I used to be very cynical about the Academy Awards. I assumed that the voting process was for show and that the awards were given out on a basis of what’s-the-safest-winner. I still talk about ‘them’ ‘giving’ the award to particular winner, but now I don’t mean it in quite the same way. What I mean when I say ‘they’ll give so-and-so the award’ is ‘the voting body of the Academy will vote in such a way that so-and-so will win’. And I used to think it was all about politics. But now I know that it’s almost impossible to predict who will win in any way other than a process of elimination. It’s easier to justify why a person or movie will not be voted for than it is to guess why anyone WOULD vote for someone/some movie.
Last year, I think I was very close with my predictions. And I’ve done fairly well a few times before that. However, last year was the first year that I took the technical award nominations into consideration when examining the nominees. I’ve read up on every single Academy Awards show ever and I’ve seen every movie that has ever won Best Picture. Cuz I’m a fucking crazy person when it comes to movies.
Generally, in each major category (except Best Picture, I’ll get to that) you have 5 nominees. There will usually be one that you can dismiss right off the bat. Like when Jeff Bridges was nominated for TRUE GRIT. He’d won the year before for CRAZY HEART so there was no fucking way he was going to get it again. I call that the ‘No Fucking Way’ nominee, or ‘Dismissed’ I guess if you want to be more civil or whatever. Then there’s the one that, should they win, it would be unprecedented, unexpected, or just unlikely. That’s the ‘Outta Left Field’ nominee. Then there’s the one who JUST MIGHT win, and maybe they deserve it but it just doesn’t seem likely but MAAAAAYBE, and that is the ‘Dark Horse’ nominee. Then you have the ‘Most Likely’ and the ‘Second Most Likely’ nominees. Usually it can be narrowed down to two most likely winners, and often those hinge on other awards, like ‘If this movie starring Tom Hanks wins best picture, then Tom Hanks will probably win Best Actor. But if this other movie wins Best Picture, then Tom Hanks will probably not win Best Actor’. For example.
Then they (generally speaking, when I say ‘they’ I just mean ‘The Academy’) fucking change it up so they can nominate up to 10 fucking movies for Best Picture. I figure this was probably two-fold: the Golden Globes split their Best Picture nominations into two categories and thus can nominate 10 films for Best Picture. So the Academy wants to fit in. And also, this way there are even more movies that can slap ‘Academy Award Nominee!’ crap all over their posters and ads and shit. Obnoxious as shit, really. But it’s not like this makes it any more difficult to apply the process of elimination to it. See, it is very unusual for the winner of Best Picture to not also take home Best Director. So unless any given year is one of those exceptional years, you can safely dismiss any Best Picture nominees that didn’t also get a nod for Best Director.
Easy enough, right? Now, let’s look at this year’s nominees. I’m going to split them up according to my formula, but between now and the end of February, I hope to actually see some of the films that are nominated that I haven’t seen yet. Because the year THE KING’S SPEECH won, I had dismissed it as just another costume thingy, but if I had seen it I would have realized that it was made to win (though that year I did correctly determine that Colin Firth would win Best Actor).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
This is difficult for me this year! Normally this category is used to nominate a bunch of ladies that no one’s ever heard of, or used as a way to squeeze in some noms for films that were otherwise overlooked. So normally this award either goes to the one woman nominated who isn’t white OR it goes to the one name on the list that you’ve actually ever even fucking heard of before. This year, they’re all white and I’ve heard all their names before.
Helen Hunt won Best Actress for AS GOOD AS IT GETS and THE SESSIONS did not otherwise get nominated in the major categories, so I think she can be safely dismissed. Jacki Weaver is the least known, certainly, but she’s been nominated before (for a 2010 performance). So I think it would be very unexpected for her to win, but it could happen, I guess, especially if SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK sweeps the acting awards (though I don’t know how likely that is) or at least the Supporting awards, I think De Niro has the best shot at Supporting Actor.
Sally Field hasn’t won an Oscar for a long time, but she’s won each time she’s been nominated I believe. It wouldn’t be unheard of for her to win again after all this time. I do think, though, that it’s going to come down to Amy Adams or Anne Hathaway. This is Amy Adam’s fourth nomination for Supporting Actress (of course, Kate Winslet made it through five no-win noms before scoring on her 6th nomination), so the argument grows for her being the winner. Then again, LES MISERABLES is not primed for a Best Picture win and I think it’s more likely to sweep the acting noms than SILVER LININGS. And that’s why I think Anne Hathaway – never won but nominated once before – may be slightly more likely to win.
MOST LIKELY: Anne Hathaway
SECOND MOST LIKELY: Amy Adams
DARK HORSE: Sally Field
LEFT FIELD: Jacki Weaver
NO FUCKIN’ WAY: Helen Hunt
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Holy hell, this is a tough one. Often this one goes to an old guy who has a long acting history but is likely to die before he has a chance to get nominated again. But this year, every single fucking nominee has won before. That being said, Alan Arkin already got his Supporting Actor Oscar as an old dude for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, so he can be written off as there being no fuckin’ way they’d give it to him again (he did deserve it, though, and remember he got nominated a few times back in the ’60s and never won).
I fucking adore Christoph Waltz. I don’t think he’s likely to win again, though he was awesome in DJANGO UNCHAINED, he just won this award for INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (he totally deserved that, he was awesome). So it could happen, but it’s super unlikely. I honestly think that the most likely winner here is going to be De Niro. He’s won twice in the past, but not since 1980, and he hasn’t even been nominated since CAPE FEAR. I think he’s hands-down the most likely winner.
Which brings me to the most difficult part. I feel like Philip Seymour Hoffman (who, by the way, was my #1 favorite actor for about a decade and who I still love) and Tommy Lee Jones are equally matched in terms of their likelihood to win (with one win each and two other nominations – this is the fourth nom for each of them). So I have to revert from the actors themselves to the movies they are nominated for. And in that light, Phil becomes the Dark Horse and Tommy Lee is the second most likely winner. But Phil is fucking awesome and after seeing him passed over in MAGNOLIA (among others), I am just so fucking stoked that he’s officially a major piece of Oscar material now.
MOST LIKELY: Robert De Niro
SECOND MOST LIKELY: Tommy Lee Jones
DARK HORSE: Philip Seymour Hoffman
LEFT FIELD: Christoph Waltz
NO FUCKIN’ WAY: Alan Arkin
Well, this was a year for setting records. Emmanuelle Riva is now the oldest Actress nominee and Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest. And neither of them are very likely to win (though you never know, really, and I don’t think either of them can be fully dismissed, so I will tie them for Left Field). Though this is Naomi Watts’ second nomination, I also don’t see her as super likely to win and THE IMPOSSIBLE got no other major category noms. So I really think it’s down to Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain and, frankly, I think Jessica Chastain has a better chance since she was in a drama rather than a dramedy. Though Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actress, I think she has yet to do her greatest work and so she may get passed over this time, but she’s got a lifetime of Oscar noms ahead of her.
MOST LIKELY: Jessica Chastain
SECOND MOST LIKELY: Jennifer Lawrence
DARK HORSE: Naomi Watts
LEFT FIELD: Emmanuelle Riva or Quvenzhané Wallis
There’s no way Bradley Cooper wins this. I love him so much and he was so great in this movie, but a nomination is all he’s getting this time through. He’s been jumping through the hoops, though, putting in his time and give it a few more years and this guy is going to have his day in the sun. I just don’t see him winning it on his first nomination (Philip Seymour Hoffman did, and he’s not the first, but in a case like that, Phil had been doing Oscar caliber roles in Oscar caliber films for years before CAPOTE and Bradley Cooper really hasn’t been doing that… I mean… THE HANGOVER II. ‘Nuff said.)
Denzel isn’t likely to win since FLIGHT wasn’t nominated anywhere else in the majors, and he’s won twice before. I see Daniel Day-Lewis as the most likely winner, especially if LINCOLN takes Best Picture, which I think it will. And Hugh Jackman I see as next most likely because LES MISERABLES, as I said, is winning on acting if anything major, not winning Best Picture (and Jackman hosted a few years ago, this is also his first nomination, but he’s been doing Oscar caliber work for a while now). Joaquin Phoenix is my Dark Horse pick – I can totally see him winning, but it’s unlikely in the face of his competition (he was only nominated once before, for GLADIATOR for fuck’s sake, but this guy is awesome and amazing and going places and they’ll give him an Oscar one of these days I think).
MOST LIKELY: Daniel Day-Lewis
SECOND MOST LIKELY: Hugh Jackman
DARK HORSE: Joaquin Phoenix
LEFT FIELD: Denzel Washington
NO FUCKIN’ WAY: Bradley Cooper
Only three times in the history of the Academy Awards have films won Best Picture when their director was not nominated for the same film. Therefore, any movie that was not nominated in the Director category can be dismissed outright (though if I had to pick a potential winner from those, on the VERY off-chance that one were to win, I’d go with… hmmm. ZERO DARK THIRTY or ARGO. But it doesn’t matter cuz they won’t fucking win).
This is Spielberg’s seventh directing nomination. He’s only won twice and his last win was for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (that year he won Director but AMERICAN BEAUTY won Best Picture, it’s unusual for a difference to occur between Best Director and Best Picture, it’s happened 23 times out of 85). I think he’s the most likely winner and therefore I think LINCOLN is the most likely Picture winner.
I think that if Spielberg wins Director but LINCOLN doesn’t win Picture, then the next most likely Picture winner is… well, this is difficult. LIFE OF PI is nominated for all kinds of technical awards, and for that reason, plus Ang Lee, I was initially thinking that it was next most likely. Ang Lee won Best Director for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN but it did not win Best Picture that year. I just don’t see LIFE OF PI winning Picture, though, not with NO acting nominations. I’m going to have to go with BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD as the next most likely winner on Picture (and therefore for Director). I could see Ang Lee winning Director, even if his movie doesn’t get Picture. Same for David O. Russell. This is Russell’s second nomination for Director and he will win one day if he keeps making movies on par will his back catalogue.
AMOUR isn’t going to win for either Picture or Director, it’s just not big enough, I think.
MOST LIKELY: Lincoln/Steven Spielberg
SECOND MOST LIKELY: Beasts of the Southern Wild/Benh Zeitlin
DARK HORSE: Life of Pi/Ang Lee
LEFT FIELD: Silver Linings Playbook/David O. Russell
NO FUCKIN’ WAY: Amour/Michael Haneke
And there you have it, folks. As of this writing, I have seen the following Best Picture nominees: DJANGO UNCHAINED, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and ZERO DARK THIRTY. Before the awards show I hope to also see LINCOLN and LIFE OF PI.
I expect I might change some of this around before the show, if so I’ll let you know, otherwise this stands.
(P.S. It would be really amazeballs if SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK took all 5 major categories, wouldn’t it? Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. Damn.)