Oscar Predictions: Updates to Picture, Actress and More After Seeing ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Photo: Columbia Pictures / The Weinstein Co.

This year, ladies and gentlemen, we have a race…

I will be seeing Django Unchained in less than 24 hours and at that point I may have to change these new predictions once again, but after seeing Zero Dark Thirty last night I can’t not update several categories as a result of what is surely going to be listed as the #1 film on many people’s top tens for 2012. I will offer up a full review soon enough, but suffice to say, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have again teamed to turn in an excellent feature film that is unlike any procedural thriller I have seen before, both in its intensity and sense of realism.

When it comes to predictions, I have updated my Oscar predictions for Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay and here is the current breakdown:

Best Picture

Between those voting for Lincoln and those voting for Zero Dark Thirty you are going to find voters that are walking the divide. Lincoln is a solid film and it is “old reliable” when it comes to the Oscars, a film the Academy can safely eat up and award Best Picture, which is the reason it remains my #1.

Zero Dark Thirty, however, is energy, ambition and meticulous craftsmanship on the part of Bigelow, Boal and their collaborators. It’s also, a straight-forward procedural that requires your attention and interest. My worry with this one is people will look at it and think to themselves, “When are they going to kill bin Laden?” It’s not a film for the impatient… neither was the hunt.

  1. Lincoln
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Argo
  4. Les Miserables
  5. Silver Linings Playbook
  6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  7. Life of Pi
  8. Moonrise Kingdom
  9. The Master

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Picture contenders and where they rank.

Best Actress

Last night I was thinking, just as Lincoln is the safe bet for Best Picture, Jennifer Lawrence would seem to be the safe bet for Actress, but now I’m not so sure. The Academy can be more daring in their handing out of acting wins and one thing I was wondering while walking out of Zero Dark Thirty last night is just how much acclaim Jessica Chastain will earn for her outstanding performance and how much she’ll earn out of respect for the amazing character she plays. The two probably go hand-in-hand, but wow… what a story.

  1. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
  2. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
  3. Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  4. Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
  5. Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Actress contenders and where they rank.

Best Supporting Actor

The top five here haven’t changed for the time being, but they have been reordered slightly. The big change comes once you click through to my full chart as I’ve added Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) to the race. They’re newcomers so they aren’t propelled directly to the top five, but over the course of the next week or so they very well could find themselves there.

  1. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
  3. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  5. Russell Crowe (Les Miserables)

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Best Supporting Actor contenders and where they rank.

Best Original Screenplay

I can’t imagine a scenario at the moment where Mark Boal doesn’t win for Zero Dark Thirty. Boal has crafted a screenplay that is unflinching and manages to tell a very serious story that sells its emotion based on the details and characters without resorting to over-dramatization. I will be seeing Tarantino’s Django shortly so some things can obviously still change, but for now, this is where things stand.

  1. Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
  2. Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
  3. Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
  4. Michael Haneke (Amour)
  5. John Gatins (Flight)

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Original Screenplay contenders and where they rank.

This Sunday the Los Angeles Film Critics will announce their winners and next week will see the announcements of the Screen Actors Guild Award nominees, the Golden Globe nominees and the Critics’ Choice Awards nominees. For a full look at the precursor calendar click here.

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