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by Peter Knegt
January 8, 2013 1:22 PM
25 Comments
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For Your Consideration: Final Predictions For The Most Unpredictable Oscar Nominations In Years

"Lincoln"

With less than 48 hours to go before the gloriously early (two weeks earlier than last year!) Academy Award nominations, it's time to take a stab at final predictions for the culmination of one the quickest, strongest and most unpredictable awards seasons in years. 

Category-by-category, the below predictions offer what are perhaps my least confident Oscar nominations ever (but that's what makes them so much fun). After back to back races that felt remarkably dull and predictable, there's an energy and an excitement leading into Thursday morning's announcement that has breathed life into Oscar prognositication for many pundits. Here's hoping I'm wrong in all the best ways.

READ MORE: For Your Consideration: If I Had An Oscar Ballot...

The following predictions would have Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" leading the way with 12 nominations, with "Django Unchained" (11 noms), "Les Miserables" (eight noms), "Zero Dark Thirty," "Skyfall" and "Life of Pi" (seven each) just behind. It doesn't quite seem right ("Django" seems way too high, and "Argo" way to low with just five), but we'll find out soon enough how right or wrong I am. Until then, enjoy my best shot:

Warner Bros. "Argo"
Best Picture:
Coming off of one of the most dismal batch of best picture nominees in some time (maybe ever?), Thursday morning could offer quite the opposite. There's an embarrassment of riches in this years race, which has basically come down to 12 films gunning for the 5-10 slots.

Just six weeks ago or so, there were really only four films that seemed more-or-less sure bets for a best picture nomination: "Argo," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook."  At that point, there were still three major question marks in December releases "Django Unchained," "Les Miserables," and "Zero Dark Thirty." But somehow all three managed to live up their hype (more or less -- "Les Mis" didn't exact win over critics but lots of other folks apparently love it, while "Django" and "Zero" faced plenty of controversy, but I can't see that hurting them much here), giving this race a firm seven contenders that all have strong box office, passionate fans and a precursor tally that includes PGA noms and both Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award best picture noms. Any one of them not making the cut would be a surprise.

But what happens after? Will there only be seven? Since there were nine with last year's dismal slate, there should be at least nine this time around, right? Well, no. There could only be five for all we know. But my total guess is that there will indeed be a full 10, offering us one of the most diverse, (mostly) deserving best picture slates in some time. And that "Amour," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Moonrise Kingdom" -- each with the sort of passionate fanbase that gives #1 ballot rankings -- will join the "assumed seven." However, you could easily make the same argument for "Skyfall" or "The Master," which is why the final category announced Thursday morning is going to be so much fun to watch.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Skyfall
The Master

The shoulda been a contender (but never gonna happen):
Holy Motors

Best Director:
Here's where the best picture race arguably becomes a five nominee-show, and it's quite the showdown. Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow and Steven Spielberg are locks, but beyond them there's room for surprise. The directors branch of the Academy is known for their higher-end tastes, which could spell trouble for recent DGA nominee Tom Hooper. He could be replaced by Michael Haneke, Paul Thomas Anderson or Quentin Tarantino, with one of them (my guess is QT) joining Ang Lee (not a lock, but looking good) as the fourth and fifth nominees.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Michael Haneke, Amour
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Continue to the next page for acting picks....

25 Comments

  • brenda | January 13, 2013 11:18 PMReply

    the golden globes are shit. its all about who is the most popular not the quality of the director or the movie.

  • Rob | January 10, 2013 9:31 AMReply

    Never say never! Benh Zeitlin got nominated!

  • Matt-S | January 9, 2013 6:38 AMReply

    I think we'll have a surprise in the Best Picture and Best Director race, and the surprise could be The Master. Remember last year with The Tree of Life? (OK last year wasn't a strong year like this year, but I'd be happy if PTA got two noms instead of only one)

    Agree on every nom in the Best Actress category. Not so much in the Best Actor one...
    Mine would be:
    - Bradley Cooper
    - Daniel Day-Lewis
    - Hugh Jackman
    - Joaquin Phoenix
    - Jean-Louis Trintignant
    With Jackman being the weakest one.

    The Avengers won't get a nom, at least I hope so.

  • Hari | January 8, 2013 11:59 PMReply

    If Bradley Cooper ISN'T nominated it would be the snub of all snubs. Cooper gave the best performance of any actor in 2012, and has been nominated for everything. Of the leading men, I'm hoping its someone like John Hawkes or Denzel who doesn't make the cut. Cooper is absolutely Oscar worthy and gave the performance of a lifetime in Silver Linings.

  • spassky | January 9, 2013 11:38 AM

    This sounds like the observation of someone who has not seen many films in 2012.

    Cooper was fine, really good, but his performance was not superlative in any sense and has already received the amount of praise it deserves to receive.

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  • BOO | January 8, 2013 7:12 PMReply

    I feel The Master has a better chance than Amour and definitely Skyfall. Also, I think Hooper has a better chance than Tarantino, and I see no possibility of Haneke being nominated.

  • serpico | January 8, 2013 7:00 PMReply

    Since I'm all nuts about Phoenix's performance, thank you for including him.

  • tania | January 8, 2013 5:24 PMReply

    Quvenzhané Wallis is overrated

  • Paul | January 8, 2013 4:21 PMReply

    No nomination for Sound Mixing and Editing for The Dark Knight Rises?

  • Filipe Coutinho | January 8, 2013 3:24 PMReply

    In the foreign film category, I would argue in favor of Miguel Gomes' Tabu, one of the most well directed and original films of the last decade. It's been getting incredible reviews in the film festival world, mainly Europe, and with good reason. It's a phenomenal cinematic achievement.

  • Filipe Coutinho | January 8, 2013 7:16 PM

    It played in Film Forum for more than a week before the end of 2012. Isn't that the main requirement to be nominated?

  • Peter Knegt | January 8, 2013 5:01 PM

    It's an amazing film, but not eligible here.

  • Filipe Coutinho | January 8, 2013 3:23 PMReply

    In the foreign film category, I would argue in favor of Miguel Gomes' Tabu, one of the most well directed and original films of the last decade. It's been getting incredible reviews in the film festival world, mainly Europe, and with good reason. It's a phenomenal cinematic achievement.

  • Filipe Coutinho | January 8, 2013 3:22 PMReply

    In the foreign film category, I would argue in favor of Miguel Gomes' Tabu, one of the most well directed and original films of the last decade. It's been getting incredible reviews in the film festival world, mainly Europe, and with good reason. It's a phenomenal cinematic achievement.

  • david | January 8, 2013 2:47 PMReply

    So you're actually predicting that of the 20 acting nominations exactly 2 of them will be first time nominees. Not only has that never happened, it's 3 fewer than the current record for fewest first time acting nominees in an Oscar year. I'm predicting that along with your picks Jackman and Riva we'll also see Tritignant, Wallis,Eddie Redmayne, Dwight Henry, Ann Dowd, and Samantha Barks score acting noms. 8 first timers is about the norm.

  • BOO | January 8, 2013 7:17 PM

    WOOOOW. 8 is not happening. I can guarantee you that out of your extra picks there Wallis is the only one with a good chance. One of the others may score a surprise nom, but that's it.

  • Peter Knegt | January 8, 2013 2:55 PM

    This year just won't bet the norm. Wallis has a very, very good shot, as does Bradley Cooper. But we'll see 4 first timers max.

  • Harry | January 8, 2013 2:42 PMReply

    The fact that Jack Black in "Bernie" is not really showing up on any prediction sites is a shame. His performance was absolutely fantastic.

    What about Oslo, August 31st for best foreign pic?

  • david | January 8, 2013 3:06 PM

    Only time will tell. A maximum of 4 first timers is really pushing it. Most actors who win Oscars do it on their first nomination and the vast majority of actors who get nominated only get nominated once. Good luck with your picks!

  • Peter Knegt | January 8, 2013 2:55 PM

    A shame but not surprising. It's not exactly up Oscar's alley. And Oslo was not eligible.

  • Peter Knegt | January 8, 2013 2:55 PM

    A shame but not surprising. It's not exactly up Oscar's alley. And Oslo was not eligible.

  • Shelly | January 8, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    You had me until the beasts score before the master score. Just no. Fun read otherwise.

  • Lucas | January 8, 2013 1:32 PMReply

    In alphabetical order Jessica Chastain appears before Marion Cotillard because "h" is before that "o".

    But anyway I hope Marion Cotillard be nominated for Rust and Bone