David Onda’s 2013 Oscars Diary: Day 4

Meryl Streep shows off her Oscar (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty)

Preparations for the 85th annual Academy Awards are still in full swing at the Hollywood and Highland Center here in Tinseltown.

Last night, crews finally unrolled the tubes of red carpet across Hollywood Blvd. (click here to watch the video) after being delayed by rain, but by this morning, they have covered the carpet with sheets of plastic to protect it from the dirty feet of the press and workers. Be sure to check out my Red Carpet Set-up gallery, which chronicles a day-by-day look at the construction of the Oscars arrival area.

Also this morning, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck gave members of the press a sneak peek at what he’ll be serving the stars at the annual Governors Ball party (hint: it’s shepherd’s pie), and I got a fascinating interview with designer Marc Friedland, who created the famed envelopes that contain the names of this year’s Oscar winners.

Stay tuned to the XFINITY Movie blog for my interview (and more) later today. Watch video of Wolfgang Puck at the preview event here.

For now, it’s time to take a look at another big category at this Sunday’s awards show: Best Actress. And this year’s nominees are Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty“), Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook“), Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour“), Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild“) and Naomi Watts (“The Impossible“).

This may be the hardest category of the year to predict. First, you have the frontrunners, Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. In the controversial war film “Zero Dark Thirty,” Chastain gives the performance of her career under the direction of Kathryn Bigelow. The film is stunning, chilling and highly affective due in no small part to the actresses’ performance. As for Lawrence, it’s no secret that “Silver Linings Playbook,” which opened the 2012 Philadelphia Film Festival, is one of my top five favorites of the year. A win for Jennifer would be well deserved.

However, there are two major wildcards in this year’s race for the trophy — Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis. At ages 85 and 9, respectively, they are the oldest and youngest nominees in the history of this category. Both actresses have something special working in their favor, as well as their stunning and emotional performances. If you haven’t seen “Amour,” in which Riva plays a woman suffering from multiple strokes, it is a haunting must-see film. If you haven’t seen “Beasts,” watch it and marvel at the fact that this is Wallis’ very first role.

Despite Naomi Watts’ wonderful performance in the heart-wrenching film “The Impossible,” I think the flick flew too far under the radar to grab this victory.

WHO SHOULD WIN: I would love to see some history made, Quvenzhane Wallis.

WHO WILL WIN: Jessica Chastain

I leave you today with a photo from this morning’s Governors Ball preview, which shows an artist’s rendering of the ballroom inside the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Pretty stunning!

This is what the stars will see (Photo: David Onda)

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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