Thursday, January 10, 2013

And the nominees may or may not be...

With the announcements in T-minus a few hours, it's time for me to toss my $.02 in on who will be nominated for the Oscars in the morning. I haven't done nearly as much research (i.e. reading Oscar blogs) as I usually do, but I have been catching up on my prestige films lately, so that's got to count for something. Predictions listed in rough order of likelihood.

* = early winner prediction
^ haven't seen it

Zero Dark Thirty^*
Les Misérables
Silver Linings Playbook
Life of Pi
Django Unchained
Moonrise Kingdom
Next in line:
Beasts of the Southern Wild^
The Master

Comments: The top-six are shoo-ins, while any of the next five could be nominated in some combination. I think this is the year that a tentpole crowd-pleaser finally cracks through -- interesting that it's not The Dark Knight Rises, though. Django is on the edge, but Inglourious Basterds did well with the Acedemy, so there's no reason to think this won't. I think either Moonrise or Beasts will make it -- but not both (so I just went with the one I've seen). Finally, Amour seems to be well-liked critically, but foreign language pictures have always been a tough sell in this category, and The Master has lost most of its buzz (where's the torpedo juice?). That leaves us with nine nominees, the same as last year -- which also leaves the door open for an Extremely Loud-esque surprise not listed here.

Wishful thinking: The Grey, Prometheus

Steven Spielberg - Lincoln*
Kathryn Bigelow - Zero Dark Thirty
Ben Affleck - Argo
Ang Lee - Life of Pi
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Next in line:
Tom Hooper - Les Misérables
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
Michael Haneke - Amour^
Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master

Comments:  Remember that "top-six are shoo-ins" thing from, you know, a couple minutes ago? The directors of those movies are your likely field of six contenders. I'm always down for QT, but most people seem to recognize that Django is one of his lesser works, and while Haneke and Anderson are respected, neither of their films showcased the kind of directorial chops/hubris that got Terrence Malick a nomination here last year. Of those six, I think Hooper falls out because, a) he just (un-FUCKING-deservedly) won two years ago, and b) 158 minutes of facial closeups does not good directing make (obviously, no, I did not enjoy Les Miz). I'm going controversial now and saying that ZDT wins Picture, but they give Spielberg the Director statue. Wouldn't be the first time it's happened.

Wishful thinking: Steven Soderbergh - Magic Mike/Haywire, Leos Carax - Holy Motors

Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln*
Denzel Washington - Flight
Hugh Jackman - Les Misérables
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
Next in line:
John Hawkes - The Sessions
Denis Lavant - Holy Motors
Richard Gere - Arbitrage

Comments: The only real lock here is D-Day (no, not Bruce McGill from Animal House) for both the nomination and win. The next five listed are likely battling it out for four spots, and any of them dropping out would not surprise me. Denzel is a presumptive lock, which can be dangerous; Jackman will benefit from his film's perceived prestige (although he was actually very good); Cooper gets love for playing against type (kind of); and, hopefully, the Academy will recognize a truly transcendent performance in Phoenix's (which would get my vote). Hawks, while excellent in a demanding role as a polio victim confined to an iron lung, just misses the cut due to his film being seen less (and the earlier release date). He has an excellent shot at a nomination, though. A surprise here is unlikely, but Lavant (his performance was *incendiary*) and Gere (smooth yet conflicted) would be worthy

Wishful thinking: Liam Neesons - The Grey, Matthias Schoenaerts - Rust and Bone

Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty^*
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
Naomi Watts - The Impossible
Marion Cotillard - Rust and Bone
Emmanuelle Riva - Amour^
Next in line:
Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild^
Helen Mirren - Hitchcock
Rachel Weizs - The Deep Blue Sea

Comments:  This is another one with some wiggle room. Chastain and Lawrence are locks and are your two main (read: only, at this point) contenders. Watts is close to a lock, but her missing out on a nomination isn't... wait for it... impossible. Cotillard should be there as well -- and for an excellent performance in a film I absolutely loved -- but her performance was unquestionably aided by CGI (the whole "no legs" thing). If you accept those four as locks, and Mirren (so-so, would be in on reputation only) and Weisz (very good in a small film) as outsiders, then the Academy has a choice to make: either nominate the youngest or oldest actress ever in this category. If Beasts gets a Picture nomination, expect Wallis to be nominated here. But I agree with this article in thinking that she shouldn't. So Riva it is.

Wishful thinking: None (haven't seen enough great female performances this year)

Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln*
Alan Arkin - Argo
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
Samuel L. Jackson - Django Unchained
Next in line:
Javier Bardem - Skyfall
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild^
Matthew McConaughey - Magic Mike
Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained
Eddie Redmayne - Les Misérables

Comments: Obviously, this is a competitive category. Jones and Arkin are locks, and Hoffman feels like one -- but it wouldn't surprise me to see The Master completely ignored either (a difficult, but worthwhile, film, that one). De Niro is the sentimental favorite, and seems a safe enough bet. The last spot seems primed for one of the Django trio -- I'm going with Jackson for a few reasons: 1) he was the best of the three, 2) the surprise factor, and 3) he is the least-recently nominated. Either of the other two are deserving though (Waltz especially). Bardem wouldn't surprise me, but I don't think he deserves it for simply making Anton Chigurh gay. Haven't seen Beasts, so I won't comment on Henry. I'd love to see McConaughey instead of De Niro, but I don't see it happening. Redmayne was solid in Les Miz, somewhat making up for his dreadful performance in last year's My Week with Marilyn, and could benefit if AMPAS goes musical crazy.

Wishful thinking: Michael Caine - The Dark Knight Rises, Scoot McNairy - Killing Them Softly

Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables*
Sally Field - Lincoln
Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Amy Adams - The Master
Ann Dowd - Compliance^
Next in line:
Nicole Kidman - The Paperboy^
Judi Dench - Skyfall
Samantha Barks - Les Misérables
Maggie Smith - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel^

Comments: These Supporting categories are always tough to project -- it's so easy for a WTF? nomination to slip in there. Hence Dowd, who got excellent notices early in the year for Compliance, slipping into the fifth spot. After Hathaway and Field, not much would surprise me, but Hunt's nudity and Adams' handjobbery (in addition to the critical and precursor love) seem to have them firmly in the field. As for the rest, I hope Kidman doesn't get nominated so I have to watch The Paperboy (I HATED Precious), but it's a very real possibility after the Globe and, especially, SAG nominations. Dench could be the beneficiary of a push for Skyfall, and if the Academy likes Les Miz more that most seem to (which would not be a surprise), Barks would slip in (who was another highlight). Finally, Marigold made such a splash over the summer that the Academy could choose to reward it somehow, with here being a likely spot (Adapted Screenplay being another).

Wishful thinking: Emily Blunt - Looper, Édith Scob - Holy Motors

Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty^*
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola - Moonrise Kingdom
Rian Johnson - Looper
Next in line:
Michael Haneke - Amour^
John Gatins - Flight
Ava DuVernay - Middle of Nowhere^
[insert left-field film here]

Comments: I'll begin with a caveat: There is almost assuredly a film not listed here (probably something like The Intouchables^) that will be nominated. Happens every year (Margin Call last year). But I like this list for now. Boal is the only sure thing, but PTA and QT are solid bets, as always, and the Academy always seems to have a soft spot for Wes Anderson -- even better that Moonrise is his best film in years. I think Rian Johnson's Looper snags the final spot -- popular and unique. Can't go wrong. Of the others, Haneke has the best shot (and I will be seeing the film when it starts next week). Flight was good, but more because of the strengths of the performances (and direction, incidentally). I have no idea what a Middle of Nowhere is, but the name came up a couple times in my limited research. Further investigation required.

Wishful thinking: Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon - The Cabin in the Woods, Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee - Wreck-It-Ralph

Tony Kushner - Lincoln*
Chris Terrio - Argo
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar - Beasts of the Southern Wild^
Ol Parker - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel^
Next in line:
David Magee - Life of Pi
William Nicholson (+ foreign dudes) - Les Misérables
Stephen Chbosky - The Perks of Being a Wallflower^
Tom Stoppard - Anna Karenina^

Comments:  Kushner is a lock for both nomination and win at this point. Terrio and Russell should be his main competition. The rest is up in the air (not like the movie, which wasn't nominated here). Beasts is buzzy enough to get love somewhere; ditto Marigold. Pi was great, but Magee's script was actually a weak point (I generally hate framing a movie -- Saving Private Ryan, for example, definitely didn't need one). The Les Miz script could get in on name alone (definitely not worthy though), and a wild card like Chbosky or Stoppard is always lurking.

Wishful thinking: Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain - Rust and Bone, Michael Bacall - 21 Jump Street

*I'm probably giving too much love to Django Unchained and The Master 
*I'm probably not giving enough love to Beasts of the Southern Wild (on its way via Netflix)
*Skyfall really could crash the party in some major categories
*The nominations I most want to see are Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, Sam Jackson, and Rian Johnson

These are almost all "safe" picks, due to the lack of research, but the Academy always has surprises in store. I'll end with my usual claim of attempting to watch the nominations live, but I never actually do. I'm sure I'll be checking them on my phone in bed sometime in the morning. I'll be back this weekend for a Golden Globes post, then again before the Academy Award ceremony next month. Until then.

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