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.