This is my post predicting the Oscar winners for the year. Please note that these are predictions of who will win the awards, not analyses of who should win.
Predicted Winner: Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, USA 2012)
Lincoln is a lock here. The Best Picture Oscar, like sports MVPs, is determined by the building of a narrative that carries the winner rather than reality. Mike Trout in 2012, Peyton Manning in 2012, Matt Kemp in 2011, and Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, USA 2006) were unquestionably better candidates for their respective awards than Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Braun, and The Departed (Martin Scorsese, USA/Hong Kong 2006); but the narratives carried by the latter won the day. Cabrera’s and Braun’s narrative as the “lone player carrying his team to the playoffs” and the “old-school candidate,” Peterson’s narrative as the “only reason his team could compete,” and The Departed’s narrative as “Scorsese’s chance to win after years of coming up short” all won out over clearly superior alternatives.
Lincoln, a film that is (a) clearly a political statement of support for the very popular current President more than a film about its subject and (b) a seeming hagiography of perhaps the most sacred of the sacred cows in American history, was a lock for this award the day it was announced.
Predicted Winner: Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (USA 2012)
I’m going out on a limb here. First, let’s realize that logically there is no way that this award can be separated from Best Picture. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has seemingly decided that Best Picture has to go to a commercially successful film that does good things for the industry while Best Director goes to its actual best picture choice.
Now, it’s possible that Lincoln would still be the pick, but here’s the rub: Spielberg has already won two Oscars. Here’s the list of directors with at least three: William Wyler, Frank Capra, and John Ford. William Wyler is on anyone’s list of the 10-15 greatest filmmakers from anywhere in history, and he is easily the least accomplished of those. Spielberg is just nowhere near that level of accomplishment. As a result, I don’t think the Academy hands him another trophy. Since the Academy almost never awards foreign language films with any of the major awards, that leaves us with a battle between Ang Lee for Life of Pi (USA/Taiwan 2012) and Zeitlin. Beasts of the Southern Wild is generally more highly thought of than Life of Pi by the higher class of film critics, and Ang Lee already has one Oscar. That’s enough for me to give Zeitlin the nod.
Best Male Actor in a Leading Role
Predicted Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Um, duh. He’s playing Abraham Lincoln.
Best Female Actor in a Leading Role
Predicted Winner: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, USA 2012)
She’s winning all of the precursors. I’m glad to see it, because I’m happy to see Jessica Chastain do anything.
Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Predicted Winner: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (Tom Hooper, USA/UK 2012)
They love to give this one to “hot” (not attractive but on a hot streak) young actors. Hathaway really isn’t as hot as she was a few years ago, but she’s the closest thing there is this year.
Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Predicted Winner: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Raise your hand if you knew that Tommy Lee Jones has only won for The Fugitive (Andrew Davis, USA 1993). Not a lot of raised hands for that one, right? They love to give this one to old guys, like Christopher Plummer last year. Jones fits the bill.
Best Original Screenplay
Predicted Winner: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, USA 2012)
They like to give the writing awards to smaller films. Anderson is, for reasons passing understanding, a critical darling.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Predicted Winner: Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild
See above. Incidentally, this is going out on much less of a limb than my Best Director pick.
Best Foreign Language Film
Predicted Winner: Amour (Michael Haneke, France/Germany/Austria 2012)
This one is pretty obvious. It’s the one nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, so very clearly the Academy is putting it above the other foreign language films. I’m rooting for it to win Best Picture just so a foreign language film wins.
Best Animated Feature Film
Predicted Winner: Brave (Mark Andrews/David Chapman/Steve Purcell, USA 2012)
I’m not putting too much thought into this. They tend to give it to the big animated film if it’s supposed to be any good, which Brave supposedly was.
Best Documentary Feature
Predicted Winner: 5 Broken Cameras (Emad Burnat/Guy Davidi, Occupied Palestinian Territory/Israel/France/Netherlands 2011)
There wasn’t a big hit documentary nominated (thankfully, Dinesh D’Souza’s Obama film didn’t make the cut). Without that, it’s usually a good bet to pick either the most depressing picture or one about either the Holocaust or the Middle East. This is one about the Middle East.
- I think Skyfall (Sam Mendes, UK/USA 2012) takes home multiple statues. It will likely win at least one of the music awards (possibly both). It’s also up for cinematography and sound editing. A surprisingly strongly-reviewed film of that stature will definitely win something, and it’s quite possible that we get more than one.
- Daniel Day-Lewis would become the first male actor to win three awards for a leading role. He would join Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, Meryl Streep, Walter Brennan, and Katharine Hepburn as the only actors ever to win at least three Oscars. I’ve never been his biggest fan, but it’s at least a good bit of trivia.
- Peter Jackson is getting shut out, deservedly. I hope he realizes it’s coming.
- The National Film Critics Society is really the best at doing this of any body that does it. It gave Best Picture and Director both to Amour. Those of you who are going to avoid it for not being in English are likely missing out on one of the best the year has to offer.
- The San Diego Film Critics Society is my favorite for acting awards, and it gave out some surprises this year. Day-Lewis unsurprisingly won leading male actor and Christoph Waltz wasn’t a shocker for supporting male actor for Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, USA 2012). However, Michelle Williams took home leading female actor for Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, Canada/Spain/Japan 2011) and Emma Watson (!) won supporting female actor for The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, USA 2012).
- Another prediction: Seth Macfarlane says nothing funny all night (like the rest of his career) and never hosts the Oscars again. Next year, they’ll pick another unfunny comedian who does song and dance and we will repeat.
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