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You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.

I’ve now seen what I think are the top contenders for Best Picture, namely, Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Les Misérables. Of course, I’m still planning to see the remaining nominees, but I don’t think that any of them have a real chance of winning: Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild because they are too small, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty because they are too controversial, and Silver Linings Playbook because it is too light-hearted.

Argo

Although Argo received the smallest number of nominations (7) of these four films, I believe it has the best chance of picking up the Best Picture award. For one, it won both Best Drama and Best Director at the Golden Globes. For another, I actually think the fact that Ben Affleck got snubbed in the Directing category will work in its favor.* Whether it picks up anything else is less certain.

I would love to see Alan Arkin win for Actor in a Supporting Role, but I think that category is a general toss-up, with a slight edge to Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained. Another possibility is Film Editing. Given the suspense of the film, and the fact that it actually clocks in with the shortest running time of the five nominees in this category, it has a good chance; however, I can’t decide if the fact that William Goldenberg is also nominated for Zero Dark Thirty (with Dylan Tichenor) will help or hurt his chances. But, ultimately, I think the Academy members are going to try to reward Argo where they can.

Lincoln

The film next most likely to take home the gold is Lincoln. As I stated in my post on costume design, I don’t think Lincoln will sweep, even though it had the most total nominations (12). In fact, it may end up with very few Oscars; my best guess would be 3 or 4. The only certainty in my mind is Daniel Day-Lewis for Actor in a Leading Role.

Given the competition, especially the fact that Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper aren’t nominated, Spielberg has a strong chance to win for Directing. It’s hard to complain about a Spielberg win in general, but here I do think it’s undeserved. The interest of this film relies primarily on Day-Lewis’s performance. Yes, having Spielberg meant the rest of the film was very capably done, but I could imagine other directors taking this story on equally well.

Speaking of story, I think the other likely win for Lincoln is Tony Kushner for Adapted Screenplay. He hasn’t won previously and I have a feeling he is much admired in the industry. Although he probably wouldn’t be my choice, I applaud his work here in making intimate, believable portraits of these characters.

On a separate note, I must say I am thrilled that neither Sally Field nor Tommy Lee Jones has any real chance of winning in their respective categories, since they are very weak links in what is otherwise very strong casting (James Spader and Lee Pace deserve special mention for their standout performances).

Les Misérables

I’m putting Les Misérables third here, but, in my opinion, it is far less likely to win Best Picture than either Argo or Lincoln, despite garnering a healthy eight nominations. It will almost certainly win Anne Hathaway a well-deserved trophy for Supporting Actress. And, if there’s any justice, it will also win for Makeup and Sound Mixing. Andy Nelson, who is also nominated for Lincoln, has now received 18 nominations for Sound and only won once (for Saving Private Ryan). Finally, as discussed in my last post, it has a good chance to win for Costume Design as well. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if, at the end of the day (!), this film comes out with the most Oscar wins.

Life of Pi

Lastly, I’m including Life of Pi here because of its 11 nominations, but, having seen it, I don’t think it has a chance at winning the big prize. In fact, looking at each category closely, it may take home nothing at all. I loved the book, but I was incredibly bored watching this. Which is odd because I thought it looked beautiful, the lead actor did a good job, and the CGI tiger was very well done. I even think the script was an interesting adaptation of a book that I had a hard time imagining working as a film. And, ultimately, that was the problem. Without Pi’s interior monologue, the film becomes a lot of tell, particularly in the beginning, and the story loses much of the book’s impact. I’d say its best chances for an Oscar lie with Cinematography or Visual Effects.

Feel free to rebut or confirm any of these points in the comments.


*In case anyone is not aware, in most cases, members from each branch of the academy determine the nominees in that category. Only the Best Picture nominees are determined by all eligible voters. While AMPAS directors are notorious for their nomination missteps, particularly where women are concerned, this year’s omissions of both Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) are especially egregious.

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