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.

13 Comments on “Oscar Prediction Update Post”

  1. I don’t really understand the Hathaway contingent, though honestly, I hated just about everything about Les Miserables. (Love the stage musical; hated the movie.) It’s lunacy to compare Hathaway’s ridiculously melodramatic (and musically strained) performance to Sally Field’s in Lincoln and conclude that Hathaway’s was better. Looking back through a list of movies released in 2012, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it was a pretty terrible year for actresses (as in, there were very few great roles for women.)

    The film I most enjoyed in 2012, Cabin in the Woods, got nary a nod from anyone (except the Saturn awards.) Shows what the movie award season knows.

  2. I don’t think the Best Picture race is anywhere near that tough to call. It’s Argo in a walk.

    Like you, John, I didn’t think the film had a chance when the nominations were announced. But when the SAG, PGA, and DGA all went to Argo–well, that’s a whole lot of Academy voters right there.

    Yeah, it’s a weird year for the Oscars, but a better slate, I think, than last year’s offerings.

  3. The other thing about Argo – it’s a Hollywood movie that, while note necessarily FEATURING Hollywood, involves it at least an integral hero in the story – the bizarre bubble that is Hollywood is actually a strength when it comes to pulling this off – that kinda stuff really plays to the voters’ ego.

  4. critter42 beat me to it: Argo plays to Hollywood’s immense self-regard. That, even more than the actor factor (heh!), is what is behind Argo’s success so far.

  5. Practically the only only best Picture contender I’ve seen was Argo and while it was a servicable film, it left me fairly unimpressed, probably because the of the significant liberties Affleck took in with the actual events…

    Almost wrote “ass-flect” which is kinda of mean and uncalled for but also kind of a serendipitious typo…

    The anem for my new rock band: Serendipitous Typo

  6. Argo was a nice, enjoyable film and on a 1-10 scale, maybe a 7; it was no where near as good a movie as Lincoln. I do think Argo was better than Zero Dark Thirty which is probably the most over-hyped film of the year. The same goes for Jessica Chastain’s role as the star as I thought she was horribly miscast and not very believable in the role.

  7. If Argo wins, and I think it will, I’m declaring it a victory for geeks and nerds everywhere due to its (tangential) link to Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. You take your victories where you can find them.

    Now enough stalling: what will win animated feature fim?