Oscar Nomination Predictions 2012

From about the age of ten, I have been inexplicably fascinated with the Academy Awards. If pressed to explain the foundation of this obsession with an awards show from what is ultimately just an arbitrary body of members with vastly varying tastes across the many different disciplines it requires to put a competent movie up on the silver screen, I’m not sure I could muster up a satisfactory response.

I suspect at the time my Oscar obsession grew from what seemed like the perfect marriage between the art of cinema and the competition of sports, but even now, these many years later, after hours of voluntary studying of countless Oscar books (to the point where I can name every Best Picture winner chronologically from memory), I still can’t explain it in any way that doesn’t make me sound like some freakish Oscar junkie. Nevertheless, between the Oscar season and the NFL playoffs, you can guess this is one of my favorite times of the year, and one of my favorite pastimes of the awards season is predicting the Academy Award nominees.

While I may not be at the level of some of the top Oscar prognosticators out there in the blogosphere, I usually bat a fairly good percentage. After so many years of anticipating the early morning announcements, and all the disappointments and jubilation that come with it, you get an almost sixth sense to the Academy’s quirks and hang-ups. Of course, looking at precursor award announcements such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Golden Globes gives you a rough idea of what the nominees will look like, but the fun is predicting the deviations, such as last year’s Max Von Sydow Best Supporting Actor nomination for his turn as a deaf-mute man in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It’s in predicting these surprises that you really earn your bones as an Oscar prognosticator and gain gloating rights for your “insight” into the Academy.

With that in mind, below is my best guess on how 2012’s Oscar nominations will play out. For the bigger categories (Picture, Director, Acting categories, and Writing categories) I have provided in depth analysis of the races as I currently see them. For the below the line categories, I have simply listed my predictions. If you want to skip the analysis altogether and just glance over my predictions, at the bottom of this article is the list of all my predictions in total, so feel free to check it out.

I have also included an alternative choice for each category (as a cheap way to get in one extra prediction) and also a possible pleasant surprise, as well as a possible unpleasant surprise. The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards will be announced this Thursday morning, so if you want to come back and rag on how wrong I was, or praise my brilliant forecasting (I hope the latter) in the comment section below, feel free to do so. Here goes nothing!

 

Best Picture

This year’s Best Picture race is turning out to be one of the most fascinating and competitive races we have had in some time. At this point in the game, we usually already know who is going to win Best Picture, or at least have narrowed it down to a two-way race. Last year, The Artist had already been anointed King of Awardsdom, sweeping practically every cinematic-related award in sight, only feeling token opposition from Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. The previous year, it was fairly certain that The King’s Speech was going to go home triumphant, although many (including myself) were holding out hope that critics’ darling The Social Network would see justice done and rightfully claim the throne. The year before that, you had the reverse situation, where the critics’ cause, The Hurt Locker, took the front-runner status and managed to defend it over the more populous choice of Avatar. In 2008, Slumdog Millionaire took home the big prize practically uncontested, while the year before that No Country for Old Men managed to hold off There Will be Blood in its bid for Best Picture.

You have to go back then to 2006, when Martin Scorsese finally managed to have a movie win Best Picture with the Boston cop/gangster thriller, The Departed, to find a time when we didn’t know with some certainty who would win Best Picture, and the similarities between the two races are interesting. Like 2006, 2012 doesn’t have a clear front-runner. Zero Dark Thirty has received the most critical plaudits of any single film, but its not as unanimous as in most years, as Argo has received almost as many “Best Film” citations as Kathryn Bigelow’s film has. Meanwhile, Les Miserables is appealing to many of the same people who fell in love with 2010’s champ, The King’s Speech (which isn’t surprising given they are both directed by Tom Hooper), and Lincoln appears to be the most universally agreeable film of the bunch, but it’s unclear if it inspires the type of passion necessary to win Best Picture.

However it turns out, I am 99% certain the winner will come from one of these four, and if you add in Silver Linings Playbook, we would have our five Best Picture nominees if we were still in the 1944-2008 era. Starting since last year, the amount of Best Picture nominees is a variable, going anywhere from five to ten nominees, depending on how many 1st place votes a film receives in an extremely confusing voting system. This make predicting Best Picture especially fun, since you not only have to consider which films will be nominated, but also how many films will be nominated.

Life of Pi feels like a pretty safe bet, but even though it is a well regarded film among critics and movie fans, nobody seems to be head-over-heels in love with it, which is disconcerting given the amount of 1st Place votes you need to secure a nomination. If Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close can get the requisite amount of 1st place votes necessary to be nominated though, I think Life of Pi will manage it too.

In the next tier you have three films that I feel are roughly in the same position awards-wise. Those films are: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, and Moonrise Kingdom. If all, some, or none of these films get in will depend on how many nominees there will be. Last year, the Academy managed nine Best Picture nominees in what many felt was a lackluster year, so you might think there would be at least nine again in a year with many good movies and not a lot of consensus, but maybe the voting system is counter intuitive.

If Django had been released a bit earlier I would say it’s a shoe in, but it’s late building momentum may be a case of too little, too late. The other two films came out much earlier in the year and may have the opposite problem from Django in the fact that they have to deal with the Academy’s notoriously short memories. I also think that all three of these movies may be competing for votes from the relatively smaller younger demographic of the Academy, which could cause one, two, or all three to miss the cut, but I’m going to go with my gut and say all three make it in.

Finally there is the theoretical tenth slot. Personally, I think the nominees will stop at nine, but if the Academy does use their nominee allowance to its fullest possible extent, they have a couple different options. If they want to go high-brow, they can either pick Paul Thomas Anderson’s critically-acclaimed The Master or go the more exotic route by nominating the Palme D’or winner Amour. If they are more in The Blind Side mode, then The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will likely see the light of day, or if they’re in a more populist mood, Producers Guild of America nominee and box office smash Skyfall could be the first ever Bond film nominated for Best Picture. Even Flight being nominated wouldn’t totally surprise me (although it feels like a film that would have more likely been nominated 15 years ago), but I don’t expect any of these films to make the cut Thursday morning.

 

Best Picture

  • Argo
  • Les Miserables
  • Lincoln
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Life of Pi
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Moonrise Kingdom

(Alt: The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: The Avengers

 

Best Director

In a lot ways, Best Director is a more interesting race than Best Picture, which is largely due to the fact that unlike Best Picture, Best Director is still just five nominees. It’s even more intriguing when you look at the names competing for the award: Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, Wes Anderson, David O. Russell, Ben Affleck, Michael Haneke, and Tom Hooper. Pretty much every director who has a film competing for Best Picture outside of Beasts of the Southern Wild newcomer Ben Zeitlin. The race is made even more indecipherable by the lack of a front runner, which means the voters in the Director’s branch will really have to make their decision on the merits of the direction of the films.

Even with all this enigma, I do feel there are three directors virtually locked into a nomination, and I would be stunned not to hear their names pop up on Thursday. Those three directors are Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck, and Steven Spielberg. For the last two slots though, I can see any combination of the rest of the players listed above.

One thing we do know about the Directors branch is that they tend to be more willing to side with critics favorites that are tougher sits than the more typically pedestrian movies the Actors branch likes to stand up for. From Federico Fellini for 8 1/2 in 1963 to Terrance Malick for The Tree of Life in 2011, the directors have a history of rewarding artsy films and their directors. This speaks well to the chances of both Paul Thomas Anderson and Michael Haneke whose films (The Master and Amour, respectively) won’t be receiving any MTV movie awards in the near future, but will undoubtedly have fans in the more formalist members of the branch.

On the other hand, it probably doesn’t favor the chances of Tom Hooper, and to a lesser extent, David O. Russell and Wes Anderson. Les Miserables, while making bank at the box office, hasn’t fared so well with critics and many of those critics have put the blame squarely on the shoulders of its director, Tom Hooper, so if the directors are of like mind, he will have an uphill battle. Others though may appreciate the monumental task of turning the much-beloved musical into a motion picture and may reward him for it simply because of degree of difficulty. The King’s Speech wasn’t universally loved by critics either, and Hooper managed not only to be nominated, but win the Oscar for Best Director, so you definitely shouldn’t sleep on his chances.

In the case of David O. Russell, a Best Director nominee for his last film, The Fighter, I think that Silver Linings Playbook is likely to be viewed as too outwardly comedic, which almost always counts as a negative in the Academy’s book. It’s a shame, because personally I think Russell’s direction is tonally right on the mark and quite inspired, but the history of the Oscars tell me a movie this comedic won’t be nominated for Best Director. Same goes for Wes Anderson, an auteur whose style is very pronounced and likely too light for some, too quirky for others, to get a nomination.

A director whose nomination prospects I am more optimistic about is Ang Lee. Even though, as I mentioned earlier, the film doesn’t have a real passionate fan base, a lot of praise has gone to Ang Lee even amongst people who felt so-so on the movie. His use of visual effects, and the courage to translate a book about a boy stranded on a raft with a tiger into a movie, seems to be impressing a lot of people, so even if the movie doesn’t show up in many other categories, I could see Ang Lee getting a nomination.

Finally, there’s Quentin Tarantino, who feels like the real wild card of the race. Tarantino has a style that is so unquestionably his, it seems like people either respond to it or they don’t. Tarantino did manage to get nominated in this category for Inglourious Basterds, but after what some perceived as a slip up with Deathproof, that award seemed like a “welcome back” nomination. Given the similarities between Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, as well as Tarantino’s self-assured personality which undoubtedly doesn’t ingratiate him to some, I don’t think he’ll get in (but I hope I’m wrong).

 

Best Director

  • Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty
  • Ben Affleck for Argo
  • Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • Ang Lee for Life of Pi
  • Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master

(Alt: Tom Hooper for Les Miserables)

Pleasant Surprise: Jucques Audiard for Rust and Bone

Unpleasant Surprise: Ben Lewin for The Sessions

 

Best Actor

When it comes to who is actually going to win the award, Daniel Day-Lewis has this thing all wrapped up, which will make him the first male actor to receive three Oscars for leading performances (I could hardly think of a more deserving actor). As for the race to be nominated, this appears to be a six-man race in a five slot category, which means one actor will be left standing when the music stops. The six players are: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, John Hawkes in The Sessions, Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables, Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, Denzel Washington in Flight, and Joaquin Phoenix in The Master (with slight, extremely outside chances for both Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock and Jean-Louis Trintignant in Amour).

Day-Lewis is obviously in, and I would say the same for Hawkes too, even if The Sessions hasn’t proved to be much of a hit beyond the performances. I feel fairly certain Jackman will be nominated, as Les Mis will definitely be popular among the Actors’ branch, and the amiable former host of the Oscars will likely make the members happy to vote for him.

The last three possible nominees is where it gets more iffy. After Jennifer Lawrence monopolized the buzz around Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper has managed to receive his just kudos for one the best performances this year (and certainly the most surprising performance for this film critic). He has received nominations on all the major precursors and the Academy has a history of rewarding actors who stretch their talent in unexpected ways, so I grow more certain about Cooper’s nomination every day.

That leaves the last spot between Phoenix and Washington. As great as Phoenix’s performance is, his erratic behavior and disparaging remarks against the whole awards process will not do him any favors. It doesn’t help either that Washington’s performance is one of the best of his career, so unfortunately I don’t think Joaquin makes the cut.

 

Best Actor

  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
  • John Hawkes in The Sessions
  • Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables
  • Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Denzel Washington in Flight

(Alt: Joaquin Phoenix in The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Jack Black in Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: Ben Affleck in Argo

 

Best Actress

The Best Actress race has come down to a two-woman race, both relative newcomers who appear to be fast rising stars: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook (who is probably better known to most as Katniss in The Hunger Games) and Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty. The winner will be between these two women and both are locks for the nomination. Beyond that we have a vastly varying carousel of actresses that make Best Actress one of the hardest categories to predict.

The actress who was receiving buzz earliest in the year was the very young star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhale Wallis. Despite her very scarce experience of existence here on earth, she gives an incredibly enthralling performance, one that rivals or surpasses that of her much more classically trained elders, but this is where I suspect the problem lies for young Quvenzhale. Child actors, particularly ones this young, sometimes have a hard time cracking these acting categories. It may be that actors who have spent their whole professional lives trying to break into the business resent being shown up by some kid, or they may feel that its not really “Acting” in the traditional sense. Whatever the rationale, I fear Wallis’ chances are fading away, and without any precursor nominations (although she wasn’t eligible for a SAG nomination), she probably will take a back seat to her more “professional” peers.

Another interesting aspect in this year’s Best Actress race is the fact that two of the probable contenders, Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour, star in foreign language films, which is almost always a detriment to Oscar voters. Marion Cotillard though has already overcome this bias, not only be nominated but actually winning the Oscar in a foreign language film, and has since become a major crossover star in English-language blockbusters such as Inception and Midnight in Paris.

Even so, the case may be that given Rust and Bone‘s independent/foreign film status, members of the Academy may have not gotten around to checking out the film in this shortened nominating season. Dittos goes for Riva’s performance, one that is extremely well regarded by people who have actually seen the film (I unfortunately have not), but given the depressing nature of the subject matter, may not have been high on the list of member’s “to see” films.

The two actresses that these foreign language speaking thespians will be battling for the final few slots are not native Americans either, but hail from Australia and Great Britain. Naomi Watts in The Impossible and Helen Mirren in Hitchcock both have a legitimate shot at being nominated. Watts in particular, who has managed to receive a nomination in all the major precursors, feels like a safe bet. Mirren meanwhile gives a pretty unexceptional performance as Alfred Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville in the Pyscho making-of bio-pic Hitchcock, but since her Oscar win in The Queen, the Mirren steam train has been a pretty hard thing to stop as proved by her nomination for her suspect performance in The Last Station a few years back. This is a tough decision but I’m going to go with the SAG lineup of Lawrence, Chastain, Watts, Mirren, and Cotillard.

 

Best Actress

  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
  • Naomi Watts in The Impossible
  • Helen Mirren in Hitchcock
  • Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone

 

(Alt: Emmanuelle Riva in Amour)

Pleasant Surprise: Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks

Unpleasant Surprise: Kelly Reilly in Flight

 

Best Supporting Actor

If I was a voter, this category would give me the biggest headache because the abundance of terrific performances to choose from is utterly ridiculous (and that seems to be the case every year). Inevitably then, there are countless amazing performances that go unrecognized annually in this category, and all too often they are replaced by overblown flashier performances that fit the stereotypical criteria of an “Oscar-worthy” performance.

Unfortunately, this year is no exception, with the two biggest locks in this category being Alan Arkin in Argo and Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Arkin gives a good performance, but he simply serves as the comic relief for the film, and there are a lot more interesting and nuanced performances than his “grumpy old studio exec” shtick. I have a harder time swallowing Jones’ performance as Thaddeus Stevens, the historic Abolitionist Senator from Pennsylvania who apparently had a Texan accent. (I digress though, as we are here to focus on who will get nominated, not who I wish would get nominated).

The other lock, one I feel is much more deserving, is Philip Seymour Hoffman for his L. Ron Hubbard riff in The Master. The next best shot would probably be Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook. I’m fairly certain the legendary actor will make the cut, as it is easily his best performances in years and I’m sure many actors would love to give him another pat on the back at this stage in his career, but I wouldn’t go so far as to penning in his name yet given how competitive this race is.

If we do take these four as in though, that leaves us with one final slot and many viable candidates. If we look at SAG for help, they filled this slot with Javier Bardem’s entertaining villainous role as James Bond’s arch nemesis doppelganger in Skyfall. I could very easily see him making it in, as he has proven popularity inside the Academy (as evidenced by his somewhat surprising nod for Biutiful two years ago) and it would be an interesting way to reward the movie beyond just nominations in the technical field.

The BFCA (which has six slots for nominations) also included Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike. Beyond Magic Mike (which I still have not seen), McConaughey has had a surprisingly stellar year with excellent performances in films like Bernie, The Paperboy, and Killer Joe, so some may view this as an opportunity to reward the actor for the summation of his work this year (which is a huge step up from fare such as Failure to Launch). Non-actor Dwight Henry, who in my humble opinion gave the single best performance this year in Beasts of the Southern Wild, also has a puncher’s chance, but not a very likely one.

Then we come to the trio of fabulous performances in Django Unchained. Herein lies the problem though, much too often, when you have a plethora of great performances in the same movie, by three great actors (and it currently doesn’t get much better than Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson in my book), what usually ends up happening is no one gets nominated. Essentially, they cancel each other out, as every person tends to have a different favorite performance out of the three. Matters are made worse by the fact that Django was released so late in an already rushed nominating schedule, and for Christoph Waltz, by the fact that the Weinstein Company briefly ran him in the lead category, which means some of his votes may futilely wind up in the Best Actor category. For me though, of the three actors Waltz is clearly the standout, and I think this is apparent enough that he’ll be able to sneak in, but I definitely wouldn’t bet on it.

 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
  • Alan Arkin in Argo
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
  • Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

 

(Alt: Javier Bardem in Skyfall).

Pleasant Surprise: Dwight Henry in Beast of the Southern Wild

Unpleasant Surprise: Russell Crowe in Les Miserables

 

Best Supporting Actress

This race, like Best Actor, is already wrapped up for Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables (so get ready for “Academy Award-Winner” Anne Hathaway in trailers from now on). It’s an extremely overrated performance to me, but it is what it is.

Speaking of overrated performances, the second lock, and the only person who has the minutest chance of upsetting Hathaway, is Sally Field in Lincoln. The performance was a little heavy on the histrionics for my taste, but the two-time Oscar winner makes for a good come back story, so she is definitely in. I also consider Helen Hunt in The Sessions, helped by the fact that her role is a quasi-lead performance, a safe bet for a nomination.

The last two slots is where it gets interesting, as it feels pretty wide open. Nicole Kidman, in her engaging, accentuated performance as a trailer trash southern belle in The Paperboy, has come on pretty strong as of late, receiving Best Supporting Actress nominations from both the Golden Globes and SAG. The problem with this candidacy though is the film doesn’t seem to be very well liked, so even if people appreciate her performance, they may not want to vote for the film.

A likely much more popular movie with the Acting branch is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and given the Academy’s track record of geriatric pandering, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Maggie Smith rack up another nomination, but the film is a little on the light-weight side. If the Academy is in more of a dour mood, they might go with Amy Adams in The Master, as they have already shown Adams a lot of love in her relatively young career, but the Acting branch in particular is probably lukewarm on her film.

You also have Ann Dowd, in the very independent film Compliance running a DIY campaign that is a little reminiscent of Jacki Weaver’s successful campaign for Animal Kingdom two years back. You likely haven’t seen the film (I haven’t either), but if the screeners got out there, I wouldn’t discount the possibility. I also wouldn’t count out Judi Dench in Skyfall if the Academy goes big for that movie.

This is really a toss up, but I’m going to go with Kidman and Dowd for the final two slots.

 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables
  • Sally Field in Lincoln
  • Helen Hunt in The Sessions
  • Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy
  • Ann Dowd in Compliance

 

(Alt: Amy Adams in The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Shirley MacLaine in Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: Scarlett Johansson in Hitchcock

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Historically, the Writers branch is the most adventurous branch in the Academy, willing to stick its neck out for good movies that would never be nominated for an Oscar otherwise. They usually are willing to go a little more out of the box in the Original Screenplay category than the Adapted Screenplay category, but you can never be to sure what will pop up in either category.

Even so, I would be absolutely stunned if Chris Terrio for Argo, Tony Kushner for Lincoln, and David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook don’t get nominated. All three movies are seen as very writer-y pieces and all three will be nominated for Best Picture, so if they do miss out, it spells bad news for those movies.

The more interesting cases of likely Best Picture nominees missing out on writing nominations is David Magee for Life of Pi and William Nicholson for Les Miserables. If the Academy as a whole nominated the screenplays, Les Mis would have a better chance, but seeing as the whole movie is almost a word for word lyrical translation of the musical, I don’t see the writers nominating it (I’m not even sure what it is Mr. Nicholson “wrote”). As for Magee, the conventional wisdom on Life of Pi seems to be that it’s achievement is that of a visionary one from Ang Lee, not a writer’s piece, which I think means it will just miss the cut.

In their place I suspect to see Stephen Chbosky in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Lucy Alibar and Ben Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Chbosky, who adapted and directed his own novel, has been popping up in this category all over the place with different critics awards (including BFCA), and honoring the screenplay is a good way to acknowledge this well liked, if not loved, film. Meanwhile, Alibar and Zeitlin’s script for Beasts of the Southern Wild is the type of first-time, low budget script the writers like to stick up for (see Margin Call‘s nomination last year), although I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ben Lewin’s script for The Sessions take its place.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Tony Kushner for Lincoln
  • Chris Terrio for Argo
  • David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Stephen Chbosky for The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Lucy Alibar and Ben Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

 

(Alt: Ben Lewin for The Sessions)

Pleasant Surprise: Skip Hollandsworth and Richard Linklater for Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: Joss Whedon and Zak Penn for The Avengers

 

Best Original Screenplay

The Original Screenplay category feels a little more interesting this year and open for surprises than the Adapted Screenplay category. The two screenplays that I feel are sure bets are Mark Boal’s script for Zero Dark Thirty and Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola’s script for Moonrise Kingdom. Moonrise Kingdom, written with the typical quirky brilliance of all of Wes Anderson’s films is right up the writers alley, and from what I understand, Zero Dark Thirty is an accomplished script as well, although I haven’t seen the film yet (which I will fix this Friday).

The next three slots are a little up in the air, with a lot of big name players involved too. I feel fairly confident that Quentin Tarantino, with his patented slick dialogue, will manage to get a nomination here, even if his script for Django Unchained is a little bit sloppier than some of his previous work.

There has been a lot of recent buzz from critics groups around Rian Johnson’s screenplay for Looper, and if that film is going to get nominated at all, it will be here. Sci-fi though is a tough sell, even for the more open minded writers branch. John Gatins script for Flight has also received a lot of attention, especially in how it relates personally to Gatins himself. This sort of semi-autobiographical thing is likely to appeal to writers, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up.

We also have two foreign film scripts, that of Michael Haneke’s Amour and Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano’s The Intouchables. The Writer’s branch has no problem with nominating foreign films (as they did last year with A Separation), so I can see either getting in. From what I understand though (because I haven’t seen either film) Amour is the more high-brow of the two, while The Intouchables is more on the schmaltzy side, and given the artsy predilections of the writers, I favor Amour‘s chances over The Intouchable‘s.

Finally, there is Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master. Even when his movies haven’t found much love in the other branches, the writers have usually respected his work, nominating him on three previous occasions. Given his track record, he definitely has a good shot, but I’m a little unsure of how the Academy responded to The Master, because even people who usually like his work have felt a bit perplexed by The Master. It’s a close call, but I think he just misses the cut.

 

Best Original Screenplay

  • Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
  • Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom
  • Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
  • Michael Haneke for Amour
  • John Gatins for Flight

(Alt: Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Martin McDonagh for Seven Psychopaths

Unpleasant Surprise: David Ayer for End of Watch

 

Here now, without analysis, is my official predictions for the 2012 Academy Awards:

 

Best Picture

  • Argo
  • Les Miserables
  • Lincoln
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Life of Pi
  • Beast of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Moonrise Kingdom

 

(Alt: The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: The Avengers

 

Best Director

  • Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty
  • Ben Affleck for Argo
  • Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • Ang Lee for Life of Pi
  • Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master

 

(Alt: Tom Hooper for Les Miserables)

Pleasant Surprise: Jucques Audiard for Rust and Bone

Unpleasant Surprise: Ben Lewin for The Sessions

 

Best Actor

  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
  • John Hawkes in The Sessions
  • Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables
  • Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Denzel Washington in Flight

 

(Alt: Joaquin Phoenix in The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Jack Black in Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: Ben Affleck in Argo

 

Best Actress

  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
  • Naomi Watts in The Impossible
  • Helen Mirren in Hitchcock
  • Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone

 

(Alt: Emmanuelle Riva in Amour)

Pleasant Surprise: Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks

Unpleasant Surprise: Kelly Reilly in Flight

 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
  • Alan Arkin in Argo
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
  • Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

 

(Alt: Javier Bardem in Skyfall).

Pleasant Surprise: Dwight Henry in Beast of the Southern Wild

Unpleasant Surprise: Russell Crowe in Les Miserables

 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables
  • Sally Field in Lincoln
  • Helen Hunt in The Sessions
  • Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy
  • Ann Dowd in Compliance

 

(Alt: Amy Adams in The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Shirley MacLaine in Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: Scarlett Johansson in Hitchcock

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Tony Kushner for Lincoln
  • Chris Terrio for Argo
  • David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Stephen Chbosky for The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Lucy Alibar and Ben Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

 

(Alt: Ben Lewin for The Sessions)

Pleasant Surprise: Skip Hollandsworth and Richard Linklater for Bernie

Unpleasant Surprise: Joss Whedon and Zak Penn for The Avengers

 

Best Original Screenplay

  • Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
  • Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom
  • Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
  • Michael Haneke for Amour
  • John Gatins for Flight

(Alt: Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master)

Pleasant Surprise: Martin McDonagh for Seven Psychopaths

Unpleasant Surprise: David Ayer for End of Watch

 

Best Cinematography

  • Skyfall
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • The Master

(Alt: Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Pleaseant Surprise: Prometheus

Unpleasant Surprise: Les Miserables

 

Best Production Design

  • Lincoln
  • Les Miserables
  • Anna Karenina
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Argo

 

(Alt: The Master).

Pleasant Surprise: Prometheus

Unpleasant Surprise: Life of Pi

 

Best Film Editing

  • Argo
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Lincoln
  • Les Miserables
  • Life of Pi

(Alt: Silver Linings Playbook)

Pleasant Surprise: Cloud Atlas

Unpleasant Surprise: The Hobbit

 

Best Costume Design

  • Anna Karenina
  • Les Miserables
  • A Royal Affair
  • Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Django Unchained

(Alt: Lincoln).

Pleasant Surprise: The Master

Unpleasant Surprise: The Avengers

 

Best Makeup

  • The Hobbit
  • Looper
  • Hitchcock

(Alt: Lincoln)

Pleasant Surprise: Men in Black 3

Unpleasant Surprise: Les Miserables

 

Best Original Score

  • Lincoln
  • Life of Pi
  • Argo
  • Anna Karenina
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild

(Alt: Skyfall)

Pleasant Surprise: The Master

Unpleasant Surprise: The Sessions

 

Best Original Song

  • “Suddenly” from Les Miserables
  • “Learn Me Right” from Brave
  • “Skyfall” from Skyfall
  • “Still Alive” from Paul Williams Still Alive
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi

(Alt: “Touch the Sky” from Brave)

Pleasant Surprise: “Who Did That to You?” from Django Unchained

Unpleasant Surprise: “Cosmonaut” from Lawless

 

Best Sound Editing

  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • The Avengers
  • Django Unchained
  • Skyfall
  • Les Miserables

(Alt: Life of Pi)

Pleasant Surprise: The Impossible

Unpleasant Surprise: The Bourne Legacy

 

Best Sound Mixing

  • Les Miserables
  • Skyfall
  • Django Unchained
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Lincoln

(Alt: Life of Pi)

Pleasant Surprise: The Impossible

Unpleasant Surprise: The Dark Knight Rises

 

Best Visual Effects

  • Life of Pi
  • The Hobbit
  • The Avengers
  • Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Cloud Atlas

(Alt: Prometheus)

Pleasant Surprise: The Dark Knight Rises

Unpleasant Surprise: Skyfall

 

Best Animated Film

  • Paranorman
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Brave
  • Frankenweenie
  • The Rabbi’s Cat

(Alt: Rise of the Guardians)

 

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Amour
  • The Intouchables
  • War Witch
  • Kon-Tiki
  • No

(Alt: A Royal Affair)

 

RU?

 

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Christopher Lominac
Christopher Lominac has been a lifelong film fanatic from a very young age. Even after abandoning the film program and pursuing a career in economics (including attempting to earn a PhD at Rice University in Houston), his love for cinema never died, leading him to return to movies in the form of film criticism. His other interests and hobbies include music, video games, history, philosophy, and teaching tap dance classes.

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