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Oscar Eye: Predicting The 2013 Oscar Nominations

Gulp. It's time. Time to actually lay my cards down on the table, stop the hedging and the "some believe" and "in my opinion" and actually make some damn Oscar predictions. I have to admit from the very top that I know it's dumb to attempt to predict Oscar nominees in any year, and that goes double for this year. This is an unusually open race even at this point, and no matter how confident you might be about the four or five movies likely to get the most nominations, actually soothsaying the lineup of each individual category is lunacy. It's never going to work.

So with that grain of salt in mind… here are my final predictions for the Oscar nominations, which will be announced this Thursday morning, bright and early at 8:30 a.m. EST. The major categories, with some explanation behind my choices, are included on this page, with the rest of the field included on the following two. I don't recommend placing any bets based on my thoughts. This is all for fun and games, and potential bragging rights if I somehow get this right.

If you want to see how I came to these conclusions and catch up on what the Oscar race has been like so far this year, read all the old Oscar Eye columns here.

BEST PICTURE

THE NOMINEES

Argo

Django Unchained

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

THE ALTERNATES

Amour

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Moonrise Kingdom

Skyfall

As you can see, I'm predicting a Best Picture field of seven, though with the option of between five and ten nominees, there's no real way of knowing what the final count will be. If the category winds up including more than that-- and there are some who think we could have a full lineup of 10 Best Picture nominees-- I'd expect Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour, in that order. But last week's Producers Guild nomination for Skyfall gives plenty of reason to believe it could be in there. Seven seem guaranteed. Filling in the rest seems like a total shot in the dark.

BEST DIRECTOR

THE NOMINEES

Ben Affleck, Argo

Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty

Tom Hooper, Les Miserables

Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

THE ALTERNATES

Michael Haneke, Amour

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

It's the "degree of difficulty" factor that inspires me to include Ang Lee over the remaining three alternates-- plus yesterday's nomination from the Directors Guild, which seals the deal. Life of Pi is a massive project that many directors considered and abandoned, and it seems that the directors in the Academy will be willing to acknowledge that over the considerable work from Haneke, Tarantino and Russell. All three, however, are viable contenders for Lee's spot-- while Affleck, Bigelow, Hooper and Spielberg will all make it in barring some extraordinary shakeup, Lee could easily miss out in favor of one of those three

BEST ACTOR

THE NOMINEES

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Denzel Washington, Flight

THE ALTERNATES

John Hawkes, The Sessions

Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour

It might be pure stubbornness that has me including Joaquin Phoenix in the top 5. Most everyone will say he's on the bubble, and a lot of Oscar pundits have gone in for John Hawkes instead. But I think that the people who love The Master really love it, and even the people who don't love the movie know how tremendous Phoenix's performance is. And I think-- or maybe I just hope-- that it's enough to get him the nomination he very, very richly deserves.

BEST ACTRESS

THE NOMINEES

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

THE ALTERNATES

Helen Mirren, Hitchcock

Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Beyond Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence no one has seemed locked into this category, and that's still the case-- any three of those alternates could pop up suddenly, though I'm skeptical that it would be all three. In the end I'm going with the group that has looked the strongest all along, and that includes Wallis, who wasn't eligible for a SAG nomination and who missed out on a Golden Globe, but who has such a strong story and appeal to voters that I think she makes it in anyway.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

THE NOMINEES

Alan Arkin, Argo

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike

THE ALTERNATES

Javier Bardem, Skyfall

Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook

Eddie Redmayne, Les Miserables

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

There's an enormous potential for surprises in this category, and I've decided to just go ahead and pick one of the biggest. I want Matthew McConaughey to be nominated in this category desperately, I think he can do it, and dammit, someone needs to predict this happening. Is it very likely for one those alternates-- most likely DeNiro-- to make it in instead? Sure. But you've gotta be bold at some point, and McConaughey's nomination is the one I want to see more than absolutely anything else on Thursday morning.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

THE NOMINEES

Judi Dench, Skyfall

Sally Field, Lincoln

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

THE ALTERNATES

Amy Adams, The Master

Ann Dowd, Compliance

Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Despite Nicole Kidman's huge groundswell, netting a Globe and SAG award nomination, and the potential strength of The Master, I think the relative chaos in this category favors the two easy choices-- Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Both are in well-liked and popular movies, both are exceedingly well-liked and popular actresses, and without much passion behind the remaining picks, they seem like easy placeholders behind the three that are locked down (Hunt, Hathaway and Field). While in Supporting Actor I'm putting money on the wild bets I hope pay off, here it seems better to just go with the safest choices that now seem inevitable.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

THE NOMINEES

Brave

Frankenweenie

ParaNorman

The Rabbi's Cat

Wreck-It Ralph

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

THE NOMINEES

Amour

The Intouchables

No

A Royal Affair

War Witch

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

THE NOMINEES

5 Broken Cameras

The Gatekeepers

How To Survive A Plague

Searching for Sugar Man

This Is Not A Film

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

THE NOMINEES

Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom

Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty

Michael Haneke, Amour

Rian Johnson, Looper

Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

THE NOMINEES

Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Tony Kushner, Lincoln

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Chris Terrio, Argo

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

THE NOMINEES

Roger Deakins, Skyfall

Greig Fraser, Zero Dark Thirty

Janusz Kaminski, Lincoln

Seamus McGarvey, Anna Karenina

Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

THE NOMINEES

Paco Delgado, Les Miserables

Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina

Joanna Johnston, Lincoln

Elio Ishioka, Mirror Mirror

Jacqueline West, Argo

BEST FILM EDITING

THE NOMINEES

Stuart Baird, Skyfall

William Goldenberg, Argo

William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty

Michael Kahn, Lincoln

Tim Squyres, Life of Pi

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

THE NOMINEES

Alexandre Desplat, Argo

Alexandre Desplat, Zero Dark Thirty

Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina

Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

John Williams, Lincoln

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

THE NOMINEES

"Learn Me Right," Brave

"Ancora Qui," Django Unchained

"Song of the Lonely Mountain," The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

"Suddenly," Les Miserables

"Skyfall," Skyfall

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

THE NOMINEES

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Les Miserables

Lincoln

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

THE NOMINEES

Anna Karenina

Django Unchained

Les Miserables

Lincoln

Skyfall

BEST SOUND EDITING

THE NOMINEES

The Avengers

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Les Miserables

Skyfall

Zero Dark Thirty

BEST SOUND MIXING

THE NOMINEES

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Skyfall

Zero Dark Thirty

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

THE NOMINEES

The Avengers

The Dark Knight Rises

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Life of Pi

Skyfall

Katey Rich

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend