After what feels like nearly a year of precursors, the Oscars will finally take place this weekend. Though the Best Picture race is considerably less up in the air now than it was a month or two ago – Argo, having won the highest honors at the Critics’ Choice Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Directors Guild Awards, and the Writers Guild Awards, is close to a mortal lock – many categories are still up in the air.
Here’s your guide to all the races, and make sure to fill out PolicyMic’s Oscar ballot here! The Oscars airs on ABC at 8 p.m. this Sunday, with red carpet coverage starting at 7 p.m.
Also: Due to profound apathy, I have not seen either Life of Pi or Flight.
It would be historically pretty remarkable for Argo to win here after having been denied a nomination for Ben Affleck in the director category. But as I noted above, the cards are really in the movie’s favor, and in fact Affleck’s snub seems to have rallied people around the movie. The only two movies that have any chance of beating it are Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook. I’d give the edge to Silver Linings Playbook, which has been slowly gaining momentum recently, while Lincoln seems to have peaked on nomination day.
My own pick in this category has to be Beasts of the Southern Wild, with Zero Dark Thirty a close second. Both are remarkable artistic achievements on every level, and they have more to say – and say it more convincingly – than Argo.
-Will Win: Argo
-Dark Horse: Silver Linings Playbook
-Should Win: Beasts of the Southern Wild
This is by far the most difficult category to predict this year, and I’ll be honest with you: I have no idea who is going to win here. Steven Spielberg is the safest bet, just because he’s an institution in the industry, but again, Lincoln has been rapidly losing steam for the past month. I just don’t get the feeling that people love this movie unreservedly – or if they do, it’s due to Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in the lead role, and to Kushner’s script. Spielberg would be a weird choice here.
But so would … everybody else. With the exception of Benh Zeitlin, who’s too young and inexperienced to be rewarded (though, for my money, he deserves it), any of the other nominees could feasibly win. Ang Lee is also very respected, but The Life of Pi seems to be getting more attention for its technical achievements than anything else. David O. Russell has a great redemption story – he used to be a kind of crazy jerk and has mellowed out in his middle age – and people do love his movie, but the direction isn’t flashy. I almost think Michael Haneke has the best shot after Spielberg, especially if Emmanuelle Riva does manage to win Best Actress.
Again, though: nobody knows anything.
-Will Win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
-Dark Horse: Anybody but Zeitlin
-Should Win: Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
There’s not much to say about this. If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t win for Lincoln, it would be one of the biggest shocks in recent memory. Nobody else has a chance in hell. And honestly, it’s hard to argue with the choice. I’d give it to Joaquin Phoenix, myself, but both men give extraordinary performances. Plus, who doesn’t love Day-Lewis? Nobody, that’s who.
-Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
-Dark Horse: Nobody else, seriously
-Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
This category, on the other hand, is much more interesting. Conventional wisdom says Jennifer Lawrence is the front-runner, but I think it will all depend on how much the Academy likes Silver Linings Playbook as opposed to Amour. I have been predicting Riva ever since the nominations came out, and I still think she’s going to pull it off. Put simply, the narrative behind her nomination (and potential win) is much more powerful than Lawrence’s. Lawrence is going to have many more chances at winning one of these babies; Riva, not so much.
I will be absolutely thrilled if Riva wins, but my vote would go to Quvenzhané Wallis if I had a ballot. Though some have argued that somebody so young couldn’t be conscious enough of what she was doing to give a great performance, I disagree: I think the range of emotions she shows in the movie, which include a great deal of pathos, is some of the most remarkable acting I saw all year.
-Will Win: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
-Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
-Should Win: Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Supporting Actor
This is another tricky category: since everybody has won before, there’s no sense of needing to reward any of them for a career’s worth of work. The closest thing to that would be Robert De Niro, who has had very few roles in the past several years that require him to actually… act. Again, though, I think this will depend on how people feel about the movie. If they are warmer on Lincoln than I think, it could go to Tommy Lee Jones; equally, if they are really over the moon for Argo, they might even give it to Alan Arkin. Christoph Waltz seems the most likely to beat De Niro, though, given how well he’s done in the precursors. It would be strange for them to reward him again so soon after Inglourious Basterds, though, so I’m sticking with De Niro.
Sadly, I think Philip Seymour Hoffman gave easily the best performance of the lot in The Master, and he’s the only one without a shot in hell. So it goes.
Will Win: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Dark Horse: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Best Supporting Actress
As with Lead Actor, there’s not much to say here. People have been talking up Sally Field recently, and I suppose it’s hypothetically possible that she could upset – the Academy really does love her – but I only see that happening if Lincoln sweeps just about everything, and that strikes me as extremely unlikely. Hathaway gives one of the most remarkable performances of the year – of the past several years, honestly – in Les Misérables, and for once everybody seems willing to acknowledge that.
-Will Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
-Dark Horse: Sally Field, Lincoln
-Should Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Best Original Screenplay
Though Zero Dark Thirty won the Writers Guild Award in this category, and Django Unchained the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards, I think that the Academy is going to want to reward Haneke in some way for Amour, a movie that clearly resonated deeply with them. Tarantino gets writing accolades just by default at this point in his career, but he has been much better than Django, and will hopefully be better again. Meanwhile, Zero Dark Thirty has suffered from a lot of (unfair) criticism, as has Mark Boal himself, so it seems unlikely to repeat at the Oscars, especially considering the fact that Amour, an Austrian production, wasn’t eligible at the WGA.
This is a pity, since Boal’s script is a truly brilliant piece of work, distilling vast quantities of information into something manageable, coherent, and subtly, damningly political. It’s a rare feat that a movie this un-psychological manages to be so deeply compelling, and I think Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow deserve equal credit.
-Will Win: Michael Haneke, Amour
-Dark Horse: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
-Should Win: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Adapted Screenplay
Chris Terrio has won both the WGA and the USC Scripter Award, a more obscure but often telling prize that goes to an adapted screenplay and the source material jointly. (The fact that Terrio and Antonio Mendez, upon whose memoir Argo was based, beat Tony Kushner and Doris Kearns Goodwin, two titans of their respective fields, does not bode well for Lincoln in this category.)
The Academy is going to want to reward this movie where they can, especially since they can’t give it Best Director, and this seems like one of the most likely places where that might happen. (It could also pop up in the sound categories, though I think they’re less promising than editing, which traditionally goes to either a very flashy action movie or the Best Picture winner, because nobody understands how editing works.)
-Will Win: Terrio, Argo
-Dark Horse: Tony Kushner, Lincoln
-Should Win: Lucy Alibar & Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
And here are my best guesses for the rest of the categories, without commentary:
-Will Win: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
Best Costume Design
-Will Win: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
-Will Win: William Goldenberg, Argo
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
-Will Win: Les Misérables
Best Original Score
-Will Win: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
Best Original Song
-Will Win: Adele, “Skyfall”
Best Production Design
-Will Win: Anna Karenina
Best Sound Editing
-Will Win: Life of Pi
Best Visual Effects
-Will Win: Life of Pi
Best Sound Mixing
-Will Win: Les Misérables
Best Foreign Language Film
-Will Win: Amour
Best Documentary Film
-Will Win: Searching for Sugarman
Best Animated Film
-Will Win: Brave