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by Peter Knegt
December 4, 2012 1:19 PM
31 Comments
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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.

31 Comments

  • ninto | December 6, 2012 1:31 PMReply

    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. | December 5, 2012 2:14 PMReply

    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.

  • Austin | December 5, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    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 5..life 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.

  • Michael M. | December 5, 2012 2:10 PM

    And the white Elephant will seemingly vanish when the general consensus casts their favored, partisan votes for their favorite trophy juggler, unless Weinstein puts his two cents in. This article is devoid of any valid points, and overall it's preemptively misconceived affirmations runs it dry. I agree, DDl provides a great performance, but Phoenix is something else. That being said, regardless if "The Master" becomes the annual snub, it's still an extraordinary film directed by a skillful auteur.

  • Nelieta | December 5, 2012 12:44 PMReply

    Hathaway is a very good actress! Love her movies.

  • Michael M. | December 5, 2012 11:07 AMReply

    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.

  • Michael M. | December 5, 2012 11:09 AM

    "SAY WHAT AGAIN!"

  • GL232 | December 5, 2012 11:07 AMReply

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

  • Natalie | December 5, 2012 9:44 AMReply

    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.

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  • sijmen | December 5, 2012 3:02 AMReply

    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 | December 5, 2012 12:35 AMReply

    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.

  • Brenden | December 4, 2012 10:42 PMReply

    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 | December 4, 2012 10:38 PMReply

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

  • bob hawk | December 4, 2012 9:52 PMReply

    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!

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  • Tiff | December 4, 2012 7:57 PMReply

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

  • Ellsworth | December 4, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    '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 | December 4, 2012 6:03 PMReply

    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 Arkin.in "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 | December 4, 2012 5:57 PMReply

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

  • bob hawk | December 4, 2012 9:29 PM

    What a burden this must be for you! My advice: if you see something about BOTSW, don't read it. And a question: since all films are being hyped, do you find any other hype wearying as well -- or, on the contrary, is the rest invigorating?

  • Eden G | December 4, 2012 5:49 PMReply

    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 | December 4, 2012 4:12 PMReply

    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.

  • Tim | December 4, 2012 4:03 PMReply

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

  • Steven Ball | December 4, 2012 4:02 PMReply

    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.

  • Joey | December 4, 2012 3:18 PMReply

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

  • Jake | December 4, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    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 | December 4, 2012 1:49 PMReply

    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.

  • Matthew | December 4, 2012 1:44 PMReply

    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. | December 4, 2012 1:32 PMReply

    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.

  • Brian G. | December 4, 2012 1:33 PM

    unless somehow you can get me access to Les Mis early, of course...