As of Tuesday evening, voting for the 85th Academy Awards is closed. Tardy Academy members still filling out the ballots, sorry, but counting is underway. The results will be announced at the Oscar ceremony on Sunday night, and the nominees now have a few days off from campaigning to catch up on beauty sleep before they head to the Dolby Theater.
So, with voting closed, it seemed like a good time to unveil my final Oscar predictions. As the ostensible awards correspondent for The Playlist, I've been weighing in here and there throughout the season, and my opinions have certainly shifted through the twists and turns of a particularly twisty-and-turny six months or so. It's finally crunch time.
There are essentially four possible narratives that could unfold. 1) "Argo" continues its general awards sweep. 2) The Weinsteins' campaigning pays off in spades, and "Silver Linings Playbook" sweeps. 3) "Lincoln" takes Best Picture, Director and Actor, being deemed the most "important" of the nominees. 4) Everyone's been underestimating "Life Of Pi," and it surprises with the top prize. All are feasible, but as you'll see below, I'm leaning closest to that first narrative. This isn't going to be a year where one film sweeps the board; we're likely to see few films win more than three or four prizes, with the love spread fairly equally.
But I could (and will) be wrong in some categories. You can take a look at my predictions below, with each category ranked in order of likelihood of the nominees taking the prize. And let us know your own predictions in the comments section below. See you back here Sunday night for the results.
Best Documentary Short
2. "Mondays At Racine"
3. "Open Heart"
5. "Kings Point"
Should Win: I've already spoken of my love for "Mondays At Racine," the most emotional, and best-made of the nominees here, about a beauty salon that devotes one day a month to woman undergoing chemotherapy. My fingers are crossed for it.
Will Win: "Inocente" feels like it has the slight edge over 'Racine' — it's a bit glossier, and a bit more uplifting. But "Open Heart" has a good chance too.
Best Live-Action Short
2. "Death Of A Shadow'
4. "Buzkashi Boys"
Should Win: The Matthias Schoenaerts-starring "Death of A Shadow," by some distance the best of a weak batch.
Will Win: "Death Of A Shadow" is in with a chance, but I think "Curfew," looking at the recent history of the award, has a better chance. Which will mean the man who wrote the Taylor Lautner vehicle "Abduction" will be an Oscar winner.
Best Animated Short
2. "Adam And Dog"
3. "Head Over Heels"
4. "Fresh Guacamole"
5. "The Longest Daycare"
Should Win: A strong field, but Disney's "Paperman" has my heart; a swooningly romantic, beautifully crafted and close-to-revolutionary piece of work.
Will Win: The studios don't often fare well in this category, but "Paperman" has momentum, and manages not to feel too corporate. That said, "Adam and Dog" could upset.
Best Sound Editing
2. "Life Of Pi"
4. "Zero Dark Thirty"
5. "Django Unchained
Should Win: "Zero Dark Thirty" had the most punch to these ears, but this, more than most, is hard for the layman to judge.
Will Win: It generally goes to the noisiest film, or the Best Picture nominee, and I think "Skyfall" will just have the edge over "Life of Pi."
Best Sound Mixing
1. "Les Miserables"
4. "Life Of PI"
Should Win: Again, hard to judge, but "Les Miserables" probably has my vote.
Will Win: "Les Miserables." If Universal's campaign to raise awareness about the film's live-on-set technique achieved nothing else, it was to get across how tricky it must have been to capture the vocals on set while a rehearsal pianist banged away in the next room. BTW, should "Skyfall" happen to win here, which we doubt, it will be American sound engineer Greg P. Russell's first Academy Award win. He has been nominated for sixteen Academy Awards for Sound, but has never won.
Best Make-Up and Hairstyling
1. "Les Miserables"
2. " The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Should Win: In a year when "Snow White & The Huntsman" has two nominations, "Hitchcock" is still the worst film to get an Oscar nod this year. This wouldn't necessarily be a barrier to it winning here, but it's not like the fat-suit job on Anthony Hopkins was particularly special. As such, I don't care who wins, so long as it's not that.
Will Win: Close between the top two — Peter Jackson's film has more obvious prosthetics, and the "Lord of the Rings" films went 2/3 in this category. But when a Best Picture nominee is in contention (and it hasn't happened since 'Benjamin Button' in 2008), they tend to win, so I'd lean towards "Les Miserables."
Best Visual Effects
1. "Life Of Pi"
2. "Marvel's The Avengers"
3. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
5. "Snow White and the Hunstman"
Should Win: 100% "Life of Pi," which might have the most impressive and photo-realistic use of CGI I've ever seen.
Will Win: I suspect the Academy will agree with me on "Life of Pi," especially given that it's the only Best Picture nominee in a field of blockbusters (witness "Hugo" beating "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" last year to see how crucial that is).
Best Original Song
1. "Skyfall" from "Skyfall" – Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
2. "Suddenly" from "Les Miserables" – Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boubil
3. "Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice" – J. Ralph
4. "Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from "Ted" – Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane
5. "Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi" – Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri
Should Win: "Skyfall." It's the best Bond theme in decades, a song fit to sit beside "Goldfinger" et al, and the best nominee in the category since "Lose Yourself."
Will Win: No Bond theme has ever won this category, but I think it's going to change, given Adele's status as a Grammy-magnet and just generally well-loved performer. That said, despite the song being deeply dull, don't count out "Les Miserables" entirely.
Best Original Score
1. "Life of Pi" – Mychael Danna
2. "Skyfall" – Thomas Newman
3. "Argo" – Alexandre Desplat
4. "Lincoln" – John Williams
5. "Anna Karenina" – Dario Marianelli
Should Win: "Anna Karenina" — there's no score on this list that's more inventive or listenable. "Life Of Pi" is damn close, though.
Will Win: One of the toughest categories to call — you could make an argument for almost anything. 'Pi' seems to be the one to win after the precursors, but don't count out BAFTA-winner Thomas Newman (who's never won before) or the "Argo" juggernaut.
Best Production Design
1. "Anna Karenina" – Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer
2. "LIfe Of Pi" – David Gropman and Anna Pinnock
3. "The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey" – Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright
4. "Les Miserables" – Eve Stewart and Anna Lynch-Robinson
5. "Lincoln" – Rick Carter, Jim Erickson
Should Win: "Anna Karenina," which is the most obviously (and deliberately) stage-bound, and gorgeous with it.
Will WIn: Almost certainly "Anna Karenina," if only because I can't imagine a scenario where anything else takes it. The only slight possibillity is if "Life Of Pi" manages a "Hugo"-style technical sweep, but this category will probably prove resistant.
Best Costume Design
1. "Anna Karenina" – Jacqueline Durran
2. "Mirror Mirror" – Eiko Ishioka
3. "Snow White and the Huntsman" – Colleen Atwood
4. "Lincoln" – Joanna Johnston
5. "Les Miserables" – Paco Delgado
Should Win: Despite my all-consuming love for "Anna Karenina," I'd almost argue that "Mirror Mirror" deserves it more — Tarsem's films are essentially just a showcase for costume design anyway.
Will Win: "Anna Karenina," almost certainly, unless the Academy want to honor Ishioka's passing with a posthumous award. But the chances are relatively slim.
Best Film Editing
1. "Argo" – William Goldenberg
2. "Zero Dark Thirty" – Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
3. "Life Of Pi" – Tim Squyres
4. "Lincoln" – Michael Kahn
5. "Silver Linings Playbook" – Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Should Win: Either of the William Goldenberg films would be acceptable, but I'd probably pick "Zero Dark Thirty," which makes a 160 minute film feel closer to 120.
Will Win: "Argo" is the overwhelming favorite here. If anything else wins, it's an indication that there's been another Affleck backlash, and Best Picture is going to something else.
1. "Life Of Pi" – Claudio Miranda
2. "Skyfall" – Roger Deakins
3. "Anna Karenina" – Seamus McGarvey
4. "Lincoln" – Janusz Kaminski
5. "Django Unchained" – Robert Richardson
Should Win: Roger Deakins, for certain. He's been at bat ten times without winning, and the Bond movie sees him pull off some of his most stunning work to date.
Will Win: Many believe that the overdue factor will see Deakins finally get the prize this year, but I'm not so sure. Few Academy members would be able to pick the DoP out of a line up, and even then, his name isn't listed on the ballot. As such, given the success of "Hugo," "Inception" and "Avatar" in recent years, I reckon the visual splendors of "Life of Pi" will win out here.
Best Animated Feature
3. "Wreck-It Ralph"
5. "The Pirates! Band Of Misfits"
Should Win: I'd go with "Brave." It's not quite grade-A Pixar, but in a line-up of solid-but-unexceptional films, was a deceptively intimate and beautiful film, and the most distinctive of the five.
Will Win: Probably going against the grain here, but after success with BAFTA and others, I think we could see Pixar returning to the stage after missing out in 2011. "Frankenweenie' and "ParaNorman" sort of cancel each other out, and "Wreck-It Ralph" feels too corporate.
Best Documentary – Feature
1. "Searching For Sugar Man"
2. "The Gatekeepers"
3. "How To Survive A Plague"
4. "5 Broken Cameras"
5. "The Invisible War"
Should Win: With the caveat that I haven't seen "The Gatekeepers" yet, I'd go with "The Invisible War" here, which I found immensely powerful, compassionate, and has brought about real, bona-fide change.
Will Win: "Searching For Sugar Man" has cut a swathe through the precursor awards, and while it's not as "important" as the other nominees, its the most feel-good.
Best Foreign Language Film
3. "A Royal Affair"
5. "War Witch"
Should Win: "No" — one of the best films of 2013, a funny, vibrant, formally experimental and incredibly smart film.
Will Win: It won't be "No," that's for certain. "Amour" would seem to be the frontrunner, but voters have sometimes shied away from films awarded elsewhere (see "Pan's Labyrinth" in 2007). I may come to regret this one, but I have a hunch that Weinstein power could see "Kon-Tiki" prove a surprise here.
Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay
1. "Argo" – Chris Terrio
2. "Silver Linings Playbook" – David O. Russell
3. "Lincoln" – Tony Kushner
4. "Life Of Pi" – David Magee
5. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" – Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Should Win: A strong field, but I'm almost tempted to go for David Magee, who did the seemingly impossible by making 'Pi' work on screen.
Will Win: One of the toughest categories to predict, and the one I'm going to go back and forth on until the day. Any of the top three stand a very good chance, but with the category having matched up with the WGA seven out of the last ten years, my head says to go with Terrio. But a consolation prize for Russell or Kushner wouldn't surprise me either.
Best Writing – Original Screenplay
1. "Zero Dark Thirty" – Mark Boal
2. "Django Unchained" – Quentin Tarantino
3. "Amour" – Michael Haneke
4. "Moonrise Kingdom" – Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
5. "Flight" – John Gatins
Should Win: Again, lots of strong work here, but I'd lean towards "Moonrise Kingdom," if only because "Zero Dark Thirty" still feels closer to an adaptation than an original screenplay to me, even if it isn't based on a particular source material.
Will Win: Another very tough one, with any of the top three being realistic winners. But again, the WGA have matched up eight out of the last ten years, so I'm going to go with Boal, even if I think he's on a knife-edge with Tarantino.
Best Supporting Actor
1. Robert De Niro – "Silver Linings Playbook"
2. Christoph Waltz – "Django Unchained"
3. Tommy Lee Jones – "Lincoln"
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman – "The Master"
5. Alan Arkin – "Argo"
Should Win: I happen to think that all but one of the nominees are relatively undeserving, so I'd definitely go with Philip Seymour Hoffman, who to my mind gives the finest performance of his career as Lancaster Dodd in "The Master."
Will Win: Agh! More than any other category, this was the toughest to predict, and I suspect a lot of Oscar pools will be won or lost over this one. Almost any of the five could win, but I think that De Niro will just have the edge over Waltz (who's had a late surge in popularity). And Tommy Lee Jones could still get in as well.
Best Supporting Actress
1. Anne Hathaway – "Les Miserables"
2. Sally Field – "Lincoln"
3. Amy Adams – "The Master"
4. Helen Hunt – "The Sessions"
5. Jacki Weaver – "Silver Linings Playbook"
Should Win: Hathaway is astonishing, but Amy Adams' role in "The Master" is less of a cameo, and more of a fully textured human being.
Will Win: Anne Hathaway. There's about a 4% chance of a Sally Field upset, but it's Hathaway all the (hatha)way.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis – "Lincoln"
2. Joaquin Phoenix – "The Master"
3. Hugh Jackman – "Les Miserables"
4. Bradley Cooper – "Silver Linings Playbook"
5. Denzel Washington – "Flight"
Should Win: I like all these performance, but Day-Lewis's might be my all-time favorite from the performer; warmer and more human than anything he's done in a couple of decades.
Will Win: Day-Lewis. But if I was going to predict any serious upset, my gut says Phoenix, certainly more so than the competition. This is the same gut that told me that "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" would get a Best Picture nomination, though, so you should probably ignore it.
1. Emmanuelle Riva – "Amour"
2. Jennifer Lawrence – "Silver Linings Playbook"
3. Jessica Chastain – "Zero Dark Thirty"
4. Naomi Watts – "The Impossible"
5. Quvenzhane Wallis – "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Should Win: I love the narrative of Riva winning, but Jessica Chastain gave my favorite performance of the five.
Will Win: The tides have been turning towards Emmanuelle Riva in recent weeks, and I think she has the momentum to take her over the line. Voters are aware that Lawrence and Chastain are set for long and awards-packed careers, so probably don't feel an urgency to give them the statuette.
1. Ang Lee – "Life Of Pi"
2. Steven Spielberg – "Lincoln"
3. Michael Haneke – "Amour"
4. David O Russell – "Silver Linings Playbook"
5. Benh Zeitlin – "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Should Win: Ang Lee, who does a remarkable job with "Life of Pi," which more than any of the others is very much a directors' movie.
Will Win: In the absence of Ben Affleck, Lee feels like the obvious fit, for the same reasons. Spielberg's film isn't a director's showcase in the way that others are, Haneke's film may be too abrasive to win here, Zeitlin's a first-timer, and Russell will win in the next five years, but for a film more dramatic-leaning and showy than this. Still, it's a close category.
2. "Silver Linings Playbook"
3. "Life Of Pi"
5. "Zero Dark Thirty"
7. "Les Miserables"
8. "Django Unchained"
9. "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Should Win: Of these nine, my vote would be with "Zero Dark Thirty," though I don't severely dislike any of them ('Django' is probably my least favorite).
Will Win: With a clean sweep of the guilds, few would bet against "Argo" at this point, even if it's the first film in over two decades to win without a directing nomination. "Silver Linings," "Life Of Pi" and "Lincoln" are all feasible, but none quite seem to have the momentum to topple Affleck's film.