This year, the Academy Awards are occupying a rare spot in popular culture: for once, the Academy, the critics, and the audiences seem to be in agreement on which films were the best of the year. With The Artist winning in 2011 and The King’s Speech taking home the statue in 2010, 2012 might finally be the year when the Best Picture winner is also a box office favorite.
In preparation for Sunday night’s festivities, here are my predictions for the winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards.
Best Picture, Argo
Argo momentarily lost its momentum when Ben Affleck was snubbed in the Best Director category, but after its sweep of wins at the other awards shows the Best Picture trophy is Argo’s to lose. There is a small chance for both Lincoln and Life of Pi, but there is sure to be an upset if Argo loses out.
Best Director, Ang Lee
This one is a toughie. Traditionally Best Director and Best Picture go hand-in-hand, so without Affleck in the running the trophy is anyone’s game. Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) is always an industry favorite but there has been a whole lot of chatter about how dry Lincoln was and how heavy-handed Spielberg’s campaigning has been (Bill Clinton at the Golden Globes, anyone?). Lee, for his part, turned a book that no one could imagine on the silver screen into a visual triumph that has grossed over $500 million worldwide. Lee previously won the Best Director award in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain.
Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis
This category is almost unfair. After his truly unbelievable portrayal of President Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis has this in the bag. Aside from the fact that this performance is one for the books, Day-Lewis deserves the prize for staying in character throughout the film’s shooting. If he wins, he will be the first actor to win the Best Actor trophy not once, twice, but three times (he previously won for his roles in There Will Be Blood and My Left Foot).
Best Actress, Emmanuelle Riva
Call me crazy but I’m looking past Jennifer Lawrence and straight at Emmanuelle Riva. It’s a close category with top-notch contenders and Lawrence has a real shot, but I’m hoping Academy voters will grace the oldest nominee ever in the category (Riva turns 86 on Sunday) with the much deserved prize.
Best Supporting Actor, Robert De Niro
Another nailbiter of a category as all five of these gentlemen have been nominated before. Robert De Niro may be an American icon but the man hasn’t won an Oscar since 1981 when he took home the trophy for Raging Bull. After a few years of real celeb-leaning snooze roles (ahem, Meet the Fockers) De Niro finally acted his heart out again, and it only took David O. Russell and Silver Linings Playbook for him to do it.
Best Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway
This category is as locked up as Best Actor. Hathaway is the most memorable part of Les Miserables and her screen time as Fantine is one of the most heartbreaking sequences we saw this year.
Best Animated Feature Film, Wreck-It Ralph
Shockingly this is a really tough category. Wreck-It Ralph and Brave are neck-and-neck, but with some pre-Oscar wins and stronger critical support Wreck-It Ralph should take home the prize.
Best Foreign Language Film, Amour
Sorry everybody else in this category but Amour will be winning Sunday night. With a Best Picture nomination to boot there really is no other big contender here.
Best Documentary Feature, Searching for Sugar Man
The real frontrunner, not to mention crowd-pleaser, Searching for Sugar Man has won a heavy slew of precursor awards. Looks like they've got this one without too much of a fight.
Best Original Screenplay, Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
It’s a close category this year with Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) and Michael Haneke (Amour) both strongly in the running. Boal is in the driver’s seat right now due to the WGA he won in the same category.
Best Adapted Screenplay, Chris Terrio for Argo
Sorry Tony Kushner, judging by Terrio’s Writers Guild win (plus Best Picture momentum) it looks like this one is going to Argo. Kushner is certainly a contender for Lincoln, but many are blaming the dry film on the dry script.
Best Costume Design, Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina
The heart and soul of this movie was the look, and Durran had a big hand in shaping that. Eiko Ishioka, who recently passed away, is another favorite for her work on Mirror Mirror but I'm putting my money on Anna Karenina.
Best Original Song, “Skyfall” from Skyfall
Adele sang it and the whole downloaded it, but then again James Bond never wins a thing. That said, the Academy will be honoring the James Bond series at the awards this year, and a Best Original Song win might be the icing on that cake.
Best Original Score, Mychael Danna for Life of Pi
John Williams is nominated for Lincoln, which always causes other nominees to shake in their boots. The man has been nominated 48 times (and won five). That said, the hope here is that the Oscars will go with a newcomer – this is Mychael Danna’s first nomination. Also, the Life of Pi score was one of the film’s most memorable components.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
This is a funny category this year with only three nominees. The other contenders are Les Miserables and Hitchcock which both had very quiet makeup in comparison. I’m going with The Hobbit.
Best Production Design, Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer for Anna Karenina
A close race with Anna Karenina and Life of Pi seemingly in the lead, but Anna Karenina is so meta and beautiful that it's hard not to put this one first.
Best Short Animated Film, John Kahrs for Paperman
Looking at this list of nominees Paperman is the one with the most recognition. As the winner of this year’s Annie awards it will probably overtake other frontrunner Adam and Dog.
Best Short Live Action Film, Shawn Christensen for Curfew
A hard category for voters and guessers alike, but as the only English-language nominee this seems like the film to beat.
Best Documentary Short, Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan for Mondays at Racine
This film about women battling cancer together seems to hit everyone right where it counts.
Best Cinematography, Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi
Considered to be the most visually stunning film of the year, Life of Pi should beat out other top-contender Anna Karenina.
Best Film Editing, William Goldenberg for Argo
With William Goldenberg nominated twice in this category, for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, I think we will be down to Goldenberg v. Goldenberg. A really tough call on this one but I’m giving it to Argo.
Best Sound Editing, Paul N.J. Ottosson for Zero Dark Thirty
We’re entering that zone were guessers start to, well, guess. Let’s go with Zero Dark Thirty.
Best Sound Mixing, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes for Les Miserables
I’m starting to feel kind of bad for Les Mis, plus mixing a musical is probably unbelievably difficult.
Best Visual Effects, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan de Boer and Ronald R. Elliot for Life of Pi
It's up against some visually awesome movies, (The Hobbit, The Avengers) but I think Life of Pi has this one locked down.