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Oscar Watching: Will ARGO Win?

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) and, oddly enough, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) handed their highest honors to Ben Affleck’s Argo last weekend. (Wreck-It Ralph and Searching for Sugar Man won the top honors for animated and documentary features, respectively, with the former guild, and I expect them to repeat at the Oscars.)

With its guild wins and, less notably, the Globe wins for motion picture drama and best director the weekend before, Argo sits as the one to beat in what remains the oddest Oscar race I’ve witnessed in my years of keeping tabs on the awards season.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) hands out its top prize on Saturday; expect Affleck to win there as well. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) holds its annual shindig eight days later, on Sunday, Feb. 10, where we can again expect Argo to triumph. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announces its winners on week later on Feb. 17.

Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston in Argo

Best Picture

If the PGA got this year’s best picture winner right, then there’s no way this season won’t produce the picture-director split many have discussed. Thanks to its PGA win, Affleck’s Argo leads the four films with a fragile hold on the picture race. However, its win with SAG in the cast in a motion picture category – one that shocked the blogosphere – secures it as a true front-runner. As stated earlier, expect the thriller to also take the top prize with the DGA and even BAFTA.

It seems odd that a good yet not extraordinary film, one that people like but don’t throw themselves behind, might be the big winner on Oscar night. Then again, that’s the way the season goes. Sasha Stone, who’s followed Oscars longer than I have, wrote about it earlier this week:

“As good as Ben Affleck is, Argo isn’t a director-driven film. It is a film people like across the board – anyone can sit down and watch that movie and enjoy it.  Does it set the world on fire? No. Is it a visionary masterpiece? Nope. Is it a movie you can dive back into and discover something new each time? No.  But it doesn’t matter because it’s a comfortable fit in a contentious year where so many greater visionary works are splitting up the vote.”

Too bad Argo isn’t eligible for the Indie Spirits as well, because it’d likely win there as well. At least Silver Linings Playbook will have its day in the sun there. It’s worth wondering if Lincoln is still a threat, and of course it is. But the signs aren’t pointing to Steven Spielberg’s drama, which handily avoids the fluff it could have so easily incorporated without any consequence, winning Oscar’s top race.

(Obvious fun fact: a win for Argo here means the rare picture-director split would be inevitable –assuming the awards season throws no more surprises our way, of course.)

1. Argo

2. Lincoln

3. Silver Linings Playbook

4. Life of Pi

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

6. Zero Dark Thirty

7. Les Misérables

8. Amour

9. Django Unchained


Best Director

I expect the DGA to align with Affleck and Argo like the other major precursors. That clearly bears no relevance in this race, so I’m still calling Spielberg, who might very well upset for the DGA prize for Lincoln, to get the Oscar.

1. Steven Spielberg for Lincoln

2. Ang Lee for Life of Pi

3. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook

4. Michael Haneke for Amour

5. Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild


Best Actress in a Leading Role

Jennifer Lawrence won the SAG for Silver Linings Playbook without surprising too many people (some thought Jessica Chastain would pull it off for her turn in Zero Dark Thirty). Still, I think Emmanuelle Riva surprises on Oscar night by winning for Amour since she’s a legend who might never again get the chance to win and Oscar Night falls on her birthday. Also, front-runner Lawrence will have a plethora of great roles in the years to come. Same goes for Chastain.

Can Riva also shock with a BAFTA win? I believe she might, but the jury’s still out. Naomi Watts stands on thin ice since The Impossible didn’t score nominations elsewhere (even Phyllida Lloyd’s divisively reviewed The Iron Lady, which netted Meryl Streep a long-awaited third statue last year, scored a win in the makeup – now makeup and hairstyling – category), but I wouldn’t bet on Quvenzhané Wallis winning either.

1. Emmanuelle Riva for Amour

2. Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

3. Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

4. Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild

5. Naomi Watts for The Impossible


Best Actor in a Leading Role

SAG confirmed what we already knew about this race: Daniel Day-Lewis will make Oscar history with Lincoln by winning his third best actor Oscar.

1. Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

2. Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables

3. Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook

4. Joaquin Phoenix for The Master

5. Denzel Washington for Flight

les mis2

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

It’s Anne Hathaway for the win. Just for fun, here’s some proof that she leads the race virtually uncontested – forget the precursors! Sally Field is next in line, though Hathaway is clearly miles ahead of her.

1. Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables

2. Sally Field for Lincoln

3. Amy Adams for The Master

4. Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

5. Helen Hunt for The Sessions


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Tommy Lee Jones’ win at SAG was no surprise, even though I thought Robert De Niro would win there. It’s as baffling a race as ever, with no clear front-runner. Perhaps BAFTA forecasts the winner – unless they go for Javier Bardem, of course. If that’s the case, De Niro won’t win his third Oscar since BAFTA gave him the cold shoulder. Then again, Melissa Leo won supporting actress for The Fighter in 2010 without any recognition from BAFTA.

I’m sticking with Jones since De Niro didn’t win SAG, but the latter performer might win as a consolation prize for Silver Linings Playbook (assuming my fringe prediction about the best actress race turns out to be correct).

1. Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

2. Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook

3. Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master

4. Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

5. Alan Arkin for Argo


Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal should have no problems winning the WGA prize for Zero Dark Thirty, but Oscar likely tells a different story. I still say Michael Haneke walks away with Oscar’s honor for Amour.

1. Michael Haneke for Amour

2. Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained

3. Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty

4. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom

5. John Gatins for Flight


Best Adapted Screenplay

Tony Kushner will pick up a special honor from the WGA, which might very well have to serve as consolation for an Argo upset there, but I’m still calling him for the Oscar.

1. Tony Kushner for Lincoln

2. Chris Terrio for Argo

3. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook

4. David Magee for Life of Pi

5. Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar for Beasts of the Southern Wild

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Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.