Gooooooooooooodddddddddamn, these nominations were some tricky devils, diverging heavily from the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Director’s Guild, and the Golden Globe awards. [Although the Golden Globes shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, as the Academy has embraced a more independent-movie-based mindset than their gaudy, celebrity-driven friends in the Hollywood Foreign Press.] Oh well, let’s get to it…
Best Picture Nominees (ranked in order of most likely to win)
2. Silver Linings Playbook (although this possibility seemed absurd only a few days ago)
3. Zero Dark Thirty
4. Life of Pi
6. Django Unchained
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
9. Les Miserable
Who Will Win: Lincoln…by not nominating Zero Dark Thirty’s director (the great Kathryn Bigelow), they’ve all but guaranteed this prize to Lincoln. The Silver Linings Playbook is ranked second only because Harvey Weinstein produced it, and he was able to sneak this movie’s director, David O. Russell, past Bigelow (and one-time sure thing Affleck). Never underestimate Harvey Weinstein.
Who Should Win: Although Lincoln is a great movie, Zero Dark Thirty is even better. Timely, relevant, cutting-edge, and exciting…all the things Oscar voters hate. [Note their recent snub of The Social Network for…The King’s Speech, and last year’s prize going to The Artist.]
Who was Robbed: It’s hard to say that any list that includes nine movies robbed anyone, and I really think the Academy should think about going back to the standard five films they had only a few years ago.
1. Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
2. Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
3. Michael Haneke (Amour)
4. David O. Russell (The Silver Linings Playbook)
5. Benh Zeitlen (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Who Will Win and Should Win: Steven Spielberg’s odds would be stronger if he hadn’t already won in this category twice, but his last win was nearly 15 years ago, so anything’s fair game. He’s got some real weak competition in this category of wild cards, and they handed him the prize when they royally snubbed…
Who was Robbed: KATHRYN BIGELOW! Her directing of Zero Dark Thirty was masterful, and this has to count as one of the all-time great snubs. Also, Ben Affleck should have finally gotten his first director nomination for Argo. The academy must really want him to work for it.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln…duh)
2. Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
3. Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
4. Denzel Washington (Flight)
5. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Who Will Win and Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis. Lewis’s real competition is against himself, and unless he does something crazy between now and Oscar time, this award is his for the taking. [Although you could make an argument that Phoenix is nearly as good in The Master.]
Who Was Robbed: Nearly everyone thought John Hawkes would be nominated for his great work in The Sessions, as a man who can barely move but wants to learn sex (and love). Still, I’m glad Phoenix was nominated, and he did deserve to be. If there’s one person in this category I would have rather seen get “snubbed” than Hawkes it’s Jackman, who didn’t knock me out in Les Miserables.
1. (tie) Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), a slight edge to Chastain
3. Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
4. Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
5. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Who Will Win: This is a tough call, as both Chastain and Lawrence stand roughly a fifty-fifty shot at walking away with it. In Chastain’s favor is that Zero Dark Thirty is a better movie, and she’s given a great, stand-out performance in it, and she was just nominated last year for The Help, and she’s had an amazing body of work in only two years (deep breathe) and the film is peaking at exactly the right time as it’s still fresh in the minds of a lot of voters, and they may feel guilty for snubbing Bigelow in the director category. It would be a shame if a movie as good as Zero Dark Thirty walked away with no big prizes, but in Lawrence’s favor is Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein produced her movie, and his movies usually win in a close contest. I would give the slight edge to Jessica Chastain but that may change if the Screen Actor’s Guild award goes to Jennifer Lawrence.
Who Should Win: Although I haven’t seen Amour, I have seen the other four nominees and Jessica Chastain definitely deserves this prize.
Who Was Robbed: Some will say Marion Cotillard should feel snubbed for being passed over for Rust and Bone, but no one really loved that movie anyway. Quvenzhane Wallis is a delightful surprise…just don’t expect a win.
Best Supporting Actor
1. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
2. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
3. Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
4. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
5. Alan Arkin (Argo)
Who Will Win and Who Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones. This film is strong, his performance in it is very strong, and his competition is weak (when DiCaprio didn’t get nominated, it insured Jones’s victory). Waltz and Arkin both won this category recently (and neither is even the strongest supporting actor in their movies), Hoffman is great in The Master but excitement for that film has fallen off a cliff, and De Niro isn’t going to be forgiven so easily for making nothing but paycheck movies for the last decade.
Who Was Robbed: Alan Arkin gets a nomination for playing Alan Arkin? I know he was favored to be nominated, but I held out hope that Samuel L. Jackson from Django Unchained would be nominated instead. I also would have nominated him or Leonardo DiCaprio over Christoph Waltz. I’m not sure whose decision it was to push Waltz over DiCaprio, but Harvey probably cost himself this category when he did that.
Best Supporting Actress
1. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
2. Sally Field (Lincoln)
3. Amy Adams (The Master)
4. Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) (Solely because her movie is produced by Harvey Weinstein)
5. Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Who Will Win: I would say Anne Hathaway had this category sewn up for most of the last three months, but there’s no question Lincoln is the more popular film. Still, Lincoln can’t win all the top categories. I would still say Hathaway, but don’t be shocked if Field manages an upset.
Who Should Win: Hathaway truly is the best thing in Les Miserables, but she’s really not in it that much. [I know the category is supporting, but still…] I think Helen Hunt gives a fearless, humane, and completely well-rounded portrait, the only quibble being that she’s somewhat of a lead actress in this movie. And Amy Adams deserves kudos for a chilly turn that’s very different from her usual roles.
Who Was Robbed: It’s hard to say, Weaver’s name is certainly a surprise (many expected Nicole Kidman from The Paperboy since she was nominated for all the other awards) but the support for Kidman’s film was nowhere.
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Lincoln by Tony Kushner
2. Silver Linings Playbook by David O. Russell
3. Argo by Chris Terrio
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar
5. Life of Pi by David Magee
Who Will Win and Who Should Win: He’s not a lock, but I think Tony Kushner stands a strong chance at winning. Still, many might feel that Lincoln will win enough of the top prizes, and feel guilty for not spreading the love more. Don’t be too surprised if Russell or Terrio sneak in there, and support for Beasts of the Southern Wild is clearly stronger than anyone would have anticipated, but I think it’s “script” is the last thing anyone would single out from that movie.
Who Was Robbed: Perks of a Wallflower, which Stephen Tobowsky adapted from his own novel, and many predicted to be nominated instead of Life of Pi.
Best Original Screenplay [This is, without question, the most up-for-grabs of all the categories. Realistically, any of the nominees could win.]
1. Zero Dark Thirty by Mark Bowden
2. (tie) Amour and Django Unchained, by Michael Haneke and Quentin Tarantino, respectively
4. Flight by John Gatins
5. Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson
Who Will Win: It is a really, really tight coin toss between Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, and Amour. Zero Dark Thirty was the favorite a few days ago, but Bigelow’s snub may be a bad sign for Bowden as well, and he did just win three years ago for The Hurt Locker. Haneke’s film is clearly surging, and this could be the movie’s best shot at a win. But Django Unchained is tearing up the box office, and this is also that film’s best chance at a win. Right now, I’d give the edge to Bowden, but don’t be surprised if either of the other two sneak in there for the win.
Who Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty, hands down
Who Was Robbed: Looper, a wildly original script that deserved to be nominated. And many predicted this script would be nominated instead of Flight, but I think it should have replaced Moonrise Kingdom, a film with soft support that really doesn’t deserve to be in the same category with these other scripts.
End Note: Welp, that’s it. It looks to be Lincoln’s night, and the only truly exciting race will be whether or not Chastain can hang onto her lead against Lawrence. The Oscars always throw prognosticators at least one curveball, so don’t be too surprised if there’s an upset in the Best Supporting Actress or the screenplay races. Either way, I’m playing these predictions in the betting pool, and I hope to hang onto my 5 dollars with them.