The Oscar Warrior’s Final Best Picture Picks


We’re getting down to the last few days before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announce the nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards and the last category I want to take a really quick look at is the Best Picture race. It isn’t nearly as interesting as others because with the fluctuating number of nominations, there could be as many as ten nominations which means that all the movies that have generally been talked about over the past few months probably will get in, and there’s only one or two movies that are on the bubble in terms of being nominated for Best Picture or not.

I previously spoke about the Best Picture race a couple weeks back, specifically looking at how many movies may be nominated, but the most important thing to remember is that the Academy’s #1 and #2 choices will matter the most when counting ballots and if one of the potential movies isn’t strong enough to get into one of those two slots, it’s probably not being nominated.

With that in mind, let’s quickly look at each of the potential candidates and a few of the other categories in which they may receive nominations. I’ve put asterisks next to the five movies that seem the strongest right now with the most overall support and they’ll likely be backed up with nominations in the directing and editing categories, which are key to any movie being considered a frontrunner. (I’m personally a big fan of Life of Pi and Les Miserables but the latter seems to have been displaced by the popularity of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which will appeal to the Academy’s male-dominated tech divisions.)

1. *Argo (Warner Bros.) – Director (Ben Affleck), Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Editing, Original Score

2. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight) – Screenplay, Original Score, Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis)

3. *Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company) – Screenplay, Director (Quentin Tarantino), Supporting Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz), Editing, Original Song, Production Design, other tech categories

4. Les Misérables (Universal) – Actor (Hugh Jackman), Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway), Original Song, Director (Tom Hooper), Screenplay, Costumes, Production Design, other tech categories

5. Life of Pi (20th Century Fox) – Screenplay, Director (Ang Lee), Cinematography, Original Score

6. *Lincoln (DreamWorks) – Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones), Supporting Actress (Sally Field), Screenplay, Director (Steven Spielberg), Editing, Costumes, Cinematography, Make-Up, Production Design

7. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) – Screenplay, Original Score, Production Design

8. *Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Co.) – Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Actor (Bradley Cooper), Screenplay, Director

9. *Zero Dark Thirty (Sony) – Actress (Jessica Chastain), Director (Kathryn Bigelow), Screenplay, Editing, Sound Editing, Cinematography

The Alternates:

The Master (The Weinstein Company)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s enigmatic drama has lost quite a bit of steam since debuting at Venice back in September. It has its fans, especially among critics, but its weak showing at the box office once it expanded nationwide and the fact it’s barely in the conversation at the end of the year makes us think fewer Academy members will put it as their #1 or #2 choice over some of the nine movies above. It should still get a screenplay nomination and one or two acting nods, and possibly one for its cinematography, but overall it seems to be floundering compared to the others.

Skyfall (Sony)

The 23rd James Bond movie got into the nominations from the Producers Guild (PGA) who have ten candidates and with such a strong cast and director at the helm, it wouldn’t surprise me if it got into the Oscar Best Picture race, but it seems less likely that Academy will take a James Bond movie serious enough to nominate it. Its best bet is Original Song and possibly a supporting actor or actress nomination for previous nominees Javier Bardem and/or Dame Judi Dench.

Basically, we’re still where we were at earlier with nine nominations and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master being out of the race without enough Academy members choosing it as their first choice over some of the others. If for some reason it does sneak into the nominations, we’ll end up with ten nominations or it will replace Moonrise Kingdom, but at this point, I don’t see that happening.