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For Your Consideration: 10 Things That Are Already Crystal Clear About the Oscar Race

For Your Consideration: 10 Things That Are Already Crystal Clear About the Oscar Race

It’s about this time of year, as the critics start announcing their awards fast and furiously (or in the case of yesterday’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards — which took more than 4 hours to announce  — very, very slowly), that the Oscar race morphs from more questions to more answers.

READ MORE: 2013 Oscar Prediction Charts

Everything has now screened and reaction is generally clear (though Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” is still something of a final question mark as it has only been a few days since it first screened and reaction has been rather muted thanks to an embargo). Next week’s Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice nominations will surely offer a few pushes and pulls of buzz for various possible nominees, but there are definitely a handful of things that are very evident at this point — enough that I’m willing to offer 10 hard statements about the Oscar nominations and/or winners. Even though I’m just as willing to bet only 8 of them will end up becoming true…

1. Anne Hathaway is winning best supporting actress. Hathaway is officially this year’s Javier Bardem/Jennifer Hudson/Christian Bale/Mo’Nique/etc. The one that just can’t lose (though tell that to 1996’s version of this, Lauren Bacall). With a wide-open supporting actress race that features clear nominees that just didn’t seem like possible winners (could they really give Hathaway’s closest competition, Sally Field, a third Oscar after making Meryl Streep sit through a million nominations to get hers?), most people were calling Hathaway before “Les Miserables” even screened. And when it did, there was near-unanimous confirmation. Even those who didn’t like the film couldn’t help but be impressed by the tour-de-force long-take performance that is Hathaway belting out “I Dreamed a Dream.” Like Jennifer Hudson before her, Hathaway is a lock to win because of one song.

2. “Argo,” “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty” are all getting nominated for best picture. If there were still only five nominees, it would be likely these would be the five. And now that there are 5-10, it seems all but certain. But what films join them is still a fun mystery (“Life of Pi” is definitely next in line, but after that it’s much more unclear… “Amour”? “Beasts of the Southern Wild”?).

3. “Les Miserables” and “Lincoln” are heading for double-digit nomination counts. With multiple performances likely to get nominations in addition to strong candidates across the artistic and technical categories, it would be a big disappointment if 19th century-set “Les Mis” and “Lincoln” — arguably the frontrunners for best picture, though “Zero Dark Thirty” is hot on their trails — don’t end up with 10 or more Oscar nominations each.

4. Five of these 15 films are getting nominated for best documentary. A cheat prediction since it’s already official, this is the one thing you can count on 100% here. Yesterday, the Academy set the 15-film shortlist for the best documentary feature category. Though the ever-controversial list left off “The Queen of Versailles,” “The Central Park Five,” “Samsara” and “West of Memphis,” the fifteen films that were included are pretty much all worthy titles (the list probably drew less collective outrage than any of its predecessors), and truly any of them could make the cut in what is one of the most challenging categories to predict.

5. Kathryn Bigelow will become the first woman to receive two best director nominations. Reviews have been absolutely glowing for Kathryn Bigelow’s dense, tense follow-up to her Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker” (personally, it’s a very likely bet for my #1 film of the year), and its one-two punch of best picture and best director wins from the New York Film Critics Circle pretty much confirmed it as a formidable opponent in this year’s race. Bigelow will definitely be going up for Oscar #2, and it’s not out of the question that she wins again.

6. Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence will battle it out for best actress. For a bit there, it seemed like Jennifer Lawrence was as sure a bet for the best actress trophy as Anne Hathaway is for best supporting actress now. But along came Jessica Chastain. Up until mid-November, people weren’t even sure if she had a lead or supporting role in “Zero Dark Thirty.” As soon as the film started screening, the former was confirmed and Chastain wasn’t just touted as a possible nominee, but also a possible winner. Lawrence retains the same status, but it’s difficult to see anyone else winning. Unless they split the vote to the advantage of… Emmanuelle Riva (how great would that be?).

7. A Disney film is winning best animated feature. Unlike many years in the past, a Disney/Pixar film has not locked this year’s animated feature Oscar. There’s a definite race, but it’s essentially between one Disney/Pixar movie (“Brave”) and two other Disney films (“Frankenweenie” and “Wreck-It-Ralph”). Perhaps one of those G-KIDS movies can come from behind and shock, but it’s a very good certainty that Disney is taking home Oscar again this year… we just don’t know for which film.

8. The winner of best director will have already won before. I suppose Ben Affleck winning best director for “Argo” is a tiny possibilty, but it’s extremely likely the race will boil down to Steven Spielberg, Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow. Spielberg has two Oscars already (for “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan”), but hasn’t won since 1999. Hooper and Bigelow, meanwhile, represent two of the last three winners in the category. Too soon for a repeat? Or is Spielberg headed for a threepeat?

9. Robert DeNiro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones will be nominated for best supporting actor Oscars. But can any of them win? The best supporting actor race is probably the most crowded and impressive of all the Oscar races, with a good 10 or 12 actors still in genuine contention (whereas all the other acting races have basically been narrowed to 6 or 7). DeNiro, Hoffman and Jones are the certainties, but they don’t quite feel like winners. Can Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson swoop in with “Django?” Is Matthew McConaughey gonna ride that NYFCC win to unexpected frontrunner status? Who knows. Which is what makes this category the most fun to keep your eye on.

10. Daniel Day-Lewis will win a third Oscar for “Lincoln.” By comparison, the best actor race seems pretty much set in stone. Five of these six men will fill the slots: Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Joaquin Phoenix, John Hawkes, Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman. And while this is the least confident “statement” of these ten, I’m betting that Day-Lewis will take home his third best actor Oscar, making him the first person ever to do so (Jack Nicholson has three Oscars, but one was for a supporting role).

So… what do you think?

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I agree that DDL is probably the frontrunner at this point but I think it's disingenuous to say that, between the Academy politics of giving DDL this one and his performance not being uproariously acclaimed above all others (I think it's probably significantly more acclaimed than some who will be nominated, but this isn't TWBB part 2), Jackman doesn't have a pretty solid shot at it too.

Andrew W.

Why is there still a "Best Animated Feature" category? Can it not be changed to "Best Animation" or something similar–something that does take into regard every aspect of the film outside of the animation? Nominating a film for "Best Animated Feature" not only suggests that it's "not a REAL film", it promises to keep the nominations filled with Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks films–which is boring. The chances of a non-traditionally animated film even getting nominated are slim at best, and even when they are they aren't viewed as serious competition for winning.


I find it very strange that you failed to mention the white elephant walking all over this post: THE MASTER. "I don't know what else could be nominated for best picture after these of pi maybe?" Give me a break. The Master is one of the most original and interesting films of this century so far and Phoenix's performance is the best of any actor this year by about 10 miles. Day-Lewis will be remembered much more for his performance in PTA's There Will be Blood then he will be for Lincoln. Way down the road people will talk about Phoenix's Quell as an icon of American film performance, and The Master will be considered a contemporary masterpiece of American film, misunderstood in its day much in the same way many of Kubrick's films were — another great who never won an academy award for director or best picture. Funny.


Hathaway is a very good actress! Love her movies.

Michael M.

Personally I wouldn't award DDL for Lincoln simply because his portrayal isn't as convincing or memorable as his TWBB performance. That being said, PHOENIX gave a defying performance of FERAL MAGNETISM, unlike any other performance Ive witnessed this year (EXCLUDING Holy Motors and Amour). I mean there's OBVIOUS fanboyism with your last statement. I love DDL as well, but if you ever have the opportunity to go and view Holy Motors or The Master, or Amour, than you'll see where I'm coming from. Psh Jean Louis Trintignant, Joaquin Phoenix or Leos Carax should win, and if they don't it's because they didn't conform to the horrible CONSUMERISM that plagues Hollywood, The Academy and it's ELITIST voters ……… #RantDone.


"Anne Hathaway is winning best supporting actress" *Groan* -.-


This year has been incredible for film…the Best Picture race is actually so tight. Love Jennifer Lawrence but, for me, Jessica Chastain has been perfect in every film she's been in. It's incredible how far she's come in the span of a couple of years…if she wins Best Actress, which I really hope she does, then that's just incredible. I have so much respect for her, she's seriously one of the most impressive and versatile actresses of her generation.


Don't underestimate The Intouchables! It's not on the radar yet, but neither were City of God, Life is Beautiful or The Postman at this point. Omar Sy is a big candidate tot spoil your list of six Best Actor contenders, imo.

Eulalia Diaz Yague

Completely agree in almost everything, specially Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor, he deserves it by far in a year when there are many outstanding performances. I agree on the five nominees will come from this six list.
I do not see Sally Field with third Oscar either. She is good but in my opinion Helen Hunt role in "The Sessions" is much more difficult and brilliant. And still did not see Anne Hathaway but she seems to have much in her favour.
Still did not see Jessica Chastain but Jennifer Lawrence is outstanding superb.


Anne Hathaway is certainly the one to beat for Best Supporting Actress, and that fifth slot remains unfilled. Samantha Barks is strangely enough a front-runner for it, since it's her motion picture debut, but I suppose that's not unheard of. Usually in the case of a screen debut, an actor or actress is nominated because they deserve to win, so it'll be interesting to see if she can nab the nomination. I predict Jennifer Lawrence will win the Oscar, although I do love Jessica Chastain – hoping she gets a Tony for her work in The Heiress, assuming she's eligible. I would not be so quick to rule out Ben Affleck's chances for Best Director. The film is easily one of the best of the year, but I think Affleck's being at the helm of the film is the most appealing thing about its award chances. Gone Baby Gone and The Town were terrific, but to make three consecutive films almost flawlessly AND to never get nominated, all on top of that being an actor-director-producer-writer of the film and a household name makes him the easy choice for Best Director. Not to mention Spielberg's double win, and Hooper and Bigelow being recent winners. In the Best Supporting Actor race, I'd love to see Leonardo DiCaprio finally take home an Oscar, especially since I was underwhelmed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman's performance in The Master (who I usually love). I feel the same way about Robert De Niro's performance, and Tommy Lee Jones was good but I think a nomination and nothing more is appropriate for the work. Plus, I'm a big sucker for a Quentin Tarantino film! Of the listed potential nominees for Best Actor, I really think Day-Lewis and Hawkes are the only sure things, but I agree that the other three nominees will be from that list. Phoenix hurt his chances with his Oscar rant, but I do think he's deserving – the rest of the movie disappointed me, while still being a respectable work. I would absolutely love to see Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper take the remaining slots, although the later has to pick up some slack behind his running mate Lawrence. I could do without Washington's performance being nominated. In a weaker year, sure, but this year the Best Actor race is packed to capacity – how I wish I could list Christoph Waltz as a potential contender, but I don't see him squeezing in.

Sam Goldberg

No mention of Jack Black in "Bernie," or Jacki Weaver in "Silver Linings Playbook." Two memorable performances from this year.

bob hawk

One of the best lead male performances this year has about as much chance of being nominated as Will Ferrell in THE CAMPAIGN: that is, Sean Penn in THIS MUST BE THE PLACE. His performance is so precise and sharply delineated, I was haunted by it for days after seeing it and still remember it (and the film) vividly some 11 months later. But talk about being a dark horse!


Did anyone see The Sessions with Helen Hunt??? Hellooo!


'Anne Hathaway is winner best supporting actress'
This is premature. The film has not been reviewed by the critics, seen by the majority of the academy or the general public. You're basing this off tweets and blogger reactions which makes the fate Les Miserables anything but certain.

Edward Copeland

While Ben Affleck hasn't won best director before, don't forget that he is a previous Oscar winner as well having shared original screenplay with Matt Damon for "Good Will Hunting." Also, all the contenders you spoke about for supporting actor (Tommy Lee Jones, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert De Niro) have won before which could aid DiCaprio, Jackson or McConaughey or another previous winner that had some buzz — Alan "Argo." Though I haven't seen it or him, part me roots for Albert Brooks in "This is 40" to make up for his omission for "Drive."

Daniel Delago

Thank you for not mentioning 'Beasts of the Southern Wild.' I am growing weary of all the hype for that film.

Eden G

Marian Cotilliard for "Rust and Bone". That's one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. (New Yorker Mag agrees). But then the New Yorker hated Lincoln…..

joni maurer

I'd love to see Searching For Sugarman get the award for best doc. Such a great true story. And I hope that it gets recognition, not only for how good it was, but deserves recognition so that more people will watch this movie.


Hello!!! What about Beasts of the Southern Wild! It's swept almost every festival this year! Come on IndieWire!

Steven Ball

Matthew McConaughey deserves an award for his impressive "body" of work. Magic Mike was a horrible movie NOT a feel-good movie but Matthew McConaughey was great in it.


#11, After yesterday's NYFCC win, Rachel Weisz is now part of the Best Actress conversation for her performance in Deep Blue Sea.


Even though I think Paul Thomas Anderson should win Best Director, I also think Affleck should win it over Spielberg, Bigelow, and Hooper. Spielberg already has two and Hooper and Bigelow JUST got theirs. Affleck has been snubbed enough…..Oh well, at least PTA will win Original Screenplay

Max B. O'Connell

I still wouldn't set Day-Lewis in stone yet. The two previous wins might give some pause, and Joaquin Phoenix's performance in The Master is still being widely cited as an all-timer. Phoenix has the "awards are bullshit" thing working against him, true, but he's not the first to snub the Oscars only to win later (Brando and Scott turning theirs down, with Scott asking his nomination to be rescinded; Bardem belittling the Oscars only to win years later). Hawkes could also be a dark horse given the subject matter.


I disagree with 7, ParaNorman was progressive and original and it comes from Focus Features, a studio that knows how to win Oscars. Although Disney/Pixar have dominated this category for years, BRAVE was released too early in the year for the judges to consider it and WRECK IT RALPH is, in my opinion, too formulaic to other Pixar films, the voting judges need to be wowed by something original like ParaNorman.

Brian G.

I think we will see at least one acting nom from Amour, most likely Riva. Throw in Amour or Beasts of the Southern Wild getting a picture nom. Too many big name plays being thrown around this year. Something small will have to represent. Amour wins over Intouchables for Foreign Film but only those two will be of any competition. Will see ZDT Thursday and can't comment on Les Mis as I haven't seen it.

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