A word to all you Oscar lovers out there. In less than 24 hours time, hosts Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone will announce the Academy Awards nominees. The reason you’re reading this is because the official Oscar predictions have been updated, and the staple is in the paper…at least on the prognosticating side.
In the Best Picture category, ten films are being predicted for citation, although I’m fairly confident that number will become nine when the nominees are announced. Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty are six films everyone feels confident will make the cut. Deemed ineligible all season for many guild awards, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild seems like a film that was built for the 5% rule. With the recent nomination from the Producers Guild, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom has picked up momentum in the later weeks of the season. It’s safe to place it as a likely nominee, as well.
If you’re counting, those are eight spots taken (allegedly) with about five films fighting it out, give or take the “WTF?” nomination that could come through. I opted for John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which received the SAG Ensemble mention, and which could be, in many ways, the anti-Amour. If voters find Haneke’s film “too real” or “too close to home,” this light-hearted comedy could hit the sweet spot. Not to mention the fact that Fox Searchlight did an outstanding job campaigning the film all season long.
When I think back to last year’s nominees when Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life–a divisive, artistic venture by a respected auteur–made the cut, I can’t help but think Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master has those same characteristics. The Weinstein Company has pushed multiple films all year, like Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained, The Intouchables, and The Master. While the Weinsteins are exceedingly talented in Oscar campaigning, they’re not as focused on the lead contenders like other studios. When it comes down to nominations, AMPAS voters will ultimately have to make their own choices. I can see an older Academy member appreciating and respecting Anderson’s film.
Many readers will ask why I think Django Unchained will get the shaft. When it comes to Quentin Tarantino, the Academy usually goes all or none. With the exception of Pulp Fiction (1994) and Inglourious Basterds (2009), the only Academy nomination for a Tarantino picture ever was received by veteran actor Robert Forster for Jackie Brown (1997). Nathaniel Rogers, of The Film Experience, said it the best in one of his posts, “Internet ≠ Oscar voters.”
Tarantino boys will yell and scream, and these are likely the same vocal individuals that thought there was no way The Dark Knight would miss in 2008. You never know, though. I could be wrong. Maybe Basterds made the Academy change their minds about Tarantino and all his shtick. When Tarantino enters the film as the “Australian” slave owner, of sorts, everything that is wrong with Django Unchained is exemplified in those last thirty-five minutes, something that I think bothered more conservative Academy members.
The Directors Guild of America announced their nominees yesterday and, granted, Oscar ballots were in already, but I think that might be our final lineup. Ang Lee is likely the most vulnerable and could miss in favor of David O. Russell, Michael Haneke, and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Speaking of Haneke’s Amour, as you may have noticed, I backed off the film for every category, with the exception of Foreign Language Film. As it pains me to possibly see Haneke’s masterpiece–one of the year’s best films–get such a minimal showing, big studio films pounced all of December, leaving Haneke and his film as an afterthought.
Emmanuelle Riva will, unfortunately, be another casualty of that after missing both Golden Globes and SAG nominations. Helen Mirren has the momentum, the mentions, and the name recognition. Marion Cotillard and Naomi Watts should round out the category nicely with frontrunners Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence.
After staring at my computer screen for what felt like hours, I realized that the Lead Actor and Supporting Actor categories were caused the most back and forth movement. Approaching Lead Actor was simply a matter of, “Who is going to get the most #1 votes from the Academy?” Daniel Day-Lewis is sitting tightly and, I would say, so is Bradley Cooper. With Hugh Jackman having all the major guilds in his favor and Les Miserables about to make a strong showing, it feels like he should be able to clear the hurdle. I imagine all those Les Miserables enthusiasts will be putting him as #1 on their ballots. That leaves John Hawkes, Joaquin Phoenix, and Denzel Washington.
Washington is a two-time Oscar winner, delivering his best performance in years in a film that was campaigned strongly by Paramount. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a performance for the ages and is someone, I imagine, who is quite respected and liked by the acting branch. Hawkes is solid, charismatic, and very pleasant in his role in The Sessions. Again, Fox Searchlight did a very good job in making sure all voters didn’t forget about the film or Hawkes during the year. Will voters feel that he delivers the BEST performance of the year, next to the likes of all these other strong performances?
Trying very hard to separate my personal feelings from the equation, Phoenix’s snub with the Screen Actors Guild was the most detrimental to his Oscar campaign. Perhaps they don’t like him, or perhaps they were very adamant about ensuring Cooper and Jackman made the cut. I would argue his snub might have helped him since the talk of the town was his miss with SAG. Maybe his fan base within the AMPAS was more strategic to ensure that they were able to get him in the lineup. In the end, I’ve opted for a Hawkes miss, but I’ve had a sneaking suspicion these past few days that Jackman would end up with the snub of the year.
In Supporting Actor, Alan Arkin, Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Tommy Lee Jones are just waiting to hear their names called. I think the switch for Christoph Waltz to Supporting ended any hope that a Django actor could win–especially Leonardo DiCaprio, who I believe will be winning the Golden Globe on Sunday. If they’re splitting with each other, is SAG nominee Javier Bardem the beneficiary?
No Bond movie has ever received a nomination in acting, and I don’t think Bardem is going to the first. Who does that leave? Do they love Les Miserables THAT much to place Eddie Redmayne on their ballots, or have they warmed up to Dwight Henry delivering one of the year’s finest turns? Did the big kickoff during the beginning of the season silently hold for Magic Mike and Matthew McConaughey? Or did the strong year–and years of ignoring–finally give AMPAS wind to vote for John Goodman in either Argo or Flight? In my most unconfident predictions of the year, I see McConaughey rounding out the lineup.
The Supporting Actress category hasn’t changed at all in my mind. Anne Hathaway, Sally Field, and Helen Hunt should find their names on ballots and safe for recognition. I think the story about campaigning herself gained a lot of fans from the Academy and I think the British vote would likely come through for two-time Academy Award Winner Maggie Smith. I’m expecting Amy Adams to get the axe and something about Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron probably didn’t go over well during the holidays.
As always, here is a list of the things I see coming and the things I chickened out on:
- Skyfall will be the most nominated James Bond film yet with five nominations, including the dreadful Visual Effects.
- Amour will receive just one measly nomination for Foreign Language Film, excluding Emmanuelle Riva and Original Screenplay (I hope I’m wrong about this).
- In Supporting Actor, after picking McConaughey, I feel like Waltz could come out on top.
- The “WTF?” nomination in Picture could very well be France’s The Intouchables.
- After winning the most precursors all year, ParaNorman should be able to clear the hurdle and land an Animated Feature nomination.
- Sadly, Ben Richardson’s cinematography for Beasts of the Southern Wild may end up on the outskirts.
- Two Snow White films in Costume Design? I guess so.
- Django Unchained will receive three nominations, including Sound Mixing and two Songs.
- We will have eight nominees in Original Score, since the Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer will represent Beasts of the Southern Wild, and the trio of Cloud Atlas could also be there.
Check out the FULL Predictions in every category and the staff have also collectively updated their predictions on the Staff Predictions page.
Include your own predictions in the comment and join us for the LIVE Power Hour tomorrow morning at 8am Eastern Time as we talk the Oscar nominations as they are announced!