Hollywood’s best are gathering once again as a global audience awaits word on who is walking away with the golden prize.
There have been some gasp-inducers in Oscar’s recent past, like the Best Picture loss for “The Social Network,” the Best Picture win for “Crash” and the outright snubbing in the Best Picture category for “The Dark Knight.” But it’s hard to top the current season in terms of remarkable curveballs, and, for that matter, unpredictability. The close races (like Best Supporting Actor) and shocking omissions (like Ben Affleck in Best Director) bring out the humility in the Oscar pundit, but they also make the guessing game that much more fun. Just in time for your Oscar pools, here are the fearless picks in all the top fields, along with choices in the lesser areas that are always tougher to call.
Sally Field gave her all as Mary Todd in “Lincoln,” and Helen Hunt brought heartfelt grace to her revealing work in “The Sessions,” but this competition is a surefire slam-dunk for Anne Hathaway, who basically pocketed this trophy with her riveting rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Misérables.” As for knee-jerk nominee Amy Adams (“The Master”), and surprise contender Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”), they’d best brush up on their loser smiles.
Will win: Hathaway, “Les Misérables”
Could win: Field, “Lincoln”
Should win: Field, “Lincoln”
|Robert De Niro|
A true nail-biter of a category, Supporting Actor is arguably anyone’s game, packed with five nominees who’ve each already taken home at least one trophy.
The viewer favorite is probably “Django Unchained” star Christoph Waltz, the inevitable candidate is Academy favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master”), and the pundits’ consensus pick is Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln.” There’s also some support for “Argo’s” Alan Arkin, but let’s give the edge to Robert De Niro, who may well collect his third statuette for his tender work in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Will win: De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Could win: Jones, “Lincoln”
Should win: De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Predictions in additional categories
|Adapted Screenplay||Tony Kushner, “Lincoln”|
|Original Screenplay||Michael Haneke, “Amour”|
|Cinematography||“Life of Pi”|
|Production Design||“Anna Karenina”|
|Costume Design||“Anna Karenina”|
|Makeup and Hairstyling||“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”|
|Original Score||“Life of Pi”|
|Sound Mixing||“Les Misérables”|
|Visual Effects||“Life of Pi”|
|Animated Feature||“Wreck-It Ralph”|
|Foreign Language Film
|Documentary Feature||“How to Survive a Plague”|
|Live-Action Short||“Buzkashi Boys”|
|Documentary Short||“Open Heart”|
|Animated Short||“Head Over Heels”|
The Best Actress race has evolved throughout the season, with Jessica Chastain falling behind due to the eleventh-hour backlash of “Zero Dark Thirty,” but Jennifer Lawrence has more or less remained the field’s front-runner, thanks to her knockout turn as an unhinged widow in “Silver Linings Playbook.” If there’s anyone poised to unseat Lawrence, it isn’t Chastain, Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”) or young Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), but 85-year-old “Amour” star Emmanuelle Riva, the category’s oldest-ever nominee, who, to boot, celebrates her 86th birthday on Oscar night.
Will win: Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Could win: Riva, “Amour”
Should win: Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
There really isn’t much to discuss here. Since the first in-character photos of Daniel Day-Lewis as our 16th president were leaked, the two-time Best Actor winner has been the fly-away favorite, standing to become the first actor with three statuettes for leading roles. He’s joined by some worthy fellow candidates, like Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”), Hugh Jackman (“Les Misérables”), Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Denzel Washington (“Flight”), but none of them really stand a chance.
Will win: Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Could win: If hell freezes over, Jackman, “Les Misérables”
Should win: Phoenix, “The Master”
Easily the trickiest category this year, Best Director is making everyone’s heads spin, ever since the two precursor favorites, Ben Affleck (“Argo”) and Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), were bumped out of contention. Thus, the race comes down to Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”), David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Michael Haneke (“Amour”), each of whom has a conceivable shot at making it to the podium (Benh Zeitlin deservedly earned a nod for “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” but he won’t beat his veteran peers). Having helmed what many called an “unfilmable” project, which is set to collect an armful of technical awards, Lee could emerge the victor, but Spielberg still feels like the safe choice, standing as the beloved maestro behind the Oscar flick with the most nominations.
Will win: Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Could win: Lee, “Life of Pi”
Should win: Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
As mentioned, “Lincoln” leads the pack this year with 12 nominations, and “Life of Pi” sits close behind with 11, but neither film seems capable of taking the big prize, likely results of the swell of support that’s followed Ben Affleck’s Best Director snub. A clear industry golden boy, Affleck has seen “Argo,” his third directorial effort, collect every other major industry trophy, netting top honors from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild of America and Producers Guild Award. Also a producer on his film, Affleck stands to win after all, with “Argo” becoming the first Best Picture winner without a Best Director nod since 1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy.” Fans of fellow nominees “Amour,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Misérables,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” had better not get their hopes up, but “Silver Linings Playbook,” a favorite among the Academy’s massive actor’s branch, is the one film that could give “Argo” a run for its money, beating out Affleck as a lovable crowd-pleaser.
Will win: “Argo”
Could win: “Silver Linings Playbook”
Should win: “Lincoln”
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When the 2015 Oscar nominations were announced in January, the Academy, which just last year gave its top prize to the black-centric period drama “12 Years a Slave,” took a ton of flack for selecting a whitewashed roster of talent, snubbing “Selma” director Ava Duvernay and failing to nominate a single actor of color for the first time in two decades.