brent johnson and daniel cohen kick off Pop-Break’s Oscar coverage …
Many are calling this year’s Oscar field the strongest in years. And from the looks of it, they’re right.
Under the Academy’s rules, anywhere from five to 10 films can be nominated for Best Picture. But this year, you could probably pick 15.
The embarrassment of riches spills over to the other categories, as well. Most candidates appear to be locks for nominations, meaning a slew of hopefuls are vying for the final slot in the directing, screenwriting, and each of the four acting races.
We won’t know the final field until Thursday morning, when Oscar host Seth MacFarlane joins Emma Stone in announcing the nominees. But Pop-Break’s resident awards guru Brent Johnson and film editor Daniel Cohen predict who’ll have their names called.
Prediction: Amour, Argo, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
Possible Spoilers: Beasts Of The Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, Flight, The Impossible, The Master, Skyfall
Notes: There are six sure things: Argo, Les Mis, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings, and Zero Dark Thirty. After that? A bunch of contenders could sneak in. My first bet is on Django, since the film industry seems to be back on the Tarantino bandwagon. Moonrise stands to grab the “hip” vote from the younger Academy members — and older Academy members trying to seem with it. Also look for foreign-language dazzler Amour to gain enough attention. That leaves one slot. The risky guess is with Skyfall, the James Bond film that snagged a surprise nom from the Producers Guild Awards. No Bond flick has ever been nominated for the Oscars’ top prize. The safer guess may be with the cheeky, charming, light comedy Marigold Hotel — which could stand to get a boost from the Academy’s strong British voting bloc.
Locks: Argo, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
Has a Chance: Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Long Shots: The Master, Flight, Skyfall, The Sessions
Quick Thoughts: I don’t think there’s going to be any surprises here. I’m hoping Moonrise Kingdom gets in, but I’m not holding my breath. Skyfall is interesting because it got the PGA nomination, and based on the fact that the Bond franchise started back in 1962 — hey, the Academy’s old — gives this series actual hope, as opposed to other big budget fan favorites like The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers.
Prediction: Ben Affleck, Argo; Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty; Tom Hooper, Les Miserables; Ang Lee, Life Of Pi; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Possible Spoilers: Michael Haneke, Amour; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook; Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Notes: The five names listed above were all honored by the Directors Guild Awards — a field that often lines up almost perfectly with the Oscars. The only slot that susceptible to an upset seems to be Hooper’s — which could (and should) be wrested away by Russell’s smart, sturdy work on Silver Linings, my favorite film of the year.
Locks: Ben Affleck, Argo; Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty; Ang Lee (Life Of Pi)
Has a Chance: Tom Hooper, Les Miserables; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained; Benh Zeitlin, Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Long Shots: Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom; Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Quick Thoughts: A very crowded field going at it for the last two spots. I’d be surprised if Spielberg didn’t get one, but Hooper, Tarantino, and Russell is a tight race for the final entry. I could also see Zeitlin or Anderson getting that Terrence Malick Tree Of Life-esque spot like last year. Final answer … Tom Hooper.
Prediction: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln; John Hawkes, The Sessions; Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables; Denzel Washington, Flight
Possible Spoilers: Richard Gere, Arbitrage; Anthony Hopkins, Hitchock; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Notes: Day-Lewis is almost certain to walk away with his third statue, so everyone else is vying for a consolation prize. Hawkes and Washington are strong bets. So is Jackman, who is bound to score his first nomination for carrying a musical with gravitas — while singing live. And the final spot? Early on, it looked like Joaquin Phoenix was a lock for his third career nomination, but then he mocked the politics of Oscar season during an much-publicized interview. That gives Cooper — a comedy actor who is beyond impressive playing against type — the edge for the last slot.
Locks: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln; John Hawkes, The Sessions
Has a Chance: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Richard Gere, Arbitrage; Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Denzel Washington, Flight
Long Shots: Ben Affleck, Argo; Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained; Bill Murray, Hyde Park On Hudson); Suraj Sharma, Life Of Pi
Quick Thoughts: A very competitive category this year. At the end of the day, Washington and Jackman will get in, with Bradley Cooper and Joaquin Phoenix battling it out for the last spot. As much as I liked Cooper’s performance, Phoenix really deserves this.
Predictions: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Marion Cotilliard, Rust And Bone; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Emmanuelle Riva, Amour; Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Possible Spoilers: Helen Mirren, Hitchcock; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts Of The Southern Wild; Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
Notes: This is really a race between Chastain and Lawrence, with Cotilliard running a distant third. The final two slots are wide open. My guess is Watts will grab a nod for her emotional work. And 85-year-old Riva could very well become the oldest-ever nominee in this category. But don’t count out Wallis, who at 9 could become the category’s youngest-ever nominee. Or Mirren, who drew a nom from the Screen Actors Guild — another award that often predicts the Oscars, since the Academy’s actors branch is its largest.
Locks: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Marion Cotillard (Rust And Bone; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Has a Chance: Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Helen Mirren, Hitchcock; Maggie Smith, Quartet; Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
Long Shots: Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen; Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed
Quick Thoughts: Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith … take your pick of the “I’m old, British, and have been nominated 900 times” choices for that last spot.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Predictions: Alan Arkin, Argo; Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln; Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Possible Spoilers: Javier Bardem, Skyfall; Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained; Eddie Redmayne, Les Miserables
Notes: This could be a fight for the final spot. Arkin, De Niro (who is in line for his first nomination in 21 years), Hoffman, and Jones all seem like locks — and deservedly so. That could create a battle between Django co-stars DiCaprio and Waltz, who are both spectacular in Tarantino’s sprawling Western. Or it could go to Screen Actors Guild nominee Javier Bardem, so scary and so slick in Skyfall — a role that could make him the first actor from a Bond film to be recognized. But Redmayne — who has been shockingly overlooked this awards season for his turn in Les Mis, with a heart-wrenching performance of “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” — could be a surprise pick. There seems to be one every year in the supporting categories.
Locks: Alan Arkin, Argo; Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master; Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Has a Chance: Javier Bardem, Skyfall; Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained; Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook; Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Long Shots: Edward Norton, Moonrise Kingdom; John Goodman, Argo; Russell Crowe, Les Miserables
Quick Thoughts: I’m confident Bardem will get one of these spots, which would be really cool. That fifth slot will be tough … DiCaprio deserves it, but the Django guys will cancel each other out, with De Niro getting the “I’m old, and haven’t been nominated in a long time” push.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Predictions: Amy Adams, The Master; Sally Field, Lincoln; Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Possible Spoilers: Ann Dowd, Compliance; Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy; Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Notes: This is Hathaway’s prize to lose. Her performance in Les Mis — complete with crying, singing, and crying while singing — was too gripping to ignore. Field and Hunt are also virtual locks. That leaves the final two slots, one of which will likely go to Academy darling Adams. The other is a toss-up. If Marigold Hotel rides a wave of support to Best Picture, don’t be surprised to see Smith — a two-time past winner and a Screen Actors Guild nominee this year — to make the cut. If not, it’s possible Kidman — who somehow has turned heads in a movie most critics panned — could slip in.
Locks: Sally Field, Lincoln; Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables; Helen Hunt, The Sessions; Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
Has a Chance: Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Amy Adams, The Master
Long Shots: Judi Dench, Skyfall; Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Quick Thoughts: Judi Dench gets nominated every year for a movie that no one has ever seen and always loses. It would be funny if she got nominated for a movie that everyone has seen … and loses. If Maggie Smith gets nominated for Best Actress, Amy Adams will get that last spot; if Smith doesn’t get nominated in Best Actress, this one will go to her.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Predictions: Michael Haneke, Amour; Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained; Rian Johnson, Looper; Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom; Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Possible Spoilers: John Gatins, Flight; Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Notes: Boal is the favorite to win, though Tarantino is nipping behind. Haneke will likely ride his film’s strong buzz. Moonrise is filled with the kind of quippy dialogue the Academy’s writers branch loves. It’s Johnson’s script for Looper — a clever action film — that could be the unexpected pick.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Predictions: Chris Terrio, Argo; David Magee, Life Of Pi; Tony Kushner, Lincoln; Stephen Chbosky, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Possible Spoilers: Ben Zeitlin & Lucy Alibar, Beasts Of The Southern Wild; William Nicholson, Les Miserables
Notes: Russell’s screenplay is the strongest of the year — touching, hilarious, memorable. But look for this race to be owned by Kushner, the acclaimed playwright who made a heavy-handed historical drama human. Argo is also a sure thing. So is Life Of Pi, a novel that once seemed unadaptable. The last spot, though, could go to Chbosky, who not only adapted his own novel into a screenplay but directed it, too. Points for that.