2013 Oscar Predictions: Spielberg's 'Lincoln' Premieres and Prompts Immediate Updates

Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Photo: Dreamworks Pictures

Well, one of the major unknown features of the awards season has been seen and the response is largely positive in many of the right places. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln screened last night as the not-so-surprise screening at the New York Film Festival and plenty of praise has been placed on the film, Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role and lots of love for Tommy Lee Jones who is said to "steal the picture".

It should be mentioned the film was said to be an unfinished cut so some trimming may still take place (though it has already been rated PG-13 by the MPAA so changes seem unlikely), but reactions had folks referring to it as a "rock solid monument to Abe", "heavy and heady" and "the best film Roberto Rossellini never made. Also one of the best Spielberg did make."

Tony Kushner's screenplay seems like a solid pick for a nomination at this point, though Nathaniel at Film Experience overhearing one person say, "It was obviously written by a playwright. A LOT of words." Hmmmmm, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Obviously Day-Lewis earned plenty of love and now sounds like a Best Actor front-runner, which only seems to confirm early expectation though I did have Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) in first until now.

Tommy Lee Jones in LincolnBefore writing up this piece, I had Tommy Lee Jones in the #20 spot on the Best Supporting Actor list, but I think it goes without saying he's no longer there and Sally Field sounds like a contender, but an on-the-fringe nominee at best and certainly not a winner.

It sounds like Spielberg is a good choice for a Best Director nomination and makeup, costumes and production design may be in order. With regards to John Williams' score and Janusz Kaminski's cinematography, Katey Rich says, "Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, John Williams and the makeup artists will all surely be nominated."

Josh Lasser at Hit Fix adds, "John Williams has delivered a good, if not terribly memorable, score. It may meld with what is happening during the movie, but it may not stick with audiences afterwards." And Rodrigo Perez adds:

"Painted in a musty brown and blue, cinematographer Janusz Kamiński does a commendable job of making an inherently unattractive palette look borderline beautiful, especially when dealing with the tonalities of chiaroscuro, but a mostly ugly palette it ultimately is. Thankfully, John Williams' score, easily the worst offender in Spielberg's War Horse, is, like the picture, solemn, well-controlled and moving with a dignified air of grace."

I haven't opened the doors on my predictions for any of the below-the-line categories yet, but I think we already see where Lincoln will be fitting in.

So what do we make of all this? Is it Lincoln for the win!?!?! No, but movement is in order. Let's take a look at a few categories...


To begin, the top five haven't shifted at all. I see no reason to move Les Miserables at this time. Lincoln, as a film, didn't blow the socks off NYFF folks to the point it would move above Silver Linings Playbook (which just won the audience award at the Hamptons Film Festival) or Argo (which just had a well-received screening at the Academy) and Les Mis earned a bit of praise from a correspondent at Gold Derby that Tom O'Neil seems to put some faith in. The film will enjoy a "monster sweep" said the anonymous source, going by "Snuggle 4". I don't put much stock in anonymous sources, but if you're looking for any reason to keep the faith in Les Mis now you have some.

I have moved Life of Pi up a bit as well and also changed my cut-off line from nine nominees to eight. That may change soon with the screening of Flight coming up in New York, but I feel both Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom are losing a little steam as attention is being paid elsewhere. However, films such as Flight and Amour are moving up while I will continue to keep Anna Karenina as a fringe candidate until all reviewers weigh in.

My Best Picture top eight are directly below and you can find my full field here.

  1. Les Miserables
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Argo
  4. Lincoln
  5. The Master
  6. Life of Pi
  7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  8. Moonrise Kingdom

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis was always thought to be a major contender in this category and for most the front-runner. After seeing Joaquin Phoenix in The Master I felt he, at the very least, deserved front-runner status until Lincoln was seen and now that the first reactions to the film are coming in, it indeed seems like Day-Lewis is the one to beat as Steven Spielberg may have finally directed his first actor to an Oscar win.

Elsewhere, I feel Bradley Cooper is going to benefit from all the Silver Linings Playbook love, but I'm gaining confidence in Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour). Trintignant definitely has one of the best performances of the year, but the fact Amour is a foreign language film concerns me a bit. Had Demien Bichir (A Better Life) not been nominated last year, I'm not sure what I would do at this point.

I have added the top five in order directly below and you can check out the full list right here.

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis, (Lincoln)
  2. Joaquin Phoenix, (The Master)
  3. John Hawkes, (The Sessions)
  4. Denzel Washington, (Flight)
  5. Jean-Louis Trintignant, (Amour)

Click to Page Two for predictions for updates to Best Supporting Actor, Director and Adapted Screenplay.

  • The Dude

    Saw Lincoln and I'd still say Phoenix is the front runner. Lewis' performance is very restrained and the kind of thing that only gets a nomination. Most of the reactions I've heard are in agreement.

    Jones could very well take supporting, although I think DiCaprio is going to be the one to beat.

  • Winchester

    I guess it all depends on the words used! A talky film isn't a problem.....................it all just depends what it is they're saying!

    Best Actor looks like a clear battle between Phoenix and Day Lewis and the moment I have no dog in that fight until I see the films. Of all the actor's out there just now who could take a third Best Actor Oscar it's DDL and if the performance is good enough I have no real problem with it being only a few years after 'There Will Be Blood'.

    Probably worth moving up Jones and Field may simply be able to ride the wave (if one starts) to a nomination as well. Kind of a shame as she wouldn't be a front runner or probably winner and so it would ruin her 100% win history.................but she could probably sneak the nomination.

  • Rosalind Harper

    Bradley Cooper just won the Hollywood Film Award for Actor--this may raise his profile in the best actor category. But then past winners include Jackie Chan.

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

      You don't really "win" that award, they are sort of just given out. It won't hurt, but that's a weird award show.

  • Mandarin

    Why is Crowe on his way up and DiCaprio going down? New information or just a hunch?

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

      Hunch, shifting of the winds and the little-to-no talk about Django Unchained. Don't think on it too hard, will likely change plenty more before the awards are handed out.

      • Mandarin


  • Jack

    1. Les Miserables
    2. Lincoln
    3. Argo
    4. Silver Linings Playbook
    5. The Master
    6. Life of Pi
    7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    8. Zero Dark Thirty

    1. Paul Thomas Anderson
    2. Ben Affleck
    3. Tom Hooper
    4. Ang Lee
    5. Steven Spielberg

    1. John Hawkes
    2. Daniel Day Lewis
    3. Joaquin Phoenix
    4. Denzel Washington
    5. Hugh Jackman

    1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
    2. Tommy Lee Jones
    3. Robert DeNiro
    4. Leonardo DiCaprio
    5. John Goodman

    1. Silver Linings Playbook
    2. Argo
    3. Lincoln
    4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    5. Les Miserables

    1. Anne Hathaway
    2. Helen Hunt
    3. Maggie Smith- Hotel
    4. Sally Field
    5. Pauline Collins- Quartet

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

      Wouldn't it be fascinating if John Hawkes snuck up and shocked the Best Actor category? Would love to see it, he's great in that movie.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HelloKitty/ Hello Kitty

        I was just thinking the same thing. He deserved the nomination for Winter's Bone and he gave a stellar performance in Martha Marcy. He's due. It's hard to believe how far he's come from Sol on Deadwood.

        • Bertram

          He was fantastic in Me and You and Everyone We Know as well. So was Miranda July, and the whole ensemble cast.
          But Hawkes is definitely one of the most promising actors. And I would love to see him rob the Oscar. He was just as fantastic as Phoenix.

      • Jack

        I have not seen Hawkes in the Sessions, but based on the trailer alone he seems fantastic. With him playing a disability, previous nominee, and word that Day Lewis is very sutle, i think Hawkes could pull an Adrien Brody type surprise victory. Though Joaquin Phoenix is the best performance hands down in a long time.

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

    I had a feeling, when I saw that first trailer that it was going to be restrained Spielberg. If I had to pick the Best Picture right now, of the things I've seen, I'd say Argo but with this news, I think it'll go to Spielberg. Tom Hooper and co. got their time with Kings Speech. Spielberg's last win for Director was 1999 with SPR and if this is supposedly "Spielbergs best," I don't see the academy not recognizing him this year.

    Especially when his upcoming directing credits according to IMDB are Robopocalypse and Indy 5...

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

      I kind of feel a split maybe with Les Mis winning Best Picture and Spielberg winning Best Director, echoing his time at the Oscars in 1999, when Shakespeare in Love won over Saving Private Ryan.

      Getting excited for all these later year movies because they all seem to be impressing for once.

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

    War Horse was nominated for cinematography and score (John Williams is nominated for almost everything he writes), so I don't doubt Lincoln will be nominated in those types of categories no matter its quality. It still looks like complete schlock to me, and it's possible the audience at NYFF is the same kind of people who nominated War Horse for Best Picture.

    I still don't think Day-Lewis will get a third Best Actor Oscar this soon, but maybe because he's the safer, more traditional choice than Phoenix ,who was in a more complex role and film, the Academy will go with him.

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

      The New York audience is supposedly VERY prissy and easily agitated but also hip to what is actually good and not only fawning over something because there are pretty things so this is really good news for the movie.

    • YCO

      I would argue that Phoenix is the "safer, more traditional choice" and that DDL's task was much more complex and layered.
      Phoenix had the showy, crazy character to let loose with. DDL had to take his research and create and define an iconic figure. Phoenix, in a sense, had more freedom in his role - but DDL had to honor who Lincoln was without....and from the reviews, it seems that is exactly what he did. As for DDL being understated. Well, Lincoln was an understated, complex man - and not being showy in this role is courageous on DDL's part. He was true to the man. That is a much more complex task.

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

    so that could be like 8 or 9 nominations..that's a lot.

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

      Supporting Actor
      Supporting Actor
      Production Design
      Sound (Either one or both.)

      So 11 to 12 nominations if the buzz from NY echoes until January.

  • http://cinemaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    It's interesting Brad, that you have predict DDL winning over Phoenix. But I have strong feeling Academy is not going to award DDL his third while he is still relatively young and specially knowing DDL's style of work. He will keep coming up with good to great performances every now and then & Academy will get another opportunity to reward him 3rd time. Moreover Phoenix's performance is tour-de-force and he actually deserves the top prize. Infact after last night I am more than confident that Phoenix will win it since many are calling DDL's performance subdued, restrained and not the usual flamboyant DDL.

    Secondly, if anyone holds the trump card to win the top prize from Lincoln, it's Tommy Lee Jones who as you said has been quoted by many as scene stealer. Though I believe he will get a tough fight from Hoffman. So we are going to witness an interesting contest within Supporting Actor field with a possibility of Russel Crowe jumping in too.

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

    My hopes for Lincoln have just increased! I agree with you at Les Mis is still the front-runner. I'm not sure about the best actor race though. Right now, it's definitely between DDL and Phoneix. I also think Bradley Cooper could get in there with all the praise for Silver Linings Playbook. I'm not sure about Denzel Washington though. If the buzz for Flight is positive then he'll probably get in. I was actually a little shocked at all the love for Tommy Lee Jones. Didn't see that coming. He probably does have a good chance of winning, but I wouldn't count out DiCaprio yet. He plays the villain and that type of character does seem to get rewarded a lot by the Academy lately. (Javier Barsem, Heath Ledger, Christoph Waltz)

  • http://cinemaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    At this point of time, I still have this gut feeling that Les Mis is going to sweep the Oscars nominations garnering at least 12-13 nominations. I guess it will compete with Lincoln on most number of nominations which itself is looking at 10-11 noms. But Lincoln doesn't look like winning anything except Supporting Actor (that too is not sure-shot.) whereas Les Mis should emerge much stronger than what Lincoln has.
    Anne Hathaway, it seems won't have much competition (they are not going to award Hunt her 2nd, knowing she hasn't done much good work in the past 10 years). All the below the line awards which are looking like going Lincoln's way, are going to get re-directed towards Les Mis.

    Yes, I know it's presumptuous to say all this, and neither I am a big fan of musicals but fact of the matter is Les Mis is looking so Academy-ish.

  • Questioner

    Great lineup! Nice to see Moonrise Kingdom up there!

    I was just wondering if you could answer something for me about Argo.

    Simply, I'd just like to know before going in if there are any scenes that portray harm to animals so I know what I'm in for - (I know nothing actually happened because I was told it has an AHA 'no animals were harmed' stamp, I just mean in the story). Like are there any scenes with guard dogs, or market scenes, etc.

    Thanks a million!

    • Sim

      i'm curious too - anyone have the answer?

  • wher

    Hey, you really think Les Mis or others gonna to win? this is election year. Lincoln.

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

    This should come as a surprise to no one. I've had Lincoln in the top spot in most categories from the beginning. I'm telling you, it's gonna be a Lincoln sweep.

    • http://cinemaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

      Wait till you see Les Mis !

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


        • http://cinemmaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

          It's simple Lincoln hasn't received acclaim from all corners. A couple of great reviews, and a couple bad and the rest are saying it's good. To sweep oscars, majority of people should praising it over the moon which didn't happen with Lincoln. That tells me it's going to get nominated but won't win many.
          Unless Les Mis goes horribly wrong I don't see Lincoln as the frontrunner to win awards (by whatever I have seen till now, chances of that happening are slim to none).And also the fact that in most categories Les Mis and Lincoln will collide head-on doesn't help the latter.

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

            Sooo Crash got praised "over the moon"? Most critics didn't think The King Speech was GREAT, they thought it was good. Same goes for The Departed. Oscar loves Spielberg. They nominate him even when he makes a bad film. Think about what they'll do if he makes a decent film about a famous historical figure WITH Daniel Day-Lewis and an all star cast.... it's Lincoln FTW.

            • YCO

              The academy has never been in love with Spielberg. He's been nominated a few times, but only with Schindler's List did he win, if im not mistaken. He's famous for not being an Oscar favorite. It's the Hitchock syndrome, too popular.

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

                Um, Steven Spielberg has won 3 Academy Awards (most people don't even win 1) and has been nominated 10 TIMES in addition to receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. No, Oscar loves him.

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

        Look at everything surrounding Lincoln (director, actors, story, setting, mood). I haven't seen it yet, but can't we all agree that this movie is custom made to win awards? I fully expect Les Mis to be a great movie and can't wait to see it, but when it comes to Oscar potential I really don't think anything is going to come close to Lincoln.

  • jamie

    don't really get the spielberg backlash, these days. warhorse sucked. super hard. and his films are nowhere near where they used to be. but look where they used to be! ET...raiders...close encounters...jaws...those are really tough films to live up to. personally i haven't truly loved one of his films since catch me if you can, which was like 10 years ago (although i really liked munich). but there is no denying the talent.

    here's a listener question for the podcast: if PTA had directed Lincoln would everyone be handing out the oscars already, or would they be at least waiting for the ceremony?

    i don't know...i get that his films are overly sentimental, and arguably emotionally manipulative lately...but i cut him some slack. and i REALLY hated the bookends in saving private ryan. i mean REALLY hated them. AS-level hate.

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

      That's what I'm trying to say!

    • YCO

      Well, there is a shism in film commentary. You've Spielberg, the the "old guy" making a film about Lincoln, a really old guy. Its traditional by nature. Then you have PTA, seen as a young auteur:edgy, hip, uses Thom York to score his movies. Its the old guard vs the new guard in a sense. I love PTA, but there is something to be said for just great filmmaking. The Master, I appreciated....but it is essentially an auteur film, begging for accolades from the hipster film critics. You can almost predict these same critics trashing Lincoln regardless of quality. Its almost like they're anti-Spieberg on principle, whatever that might be. But if Lincoln has heart, depth, has resonance and the performances are good - I can't see The Master winning with older Oscar voters. Not because they're too old to get it, but they may not be as moved by PTA's rather cold exterior. Spielberg made a film about an American icon, the guy people learned about in first grade. That might not be "cool" or "edgy" enough for some. Its a shame that historical drama is percieved as such, but that's our culture.

      • http://www.seensome.com SeenSome

        I haven't seen The Master yet (damn UK release dates) but from what the majority of critics have said, it's very classical in nature, like a film from the 50's. You say PTA has a 'cold exterior' that voters won't be moved by but if you look at his work pre-TWBB, there's a lot of powerful, moving material that wasn't recognised by the Academy the same way TWBB was so maybe they prefer his more recent work?

        As for Spielberg, the reason he's had his detractors in recent years is simply because his films haven't been good. War Horse was a schmaltzy mess, encapsulating everything that's wrong with even the best of Spielberg's work into on overlong dud and Tintin was just a disaster. It's not about being "cool" or "edgy", it's about great filmmaking, as you yourself pointed out.

        That said, the discussion of The Master vs. Lincoln is pointless in a best picture context as neither movie is a front runner. Films like Life of Pi and Les Mis probably have a better chance than either of those movies, which is what makes this year such an interesting and varied year.

        • YCO

          I stand corrected. But Spielberg was mostly ignored in his 'peak' years.....
          What were his nominations and three Oscars: I truly don't remember. I agree with your earlier point that Lincoln is the film to beat though....
          I just can't see Les Mis, sure to be a spectacle, beating out the premise, subject matter of Lincoln. Not with older voters.

        • YCO

          Replied to wrong post before (above)...
          I didn't mean its about being "cool" or "hip" with the Oscars...but in the discussion of film critics and how it will rate on Rotten Tomatoes etc...
          Critics love PTA and so do I, but I found The Master a bit pretentious and meandering, without a real core. That's just me - it seems dressed to impress, but lacking the heart of Boogie NIghts or Magnolia. None of us has seen Lincoln, but Im just predicting that if Lincoln has resonance, the story, actors bring this period, characters to life - Les Mis doesn't stand a chance.
          Don't know if it was you who pointed this out, but the point about DDL being too restrained for Oscar - I beg to differ. Phoenix was intense to be sure, but one, maybe two-note. He relied a lot on the character's crazy - he raged and grimaced his way through the movie without a lot in between.
          In order to get Lincoln down, DDL will have had to balance Lincoln's charisma, power and quiet strength.....thus being true to history and research. That's a much finer tightrope than screaming, humping sand...etc.
          I don't see older voters going with Phoenix over Lincoln, i just don't.

          • http://www.seensome.com SeenSome

            I agree that a subtle, quietly powerful is a harder feat to pull off but unfortunately, subtlety is often lost on the Academy and they tend to favour the bigger, showier roles. But as I said before, DDL does have a lot going for him and I wouldn't be surprised to see him win, I just think it's going to go Phoenix's way this time around.

            I actually think it's so predictable already that it'll be one of those two that I, like Brad, wish someone like John Hawkes would have a real shot.

  • http://www.seensome.com SeenSome

    The early word on Lincoln has been solid if unspectacular and the same applies to Daniel Day-Lewis' performance. He no doubt has a lot going for him (Academy favourite, previous winner, playing historical figure etc.) but it just doesn't seem likely at this point that he'll beat out Phoenix. Having not seen either film yet, it's hard to really say but that's just the impression I get from the buzz around the category so far.

    It's going to be an interesting race for Best Supporting Actor though with some real heavy hitters involved. Hoffman and Jones is a big enough battle as it is but when you throw in the possibility of Crowe and Di Caprio as well, it's huge. I'm pretty sure Alan Arkin will be the one nominated from Argo for playing what looks like the same role he's played for years (and already won for). I wish they'd recognise a (relatively) fresh face like Cranston or McNairy instead, who by all accounts give strong performances in the film.

    • Bertram

      I haven’t seen Argo yet, but I too wish they would recognize Bryan Cranston, or even John Goodman instead of Alan Arkin. I agree with your perspective on Arkin. He always plays the same character.

      • http://www.seensome.com SeenSome

        He's great in those kinds of roles but does he really deserve awards recognition for playing it yet again? An Oscar nod for someone like McNairy or Cranston would do their career a lot of good. John Goodman might have a shot given he's never been nominated.

  • http://www.mondoglam.com Martin

    Check my predictions on http://www.mondoglam.com/search/label/Oscars and tell me what you think about them