Feature: Oscar Nominations 2012

This year’s Oscar nominees were announced today by Emma Stone and Seth McFarlane: Adele is now an Oscar nominee and the lineup for leading actress includes both the oldest and the youngest nominees ever. Major omissions: no best picture nomination for ‘Hope Springs’? Pfft.

Let’s take a closer look at the nominees and my projected winners in the major categories:

django-unchained-poster-federico-mancosuBest Motion Picture of the Year

Amour (2012)

Argo (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Django Unchained (2012)

Les Misérables (2012)

Life of Pi (2012)

Lincoln (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

No massive surprises here; all these movies have been listed in the various awards bodies up to this point. But who will take the big prize? Right now it’s between Les Mis, Lincoln and Silver Linings. Silver Linings has received a lot of love this year – including nominations in all four acting categories, placing it in a very elite set of movies to have achieved the same, such as Network and A Streetcar Named Desire. The academy has also been keen to embrace more indie styles of film making in recent years, meaning they could get behind this quirky low-budget pic.

Or, more likely, they’ll go for an old faithful that has ‘best film’ stamped all over it; Les Mis is an epic adaptation of a popular musical and Lincoln is a stately prestigious biopic of a great American president by the untouchable Steven Spielberg. However, the lack of a best director nom for Les Mis was very telling – so I reckon Lincoln will take home the gold.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables (2012)

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master (2012)

Denzel Washington for Flight (2012/I)

Do I need to bother? The statuette has had Daniel Day-Lewis’ name on it for months now, and that’s not set to change any time soon. His mesmerising performance as the great American president in the most Oscar-bait picture of the year assures his win. And after Meryl Streep’s third Oscar win for Iron Lady, methinks the Academy may have developed a taste for giving out third statuettes.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Rolejennifer lawrence

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Emmanuelle Riva for Amour (2012)

Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Naomi Watts for The Impossible (2012)

Well, the academy really did a number on us here; expected nominees after the Globes, SAG and Baftas didn’t appear here. No Marion Cotillard in ‘Rust and Bone’ or Helen Mirren for ‘Hitchcock’. However it is good to see a more diverse set of nominees here.

But this is a bit of a head-scratcher as there’s no clear frontrunner at first glance. We can safely say Quvenzhane Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva are the wildcards that cancel each other out, with their nominations being their rewards this year. Jessica Chastain is popular right now and stars in a big, political movie – too controversial for Academy voters? It may prove so. Also, thrillers tend to do less well in terms of wins in this category – which leaves Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings. If we play by the logic that it won’t win best picture, then its big reward will certainly be for leading actress. In general though, I think we could see a surprise in this category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Tommy-Lee-Jones-in-Lincoln-2012Alan Arkin for Argo (2012)

Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master (2012)

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (2012)

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained (2012)

Wide. Open. The general rule of thumb for this category is that you can bank on a veteran character actor scooping the prize – but these nominees are all previous winners, and are all well-liked in Hollywood. I think this will come down to a fight between Tommy Lee Jones and Robert DeNiro; DeNiro is a legend in his first great role for years (the Meet The Parents franchise notwithstanding) and the academy may wish to reward him as an encouragement to choose decent roles. And if the Academy generally is in a three Oscar mood, then this could be DeNiro’s time.

Tommy Lee Jones’ role is more weighty, Oscar baity, and his surprise nomination a few years back for ‘In The Valley of Ellah’ shows he is still beloved by his peers, so I think Tommy Lee Jones has the edge here.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams for The Master (2012)

Sally Field for Lincoln (2012)

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012)

Helen Hunt for The Sessions (2012)

Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

A really strong set of nominees could make this hard to call, but this is really Anne Hathaway’s to lose. Her buzz has been building for months and the rapturous reception to Les Mis and the universal praise for her cry-face rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ pretty much assures her win on Oscar night. Possible upsets? The supporting categories love honouring veterans so Sally Field could take the prize for Lincoln, while Jacki Weaver’s surprise inclusion for Silver Linings could portend a dark horse win on her part. I don’t think so, though: Anne’s way out in front.

Best Achievement in Directing

Michael Haneke for Amour (2012)

Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012)

David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln (2012)

Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Probably the biggest shockers came in this category; no Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty? No Ben Affleck for Argo? No Tom Hooper for Les Mis? We thought they were shoe-ins. At least their exclusion whittles it down to one clear winner: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. A film so heartily embraced by critics and audiences alike and his best work in years mean he’s the one to beat. The only one to come close would be David O. Russell for Silver Linings – highly unlikely, though.

 

So there you have it! Here’s a quick summation of my Oscar picks:

Best Picture: Lincoln

Best Actor In A Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln.

Best Actress In A Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Actor In A Supporting Role: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln.

Best Actress In A Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables.

Best Director: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln.

Thomas Dearnley-Davison is Spindle’s Canadian Correspondent. You can follow his insane trans-Atlantc ramblings on Twitter @ThomasDearnley