Subscribe To Oscar Eye: Life Of Pi And Silver Linings Playbook Make Their Case For Best Picture Updates
If your Thanksgiving is going anything like mine, you're realizing with a mix of excitement and dread that the movie year is almost over, and there's a lot left to catch up on. Without even digging into movies that are on DVD, there are a ton of films out in theaters right now or on VOD that at least deserve awards consideration-- and if you're a critic or a voter on any awards, the pressure is seriously on. Between now and Christmas Academy and guild members will be swamped with screeners and invitations to special screenings, with every studio hoping their film will rise above the fray and get noticed in time to be mentioned on ballots.

Some movies will have no trouble-- both Argo and Lincoln have already nailed the crucial combination of critical raves and box office success that means they automatically get considered, and it's hard to imagine the Best Picture lineup without either of them. And this weekend several films are aiming for the same success, with Life of Pi opening wide and selling itself as an inspiring and dazzling family film, Silver Linings Playbook rolling out in limited release with a massive marketing campaign, and films like Anna Karenina and The Sessions attempting to build on limited release appeal as they expand to more theaters. Thanskgiving is a great time to put yourself out there and appeal to audiences sick of spending time with their families, and for fans of films with awards potential, there's a whole lot to choose from.

You can click here for our very own guide of what's worth catching, but as ever, the thing to keep an eye on this weekend is box office. There's still time for critics to swoop in in a few weeks and pick up movies they love that didn't quite sail with audiences or were released a while ago-- The Master is poised to make a major comeback, as could Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom-- but when it comes to the films jostling in the crowded holiday marketplace, box office can determine a lot. And that could apply especially this year, as there's still no No Country for Old Men-style steamroller frontrunner, and there's room for a late release like Les Miserables or even Django Unchained to arrive, take over, and ride audience appeal all the way to the Oscars.

The Weinstein Company seems to think Silver Linings Playbook can do that, despite the seeming uncertainty of the canceled-at-the-last-minute wide release; there's definitely room for a Juno-style, rough-edged indie hit this year, and I think if people actually see the movie, they'll love it the way audiences have at festivals. I'm less certain about Life of Pi, which is visually stunning but not necessarily as entertaining or all-ages-appealing as the movie it's constantly being compared to, Avatar. Each of them are major Best Picture contenders (unlike my beloved Anna Karenina, sadly, or the soon-to-open Rust and Bone and Hitchcock) and after the holiday we should know a lot more about where each of them stand.

In the meantime, though, we'll dig into the charts, where there's more tightening happening in all of the categories, and I finally come to terms with the juggernaut that Lincoln has been all along.

oscar winner prediction
BEST PICTURE

Alright, fine-- Lincoln is a Mortal Lock. I knew it last week and hesitated for no good reason. Elsewhere I've bumped Flight up to Likely Contender, since its $61 million at the box office so far promises significant staying power, and I've let go of This is 40 and Killing Them Softly as Outside Chances, since-- despite some warm reviews for both-- they're clearly not going to be on the Academy radar. Next week some critics will have finally seen Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty, so we'll finally be able to gauge these based on more than just a hunch that they'll be in the conversation.

MORTAL LOCK

Argo
Lincoln
LIKELY CONTENDER

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Flight
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
STILL IN THE RUNNING

Amour
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Hitchcock
The Impossible
Les Miserables
Moonrise Kingdom
Promised Land
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty
OUTSIDE CHANCE

Arbitrage
The Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Master
Not Fade Away
Quartet
Rust and Bone
The Sessions
oscar winner prediction
BEST DIRECTOR

I still just can't place Spielberg in the Mortal Lock spot, since he missed out on a nomination for the super Academy-friendly War Horse, and there seems to be a sense that you can skip over him since he's been nominated so many times. But Affleck is definitely there-- and even if Spielberg gets nominated, he might be the best pick for a win at this point.

MORTAL LOCK

Ben Affleck, Argo
LIKELY CONTENDER

Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
STILL IN THE RUNNING

Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
OUTSIDE CHANCE

Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Jacques Audiard, Rust and Bone
Juan Antonio Bayona, The Impossible
Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Sam Mendes, Skyfall
Joe Wright, Anna Karenina
Gus van Sant, Promised Land
Robert Zemeckis, Flight
oscar winner prediction
BEST ACTOR
Day-Lewis still has the Mortal Lock all to himself, partly because Fox Searchlight is up against themselves, with both Anthony Hopkins in Hitchcock and John Hawkes in The Sessions to promote for a nomination. It shouldn't be too hard to get nominations for each of them, but in a category this crowded you really never know. And again, keep an eye on Hugh Jackman, who really does have the power to change this category yet again when Les Mis emerges in the next week.

MORTAL LOCK

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
LIKELY CONTENDER

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
STILL IN THE RUNNING

Matt Damon, Promised Land
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
OUTSIDE CHANCE

Jack Black, Bernie
Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained
Richard Gere, Arbitrage
Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi
oscar winner prediction
BEST ACTRESS
Sometimes when you've got a category that feels this empty, one contender can walk into the vacuum and run away with it. There's no guarantee yet but some anonymous rumors say that Jessica Chastian in Zero Dark Thirty is formidable, and she's in a similarly strong position as Jennifer Lawrence-- an ingenue who recently emerged out of nowhere and has a previous nomination to back up her bona fides. It could be a fascinating showdown between the two of them if both get nominated-- and if you add Quvenzhane Wallis to the mix, a very youth-focused Best Actress competition.

MORTAL LOCK

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
LIKELY CONTENDER

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
STILL IN THE RUNNING

Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
OUTSIDE CHANCE

Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Meryl Streep, Hope Springs
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea
oscar winner prediction
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
With the rising strength of Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones moves into the Mortal Lock category, and the four-strong lineup in the category below him still looks pretty solid. But again-- Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe remain mysterious. We can't guarantee anything until their movies get shown.

MORTAL LOCK

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
LIKELY CONTENDER

Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
STILL IN THE RUNNING

Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Russell Crowe, Les Miserables
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Jude Law, Anna Karenina
David Strathairn, Lincoln
OUTSIDE CHANCE

Garrett Hedlund, On the Road
John Krasinski, Promised Land
William H. Macy, The Sessions
Ewan McGregor, The Impossible
Eddie Redmayne, Les Miserables
oscar winner prediction
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway's Les Mis performance will be revealed in the next week. Until then we seriously don't know what's up. And yes, this category continues to drive me crazy.

MORTAL LOCK

NONE
LIKELY CONTENDER

Amy Adams, The Master
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
STILL IN THE RUNNING

Samantha Barks, Les Miserables
Kelly Reilly, Flight
Amanda Seyfried, Les Miserables
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Kerry Washington, Django Unchained
OUTSIDE CHANCE

Pauline Collins, Quartet
Salma Hayek, Savages
Frances McDormand, Promised Land
Jacki Weaver, SIlver Linings Playbook

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