2013 Oscar Predictions: Bigelow Climbs the Ranks, but Spielberg Remains #1

Kathryn Bigelow on the set of Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow on the set of Zero Dark Thirty
Photo: Columbia Pictures

I realized yesterday that I have neglected to update a few categories and in light of recent events it's time to do some updating... first to Best Director.

Kathryn Bigelow and her film, Zero Dark Thirty, are clearly going to be major players in this race as the New York Film Critics recently dubbed Bigelow the Best Director of 2012 and the film Best Picture. However, winning critical awards may give you a seat at the table, but it doesn't necessarily move you to the head as Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) remains my #1 for the time being.

The film that seems to be taking the biggest hit from Thirty is Ben Affleck's Argo as there only seems to be room for one politically minded thriller in this race and while Argo is sure to stick around and collect nominations, it's chances of winning are dwindling along with Affleck's chances for Best Director.

And then we come to the rest of the field...

What will come of directors such as Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) and Robert Zemeckis (Flight)? Right now I have Lee and Hooper rounding out my list of five nominees, but I could just as easily swap in Russell, Anderson, Zemeckis or even Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) for that matter, the latter of which I've yet to see his film.

When it comes to the awards race you have to remain part of the conversation and Lee and Life of Pi already feel as if they are on the way out, but Universal is being smart by embargoing reviews on Les Mis, allowing for other films to step into the spotlight for the time being only to hopefully come in a little later and scoop up some of the attention.

Where the category stands at this point, however, you can look at Spielberg, Bigelow and Affleck as your locks for nominations and I see the fight being between Spielberg and Bigelow for the crown. Those final two slots aren't as easy to predict, but for now here are my top five...

  • Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
  • Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Ben Affleck (Argo)
  • Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
  • Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)

You can browse my full list of Best Director contenders and see where they rank right here.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

    I can't help but wonder what the conversation would be like if the tables were turned and the Iranian Hostage crisis had occurred last year. There seems to be more of a fascination with Bin Laden because of the recency effect. I haven't seen the film, but I wonder whether American critics (New York in this example) are over-rating ZDT based on their familiarity with the story.

  • Winchester

    Spielberg and Bigelow for sure.................I think Hooper is a safe bet as well. If Les Mis gets a nominations sweep he'll get in almost be default. I would move out or move lower Affleck I think and Lee and probably any one of the others could come in as well. Although I don't think Anderson or Russell, neither of those films seem to be keeping in the conversation with ease apart from Russell's leading lady Lawrence as Best Actress.

  • The Dude

    Prediction: in approximately 2 weeks, Lincoln will be in the 3rd or 4th spot. There's just no way that movie can maintain its buzz with a lack of genuine love. Their method of rolling it out is idiotic: "Oh, we'll put it in 3000 theatres once it's out of the top 10 and The Hobbit, Django, Les Mis, This is 40, and Zero Dark Thirty have opened".

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      How is it idiotic? It's made just shy of $85 million and is in barely over 2,000 theaters. Sounds like a success story to me.

      • The Dude

        Yes, it has done well, but this thing could have easily ended up making between $150-200 million. With another notoriously slow weekend on the way, it's on a continued downswing. They should be upping the theatre count right now, because once those bigger movies hit, it's just going to continue to drop and the demand won't be there for an increased screen count. It's place in the top 10 will be gone, as will its buzz.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    I think that's a good call. ZDT is gonna come swooping in like a storm and eat everyone else's lunch.

    • Arturo

      It does seem to be the surprise that will make it a race this year, however I still have a hard time seeing it take Best Pic with the only other win being at Screenplay or Best Actress. But time will tell

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Andrew13/ Andrew13

        I think, based on the competition and The Hurt Locker's performance, Zero Dark's also got a good shot at Director, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and possibly Score.

        • Arturo

          Could be, but right now I don't see many experts predicting it to win anything. But it does seem to be the late surprise, we'll see how the momentum shifts. Hope it does, that way we will have an exciting race. I still see Les Mis having a better shot. I see it taking three oscars (sup actress, song, production des., sound mixing), four if it takes best pic. I also see it taking best cast at SAGs which could help.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Andrew13/ Andrew13

    I've got the same top four, but Quentin Tarantino in the fifth slot. Hooper, Russell, and P.T. Anderson are the only other guys I could see sliding in.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/maja/ maja

    I really hope that Django is a hit critically and financially just so it can shake up the whole Oscar race.

    I have yet to see Lincoln so it's probably wrong for me to judge it but it seems to me that the Academy have been waiting nearly 15 years (since Saving Private Ryan) to reward Speilberg for a movie. In my opinion, they see him as such an important figure in the history of movies that they believe he deserves more Oscar wins. This led to any medicore non-sci-fi film of his in that time (Munich, War Horse) to be given nominations. Now that he has supposedly delivered a good film there is no way that they are not going to give him the Oscar win; probably more of a career Oscar rather than one specifically for Lincoln.

    • Lewis

      Maja, you are sadly mistaken....

      Munich is the last GREAT Spielberg film. he made it seven years ago. It deserved all 6 of its nominations that year...watch it again.

      • Chris138

        I'm sorry to nitpick, but Munich actually got 5 nominations. Big difference, I know. ;)

        I'm not sure if I'd say Munich is a great film, but it's certainly a very good one. For me, it's obvious flaws and sometimes uneven pacing keep it from greatness, but I'd say it's probably Spielberg's most 'mature' work and the closest he's ever been to being bleak in one of his films.

        • Chris138

          And just as a side note I want to mention how awesome John Williams' score is in that movie. Eerily moody and fits the tone perfectly.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HarryFuertes/ Harry Fuertes

    I don't know. Les Miserables comes out several days before voting ends. I still think it's the lead for many Oscars due to the rapturous reviews and the insane amount of buzz leading up to the Christmas release date. In the end, it'll be a thin line between Zero Dark and Les Mis. Lincoln will probably win like 2-4 Oscars but the big one will probably be Les Mis with like 7 or 8. Zero Dark Thirty will probably get Original Screenplay over Tarantino, unless Django proves to be a real Oscar player instead of a "Kill Bill" like scenario. Widely praised, but no Oscar love. The Hobbit we can forget about Best Picture, Director etc. It doesn't seem to be blowing anybody away unfortunately. A couple of technical noms are locks however. Like I said, I wouldn't mind if either Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, or Lincoln win the 2 big prizes, but with all the buzz blowing towards ZDK, we shouldn't discount the power of the epic musical motion picture. I'm excited for all three and can't wait to see them, though.

  • D.A.M.

    I think Bigelow deserves it. Having seen it, Django has a Kill Bill feel that didn't scream "Oscar" to me. Zero Dark Thirty is the perfect package. I think Lincoln will hold on, and it deserves to as it is a fine film, but I think when the awards start coming in it'll be a battle between Les Misérables and ZDT, with Lincoln watching on and occasionally taking a bite.

  • Theo

    I really didn't enjoy Lincoln, and Spielberg is probably going to get another nom on name alone. I haven't seen either Zero Dark Thirty or Les Mis but I'm betting Hooper and Bigelow are a shoe in.

    How I think it'll go down.

    Ben Affleck
    Katheryn Bigelow
    Tom Hooper
    Steven Spielberg
    Ang Lee

    Wild Card: David O. Russell / Quentin Tarantino.

    My personal preference would be to swap O.Russell with Ang Lee.

  • Jack

    1. Tom Hooper
    2. Ben Affleck
    3. Steven Spielberg
    4. Kathryn bigelow
    5. PTA- yes, will pick up critic awards, much like how Malick sneaked in last year

  • JAB

    I love "Lincoln" & "Argo" &, given my admiration of much of Bigelow's previous work , I primed for "Zero Dark Thirty".
    She richly deserved her Oscar for "The Hurt Locker", but I also think the Academy fell in love with itself by making history awarding the prize to a woman for the first time. She won't have this advantage this time. Spielberg has won twice. Is Affleck deemed to young in his directing career to warrant his name being called? However, the Academy seems to love awarding Oscars for Directing to actors.
    I can't wait to see ZDT, but if the early reviews are true I don't how Oscars can misfire on any of these three selections

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    I don't see the ZDT making waves with the Academy. It seems extremely similar to The Hurt Locker, and it's from the same team. Maybe it will get some early buzz, but really, these critics' awards mean nothing, the only thing that really matters is when actual Academy members start voting in their various guilds. No one knows that better than David Fincher & co.

    I still say Les Mis is the frontrunner, and therefore Hooper is the frontrunner. It will be out at the perfect time too...right when nomination ballots are out. I'd say it's

    1. Hooper
    2. Spielberg
    3. Bigelow
    4. Affleck
    5. PTA, but he's wavering. I just don't know who else to put in this spot at the moment. I have a feeling Pi will slip, though still may get a Best Pic nom. Silver Linings already feels like a misfire from a marketing and release perspective. So unless Wes Anderson surprises, or Tarantino (both unlikely), I'd say PTA is still in.

  • Chris

    I hope Django comes in and messes everything up.

  • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

    Hopped on Bigelow at $21-1, lets go ZDT! ;)