Movies

Oscars 2013: Nick’s Eleventh-Hour Predix

Credit: Kodak

Credit: Kodak

That’s me from four years ago, during Oscar’s tour around the country, looking like a thunderstruck moron – but for good reason. I had gotten to do something I’d wanted to do since I was twelve years old: hold an Academy Award. That expression says it all, with regards to how closely I came to losing my s***.

Basically, I’ve been into the Oscars for the majority of my life. Don’t ask me why. I don’t really know how it started. It was probably because I’d seen “Good Will Hunting” and was invested in seeing if anyone else actually thought the movie was as good as I thought it was. Or maybe I was just fascinated by how “Titanic” was winning everything in sight, despite all logic to the contrary. (Twelve year-old Nick didn’t get it, and I’m not sure 27 year-old Nick does either, but he at least understands why it won everything)

Over the years, I came to realize that there were certain details that build up to who wins an Oscar, and even who gets nominated. Sure, there can be upsets here and there, but for the most part, it’s precursor awards like the the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, Writers Guild, Screen Actors Guilds, Broadcast Film Critics Society, even the increasingly-irrelevant Golden Globes.
 
The precursor awards can tell you where the momentum is, and if it’s slowly building for a film. (Feel free to click the “Precursor Awards” tag at the end of this post to link you to every post for each precursor award, so that you know who’s won what. This alone can hugely increase your odds in your Oscar pool, if you care about that sort of thing). For example, the Guilds pretty much spelled the end for “The Social Network” in 2010, after it had dominated the entire awards season up to that point. “The King’s Speech” took the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and Screen Actors Guild in a completely sudden turn, and that was pretty much all she wrote. It’s a similar situation to this year, with “Argo” winning everything in creation, despite the early tide favoring “Lincoln.”
 
However, this year saw a huge list of changes to Academy voting. This year, nomination ballots were due before the Guilds announced their nominees, resulting in an odd occurrence where the Academy was seemingly trying to predict what the Guilds would pick, as opposed to the other way around, as it has been since time immemorial. The addition of online voting also muddied the process, to say nothing of the preferential balloting process used to tally Best Picture votes. This resulted in some peculiar choices, such as Ben Affleck being snubbed as Best Director for a film that’s swallowing awards left and right. Or Kathryn Bigelow also being snubbed for “Zero Dark Thirty”, though that snub never really shocked me all that much, to be honest. That said, I was floored by the inclusion of Benh Zeitlin in Best Director for Beasts of the Southern Wild, or Quevanzhane Wallis in Best Actress for the same film. Those are both snubs and nominations that likely wouldn’t have happened in a traditional year.

So how do we pick this season? I have no idea. The best we can do is use the criteria we’ve used in the past and hope it all bears out. I was lucky enough to score a 70% on my nomination predictions, but I sincerely doubt I’ll come anywhere near that number when it comes to predicting the winners, since there’s no such thing as a sure thing this year (well, except for two categories).

I encourage you to offer your own predictions in the comments below, and also join our Oscar Pool (winner gets an Amazon Gift Card!).

Best Picture:

Amour
Argo
Beasts of
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Les Misérables
Silver Linings
Zero Dark Thirty

For “Argo” to lose would be a headscratcher of “Brokeback” proportions, ignoring 85 years of statistics just for the sake of…well, none whatsoever.  Of course, “Argo” winning would also defy 81 years of statistics, since only three other films have won Best Picture without a Best Director nom, and I wouldn’t even count the first two, since they were within the first ten years of the Academy, before a precedent was even established (the films were “Grand Hotel,” and the first Best Picture winner, “Wings”). The most recent, “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989, is our closest comparison. But even that film didn’t sweep the Guilds like “Argo” has. Granted, “Apollo 13” (another Best Picture frontrunner without a directing nomination) did just that in 1995, and it didn’t win Best Picture (losing to “Braveheart”). So is “Argo” the “Driving Miss Daisy” of this scenario? Or is it “Apollo 13”? I just can’t see it ending any other way…

Winner: “Argo”

Best Director:

Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Only three out of the five nominees in this category earned corresponding Directors Guild nominations. Without Ben Affleck in the race, that leaves it, realistically, down to Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee. Both filmmakers are immensely respected, and while the Academy might want to give the Oscar to Spielberg as consolation for the tide turning against his film, they might also want to give it to Lee for his towering achievement in getting “Life of Pi” made. There’s a third possibility, that Lee and Spielberg will split the respect vote, and either Michael Haneke (“Amour”) or David O. Russell ( “Silver Linings Playbook”) could sneak in, yet I just can’t imagine that happening (not impossible, but highly improbable). And only two men in history have won Best Director without a Best Picture nomination, so Benh Zeitlin is out. So is it Ang Lee or is it Steven Spielberg?

I desperately want to say Ang Lee, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m probably going to regret this, but…

Winner: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

Best Actor:

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Daniel Day-Lewis or bust. If “Les Miserables” had been a bigger deal, Hugh Jackman could have been a real threat for the win. But it’s nearly impossible to conceive of a scenario where Daniel Day-Lewis loses. Of course, I thought the same thing about his performance in “Gangs of New York” in 2002, and Adrien Brody swooped in an won for “The Pianist.” So who knows? But smart money is on Daniel Day-Lewis.

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Best Actress:

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

This is a rough one, as it’s pretty much a three-way race between Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva and Jessica Chastain. The steam on Chastain, and on “Zero Dark Thirty”, has slowed to a crawl. Riva won the BAFTA, but that was sort of expected. Meanwhile, Lawrence has won everything she conceivably could win, from the Globe to the SAG to the Critics’ Choice. So while Riva is looking good for an upset, I’m sticking with Lawrence.

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Supporting Actor:

Alan Arkin, Argo
Philip Seymour Hoffman,The Master
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

The hardest category to predict. Every nominee is a former winner, which has never happened before in this category (or in any acting category, as far as I know). Tommy Lee Jones is the frontrunner, though Robert De Niro is a long-respected veteran making his triumphant return to the Oscar race. There’s also recent winner Christoph Waltz, who may not have a SAG nomination (which hurts his chances, since no one has ever won in this category without one…except for the fact that this year’s nominations period ended before any SAG voters actually got a chance to see the film), but who won the BAFTA. I had been predicting De Niro for the longest time, but then the season played out, and he didn’t actually win anything. The entire season, not one award. He wasn’t even nominated at the Indie Spirit Awards, where he should have been a slam-dunk. So I feel like this is a race between Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz.

So why the hell am I picking De Niro? God help me, it’s a hunch.

Winner: Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

It’s Anne Hathaway. If “Lincoln” were stronger, Sally Field (who is undefeated at the Oscars, going 2/2) would be a bigger threat here. But I feel like the buzz on “Lincoln” is significantly slowed. Anne Hathaway is also really liked within the Academy. Sure, her somewhat obnoxious awards season campaign might hurt her, but this is as close to a sure-thing as they come.

Winner: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Best Animated Feature:

Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

“Wreck-It Ralph” is the frontrunner, though this would be a perfect time to honor Tim Burton with his first Oscar by going with “Frankenweenie.” There’s also the Pixar pedigree, of course, which means “Brave” is a threat even though it’s not really up to Pixar’s usual standard. I’m going to stick with “Wreck-It Ralph” since not only is it, in my opinion, the best film in the category, but because it also won the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature. Since the category was introduced to the Oscars for the 2001 awards year, Annie and Oscar have matched up eight out of eleven times. That’s good enough for me.

Winner: “Wreck-It Ralph”

Best Foreign-Language Film:

Amour
War Witch
No
A Royal Affair
Kon-Tiki

I’ll be absolutely dumbstruck if “Amour” doesn’t win this, easily. “Kon-Tiki” and “A Royal Affair” have their fans, to be sure. And even “No” could be a potential spoiler. But “Amour” is a Best Picture nominee. It’s also an absolutely devastating work of art, so I have to believe it will take this one.

Winner: “Amour”

Best Original Screenplay:

Amour
Django Unchained
Flight
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

I feel like “Amour” has this one in the bag, though I’m not as strong on it here as I am in the Foreign-Language Film category, since “Zero Dark Thirty” is a huge potential spoiler, to say nothing of Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained.” But neither of those films is as nuanced as “Amour”, so while this might just be my own personal tastes dictating my judgment, I feel there’s a solid enough base for Michael Haneke’s script to secure him the win.

Winner: “Amour”

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook

Though Tony Kushner is a towering figure among writers, and his script for “Lincoln” is one of the most poetic accomplishments of the season, Chris Terrio is a sensation at the moment, and it helps that he scripted the likely Best Picture winner.

Winner: “Argo”

Best Film Editing:

Argo
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Lincoln

I don’t see “Argo” only winning Best Picture and one other award, so it has to win something else. Film Editing, one of the key categories in which you want to be nominated if you want any hope whatsoever of securing a Best Picture win, might as well be that award, mirroring the unlikely trajectory of “Crash” (which also won three awards: Picture, Screenplay, and Film Editing). This is also a category where it’s not so much the BEST editing, but the MOST editing. And “Argo” is the most clearly, kinetically-edited film in the race this year.

Winner: “Argo”

Best Documentary Feature:

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive
Invisible War
Searching For Sugar Man

Sticking with the frontrunner.

Winner: “Searching For Sugar Man”

Best Original Song:

“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Suddenly” from Les Miserables
“Skyfall” from Skyfall
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted

Though Oscar host Seth MacFarlane is a potential spoiler (he’s nominated as co-writer of the song “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”), it would be absolutely criminal for anyone but Adele to win this.

Winner: Adele, “Skyfall”

Best Original Score:

Argo
Skyfall
Lincoln
Life of Pi
Anna Karenina

While “Argo” has a great score and John Williams (“Lincoln”) is a god among Academy voters, I feel like this is “Life of Pi”’s to lose.

Winner: “Life of Pi”

Best Production Design:

Lincoln
Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi

Smart money says “Life of Pi”, but its win at the Art Directors Guild Awards was in the Fantasy category, while “Skyfall” won for Contemporary Film, and “Anna Karenina” won for Period. So it’s a matter of choosing which of these three is most likely to win. While “Pi” is visually glorious, the sizable majority of the film takes place in the middle of the ocean. And I just don’t feel like “Skyfall” had a significant enough visual flair to take this category. “Les Miserables” could spoil, since it’s more traditional fare for this category, but “Anna Karenina” is right there, and it has the ADG Award win, to boot.

Winner: “Anna Karenina”

Best Cinematography:

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Lincoln
Life of Pi
Skyfall

It really should be the legendary Roger Deakins, who is now on his tenth nomination without a win to show for it. But his elegant work on “Skyfall” is likely to go unrewarded by Oscar, even though Deakins won the American Society of Cinematographers Award for it. I have the sense that “Life of Pi” is going to be a juggernaut in this tech categories.

Winner: “Life of Pi”

Best Costume Design:

Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

“Les Miserables” has a serious shot here, as does the work of the late Ekio Ishioka, nominated posthumously for her work on “Mirror Mirror.” But “Anna Karenina” is a considerable feat of design, as evidenced by its many tech nominations, despite the relative distaste (among critics and awards voters in major categories) for the film itself.

Winner: “Anna Karenina”

Best Sound Mixing:

Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Les Miserables
Skyfall

Musicals have traditionally been strong in this category.

Winner: “Les Miserables”

Best Sound Editing:

Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

I’m going to say “Zero Dark Thirty” because it would be weird for the movie to be completely shut-out (though I can’t really say it would be all that surprising. I just would find it a bit unusual for a film that started the season at such a strong position).

Winner: “Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Visual Effects:

The Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

“Life of Pi” or bust.

Winner: “Life of Pi”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

The “Hairstyling” part is a new addition to this category, and while I don’t feel like it changes the race to such a degree that it tips the scales in favor of one film over the other, I certainly feel like there’s only one film in the category that does the “Hairstyling” part as well as it does the “Makeup” side of things.

Winner: “Les Miserables”

From here on out, these are the categories where I don’t really have precursors to guide me, so I’m generally going to make predictions based on past preferences, and what the Academy seems to like in these categories. But, ultimately, your guess is as good as mine. Then again, that’s always been the case…

Best Documentary Short:

Innocente
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

It’s either “Open Heart” or “Inocente”, in my opinion. The latter feels more like the kind of film the Academy would go for, to me.

Winner: “Inocente”

Best Live-Action Short:

Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow
Henry

Winner: “Curfew”

Best Animated Short:

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare
Paperman

“Paperman” feels as close to a lock as one can get, though look out for “Fresh Guacamole” and “Head Over Heels”, as both are interesting, unique visual creations, “Guacamole” in particular.

Winner: “Paperman”

And that’s it for me!

I’ll be thankful if I can get even half of these right, as the craziness of this season means this is probably going to be my worse prediction year ever. Who do you think is going to take home Oscar gold? Sound off in the comments, and join our Oscar Pool!

See you later tonight for the Live Blog of the 85th Academy Awards!

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