Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Alan Arkin – Argo
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
Alternates: Javier Bardem, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson
Ah, another tricky category. Tommy Lee Jones is the safest bet of the bunch for Lincoln, and I’d be surprised if Alan Arkin and Robert De Niro didn’t make the cut as well. The lack of guild support for The Master makes Philip Seymour Hoffman less of a sure thing, but I feel like the supporting categories are where the Academy will show Paul Thomas Anderson some love.
For the fifth slot, I think Christoph Waltz secures his second Oscar nomination by a hair for his scene-stealing work in Django Unchained. The Screen Actors Guild nominated Javier Bardem for Skyfall, and that could very well happen with the Oscars as well, but I have a feeling that Django will take the “big entertaining movie” slot. That being said, it’s also possible that Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson could land the nomination instead, but my gut says Waltz provided the Django votes don’t split between the three actors.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Sally Field – Lincoln
Amy Adams – The Master
Nicole Kidman – The Paperboy
Alternates: Maggie Smith, Jacki Weaver, Ann Dowd
Sadly, there’s a fairly weak field of contenders for Best Supporting Actress this year. Anne Hathaway is already practicing her acceptance speech for Les Miserables, and Sally Field and Helen Hunt should be working on their “happy to be nominated” faces at the moment. Amy Adams is less of a sure thing, but again I feel like The Master will be recognized in the supporting categories and Adams’ performance in the film is vastly underrated. A late surge for Nicole Kidman in the critically derided The Paperboy shocked quite a few people, but her SAG nomination has me thinking she’ll make the Oscar cut.
Should Kidman or Adams not find themselves among the nominees, expect to see Maggie Smith’s name instead for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The actress is a legend, and she also landed a SAG award nomination.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Mark Boal – Zero Dark Thirty
Michael Haneke – Amour
Rian Johnson – Looper
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola – Moonrise Kingdom
Alternates: Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, John Gatins for Flight
The Best Original Screenplay race looks like a repeat of 2008, when Mark Boal and Quentin Tarantino went head-to-head with The Hurt Locker and Inglorious Basterds. Boal just may pull out the win again with his excellent script for Zero Dark Thirty, but Tarantino’s hilarious and surprisingly emotional screenplay for Django Unchained makes for some worthy competition.
Also, proving that great things sometimes do happen to great people, I expect Rian Johnson to land his first ever Academy Award nomination for the wholly original Looper. The script nabbed a WGA nod, paving the way for Johnson’s date with Oscar. I also expect Michael Haneke’s Amour to nab a nomination, as well as Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola’s dynamite Moonrise Kingdom. Going into 2012 I would have thought it impossible for Paul Thomas Anderson not to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but the film has had fairly weak awards supporting leading up to the Oscar nominations. The adult drama Flight has considerable support inside the Academy, so I wouldn’t be shocked if it landed a nod as well. If anything knocks out any of the aforementioned contenders, though, it’s gotta be The Master.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Tony Kushner – Lincoln
Chris Terrio – Argo
David Magee – Life of Pi
Stephen Chbosky for The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Alternates: Behn Zeitlin & Lucy Alibar for Beasts of the Southern Wild, Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises, William Nicholson for Les Miserables
The Best Adapted Screenplay is also an exciting category, though the two far-ahead frontrunners appear to be Tony Kushner’s Lincoln and Chris Terrio’s Argo. I also predict we’ll see David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook land a nomination here, and although I’m a little less sure about David Magee’s Life of Pi, my instinct says it’ll get in. Though it was certainly one of my favorite screenplays of the year, I had a hard time believing Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower could break through to Oscar, but then the script nabbed a WGA nod. Here’s hoping the Academy follows suit.
The biggest threat in this category looks to be Beasts of the Southern Wild, so if for some reason Perks or Pi don’t make the cut, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Behn Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar land a nod for Beasts.
And that’s it, folks. All will be revealed when the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards are unveiled tomorrow, but I invite you to sound off on what you think will be nominated in the comments section below.