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The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.A busy year equated to a late Oscar Predictions list for the year.  Additionally, I was challenged with creating a predictions list that was interesting in it’s own right and wasn’t able to come up with anything too revolutionary before the Oscars.  Therefore, moving forward, I’m hoping to create an interesting predictions list that is easy-to-read and still uniquely insightful.  Stay tuned.

Until then, enjoy my usual (albeit late and a bit rushed) predictions for this year:

 

Writing – Original Screenplay

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Her
Nebraska

Wie’s Choice: Her
Although my two other close favorites, ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Blue Jasmine’ are each fascinating in their own respects, ‘Her’ is my personal favorite out of all the choices here – successfully encapsulating both a sci-fi premise into a romantic comedy.  The unique blend created a touching and alarming film that showcases both our love with ourselves and technology.

Most Likely to Win: Her
‘Her’ has been on a fairly good winning streak with only a ‘loss’ at the BAFTAs to ‘American Hustle’ in which ‘Her’ was not nominated at all.  The momentum could shift to ‘American Hustle’ however if wins starts to shift in all other categories although that has looked less and less likely in the last few weeks.

Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Wie’s Choice: 12 Years a Slave
My favorites here are between ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ – the latter being so flagrant in it’s excess that it oddly becomes admirable.  However, my choice has to come to ’12 Years a Slave’ which also feels excessive but to highlight the plight Solomon’s plight and the other slaves around him without feeling overly melodramatic or preachy.   Few other films this year reached the emotional beats that ’12 Years’ managed to conjure.

Most Likely to Win: 12 Years a Slave
With only a loss to ‘Philomena’ at the BAFTA’s and ‘Her’ at the Golden Globes (in which both were competing with one another), ’12 Years a Slave’ seems to be a fairly sure fit for the win in the Original Screenplay category.  It remains to be seen, however, if this will be one of only a few wins that ’12 Years’ will receive throughout the night.

Visual Effects

Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Wie’s Choice: Gravity
Visual effects have obviously come a long way with this year being no different.  However, my personal favorite seems fairly simple with ‘Gravity’ being one of the best looking films of the year.  With Cuaron working on the film for years just to get the tech up to snuff, the results show easily on screen with a surprising amount of CG that never seems out of place.  ‘Gravity’ is a technical dream that deserves all the praise it gets in this regards.

Most Likely to Win: Gravity
In a category that always seems to leave out some beautiful films, this year – the answer seems pretty agreeable with ‘Gravity’ and has all the momentum from wins at other award ceremonies as well as recognition both critically and financially.

Music – Original Score

The Book Thief
Gravity
Her
Philomena
Saving Mr. Banks

Wie’s Choice: Her
‘Gravity’ may have such an important role for it’s soundtrack without much sound elsewhere other than dialogue; however, I am of the opinion it felt too heavy and overbearing.  My vote would go to ‘Her’ which has a subtle and soothing soundtrack that complements the film well.  Much respect has to also go out to the Arcade Fire collaboration which worked for the film rather than to it’s detriment.

Most Likely to Win: Gravity
‘Gravity’ has most of the wins here from past contests and with a lot of momentum for the film in most of it’s categories, the Academy seems sure to vote for it again here as well.  The only other winner, ‘All is Lost’, at the Golden Globes is not even nominated here.

Film Editing

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
12 Years a Slave

Wie’s Choice: Gravity
The fairly surefire answer, personally, is ‘Gravity’ for the Oscar Editing Award.  Space has rarely seemed so dark, isolating and fascinating and although the editing is only one cog in a complicated frame, it was such an integral part in making scenes tense at one moment and lonely in the next – it’s a terrific accomplishment.

Most Likely to Win: Gravity
‘Gravity’ has lost to ‘Rush’ at the BAFTA’s but with ‘Rush’ not nominated here, ‘Gravity’ (again) has the momentum going for it as a critical favorite and a win at the Critic’s Choice Awards.

Cinematography

The Grandmaster
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Prisoners

Wie’s Choice: Gravity
‘Gravity’ once again seems like a clear victor here on a personal front.  With Cuaron’s signature long take style and the film having a myriad of crazy shots all over, the cinematography is absolutely top-notch as always.  The first fifteen minutes of the film, which includes perhaps the most quiet moments throughout, is an absolute treat for any film lover looking for great camerawork.

Most Likely to Win: Gravity
With a near sweep at the major awards, ‘Gravity’ once again looks to take the award easily here.

Animated Feature Film

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

Wie’s Choice: N/A
Unfortunately, I have yet to watch the Wind Rises which (from word of mouth) is a very strong film.  Therefore, I’d rather leave this blank.

Most Likely to Win: Frozen
Although critically, there has been talk of the respect for ‘The Wind Rises’ as Miyazaki’s ‘final’ film, ‘Frozen’ has swept the critical awards and looks to take the award fairly easily.  Disney has had an absolute critical and financial hit with ‘Frozen’ and with its unique stake in Disney history, it looks to land the Oscar as well.

Oscars_Best_Supporting Actors_Best_Supporting Actresses copyActress in a Supporting Role

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

Wie’s Choice: Jennifer Lawrence
There are some absolutely fantastic performances here – some of my other favorites being Roberts, Nyong’o and Squibb (and Roberts having nearly a role that could have stood in the main actress category).  However, my personal favorite has to go to Lawrence who brought out such a fun and wacky role in ‘American Hustle’ and is one of the most memorable from the film as a whole.  A shame that she was not in the movie even more, but when she was on screen, it was hard to not pay attention.

Most Likely to Win: Lupita Nyong’o
Here is one of the more hotly contested awards of the night with Nyong’o and Lawrence both landing nearly equal awards throughout the season.  Nyong’o does have the slight edge some more recent wins such as at the Critic’s Choice Award, although as some critics have mentioned, ’12 Years’ may have some problems with many in the voting body possibly thinking of the movie as too heavy while ‘American Hustle’ has gotten a lot of early love from critics which may translate to rewarding the film here.

Actor in A Supporting Role

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

Wie’s Choice: Jared Leto
The actors category continue to have such a strong amount of great competitors this year with the supporting roles.  Although Hill and Cooper may land in my favorites (while Abdi, like Roberts, having a role that could have stood as a main actor role), Leto has the most fascinating character as a transgender woman suffering from AIDs.  Much like his co-star, McConaughey, the role goes far beyond just the physical transformation but also the lighthearted and heartfelt emotions that runs through the role.  Cheers to Leto for such a terrific performance.

Most Likely to Win: Jared Leto
Although Leto lost to Abdi at the BAFTA’s, Leto has won all other critical awards and is looking to go into the Oscar’s with the most momentum here.  There is also a lot of love for the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ project and the knowledge about it’s long campaign to become a film may reward the film with acting wins.

Oscars_Best_Actors_Best_Actresses copyActress in a Leading Role

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

Wie’s Choice: Cate Blanchett
Another strong group of actors here – some of my personal favorites come from Dench (who technically did feel like a supporting role), Adams and Blanchett.  However, the best overall performance has to be Blanchett – a depressing character in a film that just continues to grow depressing with each act.  Blanchett plays Jasmine with such conviction in her lies and insanity that the character almost grows to be pitiful until the final few acts – one of Blanchett’s best roles to date.

Most Likely to Win: Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett has pretty much won most of the awards coming into the Oscars here with only Adams and Bullock winning one or two awards in separate categories.  However, the voting body seems to want to reward ‘Blue Jasmine’, if not in the screenplay category, they will most likely do so here.

Actor in a Leading Role

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

Wie’s Choice: Leonardo DiCaprio
This category was tough to narrow down to one.  My favorite roles here probably could be narrowed down to Ejiofor, McConaughey and DiCaprio.  However, DiCaprio wins out for my personal favorite.  Even though the role and film itself could be hated as excessive and gluttonous, DiCaprio simply shines as the villainous Belfort and pushes himself to encapsulate a man who simply love his wealth and himself all too much.  I argue that it’s one DiCaprio’s best characters with such conviction in his delivery and emotions.

Most Likely to Win: Matthew McConaughey
Here comes another interesting contentious category.  Ejiofor and McConaughey are the favorites here (with DiCaprio only winning a few awards – mostly in separate categories).  McCounaughey has the slight edge over Ejiofor, however, both in awards count and, once again, the heavy-hearted talk about ’12 Years’ in general may work against Ejiofor.

Directing

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

Wie’s Choice: Alfonso Cuaron
I personally have a lot of love for McQueen, O. Russell and Scorsese – all for unique reasons and for terrific films.  If these were the only directors in the race, Scorsese would have probably gotten my vote.  However, Cuaron, in the end, feels like he most deserves the award here.  ‘Gravity’ really is the lovechild of Cuaron from start to finish – from it’s pre-production  to the editing room.  Characteristics of Cuaron are also highly present throughout the film such as long shots, tough/tense shots and themes of humanity.  ‘Gravity’ is a labor of love and Cuaron is the heart.

Most Likely to Win: Alfonso Cuaron
Fascinatingly, even though ‘Gravity’ most likely will not win the Best Picture Award, Cuaron has swept every award for Best Director.  Much like my comments above, the long-in-development narrative behind ‘Gravity’ and the final product have proven to be critically viable and will most likely garner a win.  Only McQueen has a small chance to upset here if the voting body feels like ’12 Years’ is getting neglected.

390-oballot-0116Best Picture

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

Wie’s Choice: 12 Years a Slave
Much like my top 10 film list for 2013, ’12 Years a Slave’ also tops the list here as well.  A powerful film that is unrelenting in it’s punishment and visceral in it’s vision, ’12 Years’ may be hard to watch but is such a solid film overall and is thematically important for it’s time.

Most Likely to Win: 12 Years a Slave
The final award of the night looks like it will most likely go to ’12 Years a Slave’ as it grabbed most of the past critical awards.  ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Gravity’ may have the best chances to upset with either past wins in separate categories or just love for the film overall.  However, the bigger story will be if the Academy voting body (much like at the aforementioned award shows) mostly ignores ’12 Years’ except for a few awards like the ‘Best Picture’ category.

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the-oscars-and-social-media-by-the-numbers-630dfbfb1c2012 was a terrific year for film.  Of course, the general box office might not think so and many fans of specific movies might be unhappy with the Oscar picks as they are nearly every year – but really, believe me when I state that this year’s Oscar candidates really reflects the high caliber of film that hasn’t been seen for a few years if not more.  Because of this, a lot of categories are interestingly going up in the air in terms of who has the better expectation in terms of winning.  We’ll find out tomorrow the results.  Here are my predictions for 2013: [And a good quick note, like every year, I miss a few categories simply because I lack the expertise in the specific category or I haven’t been able to watch most of the films in that category, such as Best Animated.] 

Original Screenplay:
Amour
Django Unchained
Flight
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

du-ac-000125_lg_620x350Most Likely to Win: Django Unchained
Django Unchained has been riding a huge tidal wave of success starting from it’s Golden Globe win to the BAFTA. The WGA was it’s only major loss (since it wasn’t nominated) and so going into the big Oscar week, it seems that many in the film community would like to honor Tarantino’s latest with a few awards, especially in two of it’s strongest areas starting with it’s witty and fascinating screenplay.  The only other two that could usurp it could be Zero Dark Thirty or Amour – one for it’s win at the WGA and the other because of rising emotional momentum.

Wie’s Choice: Moonrise Kingdom
It’s an utter shame that this category is the only nomination for Moonrise Kingdom which is hindered by both it’s summer release and quirky output. It also most likely has little chance of winning, but in my mind, Wes Anderson’s screenplay actually has a lot in common with the most likely winner, Django.  Both harken back to a specific nostalgic genre and play with those aesthetics to create it’s world and emotions.  However, I do feel that Moonrise is the more genuine out of the two and takes more risks that payoff in building it’s child-to-adulthood storybook plot, written with as much intelligence and fun as any other contender this year.

Adapted Screenplay:
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook

argoMost Likely to Win: Argo
Much like the majority of this predictions list, Argo has the biggest momentum moving into the Oscar night.  The film really capitalized on it’s early Oscar buzz more than any other film and with both wide exposure and a film that doesn’t do too much to offend and enough to excite – it looks like the clear frontrunner to beat.  Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook seem to be the next films that could have a chance, the latter with a BAFTA win.

Wie’s Choice: Silver Linings Playbook
However, personally, the best screenplay goes to Silver Linings Playbook with Lincoln close behind.  Silver Linings lives and dies by it’s writing and character interplay – an element that is clearly a big help thanks to the well-written screenplay that could have left the fairly typical under trappings into mediocrity.  With such a huge element of success and love put into it’s screenplay, there’s no denying that Silver Linings Playbook is one of the most heartfelt screenplays on the list.

Visual Effects:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

121121_MOV_LifeofPi.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeMost Likely to Win: Life of Pi
Life of Pi seems to be the clear frontrunner here, winning the most awards and most critical praise.  Sure there are some spectacular visual set pieces and some clear work done with the effects.  It most likely is the tiger, however, that really distinguishes the work above it’s competition – a feat that is all the more impressive when most audience members cannot distinguish between the real and the fake.

Wie’s Choice: Prometheus
However, admittedly, one of my most disappointing films of the year was still quite a pretty choice indeed.  Prometheus was both artistically beautiful and visually strong with consistently large and gorgeous set pieces and constant effects that never seemed to run out of steam.  The film itself may be quite weaker in comparison but the work done on the effects here should be recognized as some of the industry’s best of the previous year.

Music – Original Score:
Anna Karenina
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

argo1Most Likely to Win: Argo
Music has been a bit all over the place this awards season with various winners from Skyfall’s BAFTA win to Life of Pi’s win at the Golden Globes.  Call it strange but I believe because of Argo’s lack of nominations or surefire wins in most other categories I believe the Academy will award Argo and it’s fairly interesting score a prize here.

Wie’s Choice: Life of Pi
However, I do believe Life of Pi, although the dominant winner in my eyes, is one of the more unique soundtracks of the year.  Both Eastern and mystical in it’s musical trappings, in a film where the players do not change as much on screen, an important component became the musical backdrop to truly push the film along with it’s beautiful visuals – something that the soundtrack has done.

Film Editing:
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

121011_MOV_Argo.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeMost Likely to Win: Argo
The editing category here has gone to quite a few different movies this season.  However, much like the reasoning with the Music Score, I believe the Academy will go similarly here with editing and award it to Argo, both creating consistency with it’s eventual lead-up to bigger awards and because it does have some momentum in terms of other wins as well.  Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi are the most likely other choices.

Wie’s Choice: Silver Linings Playbook
My choice falls alongside an interesting choice – Silver Linings Playbook.  I believe the film was at it’s strongest with it’s pacing and frenetic energy helped by a tremendous job in the editing room.  The film was quick and all over the place yet still had a foundation and weight that kept it all level – something that the editing here really succeeded at I believe more than the other film contenders.  However, Silver Linings doesn’t look to be the top choice here in the final night.

Cinematography:
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

life-of-pi02Most Likely to Win: Life of Pi
Life of Pi is the clear frontrunner with both the critical acclaim and the awards lead thus far – a not too surprising choice given some of the beautiful camera moments that really push the wow factor of the film’s big set pieces.  With little to slow it down other than a surprise upset from Skyfall or Anna Karenina, two of the artier cinematography films nominated, Life of Pi has little to lose here.

Wie’s Choice: Skyfall
However, I was more impressed with the beauty and grandeur of Skyfall.  Although it lacks some of the more abstract moments of Life of Pi, this latest Bond flick encompasses some beautiful camera decisions that result in one of the best looking Bond films yet that really take advantages of the locales Bond visits.  From a beautiful pan out fight to the death under the ice to a Shanghai fight against the neon lights, Skyfall is my pick amongst these candidates for Best Cinematography.

Actress in a Supporting Role:
Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

1500_les_miserables_anne_hathawayMost Likely to Win: Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway is the easiest acting role nomination to pick because she has swept every single category she has been in.  From the Golden Globes to the SAGs, there hasn’t been a major award that Hathaway hasn’t won.  Hunt’s role is probably too miniscule in comparison to Hathaway along with Weaver.  Adams had a terrific performance that played against her usual roles but still was not as dominating and Field, although an Oscars favorite, may have tried to dominate in Lincoln but still clearly overshadowed by her bigger-than-life Day-Lewis/Lincoln husband.

Wie’s Choice: Anne Hathaway
But that being said, Hathaway really dominates in her role all-around, as short of a period as she is in the movie for.  With ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ as her big solo moment and the story of Fantine making up the big transition to the halfway point in the movie, Hathaway’s role was really either a take-it-or-leave-it moment and Hathaway did the role justice.  It helped that Director Hooper chose to really be intimate during the songs and hone in on the characters, giving them a musical-like moment to be judged and reviewed.

Actor in a Supporting Role:
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

christoph-waltz-django-unchained-1Most Likely to Win: Christoph Waltz
Here’s a category that initially seemed like an easier category to predict but has gotten a bit unsteady throughout the weeks.  Waltz was the frontrunner at first with a win at the Globes and another at the BAFTA.  However, Jones and Hoffman have also each received an award for their equally powerful performance in their movies and some pundits believe that De Niro and Arkin are both deserving of an award as well.  However, Waltz seems like the most likely winner amongst the group simply due to the stats.  We’ll see.
Wie’s Choice: Christoph Waltz
This category is also filled with heavy hitters in nearly every spot.  Jones and Hoffman are very much deserving of the award – the former for his earnest candor that really focused on working his acting chops and the latter really being a bombastic middleman that kept the Master together.  However, it really is Waltz that stole the Django show with a performance that shone as witty and dramatic.  How does a German cowboy work in an exploitation Western?  Simply watch Waltz work his magic.

Actress in a Leading Role:
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

amour-riva_2448292bMost Likely to Win: Emmanuelle Riva
What was once a clear-shot win for Lawrence has started swaying in the other direction for Amour’s Emmanuelle Riva since her win at the BAFTA’s.  Pundits are predicting that the stars are aligning correctly for the actress along with appealing to the majority of the Academy’s older voters.  Furthermore, it’s her 86th birthday during the Oscar’s – a great birthday present and story that the Oscar’s would seemingly love (and her role in Amour itself is critically acclaimed and a nomination well-deserved).

Wie’s Choice: Jennifer Lawrence
As much as I cherish and respect Riva’s role though, my favorite performance of the year is still Lawrence.  Silver Linings Playbook is heavily reliant on it’s actors to convey the quick-paced, nearly-schizophrenic plot and Lawrence has been the biggest force to lead the charge in the film.  Continuing to diversify her roles and showcase, her role here is one that is very stalwart yet emotionally frail – confident yet filled with holes.  Her chemistry on screen and her ups and downs throughout the film was a thrill to watch and my pick for the Best Actress of 2012.

Actor in a Leading Role:
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Denzel Washington (Flight)

daniel-day-lewis-lincoln4Most Likely to Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Here is probably the easiest category to choose of the night unless there’s some sort of hard upset that – Mr. Day-Lewis has been picking up pretty much every major award up to the Oscar’s with little momentum shifting away from him.  Hugh Jackman is probably the only one with a bit of hype on his side with his Golden Globe win but little else in their other confrontations.

Wie’s Choice: Daniel Day-Lewis
The choice though is fairly sound, even amongst such heavy competition.  Day-Lewis truly embodies Lincoln both as a fantastic storyteller and a strong but flawed leader.  Spielberg’s style throughout the film leaned heavily on Day-Lewis as well for nearly the entire film with quiet moments telling an intimate story to an emotional fight with his wife that again, Day-Lewis perfectly balanced.

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

2088_life-of-pi-ang-lee-640Most Likely to Win: Ang Lee
Here comes the strangest award of the night as three heavy-weight directors that were nominated in Best Picture are not here including heavy favorite Argo.  So what in the world happens then?  Pundits seem all over the place here with the fight being a three-way match between Spielberg, whose film is leading in terms of nominations, Russell, who has swept the nominations for the acting categories, and Lee who has been a late favorite among many.  Without any clear award indicator from before other than the critical rumblings, I would have to agree with Lee in this case – a film that truly blossomed into a fascinating contender later in the game.

Wie’s Choice: David O. Russell
Again, however, the nominated directors here showcases the strength of this past year’s films.  Nearly all of them deserve some kind of recognition but my personal favorites come down between Haneke and Russell, the latter of which I will tip my hat to.  As I’ve described previously in other choices, Silver Linings Playbook was an achievement thanks to many moving cogs – a film that could have easily slipped into a typical rom-com and held together to become something much more significant thanks to Russell and his great work in building his characters – an achievement that out of this list I believe he accomplished best.

Best Picture:
Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Argo-1Most Likely To Win: Argo
And so comes the big last award of the night, which will most likely go to Argo.  How come?  The momentum behind this film is huge since it’s release.  It has been a Hollywood darling, winning nearly every major award since the awards season started and really scratching the backs of making Hollywood feel like it’s a hero.  Additionally, with no nomination for Best Director oddly, that should solidify it’s Best Picture win all the more unless a crazy upset happens from Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, or Lincoln.

Wie’s Choice: Zero Dark Thirty
It really was a great year for film as this list encompasses, with nearly every film on here really deserving it’s spot.  However, my favorite of the year is Zero Dark Thirty – what I thought to be a much more focused and emotionally nuanced political/historical thriller than Argo.  As I described in my favorite films of 2012 post, Zero Dark Thirty pushes a fascinating and grueling tale about the capture of Osama Bin Laden from the perspective of a lone wolf agent.  Unafraid to explore touchy subject matter such as torture and intelligence, Zero Dark Thirty is a great film all-around and my choice for my personal Best Picture Oscar.

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The Oscars this year is a mix-mash of the usual more niche content and some cool little surprise inclusions along with the more surprising snubs that have appeared.  I think the final choices aren’t too surprising going in this year but there are some chances for some upsets, so here are the choices for my predicted winners and who I’d like to see win:

Music (Original Song)
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets
“Real in Rio” from Rio

Most Likely to Win: “Man or Muppet” – Unfortunately, the Academy thought there were few great songs this year and not only narrowed down the list to two but also are not allowing for any performances.  That’s a shame, but at the very least, one of my favorite songs of the year that was snubbed by the Golden Globes appears here as the frontrunner, ‘Man or Muppet’.  There really is no true scientific reason other than a nostalgic factor probably running more in favor for this song (and a possible Muppets’ speech).

Wie’s Choice: “Man or Muppet” – However, for myself, I believe ‘Man or Muppet’ is a brilliant song that was the highlight of the Muppets both because of how smart the song is in it’s humor and implementation.  It’s a bravo moment for Jason Segal, the Muppets, and song-writing.

Music (Original Score)
The Adventures of Tintin – John Williams
The Artist – Ludovic Bource
Hugo – Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Alberto Iglesias
War Horse – John Williams

Most Likely to Win: The Artist – There’s no doubt about it, The Artist has a strong lead coming into the Oscars with nearly a sweep of wins for it’s music in the previous award ceremonies before it.  That isn’t to say it isn’t against some heavyweight musical cometition from the multi-Oscar winning Williams to Shore.  However, according to the momentum, The Artist is most likely a lock.

Wie’s Choice: The Artist – That isn’t to say that the award is unfounded though.  The silent film format makes every other section of the film that much more important and the music in the film is no slouch, having to fill in moments devoid of dialogue and emotionally carrying the film.  It’s a grand spectrum of music that is full of great themes, rarely becomes grating, and thoughtfully made through it’s era.  The only other soundtrack that I believe comes close is War Horse, a classic Williams score that is overbearing but filled with strong, memorable themes.

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in A Better Life
George Clooney in The Descendants
Jean Dujardin in The Artist
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt in Moneyball

Most Likely to Win: Jean Dujardin – The battle is mainly between the former frontrunner, George Clooney, and the current favorite, Jean Dujardin.  Critics and entertainment journalists had favored Clooney early in the race with rave reviews for his role in The Descendants and what I believe to be his general likability as a speaker and actor.  However, the SAG awards changed much of the momentum shift to Dujardin who has slyly (at least according to press outlets) been gaining steam from Cannes to the Golden Globes when the two nominees were in separate categories.  After a fairly clean sweep thus far, it looks like Dujardin is the man of the hour to beat.

Wie’s Choice: Jean Dujardin – Dujardin is my choice for Best Actor because I believe he readily deserves it.  Working with no dialogue may seem artificially like an easy cop-out but resigning to this line of reasoning without watching Dujardin’s performance is missing out on a fantastic performance of emotions that never feel too far-out or cheesy.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite, with only the occasional sound cue and a beautiful soundtrack, Dujardin expresses himself with depth and elegance without the benefit of dialogue, coming from his body language and facial expressions are which are mainly fantastic.  Coming from a mainly comedy background has served him well as his looks definitely require a bit of exaggerated work but understanding how to limit himself .  I considered Dujardin a modern-day Chaplin and Gable, a mix between the classical Hollywood leading man with the resonating faces and emotions of a silent actor.  His performance in The Artist was nothing short of magnificent.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill in Moneyball
Nick Nolte in Warrior
Christopher Plummer in Beginners
Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Most Likely to Win: Christopher Plummer – Plummer is the favorite going into the Oscar’s for the simple reason that Plummer has swept all the awards during these past few months.  Little else can be said other than the fact that this award is Plummer’s to lose with only Hill and Branagh making up the closest two other roles that might sweep the award away from him (along with the Academy’s inclination to award controversial and great ‘changing’ roles from the norm).

Wie’s Choice: Christopher Plummer – And surely, there is little reason to not believe he won’t win because of a bad performance.  Plummer gives quite an eccentric but caring role in Beginners as a pivotal father figure who represents a love and a lie that has been lacking.  Plummer is so oddly gleeful and fun in this role that it’s hard not to be taken away with his role in the film.  Although I believe his competition is pretty close to the pretty revelatory dramatic role for Hill in Moneyball, I believe Plummer wins out based on the amount of emotional turns that the character convincingly goes through and carries throughout the film.

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis in The Help
Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn

Most Likely to Win: Meryl Streep – The contest is currently hot between Meryl Streep and Viola Davis who have both won in various contests one after the other.  The interesting factor here is divided into two trains of thought.  One side could attest to the fact that Davis’ close counterpart, Spencer, could potentially win an award and spread the award to another film.  The other school of thought could be that Streep is more of a shoe-in as she always has been and that this role probably not being her finest performance, would go to Davis.  I do think that the Academy will go with the former school of thought personally and go with Streep as the final choice.

Wie’s Choice: Viola Davis : But saying that, I believe that Davis deserves the award much more than Streep.  Unfortunately for Streep, while her Thatcher was convincing and multifaceted, I felt that the film unfortunately confined her role too heavily on her later years rather than her much more interesting middle years.  In the end, then, I have to go with Davis who put in a great overall performance in The Help as a serious and hopeful lead and anchored the film with sincerity and a great performance.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in The Artist
Jessica Chastain in The Help
Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer in The Help

Most Likely to Win: Octavia Spencer – This category is much like Plummer’s; it’s Octavia Spencer’s to lose.  She has swept the awards starting from the Golden Globes to the BAFTAs and has the momentum going into the Oscars as the frontrunner.  There are some interesting curveballs in here such as McCarthy that could shift the votes but comedic roles have rarely done well at the Oscars.

Wie’s Choice: Octavia Spencer – And much like Plummer, Spencer is my favorite performance of the grouping here in who I would choose as the best supporting actress this year as well.  There are some terrific performances in here all around from Bejo’s wonderful rising star act in The Artist to McCarthy’s fairly hilarious performance in Bridesmaid but oddly enough, Spencer was both the funniest and sincerest performance here that never outshone her co-star, Davis, but complemented the film and the performances wonderfully in The Help.  Truly, these two actresses were the best aspects of The Help because of such strong performances.

Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris – Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita – Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2 – Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots – Chris Miller
Rango -Gore Verbinski

Most Likely to Win: Rango – This year was a weaker year in animation greats.  That isn’t to say many of them didn’t make money (Cars 2 was quite a cash maker for Pixar) but the quality was not up to par.  The nominations this year are a mixture of foreign affairs and some weaker spin-offs for the most part.  The Golden Globe winner, Tintin, isn’t even nominated here so the most likely winner is Rango, which won the Critics Choice Award, Annie’s and BAFTA.

Wie’s Choice: Rango – And it isn’t a terrible choice either.  Rango is a great all-around film, and it’s strange dark humor and uniqe art style take on a wild west story was quirky but consistent enough to leave a good impression by film’s end.  In a year in which most animation studios took to established properties and played it safe with sequels or spin-offs, Rango is definitely the most original and interesting film out of all of them.  (A surprising omission I would gladly have replaced Kung Fu Panda 2 or Puss in Boots is the enjoyable Arthur Christmas.)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Descendants – Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo – Screenplay by John Logan
The Ides of March – Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball – Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Most Likely to Win: Moneyball – The initial frontrunner, The Descendants, has turned into bigger match between Moneyball and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, each of these two films winning an award each for their screenplays.  However, the edge seems to go more towards the critics’ favorite Moneyball than the much less buzzed (in the US) Tinker Tailor.  Although I do expect a possible upset from The Descendants, the much rewritten and tinkered with screenplay of Moneyball should win the hearts of Academy members.

Wie’s Choice: Moneyball – Out of these grouping of nominees, I think the answer becomes a bit more simple and headed to give the award to  Moneyball.  The film is quick and fascinating for a film mainly about statistics and managerial teams bickering amongst one another.  Even more interesting is how much trouble the screenplay has gone through with rewrites after rewrites.  Much like The Social Network, Sorkin’s fascinating touch with complicated figures make for great content.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Artist – Written by Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids – Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call – Written by J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris – Written by Woody Allen
A Separation – Written by Asghar Farhadi

Most Likely to Win: Midnight in Paris – On the other hand, unlike the Adapted Screenplay competition, the Original Screenplay fight seems a bit more clear as Midnight in Paris seems to be the critics favorite in terms of writing and overall script.  It’s won itself a Golden Globe over Moneyball and The Artist along with the Academy’s heavy respect for veteran Allen with this opportunity being the best to call him up on a favorite film.

Wie’s Choice: Midnight in Paris – Although The Artist would be a close second, it’s understandable why Midnight in Paris would win out due to Allen’s theoretical and witty writing that never lets up in Paris.  Since the main character literally is an embodiment of Allen himself, he holds little back in making his main character a chatty, confused and intellectual man that will rarely lets up and makes for quite an entertaining package.  Along with all the heavy literary figures Allen packs into the film, Midnight in Paris is a delightful script that is fun yet deep without completely losing the audience.

Directing
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants – Alexander Payne
Hugo – Martin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen
The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick

Most Likely to Win: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) – It really has been The Artist‘s award season this year as the film has captured  the hearts of critics and nostalgics alike.  The nominees are filled with some fascinating competition, the two biggest coming from Payne and Scorsese.  As Scorsese is most likely not to get much love in any other categories, some are speculating that the Academy may award him with another Hollywood favorite that plays to the hearts of film buffs.  However, as many have also stated, the DGA gave Hazanavicius the award (along with nearly every other major award so far) which has rarely lost (only six times has it been different since 1948).

Wie’s Choice: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)- As much as I have respect for Scorsese’s work in Hugo and really using 3D in a unique way to the film’s effect, it’s difficult for me to go against the brave and brilliant idea and direction of The Artist.  Each actor, whether or not they may have initially seemed right for their roles, comes off as emotional and fully featured along with the intelligence to using the locale, the score and the camera in such unique ways.  I feel that Hazanavicius really does go hand-in-hand with the film’s success and should be rewarded as such.

Best Picture
The Artist – Thomas Langmann, Producer
The Descendants – Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Scott Rudin, Producer
The Help – Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
Hugo – Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
Midnight in Paris – Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
Moneyball – Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
The Tree of Life – Nominees to be determined
“War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Most Likely to Win: The Artist – Similar to the Best Director award, this competition is a three-way fight between Hugo, The Descendants and The Artist.  And much like the Director award, The Artist has won the Producer and Director’s awards, which has only lost three times in the past two decades.  The other factor here is the anti-sentimental feeling against The Artist that has been growing a bit in the press whether it’s from the unnecessary attention given to Uggie the Dog or the reports of it’s style offending and ‘tricking’ audiences.  However, it really is The Artist’s night to lose.

Wie’s Choice: The Artist – Is it much of a surprise? The Artist was my favorite film of 2011 because not only was it a great and clever film, it showcased the important aspect of film that should never be forgotten – the importance of great content even with the most minimalist of design.  The fact that it’s black-and-white and silent are not just gimmicky choices; they are integral to the plot and the purpose of the film.  No one part is done accidentally or without much thought and should be more than just nostalgic touches, it is a celebration of film and what film should be – a medium for great storytelling unique to itself.

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