The frustrating thing about this time of year is how many of us must make “sight unseen” predictions. It’s a gamble – kind of like saying “I predict it will rain on Christmas.” Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. It’s most likely to rain so I’m gonna go with that. But Anne Thompson is one of the few who refuses to that, thus, her predictions are based on films she’s seen – she also lists contenders she thinks might go all the way, or films she thinks are in the running but isn’t confident about placing them in the winning category. Then she has the longshot dark horses. So, as we all know in the Oscar predicting game, this is a nearly foolproof method of being able to never get anything wrong.

Also, Kris and Anne have reignited Oscar Talk and you can have a listen to that as well.

Let’s trip the light fantastic, shall we?

Anne writes:

Best Picture
Front Runners

“Anna Karenina”
“Argo”
“The Master”

“Moonrise Kingdom”
“The Sessions”
“The Silver Linings Playbook”

Contenders
“Amour”
“Les Miserables”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Long Shots
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
“The Dark Knight Rises”
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
“Django Unchained”

She doesn’t even really have to hard line it with The Dark Knight Rises because it gets to be placed comfortably in the long shot category, along with other “could go either way” titles.

For me, my list of SEEN films for Best Picture would go:

Argo
The Master
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Moonrise Kingdom
The Dark Knight Rises
Amour

I then fully expect the hottest sight unseen contenders to be:

The Silver Linings Playbook
Django Unchained
Zero Dark Thirty
Lincoln
Les Miserables

Since you can’t have 11 nominees for Best Picture, and given that their herding cats method ensures that a film has to have a significant amount of number ones, my compiled list of most likely to succeed for Oscar would be — BEST CASE SCENARIO GUN TO THE HEAD PREDICTIONS:

*Lincoln (heads in, leading with 12 nods. picture, director, screenplay, actor, supporting actor/actress, cinematography, production design, editing, costume, score, sound, makeup)
*Les Miserables (heads in with 11 nominations – picture, director, actor, supporting actress, editing, cinematography, editing, production design, costumes, sound, sound editing)
*The Master (heads in with 10 nominations at least – picture, director, screenplay, editing, actor, actor,  supporting actress, cinematography, production design, score, costumes)
*Argo (heads in with 8 nominations – picture, director, screenplay, supporting actor, editing, sound, costumes, production design – also possibly cinematography, score)
*Zero Dark Thirty (heads in with 8 picture, director, screenplay, supporting actress, editing, sound, sound editing, score)
*Beasts of the Southern Wild (heads in with 5 – picture, director, screenplay, actress, supporting actor)
The Silver Linings Playbook (heads in with 5- picture, director, actor, actress, screenplay)
Moonrise Kingdom (Picture, screenplay, production design, costumes, maybe more, depending)

*marks films I think are most likely to hit the DGA/Best Director category. But you notice I have 6 instead of 5. One will have to be dropped. It ain’t going to be Paul Thomas Anderson.  That’s all I know right now.

Best Picture might be seven, might be five, might be six, might be ten. Last year was such a suck-ass year for movies they still ended up with nine. So how can they not do 10 this year?

The Sessions (possible for two for sure, Actor and Supporting Actress)
Django Unchained (too soon to know but possibly picture, director, screenplay, actor, supporting actress, cinematography, editing, costume, production design)
Anna Karenina (could be a big one, with picture, director, actress, costume, art direction, cinematography)
Flight (too soon to tell but actor for sure)
The Promise Land  (maybe picture, director – too soon to tell)
Not Fade Away (total wild card)

I’m not sure why Anne has no faith in Beasts of the Southern Wild to go all the way to a Best Picture nomination. If there has been one filmmaker who has really broke through this year, if there is one film that shares the current award accolade spotlight with The Master, it’s Beasts. The other awards darling this early is Amour.  Those are three absolutely brilliant films. I would be shocked at a WGA, DGA or PGA that didn’t award at least two out of the three.

And then the dark horse long shot for me are the two super hero movies.

1) The Dark Knight Rises – absolutely deserves to be there but you just never know with Academy members. Still, it will likely be nominated for, at the very least, visual effects, score, sound, sound editing. But it could also nab picture, director, supporting actress (although Hath could probably get in with Les Miz).

2) The Avengers – a true crowdpleaser if there ever was one. It will do battle with TDKR for the techs, but mostly in the area of visual effects, sound and sound editing, which is usually where preference is felt. However, if TDKR gets a Best Pic nod along with the techs, it moves to first place to win those categories.

3) Life of Pi – it’s still a big question mark but if it hits it could hit big.

Anne writes:

Actor in a Leading Role

Front Runners
John Hawkes “The Sessions”
Bradley Cooper “Silver Lings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman “The Master”
Joaquin Phoenix “The Master”
Jean-Louis Trintignant “Amour”

Contenders
Daniel Day-Lewis “Lincoln”
Jamie Foxx “Django Unchained”
Hugh Jackman “Les Miserables”
Denzel Washington “Flight”

My addition: Richard Gere in Arbitrage

If it goes that way, and I agree with Anne that it will, Phoenix takes this in a walk.  He has no real challenger except Hoffman, who has not only already won but really can’t steal Phoenix’ thunder.  His is the performance of the year, or certainly one of them.

However, there are five slots. The contenders section is a force to be reckoned with, right? So whom do you dump? I think Bradley Cooper will be sacrificed for Silver Linings, being that it’s Jennifer Lawrence’s show. Jean-Louis Trintigant will also get dumped, in that event, sadly, because if anyone gets in from Amour it will be Emanuelle Riva. I only say this because the contenders section is packed with likely nominees.  ALL OF THEM. As usual, Best Actor is the most crowded of the bunch.

Anne writes:

Actor in a Supporting Role
Front Runner
William H. Macy “The Sessions”
Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Louis Trintignant of “Amour”

Anne is pushing hard for The Sessions. It’s clear she loved that movie as she is its main champion. She is siding with this film to be Oscar’s favorite over Beasts of the Southern Wild, which explains why she left off the strongest contender in this category so far:

Dwight Henry for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Nate Parker for Arbitrage

Other frontrunners Anne does not include:
Alan Arkin for Argo

Contenders

Leonardo DiCaprio “Django Unchained”
Tommy Lee Jones “Lincoln”
David Strathairn “Lincoln”

Long Shots

Michael Caine “The Dark Knight Rises”
Russell Crowe “Les Miserables”
Robert DeNiro “The Silver Linings Playbook”
John Goodman “Argo”

As of this moment, I don’t agree with most of her contenders list or her longshots, with the exception of Leo Dicaprio for Django Unchained.  The Lincoln men, it’s just too soon to know.

Anne writes:

Actress in a Leading Role
Front Runners

Keira Knightley “Anna Karenina”
Jennifer Lawrence “The Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva “Amour”
Quvenzhane Wallis “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

I am still not convinced Knightley is that much of a sure bet but I will have to see the film. The other three I agree with. The two I would add:

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha
Meryl Streep, Hope Springs

Contenders

Viola Davis “Won’t Back Down”
Julianne Moore “What Maisie Knew”

Long Shots
Toni Collette “Jesus Henry Christ”
Marion Cotillard “Rust & Bone”
Rachel Weisz “The Deep Blue Sea”

Weisz, Collette and Moore, not seeing it. Not yet anyway. I would hope Viola Davis gets in but I’ve heard Maggie Gyllenhaal’s part is bigger.  So I don’t know what to think about that. But none of these names leap out at me except Marion Cotillard’s.

I might see Actress shaping up like this:

Lawrence
Riva
Wallis
Cotillard
Davis (if it’s a big juicy part)
Then:
Knightley
Streep 

Actress in a Supporting Role
Front Runner

Amy Adams “The Master”
Helen Hunt “The Sessions”

Contenders

Samantha Barks “Les Miserables”
Sally Field “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway “Les Miserables”
Vanessa Redgrave “Song For Marion”

Long Shots

Maggie Gyllenhaal “Won’t Back Down”
Kristen Stewart “On the Road”

I have no beef with her on these and can’t think of how they could improve. I do think the winner in this category will likely be a showdown between Hathaway for Les Miz and Field. But we shall see.

Directing
Front Runners

Ben Affleck “Argo”
Paul Thomas Anderson “The Master”
Wes Anderson “Moonrise Kingdom”
Michael Haneke “Amour”
Ben Lewin “The Sessions”
Joe Wright “Anna Karenina”

One of these things is not like the other.  Benh Zeitlin might be whom she was thinking of when she wrote Ben Lewin. But I think no for Joe Wright (but will reserve final judgment until I see it).

Contenders
Kathryn Bigelow “Zero Dark Thirty”
Tom Hooper “Les Miserables”
Ang Lee “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg “Lincoln”
Quentin Tarantino “Django Unchained”

Long Shots

Christopher Nolan “The Dark Knight Rises”
Benh Zeitlin “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

I covered director above. I think, all things being equal and if it turns out how we expect it to, Best Director is going to be:
1) Ben Affleck, Argo
2) Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
3) Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
4) Tom Hooper, Les Miz
5) Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
6) Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
(we got six and we need to make it five so Lincoln, Les Miz or Zero Dark Thirty will  have to bomb)

After that it’s:
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Joe Wright, Anna Karenina
Michael Haneke, Amour
Christopher Nolan, Dark Knight Rises

You can check out the rest of Anne’s list here. She also does screenplay and animated feature.