Tag Archives: Oscar Nominations

7 Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

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Where there are Oscar nominations there are Oscar snubs. It is a fact of life and it’s also what kind of keeps them interesting. The nominations for the 86th Oscars went out today and there were snubs and mild surprises aplenty. My predictions were okay this year, I went 9 for 9 in the Best Picture category but I was a little blindsided by the acting categories, I will admit. Overall I got 37/44 in the categories I predicted. But more than just a list of who’s in and who’s out, the nominations can also be very telling about how certain films are doing in the overall race. So here are a few thoughts on what this all means.

1. The David O. Russell Effect is a force to be reckoned with. Two years in a row now he’s scored an acting nomination in all four categories, which hadn’t happened for thirty years before Silver Linings Playbook. His four nominees today have all been previously nominated for a Russell film, and two of them won.  Russell is an actor’s director, plain and simple, and the acting branch is the single largest voting branch in the Academy. But it’s not just acting. American Hustle walked away tied with Gravity for most nominations, today. Hustle may seem unstoppable at this point, and indeed it scored important nominations in Editing and Screenwriting, but it was viciously snubbed for Hair and Makeup. The auteur picture Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, however, got that key nomination.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street was not too racy for the Academy. Not at all in fact. With five nominations, including directing, screenplay, picture and two for acting,  it looks like the voters were digging three hours of drug-fueled insanity. Despite this unexpected love, the film isn’t really in play for Best Picture, as it missed out on Editing, and no film has won Best Picture without an Editing nomination since 1980. But hey, we now live in a world in which Jonah Hill is a two-time Oscar nominee. So think about that for a bit.

3. Noprah! (And some other acting snubs). Speaking of Wolf and Hustle, those late-breaking acting nominations did not come without a price. It’s Bale and DiCaprio over Tom Hanks and Robert Redford in leading actor, and Hill and Cooper over James Gandolfini and Daniel Bruhl in supporting. In the Best Actress category I learned that you should never, ever bet against Meryl Streep, and with her and Amy Adams in there was no room for Emma Thompson. But then we turn to Best Supporting Actress where I was happily surprised to hear Sally Hawkins’ name called first (as I’ve said before, I think Cate Blanchett owes a great deal to Hawkins) and then happily astonished when Miss Winfrey’s name was absent. I thought Hawkins might sneak in over Roberts but apparently voters hated The Butler more than they hated August: Osage County. I think the worst part of Oprah’s snub is that we will not get to see or talk about her Oscar dress. Oh well, there’s always the SAGs.

4. Philomena over-performs and Captain Phillips underperforms. When it comes to films based on a book that’s based on a true story about people with the letter “P” in their name, it was better to bet on an old woman searching for her long lost son than a ship captain battling Somali pirates. Philomena was able to grab four nominations, including a surprising Best Picture nom (which I predicted and am so very happy about). Phillips on the other hand, walked away with six nominations (including the ever-important Editing) but lost out on Director and Actor, which many predicted it would get (Tom Hanks has not been nominated since Cast Away, if you can believe it). At this point it might be the film with the most nominations that doesn’t actually win anything on the actual night, but we’ll see. And if Jonah Hill’s nomination count freaked you out, you should note that Steve Coogan grabbed two this morning, for writing and producing Philomena.

4. Saving Mr. Banks, The Butler and Inside Llewyn Davis are left out in the cold. If I had told you yesterday that The Lone Ranger would net more nominations for Disney than Saving Mr. Banks, what would you have said to me? It’s what happened today (and while I think it’s hilarious, I actually can’t figure out which movie I disliked more). Banks was just one of a few early frontrunners to really crash and burn today. The Butler was completely shut out and Llewyn Davis only managed two nominations (Cinematography and Sound Mixing, both deserved but not nearly enough).

5. Dallas Buyers Club continues to show its wide-ranging support. The Wolf of Wall Street missed an Editing nomination but Dallas Buyers Club did not. It also grabbed Original Screenplay and Makeup and Hairstyling in addition to the acting noms and Best Picture. That’s a lot of below the line nominations for a not particularly technically ambitious film, which shows the support the film has in the voting body as a whole (which I really, really don’t get). This only bodes well for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, who are definitely the film’s best shots at winning.

6. Big names in documentaries, foreign films and animation are snubbed. Perhaps the most successful nonfiction film of the year, Blackfish, missed out on a nomination, and the French love story and Palme d’Or winner Blue is the Warmest Color wasn’t even eligible (weird Academy rules). Monsters University, meanwhile, becomes only the second Pixar movie not to be nominated for Best Animated Feature (the other one was Cars 2, and yeah I was okay with that snub). Perhaps the most disappointing documentary snub was director Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, which is a fantastic film that had a lot of critical support behind it. But here’s to The Act of KillingThe Great Beauty and The Wind Rises, who will hopefully take the prize in their respective categories.

7. There were a lot of shakeups today, but the Best Picture race is still between 12 Years a SlaveAmerican Hustle and Gravity. It was always these three, wasn’t it? They’re leading the nomination count and the conversation this morning. 12 Years missed out on two nominations that many thought it would grab, Original Score and Cinematography (because John Williams has to be nominated every time he works, even on a terrible movie, and apparently Nebraska was like, in black in white or something), and so has nine nominations to Hustle and Gravity‘s ten. I’ve seen that described as “underperforming,” to which I would only have to laugh. If anything, I think it’s Gravity that is losing steam. Although it rightly received a slew of technical nominations, it is the only Best Picture nominee without a screenwriting nomination, which also fits (the story was just a little silly).

12 Years is heading back to theaters just in time for Martin Luther King Day, and there are plenty more awards and interviews to get through before the field really starts to clear up. The number of nominations isn’t necessarily so indicative of number of wins. At this time last year the defining talking point was about how Argo had no shot because of the infamous Affleck directing snub, and Lincoln was leading the field in nominations. Silver Linings Playbook had a similar spread that Hustle has now, but at the actual ceremony the film only walked away with Lawrence’s Best Actress win. And if Gravity is comparable to anything from last year, it’s Life of Pi, and I would not be surprised at all if Alfonso Cuaron pulled an Ang Lee (a win for Directing but not Picture). But really, you never know what’s going to happen. Any one of these three could grab momentum at any time between now and March 2nd.

2014 Oscar Nomination Predictions

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It’s that time of year again. The silliness of the Golden Globes is behind us (I only got 3 out of 9 of my wishes!) and now it’s time to get down to some serious awards business. (Well as serious as we can be about rich people handing each other golden trophies.) The Oscar nominations are coming tomorrow and so I am here to bring you my tried and true predictions for the big categories. Overall I think I stayed pretty safe with my predictions, but I also tried to predict any wild and crazy upsets. There are pundits and precursor noms and all that, but in the end you never really know what will happen.

Best Picture:
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

The weighted Best Picture voting means that there an be anywhere from six to ten nominees. I’m going for nine with the caveat that Blue Jasmine and/or Saving Mr. Banks could sneak in if there’s a tenth spot. The race has actually had quite a few twists and turns so far this season, what with Inside Llewyn Davis fading almost entirely from guild consideration and American Hustle getting boosts just about everywhere. The Wolf of Wall Street is super divisive (I myself was not a fan) but I’m giving it last year’s Django Unchained wildcard spot for divisive films. Philomena is perhaps my boldest choice but it has a lot of British enthusiasm and the new voting system favors small groups of fervent support over large swaths of general support.  And this is all despite the fact that the real race is still between 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle. Expect those three titles to come up without a doubt.

Best Director:
Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
David O. Russell (American Hustle)

The Director’s Guild may have nominated Martin Scorcese over Payne, but if the past few years are any roadmap, the Academy’s director’s branch likes to make its own choices. Last year’s category was a little bonkers and Ben Affleck’s snub was actually the beginning of the groundswell for Argo’s eventual Best Picture win. So you never know what could happen and whether it’s actually a bad thing. Cuarón, McQueen and Russell are Affleck-style locks, so expect Affleck-like backlash if any are snubbed. Greengrass and Payne are kind of safe choices for the last two spots, I’ll admit. They’re both former nominees in this category, while Spike Jonze would be a bolder choice, but Her is still a quirky genre film, and the Academy has never been a huge fan of sci-fi.

Best Actor:
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Dern, Ejiofor, Hanks and McConaughey are dead locks for the first four spots (if any of them are left out, that’s where the big shocking snub will be). As far as the fifth nomination goes, there are four guys with a really decent chance at claiming it: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) Forest Whitaker (The Butler), Robert Redford (All is Lost) and Christian Bale (American Hustle). Redford had the early momentum but that has mostly dried up. Whitaker got a big boost from the SAGs but hasn’t really been heard from since. Bale got a late boost from BAFTA, but it may not have been enough. I’m going with Leo as part of the general groundswell for Wolf of late. But really, I might as well have picked at random.

Best Actress:

Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

I thought when I picked Adams over Meryl Streep for this category, I might be swinging for the fences. But it seems that lots of pundits are picking this particular swap, and that’s probably due to general antipathy towards August: Osage, the seemingly non-stop power of American Hustle and Adams taking Streep’s spot at the BAFTAs, where there is quite a bit of voter crossover with the Academy. When it comes to personal taste, I think Adams is the most deserving of all the Hustle hopefuls, even more so than Jennifer Lawrence (more on her later), and I would be ecstatic if she took the fifth spot.

Best Supporting Actor:

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Despite the fact that Jordan Catalano– I mean Jared Leto has the actual win all but guaranteed, this is actually the most fluid category. Leto is a surefire nominee, and Abdi and Fassbender are the next surest things. As far as the last two spots go, well, take your pick. Bruhl has the SAG and BAFTA noms, something he only shares with Abdi and Fassbender (Dallas Buyers Club was completely shut out by the BAFTAs), so I’d say he’s a good bet. The last spot? Well it seems to be down to Bradley Cooper in American Hustle and Gandolfini. I’m going with Gandolfini, if only because it is the last chance to reward a beloved actor for a lifetime of great work.

Best Supporting Actress:

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)
Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

Despite the fact that I think Lawrence’s performance is being overpraised (she was fine, but Adams was better), she’s pretty much in a three-way contest with Nyong’o and Squibb for the win (one guess who I’m rooting for). Then there’s Oprah, and whatever you thought of The Butler, there’s no denying that Oprah really went for it. Plus she’s Oprah. The last spot will most likely go to Roberts for her turn in August: Osage, but lately there’s been a swell of support for Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, who took Squibb’s spot at the BAFTAs. If she does get nominated over Roberts it would be indicative of two things: Meryl Streep will almost certainly miss out on a Best Actress nom and Blue Jasmine might sneak in a Best Picture nom. It’s not super likely but it definitely could happen.

Best Original Screenplay:

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

Original Screenplay is the category where the Academy allows itself to get the quirkiest (think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). That said, this year it’s dominated by heavyweights and is more competitive than Adapted Screenplay. Inside Llewyn Davis was left out by the WGA, but I feel like this nomination is the consolation prize the Academy might throw the Coens.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Philomena and 12 Years were ineligible for the WGAs, which will count for a big departure here since 12 Years is currently tipped to win. I’d say this category is pretty much all sewn up (even if you, like me, think it’s super weird that Before Midnight is being called adapted) but there might be a possibility for a spoiler from Osage‘s Tracy Letts, who adapted his own Tony and Pulitzer-winning play, two large precursor awards in themselves.

6 Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

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So wow that’s an interesting group of nominees, huh? Lots of snubs, lots of surprising and a whopping 11 nominations for Double Vision favorite Life of Pi. The Ang Lee film was second only to Lincoln in the total nomination count, the Stephen Speilberg biopic garnering 12 noms. Here are my thoughts:

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Kathryn Bigelow is sad and you should be sad too.

1. It’s a bad time to be Kathryn Bigelow or Ben Affleck. Goodness gracious that Best Director Category! I would have liked to see either Bigelow or Affleck’s reactions to the announcement, and compare their faces to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s after he lost the Best Actor Tony to a British comedian who hit himself with silver trays. Oi. But in terms of the horserace, this seriously handicaps Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, both considered real Best Picture contenders before today. Not since Driving Miss Daisy back in 1989 has a film won Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. Maybe it’s because Argo has faded over the past few months or because Zero Dark Thirty has only caused more and more political controversy as time went on, but something turned the Academy off. But that was good news for David O. Russell, considered an outlier but possibility for Silver Linings Playbook, Michael Haneke for Amour, also an outlier, and Benh Zeitlen, thirty-year-old first time director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, who nobody thought was a contender yesterday. Also, three cheers for Ang Lee! Oh and I suppose I should mention Tom Hooper being left out. But I think that was a good thing, considering all the problems I and most other critics had with the film were his fault. For the love of God why so much fish eye? Pacing? You cut this but not that? He took the greatest musical of all time and wasted its chance to grace the big screen. He gets no nomination.

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Like you thought anything else would come of Honest Abe playing himself. I mean playing Daniel Day-Lewis. Oh you know what I mean.

2. We now have a Best Picture frontrunner. The two categories that are often the prognosticators for Best Picture are Director (obviously) and Editing, which may seem a bit random, but has been in lockstep with Best Picture for most of the past few decades. The only movies to score nods in all three categories were Lincoln, Life of Pi, and Silver Linings Playbook. Lincoln leads the field with 12 nominations which spread across all categories  acting and technical alike. Silver Linings is lacking in technical nominations and Pi has no acting noms at all. Other Best Picture nominees that were considered to be at the head of the group are now decidedly sitting at the back of the bus (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Les Miserables). If I was making a list right now it would go:

1. Lincoln
2. Life of Pi
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Zero Dark Thirty
6. Amour
7. Argo
8. Les Miserables
9. Django Unchained

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Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix are as excited about the Oscars as they are about Scientology.

3. The Guilds snub themselves. The SAG and DGA noms were once a pretty good prediction of the Oscars. No more, apparently, as only two directors (Speilberg and Lee) carried over fromt he DGA noms and only 14 (as opposed to the last two years’ 17 and 19 the year before that) from the SAGs. Out with John Hawkes (by far the saddest and worst snub), Marion Cotillard, Helen Mirren, Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman, and Maggie Smith in favor of Quvenzhané Wallis, Emmanuelle Riva, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Jacki Weaver (?!?!?), and Christoph Waltz. At least this means that there will be no mention of The Paperboy at the Oscars.

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Jacki Weaver is all like “whaaaat?”

4. Silver Linings Playbook goes 4 for 4. Jacki Weaver? What? The character actress from Australia managed to sneak into the race despite pretty much no precursor noms. Her inclusion makes Silver Linings the first movie since 1981’s Reds to score an acting nomination in all four categories. Although, like Reds, Silver Linings will likely only win in one acting category, Best Actress, where Miss Lawrence is the frontrunner. Weaver, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper will have to do a lot to push Anne Hathaway, Tommy Lee Jones, and Daniel Day-Lewis out. But this acting quartet and David O. Russell’s Best Director nod have pushed the romcom up the list of potential Best Picture pics (despite it’s terrible ending, which I will never get over because it kind of ruined the movie for me).

5. Quvenzhané Wallis (9) and Emmanuelle Riva (85) become the youngest and oldest Best Actress nominees ever. At the expense of Marion Cotillard and Rachel Weisz, and proving that the Academy’s voting body is really all old people. They vote for themselves and kids who are as cute as their grandchildren. In other news, let’s check out this adorable photo of the two of them together.

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This still accurately reflects my emotional state.

6. Life of Pi is apparently as good as I said it was! It’s hard out here for a film-buff who spends every year rooting for the underdog (my hope in Hugo last year was, quite frankly, just a little sad).  But maybe this year, the underdog will emerge on top! Eleven nominations is nothing to sneeze at. Only one less than presumed frontrunner, Lincoln. Now I realize Pi is decidedly left out of the acting race, and its many nominations result from its wide range of technical achievements. But I will remind you of another recent film about an Indian adolescent that went on to win Best Picture despite its lack of acting nods. Back in 2008, Slumdog Millionaire was able to grow its buzz after the awards season had already started, vaulting it towards Best Picture. That film did have the advantage of a Best Ensemble SAG nod (and win) but as I said earlier, the guilds are becoming less relevant. And despite what some critics are saying, including Scott Tobias from The AV Club’s assessment that “Life Of Pi quietly hauled in 11 nominations without any of them in the acting categories. That’s enough for bored Oscar prognosticators to pretend it has a chance for an upset bid,” after today, Life of Pi has a real chance. In terms of unseating LincolnPi is the only movie with a shot. Silver Linings Playbook, despite being nominated for directing and editing, doesn’t have the grand, sweeping epic that Pi does. I’m not saying that it will win Best Picture. My best guess is that Ang Lee will experience some deja vu and walk away with the Director’s statuette, but not Best Picture. But you never know. After today, surprises seem to be the Academy’s biggest commodity.

Oscar Predictions and Double Vision Favorites

Because even though the nominations are coming out tomorrow (brought to us by none other than Emma Stone!), we still like to think that we have some kind of say in it or something. And in all honesty it was a great year for film, and even though some categories seem locked up, some are definitely wide open. I’ve also paired these lists with my favorites in each category for the year. It will make you wonder why I’m not an academy voter.

Best Picture:
Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best picture can be anywhere between six and ten this year, and with the field that’s out there, I’m thinking it’s going to be either eight, nine, or ten. Possibly additions/upsets in this category include the fogey-favorite The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Tarantino’s slavery adventure Django Unchained, and possibly even Moonrise Kingdom and Skyfall, although the popcorn crowd already has Les Mis in the mix.

My favorite film of the year: Life of Pi. As I said in my review (which you can find here) Lee made the film work when it never ever should have. I really didn’t like the book. I shouldn’t have liked the movie. But I loved it. When a film that is an intimate portrait of one man’s ability to survive feels more epic than the search for bin Laden or the Iranian Hostage Crisis or even a Paris uprising, that’s an achievement.

Best Director:
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Tom Hooper (Les Misérables)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)

Expect this list to double the Director’s Guild of America’s nominees, which were announced yesterday. That list, as well as the BAFTA nominees, announced earlier this week, both left Silver Linings Playbook‘s David O. Russell off, previously nominated for The Fighter. It is unlikely he’ll sneak in  tomorrow, but you never know. It’s likely the snub will be him or Life of Pi‘s Ang Lee, despite it being my favorite movie of the year.

My favorite director: Ang Lee. I do believe the reason that Life of Pi achieved so much was that it had Lee behind the wheel. He took the stunning visuals and the liberty afforded by 3D and went far beyond James Cameron or anyone else who has used the medium. And despite it being fantastical everything looked real. The story was larger than life, down to earth, and well, simply breathtaking.

Best Actor:
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
Denzel Washington (Flight)

This category is as locked as locked can be. A while ago Joaquin Pheonix was in the mix for The Master, but the film’s buzz has faded since September, while everything else has pushed on.

My favorite performance: Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook. Say what you will about the ending to this movie (and I’ve said plenty) but it was a great film and it was great because it had Cooper at the center. Jennifer Lawrence may be getting all the attention for her flashy performance, but Cooper’s more understated Manic-Depressive character was a sight to see in the film. It was his story, and he ran with it.

Best Actress:

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Chastain and Lawrence are mortal locks in this category, and Cotillard is as close as you can get to a sure thing. The other two spots are up for grabs. Wallis was ineligible for the SAGs and snubbed by the Globes, but the Oscars love a tyke who can really do something. It’s not exaggerating to say that she mad the movie what it was. And while SAG chose to nominate Naomi Watts for The Impossible and Helen Mirren for Hitchcock, those are both low-profile (and not even very well liked) films that really only have a shot in this category. I’m going to go with Riva instead, whose moving performance in Amour is right up the Academy’s alley. It would be something if we had the oldest and youngest performers ever nominated in the same year.

My favorite performance: Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Say what you will about the line between acting and playing yourself as a kid, but if Wallis was playing herself it was a good character. Her performance helped rocket this tiny indie into Best Picture contention, and it is not at all undeserved.

Best Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

Django has a powerhouse three all up for grabs in this category, Waltz plus Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. I’m giving Waltz the edge because he wheedled into this category despite the role being more a lead. Javier Bardem also has the chance to upset here, with his boundary-pushing villain in crowd-favorite Skyfall, but I fell like the BAFTA nom was his reward.

My favorite performance: Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Again, he’s not the actor getting all the buzz, but his performance plays against type, soft, understated, and with a fabulous wig. With Daniel-Day Lewis being larger than life and Sally Field being just this side of whacky, Jones’s Thaddeus Stevens emerged as the heart of the piece, pulling the most emotion from the audience, down to that beautiful home scene near the end.

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

The surprise here could be Nicole Kidman’s trainwreck of a performance in The Paperboy, which, despite being in one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a good long while (read why here),  managed to squeak a SAG and Globe nod. I refuse to entertain this possibility in my mind. Another upset could come in the form of Ann Dowd in Compliance, whose performance has been pushed by the entertainment press.

My favorite performance: Samantha Barks in Les Miserables. Surprise! Not even an underdog in this year’s Oscar race, Barks, a newcomer to film but an old hat in the London theatrical scene, gave a fabulous performance in the musical that has been drowned out by Anne Hathaway’s tears. Sure, Barks’ performance is a much more traditional Broadway-style portrayal of one of the greatest ingénues in history as opposed to Hathaways gritty, realistic, singing bad on purpose method. But in a movie where everything and everyone was trying too hard, it was refreshing to see Barks’ understated, dressed-down take on the musical’s most famous song. It was Eponine’s death, not Fantine’s, that felt more tragic.

Best Original Screenplay:
Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Rian Johnson (Looper)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) 

This is the category for the little film, the indie, the sci-fi or fantasy flick. Looper is possibly the weakest here just because sci-fi is a harder sell than the whimsical tale or a hard journalistic investigative piece. Flight also has a chance, although, Denzel Washington’s antagonistic journey could be a hard sell.

My favorite story this year: Moonrise Kingdom. In the best film Wes Anderson has put out in awhile, this story of two kids running away from the clueless adults that control their lives was the most endearing story of the year.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
David Magee (Life of Pi)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

Argo is also probably a spoiler here, and if it gets in it will oust Life of Pi or Silver Linings PlaybookThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is almost a sure thing, given that the author of the original novel both adapted the screenplay and directed the film. That’s too much for the Academy to handle.

My favorite adaptation this year: Life of Pi. Probably pretty unsurprising to you all by the end of this post, but I really liked Life of Pi. And I was surprised, because I really didn’t like the novel. That is not only the sign of a good adaptation, but a GREAT adaptation. How is it possible that this film made a kid and a tiger on a boat as dramatic, suspenseful, and also humorous and beautiful as they did? How did they take one of the most introspective novels of the past twenty years and make it so utilitarian? A wonderfully adapted script and directed film, that’s how.