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For Your Consideration: Final Predictions For The Most Unpredictable Oscar Nominations In Years

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 8, 2013 at 1:22PM

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:
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"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....

Best Actress:
Early on in the season, it had been suggested that the best actress race was the weakest in years, and a trio of women whose films premiered at festivals earlier in the year (Marion Cotillard, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhane Wallis) seemed like the only competition. But then came "Silver Linings Playbook," which offered a bigger role for Jennifer Lawrence than some thought (and she nailed every second of it). And a month or so later, news that Jessica Chastain was not only the lead in "Zero Dark Thirty," and that she was pretty damn awesome in it.  Lawrence and Chastain are now the locked frontrunners and the only surefire nominees. Six women all stand totally reasonable shots at joining them, and it's a very tough call to say who pulls it off. Naomi Watts seems like the most likely, and though Riva didn't pop up with the Globes or SAG, she has some very big fans and it's hard to imagine such an unwarranted snub.  And then there's Wallis, Cotillard, Helen Mirren and Rachel Weisz all in contention for slot #5. I say Cotillard (she got Globe and SAG and has been aggressively campaigning), but with minimal confidence.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
Elle Fanning, Ginger and Rosa

"The Master."
Best Actor:
Probably the tightest of all the acting races, the Best Actor category basically boils down to six men: Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Hawkes, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Pheonix and Denzel Washington.

Day-Lewis remains the frontrunner and arguably the only 100% lock, with the rest of them all at least slightly vulnerable to getting left out.  The only one without a SAG nom, it makes sense to assumed Phoenix is the most vulnerable. Still, I'm betting what is clearly a staggering performance gets in despite Phoenix's open acknowledgment that he doesn't care too much for awards (to say the least), leaving Cooper Oscar nomination-free.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserable
s
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
Denis Lavant, Holy Motors

"Les Miserables."
Best Supporting Actress:
In a year full of extremely strong races, best supporting actress stands out as quite the opposite. Anne Hathaway -- who has 99.9% already won this award -- is in, as are Sally Field and Helen Hunt. Then it gets murky, with Amy Adams, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Ann Dowd and Nicole Kidman the major threats for the last two slots (although the fact that Kidman is even in this conversation right now is the biggest surprise of awards season so far). Maybe there will be an out-of-nowhere surprise (a category this weak is ripe for it), but I'm calling Adams and Dench, with the British voting bloc helping the latter become the first acting nominee ever for a James Bond film.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Amy Adams, The Master
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's Sister

Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Django Unchained'
Best Supporting Actor:
Honestly, this might be the most crowded, remarkable acting race in any category in perhaps the past decade.  Roughly 10 men are still in this race, and in any other year they'd all be shoo-ins. But not this year.  This year has brought us Robert DeNiro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Alan Arkin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Javier Bardem, Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson all doing some of their best work ever (three of them in the same movie), alongside breakout performances from Eddie Redmayne and Dwight Henry. Redmayne and Henry are long shots, but the rest of them are all feasible. Many are assuming Arkin, DeNiro, Hoffman and Jones (all previous winners) are safe, with the rest battling for the last slot. But I'd wager it's not as simple as that -- and that this category could offer Thursday's mornings most unexpected acting lineup. My extremely shaky bet (the shakiest of them all, but why not go for it) is that DeNiro gets left out in favor of Waltz and McConaughey, but in truth I could offer up 10 other scenarios and nearly equal that confidence.

The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Alan Arkin, Argo
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained
Eddie Redmayne, Les Miserables
Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild

The shoulda been a contender (but never gonna happen):
Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Check out the next page for the rest of categories, sans commentary.

"Moonrise Kingdom"
Best Original Screenplay:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Amour
Django Unchained
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Looper
The Intouchables
Flight
Middle of Nowhere

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
 Keep The Lights On

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Lincoln
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Silver Linings Playbook

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Life of Pi
The Sessions

Skyfall
Les Miserables

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
 Bernie

"Amour."
Best Foreign Language Film
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Amour (Austria)
The Intouchables (France)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
War Witch (Canada)

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Kon-Tiki (Norway)
The Deep (Iceland)
Sister (Switzerland)

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
Barbara (Germany)

Best Documentary Feature:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Bully
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching For Sugar Man

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
The Imposter
The House I Live In
This is Not a Film

The shoulda-been-a-contender (but never gonna happen):
Central Park Five

Best Animated Feature
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
Rise of the Guardians
Wreck-It-Ralph

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
The Painting
Hotel Transylvania
The Rabbi's Cat

"Life of Pi"
Best Film Editing
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

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

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Cinematography:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
The Master
Skyfall

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Zero Dark Thirty
Anna Karenina
Argo

"Beasts Of The Southern Wild."
Best Original Score:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Anna Karenina
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Lincoln

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

Best Original Song:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
"Ancora Qui" from "Django Unchained"
"From Here To The Moon and Back" from "Joyful Noise"
"Learn Me Right" from "Brave"
"Suddenly" from "Les Misérables"
"Skyfall" from "Skyfall"

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
"Freedom" from "Django Unchained"
"Still Alive" from "Paul Williams Still Alive"
"Who Did That To You?" from "Django Unchained"

'Anna Karenina'
Best Production Design:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Lincoln
The Master

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Life of Pi
Argo
Cloud Atlas

Best Costume Design:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
The Master
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Snow White and the Hunstman

Skyfall
Best Sound Editing:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
The Avengers
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Les Miserables
The Dark Knight Rises
Prometheus

Best Sound Mixing:
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
Django Unchained
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Lincoln
Life of Pi
The Avengers

Best Visual Effects
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
The Avengers
Cloud Atlas
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Prometheus

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
The Dark Knight Rises
Skyfall
John Carter

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
The predicted nominees (in alphabetical order):
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Lincoln

The spoilers (in order of spoil-potential):
Men In Black 3
Looper
Hitchcock

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This article is related to: Academy Awards





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