Oscars 2013: And the nominees (most likely) are…


January may mark the end of the holiday gift-giving season, but for movie buffs the official arrival of Hollywood’s hotly contested awards race is the best present of all. The new year has yet to usher in any last-minute surprises as the deadline for Oscar ballots draws to a close, but with nominations set to be announced this Thursday, speculation is still in full swing. Here’s a full list of Poptimal’s predictions for the likeliest nods and snubs for 2013’s Academy Awards:

BEST PICTURE: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

Dark Horses: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Impossible, Life of Pi, The Master

Will Win: Zero Dark Thirty

Possible Upset: Argo

Kathryn Bigelow’s sharp, simmering meditation on the hunt and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden could have been a pedantic, patronizing disaster. Luckily, the Hurt Locker director teamed up again with screenwriter Mark Boal to cannily craft an enthralling, refreshingly objective perspective on the decade-long mission that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats despite an inevitably expected ending. Ditto for Argo, another well-known true story brought to the screen with remarkable dexterity and craftsmanship. The lighthearted humor peppered throughout Affleck’s best film to date might solidify its status as a more universal crowd-pleaser, especially as Zero Dark Thirty continues to battle inane objections to its intense torture scenes. Split votes between both front-runners might spell an unlikely victory for Lincoln, the most natural compromise and third-place contender in a sea of choices either too avant-garde for stuffier Academy members, or just plain undeserving.

BEST DIRECTOR: Ben Affleck, Argo; Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty; Ang Lee, Life of Pi; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Dark Horses: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master; Michael Haneke, Amour; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Will Win: Spielberg

Possible Upset: Affleck

Bigelow’s history-making win just three years ago for The Hurt Locker might actually hurt her chances for another victory despite Zero Dark Thirty’s expert pace, structure and framing. If Tarantino can’t win for Inglourious Basterds, or even Pulp Fiction for crying out loud, Django certainly isn’t going to nab him his elusive directing Oscar, either. Spielberg leads the pack as an ol’ reliable standby, but Affleck’s steady rise as a respected auteur might very well clinch him a win for Argo, and deservedly so.

BEST ACTOR: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln; John Hawkes, The Sessions; Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables; Denzel Washington, Flight

Dark Horses: Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Will Win: Day-Lewis

Possible Upset: The apocalypse

The unstoppable Day-Lewis often renders any Best Actor race moot and this year is no different, regardless of his particularly healthy competition. Stellar work from Hawkes and Washington could be win-worthy in another year, and Phoenix’s brilliant performance, sadly, has likely been sidelined due to his colorful public commentary about the superficial favoritism of Oscar logistics. No matter. Day-Lewis playing anyone is nearly unbeatable, but downright channeling the most illustrious president in American history is simply a no-brainer for most Academy voters.

BEST ACTRESS: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Naomi Watts, The Impossible; Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Dark Horses: Helen Mirren, Hitchcock; Emmanuelle Riva, Amour; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Will Win: Jessica Chastain

Possible Upset: Naomi Watts

Chastain’s catapulted to the A-list in just several short years, but her diligent work in a slew of well-regarded films, including a nod for last year’s The Help, has carved her a more refined pedigree than actresses with decades of experience in the spotlight. Lawrence’s tour de force in Silver Linings wowed plenty of critics, but at just 22 years old her palpable youth leaves plenty of opportunity for a hard-earned win in the future. Cotillard and Weisz’s respective films failed to generate proper word of mouth, leaving Watts as the only logical foil in Chastain’s plan for victory. According to early reception for The Impossible, however, it might be the other way around as this Oscar could be Watts’ to lose after all.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook; Leonardo diCaprio, Django Unchained; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln; Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Dark Horses: Alan Arkin, Argo; Javier Bardem, Skyfall; Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained

Will Win: Leo. It’s time.

Possible Upset: Tommy Lee Jones

Django Unchained’s most predictable (and possibly only) win is for this category, likely pitting diCaprio’s boldest role in years (if not ever) against the enchanting Waltz. Hoffman and DeNiro both deserve nominations, but neither performance matches the dazzle of diCaprio’s sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie or Waltz’ abolitionist bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Waltz’ win in 2010 for Basterds helps give diCaprio the slight edge, especially considering Leo’s multiple stints as an Academy bridesmaid. Jones was a marvel as radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens but will have to settle for merely his character’s congressional victory unless the Django actors cancel each other out.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Amy Adams, The Master; Sally Field, Lincoln; Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Dark Horses: Samantha Barks, Les Misérables; Ann Dowd, Compliance; Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Will Win: Anne Hathaway

Possible Upset: Anyone else

Les Mis neophytes are likely scoffing at the heaps of praise lavished upon Hathaway’s mere minutes of screen time, despite her undeniably powerhouse performance of the musical’s de facto anthem, “I Dreamed a Dream.” Judi Dench had only a couple memorable scenes in 1998’s Shakespeare in Love, yet took home the Best Supporting Actress statuette that year nonetheless. Hathaway’s relatively brief presence in Les Mis packs a wallop even though the downfall of her doomed Fantine is relatively rushed in the scope of the story’s grander scheme. Simply put, the fine work from Adams, Hunt and the diligently campaigning Dowd is simply no match against the near supernatural power of Les Mis. Hathaway’s win might be the surest thing in this entire race next to Day-Lewis’ inevitable victory. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman finds herself getting unprecedented praise after peeing on Zac Efron in one of the worst reviewed movies of the year.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master; Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty; John Gatins, Flight; Michael Haneke, Amour; Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Dark Horses: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom; Rian Johnson, Looper; Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths

Will Win: Mark Boal

Possible Upset: Tarantino

The awards buzz for Anderson’s polarizing, cerebral The Master has cooled considerably in the months since its release, leaving room for the timely explosion of Zero Dark Thirty to dominate yet another category. Tarantino’s Django isn’t quite as thoughtfully crafted as his 2009 masterpiece Inglourious Basterds, but such a diverse list of potential nominees leaves him the ubiquitous veteran in the bunch. In a more just world, McDonagh’s bizarre, brilliant Seven Psychopaths would get the recognition it deserves.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Tony Kushner, Lincoln; Ben Lewin, The Sessions; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook; Chris Terrio, Argo

Dark Horses: Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild; David Magee, Life of Pi

Will Win: Tony Kushner

Possible Upset: Chris Terrio

Kushner’s a proven wordsmith, having penned the Pulitzer Prize-winning stage masterpiece Angels in America in 1993. Two decades later he’s still got it, as Lincoln’s whip-smart dialogue gives the audience a more entertaining and articulate history lesson than any textbook ever could. Kudos to Argo’s Terrio for utilizing the movie-within-a-movie concept in a new and refreshing way, by shifting focus of 1979’s Iran hostage crisis away from the simple headline variety and toward an exciting perspective previously foreign to the political thriller genre. All the likely nominees presented award-worthy work, however, with Zeitlin and Alibar’s jaw-dropping debut drawing especially inspiring potential, making this one of the most stacked categories of the year.

What films have you added to your personal ballot? Which ones didn’t make the cut? Sound off on all things Oscars in the comment section below!

Don’t miss the 85th annual Academy Awards, Sunday, February 24 at 7e/4p on ABC

Follow Erin on Twitter: @ErinBiglow


Images courtesy of A.M.P.A.S.



One Comment

  1. The game is hard to resist. Especially with media saturation with every trivial detail of the oscar process. You do seem to have more confidence that performance quality has more weight than inside-the-academy politics than this old cynic does.

    My hunch is that there will be some surprises in both the nominations and the winners more attributable to the latter than the former. But we shall see.

    In the meantime, there is always fantasy football.

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