On 24 February, the winners of the 85th annual Academy Awards will be announced. With every everyone and their uncle getting in on the action, I've decided to throw my own predictions into the ring for the major categories (Best Picture, Director, Actor / Actress, Supporting Actor / Actress, and Original and Adapted Screenplay), and a few of the minor categories. There are probably a dozen methods to predict the outcomes, so for my soothsaying, I'm going to use a highly sophisticated combination of history, Academy voting patterns, gut instinct and very subjective reasoning to determine without question this year's winners. Feel free to add your own predictions in the comments section.
The most important category at the Oscars, this year sees nine films nominated for Best Picture. These are:
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Django Unchained
- Les Miserables
- Life of Pi
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Zero Dark Thirty
There are some very strong contenders this year, especially with heavyweights Lincoln, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty in the running. Personally I would love to see Michael Haneke's tender yet uncompromising Amour win, but, given that only nine non-English language films have ever been nominated for Best Picture in the Academy's history, and that Oscars rarely go to films with such dark subject matter, it's very unlikely that Haneke's film will win in this category. Argo, Lincoln, or Les Mis are my favourites. Argo and Les Mis have been critically and commercially successful, with Lincoln promising the same, and all three tick the boxes of big, sweeping stories, historical settings and scenery chewing, big name actors, all of which are favoured by the Academy. Silver Linings Playback has been tipped by some, but comedies are rarely, if ever, given the gong, so I think SLB will have to be content with a nod. The rest are too controversial (Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained) or strange (Beasts of the Southern Wild), to win. Then again, neither Argo nor Les Miserables has been nominated for Best Director, which almost always means a no-win for Best Picture, and Les Mis' director Tom Hooper, already won the Director and Picture Oscars for his last film, The King's Speech. With its recent BAFTA win, Argo is now tipped in favour of Lincoln to win, with the received wisdom that one win usually follows the other. However, this isn't always the case: in fact in the last ten years, BAFTA and Oscar awarded different films best picture in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
To Win: Lincoln. Second choice: Argo. Outside chance: Les Miserables
My favourite category, in that Best Director often produces interesting winners, such as Kathryn Bigelow 2009's The Hurt Locker, and the opportunity for the Academy to put right what once went wrong, as with Martin Scorsese for The Departed, in a win clearly awarded for his overall body of work rather than the film that won. The nominees are:
- Michael Haneke - Amour
- Ang Lee - Life of Pi
- David O Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
- Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
- Behn Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
To Win: Steven Spielberg. Second choice: Ang Lee. Outside chance: David O Russell.
- Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
- Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
- Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
- Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Naomi Watts - The Impossible
To Win: Jennifer Lawrence. Second choice: Jessica Chastain. Outside chance: Quvenzhane Wallis.
- Daniel Day Lewis - Lincoln
- Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
- Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
- Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
- Denzel Washington - Flight
To Win: Daniel Day Lewis. Second choice: Hugh Jackman. Outside chance: Joaquin Phoenix
Best Supporting Actress
- Amy Adams - The Master
- Sally Field - Lincoln
- Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
- Helen Hunt - The Sessions
- Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook
To Win: Anne Hathaway. Second choice: Amy Adams. Outside chance: Helen Hunt.
Best Supporting Actor
- Alan Arkin - Argo
- Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
- Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
- Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
- Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
To Win: Phillip Seymour Hoffman (only if Lee wins Best Director). Second choice: Tommy Lee Jones. Outside chance: Alan Arkin.
Best Original Screenplay
- Amour - Michael Haneke
- Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino
- Flight - John Gatins
- Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
- Zero Dark Thirty - Mark Boal
To Win: Django Unchained. Second choice: Zero Dark Thirty. Outside chance: Moonrise Kingdom.
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Argo - Chris Terrio
- Beasts of the Southern Wild - Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
- Life of Pi - David Magge
- Lincoln - Tony Kushner
- Silver Linings Playbook - David O Russell
To Win: Argo. Second choice: Life of Pi. Outside chance: Lincoln.
Best Foreign Language Film
- War witch
- A Royal Affair
To Win: Amour. Second Choice: No. Outside Chance: A Royal Affair.
Best Animated Film
- Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
- Wreck-it Ralph
To Win: Brave. Second Choice: Frankenweenie. Outside Chance: Pirates!
Music (Original Song)
- 'Before My Time', By J. Ralph, Chasing Ice
- 'Everybody Needs a Best Friend', by Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane, Ted
- 'Pi's Lullaby', by Mychael Danne and Bombay Jayashri, Life of Pi
- 'Skyfall', by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth, Skyfall
- 'Suddenly', by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boulbill, Les Miserables
To Win: 'Skyfall'. Second Choice: 'Suddenly'. Outside Chance: 'Pi's Lullaby'.
Music (Original Score)
- Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
- Alexandre Desplat, Argo
- Mychael Dann, Life of Pi
- John Williams, Lincoln
- Thomas Newman, Skyfall
To Win: Mychael Danna. Second Choice: Alexandre Desplat. Outside Chance: Thomas Newman.
- Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina
- Robert Richardson, Django Unchained
- Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
- Janusz Kaminski, Lincoln
- Roger Deakins, Skyfall
To Win: Claudio Miranda. Second Choice: Janusz Kaminski. Outside Chance: Roger Deakins.
- Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliot, Life of Pi
- Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick, The Avengers
- Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill, Prometheus
- Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson, Snow White and the Huntsman
One of the few things that the disappointing and altogether baffling Prometheus had going for it was its beautiful visual effects, both in techinal craftsmanship and artistic vision. Indeed, the rather trite and sentimental Life of Pi offered some of the most accomplished and fitfully beautiful 3D visuals yet, and managed that rare feat of allowing the special effects work to service the story, and not the other way around. Plus, the tiger Richard Parker must surely rank as a landmark in photorealism. On the other hand, the Academy love a good Peter Jackson CGI romp, even if that CGI seems to have hardly advanced since 2003's Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Also worth mentioning is the special effects work on the terrific Avengers, which seamlessly blended in real actors with computer-generated spectacle.
To Win: Life of Pi. Second Choice: Prometheus. Outside Chance: Avengers.
So there you have it: my predictions for the 85th Annual Oscars. I've left out the Documentary category, as not only have I seen none of the nominated films, but I really don't know enough about documentaries to make any kind of intelligent prediction. The same goes for the handful of technical categories I've missed. The award ceremony takes place on Sunday 24th February, so be sure to check in and see how many I've got right.