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What to Expect From the Oscar Nominations

January 7, 2013

By John C.

The OscarsAs of Friday night, voting has officially ended to determine the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards, the first step on what is already shaping up to be a long journey towards Oscar night on February 24th.  The nominations will be announced at 8:30 AM EST this Thursday morning, presented by Emma Stone and upcoming Oscar host Seth MacFarlane.

I don’t have time to list all of the contenders or include predictions for the nominations in all of the 24 categories.  But I do want to share what films I expect to see included in a couple of the major categories come Thursday and some of the ones that I’m hoping are recognized.

For starters, I both hope and expect to see nominations for Silver Linings Playbook in multiple categories come Thursday morning, including Best Picture and Best Director for David O. Russell, as well as Best Actor and Actress nominations for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.  I would also love to see the film pick up Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominations for Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, as well as an expected nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.  This is the perfect example of a film that I hope gets nominated, and one of my Oscar dreams that is very likely to pay off.

Although there can be anywhere from five to ten films in the running for Best Picture, I expect to see nominations for Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, the three films that are currently neck in neck to receive the coveted frontrunner status.  I’m expecting Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field to all pick up acting nominations for Lincoln, and Jessica Chastain has quickly become the Best Actress frontrunner for Zero Dark Thirty.  With over $100 million in the bank and the top spot on Roger Ebert’s list of the best films of 2012, Argo is a genuine success story that has caught the attention of both audiences and critics alike.

This was just such an awesome year for film that I think there will be an even ten nominees for Best Picture this time around, and I would predict that we are going to see the field rounded out by Life of Pi, Moonrise Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook.  Current box office champs Django Unchained and Les Misérables are also predicted to be on the list.  The former will likely pick up a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Leonardo DiCaprio and the latter could easily garner acting nominations for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.  The final two spots could easily be reserved for critical darlings like Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

But this is a year ripe with surprises, and we won’t know exactly what films will be in the running for Best Picture until the nominations are actually announced.  This was also a great year for big budget studio films, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the critically celebrated and commercially acclaimed Skyfall sneaks into the list of ten, bumping off one of the latter nominees.  The blockbuster has several things on its side, including the fact that it marked the fiftieth anniversary since the release of the first James Bond film and that milestone will be honoured during the Oscar telecast.  Any or all of these films I’ve mentioned would lead to a Best Picture line up that I could get behind.

Robert Zemeckis’ addiction drama Flight could also be a surprise nominee, but should at least pick up a nomination for Denzel Washington’s searing performance.  I would also love to see Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master recognized in several of the top categories, including Best Picture and Best Director where it absolutely should be included.  The film also deserves Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations for Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, as well as a Best Supporting Actress nod for Amy Adams.  But after Joaquin Phoenix went on record to say that all awards shows are “total, utter bulls***” back in October, it doesn’t seem like the Oscar dreams of the film are necessarily going to take off from the ground.

But what I’m most hoping to see come Thursday morning are nominations for some of the smaller films that I have been championing throughout the last few months.  John Hawkes and Helen Hunt gave some of the best performances of the year in The Sessions, and they absolutely deserve spots in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress races.  I also want to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower pick up a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.  Stephen Chobosky did a beautiful job of bringing his beloved coming of age novel to the big screen, and the screenplay behind the adaptation is one of my favourites of the year.  Surprise Best Picture nominations for both of these films would be a dream come true.

But there could also be a few other surprises, like a possible Best Supporting Actress nomination for Nicole Kidman for her role in The Paperboy, a performance that required her to urinate on Zac Efron.  I bet that would be a first for an Oscar nominated role.  Some are also predicting the surprise inclusion of The Impossible, which has attracted a strong following throughout the season and could garner Naomi Watts a Best Actress nod.  But I wasn’t a big fan of Juan Antonio Bayona’s disaster melodrama back at TIFF, so the film’s inclusion isn’t on my personal list of Oscar hopes.

There are obvious frontrunners, but no clear winners, and other than that I don’t really have much more commentary to add to the Oscar race at this point.  But after the last few years of being able to successfully predict the nominees and what was going to win Best Picture far in advance, an Oscar race ready to deliver surprises actually feels like a refreshing change of pace.  I say we should just sit back and take it as it comes, and check back on Thursday morning for our full coverage of the nominations.

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