Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
This year’s list of Best Picture nominees includes 9 films, though the category can have as many as 10. My favorite movies of the year both made the cut: Argo and Silver Linings Playbook. Four more predicted “locks” did as well: Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, & Zero Dark Thirty. So that left room for 3 pleasant surprises: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, & Django Unchained (which had not yet been released, but quickly became a contender in late December). Lincoln seems to be the front-runner with 12 nominations, the most of any film this year, while Silver Linings Playbook is the first movie since 1981’s Reds to score an acting nominee in each of the 4 categories, which was in addition to Picture, Director, Writing, & Editing. All 9 films are deserving of their Best Picture nomination this year, but with and only 5 available slots for Best Director, that’s where the real drama lies…
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
The biggest shock of the day: Ben Affleck missing from the Best Director list for Argo. He would even go on to win Best Director at the Critics’ Choice Awards later in the day. Affleck, Bigelow, and Hooper are all nominated for the DGA award this year, which usually matches the Oscar nominations. Affleck would have been a first-time Director nominee, so I was really rooting for him this year. Bigelow won for Hurt Locker in 2010 and Hooper won for The Kings Speech in 2011. I was glad to see David O. Russell make the cut, having been previously nominated for The Fighter. The surprises: Haneke & Zeitlin. But they have Best Picture nominations to back it up. With no directing nomination, Argo, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, & Zero Dark Thirty lose momentum in the Best Picture race. The last movie to win Best Picture without its director being nominated was Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Another shock: John Hawkes missing from the Best Actor list. If anybody had a chance at winning the Oscar over front-runner Daniel Day-Lewis, it was Hawkes for his work in The Sessions. As predicted, Cooper, Jackman, & Phoenix round out the category. But Denzel Washington got the 5th slot, and it was a surprise to see his name instead of Hawkes. Day-Lewis is going for his third win, having previously won for My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood. This is the first-ever Oscar nomination for Cooper and Jackman, doing their career- best work, while Phoenix was previously nominated for Gladiator and Walk The Line.
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
They got this category right. As predicted: Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Quvenzhane Wallis, & Naomi Watts all made the cut. The pleasant surprise: Emmanuelle Riva for the foreign film Amour- a movie that was not even in the conversation a month or so ago. At 85, Riva is the oldest nominee ever for Best Actress. While at 9, Wallis is the youngest nominee ever for Best Actress (and she was only 6 when she shot the film). Both broke records with their nominations. The front-runner is still Jennifer Lawrence (previously nominated for Winter’s Bone), but hot on her heels is Jessica Chastain (nominated last year for The Help). This category remains wide open though, as more people will start checking out the performances of first-time nominees Riva & Wallis, as well as Watts (who was nominated once before for 21 Grams).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
This is the first time in Oscar history that an acting category has been comprised of 5 previous Oscar winners. Arkin, who won for Little Miss Sunshine, now holds the distinction of the longest span between his very first nomination and his latest nomination: 46 years. De Niro won for The Godfather: Part II and Raging Bull, Hoffman won for Capote, Jones won for The Fugitive, & Waltz won for Inglorious Basterds. The big surprise here: No Leonardo DiCaprio, who has never won an Oscar. (He was previously nominated for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, and Blood Diamond). Had DiCaprio been nominated, he likely would have won for his scene-stealing performance in Django Unchained. But there was only room for one actor for that film and, in this case, it went to Waltz-Though it could be argued that Waltz was actually a Lead Actor and not a Supporting Actor.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
They got this category exactly right, as all 5 nominees had been predicted. Anne Hathaway is the front-runner, with Sally Field as her closest competition. Hathaway was previously nominated for Rachel Getting Married, and she has the momentum to represent Les Miserables with a win. Field has won twice before, for Norma Rae and Places in the Heart, and if she wins this year, I have to wonder if she’ll start her acceptance speech with: “You really, really, REALLY like me…” Though John Hawkes was shockingly overlooked, Helen Hunt did get a nomination for their film The Sessions. Hunt previously won for As Good As It Gets. Also deservedly back in the running: Amy Adams, previously nominated for Junebug, Doubt, & The Fighter, and Jacki Weaver, previously nominated for Animal Kingdom.
With 6 weeks to go until the Oscars are handed out, we can expect lots of debating, speculating, and, of course, campaigning.
The 85th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, February 24th, 2013.