With the Oscars now a week-old memory, the time has come for the final edition of this column (for this season). From the Toronto International Film Festival's unofficial awards season kickoff in September to last weekend's underwhelming ceremony, it's been six long months of speculation and anticipation and I'm ready to move on (as I'm sure many of you are as well).
While I'm sure I could rant about the predictability of nearly every major winner this year, is there really any point? The moment "The Artist" solidified its status as the surefire choice for best picture, my awards season was over.
There is one final column before letting awards talk rest in peace until September. It's been an annual tradition for me to take an ignorant stab at the following year well before there's any substantial evidence in its regard (Sundance aside, that is -- where this year it seems "The Surrogate" and to a lesser degree, "Beasts of the Southern Wild," are the safest bets for Oscar).
Surprisingly, it's not always a total crapshoot. While last year I might have been significantly off the mark with "J. Edgar," "A Dangerous Mind" and "Young Adult" making the best picture lineup, I did manage to properly predict 5 of the 9 nominations (7 if you count the alternates). Moreover, I managed to get seven of the 20 acting nominees, and properly predicted both Meryl Streep and Christopher Plummer's wins. So before this column lies dormant until the fall... let's give it a shot. No one's taking this too seriously. (Right?)
There's certainly plenty to choose from, as 2012 looks to be a diverse and potentially quite fulfilling year for cinema.
There's Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire no less (though can we really trust Luhrmann after "Australia"?); Paul Thomas Anderson's hugely anticipated exploration of a Scientologist-esque religious leader in "The Master" is heading our way this year as well (which has the backing of The Weinstein Company, no less); Steven Spielberg is following up his disappointing one-two punch of "Tintin" and "War Horse" (which granted, still got him a best picture nomination) with likely-made-for-Oscar-voters "Lincoln" (featuring Daniel Day-Lewis in the seemingly locked-for-a-nomination title role); Bill Murray could be aiming for his first Oscar for another presidential biopic as FDR in "Hyde Park on Hudson"; Tom Hooper has assembled a ridiculously all-star cast of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway for his "King's Speech" follow-up, "Les Miserables;" and of course there's Terrence Malick, who might have another film in the race (two years in a row!) with his as-yet-untitled Ben Affleck-Rachel McAdams romance (if it actually gets released).
Also potentially in the mix is Kathryn Bigelow's "Hurt Locker" follow-up "Zero Dark Thirty" (formerly "Kill Bin Laden"), which reteams her with "Locker" scribe Mark Boal; Ben Affleck is making his third directorial effort in "Argo," which follows two films that nabbed acting nominations but couldn't quite make the best picture cut; Pixar is hoping to make us all forget about "Cars 2" with "Brave," which could make like "Up" and "Toy Story 3" and make the big race; Christopher Nolan is completing his Batman trilogy with "The Dark Knight Rises," and perhaps guilt over snubbing its predecessor can help it find a place in the race; Quentin Tarantino has assembled the likes of Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio for "Django Unchained," which notably could be more "Kill Bill" than "Inglorious Basterds" (read: less Oscar friendly); Viola Davis could pull a Colin Firth (winning the year after she just lost out) with inspirational drama "Won't Back Down" -- though the fact its directed by the guy who made "Beastly" doesn't help that suggestion; Ang Lee is releasing his adaptation of the hugely popular book "Life of Pi," which could finally get Lee a best picture win after that "Brokeback" snub; And there's always "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which seems hard to bet against after the Oscar domination that was "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
And that's just scratching the surface. With five to 10 potential best picture nominees, it's certain less expected films (or films we haven't even heard of yet -- there's no way anyone would have foreseen the domination of "The Artist" at this point last year) could make the cut.
So with that in mind, I present my major category 2013 Oscar predictions, one year in advance:
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
(Alternates: Django Unchained; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; Inside Llewyn Davis; The Great Gatsby; Beasts of the Southern Wild; The Dark Knight Rises; Untitled Terrence Malick Project; Hyde Park on Hudson)
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
(Alternates: Tom Hooper, Les Miserables; Ben Affleck, Argo; Joe Wright, Anna Karenina; Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained; Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises)
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Surrogate
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
(Alternates: Denzel Washington, Flight; Terence Stamp, Song For Marion; Ryan Gosling, The Place Beyond The Pines; Clint Eastwood, Trouble With The Curve; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Great Gatsby)
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Viola Davis, Won't Back Down
Helen Hunt, The Surrogate
Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
Laura Linney, Hyde Park on Hudson
(Alternates: Marion Cotillard, Lowlife or Rust & Bone; Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Carey Mulligan, The Great Gatsby; Julianne Moore, What Maisie Knew; Kristin Wiig, Imogene)
Best Supporting Actor
Bradley Cooper, The Place Beyond The Pines
Russell Crowe, Les Miserables
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
David Strathairn, Lincoln
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
(Alternates: Robert DeNiro, The Silver Linings Playbook; William H. Macy, The Surrogate; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln; John Goodman, Argo; Tom Hardy, The Dark Knight Rises)
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Samantha Barks, Les Miserables
Annette Bening, Imogene
Sally Field, Lincoln
Vanessa Redgrave, Song For Marion
(Alternates: Kelly Macdonald, Anna Karenina; Laura Dern, The Master; Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis; Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy; Maggie Gyllenhaal, Won't Back Down)
Best Original Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi, Brave
Ben Lewin, The Surrogate
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
(Alternates: Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron & Rodrigo Garcia, Gravity; Richard Nelson, Hyde Park on Hudson; Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom; Paul Andrew Williams, Song For Marion)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Tony Kushner, John Logan & Paul Webb, Lincoln
David Magee, Life of Pi
William Nicholson, Les Miserables
Tom Stoppard, Anna Karenina
Chris Terrio, Argo
(Alternates: David O. Russell, The Silver Linings Playbook; Fran Walsh, Phillippa Boyens, Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis; Jose Rivera, On The Road; Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne, What Maisie Knew)