With Oscar Nominations being announced one week from today on January 10th, I decided to throw my predictions out there for the 6 major categories. Having seen most of the major awards season contenders (excluding Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour and Rust and Bone) this year, here's how I see the 2013 Oscar Nominations panning out:
*** PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE IN BOLD
Having just seen Zero Dark Thirty, it has all the makings of a Best Picture champion. The film will find its biggest competition from other top tier contenders such Lincoln, Argo and Les Miserables, all of which will find nominations. Under a newer set of rules, the Academy can allow up to 10 nominees in the Best Picture category (depending upon percentage of #1 votes). I am going to make a guess at 8 films making the final cut. The way I see it, Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi are two other safe bets. My last two dark horse nominees are Moonrise Kingdom and Django Unchained.
Over the last six years, the Oscars have rewarded the Best Picture and Best Director winner as a tandem. Therefore, if Zero Dark Thirty separates itself as the leader of the pack, then you have to like Kathryn Bigelow's chances of winning the Best Director race. I feel confident in throwing other big name contenders like Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Ben Affleck (Argo) and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables). And while my heart screams for David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), I think it will be Ang Lee (Life of Pi) that sneaks into that 5th spot.
Although it's important to remember that nothing is a "sure-thing", Daniel Day-Lewis gave the year's best performance in Lincoln and I expect him to be rewarded for the role with his third Academy Award. The four remaining nominations are up for grabs with five big-time performances in the hunt. My number two pick comes from John Hawkes who starred in one of my year's favorite films, The Sessions. My last three guesses are Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) and Denzel Washington (Flight). Going off the trusty old "eye-test", that means Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) is the odd man out. However, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Jackman makes the cut and any of my last three names get left off the board.
It should be obvious to see which direction I expect the Oscars to take in late February. Riding the wave of a late and impactful release date, Jessica Chastain and the entire team behind Zero Dark Thirty should expect some hardware. Furthermore, the Best Actress competition seems to be the most predictable of the bunch. I feel safe suggesting that nominations are in store for Chastain's biggest rival Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) as well as Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone) and Emmanuelle Riva (Amour).
Best Supporting Actor
The Best Supporting Actor category feels pretty wide open at the moment, with a slight advantage going to Tommy Lee Jones for his role in Lincoln. I feel confident backing Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) and Alan Arkin (Argo) as well. While it feels like a safe bet that the fifth nominee will come from Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, my heart says Christoph Waltz but my brain says Leonardo DiCaprio.
Best Supporting Actress
While it may make more sense to just give Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) her statue now and avoid all of the hoopla, the rest of the Best Supporting Actress race is far less certain. Sally Field (Lincoln), Helen Hunt (The Sessions) and Amy Adams (The Master) seem like confident picks, leaving only one spot remaining. With your guess being as good as mine, I wouldn't be shocked to see Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy), Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) or Ann Dowd (Compliance) rounding out the group.