Oscar 2013 Will Win/Should Win Selections (Braverman)

"I'm the motherf**er who should win the Oscar...but won't."
“I’m the motherf**er who should win the Oscar…but won’t.”

(The annual “Will Win/Should Win” of the Awards Circuit has been our most popular yet most challenging series where each writer 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)

As a filmgoer, it’s often difficult to swallow the pill of truth when it comes to the Academy Awards. You’re favorite film will likely lose more than win, or worse yet finish the night empty-handed. As an Oscar pundit, however, I’ve learned — more so this year than any other — that you absolutely must separate your own personal feelings from the duty of prognostication. Solid predictions come from tracing patterns, taking note of momentum, and using precursor stats to help make the most accurate projections possible. You are forced to become objective when it comes to the subjective. In other words, the Academy Awards are nothing more than a pageant where the most popular film, in essence the prom king or queen, is deemed the “best” of the year. Take the word “best” with a grain of salt, and I promise you won’t be hung-up by any results that come your way on Oscar night. However, this annual series that The Awards Circuit prides itself on is a way for us to finally let our irritations come to the surface, but with the full knowledge that our wishes won’t match reality. All of our passion will be on display, as will our final predictions. With that said, I give to you my own “will win/should win” selections…

Best Picture:
Will Win: Let’s see…Ben Affleck’s superbly crafted Argo has won the big prizes from the BFCA, HFPA, PGA, SAG, DGA, BAFTA and USC Scripter. Its last remaining precursor is today’s WGA, which based on the momentum its held onto for the past two months, shouldn’t be too hard to nab as well. No film in recent memory has been as dominant in the precursors like Argo has. Whether or not this is due to Ben Affleck’s “Best Director” snub, we’ll never know (Argo would have won Globes and BFCA regardless, as their votes were locked before nominations were announced). SAG was the most telling, as Argo isn’t seen to be an “actors” film, but I believe the acting branch — the largest in the Academy — love this film and are beyond proud one of their own graduated to be the big leagues and pulled off the unthinkable: an instant Hollywood classic. The politically relevancy of Argo’s story and it’s old-fashioned Hollywood sensibilities — not to mention it’s pro-industry stance — make an easy one to see placed at the top of most voter’s ballots. As I said pre-nomination, Argo is the consensus film that the majority of the Academy hates the least, therefore shooting it right up to the top. Sorry folks, but any film that steals Argo’s thunder at the Oscars will be considered a come-from-behind usurper.
Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow’s brave, uncompromising Zero Dark Thirty is the exception to the Hollywood rule. It is an Academy Award-nominated film with a woman leading the narrative, but more so is the face of a unified world that fights terrorism at any cost, as uncomfortable as that truth might be. On top of Jessica Chastain’s groundbreaking work, Zero Dark Thirty presents a new type of film genre: the procedural, investigative film that thrills and engages in the least cliché of ways. Gritty realism is something Bigalow excelled at in The Hurt Locker, but with Zero Dark Thirty she’s become the master of this technique. Zero Dark Thirty is my favorite film of 2012 because of its non-partisanship, because of how it fights against the tropes of Hollywood filmmaking, and because of its daring ability to present America at its most honest and real, for better or worse.
Should Have Been Nominated: Call me a fanboy, I care not, but Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises capped off a film trilogy that in a decade will be considered one of cinema’s most legendary. Nolan upped the stakes, widened the character roster, and concluded his magnum opus in the most satisfying manner possible. A film shouldn’t be nominated solely because of an earlier entry’s failure to get recognized, but The Dark Knight Rises was more than deserving in its own right, its grandeur and ambition nearly unmatched when compared to all that came before it — truth.

Best Director:
Will Win: I’ve played out different scenarios a dozen times in my mind before sitting down to type up this article, but my initial thoughts ultimately persevered: Steven Spielberg will win “Best Director.” Spielberg’s name has been in contention for almost every precursor award, and now that Affleck is out of the race, it seems only logical that the director whose film has the most nominations and is one of Argo’s fiercest competitors, will end up the victor in the end. Spielberg, like Lincoln itself, has a prestige and stature to it that’s not easily denied. Many have claimed Spielberg evolved as a director with Lincoln, showing restraint by focusing on the most intimate details in history. Nothing about Lincoln is flashy or overtly sentimental, which is quite odd considering this is a Spielberg film, but uniqueness is probably what will nab the revered Spielberg the win. Most actors aren’t fond of David O. Russell even if they can’t get enough of his charming film, and Life of Pi’s weak buzz going into the ceremony — despite all its nominations — doesn’t exactly bode well for Lee’s chances at upsetting the presumed Spielberg victory.
Should Win: For orchestrating one of the most unique moviegoing experiences in ages — and fighting the limitations of the small-budget indie — I’d unquestionably cast my vote for Benh Zeitlin, director of the unique fable story that is Beasts of the Southern Wild. There is such confidence in Zeitlin’s direction, as he knows precisely what to do with each scene, ensuring his story, characters, and fantasy world all come alive in forceful unison. Zeitlin’s grand results prove his skillset. The man behind the score, screenplay and casting is a beast indeed, worthy of highest honors.
Should Have Been Nominated: KATHRYN BIGELOW. KATHRYN BIGELOW. KATHRYN BIGELOW. It’s a travesty that the woman who defied the U.S. government and Hollywood, obliterated sexist movie conventions, and created one of the most spine-tingling political thrillers this century has seen, is without her second Oscar nomination. I may be appalled, but not in the least surprised. That’s show biz for ya!

Best Actor:
Will Win: Playing a POTUS will always get an actor early awards attention. Now, if you’re Daniel Day-Lewis AND playing the most famous president of the United States — heck, the most famous, most beloved American in our nation’s history — you’re easily winning the Academy Award as soon as the project is announced. There’s no two ways about it, and I’m personally ashamed for ever thinking otherwise (I had Joaquin winning six months back *brain failure*).
Should Win: In Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Joaquin Phoenix delivers the most astounding, awe-inspiring performance we’ve seen from an actor in the past two decades. What he’s able to do with the role of Freddie Quell is nothing short of a miracle.  Joaquin Phoenix throws his entire essence into a character ravaged by alcoholism and mental illness, his animalistic energy and guttural evocations never once subsiding. When people refer to certain actors as a force of nature, they are talking about ingenious artists like Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix has always been one of the greats, but after The Master, I now deem him the great. Bottom line: there are actors, and then there is Joaquin Phoenix — ’nuff said.
Should Have Been Nominated:  For whatever reason, young male actors are rarely taken seriously by the Academy. Maybe it’s just men being competitive with other men, feeling that their younger colleagues still have a long ways to go before playing in the big leagues. Whether you’re a master in your craft, a rising star, or even just a beginning performer, a great performance is a great performance — period. It boggles my mind when a talent like Logan Lerman blazes across the screen, delivers one of the most genuine portrayals of youth in ages, and is ignored by bigger names in more widely distributed films (looking at you, Denzel Washington). Unlike most high school films, Lerman’s protagonist in The Perks of Being a Wallflower isn’t just one of many “types.” Lerman embodies every facet of adolescence: the geeky side, the preppy side, the experimental side, the innocent side, and the romantic side. Lerman seamlessly combines these archetypes into one authentically real character that stays true to the real essence of youth and Steven Chbosky’s beloved protagonist. Whatever happens with Logan Lerman’s career now, this performance — just like his self-reflective mantra in the film — will forever remain infinitely powerful.

Best Actress:
Will Win: Being a two-time Oscar nominee and the hottest young actress in Hollywood already gives Jennifer Lawrence somewhat of an edge in this race. However, the widespread love for Silver Linings Playbook — which, according to some, is primarily derived from her performance — makes her a near-lock for the “Best Actress” win. Sorry Emmanuelle Riva fans, a BAFTA win will not stop the Lawrence train’s final destination: the Dolby Theatre podium. Winning SAG, BFCA, HFPA and numerous critic awards, on top of being a young and beautiful actress who is helping the industry profit in the billions, makes 2012 the year of Jennifer Lawrence. She’s a triple threat: critically beloved, industry beloved, and publicly beloved. No one is toppling J. Law, and if so, color me uber shocked.
Should Win: Jessica Chastain didn’t have sex with anyone, show off her muscles, or shoot the crap out of any terrorist as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty, yet her character was the most bad-ass woman of the film year. Sure, the strength of the character falls mostly on Mark Boal’s shoulders, but to make such a character believable in a cynical time where the majority of moviegoers can’t see their female protagonists as anything more than eye candy, a phenomenal and unflinching actress is required. Jessica Chastain was that actress, proving that a feminine girly-girl of sorts (in looks and voice only) could go toe-to-toe with her male film counterparts and have just as strong a presence. Chastain’s last few moments in the film encapsulate all that we’ve come to realize about the best of actors: greatness isn’t taught; it’s instinctual.
Should Have Been Nominated: Taking into account the particular category campaigns for each film, I have to go with Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises. As much as I adore Hathaway in Les Miserables, I believe this will be the performance that many will cite as her absolute best to date. Right year, wrong film when it comes to the Academy Awards? Perhaps so, since Hathaway’s nice-girl image was pleasantly shattered by a slinky, menacing yet complex portrayal of one of Batman’s most enigmatic villains. There are many terrific performances in the final Batman film, but none that will be talked about more in the years to come than Hathaway’s soon-to-be legendary performance as Catwoman.

Best Supporting Actor:
Will Win: Like many categories this year, the verdict could go one of three ways. However, without a single win so far this season, I have to imagine the beloved Robert DeNiro will probably be just shy of the votes required for a victory here. The Master is too polarizing for Philip Seymour Hoffman to earn his second Oscar, and Alan Arkin and Christoph Waltz play very similar roles to the ones that earned them their first Oscar. Therefore, we are left with Tommy Lee Jones, whose SAG win should translate to Oscar gold come the evening of February 24th, 2013. The love from the actors branch, not to mention Lincoln’s wide branch support in other categories, leads me to believe that Sir Grumpypants will eke out a smile when his name is called to the podium.
Should Win: I’m not a huge fan of any of the nominees, but after being so disappointed by his victory over Ralph Fiennes at the 1994 show for The Fugitive, it’s beyond gratifying to know that Tommy Lee Jones has what it takes to be a deserving Oscar winner. Sure, he was given Tony Kusher’s best lines to act out, but that doesn’t take away from his stellar delivery, blood-curdling roars and all. Tommy Lee Jones, you had me at “nincompoop.”
Should Have Been Nominated: The best supporting performance of the year came from a non-professional actor: Dwight Henry. Unlike other performances that dealt with alcoholism last year, Dwight’s was the only one that never tiptoed around the disease. He embraced the character’s flaws, gruesome and cruel as they might be, and his unapologetic portrayal of a man consumed by personal demons aided us in our understanding of the complicated Wink. Henry is possibly the best discovery made last year, a new actor whose Oscar future is only a movie or two away. I can feel it.

Best Supporting Actress:
Will Win: I “Dreamed a Dream” that Anne Hathaway would win an Oscar. The first Les Miserable trailer had me convinced  and upon seeing the film, I knew right then and there I was a clairvoyant. All jokes aside, every major precursor has gone in Hathaway’s favor, just like Daniel Day-Lewis and Argo in their respective categories. There’s no proof that she’s about to lose the Academy Award, especially if Jennifer Hudson — who’s not nearly the A-lister that Hathaway is — won for obliterating one of the biggest musical numbers in Broadway history. Hathaway does similar wonders with Fantine’s signature song and — cue the boos — Tom Hooper’s close-up/long-take of her performance only helps Hathaway’s cause, her focus and emotional intensity undeniable even to the most ardent of detractors.
Should Win: Helen Hunt’s professionalism continues to amaze me, as did her performance in The Sessions for its unshielded honesty, but Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of the tragic Fantine will probably be the one from this lineup that I’ll remember most fondly over time. Sorry Hunt, I have to stick with Hathaway on this one, although it does hurt a bit that I can’t give both ladies a vote.
Should Have Been Nominated: I’m really going to be blasted for my comments here, but if you’re going to throw tomatoes at me, be fair and spread the hate to Rachel Weisz as well. According to yours truly and the aforementioned Oscar-winning actress, Cody Horn’s performance in Magic Mike was so effective because it wasn’t forced or imitative. There is a natural ease to Horn’s acting that I appreciate. Her lines were delivered in a matter-of-fact tone that seemed “wooden” to some, but to me it came off as a young actress placing herself in the shoes of the character, studying her grief and then reacting accordingly. I’m so sick and tired of people throwing invisible stones at Cody Horn because she is a producer’s daughter, and therefore assuming that she earns her roles unfairly. If that was the case, wouldn’t Cody Horn be in every big blockbuster imaginable? She’s starred in two small films that have received considerable acclaim: End of Watch and Magic Mike, which proves to me the girl is taking her film resume very seriously and not settling for the easy route to stardom. Cody Horn, I absolutely understood what you were doing with the character of Brooke in Magic Mike, and I applaud you for it. I hope one day Horn can prove all the naysayers wrong and blow everyone away with an even more incredible role. There’s my spiel — take it or leave it.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Will Win: Although Tony Kusher’s screenplay is revered throughout the critical community and Lincoln’s biggest advocates, Argo is going to win in more places than “Best Picture.” If Argo wins just three awards, I find it difficult to see it losing adapted screenplay since everyone’s love for the film comes from Chris Terrio promoting Hollywood as the heroes that save the day, not to mention the liberties he took by making the story of Tony Mendez’s escape even more suspenseful than documented in history. The USC Scripter award confirmed Argo as a frontrunner in this field, giving all pundits a bit of clarity in this highly competitive category.
Should Win: Although I have serious issues with the Joseph Gordon-Levitt subplot, Tony Kushner’s stunning research and impeccable translation of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals text is unmatched this awards season. Just like Roger Deakins is the star of Skyfall, so too is Tony Kushner the ultimate hero of Lincoln.
Should Have Been Nominated: Most authors who write the screenplay for their books either have no knowledge of the art of screenwriting or can’t get past their own ego. Stephen Chbosky proved the rare exception to the rule, perfectly attuned to the demands of a film audience versus a book one. It was almost as if he had the film envisioned in his mind as he was writing the novel, which is what all authors should be doing whenever they create a story — if you want your story to thrive and reach the widest audience possible, you have to embrace all mediums.

Best Original Screenplay:
Will Win: Django Unchained has won many of the accolades in this category so far, but it also wasn’t always up against the heartbreaking Amour, a film that surprisingly picked up just as many Oscar nominations as Tarantino’s latest revenge flick. A gory film with a screenplay that’s arguably inferior to Inglourious Basterds against a poetically grim tale of love coming to an even grimmer end? I find it difficult seeing the former beating out the latter, especially if Haneke’s Palme D’Or recipient is also a “Best Picture” nominee.
Should Win: Mark Boal managed to educate us, stun us with the realities of a decade’s worth of war, and even make us laugh at times with really witty dialogue. There was no part of Boal’s magnificent screenplay that didn’t hit on every emotion imaginable. Unlike The Hurt Locker, Boal’s script was accessible to all without compromising its grittiness or journalistic fact-speech.
Should Have Been Nominated: As someone who still rolls his eyes over the drooling of Brick, I couldn’t be more upset that Rian Johnson’s ingenious script for Looper was seen as less “original” than the “been there, done that” screenplay for Flight. Johnson’s screenplay wasn’t concerned with the futuristic details of sci-fi — he was most interested in the characters who would exist in these times, and how technologies like time travel could completely alter our code of ethics. Beyond anything though, it was Johnson’s conclusion to Looper that stands as my favorite piece of writing from film 2012, so surprising a narrative twist yet undeniably satisfying and even inspiring. Rian Johnson, your writing moved me to stand up in my theater and applaud.

Best Animated Feature:
Will Win: It’s been a tight race all season long, but the Annie and PGA win give the stupendously wonderful Wreck-It Ralph the edge coming into the ceremony. Wreck-It Ralph’s story is not as complex as Pirates!, and it’s certainly more original than Brave, Frankenweenie, and ParaNorman (sorry Terence!). Voters want to see something in animation they haven’t seen multiple times before, and Wreck-It Ralph certainly fits the bill in that regard.
Should Win: I was ready to scream “YOU BETTER WIN THE OSCAR” after that flawlessly written scene of the villain AA meeting in Wreck-It Ralph, and thankfully the rest of the film justified my early proclamation. There’s an energy to the film that is ongoing even in the slow portions of the story. It’s charming, irresistible, and also the best video game film ever made. Seriously, what more could a gamer or Disney enthusiast ask for?
Should Have Been Nominated: Eligibility rules be damned, The Secret World of Arrietty was the best animated feature of the year! Slow-paced and containing a tremendous amount of dialogue, it really was the anti-kid movie that appeased the adult viewership to a tee. We were able to rediscover our childhood love of The Borrowers, but see it re-imagined through the skillful hands of Japanese animators and their talented script supervisors. I still get chills just thinking about that majestic scene in the garden where Arrietty and Shawn finally come face to face with each other. I haven’t seen such a succinct merging of picturesque design with emotionally-driven dialogue sequences in a long time when it comes to animation. Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, keep blowing our minds in this film genre!

And the rest…

Best Documentary:
Will Win: Searching For Sugar Man
Should Win: The Gatekeepers
Should Have Been Nominated: The Imposter

Best Foreign Language Film:
Will Win: Amour
Should Win: A Royal Affair
Should Have Been Nominated: Holy Motors

Best Film Editing:
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Argo
Should Have Been Nominated: Haywire

Best Cinematography:
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: The Master

Best Original Score:
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Sound Mixing:
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: Prometheus

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

Best Visual Effects:
Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Prometheus
Should Have Been Nominated: The Dark Knight Rises

Best Production Design:
Will Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Should Have Been Nominated: Prometheus

Best Costume Design:
Will Win: Anna Karenina
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Should Have Been Nominated: The Master

Best Original Song:
Will Win: “Skyfall”
Should Win: “Skyfall”
Should Have Been Nominated: “Touch the Sky” (Brave)

Best Hairstyling and Makeup:
Will Win: Les Miserables
Should Win: Les Miserables
Should Have Been Nominated: Cloud Atlas

Best Live Action Short:
Will Win: Buzkashi Boys
Should Win: Asad
Should Have Been Nominated: when you find me

Best Animated Short:
Will Win: Paperman
Should Win: Paperman
Should Have Been Nominated: Partysaurus Rex

Best Documentary Short Subject:
Will Win: Inocente
Should Win: Inocente
Should Have Been Nominated: The Education of Mohammed Hussein

Those are my thoughts, so comment away readers, and let’s hear some of your own “will win/should win” picks!


What do you think?

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Written by Joseph Braverman

My name is Joseph Braverman. I am 31 years old and a graduate from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media. I love watching and analyzing films and television shows. I live in Los Angeles, CA, enmeshing myself in the movie industry scene in any way possible. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @JBAwardsCircuit.


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Really hope Chastain could win, but now it seems the race is between Riva and Lawrence, do you think Chastsin is out of the race now?


Absolutely agree with you on Phoenix. However, I would also say that Hoffman should win Supporting Actor. Also, I think Denis Lavant should’ve been nominated for Best Actor. Haven’t seen Perks, but Lavant was astounding.

Javier Hurt

I liked Looper, but what you say about the Academy considering it “less original” is not accurate. Because it’s not the “Most Original Screenplay” award, it’s “Best Original Screenplay”. That means, of all the original screenplays, which one was the best. Looper was definitely more original, but I think Flight was a better screenplay in general. Either way I would have nominated Looper instead of Amour.


Glad to see someone else thinks Dark Knight Rises should have been nominated…
Check out my review of the film –

Also completely agree on Looper deserving a screenplay nom. The most inventive use of time travel i’ve seen in a long while.

I also felt Neil Flynn’s song in The Hobbit was quite compelling and far superior to a few of those that did get nominated.


I’m so glad you are on the same page as me on Phoenix…I love DDL and think he is the best living actor; but DDL can’t do what Phoenix did in The Master. Phoenix gave a performance for the ages!

Joe Gouveia

2012 Oscar Final Predictions Live Action Short Will Win: Curfew Could Win: Death of a Shadow Should Win: Who the hell knows Reasoning: The star of Curfew is also the director. Animated Short Will Win: ‘Paperman’ Could Win: ‘Adam and Dog’ Should Win: ‘Fresh Guacamole’ Reasoning: Paperman is a very cute love story with great animation. Pays tribute to Sleepless in Seattle and The Apartment. Documentary Short Will Win: ‘Open Heart’ Could Win: ‘Mondays at Racine’ Should Win: Who the hell knows Reasoning: Open Heart is about sick kids in Africa. They love that stuff. Documentary Feature Will win: ‘Searching… Read more »

Mark Johnson

“that you absolutely must separate your own personal feelings from the duty of prognostication” – Amen. First rule of this gig. And the hardest part.

Good luck with your predictions!


It’s rare when two of my most favorite actors are both nominated for the same award, so I feel like I’ll be cheating on Daniel Day Lewis by rooting for Joaquin Phoenix. I actually haven’t even watched Lincoln yet since I’ve been so busy with yearend reports for my job at DISH, so in a way, I feel like I don’t have room to judge one amazing actor over the other. I don’t foresee making it to the theater in time to see Lincoln on the big screen, but I’m glad that I can add it to my Blockbuster @Home… Read more »



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