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Oscars: Final Nomination Predictions For The 2013 Academy Awards

by Oliver Lyttelton
January 8, 2013 2:00 PM
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Oscars Lincoln Les Miserables Argo ZDT

After months of rumor, speculation and second-guessing, Thursday morning will see Seth MacFarlane (who is, of course, hosting the ceremony itself) and Emma Stone unveil the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards, the biggest and most prestigious moment in the film awards season.

We've been building up to this point since at least September (and realistically, since about February 27th last year. And it's been, for those who follow such things, the most interesting season in memory; a veritable wealth of riches (last year, there was only one Best Picture nominee I liked, this year, I enjoyed almost all of them to one degree or another), and incredibly competitive races, with almost no category that's easily predictable.

But now, it's crunch time, and with a little under 48 hours to go, you can read my final predictions for this year's nominees. I certainly don't feel 100% rock solid about my picks, but it's time to get off the fence, so the below won't change between now and Thursday morning. Make your own picks, and argue with ours in the comments section, and check back here about 8AM EST/ 5AM PST to see how we did, and for plenty of extra analysis.

Best Foreign Language Film

"The Intouchables"
"A Royal Affair"
"War Witch"

A strong selection this year on the nine-strong longlist, I don't feel like "Beyond The Hills" or "Sister" will appeal too much, which leaves "Kon-Tiki," "The Deep," "War Witch "and "No" to join the very-likely-to-be-nominated "The Intouchables," "Amour" and "A Royal Affair." It could go any way, but I feel like the Chilean and Canadian entries have the right stuff here.

How To Survive A Plague
Best Documentary Feature

"The Gatekeepers"
"How To Survive A Plague"
"Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God"
"Searching For Sugar Man"
"This Is Not A Film"

Always a tough branch to predict, I feel like "How To Survive A Plague," and "Mea Maxima Culpa," from previous winner Alex Gibney, are fairly safe. Beyond that, the statement value of nominating Jafar Panahi's "This Is Not A Film" seems like a good reason to vote for something, and the popularity of "Searching For Sugar Man," an antidote to the higher-minded competition, will likely see it through. Beyond that, any of "The Gatekeepers," "The House I Live In," "The Invisible War," "The Imposter" or "Chasing Ice" could make the cut, but I'm putting my chips on the former.

Best Animated Feature Film

"A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story Of Monty Python's Graham Chapman"
"Wreck-It Ralph"

In a Disney-heavy field, I'm expecting "Brave," "Frankenweenie," and "Wreck-It Ralph" to make it in. "Rise of the Guardians" seemed to make sense, but its box-office failure may taint it even in the eyes of the branch, so "ParaNorman" will likely benefit from that. For the fifth slot, many would point to one of the GKIDS options like 'The Rabbi's Cat" or "The Painting," but I'm still banking on "A Liar's Autobiography," which contains a diverse mix of styles, winning favor.

Life Of Pi, Richard Parker
Best Visual Effects

"The Avengers"
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
"Life Of Pi"
"Snow White And The Huntsman"

Of the ten-strong bake-off long-list, "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Skyfall" were always long-shots, while "The Dark Knight Rises" was probably too practical for a field dominated by CGI for the last 20 years ("Inception," which won two years back, had a much bigger computer graphics element to it). Word is that "Cloud Atlas" and "John Carter" didn't impress the branch at the bake-off screening, which I guess leaves "Snow White" to join "The Avengers," "The Hobbit," "LIfe Of Pi" and "Prometheus."

Skyfall Daniel Craig
Best Sound Editing

"The Avengers"
"Django Unchained"
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Sound Mixing

"The Avengers"
"Django Unchained"
"Les Miserables"
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Always the most blockbuster-friendly category (outside of VFX), the two sound categories could see "Skyfall," "The Avengers" and "Prometheus" do well. "Django Unchained" and "Zero Dark Thirty" should fly the flag for the awards-worlds, while "Les Miserables" is going to get into Sound Mixing, thanks to the difficulty of its live-on-set singing.

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  • Vitamin168 | January 21, 2013 12:13 PMReply

    Looking into the final prediction provided from so called experts in this field from Indiewire, I can only see so many US critics obviously under-estimated the potential of Life of Pi. Before its premiere, many people talked about the potential of losing big money like what has happened in the case of Hugo and how brave Fox was to take on this art-house project. Who would have guessed it has become such a commercial success, exceeding all expectation by resonating a universal appeal. And then before the Oscar nomination, who would have thought it would garner 11 nods from Oscar and 9 nods from BAFTA. Well, it only serves to say that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and those so call critics are no more accurate in predicting just about anything.

  • zack | January 11, 2013 1:58 AMReply

    So, Oscar, one of your films stars an insane bat-vigilante who beats people to a pulp and your plan is to snub this person? Good luck.

  • Mark | January 9, 2013 11:59 PMReply

    I respectfully disagree with my fellow film lover, Tom, below on his assessment of Quvenzhane Wallis' performance in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." I hardly think it was 90 minutes of a kid acting cute. She simply is a very darling and cute little girl. But her performance was much more than just that. As Hushpuppy, Wallis is alternately steely and quiet, precocious, and heartfelt. Hers is the Oscar nomination I am most hopeful for when they are announced Thursday morning.

  • SON | January 9, 2013 6:53 PMReply

    There are a few things to consider. You wrote for instance that Inception won because of CGI. When it's the opposite. Inception won because it had a complete and total lack of CGI and used very authentic visuals. There is almost no CGI. Christopher Nolan is notorious for NOT using CGI. You know the biggest amount of CGI Nolan ever used was? Harvey Dent's face in The Dark Knight. To make him Two-Face. That's the most amount. I don't think it's unreal to think The Dark Knight Rises could get a nod in visual effects. I mean, to me The Avengers is more likely to get the actual trophy because some of that stuff (the floating fortress) is just impossible to ignore. The Dark Knight Rises is also likely to get a lot of stuff for sound mixing, sound editing and sound effects. The technical stuff... yeah, The Dark Knight Rises has a shot. It seems unreal that anyone would think otherwise.

  • Jon | January 9, 2013 7:14 AMReply

    Why would you shut out The Dark Knight Rises for all the technical categories? Get real now, Snow White and the Huntsmen for best visual effects? I highly doubt it. Hans Zimmer deserves some recognition now, his score was outstanding.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | January 10, 2013 9:39 AM

    Oh, look, the nominations are out, and The Dark Knight Rises got nothing, and Snow White got a visual effects nod.

  • Liz | January 8, 2013 11:28 PMReply

    This year is very interesting, as many of the categories seem very uncertain. The Best Supporting Actor category is particularly interesting, a coworker at DISH and I are still debating on whether Javier Bardem or Alan Arkin will take the slot. I can’t wait to find out on Thursday, and to see the overall winner when the awards premiere. I’ve watched them every year, so I’m glad that even with my late work schedule this year, I won’t miss anything with my DISH Hopper. The 2,000 hours of storage space is more than enough room, and I love that because it’s a recording, I will be able to fast forward through the commercials. I can’t wait to find out the official nominations, but until then, I agree with a majority of the picks on this list.

  • jdub | January 8, 2013 10:01 PMReply

    Here is hoping the impossible happens and The Impossible gets nominated for Best Picture!!

  • Paul | January 8, 2013 8:37 PMReply

    The Dark Knight Rises sure to be nominated for Best Sound Mixing/Editing and Visual Effects, believe me.

  • serpico | January 8, 2013 6:43 PMReply

    If people don't like "The Master", fine, but Phoenix was a revelation. That "processing" scene, my god, I mean really. And I hope TDKR isn't nominated for best picture. What a mess that was. I honestly don't know why people love that movie. But then again most Nolan fans have their minds made up already before even seeing his movies.

  • Melissa | January 10, 2013 12:07 AM

    I haven't seen The Master yet, but I agree about The Dark Knight Rises. I did not like that movie at all, even though it was full of great actors (albeit acting badly). Someone on here once called TDKR a "bloated mess" -- and that's EXACTLY what it was. My teenager, a very mature and seasoned film watcher, felt the same way.

  • SON | January 9, 2013 8:14 PM

    Actually The Dark Knight Rises also has a lot of fans. The internet just gave everyone a voice. And with that the people who say "negative" things about a movie is more likely to get attention than those who don't. Look on IMDB and the people who say a movie is overrated in the top 250 always get more hits and discussion than those who really love it. This is because of how it's rated. For instance, "Everyone hates the Dark Knight Rises" is a really dumb statement in and of itself. It's got an 8.7 on the IMDB. This puts it higher on that list than more than half the top 250. It has a pretty decent average customer rating on It has a decent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office Mojo etc.

    See, the thing about The Dark Knight Rises is that it had the unfortunate task of following up the incredible "Dark Knight." A film that was, in many regards, almost exactly like it in its construction. A very oddly messed up plot that most of us were willing to accept as such because Heath Ledger's Joker was just that amazing that a lot of things we'd have normally criticized the movie for we let slide because we were enjoying the ride. And yeah, The Dark Knight is a good movie. The thing is this, though: It was the biggest movie of the the previous decade. From 2001-2010 no movie was heaped upon with nearly as much praise. The Lord of the Rings trilogy couldn't muster that much critical praise, reception or rabid, "We have to see that again!" There was absolutely no way for The Dark Knight Rises to really live up to that. The fact that the reception is as warm as it is surprises me a lot. The Dark Knight Rises disappointment people don't surprise me at all. That always happens. And people always pay more attention to those guys on the internet. Because that's where the action is on the forums. You see websites do that sort of stuff to get hits ALL THE TIME!

    After a couple of years you probably won't see as much contempt for The Dark Knight Rises because it'll be out of the news and out of sight in that regard. And then it just might come back later with a warmer reception. Remember, The Empire Strikes Back wasn't exactly well regarded when it came out either. In fact, the reception was lukewarm back then. If there was an internet then you'd have seen people exploding with a lot of things they didn't like. Including possibly even the whole, "That twist sucked." But there was no internet so you sort of didn't have everyone having a voice. Except, of course, critics. Who... back then, tore The Empire Strikes Back to pieces.

    So at this point, The Dark Knight Rises might end up having better reception in the future than it does now. But... the reception now (at least if we're going by regular people rating it and whatnot) is not exactly bad if we're going based off of Amazon reviews and IMDB and all those other places. The public seems to be more receptive than people let on. Like I said, it's easier to pay attention to the negative stuff. And because it's easier to pay attention to we tend to think that's the majority. In reality the real majority is people who... sort of don't care. They actually make up the most of it. But because they don't care they typically don't post about it. For as many people who saw The Dark Knight Rises there are likely to be tons and tons who saw it and just thought "Eh..." They might've thought it was good... might've thought it was bad but really didn't care too much to jump online and let people know. If an article online gets 1,000,000 views and only one thousand comments that's still a lot less than 1%. And that's not even counting the guy who comes back and comments again and again and again and replies to one comment after another. Meaning that of the 1,000,000 people who read there are still tons who simply kept their thoughts to themselves.

    The reception of movies is pretty similar. Especially for ones like The Dark Knight Rises. It gets out there because it's got some huge reception behind it. But it's also so diverse. The same thing, ironically, happened with The Dark Knight. Where the people who said negative things about it got a lot more attention than the people who said so many positive things. With The Dark Knight it got to the point where critics were uh, covered in News Stories. And yeah, a lot of Batman fans (not actually Nolan fans, mostly just Batman) jumped on any critic or dared to do so (in contrast: Nolan fans didn't jump all over anyone who dared to criticize Inception... but you'll always have fans of a particular director who will jump up to defend their director--The Hobbit, anyone?)

    So FLARE, the reason you see more opposite opinions is that they're the ones that people promote. That's the thing that will whip people up into a frenzy. That garners hits to websites and blogs. And let's not forget that there were some who were "disappointed" in the movie while still thinking it was quite good. Or were disappointed but didn't hate it. Or who may have thought it was overrated but didn't think that was bad. It doesn't seem like a lot of people hated it. And to say "everyone" is a bit of a stretch. That wouldn't explain the repeat business or the warm reception it has on those websites.

  • pmanzana | January 8, 2013 11:27 PM

    Time, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The Daily Beast, RollingStone, The Denver Post, The New York Post, Richard Roeper, and The AFI all named the Dark Knight Rises one of the year's best. These people hardly constitute comic book fanboys. Also, FLARE, looking at comments on specific film blogs hardly is representative of the greater movie going public-It's just a small piece of people who watch movies.

  • Paul | January 8, 2013 11:02 PM

    I doubt it:

    And many more.
    Everyone loves TDKR but he internet has given the opportunity to those who hated their voices heard.

  • Flare | January 8, 2013 8:55 PM

    Actually everyone hates TDKR. I see way more comments like your than the opposite on blogs and forums.

  • MAL | January 8, 2013 4:04 PMReply

    While I don't disagree with your logic and think your pics (for the most part) are reasonable, I hope Moonrise Kingdom gets more love. It was the most affecting film I saw all year and I hope that it sees noms for Production Design, Cinematography and (long shot I know) Director. What I absolutely do not understand is why Silver Linings Playbook has been soooo well liked. The leads were charming enough (Jennifer Lawrence was a standout) but listening to the characters yell at each other about football, etc., for two hours (sorry, but De Niro was insufferable) was grating as hell. Put that family in crisis film next to Amour and there's no contest! (And before anyone calls me a film snob -- I believe The Dark Knight Rises definitely deserves a nod.)

  • jdub | January 8, 2013 10:10 PM

    Finally someone else is on here slamming Silver Linings Playbook!! I completely agree with you! De Niro better not get a nomination for that ridiculously unrealistic character and I'll go a step further and say Bradley Cooper was nothing special either.

  • jengamo | January 8, 2013 3:50 PMReply

    Adams will take the Michelle Williams "Blue Valentine" slot in the supporting category (critical darling, but snubbed by the pretentious SAG and ultimately Oscar nominated), Phoenix will take the Oldman/Mara route (snubbed but so highly praised he has to be nominated), and The Master will be nommed for BP instead of... um idk I hope Les Miz. TOM HOOPER IS A HACK.

  • Wash | January 8, 2013 3:44 PMReply

    A total shut-out for Dark Knight Rises? Wouldn't that be a first for a Nolan film?

  • Jackson | January 8, 2013 3:42 PMReply

    This auhor obviously thinks The Master is trash and not serious about being a contender. PSH will take Supporting Actor. I don't think they will give Best Actor and Supporting Actor to Lincoln. The Master has been a complete darling for critic awards this year. To think it won't be serious on anything, well that is just plain stupid. Come on Oliver, have a little common sense.

  • Michael M. | January 8, 2013 9:23 PM

    Because film appraisal has always been about the critics? that one made me laugh.

  • serpico | January 8, 2013 6:40 PM

    I don't care about his antics, if Phoenix isn't at least nominated for Best Actor, then he is never going to win. But, again, it's not like he cares anyways.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | January 8, 2013 5:55 PM

    Calm down. What I think of The Master has nothing to do it (I'm not its biggest fan, but I would definitely take it over a few of the more likely films). It hasn't been a darling at the critics awards; it missed out from the SAG, the DGA and the PGA (which all tend to match up well with the Academy), and both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty have significantly more critics' groups prizes to their name (six and eight, respectively, to The Master's two). I'm not sure what your evidence of 'common sense' is, but it doesn't appear to be 'looking at the evidence on hand.'

  • Tom | January 8, 2013 3:39 PMReply

    Quvenzhane Wallis was fine and all, but I disagree that it was the amazing performance critics are raving about. It's a little kid acting cute for 90 minutes. Big deal.

  • Melissa | January 10, 2013 12:00 AM

    I'm glad I am not the only one who feels this way! A cute little black girl portraying a cute little black girl doesn't take a lot of acting chops. If she gets a nom, it will be robbing someone else of a hard-earned, well-deserved chance. Her time will come if she is indeed a good actor, but it's definitely too soon to tell if she is or not.

  • Nathan Duke | January 8, 2013 3:16 PMReply

    If the milquetoast Academy doesn't at least nominate Phoenix and Riva, I might be tempted not to even watch this year.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 2:35 PMReply

    As for the Best Actress Award, I cannot believe that the Academy would miss the opportunity of honouring Emmanuelle Riva, also in view of the complexity of the role played.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    As for the Best Actress Award, I cannot believe that the Academy would miss the opportunity of honouring Emmanuelle Riva, also in view of the complexity of the role played.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    As for the Best Actress Award, I cannot believe that the Academy would miss the opportunity of honouring Emmanuelle Riva, also in view of the complexity of the role played.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    As for the Best Actress Award, I cannot believe that the Academy would miss the opportunity of honouring Emmanuelle Riva, also in view of the complexity of the role played.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    As for the Best Actress Award, I cannot believe that the Academy would miss the opportunity of honouring Emmanuelle Riva, also in view of the complexity of the role played.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    As for the Best Actress Award, I cannot believe that the Academy would miss the opportunity of honouring Emmanuelle Riva, also in view of the complexity of the role played.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 2:34 PMReply

    As for the Best Actress Award, I cannot believe that the Academy would miss the opportunity of honouring Emmanuelle Riva, also in view of the complexity of the role played.

  • Lou | January 8, 2013 3:43 PM

    I humbly apologize for the multiplication of my comment.

  • Franka | January 8, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    i think the DGAs prolly just proved you wrong about David O Russell.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | January 8, 2013 5:56 PM

    Could be. I was on the fence before the DGA, but my gut still says O Russell.

  • Dood | January 8, 2013 2:28 PM

    Sorry don't know why my comments show up multiple times.

  • Dood | January 8, 2013 2:26 PM

    Sorry don't know why my comments show up multiple times.

  • Dood | January 8, 2013 2:25 PM

    Sorry don't know why my comments show up multiple times.

  • Dood | January 8, 2013 2:16 PMReply

    FYI: You said Pixar's 'Paperman,' it should be Disney's 'Paperman'

  • Haven | January 8, 2013 2:14 PMReply

    "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"? Serioulsy?

  • Ellen | January 8, 2013 2:14 PMReply

    Good picks

  • Dood | January 8, 2013 2:14 PMReply

    FYI: You said Pixar's 'Paperman,' it should be Disney's 'Paperman'

    Further proof that Pixar is synonymous with good animation. Not true. haha

  • Dad Playlist | January 8, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    Yep, fixed, thx,

  • Jesse | January 8, 2013 2:13 PMReply

    Tommy Lee Jones has got in the bag for Lincoln

  • jdub | January 8, 2013 10:14 PM

    He deserves it!

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