Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Final Oscar nomination predictions

It’s nearly that time. At lunchtime on Thursday, Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone will announce the nominations for the 2013 Oscars. It’s a funny year. As I have mentioned in this place before, few recent Oscar races have featured so …

Tue, Jan 8, 2013, 22:51

   

It’s nearly that time. At lunchtime on Thursday, Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone will announce the nominations for the 2013 Oscars. It’s a funny year. As I have mentioned in this place before, few recent Oscar races have featured so much jostling at the top. Though Lincoln has pulled ahead in recent weeks, it would not constitute an enormous turn-up if Zero Dark Thirty, Argo or Les Misérables were to take the top price. Indeed, it is not entirely inconceivable that Life of Pi could do the business. People love that darn tiger and his terrified pal.

All that said, the nominations for best picture should throw up very few surprises. As was the case last year, the Academy can select as many as 10 or as few as five nominees. Any film that gets at least five percent of the vote is — within the criteria just mentioned — entitled to a place. This means that, barring a bizarrely even spread of voting, a preference from one in 20 of voters should secure a film nomination space. That’s not so many. I would, therefore, be surprised if fewer than nine films were nominated. As you will see below, only that ninth place seems currently in doubt. Then again, Beasts of the Southern Wild has, depressingly, been fading fast in recent weeks. So, you never know.

Don’t bet against it.

Most everything else in the major categories remains in a state of agreeable flux. The one exception is best supporting actress where Anne Hathaway seems certain to win and another three nominations are written in stone: Helen Hunt, Sally Field and Amy Adams. Daniel Day-Lewis is a huge favourite to become the first holder of three best actor Oscars, but it is far from clear who will join him at that particular starting gate.

Anyway, here goes. In order of likelihood…

BEST PICTURE

1. LINCOLN

Warmly received on release, the historical epic offers Spielberg a belated second shot at best picture. May not appeal so much to overseas voters, of which there are many. Then again, it topped the Bafta nominations. But Spielberg didn’t get a nod for best director. Oh, I don’t know. Think what you like.

2. ZERO DARK THIRTY

Tricky, tricky, tricky. Will the controversy about the depiction of torture in Bigelow’s dramatisation of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden hurt the film’s chances? Both liberals and conservatives are a bit uneasy. The picture is still well loved, though.

3. ARGO

A consensus choice? Almost everybody liked Ben Affleck’s funny and exciting film. Favourite for a while, it might just be a bit too light to appeal to Oscar voters. Mind you, The Artist won last year and it was actually a comedy. Come to think of it, that film was also about the wonders of Hollywood. Hmm?

4. LES MISERABLES

When it screened to a select few sneak viewers, all the pundits immediately declared Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the long-running musical a runaway favourite. The subsequent reviews were, however, more divided than expected.

5. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Beats me. David O Russell’s comedy struck this grump as the height of ordinariness (if ordinariness can have a height). Nonetheless, American pundits have seen something in it. Unlikely to win unless a bunch of scandals hits the movies above.

6. LIFE OF PI

A happy example of word-of-mouth in action. The picture performed decently in the US, but has been a genuine smash in the rest of the world. Ang Lee is an Oscar favourite. The spiritual mumbo-jumbo (my least favourite bit) will draw in the Californian mob. Richard Parker should have his dinner jacket ready.

7. DJANGO UNCHAINED

Despite the fact that the director is closing in on 50, many Academy members feel that voting for Quentin is a way of showing their alternative credentials. Cynicism aside, it’s a great film featuring cracking performances throughout. However, it could well leave with nothing.

8. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

There is usually a place for the little Sundance film that could. And Beasts has received even stronger reviews than recent members of this class such as Winter’s Bone or Precious. But it has performed very disappointingly at awards ceremonies so far. The film could be slipping, but not nearly so fast as…

9. THE MASTER

Following its premiere at Venice, more than a few overeager reviewers suggested that Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic was certain to win Oscars galore. It now looks quite possible that — after much huffing from doubters — it could, even under the new rules, fail to secure a nomination. Younger, hipper voters should, just about, keep it in.

If there is a tenth film: Moonrise Kingdom, Amour or (no, really) Skyfall.

BEST DIRECTOR (AKA THE REAL BEST PICTURE NOMINEES)

1. STEVEN SPIELBERG (LINCOLN)

2. BEN AFFLECK (ARGO)

3. KATHRYN BIGELOW (ZERO DARK THIRTY)

4. DAVID O RUSSELL (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK)

5. ANG LEE (LIFE OF PI)

Voters will be so afraid of accidentally handing Tom Hooper a second Oscar — noting Hitchcock got none — that they may leave him out all together. Ang Lee profits.

BEST ACTOR

1. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (LINCOLN)

2. HUGH JACKMAN (LES MISERABLES)

3. JOHN HAWKES (THE SESSIONS)

4. DENZEL WASHINGTON (FLIGHT)

5. JOAQUIN PHOENIX (THE MASTER)

I am sticking with Phoenix despite his dissing of the Oscars earlier in the year. But Bradley Cooper is lurking for Silver Linings. Too pretty, I say.

BEST ACTRESS

1. JENNIFER LAWRENCE (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK)

2. JESSICA CHASTAIN (ZERO DARK THIRTY)

3. NAOMI WATTS (THE IMPOSSIBLE)

4. EMMANUELLE RIVA (AMOUR)

5. QUVENZHANE WALLIS (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD)

For the first time in my Oscar punditry career, I am giving into sentimentality here and keeping faith with the 9-year-old Wallis and the 85-year-old Riva.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (THE MASTER)

2. TOMMY LEE JONES (LINCOLN)

3. ROBERT DE NIRO (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK)

4. ALAN ARKIN (ARGO)

5. LEONARDO DICAPRIO (DJANGO UNCHAINED)

If The Master had secured a less divided response then PSH would be a dead cert. As things stand, almost anything could happen here. Matthew McConaughey could even get in for Magic Mike. Honest injun!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. ANNE HATHAWAY (LES MISERABLES)

2. SALLY FIELD (LINCOLN)

3. HELEN HUNT (THE SESSIONS)

4. AMY ADAMS (THE MASTER)

5. MAGGIE SMITH (BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL)

Hathaway is, at this stage, the safest bet on the whole race card. Even Day-Lewis is less of a favourite. That fifth nomination is, by way of contrast, a real puzzler. Look out, also, for (bizarrely) Nicole Kidman from The Paperboy, Anne Dowd from Compliance or (no, really) Judi Dench from Skyfall.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

1. AMOUR

2. UNTOUCHABLE

3. A ROYAL AFFAIR

4. BEYOND THE HILLS

5.  NO.

A bonus prediction. I mention this because — almost always a travesty — the race is quite interesting this year. Everyone thinks Amour is home and dry. After all, it is seriously in the running for a best picture nomination. But less courageous voters could easily be swayed by the more populist (and, to be fair, irresistible) Untouchable. A Royal Affair is also absolutely certain of a place.

 

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