Film Feature: Predicts the 2013 Academy Award Winners

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CHICAGO – Hollywood’s favorite night of self-congratulations commences this Sunday, finally putting an end to the awards season and allowing us to get on with the new year in film. One last look back at 2012. Will it be “Argo” or “Lincoln”? Spielberg or the field? What the heck wins Best Original Screenplay? The critical brain trust at — Brian Tallerico, Matt Fagerholm, & Patrick McDonald — got together to try and predict what will win, opine on what should win, and get in one last jab at what should have been nominated.

Unlike most years, there is a surprising lack of consensus in the big eight categories. We all predict the same winner in Picture, Actor, and Supporting Actress, but the other five categories offer disagreement. Having said that, at least 2 out of 3 of us pick the same winner in every category and so those are listed first below as the official HC prediction (and the same system is used when at least 2 have the same pick for “Should Win”). Let’s get to it…

Will Win: “Argo”
Should Win: “Lincoln”

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

We all agree that the Best Director snub for Ben Affleck may have actually helped his movie, turning it into the little Hollywood movie that could. Everyone loves an underdog. And now that “Argo” has won the key Guild Awards (PGA, DGA, SAG), it seems unstoppable. Brian is happy with this choice (although would have loved to see “The Master” nominated and win) while Patrick & Matt hope for the not-impossible “Lincoln” upset. As Matt says, “Lincoln is great in every way that Argo is merely good, and will stand the test of time long after Affleck’s overrated comeback fades into oblivion.” Matt wishes J.A. Bayona’s devastating “The Impossible” had been nominated in the big category while Patrick points to Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors,” an inspired choice, which Patrick calls “a film-as-religious experience, sinfully overlooked both as Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture.

Will/Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Photo credit: DreamWorks

The most locked category of the night on the entire sheet. If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t win his third Oscar, somebody cheated when they counted the votes. And, once again, Team Lincoln (Matt & Patrick) agree that he deserves the big prize. Brian holds out that sliver of hope that Joaquin Phoenix wins for the most memorable performance of the year. Check that, Denis Lavant gave the most memorable performance of the year in “Holy Motors” and he’s both Brian & Patrick’s pick for the most-screwed in this category. As Patrick says, “[Levant] practically bleeds from the screen in his depth and intuition.” Matt points to the man who probably came in sixth in voting — John Hawkes in “The Sessions,” about which Matthew writes, “[His] transformative performance resisted sentimentality even when his own film succumbed to it. He was robbed, pure and simple.

Will Win: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Should Win: Jessica Chastain, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhane Wallis

Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty
Photo credit: Sony

Despite Brian’s strong disagreement (7 out of the last 8 BAFTA winners have won the Oscar and that’s Emmanuelle Riva), Patrick & Matt think the Oscar winner this year will be, no, not the popular pick in Jennifer Lawrence but the great Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty.” Brian hopes that he’s wrong and his colleagues are right while Matt goes in the other direction and hopes that Riva wins (for her “deftly nuanced, shattering turn”) while Patrick wishes the young Quvenzhane Wallis would break Oscar records again. In short, as long as Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t win, somebody at HC will be happy. As for who should have been nominated, Brian points to the great Rachel Weisz, so emotionally devastating in “The Deep Blue Sea” while Matt & Patrick play category shuffle with Ann Dowd in “Compliance” and Anne Hathaway in “The Dark Knight Rises,” two actresses pushed by their respective studios in Best Supporting Actress but arguably leads that deserved consideration here.

Will Win: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”

Django Unchained
Django Unchained
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

As much as Brian wishes Christoph Waltz has been nominated in lead where he belonged and left room here for either Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson from the same movie, he agrees with Matt that the “Django Unchained” star will win his second Oscar in as many Tarantino films. Patrick holds out hope for the eternally grumpy Tommy Lee Jones (and points out the SAG win that could push him over in a category with no real frontrunner) while the consensus pick as to who should win is the great Philip Seymour Hoffman for “The Master.” Honestly, any of the three (or the other two) could pull it off). Who can’t pull it off are Michael Caine for “The Dark Knight Rises” or Dwight Henry for “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Matt & Pat’s picks for who should have been nominated, respectively.

Will Win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Should Win: Sally Field, “Lincoln”

Les Miserables
Les Miserables
Photo credit: Universal

Finally, some agreement again. From the first note of “I Dreamed a Dream,” it was clear that Anne Hathaway was destined to win the Oscar and Brian’s just fine with that decision (even if Matt bafflingly calls it “pedestrian drivel…someone go find his heart). It is a timeless performance, one that will be remembered for decades, even if Hathaway’s false humility (“What?!?! I never expected to win!!!”) on the awards season circuit has been off-putting. Matt and Patrick are bigger fans of Sally Field’s great work in “Lincoln” and in most years she’d go three for three with nominations to wins (she previously won her other two times nominated). Matt praises Field’s “fierce andd achingly vulnerable portrait of an oft-caricaturized First Lady.” Patrick also thinks Helen Hunt would make a great choice for her work in “The Sessions.” As for who should have been nominated, Brian goes with a woman who also should have gotten a nod the last time Hathaway was in the awards season conversation, the great Rosemarie DeWitt, while Matt picks the under-seen Allison Torem from “The Wise Kids” and Patrick cites young future star Kara Hayward from Wes Anderson’s delightful “Moonrise Kingdom.”

Will Win: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Should Win: Steven Spielberg, Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin

Photo credit: DreamWorks

Has this category ever been crazier? If Ben Affleck were nominated, it would be a lock but since this appears to be the first time since 1990 that a Best Picture winner isn’t going to have a corresponding Best Director nod, anyone could sneak in here. Brian is going with his gut and predicting a shocker with Ang Lee taking home a second trophy for his achievement with the clearly-liked “Life of Pi” while Matt & Patrick go with the popular choice, a third prize for Steven Spielberg, which will make him the most awarded living director. This writer is old enough to remember when it was a big deal that he didn’t have one trophy yet. As for who should win, three writers, three picks — Brian will be happy if he’s wrong and thinks Spielberg is the most deserving of the lot (but Kathryn Bigelow is the most deserving, period) while Matt cites Michael Haneke for “Amour,” who definitely has a shot here, and Patrick holds out scant hope for Benh Zeitlin. As for the other “shouldas,” Matt offers the inspired choice of The Dardennes Brothers (who young Mr. Fagerholm calls “the most gifted directing duo in the business—my apologies to the Coens”) with their great work on “The Kid with a Bike” while Patrick picks a much-more-mainstream auteur in the always-overlooked Christopher Nolan for the way he brought The Dark Knight saga in for a close. “The greatest superhero trilogy in history didn’t direct itself.

Will Win: “Argo” by Chris Terrio
Should Win: “Lincoln” by Tony Kushner

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Despite Tony Kushner’s exhausted, detailed work on “Lincoln,” it really looks like Chris Terrio will take home this prize for “Argo.” It feels like if the Academy could somehow give Affleck Best Director, Kushner would have a better shot here but this is further making up for the snub and further justifying the pick for Best Picture. And further aggravating young Matt, who says, “I saw Lincoln four times, and upon each viewing, a different section of screenwriter Kushner’s magnificent verbal symphony stuck with me.” Patrick wishes the Academy hadn’t shut-out “Ben Lewin’s adaptation of Mark O’Brien’s senstive tale, [which] hits all the right notes, especially in depicting the Catholic Church,” while Brian & Matt point to a script that probably came in sixth in voting, the wonderful “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky.

Will Win: “Zero Dark Thirty” by Mark Boal
Should Win: “Moonrise Kingdom” by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty
Photo credit: Sony

Matt & Patrick still hold out hope that the Chicago Film Critics Association winner in this category will repeat and that Mark Boal should prepare a speech for this category. Brian couldn’t disagree more, thinking that Quentin Tarantino and Michael Haneke both have better shots. At the same time, both Patrick & Matt wish that Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola will be recognized for their childlike wonder in “Moonrise Kingdom.” As for what’s missing, Brian thinks future Oscar watchers willl be stunned that Rian Johnson’s work on “Looper” didn’t land a nod while the other gentlemen point to two of the year’s more interesting young writers — Zoe Kazan for “Ruby Sparks” and Josh Radnor for “Liberal Arts”.

The Rest (with only Brian’s predictions)

Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Should Have Been Nominated: Moonrise Kingdom

Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: The Master

Will Win: Anna Karenina
Should Win: Lincoln
Should Have Been Nominated: Django Unchained

Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Should Have Been Nominated: Looper

Will/Should Win: Les Misérables
Should Have Been Nominated: Looper

Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Argo
Should Have Been Nominated: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Will/Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: Django Unchained

Will/Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Should Have Been Nominated: The Impossible

Will Win: Les Misérables
Should Win: Skyfall
Should Have Been Nominated: The Impossible

Will/Should Win: Life of Pi
Should Have Been Nominated: The Dark Knight Rises

Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Should Win: ParaNorman
Should Have Been Nominated: The Secret World of Arrietty

Will Win: Searching For Sugar Man
Should Win: The Invisible War
Should Have Been Nominated: The Central Park Five

Will/Should Win: Amour
Should Have Been Nominated: Holy Motors

Will Win: Adam and Dog
Should Win: Paperman

Will Win: Asad
Should Win: The Death of a Shadow

Will/Should Win: Mondays at Racine content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

randall gerber's picture


best:picture”argo”;actor daniel day-lewis;actressjennifer lawrence;s. actor tommy lee jones;s.actress anne hathaway;director steven spielberg.

Mr. Leland's picture

crystal ball

Two weeks ago I might have agreed with you wholeheartedly. Now, though, I think their could be an upset in Best Actor category. I think there may have been a late surge for Silverlinings Playbook, whether it’s deserved or not. It’s always wise to keep an eye on the Weinstein brothers. I personally believe that Denzel was at his very best but it’s a very competitive year.

M12's picture

Best Actress

So, Jennifer Lawrence should not win simply because she is a popular choice?. Lawrence has garnered rave reviews since Toronto, is respected actress (this is her second nomination at 22!) but because Lawrence is also popular that means she shouldn’t win?. That’s absurd. Lawrence was phenomenal in SLP, and if she wins it’s well desrved. See boys, this is why everyone hates hipsters.

BrianTT's picture

Just So There's No Miscommunication

No one implied or wrote that Jennifer Lawrence, a great actress, should not win the Oscar for SLP BECAUSE she’s the popular choice. They are not connected. She is the popular choice AND we don’t think she deserves it as much as Riva, Chastain, or Wallis. The two facts are not connected. We would never suggest that someone doesn’t deserve an Oscar because of their popularity. That is absurd. However, we allowed, even as hateful hipsters, to suggest that while most people think she will win (making here the “popular choice”), we don’t and also don’t think she deserves to. And, yes, she’s quite good in SLP. Deserved a nomination in my opinion (can’t speak for Matt or Pat in that regard). However, does not deserve to win. She’ll get one someday. Maybe even two.

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