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by Peter Knegt
July 6, 2012 12:44 PM
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For Your Consideration: Indiewire's Mid-Year Oscar Analysis

The other three -- all American productions -- have considerably better chances. Some suggested Benh Zeitlin's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was a bit too experimental for awards season. But a strong limited debut at the box office and absolutely glowing reviews seems to make it the first half of 2012's safest bet for a best picture nomination, the sort of slot that "Winter's Bone" and "The Tree of Life' managed in recent years.

Wes Anderson is getting some of the best reviews and biggest box office of his career for "Moonrise Kingdom." The filmmaker has never received a best picture nomination (though one wonders if there had been more than five nominees if "The Royal Tenenbaums" could have done so), and this is definitely his best chance yet. There's a slightly smaller chance Ben Lewin's "The Sessions" makes the cut, though that film is a very good bet for an original screenplay nomination as well as acting nods for Helen Hunt, William H. Macy and especially John Hawkes.

Then of course there's John Madden's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" which has turned into something of a box office sensation. It's a definite best picture possibility, if the rest of the year proves weak. It also could give Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench yet another Oscar nod (they each have six so far, and have both won). Dench is probably one of the safest bets of any of the potential nominees at this point, actually. She joins six other sure bets we're willing to bet money on seven months before Oscar gives us his nominations:

  • John Hawkes receives a best actor nomination.
  • Judi Dench receives a best supporting actress nomination.
  • "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is nominated for best adapted screenplay.
  • "Brave" is nominated for best animated feature (though likely doesn't win).
  • "Moonrise Kingdom" is nominated for best original screenplay.
  • "Mirror Mirror" is nominated for best costume design.
  • "The Avengers" is nominated for best sound editing, best sound mixing and best visual effects.
Fox Searchlight Helen Hunt and John Hawkes Star in "The Sessions"

As for acting possibilities beyond the noted Hawkes and Dench, there's three very possible best actress nominees from films we've already seen -- Quvenzhané Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Helen Hunt in "The Sessions," and Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone."

Hunt and Cotillard are both previous winners, but Wallis -- probably the best bet of the three -- would be something of an anomaly. Just six years old when she filmed "Beasts," Wallis beat out 4,000 other children who had auditioned for the part. She's stunning in the role, and the thought of the charismatic young actress getting a nomination might be too precious a thought for voters to resist. She would become the youngest female nominee ever in any category, and second youngest ever after 8 year-old Justin Henry's nomination for "Kramer vs. Kramer" (she'll be 9 on the night of the ceremony).

Another potentially interesting nominee is Matthew McConaughey, who is having an extraordinary year thanks to his work in "Bernie," "Killer Joe," "Mud," "The Paperboy," and most notably, "Magic Mike." As previously suggested, the mix of box office success and critical acclaim that is meeting "Mike" could propel McConaughey -- never nominated for an Oscar -- into the race in a fashion akin to Burt Reynolds' nomination for "Boogie Nights."

But in the interest of keeping this first column from excess, we'll stop here. The rest of the story can be told through the list on the following page. Category by category, it details the chances of films that have officially screened at either a festival or in theaters. Keep in mind the difficulty of picking candidates in the categories of best foreign language film, best documentary feature and best original song, all of which are notoriously unpredictable even at the end of the year (with regard to foreign language, we don't know which films will even be submitted for consideration).

At the end of the summer, this column will relaunch with thoughts on what Venice and Toronto could soon tell us about Oscar. Until then, continue to the next page to see what we might already know about the eventual nominations (and here's updated charts featuring guesses that include the films no one has seen yet).


  • Ap | July 9, 2012 10:36 AMReply

    No screenplay nod for Safety Not Guaranteed?

  • paul | July 8, 2012 3:22 AMReply

    i'm sorry snow white and the huntsman and mirror mirror will be up for nothing. both those movies were horrible. if and that is a big if mirror mirror gets looked at for best costumes that is because eiko ishioka passed away this year. i think moonrise kingdom might take bp though.

  • Joe | July 8, 2012 12:30 AMReply

    Has anyone in The Playlist seen Paperboy? Does Nicole Kidman actually have a shot?

  • Josh | July 7, 2012 10:45 AMReply

    What about Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy??? She should be a lock for best actress, she was incredible!

  • Adrien | July 7, 2012 9:19 AMReply

    Next stop for 2012: The Dark Knight Rises, Les Misérables, Django Unchained, The Master and The Hobbit will be strong possibilities, also Wreck-It Ralph and Rise of the Guardians may be strong contenders Animated Feature. Moreover, I'd love to see Arcade Fire's "Abraham's Daughter" to get a nomination for best original song.

    This is going to be a good year.

  • penny | July 7, 2012 6:08 AMReply

    You forget about Anne Hathaway for " Les Miserables." She was looks absolutely brilliant in that teaser trailer.

  • jimbo | July 6, 2012 10:51 PMReply

    like the cannes committee, surprised you're leaving off lore. the reviews were startlingly good out of sydney and it'll surely be a push for music box. Laurence Anyways? really?

  • Jon J | July 6, 2012 3:17 PMReply

    Best Actor - hands down - is Omar Sy for The Intouchables
    Best Picture should include Polisse

  • Fernando | July 6, 2012 3:11 PMReply

    Not even a chance for Your Sister's Sister (Rosemarie Dewitt) or Friends With Kids (Jon Hamm)? Wishful thinking I guess.

  • Pat | July 6, 2012 3:09 PMReply

    Judi Dench is arguably a lead in 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. I think Maggie Smith is a pretty safe bet in supporting, though, and the film could land in adapted screenplay.

    Also, is a film ineligible for Oscars if it played on VOD before a theatrical run? Might Take This Waltz be (unfortunately) out?

  • chris | July 7, 2012 11:35 AM

    'Take This Waltz' had a one week LA qualifying run before the VOD release. ;)

  • Blankets | July 6, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    There is no way 'Moonrise' gets in for Original Score. There is simply too much other non-original music used in the movie, as well as some original contributions from Mark Mothersbaugh outside of the great stuff from Desplat. The Academy shouldn't touch it with a ten-foot poll considering the distance they kept from 'There Will Be Blood' and others. Then again they awarded the likes of 'Babel' and 'The Artist' for reusing non-originals...

  • shelly | July 6, 2012 2:11 PMReply

    Channing Tatum "Magic Mike" - now you have lost all credibility

  • Dan Humphrey | July 7, 2012 12:59 PM

    Dargis at the NY Times called him "terrific", which makes for a pretty strong endorsement.

  • Peter Knegt | July 6, 2012 2:15 PM

    Ha, but only as a very dark horse. It's extraordinarily unlikely, but these kind of performances do occasionally make the conversation (John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever," for example).

  • Shelly | July 6, 2012 2:15 PM

    Matthew McConaughey will for sure be nominated though.

  • shelly | July 6, 2012 2:08 PMReply

    None of the Sundance movies you mentioned from last year got Oscar noms

  • Peter Knegt | July 6, 2012 2:13 PM

    True - though I never said they did.

  • Ali | July 6, 2012 1:58 PMReply

    Quvenzhané Wallis is 8 years old and will be 9 on the day of the nominations. So, she wouldn't be the youngest nominee ever. She'd be the youngest Best Actress nominee ever and if she won, she'd be the youngest winner ever.

  • Peter Knegt | July 6, 2012 2:14 PM

    This has been corrected, thanks Ali... She'd be the youngest female nominee ever, and the second youngest overall after Justin Henry.

  • Rich T | July 6, 2012 1:18 PMReply

    Strong case for BEASTS. I hadn't thought of it, but it does make sense that it could garner a BP nomination. That said, I have a feeling that MOONRISE KINGDOM is a stone cold lock for a BP nomination. Just seems like the near universal praise and box office success lines up with the idea that it's Wes Anderson's 'time.'

  • Dan Humphrey | July 7, 2012 1:02 PM

    I agree on MK. The positive feelings for it just seem to grow stronger and stronger. I like it more now than I did the night I first saw it, and that seems a fairly common feeling among people I talk to: "It really grows on you."