Time for annual Oscar Predictions! I’ve been casually following the race this year and this season has had a lot of monkey wrenches thrown into it. E-voting has confused voters leaving out a chunk of the constituents (though who knows how many), a shorter screening period, a narrower number of sure bets, etc. We pretty much know who and what all the contenders are but it feels like there is a wider possibility of combinations than usual, making this a slightly more exciting awards season I must admit. But just slightly.

What are your predictions? Anything you are predicting gets snubbed? Any surprises?

Best Picture:
Zero Dark Thirty
Silver Linings Playbook
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Django Unchained
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Moonrise Kingdom
Alternate: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I was really tempted to put The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in here but I just couldn’t find the room for it. But I think it’s a possibility so it’s my alternate. I’d like a Django snub so I’m placing it at the bottom. I don’t think enough people had time to see Amour for it to sneak in here. I think Foreign Language and Actress will be where it shows up.

Best Director:
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Alternate: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

I’d rather see Russell get in for directing than writing if I had to choose between the two. His deft navigation between comedy and drama was really memorable whereas I mad major screenplay issues with SLP. The Anti-Hooper brigade is much stronger amongst the blogosphere than elsewhere so I think he’ll get in. People are more likely to remember when his directorial choices yielded one-of-a-kind results than its more frustrating elements. And while I haven’t seen Life of Pi, Lee’s adaptation is from a highly regarded novel seen as a difficult screen transfer with integral incorporation of CGI and 3D so he’ll be in. Affleck, Bigelow and Spielberg are locks.

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

Day-Lewis has his third nomination and win in the bag. Actor and Supporting Actress will be the recognition for The Sessions.  I’m taking Washington out because I can’t in good conscience kick out Phoenix. Jackman is a lock as far as I’m concerned. Cooper’s spot is not as likely ( I should be picking Washington over him) but I’m keeping his. I never thought I’d be putting Phoenix in as a longshot. Not in a million years. I’d really like his force-of-nature performance to get recognized here as a better 2012 performance there was not (except maybe Denis Lavant).

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

Chastain and Lawrence are the only locks. Like I said, I think the late release date and crunched screening periods are going to hurt Amour but Riva’s performance has been a major talking point in 2012 film going on half a year since Cannes. People will remember Wallis’ spunk and so many were taken aback by her mere presence, though I feel that performances from actors that young should share the nomination with the director. I think her age will hurt her. There’s young and then there’s young. People cannot stop talking about Watts in The Impossible and her nomination will stand as recognition for the film as a whole.

Best Supporting Actor:
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
Alternate: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

I honestly think Waltz is getting in over DiCaprio but I’m choosing to put DiCaprio in instead. Alan Arkin does a fine job in Argo, but it’s an unremarkable performance, only notable for livening up the film with his ‘Ar-go-fuck-yourself’. That’s never stopped the Academy before. People will be too happy to have seen De Niro in something of note (playing comedy and drama no less) to not nominate him. This has been the Year of McConaughey and his nomination for Magic Mike will be recognition for his comeback year. Philip Seymour Hoffman is more of a wild card than we think. Nothing for The Master is a lock at this point. It’s made a weak showing this awards season but if one acting nomination feels possible, it’s for Hoffman. Sam Jackson, Javier Bardem and Eddie Redmayne could sneak in for semi-shockers. A lot in this field is up for grabs.

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Alternate: Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Kidman may have stunned with SAG and Golden Globe nominations but I’d be surprised to see her sneak in. Instead I think Adams has this in the bag. The other four feel rock solid, Smith less so.

Best Original Screenplay:
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Michael Haneke, Amour
Alternate: Rian Johnson, Looper

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
Chris Terrio, Argo
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Lucy Alibar & Ben Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
David Magee, Life of Pi
Alternate: Ben Lewin, The Sessions


Best Cinematography:
Roger Deakins, Skyfall
Janusz Kaminski, Lincoln
Mihai Malaimire Jr., The Master
Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina
Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
Alternate: Zero Dark Thirty

Best Costume Design:
Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Eiko Ishioka, Mirror Mirror
Sharen Davis, Django Unchained
Joanna Johnston, Lincoln
Paco Delgado, Les Miserables
Alternate: Jacqueline West, Argo

If the late Eiko Ishioka does not get nominated here, this is one snub I will be seriously upset about. Her death received a ton of attention in the blogosphere with retrospectives galore. Hopefully voters will have seen the film (the costumes are its only merit but worth watching just for) and will give her due credit.

Best Film Editing:
Dylan Tichenor & William Goldenberg, Zero Dark Thirty
William Goldenberg, Argo
Chris Dickens, Les Miserables
Tim Squyres, Life of Pi
Fred Raskin, Django Unchained
Alternate: Stuart Baird, Skyfall

I say don’t count Les Miserables out for any major categories. Even Editing.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Alternate: Hitchcock

Best Original Score:
Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
John Williams, Lincoln
Dan Romer, Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Jonny Greenwood, The Master
Alternate: Alexandre Desplat, Argo

Best Original Song:
“Skyfall”, Skyfall
“Suddenly”, Les Miserables
“Still Alive”, Paul Williams Still Alive
“Learn Me Right”, Brave
“Pi’s Lullaby”, Life of Pi
Alternate: “Ancora Qui”, Django Unchained

If “Still Alive” gets a nomination, it’ll be my favorite of the day. Will the vote be split amongst the multiple Django choices, cancelling them out?

Best Production Design:
Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer, Anna Karenina
Rick Carter, Jim Erickson & Peter T. Frank, Lincoln
Eve Stewart, Les Miserables
David Crank, Jack Fisk & Amy Wells, The Master
Hugh Bateup, Uli Hanisch, Cloud Atlas
Alternate: Adam Stockhausen & Kris Moran, Moonrise Kingdom

I know Cloud Atlas has been entirely shut down this season but it’s impossible to deny the sheer volume of production design work covering six different periods of time, two of them conceptually futuristic. So I’m throwing it in. In a just world, since Wes Anderson films are an onslaught of meticulous production design, you would think this would be a lock considering its Picture contender status and this being the director’s first period film. But apparently no? Will voters go for the theatrical staging of Karenina? I cannot wait to see what pops up here.

Best Sound Editing:
Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Alternate: The Avengers

There are a lot of strong contenders here, but since I have no real skills to even begin to decipher the merits of them (despite having read a book on film sound this past year), this is all (mostly) guesswork.

Best Sound Mixing:
Les Miserables
Django Unchained
Zero Dark Thirty
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Alternate: The Impossible

I’d be truly surprised if The Dark Knight Rises gets in here. Everything else is up for grabs really except Les Miserables and Skyfall I’d say.

Best Visual Effects:
The Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Snow White and the Huntsman
Alternate: The Amazing Spider-Man

Best Animated Feature Film:
Rise of the Guardians
Alternate: The Rabbi’s Cat

The Rise of the Guardians had a lot of supporters despite its tepid release. So I’m putting it as my fifth.

Best Documentary:
Searching for Sugar Man
The Gatekeepers
Mea Maxima Culpa
How to Survive a Plague
This is Not a Film
Alternate: The Invisible War

What a jam-packed shortlist. Anything could happen. Anything. It feels wrong to be leaving some of these off the list and don’t be surprised if an entirely different set of five is announced. It says something that I left my favorite documentary of the year, The Imposter, off the list entirely. Along with Eiko Ishioka and “Still Alive”, This is Not a Film would be a wholly gratifying and significantly triumphant nomination. But will they accept it as a documentary? How to Survive a Plague relies so heavily on archival footage, making its construction less of a feat but its power should overshadow that. The Imposter has the opposite approach but I’m leaving it off. That’s to say nothing of the many other possible contenders here. This was the hardest category to predict.

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Intouchables
War Witch
Alternate: Sister

Amour and The Intouchables are locks. Everything else, I’m really not sure. But I don’t see voters going for Beyond the Hills but Mungiu’s last film getting snubbed caused the Academy to CHANGE THEIR RULES there’s a good chance I’m wrong.

Total: 81


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