Oscar Predictions: Updates to Picture, Actress and More After Seeing 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Photo: Columbia Pictures / The Weinstein Co.

This year, ladies and gentlemen, we have a race...

I will be seeing Django Unchained in less than 24 hours and at that point I may have to change these new predictions once again, but after seeing Zero Dark Thirty last night I can't not update several categories as a result of what is surely going to be listed as the #1 film on many people's top tens for 2012. I will offer up a full review soon enough, but suffice to say, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have again teamed to turn in an excellent feature film that is unlike any procedural thriller I have seen before, both in its intensity and sense of realism.

When it comes to predictions, I have updated my Oscar predictions for Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay and here is the current breakdown:

Best Picture

Between those voting for Lincoln and those voting for Zero Dark Thirty you are going to find voters that are walking the divide. Lincoln is a solid film and it is "old reliable" when it comes to the Oscars, a film the Academy can safely eat up and award Best Picture, which is the reason it remains my #1.

Zero Dark Thirty, however, is energy, ambition and meticulous craftsmanship on the part of Bigelow, Boal and their collaborators. It's also, a straight-forward procedural that requires your attention and interest. My worry with this one is people will look at it and think to themselves, "When are they going to kill bin Laden?" It's not a film for the impatient... neither was the hunt.

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

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Picture contenders and where they rank.

Best Actress

Last night I was thinking, just as Lincoln is the safe bet for Best Picture, Jennifer Lawrence would seem to be the safe bet for Actress, but now I'm not so sure. The Academy can be more daring in their handing out of acting wins and one thing I was wondering while walking out of Zero Dark Thirty last night is just how much acclaim Jessica Chastain will earn for her outstanding performance and how much she'll earn out of respect for the amazing character she plays. The two probably go hand-in-hand, but wow... what a story.

  1. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
  2. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
  3. Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  4. Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
  5. Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Actress contenders and where they rank.

Best Supporting Actor

The top five here haven't changed for the time being, but they have been reordered slightly. The big change comes once you click through to my full chart as I've added Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) to the race. They're newcomers so they aren't propelled directly to the top five, but over the course of the next week or so they very well could find themselves there.

  1. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
  3. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
  4. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
  5. Russell Crowe (Les Miserables)

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Best Supporting Actor contenders and where they rank.

Best Original Screenplay

I can't imagine a scenario at the moment where Mark Boal doesn't win for Zero Dark Thirty. Boal has crafted a screenplay that is unflinching and manages to tell a very serious story that sells its emotion based on the details and characters without resorting to over-dramatization. I will be seeing Tarantino's Django shortly so some things can obviously still change, but for now, this is where things stand.

  1. Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
  2. Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
  3. Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
  4. Michael Haneke (Amour)
  5. John Gatins (Flight)

Click here for a full look at my field of Best Original Screenplay contenders and where they rank.

This Sunday the Los Angeles Film Critics will announce their winners and next week will see the announcements of the Screen Actors Guild Award nominees, the Golden Globe nominees and the Critics' Choice Awards nominees. For a full look at the precursor calendar click here.

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

    "what is surely going to be listed as the #1 film on many people's top tens for 2012." - Not a review.

  • The Dude

    Lincoln is not winning, and that's the truth, Ruth.

    • Max

      Please, stop trolling. You have been saying that on almost every post. If you didn't enjoy Lincoln and don't want it to win, so be it. Don't act like a pretentious know-it-all and bore us with your trolling. Lincoln is a great movie and will most probably win a lot of awards during Oscar season. Just wait and see.

  • http://www.rabidpictures.com Yaz

    Glad to see there are some serious contenders for Best Actress this year. Should be an interesting race.

  • Stiggy

    Here's an interesting question reguarding The Hobbit Part 1. Would Cate Blanchette be elegible for the lead or supporting actress category?

  • bill

    im excited to see zero, also I think theres no way moonrise doesnt get a best original screenplay nomination

  • Jack

    1. Les Miserables-the word is mixed, but I dont feel comfortable moving it yet
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Lincoln
    4. Argo
    5. Silver Linings Playbook
    6. Amour
    7. Life of Pi
    8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    9. The Master
    10. Django Unchained

    1. Ben Affleck-who knows
    2. Kathryn Bigelow-will she win for 2 straight films, look how long it took a woman
    3. Steven Spielberg-will they give him 3rd, already split once before
    4. Tom Hooper-2nd already, most of the criticism blames his direction
    5. Paul Thomas Anderson- the Malick pick, the reaction to the film may have been polarizing, but I think his direction will be respected, never won

    1. Daniel Day Lewis
    2. Hugh Jackman-many are praising his work, never nominated
    3. Denzel Washington-crowd pleaser, lovable, 2 wins, drunk role
    4. Joaquin Phoenix- the best performance of the year, but he's a dark horse
    5. John Hawkes- fantastic, overdue, but film didnt get enough traction

    1. Jessica Chastain-the new darling, strong female role, the buzz is hers right now
    2. Jennifer Lawrence-big year, very young, will get her's soon
    3. Emmanuelle Riva
    4. Quvenzhane Wallis
    5. Marion Cotillard-if 2 foreign nomiees, the box office is dead

    1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
    2. Tommy Lee Jones
    3. Robert DeNiro
    4. Leonardo DiCaprio- I would bump up to #1, but the buzz is going to Jackson, Waltz is only actor to win in QT film, if builds up enough at guilds, etc
    5. Eddie Redmayne

    1. Anne Hathaway
    2. Sally Field
    3. Samantha Barks
    4. Helen Hunt
    5. Kelly Reilly

    OG SCREENPLAY: it was boal vs QT before, looks to be the same
    1. Amour-I think the tiebreaker
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Django Unchained
    4. Moonrise Kingdom
    5. The Master

    1. Lincoln
    2. Silver Linings Playbook
    3. Argo
    4. Beasts
    5. Les Miserables

  • Funny…

    It's kinda funny that Rust & Bone has any nominations whether be for acting or otherwise.. American reviews are fairly possitive but Sight & Sound and many others have said that it has every cliche known to man, and is almost laughable because of it.. and it just makes the performances look forced..

    Zero Dark Thirty seems a good candidate and Les Mis will be a winner with Audiences and Box Office (and as we know- that definitely helps Oscar if you have both box office and critic appraise.

  • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

    Wow, crazy to see LES MIS move behind ARGO.

    Can't wait to see your ZERO DARK THIRTY review now too.

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

    I'm seriously loving this awards race because I haven't the slightest idea who's going to win what. Last year's awards were pretty limp so this is a nice change of pace.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/DiscoPaco/ Disco Paco

      Don't worry by mid January it'll be obvious (like almost every year)

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

        I predict this is the first time in 7 years we don't know who wins the top categories! ...In my ideal imaginary world, but wouldn't it be nice?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

    Awesome, very happy for Zero Dark Thirty. So excited about the movie, can't wait. Happy for Bigelow & Chastain. I love both Lawrence & Chastain but it'll be an exciting race for both.

  • Susan

    The comment about Chastain's character is interesting and echoes a thought I've always had: best actor/actress awards are often the equal of best character per gender. When it comes down to nitpicking between great performances, one often thinks about what the actor is asked to do and the specific scenes. As such, when forced to choose, I do think most go with which character is more intriguing versus something innate in the acting.

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

    I can't remember the last time a film had this much buzz about it over a month before it hits theatres for general audiences. It seems like everyone who watches ZDT is absolutely blown away by it, and I think it would be crazy to have it anywhere below #1 on your Oscar list. That being said, I'm having a hard time getting excited for it. The whole idea behind it seems lazy, and the trailer looked less than captivating. I'm very interested for Jan. 11th to come. . .

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

    "I can't remember the last time a film had this much buzz about it over a month before it hits theatres for general audiences."

    What about The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2?

    • Susan

      I think he means strong critical buzz.

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

        Yeah sorry, I should have specified that. I guess you could bring up The Social Network, but that faded before Oscar time, probably due to the early release date. . .It's hard to see that happening with ZDT

  • BennY

    Jessica Chastain as the frontrunner can only make sense.

    But do you honestly believe, with a hand on your heart, that all 3

    Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
    Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
    Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

    will score nominations?

    • http://cinemmaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

      Not happening in million years. Probably two out of those three.

      • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

        Why can't those 3 get noms with Chastain/Lawrence. Not sure Watts/Mirren will contend that strongly.

        • http://cinemmaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

          Last time two foreign actresses got nominated was 1976. It's difficult to imagine two actresses getting the love specially when there are other options.

          Wallis is looking dicey for obvious reasons. With child actors it's mostly the directors who are given the credit for bringing out the performance.

          Wait and watch, when there are uncertainties involved with all three of them, it's difficult to imagine odds falling in favor of all three.

          • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

            True, while I would pick them for the top 5, I would think it was more likely that one misses out rather then they all get in.

            Still, hard to identify exactly who else gets in (seeing The Impossible [Watts] soon so maybe that will clear it up!)

            • BennY

              I can easily see Marion and Wallis being left out of the top 5.

              With Keira Knightley and/or Naomi Watts and/or Maggie Smith getting in.

  • http://cinemmaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    Brad, your Best Actress prediction is looking somewhat dodgy. No mention of Rachael Weisz anywhere ? I feel she has better shot at nomination than Emayatzy Corinealdi.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AndrewJ.S./ Andrew J.S.

    Man, I can't wait for January. I don't think Sony could have imagined things going any better buzz wise for ZD30.

  • Kevin

    Just saw Lincoln, it was amazing. An American masterpiece. I believe there is a chance the Academy could award it 5 of the 6 top Oscars - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and quite possibly Best Supporting Actress. That would leave Best Actress for Jessica Chastain as recognition for the equally superb Zero Dark Thirty.

  • Steve

    Mark my words......"The Master" will be shut out of the Oscars.

  • Chris

    Really hope Lincoln doesn't win. Found it to be overlong, frankly boring, and it felt surprisingly unimportant for the subject it was covering. The actual character of Lincoln was literally an old man who just keeps telling old stories which were unrealistically apropos to whatever they were fighting about. I thought DDL was good but not good enough to win an Oscar. I'm still pulling for Joaquin. The only entertaining and interesting parts of Lincoln were when Lincoln was not present; congress and the vote. Seems like Zero Dark Thirty could run away with it.

    I'd love to see Looper score a screenplay nom.

  • MajorFilmFan

    I love Lawrence, and I want her to win, to cap off the PHENOMEHAL year she's had. But, with the praise that Chastain is getting, it's so hard to tell. It willbe neck ad neck, that's for sure! What a race!!

    • Julie

      Jennifer Lawrence to be honored at Santa Barbara International Film Festival
      The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) announced they are awarding Lawrence their award for Outstanding Performer of the Year for her performances in the hit first movie of the Hunger Games franchise and her recently released film, Silver Linings Playbook.
      So, yes… a future battle between Lawrence and Chastain for the Academy Awards of Best Actress :)

  • http://www.seensome.com SeenSome

    I think moving Les Mis down is a great call. If it had been a really great movie it would have swept everything but the critical reaction hasn't been as unanimously positive as expected and it currently sits at 69% on RT. I know critics don't influence voters much but it sounds like the movie just isn't this all-encompassing success story that it seemed it was going to be.

    Zero Dark Thirty on the other hand has surpassed the hype and is getting a lot of love. It's momentum could take it to a win but right now, as safe and dull a choice as it may be, I see Lincoln winning.

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

    Seems like Zero Dark Thirty is turning out one of the clear front runners. And with early Les Miserables response being mixed...
    I am hesitant to move Zero Dark Thirty of #1, for I haven't seen it. I have seen Lincoln, however, which looks to be Zero Dark Thirty's strongest opposition.

    1. Lincoln
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Les Miserables
    4. Argo
    5. Silver Linings Playbook
    6. Life of Pi
    7. Moonrise Kingdom
    -cutoff line-
    8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    9. Django Unchained
    10. The master
    I still think Django Unchained has potential, so I'm leaving it there for now

    Best Actor
    1. Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
    2. Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
    3. Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
    4. Denzel Washington - Flight
    5. Anthony Hopkins - Hitchcock
    I dropped John Hawkes because everyone seems to be forgetting him and The Sessions. He could make a comeback, however

    Best Actress
    1. Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
    2. Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Quezehavinsae Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild (no clue how to spell her name)
    4. Marion Cotillard - Rust & Bone
    5. Emmanuele Riva - Amour
    Like best picture, I'm hesitant to move a performance I haven't see to the top

    Best Director
    1. Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
    2. Kathryn Bigelow - Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Ben Affleck - Argo
    4. Ang Lee - Life of Pi
    5. Tom Hooper - Les Miserables

  • Milla

    I love the best actress race this year!
    IMO, only 3 actresses could really claim the golden guy; Lawrence, Chastain or Cotillard. I put Cotillard because she will the Bafta I'm 100% sure of it.
    Even if Wallis gets nominated (A very big "if" IMO), she will never win. Same goes for Riva, Watts, Weisz & Knightley.

  • Film Mench 19


    Why is there no mention anywhere of Dustin Hoffman's QUARTET. Anywhere? With an obvious very strong and deep field this year in so many categories it may just get forgotten, but, the performances are all wonderful and with the Weinstein Co., a first time director who happens to be one of our most beloved actors, and a film that ends so triumphantly, just keep this one on the back burner for performance categories.

    It should be a fun year to see how it all plays out.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Will-E/ Will-E

    It's starting to feel like Zero Dark Thirty is going to win Picture, Director and Actress strong possibility for more. I'm also starting to think Master is out of Best Pic with Django in or just 8 noms.