Oscar 2013 Will Win/Should Win Selections (Mark Johnson)

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(The annual “Will Win/Should Win” of the Awards Circuit has been our most popular yet most challenging series where each lincoln_cinematographywriter let’s their final thoughts be known on the Oscar categories.  Each writer will reveal their choices everyday leading up to the Oscar ceremony.  Think you can do better?  Let your final thoughts be known in the comment section or by joining our Oscar Pool. -CD)

The calendar year for most people runs January through December, but for such Oscar-obsessed people as you will find writing here at The Awards Circuit the year ends with Oscar Sunday. Everything we do at this site leads to and culminates in the big ceremony. We’ve spent countless hours going back and forth trying to figure out just where the pieces fit best into the jigsaw puzzle that the Academy Awards race has become, and I have to tell you, I have never seen a year quite like this.

I have been playing the Oscar game since 1990, when I was a naive 13 year-old. I correctly predicted that Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves would be named the Best Picture of the year over Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (having seen the former, and still being too young to be allowed to see the latter, it was an easy call). I knew nothing about the precursors or politics that figure into the race at that time, but I did know that I loved guessing correctly. I played a novice-level guessing game with the ceremony from 1990 through 1996, and began taking a more vested interest in the race by 1997. From the year Titanic swept AMPAS away – winning a record-tying 11 Oscars – through 2008, I played this yearly awards challenge with more and more ferocity, trying harder each year to understand the code as if I were Neo in The Matrix. Then I began my own site in 2009, and ran that until I joined the talented staff here in April of last year. I tell you this long history I have with the Oscars to get to a point: this year is like no other year I’ve seen. Ever. I’m done with comparisons to Driving Miss Daisy and Apollo 13. This is a unique year, one that will most likely prompt a few changes by AMPAS, one that has made the race extremely difficult (and more fun!) to predict, and one that we will likely never see the likes of again.

It has been a hell of an enjoyable first year here, for me, at The Awards Circuit, so I’d like to thank Clayton for inviting me in, the staff for the great debates and conversations, and all of the readers – yes, even you koook160 – for participating in my posts both here, and on Facebook and Twitter. The world is a warmer place when you find people who love the same things you do. Whether we agree or disagree on individual films, we all love movies and the race towards that great golden statue. But enough sentimentality. Most of you have already skipped ahead to my predictions or the comment section to tell me where I’m wrong. And I love that about you.

Let’s put this season to bed. I present to you my Oscar Prediction Manifesto, and wish you all the best of luck in your Oscar pools!

Best Picture
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Lincoln
Should Have Been Nominated: Looper or The Master
Additional Thoughts: What is there to say that hasn’t been said before? When you win the most critics’ awards, the Critics’ Choice Award, the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, and basically sweep the guilds, it doesn’t matter that your director was snubbed by AMPAS, you are going to win Best Picture. Forget the comparisons to Apollo 13. It wasn’t nearly as successful as Argo has been in the precursor trail.
Interesting Stat: Argo will be the first Best Picture winner to not be among the top four most nominated films. Lincoln, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, and Les Miserables all have more nominations.

Best Director
Will Win: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Should Win: Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Should Have Been Nominated: Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master), and Ben Affleck (Argo)
Additional Thoughts:
I can’t break away from the fact that the DGA still means something. In 65 years of DGA, the winner went on to win the Oscar for Best Director all but six times. Make it seven in 66 years now, since Affleck took DGA and is famously not nominated by AMPAS. I believe that high of a matching percentage still means something though, and Spielberg and Lee are the only two DGA noms that crossover to Oscar (the lowest crossover amount since 1966). Not to mention their films are the two most nominated in the entire field, which means a lot of support will be coming from a lot of different groups. As much love as there is in the world for Spielberg, it seems this year more guilds were open to honoring Lee (the Visual Effects Society and the Motion Picture Sound Editors both honored him with special awards). Lee is the only director to receive noms from DGA, BFCA, Golden Globes, Oscar, and BAFTA (Spielberg missed with BAFTA only). I love both directors, but have a special place in my heart for Spielberg (the guy made E.T. after all!). Therefore I’m emotionally hedging my bet on this one, and going with Ang Lee.
Interesting Stat #1: If Ang Lee were to win director and Life of  Pi lose BP, Lee would be only the third director to win two or more Director Oscars and without having a sinlge Best Picture winner to match. The other directors are George Stevens (his A Place in the Sun (1951) lost to An American in Paris; and his Giant (1956) lost to Around the World in Eighty Days) and Frank Borzage (his 7th Heaven (1927/1928) lost to Wings; and his Bad Girl (1931/1932) lost to Grand Hotel).
Interesting Stat #2: If Spielberg were to win, he would join William Wyler and Frank Capra as the only three-time Director winners (and be just one win behind John Ford, who holds the record with four – only one of Ford’s Director wins went on to win Best Picture: How Green Was My Valley in 1941).
Interesting Stat #3: If Haneke were to win, he would be the first man to win this award for a foreign-language film.
Interesting Stat #4: Zeitlin is this category’s youngest nominee since John Singleton 21 years ago (Boyz N the Hood; 1991).
Interesting Stat #5: All five directors are double nominees this year – Spielberg and Lee as producers, Russell, Haneke and Zeitlin for their Screenplays.

Best Lead Actor
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Should Win: Day-Lewis is my favorite actor, but I’d give the super thin edge to Joaquin Phoenix (The Master). Maybe? I honestly don’t know.
Should Have Been Nominated: I like the five the way they stand, but Jean-Louis Trintignant was the best part of Amour, in my opinion, and Denis Lavant gives such an incredibly unique performance in Holy Motors that he simply must receive a mention.
Additional Thoughts:
The only thing in Day-Lewis’ way at this point is that he has two Oscars already. If he wins, he will be the first to ever win three Lead Actor Oscars. That being said, I don’t think they’ll hesitate to award him. If anyone was to reach this milestone, why not the greatest actor of this era?
Interesting Stat: Unless Tommy Lee Jones or Sally Field win the Oscar in their respective categories earlier in the ceremony, Day-Lewis’ victory will be the first performance from a Spielberg-directed film to win an Oscar. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Best Lead Actress
Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Should Win: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Should Have Been Nominated: Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
Additional Thoughts:
Many people are betting on Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) – who is the oldest actor to ever be nominated (she turns 86 on Oscar morning) – to pull off the upset here. I just don’t have the balls to jot her down, not with what Lawrence has won and certainly not with the Weinsteins behind her. The Lead Actress Oscar winner has lined up with either the SAG or Golden Globe winner going all the way back to 1985*. Riva won neither, Lawrence won both. And with Roger Ebert recently sensing a groundswell for Silver Linings Playbook to take over the Oscars, why would that not include Ms. Lawrence?
*Geraldine Page won the Lead Actress Oscar in 1985 for The Trip to Bountiful – SAG wasn’t around, the Golden Globes went to Whoopi Goldberg (The Color Purple) for Drama and Kathleen Turner (Prizzi’s Honor) for Comedy.
Interesting Stat: Amour is the first strictly foreign language film since 1998’s Central Station to be a best picture nominee and also yield a best actress nomination.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Should Have Been Nominated: Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly)
Additional Thoughts: 
Of all the to0-close-to-call categories, this one is the toughest in my opinion. Usually you can narrow a tough field down to two or three finalists at worst. In this one, however, I can make a reasonable argument for and against each nominee (it doesn’t help matters that all five nominees have won before). Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) seems like the favorite on paper, after winning both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, but is it too similar to the role he won for in Inglourious Basterds just a few years ago? Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) won the most important precursor (SAG), but he wasn’t there to receive the award, and people might remember his scowl at the Golden Globes and foolishly use that as a reason to look elsewhere. Alan Arkin (Argo) is in their favorite movie and could get swept in on the coattails of the film’s success, but like Waltz, he has won recently for playing the near exact same role. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s (The Master) performance was the most critically acclaimed and honored by the BFCA, but his is the only film not to be nominated for Best Picture, which suggests a lack of support for the film. And then there is Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), who hasn’t won anything, but has the Weinsteins in his corner (one of three in this field to have that luxury), he has the biggest star status, and he has been campaigning like crazy for the win. It has been 32 years since his last Oscar win, and I suspect many members of the Academy weren’t around to vote for the acting legend the last time he won and might enjoy seeing him honored once again. That being said, the smart money seems to be on Waltz or Jones, and I’m going out on a bit of a limb for this one.
Interesting Stat: If Philip Seymour Hoffman were to win, he would be the seventh actor to win in both Lead and Supporting Actor Oscar categories (Jack Lemmon, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Spacey, and Denzel Washington being the six to have done so already).

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Should Win: Amy Adams (The Master)
Should Have Been Nominated: Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas)
Additional Thoughts:
Unlike Supporting Actor, the Supporting Actress race has seemed over since that first trailer for Les Mis was released. Anne Hathaway feels like one of the three or four safest bets of the night.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Chris Terrio (Argo)
Should Win: Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
Should Have Been Nominated: Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
Additional Thoughts: 
Listen, anyone winning here other than Tony Kushner is a travesty of epic proportions, at least as far as Oscar travesties go. But after taking the awards from the USC Scripter and the WGA, it looks like Chris Terrio is about to do just that. Don’t ask me how a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who took on a bestselling novel by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian about our country’s greatest president is about to lose this Oscar, because I don’t have the answer. Of course, Kushner or even David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) could still pull this off, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Interesting Stat: In the last 21 years, the Best Picture winning film also won Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) 13 times, including six in a row until The Artist lost last year – which you could argue it was never going to win a Screenplay award due to the lack of dialogue.

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Should Win: Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
Should Have Been Nominated: Rian Johnson (Looper)
Additional Thoughts: This is tough call between Tarantino and Michael Haneke (Amour), with Boal as the distant spoiler. It isn’t often that a foreign language film takes home a screenplay Oscar (the last to do so was Talk to Her, in 2002). But then again it isn’t often that a foreign language film is nominated for Picture, Director, and Actress, so anything is possible. Tarantino’s script, however, has brought home awards from the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice, and, most notably, BAFTA, where I and many others thought Amour would prevail. That last one is my tipping point in favor of Tarantino.
Interesting Stat: The last foreign language film to win a screenplay Oscar AND the Foreign Language Film Oscar was in 1966 – A Man and a Woman. Ironically, both Amour and A Man and a Woman starred Jean-Louis Trintignant.

Best Animated Feature

Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Should Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Should Have Been Nominated: Abstain (though if I would have been able to see The Painting, I might have had that here)
Additional Thoughts:
For a while, this looked liked Wreck-It Ralph’s Oscar to lose, winning the Critics’ Choice, the PGA, the MPSE, and the Annies. Then Brave struck back, taking the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, the VES, the ACE, and the CAS awards. It’s a dead heat to the finish, but the late surge for Brave makes me think the safe move is to bet on the Oscar-friendly Pixar brand, which has taken home six out of the first eleven winners in this category’s history. But the safe bet be damned, and I’ve decided last minute to go with Wreck-It Ralph, betting on the hope that they saw the two films. Because if they did, this should be an easy pick.
Interesting Stat: 
If Wreck-It Ralph wins, it will be the first time that a strictly Disney distributed film takes the animated feature Oscar.

Best Documentary
Will Win: 
Searching for Sugar Man
Should Win: 
Searching for Sugar Man
Should have Been Nominated: 
The Imposter
Additional Thoughts: Sugarman took home honors from the PGA, DGA, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA, NBR, and ACE Eddies. Bet against it at your own risk.

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: Amour
Should WinA Royal Affair
Should Have Been Nominated: Holy Motors
Additional Thoughts: Amour has more nominations than the other four nominees combined, including one for Best Picture. If not for this category having a checkered past, this would seem the absolute lock of the night.

Best Film Editing
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Should Have Been Nominated: Cloud Atlas
Interesting Stat #1: Six out of the last ten Best Picture winners have won the Oscar for Editing.
Interesting Stat #2: One of the two ACE winners has gone on to win the Oscar 18 times in the last 21 years. Argo (Drama) and Silver Linings Playbook (Comedy) won the ACE this year.
Interesting Stat #3: If Michael Kahn (Lincoln) were to win, he would become the sole record holder for most Editing wins (4). He is currently tied with Thelma Schoonmaker, Daniel Mandell, and Ralph Dawson with three Oscars, and has the record by himself for nominations in this category (8).

Best Costume Design
Will WinAnna Karenina
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Should Have Been Nominated: Django Unchained

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Will Win: Les Misérables
Should Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Should Have Been Nominated: Holy Motors

Best Original Score
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
Should Have Been Nominated: Cloud Atlas, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zero Dark Thirty, and The Master

Best Original Song
Will Win: Skyfall
Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: Django Unchained – “Who Did That to You?”
Interesting Stat #1:  Seth MacFarlane is the sixth person in Oscar history to be both a host and a nominee at the same ceremony (he co-wrote “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted). He is the first to do it as a solo host.
Interesting Stat #2: No Bond theme has ever won this category.

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Should Have Been Nominated: The Avengers

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: Les Miserables
Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: The Avengers
Additional Thoughts: Although many of us would love to see Greg P. Russell (Skyfall) win his first Oscar, Les Miserables took the prize from both CAS and BAFTA, making it a considerable frontrunner.

Best Cinematography
Will WinLife of Pi
Should Win:  Life of Pi
Should Have Been Nominated: The Master
Interesting StatAvatar and Hugo have won this category in recent years for 3-D marvels just like Life of Pi. In fact, the last three Visual Effects winners match up 3/3 with Cinematography.

Best Production Design
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Should Have Been Nominated: Prometheus
Additional Thoughts: The Oscar has gone to an ADG winner in ten out of the last sixteen years, so that bodes well for both Life of Pi and Anna Karenina.
Interesting Stat #1: See Visual Effects stat #2.
Interesting Stat #2: The last time the best picture winner won the Art Direction Oscar was in 2003 (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi
Should Have Been Nominated: The Dark Knight Rises
Additional Thoughts: This is probably the easiest pick of the night. While motion-capture films haven’t caught on with the acting or animator’s branches, they have done exceptionally well in the field of Visual Effects. Recent winners in this category that have used motion-capture include Avatar, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, King Kong, and all three Lord of the Rings films.
Interesting Stat #1: You have to go all the way back to 1970 to find the last time a non-Best Picture nominee beat a Best Picture nominee in this category (when Tora! Tora! Tora! beat Patton).
Interesting Stat #2: Nine out of the last ten winners here were also nominated for Art Direction/Production Design. The one exception was Spider-Man 2, in 2004. The winner here has matched with the AD/PD winner three out of last four years.

Best Live Action Short
Will Win: Curfew
Should Win: Abstain

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Paperman
Should Win: Paperman
Interesting Stat: If Paperman and Wreck-it Ralph can both win on Oscar night, it would be the first time that the winner for Animated Feature would win alongside the accompanying short that played in front of it at the time of its release (the Animated Feature Oscar is 12 years old).

Best Documentary Short
Will Win: Inocente
Should Win: Abstain