This is Part One because these are my first thoughts, or my thoughts of the moment. I will continue to brainstorm and think this week, and may post another set of thoughts closer to next Sunday.
This year is a little different from most. As in many other years, there is no single runaway film that got all the nominations and has all the love. There are perhaps no great films this year, but there are several good ones, some that time will determine are very good. What have really thrown things for a loop this year are the omissions. Not having an Oscar nomination for Best Director for two of the best films this year—Ben Affleck (Argo) and Katherine Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) has thrown the race into something of a tailspin in terms of predicting. There are a few sure bets, but the rest are difficult to guess with any degree of certainly. But here goes….
This one is the one most up in the air because of the two directing omissions, but the two major “snubs” have sent their two films in opposite directions. Zero Dark Thirty was winning many Best Picture awards at the end of the year. Now it’s practically off the radar. Argo, however, has had all sorts of award love thrown at it, from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guide awards to the Directors Guild of America awards. The film may well do an end run around the others because of the affection for Affleck and the fact that he didn’t pick up a much-deserved and expected nomination.
Will (Probably) Win: Argo
Might Win: Lincoln
This is the category that has made all the others so difficult to predict. But remembering that for most directors, the award IS the nomination, it’s likely that the trade-off for Argo winning the big prize will be love for Lincoln in the form of a statuette for director Stephen Spielberg.
Will Win: Stephen Spielberg for Lincoln
Improbable Dark Horse: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
This is easy. It will be Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the few acting geniuses of our time. No other performance comes close this year in reach or accomplishment.
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Other Possible Winner: Nobody
This was looking like a two-way race between Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. It will be one or the other, but since Zero has diminished and Lawrence won the Screen Actors Guild award and Silver Linings is still very much on people’s radar, it’s likely to be Lawrence.
Will (Probably) Win: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Might Win: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Best Supporting Actor
All nominees have already won an Oscar, so there will be no sympathy awards given this year. It should go to Philip Seymour Hoffman (full disclosure—he is from the area I live in) for his brilliant work in The Master, but that film was only on the radar from one bright and shining moment, and has been generally ignored ever since except by the more curious and perceptive. Robert DeNiro of Silver Linings Playbook could win because “he’s back!” as an actor and has left behind the near-parodic performances based on send-ups of his tough-guy/gangster image. And then there is Tommy Lee Jones of Lincoln, all literate, verbally dexterous and attractively politically correct as an anti-slavery radical, with just a touch of the lovable grouch we all have come to know as TLJ. Lastly, Christoph Waltz just won the Screen Actors Guild award for his work in Django Unchained, and even though he won a couple of years back, that win has thrown this race into official confusion.
Will (Probably) Win: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Might Win: Robert DeNiro for Silver Linings Playbook or Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
Should Win But Won’t: Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Best Supporting Actress
There’s no competition for this one. It’s Anne Hathaway for her heart-wrenching role as Fantine the prostitute in Les Misérables, or more accurately, for reinvigorating “I Dreamed a Dream” and ripping many hearts out in the process. It’s the dominant performance on the awards circuit, and people want to honor the film in a real but minor way. This will accomplish both. No one else has a chance.
Will Win: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables.
Looked Like She Could Have Won Except for Anne Hathaway: Sally Field for Lincoln
Might Win: Nobody else.
Best Foreign Film
Since Amour (technically from Austria with an Austrian director, but in French and starring French actors) is ALSO nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay—and no other Best Foreign Picture nominees are nominated for anything other than in that one category—it’s hard to imagine this won’t be the one category Amour will capture handily. It’s the one easy way to honor the film, its esteemed director, and its legendary stars (Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant).
Will Win: Amour
Still mulling the two screenplay categories.
No picture will dominate the awards this year. But at least the show will have some suspense!