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Oscars 2013: Best Picture Predictions

Kelly Hanelt |
February 23, 2013 | 6:04 p.m. PST

TV Editor

Winner winner, chicken dinner?
Winner winner, chicken dinner?

Approximately 2500 movies were released in 2012, 500 in America alone. Yet, despite these colossal numbers, the Academy has selected just 9 films to contend for the ever prestigious, sometimes misleading, but, nonetheless, covetable title of Best Picture. The films are so indisputably varied that it’s difficult to discern an evident victor from among them. However, regardless of the current uncertainty, a winner will be crowned Sunday night. And while you (most likely) have no say in the official decision, that doesn’t defer you from predicting anyways, if not at the very least for the bragging rights when you are inevitably correct. But before you go betting your reputation on “Django” or “Les Mis” (just because you’ve actually heard of them) consult the movie-by-movie odds below.

“Amour” The French-language film, based on an identical situation in the family of filmmaker Michael Haneke, focuses on the inextricably complicated dealings of love and death. Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest nominee for best actress in a leading role for her portrayal of Anne, a withering retired music teacher and wife to the devastatingly devoted Georges. “Amour” received the Palme d’Or, the top honor at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, however had a meager reception in America, only making $68,266 its opening weekend. At first glance, it may seem a considerable contender (It’s French! Like “The Artist”!) but “Amour” hasn’t had the steam power of popularity to carry it to an Oscars’ win. Odds: Not the best bet. 

“Argo” Based on a true story of the extraction of 6 fugitive American diplomats out of a revolutionary Iran in 1980, this film touches upon the largely political theme of this year’s nominees without indulging in it. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, “Argo” was both a critical and box office success, accruing $127,000,000 domestically. Despite its nominations in almost every entertainment award ceremony, “Argo” was not considered a serious contender until its win for Best Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes. Now, “Argo” leads online predictions for Best Picture winner, including Neon Tommy’s own Oscars poll. Odds: Likely.

“Beasts Of The Southern Wild” If you’ve actually heard of this movie before the Oscars nominees were announced then good for you. The fantasy drama was named the third best film of the year by New York Times film critic A. O. Scott and was heralded by Roger Ebert, writing, “Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius.” So, the polar opposite of “Django Unchained” basically. But its Oscars equal? Most likely not. Odds: A long shot.

“Django Unchained” Now if you haven’t heard of this movie before Oscars’ nominations come out then you need to crawl out from under that rock. Quentin Tarantino’s latest, starring Jamie Foxx, was one of the most anticipated films of 2012. Tackling the concept of slavery with that classic Tarantino twist of gratuitous violence, “Django” lacked in subtly what “Beasts” lacked in popular acclaim. However, Tarantino’s graphic aesthetic didn’t take away from the compelling plot, solid acting by Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Leonardo DiCaprio – all aspects that made “Django” such a popular choice for Best Picture. Odds: Not as good as “Argo,” but not bad.

“Les Misérables” The token bulk-cast movie. The token musical. The token Anne Hathaway performance. “Les Mis” stands out from its Best Picture competition in many ways, but not necessarily the ways that will bring it a victory. The film was a pop culture phenomenon. For weeks after it debuted, the talk around town was all about Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, (both best acting nominees) and, on a considerably less flattering note, Russell Crowe. When compared to the stage show, it was ridiculed and written off. When compared to other films released in the 2012-2013 year, it was a clear contender for top honors. Odds: Same as “Django.”

“Life of Pi” The next in the endless stream of beloved literature translated into cinema. It’s no “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings”… but, it’s also no “Twilight.” “Life of Pi’s” greatest advantage is the sheer captivation of the story. The book was impossible to put down, and the movie was impossible to look away from. Also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Visual Effects, “Life of Pi” took a story of a boy stranded mid-ocean, forced to find a way to cohabitate with a tiger on a small boat, and veered it away from the kitschy, cheesy road it could easily have drifted towards. In the end, “Pi” was still not as publically heralded as “Django,” or “Les Mis,” but its uniquely heartwarming story is not to be overlooked. Odds: Not terrible.

“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day-Lewis. Abraham Lincoln. Three heavy-hitters, one movie. The slow-burner is fodder for Civil War-era buffs. But that may be its only fan base. “Lincoln” was undoubtedly carried by spectacular acting performances by the aforementioned Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as Sally Fields and Tommy Lee Jones (as First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, and Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens, respectively.) All three have been nominated for best acting. At least one is guaranteed to win. But “Lincoln” in general? That is less certain. Odds: Could be the surprise win of the night.

“Silver Linings Playbook” Jennifer Lawrence! Bradley Cooper! They dance! They fall in love! How cute, right? Wrong. So very wrong. While “Silver Linings” is less oppressive in subject material than some of the other nominees (Say, “Les Mis,” or “Zero Dark Thirty”), it weeds its way into viewers hearts with a nuanced balance of despair and humor. Those who wrote Cooper off after “The Hangover” should look again at his heartbreakingly realistic portrayal of bipolar Pat. Throw in fan-favorite Lawrence, and strong supporting roles by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver? What you’ve got is pretty damn close to a total package. Odds: Pretty good.

“Zero Dark Thirty” The world scoffed when it was announced that Hollywood was making a film about Osama Bin Laden’s demise. However, Hollywood’s breaking point turned out to be an intense and lingering film that provoked questions on torture, the true definition of heroics, and just how powerful women can be. Jessica Chastain (nominee for Best Actress in a Lead Role) lead the cast as Maya, the woman behind the mission that brought Bin Laden down. Just 5 years after she won Best Picture with “The Hurt Locker,” director Kathryn Bigelow brings “Zero Dark Thirty” to the table. Will it be as lucky? Odds: Not the greatest.

And there you have it. Who do you think deserves to bring home the title of Best Picture? Share your opinion with our official Oscars poll here.

Reach TV Editor Kelly Hanelt here. Follow her on Twitter here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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