Oscar Circuit: “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet…”

…no one can get at it except for me” – Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

That’s how I feel about this Oscar race.  I feel I see something that no one else does.  I’ve been doing this a long time but I’ve never had the overwhelming feeling like I just figured out the Oscar race in August.  I was sitting down to do my Oscar predictions like any other month.  Making some switches, moving some contenders, and cleaning out films and performances that we thought would be coming out but still have no release date.

I stared at a few names and had an epiphany.  It was as if I was Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, and the code all came off the page and circled my head in an Oscar sensation.  On August 25, 2012 I’ve chosen to make my first ballsy prediction of the year.  Terrence Malick and his film, To the Wonder wins Best Director and Best Picture at the Oscars 2013.  How did I come to this conclusion you ask?  I will discuss this in more detail on this week’s Power Hour which premieres on Monday but I’ll attempt to give you the best break down possible in the following thoughts beginning with the Director field:

  • Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper have all won Oscars.  Bigelow, Lee, and Hooper have all won within the last ten years.
  • I think in order for Spielberg to win a third directing Oscar, Lincoln has to be on the same level if not, better than Saving Private Ryan and/or Schindler’s List.  Not sure if that is possible but you never know.
  • Obvious qualms about rewarding the previous rewarded directors:  There are still grumblings that Hooper has David Fincher’s Oscar so I don’t think they go Round 2 for him.  Bigelow is a woman and we probably won’t see a woman rewarded again for a long time.  Ang Lee is Asian, and they don’t typically go for Asians.  Sad truth.  Also, Life of Pi may be too much for some of the Academy members.
  • That would leave the following Top Tier Contenders battling it out: Paul Thomas Anderson, Ben Affleck, and Terrence Malick.
  • Affleck has been ignored for both his directorial efforts thus far which were all well-received by critics and I believe that it will be baby steps with Affleck.  He’s lucky if he’s nominated for Argo.
  • As reviews come through for The Master, it looks to be one of the better films of the year but older Academy members may not “get it.”  Also, Anderson has the Screenplay category to win a consolation prize, where he’s been nominated for Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and There Will Be Blood.
  • Based on synopsis, To the Wonder sounds to be Malick’s most accessible film yet.  A contemporary love story and one of his shortest run times.  Malick has had loyal followers within the Academy that have embraced him for The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life.  My guess is he picks up more followers that haven’t been able to latch on to his other efforts.  It’s a perfect narrative.
  • But it’s not that simple.  Michael Haneke is in the same boat as Malick for his film Amour.  Early word says that Amour is Haneke’s most accessible film to date.  I’m sure there have been voters that struggled with The White Ribbon, Cache, and The Piano Teacher.  Haneke’s chink in the armor is the Foreign Language barrier.  Perhaps they want to throw him a bone in Screenplay.  Anderson vs. Haneke in Screenplay would be a great headline.
  • There are spoilers to this thought but it’s hard to see them actually winning at this point.  Benh Zeitlin and Beasts of the Southern Wild could go on critical sweep and wreak havoc on the entire awards season.  Zeitlin’s prize looks to be in Adapted Screenplay.
  • Ben Lewin and The Sessions could sneak in and go for all the top awards.  I am currently predicting John Hawkes and William H. Macy to both win Oscars a la Sean Penn and Tim Robbins for Mystic River.  Who’s to say that won’t spread to Adapted Screenplay, Director, and Picture.  Alexander Payne’s Sideways was surely in the hunt.
  • As much as I would love it, I don’t think Wes Anderson or Moonrise Kingdom poses any threat.  I’ll be glad if it makes it in the Screenplay race.

The wrench thrown into the mix now is Gus Van Sant and the latest entry into the race, Promised Land written by Matt Damon, John Krasinski, and Dave Eggers.  Van Sant has been a a well-respected director for years with two nominations for Good Will Hunting and Milk, both win-worthy.  Not to mention that Van Sant has been ignored for his brave efforts like Elephant and Last Days.  If the film lives up to expectations and surprises enough people, Van Sant and Promised Land could find itself on the center stage.

Now, I’m fully aware that most of these films haven’t come out yet and I could be blowing smoke into the air but I’ve never felt so strongly about the possibility of the outcome of the Oscar race this early in the year.  I’ll admit I’m wrong if and when I am but for now I’m going with it.

Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina fits the mold of previous Best Actress winners.  The Academy likes them young and Knightley should gain a lot of support from the British voting body of the Academy unless Laura Linney, Marion Cotillard or Quvenzhane Wallis have their lovers.  Supporting Actress is still Anne Hathaway’s to lose unless Adams gets the overdue factor or Sally Field stands out as the lone woman in Spielberg’s Lincoln.

While all the Commentary boxes aren’t updated yet, you can look at the rankings of each contender the pages.  My predicted winners are below:

PICTURE To the Wonder
DIRECTOR Terrence Malick (To the Wonder)
LEAD ACTOR John Hawkes (The Sessions)
LEAD ACTRESS Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina)
SUPPORTING ACTOR William H. Macy (The Sessions)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin)
ART DIRECTION Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwood)
CINEMATOGRAPHY To the Wonder (Emmanuel Lubezki)
COSTUME DESIGN Anna Karenina (Jacqueline Durran)
FILM EDITING The Master (Peter Multry)
MAKEUP Lincoln
VISUAL EFFECTS The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
ORIGINAL SCORE Argo (Alexandre Desplat)
ORIGINAL SONG “Still Alive” from Paul Williams Still Alive

Comment and share your predictions!