The 85th Annual Academy Awards: 2013 Oscar Picks

After a year's hiatus, the annual Oscar picks post is back!  I was slacking last year and didn't see nearly enough of the nominees in order to make good, well educated selections so I decided that no picks were better than half-assed picks.  The good news is, this year I'm back in the swing of things and can hopefully pick up where I left off two years ago with the accuracy of my picks.

In the past, I only picked the six major categories as well as the writing categories.  I've never made picks in every category.  The fact of the matter is, I just don't have the industry knowledge to make an educated pick in the technical categories beyond 'Damn, that looked sweet!'.  Honestly, I'm probably not even really qualified to make picks in the screen writing categories (I don't/haven't read actual scripts), but if I didn't pick those, I'd only be making picks in six categories and that's not any fun either.  So, this year I've decided to expand things and get more adventuresome.  I will be making picks in all of the categories with the exception of the documentary and short film categories.  I am still excluding these because I haven't seen any of the nominees and wouldn't have any clue what I was talking about.  Each category is listed below.  The nominees that I have seen are denoted by a link to my review of that film.  In the case that I didn't write a review for a film that I have seen, it will be denoted by an asterisk (*).

My good buddy Chris Wieder joins us as he did a couple of years ago to provide another opinion.  He was even game for making picks in a larger number of categories also.  We didn't discuss our picks at all so we didn't influence each others selections.  Remember, these are just our personal picks for who (or what film) we would like to see win, not predictions (unless of course we're right, then we'll claim they are predictions).  Anyway, enough of my rambling, let's get started!

Best Achievement in Visual Effects: The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman

My Pick: Life of Pi.  It was absolutely stunning.  The Avengers and Prometheus may make a run at it, but Life of Pi in my mind was the cream of the crop this year when it came to visual effects.

Wieder's Pick: Life of Pi, by one hairy toenail over The Hobbit.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty

My Pick: Four of the last five years the sound categories have been swept by a single movie.  But over the last ten years, that trend falls apart.  However the Editing category does tend to be won by an action flick.  Unfortunately, that doesn't narrow this field down much.  I enjoyed all of these films so I can't really argue against any of them.  That being the case, I'll pick Skyfall here.  It may be wishful thinking, but I'd love to see a Bond flick snag a couple of Oscars and I think that either this category or the Original Song category are its best bets.

Wieder's Pick: Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing: Argo, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall

My Pick: While the Sound Editing category tends to fall in the lap of an action film, Sound Mixing seems to swing towards films including or revolving around musical numbers.  There is only one such movie in this field so due to my lack of technical know how, I'll fall back on the power of observation and pick Les Misérables.
Wieder's Pick: Argo.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: Chasing Ice: J. Ralph ("Before My Time"), Les Misérables: Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer ("Suddenly"), Life of Pi: Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree ("Pi's Lullaby"), Skyfall: Adele, Paul Epworth ("Skyfall"), Ted: Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane ("Everybody Needs a Best Friend")

My Pick: Adele's theme for Skyfall paralleled the theme of the film perfectly.  It was both new and old at the same time.  The only other song here that I can actually remember (from the nominated films that I have seen) was "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from Ted, but it doesn't begin to hold a candle to "Skyfall".  Adele dominated last year's Grammy Awards, and now she'll add an Oscar to her trophy case.
Wieder's Pick: I’d be so likely to take “Suddenly” from Les Mis here except for two things. One, some of the hardcore theater folks didn’t like an addition to the original score.  Two, from what I see at the other major awards shows, it’s not a smart bet to go against Adele.  Skyfall it is!

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: Anna Karenina (Dario Marianelli), Argo (Alexandre Desplat), Life of Pi (Mychael Danna), Lincoln (John Williams), Skyfall (Thomas Newman)

My Pick: This is awful, but it has been a while since I've seen any of these nominees, so none jump right out in my head as a clear choice.  As a result, I'm going to give it to Argo and Alexandre Desplat.  That being said, Lincoln, Life of Pi, or Skyfall taking this category certainly wouldn't bother me.

Wieder's Pick: Life of Pi.

Best Achievement in Makeup: Hitchcock*, The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyLes Misérables

My Pick: The makeup crew did a great job on Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock, but I can't say as any other characters were all that notable in that film.  The work was also excellent in The Hobbit, and I hate to sound like I'm minimizing things, but compared to other works, how hard is it to slap beards on everyone?  Les Misérables is the clear choice in my mind here for the character arcs of Jean Valjean and Fantine not to mention lesser characters like the Thénardiers.
Wieder's Pick: I’m taking The Hobbit here, dang it!

Best Achievement in Costume Design: Anna Karenina (Jacqueline Durran), Les Misérables (Paco Delgado), Lincoln (Joanna Johnston), Mirror Mirror (Eldo Ishioka), Snow White and the Huntsman (Colleen Atwood)

My Pick: This category is especially tough for me to pick because I've only seen two of the nominees.  Period pieces often take this category so that narrows the choices to three.  I'm taking a complete stab in the dark here, but I'll go with Anna Karenina (which I haven't seen).  Films depicting the ways of royal life seem to do well in this category and I'm giving a good bit of recognition to Les Misérables in other categories.  I think the costume design in Lincoln was wonderful - and I'd love for it to wrack up a pile of Oscars - but I feel like the time period in which it took place hurts its chances.  The costumes may have been accurate for the times, but everything was drab.  Nothing stood out.

Wieder's Pick: Period dramas everywhere. How about Les Misérables?

Best Achievement in Production Design (formerly Art Direction): Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright), Les Misérables (Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson), Life of Pi (David Gropman, Anna Pinnock), Lincoln (Rick Carter, Jim Erickson)

My Pick: Yet another category in which I'm not real familiar with what the Academy looks for (see, this is why I've never bothered to pick these before!).  But based on the former name of this category (Art Direction) and the winners here over the past five years (generally a visual effects heavy film), I'm going to chalk this one up to Life of Pi.

Wieder's Pick: Oooh, The Hobbit! Hey, Les Mis! Oh, okay, fine… Lincoln.

Best Achievement in Editing: Argo (William Goldenberg), Life of Pi (Tim Squyres), Lincoln (Michael Kahn), Silver Linings Playbook (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers), Zero Dark Thirty (William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor)

My Pick: I'm actually torn here.  In my mind, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are neck and neck above the competition in this category because of their ability to clearly portray very tense, claustrophobic, action filled sequences.  The location scouting scene in Argo and the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Zero Dark Thirty come to mind specifically.  These are two of my top three favorite films of the past year, but I think I have to go with Zero Dark Thirty because of that compound raid scene.  The fact that all of the chaos of that scene is clear and easy to follow on top of its being shown via night vision is astounding.

Wieder's Pick: All first-tier films up here. Pulling a name from the hat. Argo.

Best Achievement in Cinematography: Anna Karenina (Seamus McGarvey), Django Unchained (Robert Richardson), Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda), Lincoln (Janusz Kaminski), Skyfall (Roger Deakins)

My Pick: Life of Pi takes the cake once again.  The majority of the film takes place at sea.  Just a lifeboat, a human, and a tiger and there is never a dull moment. Shooting in and around water (especially the ocean) can be pretty darn challenging and the results that became Life of Pi are breathtaking.

Wieder's Pick: The Shawshank Redemption. Fargo. O Brother Where Art Thou. True Grit. These are among the 10 films for which Roger Deakins has been nominated in this category. I think it's time he wins, for Skyfall.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Amour: Michael Haneke (Austria), War Witch: Kim Nguyen (Canada), No: Pablo Larraín (Chile), A Royal Affair: Nikolaj Arcel (Denmark), Kon-Tiki: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg (Norway)

My Pick: As you can tell by the lack of links for these nominees, I haven't seen many of these films.  The only one that I've seen happens to be Amour which has also been nominated for Best Film (among other categories).  Considering that it is also being noticed in a couple of the more major categories, I feel like it is pretty much a lock here.  It also happens to be Austria's entry in this category this year and I have an aunt and uncle who live there, so why not pull for it? 

Wieder's Pick: Not that it’s been a historical guarantee, but with Amour nominated for several first-tier awards this year, I think it has to be considered a heavy favorite here.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph

My Pick: This pick may be considered a bit of an upset as the Disney/Pixar juggernaut tends to have a stranglehold on this category, but this time around I think it will be a stand alone Disney production that is king of the mountain. Although I haven't seen it yet, I'm going to pick Wreck-It Ralph.  From what I hear it is excellent all of the way around and has the added bonus of a high nostalgia factor for those of us that grew up in the '80s as video games really began to be recognized in pop culture.  I've only seen two films in this category so far, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.  But Brave was a little sub-par for a Pixar film and Frankenweenie's full length feature didn't really add anything important to the story from the original short film.

Wieder's Pick: Considering that I had Brave on my favorite 10 movies of the year list, I will be very disappointed if it fails to bring home a statue here.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Argo (Chris Terrio), Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin), Life of Pi (David Magee), Lincoln (Tony Kushner), Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

My Pick: I've not had much luck picking the writing categories in the past, and I haven't actually read any of the scripts, but knowing that Tony Kushner's script went from a lifetime spanning piece of epic length to narrowing its focus to the final four months of President Abraham Lincoln's life without sacrificing depth and detail is really unbelievable.  Life of Pi had been called 'unfilmable' so that script could take home this award as well, but I'm going to go with the script for Lincoln because, overall, I enjoyed that film more.
Wieder's Pick: I’ll follow my logic from earlier and give David O. Russell the win here from Silver Linings Playbook, if only because I can see Life of Pi and Beasts of the Southern Wild camps cancelling each other out.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Amour (Michael Haneke), Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino), Flight (John Gatins), Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola), Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)

My Pick: Two of these films (Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty) were on my Top 10 films of 2012 list, and another (Moonrise Kingdom) would have been had I seen it before compiling said list.  Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino both being nominated doesn't make things any easier for me when picking this category.  Either of them would be deserving winners, and I would be ecstatic if either did (taking nothing away from Mark Boal).  Based on the other ceremonies this awards season, it looks like there's a good chance that Tarantino will pick up another Oscar here, but considering both he and Boal have won in the past, I'm going to pull for Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola here as first time winners.
Wieder's Pick: Would it be too much trouble for Quentin Tarantino to pick up his second Oscar in this category? If so, I’ll assume Zero Dark Thirty is the winner here. 

Best Achievement in Directing: Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

My Pick: Ok, before I discuss those that were nominated, I have to address those that were not.   The fact that both Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) were inexplicably left of the list of nominees is absolutely ludicrous. The fact that Quentin Tarantino was also overlooked is only slightly less ludicrous.  I'm torn in my feelings about this category because I like that Benh Zeitlin gets recognized for Beasts of the Southern Wild, but how both Affleck and Bigelow could be overlooked is confounding, especially considering how critically acclaimed their films have been (Argo specifically has been wildly successful on the rest of the awards circuit, especially for Affleck's direction).  Since I can't pick Affleck here, I'm going to give the nod to Steven Spielberg.  Ang Lee will probably get a ton of support for bringing a story that was previously dubbed 'unfilmable' to the big screen so successfully, but Spielberg took what originally started as a lifetime spanning biopic and cut it down to the final four months of our 16th President's life, giving us an excellent look behind the scenes of one of the most important periods in our country's history.

Wieder's Pick: I think a lot of people were surprised when the list of nominees came out. Where was Ben Affleck? Where was Tom Hooper? Where was Quentin Tarantino? Where was Kathryn Bigelow? And so on… instead, we can just look and see that they nominated the directors of the other 5 films nominated for Best Picture, so it’s not as though these folks came from nowhere. That said… I believe the foreign entry (Michael Haneke for Amour) and the indie entry (Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild) are likely to see their recognition end here. Ang Lee is up for his third nomination in this category and his second as producer for Best Picture as well, and he is my sentimental favorite for Life of Pi, but pragmatically speaking I’d like his odds more if he didn’t already have a win (Brokeback Mountain) and the film wasn’t being neglected in the hype of some of the bigger films. Of its impressive 11 nominations, most of them are in technical categories, and that is where I expect it to pick up 3-5 awards. Not here. David O. Russell’s second nomination in directing is for Silver Linings Playbook, and he is also up for two Oscars on the night (Best Adapted Screenplay), but I like his odds better in the non-directing. For Best Director, I’m going for the man who got his seventh nomination in both directing and producing this year, whose two previous Best Director nominations came in the 90's for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. Ladies and gentleman, Steven Spielberg.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Amy Adams (The Master)*, Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

My Pick: Anne Hathaway is pretty much cleaning up in this category this awards season and there probably isn't much reason to believe that she won't continue that trend at the Oscars.  I think her portrayal of Fantine's emotional fall in Les Misérables will be tough to beat.  If anyone has a chance of knocking her off though, it may be Sally Field's strong portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln.  Field has won the two previous times that she's been nominated for an Oscar.

Wieder's Pick: In yet another category, a winner could get their third Oscar. Sally Field (hoping we still really like her, we REALLY like her) is up for Lincoln. In other news, Jacki Weaver pulls her second nomination for Silver Linings Playbook. Also, Helen Hunt could get the Actress/Supporting Actress combo with a win in The Sessions, 15 years after her win for As Good As It Gets (and go 2-2 in nominations to wins). Then too, Amy Adams received her fourth nomination in this category in the last eight years for her role in The Master. Yet, the casual observer (*cough* Anne Hathaway) has probably only been made aware (*cough* Anne Hathaway) of one performance this year (*cough* Anne Hathaway) that is worthy of an Oscar (*cough* Anne Hathaway). Allow me a moment to go contrarian, when I pull the original language of Les Miserables out and utter the word merde. Merci. Oh, there is no doubt Anne Hathaway did a very good job with her role, and is considered to be a high point of the film. However, can I say that when I came out of the theater I wasn't even sure she did the best job of Supporting Actress in the film, let alone in Hollywood this year (newcomer Samantha Barks won me over as Éponine ? There is no way I could say anything other than “expect Anne Hathaway to take home the Oscar” and expect to be taken at all seriously.  That said, what? She sings, and she got her head shaved? However, my hope would be that Amy Adams wins.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)*, Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

My Pick: I was a little disappointed that Javier Bardem didn't receive a nomination for his role as Bond villain Silva in Skyfall but you cannot make an argument against any of these nominees!  In fact, this field is so strong, all of the nominees have won an Oscar in the past (I believe that it is the first time that all of the nominees in a single category have done so).  I haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook so I can't really take Robert DeNiro into consideration.  Philip Seymour Hoffman earned a lot of early talk for his work in The Master.  I don't mean to hold it against him, but I didn't particularly enjoy that film so for me it comes down to a three man race: Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz, and Alan Arkin.  I'd be perfectly happy with any of these three.  Alan Arkin was a powerful force and good comedic relief in Argo, but the nomination could have easily gone to his cast mate John Goodman.  Christoph Waltz's Dr. King Shultz was every bit as impressive as his Col. Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds (for which he won this category in 2010), but with a complete 180 on the moral scale.  It will either be him or Tommy Lee Jones.  I'll take Jones because his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens and his single-mindedness in working to get the 13th Amendment to our Constitution passed is too strong to overlook and demanded to be noticed in a film starring this year's lock for Best Actor.

Wieder's Pick: This set of nominees appeals to me, and should to you as well, because each nominee is a former Oscar winner. Like Day-Lewis and Washington, Robert DeNiro could also win his third acting Oscar for his role in Silver Linings Playbook. Philip Seymour Hoffman could get the Best Actor/Best Supporting Actor combo meal were he to win for the (potentially – don’t want to pretend I can read Paul Anderson’s mind) titular role in The Master. Reliable stalwarts Alan Arkin (Argo) and Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) could pick up their second Best Supporting Actor statues, as could the only actor to win an Oscar for a Quentin Taratino movie to date, Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). The recent slate of winners tends to favor well-regarded actors with a history of nominated performances. Well, that doesn’t eliminate anyone here. All five movies involved also have multiple nominations this year, in major categories, so there is no candidate to remove for the “the nomination is the true recognition” reason sometimes seen. If we’re discussing momentum going into Oscar night, Waltz won both the BAFTA and Golden Globe, Jones won a SAG award, Hoffman has been having very good luck with some of the lower-tier awards, and Arkin has been part of ensemble cast awards, where the film’s strength seems to lie. So what do I think? As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I cannot vote for the Eagles movie, so DeNiro is out. Waltz, despite the Globe win, has the most recent statue, so the voters may go elsewhere. Picking between the rest of the three is a toss-up for me.  Let me have Tommy Lee Jones, if only because if I am right about Lincoln losing everywhere else so far, all those nominations have to produce a winner somewhere. Go, Agent K!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

My Pick: The fact that this year's field includes both the youngest and the oldest to ever be nominated in an acting category (Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva respectively) is really cool.  And if either of them won, I wouldn't complain as they'd be making history.  I just don't see that happening.  This category is going to come down to Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence.  I have not yet had a chance to see Silver Linings Playbook which makes my pick slightly biased, but I'm picking Chastain's turn as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty here.  We see her grow from a young CIA agent new to the horrors of war into a hardened, determined veteran whose drive and relentlessness led to the the finding and elimination of Osama bin Laden.

Wieder's Pick: This list of nominees offers some against-type selections. First, Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest person nominated for Best Actress, as she is currently only nine years old. She won the part of Hushpuppy in what would become Beasts of the Southern Wild at a precocious five. Also, Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest woman nominated for the award, and were she to win for her role in Amour, she would become only the third Best Actress winner in a non-English speaking role (joining Sophia Loren and Marion Cotillard). Of the remaining three nominees, Naomi Watts in The Impossible is representing the film receiving the least buzz, by far, so her nomination is going to be the prize for her barring a huge upset. I expect the award to go to either Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, or Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. The two are among the brightest stars currently shining in Hollywood, both are past nominees for the Academy, and both actresses won Golden Globes for their performances this year in two of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year. Chastain has a hugely impressive body of work recently, with excellent turns in The Help, Tree of Life, Mama, and Take Shelter to sway fans of any of those movies into voting for her. I loved Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone (her previously nominated work), and found some reassurance in the whole Hunger Games phenomenon with her performance there. Given the preference of drama over comedy by the Academy, and the sheer heft of powerful performances by Chastain in the last couple of years, I’d normally say she wins a squeaker. However, two last things. One, 14 previous films earned Oscar nominations in all four acting categories previously, and only 2 of the 14 went 0-4. So, since Lawrence seems closest to the top for Silver Linings Playbook, I have to consider that. Second, we might get a repeat of the dress malfunction from the Golden Globes only… wait, no , bad blogger!!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)*, Denzel Washington (Flight)

My Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis.  There is absolutely no other choice in this category. Had it been any other year, Hugh Jackman's turn as Jean Valjean would probably take home the hardware, but Day-Lewis completely disappears into his performance as our 16th President.  Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows how I feel about this performance and I hate to be repetitive, but at no point in time do you think that you are watching Day-Lewis during Lincoln.  All you see is Abraham Lincoln, and his portrayal brings to life absolutely everything we would expect based on our history lessons.  As a result he'll take home the third Best Actor statuette of his career, making him the first actor to do so (he is currently tied with eight others with two wins each in this category - Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, and Sean Penn).

Wieder's Pick: A win for Lincoln would give Daniel Day-Lewis an unprecedented three statues for Best Actor performances, and either he or Denzel Washington (nominated for Flight) could tie the record of three total Actor/Supporting Actor wins on Oscar night. So there is some opportunity for Academy history here, appropriate I suppose considering a recent trend of the Academy. Five of the last eight Oscar winners in this category have portrayed historical figures (Jamie Foxx, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Forest Whitaker, Sean Penn, and Colin Firth). While I have no beef with any of those individual performances, I do take issue with this notion that to win an Oscar, actors have to physically transform into the recognizable features of well-known people. Day-Lewis did a wonderful job of physically becoming Lincoln, without a doubt, and gave a fine performance in addition. However, does that necessarily make his work better than the edgy semi-comic performance of Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, or Joaquin Phoenix’s haunting work in The Master? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll offer this thought, though. If we must take physical accomplishments into account when looking for a winner in this category, why not recognize the absolutely chiseled shape of Hugh Jackman, who also had to primarily sing most of his lines in Les Miserables. If it’s difficult to convey the performance of a well-known beloved figure (admittedly one dead almost 150 years), how about rewarding the challenge of taking on one of the most famous roles ever from Broadway, and making it his own? I expect Day-Lewis to win, but prefer Jackman in an upset.

Best Motion Picture of the Year: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

My Pick: I've had the opportunity to see seven of the nine nominees in this category this year, and have really enjoyed all of them, but in my mind, three stand out above the rest: Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Argo.  These three films comprised the top spots on my Top 10 of 2012 list in that order.  I stand by that placement as far as my personal theatrical enjoyment stands, however, I've been a fan of Ben Affleck's directorial efforts from the beginning and I can't imagine that the momentum that Argo has carried through every other awards ceremony this year will stop at the Oscars.  If it even remotely makes up for his snub in the directing category, I'm all for it.  So here's a big '"Argo F*** Yourself!" Academy, Affleck will have the last laugh.

Wieder's Pick: I’ll admit, it was easier to track this category when the maximum list of nominations was capped at five. One of the bigger questions in this category is whether Argo can win despite the fact that the Academy doesn’t seem to appreciate Ben Affleck as a director. Fair question, as only three times previously has a Best Picture winner not had its director at least nominated for Oscar, and only once in the last 80 years (Driving Miss Daisy, for the curious). This would also present a historical impediment for Les Misérables, Zero Dark Thirty, and Django Unchained. Is it just me, or does this list seem more likely to include the winner than the remaining five? Unlike the other films mentioned, Argo has been cleaning up lately, recently winning both BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for Best Picture. Lincoln is obviously its main contender, but if I’m right about its win for Best Director, it wouldn’t be a huge loss here. Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Life of Pi are too far outside the mainstream, and Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty are not seen as consistently strong enough to contend here. I’ll give Argo the award, with Lincoln,  Les Misérables, and Silver Linings Playbook as the only movies with a shot of making this not the case, in this order.

So those are our picks for this year's 85th Annual Academy Awards.  I don't know about you, but I'll be interested to see how closely our thoughts mirror the Academy's.  Especially since we haven't picked the technical categories in the past.  Now it's your turn.  What films do you think will be taking home the hardware?


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