Oscar Predictions 2013: The (Argo)od, the Bad and the Beastly

The massive Missouri snow storm today means I can write out my usual Oscar predictions. The buzz has been circulating for months now, including bulletins that Daniel Radcliffe will be presenting an award (yay), the Avengers will be there (double yay), and that host Seth MacFarlane has a special “closing number” up his sleeve to keep viewers glued in past when Tom Hanks hurriedly hands the award to Best Picture, which has always been a pretty predicatable moment of the show.

But not this year.

2013 is definitely a year where anything can happen. We’ve seen Argo take a large share of the awards, but Lincoln is a critic’s favorite and Silver Linings Playbook seems to be a fan favorite. That’s why I’m putting this caveat out there before going any further in giving you my personal predictions (and wishlist); unlike last year, when it was pretty easy to call everything (except for Hugo‘s success, which I’d like to point out that I did predict), this year is entirely up in the air.

Best Supporting Actress

We saw Octavia Spencer predictably win last year for The Help, and this year proves equally predictable. I hate to say it, but Anne Hathaway has this one in the bag for her sob-a-lot-then-die Fantine role in Les Miserables. Even more predictable: coupled with her winning will be a Taylor-Swift-style faux shock and awe. If I had my way? Sally Field would get it for her bat-crap crazy performance as the first lady in Lincoln.

Sally Field, Lincoln
Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln

Best Supporting Actor

And here is where we see the waters get murky. As easy as the female category is to call, its male counterpart has three major contenders. Christoph Waltz, my personal want-to-win nominee, already got the Golden Globe for his role as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained, but at the same time, the Academy just awarded him the same award two years ago for Inglourious Basterds (a more deserving winner, there never was). Tommy Lee Jones, equally spectacular as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln, has a Screen Actors Guild award. And let’s not forget Robert DeNiro, who should win an award just for letting Jennifer Lawrence out-act him in a scene of Silver Linings Playbook. I’m not even going to get close to calling this one correctly, but just to be concrete about it, I’ll put my Monopoly money on…

…Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained). He wins through a write-in landslide so he can finally leave the Kodak theater without checking under everyone’s seats to see if an Oscar has been left behind.

That would be the look on his face if it happened, I guarantee it.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained. That would be the look on his face if it happened, I guarantee it.

Best Actress

Another highly competitive race; Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence are tied with the number of awards each has received this year. Chastain’s role in Zero Dark Thirty is a major departure from her Oscar-nominated role in The Help last year, which always tickles Academy voters. The same could be said for Lawrence, who had not only Silver Linings Playbook this fall as her “serious” hit, but also her franchise debut as Katniss in The Hunger Games in March. Who do I want to win? Neither of them. Give it to Quvenzhane Wallis and her little dog purse. She was perfection in Beasts of the Southern Wild, in which she acted as a character that she is most definitely not in real life (she contends she’s quite the diva). 

Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Tell me that little face doesn't make you smile and want to hug her.
Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Tell me that little face doesn’t make you smile and want to hug her.

Best Actor

Daniel. Day. Lewis. End of debate.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln in Lincoln. Funny story: he didn't want to take the role after Liam Neeson gave it up because he didn't think he could handle such a monumental identity. Then good friend Leonardo DiCaprio said, "Uh, no. Take it." So if DDL winds, LDC should also get something.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln. Funny story: he didn’t want to take the role after Liam Neeson gave it up because he didn’t think he could handle such a monumental identity. Then good friend Leonardo DiCaprio said, “Uh, no. Take it.” So if DDL winds, LDC should also get something.

Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Now we get into the good stuff that I care about (and eventually want to win). It was a shocker when Quentin Tarantino won the Golden Globe for Django and slightly less shocking when he was completely hammered during his acceptance speech, but that might be where his lonesome road ends. I would love to see Moonrise Kingdom win because I think it’s been a long time coming for director/writer Wes Anderson (he was also nominated for The Royal Tenenbaums in 2002, the year of Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Julian Fellows’ Gosford Park), and his newest film has had one of the most quirky, Wes-Andersony scripts yet. Either Tarantino or Anderson would make me happy, but I get the sneaking suspicion that it might just go to Zero Dark Thirty. Call it a zero-gut-thirty prediction.

Best Screenplay Based on Previous Material Produced or Published

Here is where we run into a three-way tie for me. Lincoln has the best shot, taking a large non-fiction book and turning it into an absorbing film. Of all of them, it’s the most ambitious with the biggest payoff. If the Academy’s looking for a sharp script, however, it might turn to Argo or Silver Linings PlaybookArgo delivered the laughs and suspense. Silver Linings provided the laughs and feel-bad-for-laughing moments. It’s anyone’s game, but I want/think Lincoln will win.

Best Original Song

I’d like to add John Legend’s “Who Did That To You” from Django Unchained to this list because I’ve been listening to it on repeat since seeing the movie five weeks ago. But because I have to stick to the nominees, I’m a sucker for ADELE and fell in love with “Skyfall” the minute I heard it. My vote’s on her, simply because I can’t see any of the other songs winning. Yep, 24-year-old ADELE will now have multiple GRAMMYs, a Golden Globe, an Oscar and a baby. Just another reminder of how I’ve done nothing with my life.

Best Score

I was highly disappointed with the nominees this year. Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin’s score for Beasts of the Southern Wild was totally snubbed, even though I though it was one of the most off-beat and emotional scores written this year. Also lost because of its blockbuster genre were Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for The Dark Knight Rises (admittedly not as good as The Dark Knight or Inception) and Alan Silvestri’s power-run themes to The Avengers. It would be nice to see John Williams win for Lincoln‘s epically historical and Williams-y score (special shout-out to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for performing that one, by the way), but my vote’s going in for Alexandre Desplat’s Argo score. It’s a mix of suspense theme and ethnic beats that complimented the film in every way.

Best Director

This was a highly controversial category this year because of how many directors got forgotten/snubbed/kicked out of the nominations. I want Behn Zeitlin to win for Beasts of the Southern Wild because he was able to turn a filthy, impoverished area into a wonderland. Spielberg is a close second for Lincoln, but the Academy doesn’t seem to like giving him awards (last year’s War Horse got pretty much forgotten the entire evening). This is another one where it’s anyone’s night.

Best Animated Picture

I’m not a huge fan of any of the films in this category, if only because I only saw one of them, Brave, and wasn’t too impressed. They’re talking a battle royale between Wreck-It Ralph and Brave, and let me just say: it’s Pixar. Brave is going to win because it’s beautifully done, no matter how good Wreck-It Ralph‘s plot was or how much I just love John C. Reilly’s voice.

Best Picture

Although I’d like to see Django Unchained or Beasts of the Southern Wild score this one, I think the little gold guy is headed to Lincoln or Argo. Last year we saw a comedy win (The Artist), and the year before that a historic drama (The King’s Speech), so maybe it’s time for a more modern film to win? In that case, Argo will take it, breaking the Golden Globes curse by winning both Best Drama at that show and the Best Picture Oscar here. All four films had substantial merit, so I wouldn’t mind seeing any of them win it. I’m not even going to call it (call me a cop out, but I call me “open minded”). But favorites include Argo and Lincoln.

Lincoln, Argo
The best way to win an Oscar: a bearded Ben Affleck teams up with Steven Spielberg to make a fake movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln to get six would-be hostages out of Iran while Tommy Lee Jones waits in the U.S., grumpier than ever. Oh, and Judi Dench and Meryl Streep make an appearance somewhere in there.

The Losers

I think the Academy will ignore Zero Dark Thirty based on their recent worshipping of Katherine Bigelow (2010’s big winner The Hurt Locker), and I believe that even though Life of Pi is supposed to be an extraordinary story with wonderful visuals, the Academy isn’t ready to give the major award to a film reliant on 3-D. Amour is supposed to be amazing, but non-English films never win the big one. Les Miserables, while the critics’ darling at the beginning, saw major backpedalling shortly after its release as movie reviewers everywhere started saying, “It’s good, but not really as good as we all said it was.” That’s going to leave it high-and-dry with one award for supporting actress and maybe something for art direction.

Am I totally wrong on some of these? Any other input? Please join in the conversation! Check out all the other nominees.

The 85th Annual Academy Awards are Sunday, February 24. 

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