub, a six-year-old girl’s optimism, imagination, and resourcefulness are called into play when rising flood waters threaten the area.  Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this little hero must learn to survive unstoppable and epic catastrophes.
  • Django Unchained:  Two years before the Civil War, German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz buys a slave named Django and promises him his freedom once he has helped Schultz track down the criminals he is seeking.  Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda, the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
  • Les Miserables: In early 19th century France, Jean Valjean, a man imprisoned years earlier for stealing a loaf of bread, breaks his parole following his release to build a new life for himself and his adopted daughter, Cosette, but is relentlessly pursued by the ruthless Inspector Javert.
  • Life of Pi: In this groundbreaking film directed by Ang Lee, young Pi, the son of zookeepers in India, survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic adventure.  While cast away, he forms an unexpected bond with another survivor – an enormous Bengal tiger.
  • Lincoln: In his tumultuous final months in office, President Abraham Lincoln seeks to pass a thirteenth amendment to the Constitution that will outlaw slavery everywhere in the United States.  In a nation divided by war, as he faces opposition from many quarters in Congress, Lincoln uses his vast political powers to gain allies in his fight to change the fate of generations to come.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: After eight months of treatment for a bipolar disorder, Pat Solatano is released into his parents’ care and is determined to rebuild his life and remain positive.  His recovery seems uncertain, however, when he stops taking his medication and becomes obsessed with winning back his estranged wife.  When Pat meets Tiffany, a troubled young widow with problems of her own, things get complicated, an unexpected bond begins to form.
  • Zero Dark Thirty:  In the aftermath of 9/11, as the trail in the hunt for Osama bin Laden seems to grow cold, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives spends a decade working in secret across the globe, devoting themselves to the single goal of finding and eliminating the world’s most dangerous man.

Critics’ Pick: The critics’ consensus seems to be that Argo will narrowly edge out Lincoln for Best Picture.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook:  Bradley Cooper plays the role of Pat, a man struggling to handle daily life after being released from a psychiatric facility.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln:  Daniel Day-Lewis portrays Abraham Lincoln as he tries to persuade Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment outlawing slavery.
  • Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables: As Jean Valjean, Hugh Jackman plays a former prisoner attempting to build a new life for himself while being relentlessly pursued by a police inspector.
  • Joaquin Phoenix, The Master:  Joaquin Phoenix plays the role of Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran struggling with alcoholism, who turns to the founder of a controversial group known as The Cause for help.
  • Denzel Washington, Flight: Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a pilot with a substance abuse problem whose life changes after he performs a daring maneuver during an airliner crash.

Critics’ Pick:  Critics are in agreement that Daniel Day-Lewis will be the big winner in the category of Actor in a Leading Role for his powerful portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark ThirtyJessica Chastain portrays Maya, a CIA agent who spends a decade searching for Osama bin Laden.
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings PlaybookJennifer Lawrence plays the part of Tiffany, a troubled widow in a complicated relationship with a man recently released from a psychiatric facility.
  • Emmanuelle Riva, AmourEmmanuelle Riva plays Anne, an elderly woman being cared for by her husband after two debilitating strokes.
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern WildQuvenzhané Wallis, the youngest best actress nominee, plays Hushpuppy, an imaginative young girl living with her father in an isolated Louisiana swampland.
  • Naomi Watts, The ImpossibleNaomi Watts portrays Maria, a wife and mother struggling to survive in the aftermath of a terrifying tsunami.

Critics’ Pick:  Jennifer Lawrence is predicted to take home the golden statue for her complex performance in Silver Linings Playbook.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Alan Arkin, Argo:  As Lester Siegel, Alan Arkin plays a film producer who joins in a CIA agent’s plan to rescue six Americans trapped in Iran during the hostage crisis.
  • Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook:  Robert De Niro plays Pat Sr., the sports-obsessed father of a man recently released from a psychiatric hospital.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman,  The MasterPhilip Seymour Hoffman portrays Lancaster Dodd, the founder of a controversial group known as The Cause.
  • Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, a powerful Republican congressman who is one of the principal figures in the debate over the Thirteenth Amendment.
  • Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained: As Dr. King Schultz, Christoph Waltz portrays a German bounty hunter in the pre-Civil War South who buys a slave to assist him with his work.

Critics’ Pick:  Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) is expected to edge out Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) in the category of Actor in a Supporting Role.

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams, The Master Amy Adams portrays Peggy Dodd, the determined wife of the controversial founder of a group known as The Cause.
  • Sally Field, Lincoln:  As Mary Todd Lincoln, Sally Field portrays the wife of the sixteenth president and a grieving mother who fears for the safety of her family.
  • Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables: Anne Hathaway plays Fantine, a young mother who struggles to support her daughter after losing her job at a factory.
  • Helen Hunt, The SessionsHelen Hunt plays Cheryl, a sex surrogate who is hired by a polio survivor to help him lose his virginity.
  • Jackie Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook:  Jacki Weaver plays Dolores, the mother of a man undergoing treatment in a psychiatric facility who agrees to vouch for his behavior upon his release.

Critics’ Pick:  Anne Hathaway is favored to win the Academy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Fantine in the musical Les Miserables.

Who do you think will take home an Oscar this year? Which films do you think are the most deserving of an Academy Award? Share your thoughts on all-things-Oscars by adding a comment below.  May the best films win!