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2013 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: A Truly Wide-Open Race

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As good as 2012 was for films in general, it’s been an even better Oscar race. Unpredictability reigns supreme in a field filled with mostly great films. Phase 2 will kick into gear Thursday morning after Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announce the official nominees. It was tough, but here’s what I’ve got:

Best Picture
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Six are rock-solid: Argo, Les Mis, Pi, Lincoln, SLP, and ZD30. Django was a late entry into the race, but Tarantino’s film performed better than expected with other awards bodies. I think Beasts looks stronger than Moonrise at the moment, but I’ve been riding the Moonrise train all season long, and I can’t give up on it now. But why not nine nominees? Last year’s weak-ish lineup included as many films.

Outside looking in: Amour, The Master, Skyfall

Best Director
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Affleck, Bigelow, and Spielberg are in it to win it. Hooper, I suspect, will ride a big Les Mis wave. Fifth slot is anyone’s guess (mine is Lee).

Outside looking in: David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)

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

Only two women I’d take to the bank—Chastain and Lawrence. Riva seemed like a lock not long ago; She’s less so now, but I’ve still got her in. Watts has SAG in her corner. Wallis doesn’t, but the Beasts support could carry her in, and I’m just not sold on two foreign-language nominees from Sony Pictures Classics. Sorry, Marion Cotillard.

Outside looking in: Cotillard (Rust and Bone), Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Denzel Washington, Flight

The most straight-forward category? Perhaps, but there are a few guys in the mix that would beg to disagree. Joaquin Phoenix is there, too.

Outside looking in: Richard Gere (Arbitrage), Phoenix (The Master), Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour)

Best Supporting Actress
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Hadn’t really considered Dench until this last update. Honestly don’t know who else to give that fifth slot to. Jacki Weaver? No precursor love. Nicole Kidman? Her own movie is her worst enemy. Ann Dowd? Small movie and virtually no campaign. Amy Adams? Academy might be low on The Master. Dench has her Best Exotic Marigold Hotel work to help boost her superb work in the latest Bond film.

Outside looking in: Adams (The Master), Dowd (Compliance), Kidman (The Paperboy), Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

An odd category in that my top five hasn’t changed in a month or more. Sure, the Django boys could cancel each other out, leading the way for Javier Bardem or another surprise candidate. But one of these five missing out would be one of the bigger surprises of my Oscar-nomination morning.

Outside looking in: Javier Bardem (Skyfall), Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Best Animated Feature
Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
Rise of the Guardians
Wreck-It Ralph

I’d been riding the GKIDS bandwagon all season long, just assuming that with four potential nominees, the indie studio would get something. And it might. But I caught up with Rise of the Guardians, which features some very pretty and very busy (to a fault, I’d argue) animation. ParaNorman might actually be the weak link now.

Outside looking in: The Painting, The Rabbi’s Cat

Best Documentary Feature
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
Searching for Sugar Man

Who the hell knows? Sugar Man is almost certainly in. Beyond that, almost any of the 15 finalists could make the cut.

Outside looking in: Every other shortlisted film. Best shots, though, include Detropia, Bully, This Is Not a Film, and The House I Live In.

Best Foreign Language Feature
Amour
The Intouchables
No
A Royal Affair
War Witch

With this group, you never know. The first four listed above are the best bets. War Witch is a hunch based off reactions I’ve read and the fact that Canada is a perennial contender.

Outside looking in: Beyond the Hills, The Deep, Kon-Tiki, Sister

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

Going into the season, I thought Original Screenplay was the weaker of the two categories. Turned out quite differently. These five are the safe choices. Only other legit threat at this point is…

Outside looking in: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Best Original Screenplay
Amour
Django Unchained
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Like its sister category, I’m choosing the safest five. Unlike its sister category, there are quite a few threats.

Outside looking in: Flight, The Intouchables, Looper, Seven Psychopaths

Best Cinematography
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

A really strong category with a lot of outside threats. Skyfall joins four Best Picture nominees in what could ultimately be anyone’s game come Oscar night.

Outside looking in: Anna Karenina, Argo, Les Miserables, The Master

Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror

I’d assumed for a while that Snow White and the Huntsman would be nominee, but Mirror Mirror‘s costumes are much flashier, more elaborate. And as cynical as it sounds, that film’s designer—the great Eiko Ishioka—passed away last January. It would be a deserving posthumous nomination, and if she gets it, she’d certainly be joining the designers from Anna Karenina and Les Mis. Lincoln and Django feel good, as well.

Outside looking in: Argo, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Film Editing
Argo
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty

Five strong Best Picture nominees and a hard lineup to argue with.

Outside looking in: Life of Pi, Skyfall

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Lincoln
Men in Black 3

The first two feel really good, and Rick Baker is respected enough to help push the third across the Phase 1 finish line.

Outside looking in: Hitchcock, Les Miserables, Looper, Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Original Score
Anna Karenina
Argo
Cloud Atlas
Life of Pi
Lincoln

Beasts of the Southern Wild could and should get in, but I’m going with Cloud Atlas to get in among these craft giants. It’s got to pop up somewhere, right? Right?

Outside looking in: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Master, Skyfall

Best Original Song
“Freedom,” Django Unchained
“Pi’s Lullaby,” Life of Pi
“Skyfall,” Skyfall
“Suddenly,” Les Miserables
“Touch the Sky,” Brave

Honestly, no clue. Skyfall‘s title song looks great, though, for both a nod and a win.

Outside looking in: All other songs. This category is so stupid.

Best Production Design
Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Lincoln

It’s another loaded craft category here. Just too many strong across-the-board nominees this year for films like The Master and Moonrise Kingdom to really break through. It’s hard to see any of these five missing out.

Outside looking in: Argo, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Skyfall

Best Sound Editing
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Skyfall

Heavy on action-oriented films, and it’s hard to see Les Mis missing out on either sound category. The biggest question is what to do with Zero Dark Thirty. Is one showcase scene enough for it to land among the five?

Outside looking in: Argo, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Sound Mixing
The Avengers
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Skyfall

So I’m going with four of five double-sound nominees. The crossover probably won’t be that high, but these are a crapshoot.

Outside looking in: The Dark Knight Rises, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Visual Effects
The Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Prometheus
Skyfall

Skyfall is the iffiest film on this list. Its effects are more conventional. The CGI-laden Snow White and the Huntsman or John Carter could easily take it over.

Outside looking in: The Amazing Spider-Man, Cloud Atlas, The Dark Knight Rises, John Carter, Snow White and the Huntsman

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One Response to 2013 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: A Truly Wide-Open Race

  1. Pingback: Surprising Oscar Nominees | Seeing What Sticks

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