Saturday, January 5, 2013


The Oscar nominations will be announced this Thursday morning at 7:30 AM Central Time. It’s a fairly easy year to predict the nominations, as most categories seem to have only about six or seven real contenders vying for slots. I don’t expect any huge surprises, but there are always one or two underdogs, usually in the acting categories. I’ll cover what the Academy decides this Thursday morning, but for right now, here are some of my choices if I had an Oscar ballot.
Javier Bardem in SKYFALL

Philip Seymour Hoffman “The Master”           
Tommy Lee Jones “Lincoln”                                   
Javier Bardem “Skyfall”                                               
Ewan McGregor “The Impossible”
Tom Holland “The Impossible”

Hoffman and Jones are a lock, and both are very deserving of all the accolades they’re receiving. Three actors on my list will likely not be called, but I wish they were. Tom Holland and Ewan McGregor are heartbreaking as they fight to survive after the dreaded Thailand tsunami in "The Impossible". And Javier Bardem makes for the most memorable Bond villain in decades in "Skyfall". It would be the first time any actor from over 50 years of Bond films got an Oscar nomination. He would, if I had a vote.
Helen Hunt in THE SESSIONS

Helen Hunt “The Sessions”
Sally Field “Lincoln”
Ann Dowd “Compliance”
Anne Hathaway “Les Miserables”
Charlize Theron “Snow White & the Huntsman”

Anne Hathaway may be an absolute lock to win this season. (So everyone seems to be feeling in the prognosticator world.) But the other actresses I’d nominate were equally as outstanding. For my money, it’s one of the strongest supporting actress categories in years. Dowd might have had the hardest role, playing the good-hearted but gullible fast food manager falling for a terrible practical joke in “Compliance” but I doubt enough Academy members have seen it. And the fantasy genre rarely figures in the acting categories so Theron’s nuanced work as the evil queen will probably go unnoticed. And I wish that certain nominee Helen Hunt was considered more of a contender this year. I think she gave the female performance of the year. She was naked, physically and emotionally, and her work was a marvel. 

Jack Black in BERNIE

Daniel Day-Lewis “Lincoln”
Joaquin Phoenix “The Master”
John Hawkes “The Sessions”
Denzel Washington “Flight”
Jack Black “Bernie”

Daniel Day-Lewis seems to be a lock for the win here. And it’s hard to argue with his monumental work in “Lincoln”. Hard to argue with the others I’ve listed too, or Hugh Jackman in “Les Miserables” or Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook” for that matter. Still, I’d love it if the Academy found room for Jack Black. He certainly put the black in that black comedy, but he also gave it a lot of heart. It’s a small, indie film that deserves some recognition and it would be very cool if the Academy was edgy enough to nominate him.

Naomi Watts “The Impossible”
Marion Cotillard “Rust & Bone”
Zoe Kazan “Ruby Sparks”
Rachel Weisz “Deep Blue Sea”
Jennifer Lawrence “Silver Linings Playbook”

Is Naomi Watts the most unheralded big star in Hollywood? She’s given great performance after great performance, from “Mulholland Drive” to “21 Grams” to “King Kong” to “Fair Game” and yet doesn’t ever seem to get as much due as say, Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett. I think they’re great, but so is Watts. And now she does perhaps her best work ever, as a mother trying to survive a tsunami and save her family, and she is considered on the 'Oscar bubble'. I hope not. I not only am hoping she's nominated I hope she goes on to win for her incredibly raw, physical and brave performance.

“Life of Pi”
"The Sessions"
“The Impossible”

I’ve already picked my 10 best in a previous Establishing Shot post ( And if the Academy indeed sees fit to nominate 10 pictures this year, well, I’ve had my say. But if they could only pick five like they used to, these are the ones I’d like to see called.

It’s a shame that the Best Animated Feature category seems to have somehow blocked any cartoon from going farther at the Oscars, but I’d love to see “Frankenweenie” up for Best Picture. I'm afraid its chances are about as good as Sparky's after that car accident. (But wait!) He came back, so maybe there's hope. The Academy is getting better about honoring genre films in the Best Picture category. They nominated “District 9”, “Inception” and all of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. And they gave the horror movie “The Silence of the Lambs” the coveted top prize in 1991. So perhaps Tim Burton will have a great day on Thursday, instead of an expected good day.

We shall see…

(BTW...I was inspired to write this column by The Establishing Shot follower Jason Kinnison. He made his major category picks in  one of the threads here, and his list was superb. So what are your picks? Who would you like to see get nominated Thursday AM? Let Jason and me know, and we'll keep the discussion going...)


  1. Jeff, thank you for the kind words regarding my list. As a fairly new follower of the blog it's nice to hear the great feedback of a writer who's opinion on film i've come to admire. The fact is, it was your great 10 best of the year list that inspired me to go a bit overboard & give all my favorites. I'm happy to return the favor.

    In the last post I did mention I had yet to see either Zero Dark Thirty or Amour, but I also have to admit I have not seen The Sessions. Your high praise of the film just makes me want to see it all the more. I did want to see it as soon as it came out, but it just ended up being one of those movies that has escaped me so far. I do love John Hawkes' work, however, so I doubt I'll be disappointed. He should have won the Oscar for Winter's Bone & at least been nominated last year for Martha Marcy May Marlene. This may be his year!

    Even having not seen Hawkes, though, the Best Actor category was a rough one for me. So many good lead actor performances to choose from. Here are some I ended up leaving off:

    Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
    Denzel Washington (Flight)
    Jared Gilman (Moonrise Kingdom)
    Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust & Bone)
    Richard Gere (Arbitrage)

    Again, this are the performers who DIDN'T make my list. I'll stand by mine, but this easily could have been my alternate five.

    I'll be posting again to compare & contrast with everybody - just waiting now for the actual nominations to be announced.

    Until then, happy posting & always find something to love in this art form that brings us so much joy.

  2. Jason, you may be new here but your thoughts are fantastic and I so appreciate your participation. I'm sure the other followers do too. (Hard to believe, but despite only 50 or so followers, this blog is read by folks in 27 countries!)

    And indeed, the Best Actor category could always go to 10 or even more, couldn't it? I wholly agree with your choices. Schoenaerts and Gere, in particular. I'm glad that Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva came through in the last few months. I was beginning to worry that the Best Actress category might have had Jennifer Lawrence in there for THE HUNGER GAMES ( a movie I was none too fond of) but glad to see she's got SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

    Do you think that the Academy will go to the full 10 nominees this year for Best Picture? I think they may. Cripes, even last year they picked 9. So we shall see. I doubt that SKYFALL or THE DARK KNIGHT RISES will make the list. I could see AMOUR or even THE IMPOSSIBLE sneaking in there, but I think this year the competition will really be between three pictures - LINCOLN, ARGO and ZERO DARK THIRTY. My guess right now is that may award top honors to Lincoln but give the directing award to Ben Affleck. The actor's branch is the biggest wing of the Academy and they love to honor actors who became directors, having handed the Oscar to Robert Redford, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson in the past.

    Let me know what you think of the nominees after they are announced. I'll be writing my reaction to them here some time that Thursday.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with you, Jason. Even when movie seasons aren't the greatest (like the first half of 2012) there is always something to revel in. Indeed the medium brings so much joy to people, including yours truly!

  3. Before the big announcement comes out this morning, here are my guesses for the 2013 Oscar nominations. And, I absolutely believe the Academy will never limit Best Picture to only five choices - unless they are forced to. That would make it look like they didn't think they produced enough product that year good enough for Oscar.

    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Life of Pi
    Les Miserables
    The Master
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Zero Dark Thirty

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
    Denzel Washington, Flight
    Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
    Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
    John Hawkes, The Sessions

    Emannuelle Riva, Amour
    Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
    Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
    Marion Cotillard, Rust & Bone
    Naomi Watts, The Impossible

    Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
    Javier Bardem, Skyfall
    Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
    Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
    Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

    Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
    Helen Hunt, The Sessions
    Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
    Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
    Sally Field, Lincoln

    Ang Lee, Life of Pi
    Ben Affleck, Argo
    Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
    Michael Haneke, Amour
    Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

  4. Very good list, Fan! Better than most Oscar predictors. And yet not totally in line with those offbeat Oscar voters! Particularly, the director's branch! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Great list, except that you really can not categorize Tom Holland as a Supporting Actor, which the producers did not. The producers of The Impossible rightfully submitted him for Lead Actor, as he has more screen time than just about anyone else in the movie, and much of the film is told from his POV.