Oscar Picks – 15 Dec 2012

We’re in the thick of it now. With both coastal critics’ groups having their say – with some more interesting picks from regions in between – as well as the first major guild announcement, the picture is looking clearer. Unfortunately, this means danger for previous frontrunners like Amour and Django Unchained. Read on to find out why.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Falling off: Nothing
Rising star: Django Unchained
The skinny: I can no longer deny the power of Benh Zeitlin’s Sundance sensation Beasts of the Southern Wild. Though I wasn’t nearly as big a fan as most critics, award givers have remembered it, even though it was released in the summer. Django‘s once waning hopes have now been reignited by the Golden Globes, which completely ignored what I thought would have been a big hit with them (The Impossible).


Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Michael Haneke, Amour
Tom Hooper, Les Misérables
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Falling off: Ang Lee
Rising star: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
The skinny: I still think Amour is going to depress enough of the Academy for them to not make it near the top of their lists. Yet I think Haneke is essentially a lock, for Amour and for his brilliant career, which has yet to be heralded in a major Oscar category. Russell will have the hardest time breaking in since SLP is not the runaway success so many thought it would be.


Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Falling off: Anthony Hopkins
Rising star: Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
The skinny: So the reviews of Hitchcock have all but killed Hopkins’ chances, which is a real shame, because he’s terrific. Still, this would have been a tough category regardless. There’s still plenty of chance for movement in the weeks ahead.


Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Falling off: Meryl Streep, Emmanuelle Riva
Rising star: Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
The skinny: There are no guarantees. For all the preordained buzz for Riva, she didn’t land a SAG nomination, even with Wallis disqualified. This is a major setback for Sony and they will have to push hard these next few weeks to land her here. It’s happened before, but this is a tough, tough category this year (for once) and it’s hard to imagine any of these five giving up their spots. And Rachel Weisz, who many critics lamented would be forgotten has now picked up a win from the New York critics and a Globe nomination. And they said this was a weak year.


Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike

Falling off: Leonardo DiCaprio
Rising star: Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The skinny: The Weinsteins are were pushing Christoph Waltz for co-lead (which is more accurate, but perhaps detrimental to the film’s chances at Oscar glory), yet he’s picked up many supporting actor nominations from critics’ groups over DiCaprio. Sadly, I think this signals that Django Unchained missed the boat and will have to settle for some technical nominations at best. Might I suggest a couple Best Original Song nominations?


Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Falling off: No one
Rising stars: Ann Dowd, Compliance
The skinny: Magnolia must campaign full stop if Dowd is to find her way in, and I hope they do. This category needs some shaking up. I would love to see Emma Watson get some love for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I think she isn’t far enough removed from the Harry Potter franchise (which never found love outside of technical categories) to break in, but that could change if Perks continues its precursor success. I was just going to assume Nicole Kidman’s SAG nomination for The Paperboy was an anomaly, but she got a Golden Globe nod, too. I still think this is a movie too nutzo to gain any traction among serious-minded Oscar voters, star power or not.


The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Falling off: Django Unchained
Rising star: The Cabin in the Woods
The skinny: Django may have been too late to the party and could wind up with nothing to show for it Oscar morning. I don’t really want to think about that possibility, because it’s fantastic. But if that means something more out-there like Cabin in the Woods (which has racked up quite a few mentions from critics’ groups), I’m all for it.


Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook

Falling off: Nothing
Rising star: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The skinny: Pundits will tell you Life of Pi will take Bernie’s spot, but I am certain the writers’ branch will do what it does best and stick up for beloved films that didn’t squeeze into the other categories. If that happens, I would only count on Bernie or Perks (not both), and the latter has some momentum right now. But I think Bernie deserves this nomination more, if only because of its deft blend of interviews with real townsfolk and the witty dialogue.


The Rabbi’s Cat
Wreck-It Ralph

Falling off: The Painting
Rising star: Hotel Transylvania
The skinny: The Painting, arguably the best looking of the possible nominees, failed to receive an Annie Award nod, which probably seals its fate. I think GKIDS best bet now is The Rabbi’s Cat, which has international flavor and a message of unity. And unless some people are just completely overtaken by Rise of the Guardians‘ gorgeous look, it’s absolutely dead.

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