Thursday, February 21, 2013

Academy Award Winner Predictions for 2012 Films

Here’s the second annual Oscar-predictions posting from Two Guys in the Dark (although Pat’s further in the dark than I am this year because he’s leaving the golden guessing game completely to me, the visionary Ken Burke).  I’ll admit that some of my “predictions” are just wild speculations (not that it matters what my method is because I usually only get about 60% of them correct, largely because I tend to over-think some categories when I should go for the more likely option).  Check out the ceremony on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, starting at 5:30 Pacific/8:30 Eastern, or check back here on Feb. 25th and I’ll update my predictions with winners.

Color-coding key: red = my prediction, green = my preference of the nominees (plus a few other greenies that are my real preferences but that didn’t make the final list of contenders), red + green = prediction and preference, gold + bold at a later date = WINNER.  [2/24/13  I'm in my usual not-so-great range this year again; I got 14 of 24 right for a 58% average, with the only one I expected to lose being Jennifer Lawrence winning  Best Actress.  My other misses were either complete surprises or not so much so because I was just guessing wildly anyway, although in 3 of my losing predictions I'm glad to see that the winner was the nominee that I had hoped would win even though I didn't assume victory.  At least I know better than to have money riding on these results.]


Amour (Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz, Producers)

Argo (Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers)     WINNER!

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers)

Django Unchained (Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers)

Les Misérables (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, 


Life of Pi (Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers)

Lincoln (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers)

Silver Linings Playbook (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers)

Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers)

Just as I would have taken Melancholia (Lars von Trier; review in our Dec. 12, 2011 posting) last year for Best Picture over The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius; review in our Jan. 4, 2012 posting), although it wasn’t nominated by the hallowed Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, so I would take The Master (Thomas Paul Anderson; review in our Sept. 27, 2012 posting) this year, but the similar lack of nomination does complicate things a bit.  My #2 for 2012 is Amour (review in our Jan. 24, 2013 posting along with the list of the others in my 2012 Top 10), but I don’t think the Oscar voters will give it both Foreign Language Film (which I do predict) and Best Picture, especially with the head of steam that Argo’s (Ben Affleck) been building up lately, although I’d put Lincoln at #3 and Argo at #4 overall for the year. Having already taken the Golden Globes Drama film award and the Screen Actors Guild Cast award (the SAG equivalent of Best Picture), Argo’s got a lot going for it, but given the respect the Academy has for Spielberg I wouldn’t count Lincoln (the seeming front-runner until about a month ago) out just yet.  The final tipping point for Argo may be the large voting bloc of actors in the Academy who love to laud one of their own in roles behind the camera (as with the Best Director Oscars for Robert Redford [Ordinary People, 1980], Warren Beatty [Reds, 1981], Kevin Costner [Dances with Wolves, 1990], Clint Eastwood [Unforgiven, 1992; Million Dollar Baby, 2004]], Mel Gibson [Braveheart, 1995], and Ron Howard [A Beautiful Mind, 2001]), yet they can’t do that for Best Director because of Affleck’s lack of a nomination so this may be their chosen avenue to give him deserved praise.


Michael Haneke, Amour

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Ang Lee, Life of Pi     WINNER!

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Here I would have preferred Anderson for The Master.  (And I would have preferred to see Affleck nominated for Argo [for which he won the Golden Globe and Director’s Guild awards; with the DGA membership overlap into the Academy's own version of the directors guild it’s still a mystery how he missed the Oscar nomination] and Kathryn Bigelow nominated for Zero Dark Thirty [sorry, Zeitlin and Russell, but no worries for you because it’s been determined long ago that I’m not running this show].)  No matter, though, because even if anyone else but Anderson had been allowed in I’d still go with the masterful historical exploration overseen by Spielberg, which flows us right into the next category.


Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln     WINNER!

Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Denzel Washington, Flight

I’d replace Jackman with John Hawkes for The Sessions (Ben Lewin; review in our Nov. 9, 2012 posting), but, again, little matter in that if anyone except Day-Lewis wins this award there should be an Occupy movement at the homes of every Academy voter until they agree to take a revote (he’s already won the actor awards for Golden Globe Drama film and from the Screen Actors Guild, so his momentum just continues to build).


Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook  WINNER!

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Naomi Watts, The Impossible

I don’t really have any complaints here about the nominees, although I think it’s a bit generous to nominate Wallis for simply being a precocious child rather than necessarily playing one (although that kind of thinking would likely have disqualified John Wayne for his True Grit [Henry Hathaway, 1969] Best Actor Oscar, but I’d better not go there or I’m really going to end up on the NRA hit list)I’d give the edge to Ann Dowd in Compliance (Craig Zobel) to round out this group of nomineesbut even with Dowd included I think it will be a real battle between Chastain and Lawrence for the statuette (the former got the Golden Globe for drama film while the latter got the Globe for musical or comedy film along with the Screen Actors Guild actress award so she’s the more likely, but I’m going to keep stumbling around in the dark and go with Chastain).  I thought Riva was clearly the best of the bunch (and, at 85, she likely won’t get many other chances), although the Academy is not too generous with even nominating performers from Foreign Language films, let alone awarding them.  (So far, the only two women to win Best Actress in these circumstances were Sophia Loren for the Italian Two Women [Vittorio De Sica, 1960, but considered a 1961 film for Oscars based on U.S. release] and Marion Cotillard for the French La Vie en Rose [Oliver Dahan, 2007]; foreign-language men haven’t fared any better with only Roberto Benigni taking Best Actor in his own direction of the Italian Life Is Beautiful [1997], although some might mistakenly think of Emil Jannings [The Way of All Flesh (Victor Fleming, 1927),The Last Command (Josef von Sternberg, 1928), but just the one Oscar—the first ever given for Best Actor—because in those days the “year” spanned 1927 into 1928 and could include multiple films], even though you must discount the Foreign Language aspect there because even though Jannings was German these were silent films made in Hollywood with English intertitles, or last year's Best Actor award for Jean Dujardin in The Artist, which for all practical purposes was a French film but again its Hollywood setting allowed English intertitles and the few spoken words were also in English so there's no Foreign Language aspect in play here either.)  Once I finished compiling all of my predictions I found that I'm not forecasting any wins for Silver Linings Playbook, an outcome that I don't find to be likely, but, case-by-case, I'm sticking with my decisions (not easily arrived at in some of those cases, especially this one where I'm picking Chastain over Lawrence).  I'll make one more prediction about the whole package, that I'm most likely to be wrong with this category so I guess I'm now betting against myself; it's strategy like that which forces me to just play nickel slots whenever I'm in Nevada.


Alan Arkin, Argo

Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained     WINNER!

I honestly think that any of these nominees could be the winner (Jones seems to be the marginal front-runner here and has received the SAG supporting actor award, but Waltz got the Golden Globe which may play into any sentiment for spreading the wealth around to honor Tarantino a bit; nevertheless, you shouldn't discount the respect that Hollywood has for De Niro).  I’m good with this group as is, although Leonardo DiCaprio also does a marvelous job in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and is a more legitimate candidate for Supporting Actor than Waltz, who’s really in a co-lead role.  As with most anything else connected to The Master, I prefer Hoffman and maybe the voters will find other ways to laud Argo, thereby skipping over the marvelous performance of Arkin.  Given that all of these guys are previous winners of either Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor (or both, in the case of De Niro) I think it could be any of them but I’m finally going with Jones simply because he was a key element in an important film and the spread-the-wealth attitude may land with him given that Argo seems to be edging out Lincoln for Best Picture.  This one’s a real horse race.


Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln

Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables     WINNER!

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

This is another case where I’m generally satisfied with the chosen contenders, although I think that Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy (Lee Daniels; review in our Oct. 19, 2012 posting) could easily replace Weaver and probably would have if more of the voters had actually seen her in it (sadly enough, it’s only in a few of the more obscure categories where you have to prove you’ve seen the nominees to be able to vote for them, but that’s no different than our political elections where you don’t have to prove you have an ounce of clarity about what a candidate stands for in order to cast your ballot).  As with Waltz in the Best Supporting Actor category being a lead, I think that Hunt’s performance is more legitimately a consideration for Best Actress and I could easily knock Cooper out in favor of Waltz just as I think Hunt could eliminate Lawrence but this is where the political maneuvering comes in rather than just aesthetics.  I have to say that from a pure power of acting perspective Hunt is the winner here by a long shot (despite the generally high quality of the other nominees), but for what I think a true supporting role should be I admire Hathaway’s one big scene in Les Mis and agree with the Golden Globe and SAG voters that it’s appropriate that she should get the gold (that's why I put a little green on her name by the photo; I do see her as being my favorite from one perspective, just as I prefer Hunt from another one, as contradictory as that might seem).


Argo, Screenplay by Chris Terrio

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin

Life of Pi, Screenplay by David Magee

Lincoln, Screenplay by Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook, Screenplay by David O. Russell

Here’s another group that I have no major complaints about.  The Writer’s Guild awarded Argo in this category, but I think this may be one of the best shots for Silver Linings Playbook (where again the Academy’ voting rules allow everyone to vote on practically everything, so unless the actors have already swung the statuettes to Lawrence and/or De Niro I think that a win could happen here just to insure some love for Russell's work).  I think the writing (along with the editing) is what drives the success of Argo but acknowledge respect for Lincoln as well and think that it will ultimately prevail in a very tight race (which ultimately may go to Silver Linings Playbook, I'll admit).


Amour, Written by Michael Haneke

Django Unchained, Written by Quentin Tarantino     WINNER!

Flight, Written by John Gatins

Moonrise Kingdom, Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty, Written by Mark Boal.

Once again, my heart lies with the un-nominated Anderson (Paul Thomas) for The Master, but of the official contenders I like Zero Dark Thirty the best and think that it will triumph, despite the complaints about its depictions of torture of terrorists in the film.  (It will be unfortunate if those who are trying to rewrite history for public relations’ sake or misinterpreting what this film condemns rather than supports might prevent it for being awarded for its very effective structure and dialogue, but if so it certainly won’t be the first time that considerations outside of the quality of the work itself have worked against film artistry [I’ll just start with Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, a seeming “sure thing,” not getting Best Picture in 2005, although, even more surprisingly, Lee did get the Best Director Oscar even while losing the big prize].)  However, if there's a sympathy vote simmering for the much-beloved Moonrise Kingdom it may surface in the decision for this award.

From here on down most of the categories either present me with too many options that I haven’t seen or are technical awards which might end up being chosen via either bandwagon or consolation-prize reasoning by those many actors who are voting in principle for a specific film without really understanding the nuances of the craft represented by the awards.  Therefore, my predictions are largely a crapshoot and the results in many cases may not necessarily be comprehendible based on what actually happens on screen, but I pledged to predict in all 24 categories so here go my red ink attempts (and a little green notation where I have real reason for my favoritism, but most of these don't really lend themselves to much commentary from me).  Please check back on Feb. 25 to see how I came out.  (I’ll also try to not let the layout of this posting run on forever with these other 16 categories but that will require some negotiation between me and BlogSpot so we’ll see who triumphs there as well.  Wish me luck. [And don't forget that whatever I compose will be proper only in Safari and Google Chrome; for those of you reading on any other browser I apologize in advance for how the words may swim around the page, but this is also the case in Safari and Google Chrome depending on how much you zoom in or out.  Call me a 20th century dinosaur but computers drive me crazy.])


Amour, Austria (A real beauty but the only one of the nominees that I’ve even seen, so who knows how good any of the rest of them may be [No looks great in previews].)     WINNER!

Kon-Tiki, Norway

No, Chile

A Royal Affair, Denmark

War Witch, Canada


Brave     WINNER!

Frankenweenie (The money here seems to be with Ralph, but this is a Burton keeper for me, although no classics in this group as I gave only 3 ½ stars [of my 5] to both it and Brave in my reviews; see Oct. 24, 2012 posting for Frankenweenie and June 29, 2012 posting for Brave.)


The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Wreck-It Ralph


5 Broken Cameras                                                  Inocente     WINNER!

The Gatekeepers                                                    Kings Point

How to Survive a Plague                                         Mondays at Racine

The Invisible War                                                    Open Heart

Searching for Sugarman     WINNER!                       Redemption

CINEMATOGRAPHY                                             FILM EDITING

Anna Karenina                                                        Argo     WINNER!

Django Unchained                                                   Life of Pi

Life of Pi     WINNER!                                             Lincoln

Lincoln                                                                   Silver Linings Playbook

Skyfall                                                                    Zero Dark Thirty

(As I noted above I have little to add beyond predictions and a few indications of personal favorites for most of these categories, but I must laud the gorgeous pictorial impact and magnificent computer graphics effects in Life of Pi along with my hopes that Academy voters will find no other reasonable choice for both the Cinematography and Visual Effects Oscars.  Many of the visuals, especially the luminescent night scenes, are a marvel to view and the integration of the human actor with the CGI tiger on that small boat adrift in the Pacific Ocean is a singular achievement worthy of high praise, especially in the 3-D format, one of the rare films done this way that truly justifies the complex, expensive production process.)

PRODUCTION DESIGN                                         VISUAL EFFECTS

Anna Karenina                                                        The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey                         Life of Pi     WINNER!

Les Misérables                                                        Marvel's The Avengers

Life of Pi                                                                 Prometheus

Lincoln     WINNER!                                                Snow White and the Huntsman

COSTUME DESIGN                                               MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING

Anna Karenina     WINNER!                                      Hitchcock

Les Misérables                                                        The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Lincoln                                                                    Les Misérables     WINNER!

Mirror Mirror

Snow White and the Huntsman

SOUND EDITING                                                   SOUND MIXING

Argo                                                                       Argo

Django Unchained                                                   Les Misérables     WINNER!

Life of Pi                                                                 Life of Pi

Skyfall     WINNER! (tie)                                           Lincoln

Zero Dark Thirty     WINNER! (tie)                             Skyfall

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)                                   MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Anna Karenina                                                       "Before My Time," Chasing Ice

Argo                                                                      "Everybody Needs a Best Friend," Ted

Life of Pi     WINNER!                                             "Pi's Lullaby," Life of Pi

Lincoln                                                                   "Skyfall," Skyfall     WINNER!

Skyfall                                                                    "Suddenly," Les Misérables

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)                                     SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Adam and Dog                                                        Asad

Fresh Guacamole                                                     Buzkashi Boys

Head over Heels                                                      Curfew     WINNER!

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”                Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)

Paperman     WINNER!                                             Henry
If you want much, much more of everything Oscar then go to where you’ll find links to considerably more information on each nominee in each category and trailer for most of them.  

And for those of you who are expecting one of my usual song diversions you might like this wannabe-movie star tune from The Beatles, “Drive My Car,” at (a fan video that matches the recorded song to footage of the Mop Tops performing some other tunes; not great visual quality, but, still, It’s The Beatles!). What I’d really like to refer you to is my friend and decades-ago roommate from the fabled University of Texas at Austin, Jerry Graham, and his marvelous song about the heritage of movies in a futuristic time, “Old Faces Come Alive on Electron Screens,” but I guess he never made it into a music video.  Maybe if you’re somewhere close to Colorado Springs, CO you might try contacting his very successful automobile ad agency, Graham Advertising, at to see if he’s still around there (but he’s not listed in “the people of graham” at this site so maybe he’s comfortably retired by now, although other searches show him as Owner and Chairman of the place; I’m not sure, as we’re rarely in touch anymore, but, still, you never know…) and get him to sing it for you if you can—it’s well worth your time if you could ever make it happen.  (And I’m sure he’ll send a hit squad after me for wasting his time with crazy inquiries if anyone really tries this, but what’s the point of life if you don’t shake things up once in awhile?  Now, maybe if you've got a car dealership that needs an ad agency he might listen to you.  Let me know how that works out, OK?)  It’s the perfect love-of-movies song that I’d love for you to hear but sometimes you can’t always get what you want (no, no link to the Stones this time [it's all Beatles this week], but you’re welcome to do that on your own if you like).

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  1. I like Lincoln for Picture and Director (with Argo a close tie here), Day-Lewis Actor, Laurence Actress, Hoffman Supporting, Hunt Supporting Actress (no one really strong in this category), Argo writing and Django writing. I have not seen Amour and a lot of the other category movies

    If someone has missed most of the movies I would suggest Lincoln, Silver Linings, Life of Pi, Master and Argo on the big screen. All great movies.

    I wish the award shows could spread out somehow and did not simply repeat themselves in a short time period. I am sure the studios love it for the publicity and the bump it gives to their bottom line.

  2. Hi rj,
    Good to hear from you as always. Thanks for your comments; I see many, if not all, of your preferences paying off in gold this Sunday night. We'll soon know the results. Ken

  3. Biggest surprise for me was Life of Pi winning so much. It was an impressive production but it seems the Academy likes to vote for financial winners as much as anything else. Day-Lewis and Affleck had outstanding acceptance speeches. I really like both, really superior talents that foreshadow good things in the future.

    Wish Seth McFarland had more flexibility to ad-lib. Plenty of missed opportunities for him. I thought the opening was weak with the Shatner in his Star Trek shlock and McFarland's Lincoln joke was way lame. However McFarland is an impressive talent with singing and dancing to boot. They blew the "In Memoriam" big time missing stars like Andy Griffith and Larry Hagman while listing virtual unknowns from Hollywood's marketing and publicity departments. Could have toned down some of the musicals bits and how about having the orchestra in the building? Keep McFarland but dump the producers. Overall a good award show to tape and fast forward.

  4. Hi rj,
    Thanks for the second round of comments. Maybe I'm just a sucker for crazy concepts, but I liked the idea of the Capt. Kirk interruption, it just went on too long; the Lincoln joke, I agree, was one of the most tasteless inclusions I've ever encountered in an Oscar broadcast.

    You're certainly right on about not including Griffith and Hagman in the "In Memoriam" segment, but I think that Streisand at least brought it to a memorable close. The highlight of the night for me was Shirley Bassey blasting out the familiar lyrics of "Goldfinger," best ever of the Bond songs, even though it wasn't even nominated back in 1964 yet the clearly inferior "Skyfall" theme finally becomes the first Bond Original Song Oscar! "Live and Let Die," indeed.

    Based on what I saw of McFarlane (I Googled to verify that it's not McFarland; sounds the same to me, but you know how us Texans are with our pronunciation) on "Saturday Night Live" I think he could be successful if given another shot, but I'll also go with his semi-joke about just hire Tina and Amy to host every awards show. I do find that the more pizza and wine I have during the broadcast the more enjoyable it is (I think, but I recorded it for re-viewing if I ever get such a crazy notion). Ken