Awards season is upon us, and speculation is already running wild about what will pick up nods, nominations and naysaying. I believe there is little to be gained in stating what should win and how awful it is that X was nominated and Y was not – far more interesting is predicting what will be nominated, what will win and, crucially, why. Out of the plethora of films released in any year, some stand out and some are forgotten. While there are certain genres, subjects and people who seem to attract attention, films that feature these elements can easily be overlooked. It is useful, therefore, that critical organisations help us out in this respect.
The American Film Institute, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Film Critics Associations and Societies of various cities, create a nice unofficial short list with the films that they honour. Already Zero Dark Thirty has received Best Film from the AFI, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association. This is notable as Zero Dark Thirty is Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s first film since their award magnet The Hurt Locker in 2009, and the plaudits heaped upon their film about the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden shows no sign of letting up.
Among these plaudits are the Golden Globes, as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has capitalised on the critics’ choices with their 2013 nominations. Already the following are up for awards and some likely winners are clear among them.
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
There is little reason at this stage to suspect that Zero Dark Thirty will not continue its winning ways. If it does not, the field for future winners goes wide open.
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Silver Linings Playbook
This comes down to between a musical and a comedy, as Silver Linings Playbook has been garnering a lot of love. But Les Misérables is the kind of earnest, heart-on-sleeve melodrama that award-givers lap up. Of the others, only Moonrise Kingdom looks to be a strong contender, and if the HFPA feel like honouring Wes Anderson for an impressive career (thus far), the film might pip the others to the post. On a hunch, I would pick Les Misérables.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Richard Gere for Arbitrage
John Hawkes for The Sessions
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
Denzel Washington for Flight
All the buzz is about Day-Lewis and he fits the bill to win, playing a famous and much-respected historical figure who balances personal and social demands. It is interesting that Joaquin Phoenix, rather than Philip Seymour Hoffman, is up for Best Actor, but he is unlikely to pose a serious challenge to Day-Lewis, although I think Hoffman could have.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone
Helen Mirren for Hitchcock
Naomi Watts for The Impossible
Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea
Marion Cottillard has attracted a great deal of admiration for Rust and Bone, as has Naomi Watts for The Impossible. That said, slightly more obscure films often win in the Best Actress category, so Rachel Weisz is in with a chance. Helen Mirren is the oldest of the nominees and older performers often do well, but there seems to have been little attention paid to her, while Chastain seems a little young. At this stage, I would bet on Cotillard.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Jack Black for Bernie
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables
Ewan McGregor for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Bill Murray for Hyde Park on Hudson
This could be Hugh Jackman’s year. He has been a dependable, likeable leading man for over a decade, but this is his first film to have garnered awards attention. The same could be said of Ewan McGregor, but the film he is nominated for seems too lightweight to receive serious consideration (and is itself a surprising nomination when he also stars in The Impossible). Bill Murray may be due some attention for long service, but the nomination may serve as sufficient recognition. I lean towards Jackman.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Judi Dench for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Maggie Smith for Quartet
Meryl Streep for Hope Springs
Normally I would expect the older nominee, but the rise of Jennifer Lawrence’s career is such that I think she could eclipse Dench, Smith and Streep. Furthermore, Silver Linings Playbook is the most awards friendly film of this bunch, as the others are all rather light. I know this is the category of Musical or Comedy, but Silver Linings Playbook is a comedic film with a serious subject, so I think Lawrence is a strong contender.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Alan Arkin for Argo
Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
Fairly open. DiCaprio and Waltz may cancel each other out, being in the same film, and Jones and Arkin could be dark horses. I lean slightly towards Hoffman as reviews indicate that he and Joaquin Phoenix are equal stars in The Master, and as Joaquin Phoenix is unlikely to beat Day-Lewis in the Best Actor category, perhaps Philip Seymour Hoffman has a better chance here. I also wonder if the BAFTAs and the Oscars will nominate them the same way – a few years ago Kate Winslet won two Golden Globes: Best Actress in a Leading Role for Revolutionary Road and Best Supporting Actress for The Reader; then was nominated for the Best Actress BAFTA in a Leading Role for both Revolutionary Road and The Reader (she won for The Reader), and then won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Reader while Revolutionary Road was largely overlooked at the Oscars. The Master may follow a similar pattern, especially if Hoffman wins this award.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams for The Master
Sally Field for Lincoln
Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy
Anne Hathaway has an even better chance than Hugh Jackman of picking up an acting award for Les Misérables. I think actual awards for this film will be scant, but Hathaway is likely to walk away with a Golden Globe and possibly more.
Best Director – Motion Picture
Ben Affleck for Argo
Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
I expect this to come down to Lee VS Bigelow. Thus far Zero Dark Thirty has done very well indeed, but if anything can unseat it I would anticipate Life of Pi. At this stage though, I expect Bigelow, and perhaps her success will continue.
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Argo: Chris Terrio
Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino
Lincoln: Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell
Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal
Mark Boal is probably likely to continue the winning ways of Zero Dark Thirty, especially as it is a “true” story that tends to impress award-givers. Lincoln and Argo are also “true” stories, and the wit of Argo might serve it well, especially among journalists who write about Hollywood. Although Argo plenty of attention, I think it is unlikely to actually win. Screenplay might just be the category where it pulls an upset, but Zero Dark Thirty is a safer bet.
Best Animated Film
Rise of the Guardians
If Brave wins, at this and subsequent events, it will demonstrate the continued dominance of Pixar. But Frankenweenie might be in with a shot as something of a lifetime achievement award for Tim Burton. Burton is unlikely to ever be nominated for a live action film (his best chance was Big Fish), and reviews have described Frankenweenie has been that it is his best film in years. It will be between Pixar and Burton in this category, and I might lean towards Frankenweenie.
Best Foreign Language Film
A Royal Affair
Rust and Bone
Tough call. Love (or Amour) was voted Best Film by the National Society of Film Critics, so it might well scoop up a further award here. A Royal Affair and Rust and Bone have also attracted a lot of attention, although the latter’s best chance for glory is Best Actress. Tentatively, I’ll go with Love.
The Golden Globes are announced on 13th January 2013, at which point we shall see how right I was (or wasn’t).