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Updated Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Long shots and sure things: one critic’s Oscar predictions

By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times movie critic

Ah yes, Oscar predictions — a dangerous game. Over a decade of writing about the Academy Awards for The Seattle Times, my accuracy rate has ranged from an impressive 21 out of 24 categories (that was a lovely year) to an embarrassing 8, for which I have no plausible excuse. You never quite know what the Academy will do, particularly in the documentary short category — but my thoughts, and predictions and final shout-outs to my favorites who weren’t nominated, are below.

Best picture

“Argo” has been merrily cleaning it up on the awards circuit (Directors Guild, Producers Guild, SAG, BAFTAs, Golden Globes), and I don’t see why it shouldn’t conclude its march on Oscar night. It’s a well-liked movie in which Hollywood emerges as a hero, directed by a previous Oscar winner who’s also an actor. (The Academy loves hyphenates.) Slightly less likely is “Lincoln,” which would give Steven Spielberg his first best-picture win in 20 years (since “Schindler’s List”); and I wouldn’t entirely rule out the crowd-pleasing “Silver Linings Playbook” (which probably screens quite well on DVD — the method by which most Academy members view nominated movies). But I’d put money on “Argo.” Well, not much.

My prediction: “Argo”

My vote: “Amour”

Wish you were here: “The Deep Blue Sea”

Best director

“Argo” doesn’t have a horse in this race (director Ben Affleck was snubbed), so I’m thinking this’ll be a year of a best picture/best director split, and that Spielberg — or possibly Ang Lee for “Life of Pi” — will take home the gold. Michael Haneke (“Amour”) and David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”) have a shot; Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) probably doesn’t.

Prediction: Spielberg

My vote: Lee

Wish you were here: Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom”

Best actor

If you think anyone other than Daniel Day-Lewis has a shot this year, you haven’t been paying attention. With this win, he’d make history as the only three-time best actor winner (the previous two for “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood”). For a dark-horse candidate ... well, I think Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Hugh Jackman (“Les Misérables”), Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”) and Denzel Washington (“Flight”) know that it’s not their year.

Prediction: Day-Lewis

My vote: Day-Lewis tied with Washington

Wish you were here: John Hawkes, “The Sessions”

Best actress

Now this, my friends, is a race; sort of a junior version of last year when Meryl Streep and Viola Davis seemed to be in a dead heat. This year it’s two glamorous J’s: Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”), both of whom have been nominated before but never won. I’m guessing the charming Lawrence might take the prize, unless the Academy goes for the sentimental vote and makes Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”) the oldest acting winner in history — Oscar night is her 86th birthday. Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”) will likely stay in her seat; as probably will 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), delightful as a speech from her might be.

Prediction: Lawrence

My vote: Riva

Wish you were here: Rachel Weisz, “The Deep Blue Sea”

Best actor in a supporting role

Impressive category this year, with every nominee a previous Oscar winner. I’m guessing this might be between veterans Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”) and Robert De Niro (“Silver Linings Playbook”). Hard to call. Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”) and Alan Arkin (“Argo”) have both won this category recently and seem unlikely to repeat; Philip Seymour Hoffman’s role in “The Master” arguably wasn’t a supporting role (and was a film that divided audiences).

Prediction: Jones

My vote: Hoffman, in whatever category

Wish you were here: Jude Law, “Anna Karenina”

Best actress in a supporting role

This is another one that seems like a forgone conclusion: Anne Hathaway, in “Les Miserables,” cut her hair short, played a prostitute, sang, lost a lot of weight and (spoiler alert!) died; all of which is extremely Oscar-friendly. And her performance was utterly mesmerizing. Dark horse here is Sally Field (“Lincoln”), who’s currently two for two at the Oscars (nominated twice before, she won both times); apparently the Academy really, really likes her. Amy Adams (“The Master”), a four-time nominee, could surprise; Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”) seem unlikely.

Prediction: Hathaway

My vote: Hathaway

Wish you were here: Judi Dench, “Skyfall”

Other categories

Elsewhere, I’m predicting “Lincoln” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” for adapted and original screenplay, respectively (though I’d love to see “Moonrise Kingdom” take the latter); “Anna Karenina” to win the design categories; and am crossing my fingers that cinematographer Roger Deakins wins his first Oscar (it’s his 10th nomination) for “Skyfall.” I’ll be chatting with readers at seattletimes.com during the Oscars Sunday night; hope you’ll join me!

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com


David James / The Associated Press
Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis are both nominated for “Lincoln.”




Jonathan Olley
Jessica Chastain and Christopher Stanley in “Zero Dark Thirty,” a Best Picture nominee.




Warner Bros. Pictures
Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in “Argo,” which is nominated for Best Picture.




JoJo Whilden / The Associated Press
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are dance partners in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Both are nominated for acting awards.




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