The 2013 Oscar Shuffle: Is Riva the One to Beat? De Niro for Supporting? Lee for Director?

Robert De Niro / Ang Lee / Emmanuelle Riva
Photo: The Weinstein Co. / 20th Century Fox / Sony Pictures Classics

No matter how you slice it, this year’s Oscar race could certainly have plenty of fireworks come February 24. Yes, the Argo win for Best Picture, should it come to pass, would be looked at by many as reactionary following the lack of a Best Director nomination for Ben Affleck. And, yes, should Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook win instead, the lack of forward thinking by the Academy would probably become the conversation. However, once you look beyond the Best Picture race there are some interesting races to take into consideration.

At this point we’ll just all agree Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) and Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) will be taking home an Oscar. I respect anyone that disagrees and I’m sure a valid argument could be made as to why one of them may lose, but in a general sense let’s just agree those two are going to win and move on.

We’ll begin with Best Actress where, for the longest time, it’s been thought to be a race between Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) with Lawrence getting the edge more recently following her win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. A shift in the winds has taken place, however, and it’s becoming a growing storm as Jeff Wells pointed out this morning.

Over at Gold Derby many Oscar pundits are still predicting a Lawrence win, but the six that aren’t all have Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) on their top line. Surprised? I have to admit, I am a little, but then again I’m up here in Seattle while a lot of these pundits have their ear to the ground in Los Angeles and New York. It’s why I pay attention to their picks, but can I really move Riva to #1?

To date Riva’s biggest victory came recently with a Best Actress win at the BAFTA Awards where both Lawrence and Chastain were nominated. Additionally, the Los Angeles Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics named her Best Actress. Otherwise, Lawrence and Chastain have been running the show.

The story took a personal turn recently when TheWrap (via Awards Daily) spoke with Riva about attending the Oscars when she said, “I am very calm in the face of all of this. I am 85 years old. I am not going to flop about like a fish. What makes me nervous is these hours on the plane. Frankly, it seems like a hell of a journey to me. It’s so long. But I will do things to the end. I will fall in someone’s arms if I need to.”

Will she make the plane flight for nothing?

Continuing the Amour thread line, I recently updated my Best Original Screenplay predictions, moving Quentin Tarantino‘s script for Django Unchained to #1 followed by Michael Haneke‘s script for Amour. Is it time to move Amour to #1 there as well? I’m beginning to think it may be.

And speaking of Haneke, why not Best Director? Is it so inconceivable? Amour is the clear front-runner for Best Foreign Language Film and with it nominated for Best Picture and strong chances at both Actress and Screenplay doesn’t it stand a chance Haneke could move up the directorial ranks? After all, it’s not like the Directors Guild winner is going to match this year, so why not offer up a winner that wasn’t even nominated by the DGA?

Best Director, as it turns out, is one hell of a compelling category where I’ve had Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) on my top line for the longest time and now chatter is turning toward Ang Lee (Life of Pi). Could Lee snag a victory out of Spielberg’s assuming hands? DreamWorks has been running a rather desperate campaign to get Lincoln as many awards as possible and yet Spielberg has not been able to win a single major award for the film. Certainly Lee seems just as likely a possibility as Haneke or even David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), but given Pi‘s 11 nominations (second only to Lincoln) perhaps the love we all perceived the Academy felt for the film once the nominations were announced is about to become even more of a reality.

Finally, how about that Best Supporting Actor category? Following the BAFTAs, I moved Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) to my top line, replacing Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), but as the Lincoln star continues to fall it seems Robert De Niro is on the rise for his work in Silver Linings Playbook.

As many of the commenters pointed out, Jones winning the SAG award is a bit of a big deal, but it was the first major award he won while the rest have gone to Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) and Waltz. Not to mention Waltz wasn’t even nominated for a SAG Award as many blamed the lack of screeners as a result. So with that argument in mind, why would De Niro, who hasn’t won a single major award yet this year, be the front-runner?

My only answer is to say the Weinstein Co. got a late start this year and they’ve been pushing Silver Linings like crazy including a screening and stump speech in Santa Monica as well as De Niro getting his star on the Walk of Fame.

What’s fascinating about this category is there absolutely is no front-runner. Just look at the predictions over at Gold Derby. At first it looks like De Niro has the edge, the next batch favors Waltz and then Jones becomes the favorite after that. It’s anyone’s guess at this point and these are just a few of the categories that will either make or break your night when it comes to predictions.

Care to weigh in with your thoughts on the matter? Head on down to the comments below. And, yes, I have updated some predictions for the categories mentioned here. You can find all of my current predictions right here.

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