BY DAVID NOSTRAND
SC Staff Writer
On February 24th, the top filmmakers and actors will gather at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for the 85th Academy Awards, where the last year in film will be capped off by the biggest awards ceremony of the year.
The Academy revealed their nominations on January 10, but when predicting the Academy Awards, patience is key. Over the last month, most outlets have presented their picks for the best films of 2012, so looking at what happens at the Oscars is a decent way to get an idea of how the Academy Awards will unfold.
First, let’s look at what films got nominated for best picture. Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” nabbed an impressive 12 nominations, including best actor in both leading and supporting roles, editing, and adapted screenplay, and Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” came in just behind “Lincoln” with 11 nominations.
“Silver Linings Playbook” and “Les Misérables” received eight nominations, “Argo” got seven nominations, and “Amour,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” and “Django Unchained” came away with five. Rounding out the list of nine nominees is “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
Because up to ten films can be nominated for best picture, some were disappointed that there wasn’t enough support for “The Master or Moonrise Kingdom” to sneak a win.
Perhaps most surprising in the nominations this year was the omission of Katherine Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Ben Affleck (“Argo”) for best director. In their place, the Academy nominated newcomer Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and veteran Austrian filmmaker Michael Heneke (“Amour”).
When the nominees were first announced, “Lincoln” was the clear favorite, receiving nominations in all the key categories. However, “Argo” has gained momentum in the last month, winning top prize at the Golden Globes, PGA Awards, SAG Awards, and DGA Awards. Ben Affleck’s surprising absence among the best director nominees would normally rule out his film’s chances from taking home the grand prize, but now “Argo“ has a legitimate chance of being the first movie to win best picture without getting a directing nomination since “Driving Miss Daisy” did it in 1989, especially since only six people have won at the DGA Awards and not had their film win best picture at the Oscars.
“Life of Pi” remains the dark horse this year, held up by its sheer number of nominations, but fans shouldn’t get their hopes up for an upset.
In some categories, the outcome is essentially decided already: Daniel Day-Lewis was a favorite to win lead actor before “Lincoln” even came out, and that hasn’t changed, Anne Hathaway has been cleaning up awards for her supporting role in “Les Misérables,” and the Academy will likely follow suit, Adele and Paul Epworth’s take on the James Bond theme will be tough to beat, and “Amour” has practically no chance of losing best foreign language film, considering it’s the only one of the nominees in that category to receive a best picture nomination.
Tommy Lee Jones is likely to win supporting actor for his role in “Lincoln,” thanks to the momentum gained by winning at the SAG Awards, but one should never underestimate Robert De Niro. Best Actress in a leading role will be between Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain, but with Lawrence winning at the SAG Awards, she is very likely to win the Oscar.
It’s also worth mentioning that Oscar history was made this year: Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest person to be nominated for best actress and Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest. Wallis doesn’t have much of a chance, though she should be honored to be nominated, for she was only five years old when she auditioned, and if the Academy chooses to honor Riva’s entire career, she may be the upset of the night, but it’s still a long shot.
The writing awards are more difficult to predict. If the Academy wants to pour the accolades over “Lincoln,” it’ll get the win in best adapted screenplay, but “Argo” could just as well win, and “Silver Linings Playbook” has a solid shot.
Best original screenplay is a toss-up between “Django Unchained,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” The Writers Guild Awards will be held on February 17, and that should offer a clearer picture of what to expect in these competitive categories, but right now “Zero Dark Thirty” looks like the safest pick.
The winner of best picture will likely be either “Lincoln” or “Argo.” If Spielberg wins best director and Tony Kushner wins for his adapted screenplay, then it’s a given that “Lincoln” wins; however, if somebody else wins best director (most likely to take Spielberg’s place is Ang Lee), then Ben Affleck’s lack of nomination may not be so crippling, especially if Chris Terrio’s screenplay beats Kushner’s and editing goes to “Argo.”
Either way, a new chapter in Oscar history will be written on February 24, and if we have to endure Seth MacFarlane doing funny voices for a few hours to see it happen, then so be it.
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