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Critical Consensus: Anticipating Tomorrow's Oscar Nominations

By Peter Knegt and Eric Kohn | Indiewire January 9, 2013 at 11:02AM

Indiewire's Chief Critic and Oscar Prognosticator take a final look at the "embarrassment of riches" that 2012 provided at the movies and engage in a provocative discussion about the most exciting awards season in years.
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Daniel Craig Skyfall
Editor's note: Critical Consensus is a biweekly feature in which two critics from Indiewire’s Criticwire network discuss new releases with Indiewire’s chief film critic, Eric Kohn. In this installment, Kohn trades e-mails with Indiewire senior editor and resident Oscar prognosticator Peter Knegt (their previous conversation is here).

EK: Are you tired yet? We've made it safely into a new year and have started to anticipate a full year of movies (including the 50 we previewed last Friday and loads more set to premiere at Sundance next week). But we have some unfinished business from 2012, as tomorrow's Oscar nominations will remind us, so the prognostication game is about to get a little more complicated. We've already dissected the reasons why some of the movies we loved last year won't make the cut even though this season is nevertheless noticeably diverse compared to other recent editions. I know we should expect strong showings from "Lincoln," "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Les Misérables." And "Amour" will get some love, too. But what do you expect to be surprised by? Could "Django" sneak into the best picture category? Will Jafar Panahi land his first Oscar nomination for a movie he made under house arrest? Might the Academy unearth its hidden fanboy and throw some love to "The Avengers"? I'm just riffing here, but let's talk dark horses.

PK: For the first January in quite some time, I'm actually not tired. There so much up in the air leading into tomorrow that it's actually rather exciting, at least as far as I'm concerned. Most if not all of the major categories are ripe for surprise, though I wouldn't call "Django" making the cut much of a shocker. I fully expect it to get a best picture nomination along with "Argo," "Lincoln," "Les Mis," "Life of Pi," "Silver Linings" and "Zero Dark Thirty." Those are a sort of assumed seven, and if one of them doesn't make it, that would be a surprise.

It's what happens -- or doesn't happen -- with the 0-3 slots that may or may not be left that will be interesting.  Arthouse options like "Amour," "The Master," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Moonrise Kingdom" all have shots...as do big studio hits like "Skyfall."  However, I'd wager "Skyfall" has stolen the wind from "The Avengers," or, say, "The Dark Knight Rises," from managing a best picture nomination -- especially with a sizable British voting bloc likely to give it a boost.

Nothing wrong with an embarrassment of riches, though. Who are you rooting for?

CANNES REVIEW | Jafar Panahi Turns Censorship Into Art with Stunning "This is Not a Film"
Jafar Panahi in "This is Not a Film."

EK: At this late stage of the game, my hopes are riding on a Panahi nomination for all the attention it would bring him -- not only to his extraordinary filmography but to the unfortunate situation of censorship he now finds himself in. But I'd also like to see a strong showing from the festival films we've covered over the past 12 months. It's been fun to watch the studios get back in the game of producing smart, adult-oriented narratives, since in the past few years the rise of The Weinstein Company has helped keep the Oscar race mostly restricted to smaller scale contenders. This is one of the few years where TWC is less of a major player, which opens up the gate for "Beasts" and "Moonrise" -- two irreverent, deeply personal visions -- to gain more prominence in the race. Or at least they would if they weren't buried by the marketing dollars heaped on these other, larger films. Nevertheless, I still hope they land the nominations so that the mainstream audiences paying attention to Oscar nominations get at least some basic idea of the diverse creativity populating American cinema today.

But the very idea of the "dark horse" is a strange one, anyway. Amid reports of challenges with voters using the Academy's new online voting process, it seems like this race might be narrower than the dense field of contenders initially led us to believe. Is it possible that "Lincoln" or "Argo" might clean up shop? Or do you expect that the winners, like the race, will incorporate an uncharacteristically long list of talent?

This article is related to: Django Unchained, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denis Lavant, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence







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