Oscar Predictions: Round 1

Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables

Festival season is entering its final stretch and Oscar season is quickly around the corner. Word is that the little gold man didn’t see his shadow, so campaigning shall begin earlier this year. (Nominations will be announced on January 10, i.e. the day after final ballots are due for the Golden Globes, which means that this year could be uglier than ever.) It’s never too early to try to predict the winners. It’s almost more fun to do so before some of the biggies have opened, since one’s opinion of a film can often cloud judgement. (I tend to fall victim to that, as you’ll see below.) I’ll be offering predictions and chiming in on the race occasionally, but for the most comprehensive coverage of the season, please visit some of the trust sites indicated on the sidebar.

Like a few others, I think that Les Misérables is the one to watch this season. It might be premature to think so, since the film isn’t even through post-production. However, a big stage musical from the director of The King’s Speech seems like ample Oscar fodder. It also just seems like a great film. Les Mis stirs the most excitement because of Tom Hooper’s newfangled approach to the screen musical: this is an all-singing affair with the songs recorded live during shooting rather than having the actors perform their takes beforehand and lip-sync to the words while filming the action. Les Mis will therefore rely primarily on the strength of its actors and its editor. This approach could work against the film, though, for as anyone who has studied the advent of musicals during the early sound period knows, this method was dispensed with quickly because it makes for an extremely difficult effort in post-production as well as a static film experience. (Simply put: Les Mis will be a bitch to cut.) On the other hand, new technological advances such as wireless mics could help Les Mis avoid singing in long shot (as seems to be the case from clips). Additionally, film buffs might enjoy the sense of honesty and spontaneity in the performances. Hooper is taking an enormous risk and Oscar could reward it if it pays off.

Aside from Les Mis, there are other unseen contenders such as Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, and Peter Jackson’s first installment of the Hobbit trilogy (yawn). Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is also waiting in the wings. I assume it will be good, since it has Daniel Day-Lewis, but I just can’t get excited for a Spielberg film after War Horse. I would like to see him redeem himself, though. With that being said, The Academy went for the lame horse, so Lincoln is probably in contention whether its Spielberg the good or Spielberg the bad.

The Academy has varying taste, so anything can happen. I’ve tried to predict the nominees in the main categories, but please take the bets with a grain of salt. I'm predicting ten Best Pictures nominees because this has been an exceptionally strong year for film already, and support seems to be fairly spread out. (I know that the math suggests that ten nominees is unlikely, but it's not impossible.) Most hunches are based on reviews, buzz, and pedigree. There are also a few names that I’ve decided to plug because they appear in comparatively weaker categories and the strength of their work merits consideration; therefore, if enough people see these films/performances, some contenders might in the mix. Likewise, I've added one or two alternates, just so you know which other names I think are in the running.

I struggled most with the Best Actress category, since that seems to be the most crowded group so far. Many pundits are only putting Keira Knightley as a dark horse, but I disagree: this is career-best work and a challenging role, so I think voters will take note. I also had trouble deciding on the fifth spot in this category. I think it’s a toss-up between Maggie Smith and Hushpuppy, but I think that old favourites will trump young blood. Such is the norm with Oscar.

These predictions do not reflect my personal endorsements. In a just world Christopher Plummer, Tom Courtenay, Greta Gerwig, Nicole Kidman, and Joe Wright would be on the final ballot, so I’ll be crossing my fingers that some of these predictions do not pan out. 2012 has been an excellent year for movies so far, and a crowded field often makes for some big surprises. It can also make for a most boring year, but since there is no clear frontrunner and plenty of contenders, I think that this year’s Oscar race will be extremely loud and incredibly close. 

And please feel free to visit the comments and chime in, whether it's to call me crazy or lend your support to a favourite!


Best Picture
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
Alt: Amour, The Hobbit (yawn), The Sessions

Best Director
Ben Affleck, Argo
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Tom Hooper, Les Misérables
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Alt: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty; Michael Haneke, Amour

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Alt: Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Maggie Smith, Quartet
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed
Alt: Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Supporting Actor
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master 
Jude Law, Anna Karenina
Alt: Alan Arkin, Argo; Billy Connolly, Quartet; Garrett Hedlund, On the Road

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Pauline Collins, Quartet
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Alt: Helena Bonham Carter, Great Expectations

Best Original Screenplay
Amour, Michael Haneke
Frances Ha, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig
The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola 
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
Alt: Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino; Looper, Rian Johnson 

Best Adapted Screenplay
Anna Karenina, Tom Stoppard
Argo, Chris Terrio
The Sessions, Ben Lewis
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
Alt: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln

Best Cinematography
Les Misérables, Danny Cohen
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
Lincoln (please lay off the orange filter, Janusz)
The Master, Mihai Malaimare Jr.
Alt: Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey, The Dark Knight Rises, Wally Pfister

Best Production Design
Anna Karenina, Sarah Greenwood
Les Misérables, Eve Stewart
Moonrise Kingdom, Adam Stockhausen
Prometheus, Arthur Max
Alt: The Hobbit

Best Costumes
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
Great Expectations, Peter Paul
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Alt: The Hobbit

Best Editing
Argo, William Goldenberg
The Hunger Games, Stephen Mirrione, Juliette Welfling
Les Misérables, Chris Dickens
Looper, Bob Ducsay
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy
Alt: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Crockett Doob and Affonso Gonçalves; Lincoln, Michael Kahn

Best Score
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
The Dark Knight Rises, Hans Zimmer
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams
Moonrise Kingdom, Alexandre Desplat
Alt: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Master, Johnny Greenwood

Best Foreign Language Film
Amour – Austria
Blancanieves – Spain
Fill the Void - Israel
Lore – Australia
Rebelle – Canada

Best Documentary
The Act of Killing
Central Park Five
The Queen of Versailles

Best Hair and Make-up
The Hobbit

Best Visual Effects
The Hobbit
Life of Pi

Best Animated Feature
The Rabbi's Cat
 Rise of the Guardians

Best Song
Awaiting list

Best Animated Short
Awaiting shortlist

Best Live Action Short
Awaiting Shortlist

Best Documentary Short
Awaiting Shortlist

Please visit the Oscar Predictions Page on the header bar to see updated predictions, .