Daisy Practices Her “I Am Very Sad In a Way That Only Food Will Solve” Face

It’s a pretty impressive look. Sometimes it even works!

(A reminder to people about to comment on her chunkiness that she is half mastiff. She looks chunky no matter what.)

Zeus and Daisy, Just Chillin’, Y’all

And if you have a problem with it, it’s your problem, not theirs. Clearly.

Daisy in the Yard

She certainly can be photogenic, when she makes an effort.

This particular picture captured by the cell phone, incidentally. The camera on it isn’t bad in a pinch.

Daisy and Lopsided Cat Pose For Their Spring Portraits

And as you can see, it was a lovely day for it. So lovely, in fact, that I spent most of it away from the computer. And I would do it again. Don’t worry; tomorrow’s supposed to be rainy and 20 degrees cooler. I’ll be back inside then.

Daisy’s Day Gets Better

Because one of the neighbor dogs wandered over to play with her. They ran around the yard for a good half hour, being goofballs. And yes, as you can see, the yard is now visible; it’s 54 degrees outside and the snow is in retreat. Good riddance.

While I was taking photos the dogs were moving fast enough that the “rolling shutter” phenomenon of digital cameras came into play. You can see a little of it in the picture above by looking at the neighbor dog’s front left paw, but here’s a photo in which it’s really pronounced:

I think that’s kind of a cool look, personally.

In any event, Daisy’s bounced back from her morning. It’s a reminder of something we sometimes forget: When you’re having a bad day, friends help.

A Daisy Dog Update

We’re closing in on the one-month mark of our ownership of Daisy, so I thought I’d catch you all up on her status. Basically, it’s gone very well, and she’s become pretty fully integrated into the Scalzi clan. In particular, the cat/dog issue seems to have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction: The cats seem to understand Daisy is here for the long haul, and Daisy gets that the cats are family, and everyone gets along. They don’t cuddle up like the cats (well, Zeus and Ghlaghghee) did with Kodi, but it’s still early days.

Daisy definitely has her own personality. For one thing, she’s an attention hog: if one the cats is being petted she will headbutt her way into the pet session, because apparently no reason she shouldn’t get pets if someone else is. For another thing, she knows what’s allowed and what’s not but subscribes to the “if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” theory of morality, which allows her to get premium nap time on beds, which she knows she’s not allowed on but will get up on anyway. When I get up from my desk the first sound I usually hear is a soft thump as the dog quietly jumps down from whatever piece of furniture she knows she’s not supposed to be on, followed by the dog head popping out into the hallway to find out where I am. She’s a sneaky one.

Also, she’s a very excitable dog. Having an older dog for the last few years dimmed the memory that a favorite mode for dogs is run! everywhere! really fast! Well, I’ve gotten well-acquainted with that dog mode once again, and I have cause to observe that it’s actually a good thing I have 5 acres of lawn, because Daisy has made herself informed about every single square inch of it. This is not a bad thing for me, since what she enjoys most of the world is running around the yard with someone running after her, arms flailing, howling like the Cookie Monster set on fire, and guess who, as the work-at-home person, gets to do that. As a result, I’m getting a whole lot of exercise and looking entirely foolish as I do so.

And there we are. This is the end of “what’s up with our new dog” posts, I think; from here on out, when I post about Daisy, she’ll just be referred to as “the dog.” She’s one of us now, and she seems to be as happy about it as we are. And that’s a good thing for everyone.

Daisy, Drowsy

For the folks who are saying to themselves “it’s been two days and no new pictures of Daisy,” you can reset your clocks: Here she is via one of the faux-retro cameras that are all the rage on cell phones these days. Note the photo scratches! That’s your assurance of fake authenticity! The picture is of Daisy in her crate; she came crate-trained, which is actually a very good thing.

I’m also happy to say Daisy does now appear to grasp the concept that the cats are full fledged members of the family and not to be hugged using one’s teeth. The cats are still not thrilled by Daisy’s presence but seem to be accepting it with that sort of huffy exasperation they do so well. This counts as material progress, and makes me happy that we’re getting this all resolved before it actually gets cold and the cats basically stay in the house full time because, hey, it’s warm here. That would not be the time for animal personality conflicts.

Also, Daisy snores. It’s cute.


Meet Daisy

What we did with our Saturday: We went and got ourselves a new dog. Her name is Daisy, she’s a two-year-old laborador-mastiff  mix, and we got her through a local rescue service. Her previous owners were no longer able to care for her, which had nothing to do with Daisy and everything to do with their own personal situation. Daisy is housetrained and responds to commands and so far seems pretty happy. The cats are extraordinarily pissed, as they of course would be, although Daisy is not at all aggressive toward them so far. We assume they will get over it soon.

And that’s what I have for you at the moment, inasmuch as we’ve had the dog for all of 90 minutes now. More updates as events warrant. In the meantime, however: Say hello to Daisy.

Oscar Predictions, 2014

Every year the Oscar nominations come out, and every year I offer up my first-blush thoughts and predictions on the nominees. It’s a nod to my days as a film critic, when I would be making the predictions as part of my job. These days I do it for fun! And am about as accurate as I was back then (typically I get five out of six of the main categories right, usually blowing one of the supporting acting categories).

So, what looks good this year?


12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street

Last year was very unusual in that the film that won best picture didn’t have its director nominated; to give you an idea of how unusual this is, in the last 30 years it’s only happened twice: Last year with Argo and in 1989 for Driving Miss Daisy. Last year there was a strong feeling Ben Affleck got cheated out of a director nomination, which played a part in Argo’s eventual win. I really don’t think that’s going to happen again this year. In which case, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Her and Philomena get shown the door early.

Next out for me is Nebraska, because it’s the least flashy of the remaining nominees, and I think if it’s going to be rewarded, there’s another category where it’s more likely, and the Academy voters will think that’s sufficient. After that The Wolf of Wall Street is out; Martin Scorsese films are reliable nominees in this category, but I think there’s another film this year focused on the venality of humans that is resonating better. Gravity I suspect peaked too soon in terms of attention, and although I’m hesitant to write it off completely, I’m guessing its moment has passed.

This means that the contest is down to American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, and at the moment you could flip a coin to decide the winner. I think at the moment Hustle has momentum, but on the other hand Slave is an unflinching look at the US at its worst, and that’s a draw for the Academy voters who like their Oscar winners to be about Important Things.

At the moment I’m going to nod toward Slave, but it’s a pick with no confidence; this is one of those years when the time between the nomination and the vote really is going to matter. I’ll check in again on this just before the ceremony and see what I think then.

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: 12 Years a Slave


Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Scorsese out first, I think; he’s the Meryl Streep of the Directors category, and also he’s won it before. This year there are directors who haven’t won before worth paying attention to. Next out is Alexander Payne, because I don’t think Nebraska is in the running for the big one, and because I think the voters will feel the film will be compensated for in other categories. Cuarón out next, although again it’s possible Gravity will make a comeback and him with it.

Again, the battle will come down between American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. In this category, however, I think Russell has the edge; he’s been nominated in the category before with his last two films, he’s guided actors to Oscar wins in those films, which doesn’t hurt with that branch of voters, and finally, people love a redemption story (Russell was famously mercurial and appears to have reined in that side of his personality to make excellent films). Academy voters have a rare chance to vote for a black director (although, not trivially, not an African-American director, as Steve McQueen is British and of Grenadian descent), who has also directed memorable recent films. But I think at the end of the day Russell will have the “he’s due” sentiment on his side.

This means that there could be a best director/best film split, which (not withstanding last year’s very unusual situation) is fairly rare. That said, among other things a split might be the way to honor both Russell and McQueen, as McQueen is a producer on his film, which means he’d take home an Oscar if the film won Best Picture. Just like Ben Affleck!

Will Win: Russell
Should Win: Russell


Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Sandra Bullock, Gravity

I could go on and on, but I think this category’s a lock: Amy Adams. One practical reason: Everyone else in the category has won a Oscar in the reasonably recent past, including Streep two years ago and Bullock two years before that. Meanwhile Adams has been Oscar nominated four times in the last eight years, not including this nomination. Plus her performance in Hustle has gotten uniformly terrific reviews. If ever there was a “now is the time” award, it’s this. There’s a small chance Blanchett or Dench might upgrade their Supporting Actress Oscars, but very small, I think.

Will Win: Adams
Should Win: Adams


Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

This is an interesting category that could go all sorts of ways. McConaughey’s Golden Globe win puts him in better stead than I would have expected otherwise, Christian Bale has become the new Robert DeNiro, and DiCaprio’s gotta win one of these things one of these days, and this wouldn’t be a completely terrible year for him to do it.

For all that I think it’s going to come down to Ejiofor and Dern, and I think in the end this is Dern’s Oscar to lose. He’s got the “I’m an old guy who’s done his time” thing going for him, and also, I strongly suspect that this is the category the Academy voters who want to give Nebraska something will decide to do it in. Which is fine; Dern is a good, solid and safe choice. I’d personally vote for Ejiofor.

Will Win: Dern
Should Win: Ejiofor


Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

I think Squibb and Hawkins are destined for the “happy to be nominated” bin; Hawkins is in the “supporting actress in a Woody Allen film” slot, which is an unusually lucky place, statistically — but she has the misfortune of Blanchett being nominated in Best Actress for the same film, which I think draws attention from her. I really don’t imagine that one year after giving Lawrence Best Actress, that they will give her the undercard Oscar, and I suspect Lawrence knows that too. Julia Roberts? Maaaaaaaybe? But she’s been kind of out in the wilderness for a bit, it seems. I don’t feel a lot of momentum here.

This leaves Nyong’o, who I think has the best chance: acclaimed performance, a film with a lot of nomination momentum behind it, and this is one category where being relatively unknown is not a hindrance. I think it all lines up for a win for her.

Will Win: Nyong’o
Should Win: Nyong’o


Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

The most competitive field of the main categories, and with the exception of Leto, who I think would have had a better chance in any field other than this, it’s wide open. Abdi is a literal unknown, which has its appeal, and if voters want to honor Philips, this is the place to do it. Cooper may ride the Hustle train, and he’s still fresh in voters’ minds from Silver Linings Playbook. Fassbender one of the hottest actors working today, and his performance in Slave was despicably delicious. And everyone seems to agree that Jonah Hill was the best thing about Wolf — and he’s was nominated in the category before! He’s not a fluke!

I have no idea who will win this category. My gut tells me: Hill? Maybe? But honestly, I have so little confidence in my gut. This is another category where I’m gonna have to see how the period between nomination and ceremony plays out.

Will Win: Hill? Maybe?
Should Win: Abdi


I wouldn’t vote against 12 Years a Slave in Adapted Screenplay, and in Original Screenplay, I’m gonna go with a dark horse and say Her, on account of the film making the Best Picture category and Spike Jonze I suspect being popular enough to have this as a consolation prize (we should all have such consolation prizes). I’m ready to be wrong about that. Frozen I think is close to a lock for Animated Picture, but The Wind Rises may surprise everyone. I can’t imagine American Hustle not winning Costume Design. I would be very surprised if The Act of Killing doesn’t win Documentary Feature.

Finally, the surprise of the season for me is how little Inside Llewyn Davis is to be found on the awards slate: Only two nods, in Cinematography and Sound Mixing. The Butler, which was clearly built to be a nomination dragnet, got none at all. It suggests this is a really, really, really competitive year.

Your thoughts?

Update 2/21: I usually wait until later than this to do my follow-up, but I’m off the Internet for a bit and won’t be back onto it until after the ceremony, I think. So, updates:

Best Picture: 12 Years has faded a bit, but I think it’s still the top contender. Gravity looks better than it did to me earlier, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets by.

Best Director: Alfonso Curaon won the DGA and the Golden Globe, which puts him in pretty good stead here (and which ups the value of the film for Best Picture). I’d say he’s the new front runner.

Best Actress: Everyone said I was crazy not to think Cate Blanchett wasn’t going to walk with this one. Maybe she will, but I think the recent mess with Woody Allen might drag her down a bit. I’m gonna stick with Amy Adams, but if Blanchett wins, I’ll accept the “told you so”s.

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey kind of swept the table in the run-up awards, which I did not expect, so I suspect he’s the front runner now, although Dern should still not be discounted.

Best Supporting Actor: Also, everyone tells me I was wrong about Jared Leto, and I suspect now they’re right. I agree he’s the front runner.

We’ll see what happens from here.

And Now, Just in Time For Your Afternoon Lull, Dogs! In Snow!

Two neighbor dogs wandered over to play with Daisy, and oh! What fun they had in the snow. I thought it might cheer up your afternoon to see them at full frolic.

Aside From That, Mr. Scalzi, How Was the Rest of Worldcon?

Seanan McGuire about to dispense Hugo justice on my skull, while Kate Baker looks on. From Tor.com’s album of pictures. Click the photo to go to it.

It was pretty good, I have to say. I’m going to admit that for various reasons I didn’t walk into Worldcon this year in the best of moods, so LoneStarCon had a high hill to climb in order to get me in a happy space. Obviously being handed a Best Novel Hugo will do wonders to your disposition, but even before then my spiky angles were largely sanded down.

Part of that was strategic planning on my part — we got to the convention on Friday evening so I wouldn’t feel all dragged out by Monday, and I kept my programming to a minimum (I think I told the program folks that I didn’t want to be on panels because the mood I was in, I might stab someone). But the other part of that was simply being around people I like in largely relaxing circumstances. Funny how friends will make you feel good about life. I spent a lot of time in the bar or at a table at the convention itself, surrounded by conversation and the occasional hijinx, like estimating the weight of a polyploidal cinnamon roll and then having members of our group take the roll to the UPS store to get it weighed. You know, as you do. Good times.

One funny thing about Worldcon for me is, if I’m nominated for a Hugo, I usually have a night where I can’t get to sleep, because my brain will keep me up, turning over possible victory scenarios in my head. This often coincides with the night before the Hugo ceremony, which is pretty awful. This time it happened on Friday night, when I was already cranky by having a delayed flight; the Hugo calculus plus other factors meant I ended up getting three hours of sleep. This meant, however, that I was out like a light on Saturday night, so I was fresh as a daisy Hugo night. So, uh, yay, I suppose.

I did do three events, all on Sunday afternoon: A signing, which went over time by a half hour (this is not a bad thing, as long as you’re not taking up someone else’s signing space), a reading, at which I read an excerpt from the upcoming novel, and then a kaffeeklatsch. All of these went pretty well, excepting the part at my reading where I berated someone for not turning off their cell phone and then having my own go off. Yeah, that was embarrassing.

Sunday night I already discussed in the previous entry, and on Monday morning I walked my Hugo over to the convention center and let anyone who wanted to get close to it, pick it up and take pictures of it. Because, hey, they’re the reason I had it at all; figured they might want to see it up close before I took it home.

So in the end LoneStarCon did indeed get me into a happy place — and, importantly, almost certainly would have managed it even if it hadn’t have given me a Hugo. That’s a good con. Thanks, folks.

First of May! Time for a Contest! To Win an ARC of The Human Division!

The contest is simple: Caption the picture above, in which Zeus the cat and Daisy the dog are clearly up to something.

One submission (one post, one caption) per person, so make it good — there’s no prize for being first, just best. Entries have to be in the thread attached to this post; if you leave them on Twitter, Facebook, etc, they won’t be considered.  Winner gets an ARC of The Human Division, which I will sign and (if desired) personalize. Open to anyone anywhere on the planet. Contest runs to 11:59:59pm Eastern tonight, May 1, 2013. I’ll pick my favorite caption and announce it in the next couple of days and ship out the ARC next week.


Update: Contest now closed — I’ll look through the entries and announce a winner soon(ish)!

We Have Achieved Total Caturation

Which is to say, here are all three Scalzi cats in my office at one time: Zeus on the chair, Ghlaghghee on the chaise, and Lopsided Cat on the low window table. Collect them all! Also, Daisy the dog was in the room just before the picture was taken, but you only have my word on that. You can also see two ukuleles (one right-handed and one left-handed), a mandolin and a tenor guitar, and, of course, the Mallet of Loving Correction. Truly a busy picture. But, mostly: Hey, cats.

Oscar Prediction Update Post

When the Academy Awards were announced, I presented my immediate picks for the awards and noted that I would come back to the choices just before the ceremony if I changed my mind on anything. Well, here we are, just before the awards, and I have a couple emendations.

Best Actor: I boldly made my prediction that Hugh Jackman was going to get the Oscar this year and was roundly ridiculed, mostly along the lines of “dude, tell me where you get your drugs.” Fair enough. It does seem that neither Jackman or Les Miserables (outside of Anne Hathaway’s apparently almost inevitable Best Supporting Actress win) has gained any traction in the major categories, so I bow to the obvious and now slide Daniel Day-Lewis into the prediction slot. I hope you’re all happy. I would still love to see Jackman win this, mostly because I think he’d give one of the most charming acceptance speeches in history, because he’s just that guy.

Best Supporting Actor: I still have no idea who will win this category, I don’t think anyone else does either, and to be honest it’s totally without suspense because everyone nominated in the category has at least one Oscar already. So who cares? I don’t. I guessed De Niro before but now I just don’t know. They might as well award it by spinning a bottle.

Best Picture: I was pretty sure this was going to come down to Lincoln, and on paper, this still seems like a safe bet — but things have changed since the Oscars nominations were announced mid-January, and as a result we might be in for a semi-historic upset. What’s changed is the general feeling that Ben Affleck got shortchanged out of a director nomination for Argo, and then Argo and/or Affleck going on to win Golden Globes, the “Best Ensemble” SAG award (its equivalent of “Best Pictures” and the DGA Feature Film award). I noted in January that I thought Argo’s moment had passed, but I was clearly wrong about that, and I think it has a better than decent shot at becoming the first film since Driving Miss Daisy to win Best Picture without an accompanying Best Director nomination.

Here’s Argo’s secret ace in the hole: The actor’s branch of the Academy, which is the largest branch of the Academy. Affleck is still primarily known as an actor, and when well-known actors are nominated for the director they often find themselves winning the Oscar (See: Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood), even when up against superior talents (Redford and Costner were up against Martin Scorsese and Raging Bull and Goodfellas, respectively). This doesn’t always work — Tim Robbins and George Clooney have been nominated in the category but didn’t win, and it took Ron Howard a couple of tries — but it’s a factor to figure in to any calculation.

And you say, okay, but Affleck isn’t nominated for director, so where are you going with this? Well, Affleck isn’t nominated for director, but Argo is nominated for Best Picture — and the awards in that category go to the winning film’s producers, which in this case are Grant Heslov, George Clooney… and Ben Affleck. If enough actors feel Affleck was snubbed by the director’s branch of the Academy (which voted on the director nominations), they might vote for Argo best picture to give Affleck an Oscar anyway. The fact that both Heslov and Clooney got their start and are best known as actors (Heslov did comedy relief in films like True Lies and The Scorpion King) doesn’t hurt matters, either.

Admittedly, it’s a little strange to think of a Best Picture Oscar as a compensatory gift for a snub in the Director category (the screenplay Oscars are usually considered the make-do for directors: See Orson Wells, Quentin Tarantino and Jane Campion), but hey, this year, it could happen. And inasmuch as Lincoln is likely to walk away with director and actor wins, plus a smattering of undercard Oscars, Spielberg and company won’t be able to complain too much.

So, yeah: Argo. Really strong chance of walking away with Best Picture. Yes, I am surprised. But it’s been a strange Oscar year in any event. I’m gonna go ahead and get out there on a limb and say it’s my top pick over Lincoln going into Oscar weekend. It’s a very slim top pick — Lincoln is still the safest pick by all reasonable Oscar math and I would be utterly unsurprised if it eventually prevails. But I think maybe the Academy is ready to make a little history this year. We’ll see.

My Poor Stoned Puppy

Daisy has developed a nasty cough and the vet gave us some cough suppressant, which she warned might have the side effect of making Daisy drowsy. Well, it has the side effect of making her stoned, is what it does; after I gave it to her, she sat one of her beds, head wobbling, and just, like, really looked at her paws, man. For hours.

Poor puppy.

Oscar Predictions Post, 2013

Every year when the Academy Award nominations are announced, I reach back into my store of knowledge as a former full time film critic (and current, continuing film enthusiast) and give my immediate thoughts on the nominations for the six major Oscar categories, and which, off the top of my head, I think are likely to walk off with the statuette at the actual ceremony. Ready? Off we go.


Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Les Miserables
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

A few years ago the Academy instituted new rules that allowed more than five films a year to be nominated for Best Picture. I generally think it’s a nice gesture that allows the Academy to make a nod toward inclusiveness and is handy discussion fodder for the several weeks until the ceremony. As a practical matter, however, films that are nominated for best picture whose directors are not also nominated in their category have, until this year, been bystanders to the actual Best Picture race. Since the rule change expanding the field the director and best picture Oscars have gone in lock step, and it’s been more than two decades since a film won Best Picture without having the director at least nominated (Driving Miss Daisy).

While it still seems probable that this director/best picture association will continue, this is the first year in a long time where it’s at least possible that a film with an unnominated director might sneak off with Best Picture. That’s because the films with unnominated directors this year — Argo, Django Unchained, Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty — have generally been doing well both critically and commercially, with Zero Dark Thirty in particular doing very well in the critic awards running up to Oscar, and the other three films each topping $100 million in domestic box office.

On the flip side, with the exception of Lincoln, the films with nominated directors (Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook) have are cruising under the $100 million mark (although at $91 million, it’s now likely that Pi will cross that milestone), and all of them are quirky in their way, which is not necessarily to their overall advantage. Box office has not been a reliable indicator of Oscar wins in recent years, but this year the distribution of critical plaudits across all nominees is pretty even, which to my eye at least means it could be a more significant factor than it might be in other years.

As a general comment, in terms of quality and variety of films, this is probably one of the best Oscar slates in decades; it’s not 1939, but it’s as good as it gets otherwise. It’s the first year since the expansion of the Best Picture field where I don’t feel comfortable just tossing half the nominees over the side simply because the director isn’t nominated.

But we do have to start tossing films over the side, so let’s start with Argo, which I think had its moment and unfortunately that moment was a few months ago. The film has been great for Ben Affleck, who one may now call an A-list director without any ironic reference to the tragic crappiness of his film choices as an actor; Affleck got a DGA nomination, which is fantastic recognition for him. And he’s nominated as a producer here. So in a sense, Argo’s work is already done.

Next out of the boat: Amour, which will likely settle, if you want to call it that, for Best Foreign Language film, in which it is also nominated. The fact it’s nominated there means Academy members don’t have to feel bad about not voting for it here; Michael Haneke will get to clutch an Oscar no matter what. Next: Zero Dark Thirty, in part because its creative team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are very recent Oscar winners, so the need to reward their output again is less urgent, especially in a year with so many other viable options (disclosure: Chris Boal, who is currently working on the Old Man’s War script, is brother to Mark Boal, screenwriter of ZDT, so as a matter of team spirit I’d be pleased if Mark Boal and/or ZDT got something this year).

Next: Django Unchained, because again there’s too much other competition this year; Tarantino is like Orson Welles — he’s got his Oscar for writing, so his other, more mercurial talent for directing is likely to be passed over for more, er, reliable choices, shall we say. Next out, I rather suspect, is Beasts of the Southern Wild, but HOLY COW BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. I don’t know if anyone saw this one coming (much less its several other nominations). I think it’s spectacular that it’s been nominated, and it’s my official dark horse candidate if the Academy goes all Hurt Locker this year — but I don’t think the Academy will go Hurt Locker this year, otherwise, you know, Zero Dark Thirty. Next off the boat: Silver Linings Playbook, because to be blunt, small-focus difficult comedy about damaged people? Not the Oscar’s bread and butter at the moment. Les Miserables I think is more likely to be compensated in the acting categories than here.

Which takes us to the final two, Life of Pi and Lincoln, and I think at this point it could fall either way. Eventually I give the edge to Lincoln because, you know what? It’s goddamn Abe Lincoln. Also, it’s a widely praised film with a widely praised (and nominated) central performance, it’s done well at the box office, and it’s a historical film about historical people doing historical things, plus Spielberg. These sorts of films do well even when they’re the safe, mediocre choice (see: Gandhi, Out of Africa, The Last Emperor). Lincoln is a safe choice, but not mediocre. Things could still fall to Pi if Academy voters decide to reward the (relative) risk of pulling off a nearly unfilmable book. But it’s hard to vote against Abe.

Will win: Lincoln
Should win: Open field, but I would love for Beasts to sneak up on everyone.


Michael Haneke (“Amour”)
Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”)
David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”)
Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)

Zeitlin out because it’s his first nomination and there are other people here in line before him (see Haneke and Russell), but if this kid’s arms are not bruised his morning from him pinching himself to see if it’s all real, he’s doing something wrong. Russell is more likely (but by no means a lock) to win a screenwriting Oscar, for which he is also nominated. Haneke I already suspect will be serviced by the Best Foreign Film award. So we’re down to Lee and Spielberg. Lee probably deserves it more because Pi was as unconventional a studio film as you’re going to get this year and he made it work, but if Lincoln, which is nominated for 12 awards, starts sweeping, it’s hard to suggest Spielberg of all people is not going get his.

Will win: Spielberg
Should win: Lee


Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”)
Hugh Jackman (“Les Miserables”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”)
Denzel Washington (“Flight”)

Good for Bradley Cooper that he’s nominated; it’s nice for him to be able to let people know he’s not just a dude cranking out flicks like The A-Team. Denzel Washington is probably my favorite actor working today, but Flight doesn’t have that much juice going for it, other than reminding people that Robert Zemeckis can still direct live humans reasonably well. Joaquin Phoenix will get an Oscar someday but this year seems unlikely to me. It’s down to Day-Lewis and Jackman, and you know what? I have a good feeling about Jackman. Day-Lewis has won recently, Lincoln is going to be otherwise compensated, Jackman’s well liked, has paid his dues in a wide series of roles, didn’t screw up his Oscar hosting gig, and if Jackman can’t win for playing friggin’ Jean ValJean, then there’s probably something wrong with the world. Gonna be close, though.

Will win: Jackman
Should win: Jackman


Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”)
Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”)
Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”)
Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)

It would rock if Quvenzhane Wallis won, and no matter what she’s the youngest person ever nominated for the Best Actress award, so keep being perfectly awesome, Quvenzhane Wallis. I do think she’s unlikely to win, however (if she does, Beast’s stock in both the Director and Best Picture category go waaaay up). Naomi Watts is here in the Meryl Streep slot (“Damn it I could only think of four people to nominate… oh, look, Naomi Watts, she’s good. I’ll nominate her”), and while it’s possible she’ll win as a career award thing I wouldn’t count on it. Riva is older (the oldest nominee ever in this category — records all around!) and legendary, but she’s legendary in France, and I don’t know if that’ll be enough for the win. We’re down to Chastain and Lawrence, both of whom are having excellent years, with Lawrence possibly having the edge because she smashed the box office to bits with The Hunger Games. You can flip a coin between the two of them. My coin flip landed with Lawrence’s side up.

Will win: Lawrence
Should win: I’m a sucker for Wallis


Amy Adams (“The Master”)
Sally Field (“Lincoln”)
Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”)
Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”)
Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

Jacki Weaver gets to keep working! Good for her. Hunt and Field have Oscars in the main Actress category so I don’t see the Academy folks thinking they need one in the supporting category, although it’s nice to see Hunt back in it. This is another coin toss, between Adams and Hathaway; I get the feeling people might feel Adams is due, but again, it’s hard to fight against doe-eyed Hathaway wasting away so tragically, singing all the while. It’s the sort of role that is hard core designed for this category, and I suspect it will win.

Will win: Hathaway
Should win: Adams


Alan Arkin (“Argo”)
Robert De Niro (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master”),
Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”)
Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”)

Fun fact: everyone in this category already has an Oscar! De Niro has two! So, honestly, who knows what’s going to happen here. My guess? They’ll give it to De Niro, possibly as a bribe, as if to say “See? If you stop slumming with all those crappy films you’ve been in recently we’ll still love you. Hint, hint.” But honestly: No idea here. No idea at all.

Will win: De Niro
Should win: Meh

I’ll check in again near the ceremony with additional thoughts and any emendations to these predictions. Otherwise, tell me your thoughts in the comments.

Whatever Best of 2012

Hold up there, Daisy! Before we get to 2013, here’s my hand-picked selection of the best of Whatever through 2012, a year filled to the brim with politics, geekery, and of course, straight white men. They’re presented to you today in alphabetical order:

And now, onward! To 2013! Lead the way, Daisy!