On the latest edition of Oscar Poker, Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil was our special guest. His long-running Oscar site, which has been around as long as mine (formerly Oscarwatch.com) — roughly 13 years – has launched its 2012/2013 Oscar Predictions. Tom and I are old pals and he’s one of my favorite people to talk to about anything, but especially about the Oscars.  The two of us aren’t always right – I remember last year around this time talking about how we thought The Artist was too light to be a Best Picture winner.

In the lead over at Gold Derby are two films – one seen, one not seen: Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.  The former has pedigree, the latter has its great response in Toronto.  Again, it is just too soon to know how the race will play out but Gold Derby has gotten the ball rolling. What is the main difference between Gold Derby and the Gurus of Gold you might ask?

Gold Derby has revolving do-it-yourself predictions, meaning you can go in and change them at any time — in fact you as a reader can make your own predictions, friend the so-called experts and see how your own predictions stand up.  David Poland’s site has a smaller group of people who make predictions that show a snapshot in time – this is what they thought in the first week of October, or this is what they thought right after the DGA nominations. Gold Derby is ever-changing and more current.  The people are different, too, with Gold Derby including more voices, like Jeff Wells and a few others.

There are several big unknowns in this year’s race so that making predictions is a really strange thing. The only thing to note, I’d say, is that just a few of us are predicting The Dark Knight Rises to make it in, and the other important thing to note is that EW’s Dave Karger and Indiewire’s Anne Thompson, whom I like to refer to as The King’s Speech 2 (they were the only two who held on to the bitter end, even when The Social Network was sweeping, in an unprecedented fashion, every award in its path – but the guilds came along and BOOM! Vindication for Anne and Dave) are both NOT predicting Beasts of the Southern Wild to get in and instead throwing their weight behind Ben Lewin’s The Sessions, which I still have not seen.

I think it’s strange that in our little tiny pocket of the world it’s come down to Beasts vs. The Sessions but come down it has. Beasts has already many awards on its side. It took Sundance by storm, took Cannes by storm and continues to receive applause every time it plays before an audience. Beasts feels like 2012 – where we are, what we are dealing with. It is a poetic, universal, non-conventional, wildly artistic film – and yet, it can’t earn support from Karger and Thompson. But maybe they think it is too graphic, too difficult, too “poverty-ugly” for Oscar voters. And indeed, they’re the ones who have conversations with the kind of people who strategize for Oscar and eventually vote for Oscar.  Me, I’m sticking with Beasts as it is an easy to call to say it’s one of the best films of 2012.

Here is what Beasts has won so far (from IMDB):

Cannes Film Festival
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
2012 Won FIPRESCI Prize Un Certain Regard
Benh Zeitlin
Golden Camera Benh Zeitlin
Prix Regards Jeune Benh Zeitlin
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention Benh Zeitlin
Los Angeles Film Festival
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
2012 Won Audience Award Best Narrative Feature
Benh Zeitlin
Seattle International Film Festival
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
2012 Won Golden Space Needle Award Best Director
Benh Zeitlin
Sundance Film Festival
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
2012 Won Cinematography Award Dramatic
Ben Richardson
Grand Jury Prize Dramatic
Benh Zeitlin

And the Sessions so far:

Sundance Film Festival
Year Result Award Category/Recipient(s)
2012 Won Audience Award Dramatic
Ben Lewin
Special Jury Prize Dramatic
John Hawkes
Helen Hunt
William H. Macy
Annika Marks
Moon Bloodgood
For ensemble acting.
Nominated Grand Jury Prize Dramatic
Ben Lewin

Since I lost the King’s Speech/Social Network round, you are advised to follow Anne and Dave and not me – but there is no chance I’m betting against a film that is so rare, so powerfully effecting, so vivid and memorable just because Academy members can’t handle it. They can more than handle it. But let’s wait and see what happens there.  It might be that I see The Sessions and I agree with them – they are a trustworthy pair, no doubt, but for now I’m going to stick mostly with what I know.   I think the reason they think it’s either/or (actually, Thelma Adams has both) is that the same studio (Fox) is handling both.

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  • Jake G!!!

    The Dark Knight Rises = BP lock!

  • Niles

    You know I use to like predicting which movies would make the Oscars. Now I just think its lame. We really don’t know which movie will make it, obviously theses movies haven’t been out yet and everyone saying “Its the best movie of the year!” until it gets a 50 score on metascore, then its the most average movie of the year. I pretty sure most of theses movies are good, but don’t get your hopes up people.

  • rufussondheim

    There is no way that the academy will embrace the poverty visuals in BoftheSW. I mean, you have to go all the way back to 2009 since they rewarded such a film. And that’s if you are overlooking 2010. That’s a lifetime ago.

  • steve50

    Isn’t predicting the success of unseen films where the “self-fulfilling prophecy” business begins? It certainly worked for a couple of latecomers last year, at least as far as getting them into the race.

    Considering the positive buzz behind Argo and The Master, I’m very surprised that neither appears very high on the lists.

  • Drew

    Edward Douglas looks like General Zod.

  • GoOnNow

    So Harvey is behind:

    – The Master,
    – Silver Linings Playbook,
    – Quartet,
    – Song for Marion,
    – Django Unchained,

    and what else? I keep forgetting…

  • steve50

    The Intouchables (FLF)
    Killing Them Softly

  • GoOnNow


    Thank you 🙂

  • Geraldo

    It’s strange that Karger is not predicting “The Master” to get in.

  • Nik Grape

    After all the hype surrounding Beasts of the Southern Wild, I saw it a few days ago finally, and honestly? It’s alright. Artistic in its approach with some good acting from the two leads but the story fell short of really pulling me in to care about the characters and Hushpuppy’s narration sounded a tad unrealistic to my ears.

    I’m also surprised the Master isn’t higher, but it’s way too early to make any kind of substantial prognosis.

  • rufussondheim

    Yes, Steve. People keep overlooking the best predictor of Oscar nominees we have with this new nominating system, and that’s looking at what the bloggers are picking come mid-November. How else could Extremely Loud have gotten in?

    I wouldn’t call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, though. ANd I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. But I imagine that when the screeners come rolling into Academy Members mailboxes, the people that have the members ears (whether it be publicists, co-workers, family members, industry friends) all point to Dave Karger’s and others’ lists and say “Hey, you should see this.”

    You only need top be #1 with 5% of the voters. So it’s not that tough if you have even a decent product and people see the film. And such was the case with Extremely Loud last year. If it were not a common choice in November, voters would probably not have ranked it #1 come December. After all, why waste a vote?

    In many ways the 5% rule should be a godsend for smaller films, it shows if you have a really good product that you only need to be seen by a minority of voters to have a real shot. But with the bloggers picking the same ten films between themselves some voters may choose not to vote for such a film because it’s not on the list. Everyone likes to pick a winner.

    And this is a where a film like Amour might be affected. It’s a non-English film so it’s got a tough battle (but not impossible) and it’s not a mainstream film so it’s got an even tougher battle. But when good films about aging get made (which is rare) they do get noticed by the Academy (On Golden Pond, Driving Miss Daisy). I get the sense that if Amour was on the bloggers top 10, it would get a nomination easily. But if not, well, sorry, no chance.

  • rufussondheim

    Another point from last year. Demian Bichir was on everyone’s must-see list last year after the shocking SAG nomination. So many people watched A Better Life. But I don’t see how you can nominate Bechir without tossing the film a vote for BP as well. “I’m going home” he says in the last frames of the movie. It’s a tremendously affecting moment in one of the best films of last year (it would be in my top 5)

    But I think a lot of people didn’t even consider A Better Life as an option because it wasn’t on the Bloggers’ radar. Again, why waste a vote.

  • Ed kargir

    Beast is a masterpiece. The best film of the decade so far. IT has to be nominated for BP.

  • unlikely hood

    Your top 8 looks good to me Sasha. The rest, not so sure.

    If it’s Beasts v. Sessions, Beasts wins. That’s a whole world – and as Rufus said better than me, “Winter’s Bone” wasn’t too poverty-ugly for them. Sessions will be just fine, but its subgenre (Sea Inside, Diving Bell & Butterfly) hasn’t gotten to Best Picture since 1989.

  • Jeremy

    Beasts is easily the best film I’ve seen so far this year. I liked it better than any film I saw last year as well. It completely drew me in. We’re all meat. :p

  • Mikky

    Jennifer Lawrence has less screen-time in ‘Silver linings playbook” than Berenice Bejo in “The artist” and Bejo got nominated for a supporting role. I think it should be like that because my two favorites performances of the year are Marion Cotillard in “Rust and bone” and Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”.This way, it would be fair for both of them. Marion getting FINALLY her very well-deserved second statue after having been completely ignored by the academy for her past work on “Public Enemies”, “Nine”, “Inception” and maybe even “Midnight in Paris”. And of course, Jennifer getting her first oscar in a supporting role for her very good year and because she is very talented but a bit young and it will feel like a robbery if she wins in a leading role . Remember the past winners like Maryl Streep last year or Charlize Theron in “Monsters” or even Marion Cotillard in “La vie en rose”, THAT are oscars-roles caliber, not 42 minutes on screen. That’s just enough for a supporting one. I LOVE Jennifer but if she wins, in a few years people will questioned why did she won? Was it because she was famous at the time? or because of the Hunger games? or maybe because we were too pride to give it to a foreign actress again? I would rather see Jennifer wining whith real leading role.

  • GoOnNow

    @ Mikky

    I love Marion too, but she is not winning a second Oscar this year.

    Just wait and see.

  • Mikky

    @ GoOnNow

    At least that’s what i whish

  • Andrew S

    The interesting thing is that most years there are at least one or two (possibly three) Best Picture noms that come out pre-fall. A lot of people are predicting Beasts, but not sure that is a lock. Other than that, there’s Dark Knight (but that may still have Aurora stank on it). Other than that, are there any pre-fall films that could get nominated?

  • The greatness of “The Master” has greatly been exaggerated. The brilliance of “Beast of the Southern Wild” is still being under played. “End of Watch” is a nice pick. A true sleeper. Not sure it’s Oscar worthy but it’s solid. “The Dark Knight Rises” could possibly be the safe mainstream pick. Funny that can be said today. And “Argo” is very strong and directed by an extremely popular actor. A few simply have to be “seen” and outside of a festival environment where everyone is giddy and drunk.

  • Morgan

    Do I remember Sasha saying that she needs to push films that deserve recognition and “screw what is or isn’t an oscar film”?

    Disappointing to see this sight unseen films so high up. Films like The Master and Beasts of the Southern Wild need to be pushed to the front so that Oscar pays attention.
    Predict Amour, let’s make sure all the Oscar voters see it and consider it…

    Instead of the bloggers predicting sight unseen things and shoving oscar bait into the laps of the oscar voters.

    Sasha has power, I hope she uses it to help films that deserve recognition to gain traction – rather than picking them we think that oscar voters may like.

    Let’s put great, deserving films into the limelight and into the attention span of oscar voters – whether it’s an “oscar film” or not.

  • K. Bowen

    Andrew, Moonrise Kingdom, which should get it.

  • Mattoc

    Morgan, I agree with what you said. Rather than getting inside a head of AMPAS members, where they may be swayed by what people are predicting – it creates a vicious circle. Put the ones in that ARE the best of the year so far. Amour is clearly the frontrunner from where I stand.

  • steve50

    “Let’s put great, deserving films into the limelight…”

    Yes, Morgan. If these films don’t get pushed now, they’ll get trampled later on. And then we all bitch that everything comes out in the same week.

    The soothsayers should say, “to date,” meaning these are the leaders from everything that has been released.

    We catch hell for prejudging films unseen, but isn’t that what the predictors are doing, saying so-and-so is the favorite when it hasen’t even been seen yet?

  • Nic V

    Anticipation can also determine which films find a place in the end result. It’s really not any different now than it was thirty or forty years ago. I remember the anticipation about Zinnemann and Hepburn with the Nun’s Story and even more sadly with Chaplins Countess From Hong Kong. Projects get attention because of what Sasha points out is it’s pedigree. I mean one of the most talked about projects this year is Django and it’s about the film’s pedigree. There’s no way critics aren’t going to ignore a pedigree and truth be told most of us don’t ignore them either for that matter. Those names associated with those films are recognizable. Not only are they recognizable but they come from individuals with a track record hence Sasha’s label pedigree. Good use of the term actually. I just heard this morning that Spike Lee has a new project in New Orleans. Pedigree. It’s Spike Lee. It’s the nature of the game.

    The one thing we do forget is that the academy members for the most part don’t care what we think. Why should they? They’re members we aren’t. Can conversations about Beasts or Amour grab some attention? Maybe. Maybe not. But I don’t think anyone likes being told what they should like by someone else. It kind of smacks of “eat your spinach it’ll make you strong”. And we all know how bad Popeye was.

  • Chris138

    The Dark Knight Rises showed up on more lists than I expected. At this point in the year, if the Academy felt that they had to choose one token blockbuster nominee I’d say the should go for that. Even with all its flaws I thought it was better than any blockbuster I’ve seen (so far) this year. The one movie that could potentially take that away would be The Hobbit, depending on how well its reviewed.

  • Logan

    Saw THE MASTER today. Disliked the movie–a big So What–but Joaquin Phoenix gives a phenomenal performance; so scary-good in its weirdness that it exceeds Christian Bale in The Fighter. He’s a lock for a Best Actor nomination. Hoffman’s good too, but Phoenix steals every scene they’re in. I hope BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is nominated instead of The Master.

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