Well, the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards have been announced. There were actually a few surprises this year. The directing category in particular is quite interesting. Both Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow were overlooked in favour of first time director Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and veteran Austrian director Michael Haneke (Amour). Affleck and Bigelow must be shocked. They were considered virtual locks in the category only a few days ago. The snubs are both good and bad in my opinion. They are good because the Academy is breaking with tradition. Instead of being all predictable mainstream veterans, the Academy went with a mixed bag. Thrown in with the typical veterans are a first time indie director and a veteran director who rarely works in the English language. This is exciting for anyone who is constantly let down by the Academy’s typical safe nominations. However, the bad thing about this is that Spielberg is pretty much a lock to win. Only Affleck or Bigelow really had a shot at beating Spielberg. Now he’s virtually unchallenged. Ang Lee has an outside shot, but it’s doubtful.
Other pleasant surprises include a writing nomination for Moonrise Kingdom (which should’ve been up for far more awards in my opinion), and an acting nomination for young Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild). She now becomes the youngest ever best acting nominee, and Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) becomes the oldest best acting nominee. Everything else is rather predictable.
Now, for your reading pleasure, I will lay out who I think will win in each of the major categories. Keep in mind that I have not seen every one of these movies, however, based on buzz, I am pretty confident in my picks.
Lincoln: Lincoln looks like the film to beat this year. It’s a stuffy period piece about a famous historical figure starring one of the best actors out there and helmed by a legendary director. The Academy loves this type of movie. There’s an outside chance that they could give the award to Argo despite the lack of a directing nomination, but my money is on Lincoln.
Steven Spielberg: As I stated previously, this is Spielberg’s contest to lose now that Affleck and Bigelow are out of the race.
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Daniel Day-Lewis: Again, a lock. The Academy loves performances based on real life figures, and they also love DDL. There’s a small outside chance that Joaquin Phoenix could grab the award for The Master, but it’s unlikely given the mixed reactions to the film.
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Jennifer Lawrence: She’s been the favourite all season, and it looks like she’s still favoured to win. There’s an outside chance for Emmanuelle Riva, but it’s not likely. The Academy probably won’t give David O. Russell a directing award nor give Silver Linings Playbook the best picture award either, so expect them to reward the movie in the acting categories.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Philip Seymour Hoffman: This is probably the toughest category as every nominee has won before. I give Hoffman the edge because The Master will probably be shut out of everything else. However, Robert DeNiro also has a shot for Silver Linings Playbook.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Anne Hathaway: The Academy loves musicals. Despite Les Misérables mixed reviews, they will likely give Hathaway the acting award because she sings in the film and the movie is unlikely to get many other awards.
Best Original Screenplay:
Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal: Zero Dark Thirty will likely pick up an award here. I’d like to see Wes Anderson win for Moonrise Kingdom, and there’s a small chance he could, but it’s likely the Academy will throw Zero Dark Thirty a bone and give Mark Boal the award.
Best Screenplay based on Previous Material:
Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell: David O. Russell has the best shot here at winning. Silver Linings Playbook is dialogue heavy and a real actor’s movie. Therefore, the Academy will most likely reward it. There’s an outside chance for Chris Terrio (Argo) as well.
Best Animated Feature:
Frankenweenie: I’m going to go out on a limb with this one. This could be the year that Pixar (Brave) does not win. It could end up splitting votes with Wreck-It Ralph and giving the edge to Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.
Best Foreign Film:
Amour: Odds are that Amour will win the best foreign film award given that it’s up for Best Picture as well as Best Director. However, there is the outside chance that its many nominations could hurt it in this category, but it’s doubtful.
Searching for Sugar Man: I’ll go with Searching for Sugarman here based on what I’ve heard – which is nothing but glowing praise.
Life of Pi – Claudio Miranda: I have not seen Life of Pi, but by all accounts it’s visually spectacular and contains some of the best usage of 3D ever seen. Although, I’d love to see Roger Deakins win for Skyfall, it’s unlikely they’d give a Bond film such a prestigious award. There’s also an outside chance that the Academy will go very traditional and give the award to Janusz Kaminski for Lincoln.
Zero Dark Thirty – William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor: Zero Dark Thirty will likely win for editing based solely on the tension filled third act. Argo has an outside shot here as well.