(jessica chastain in "zero dark thirty")
Well, it's that time. The Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, and it's time for us to pony up. We're going to take a stab at guessing which men and women will get the highly coveted 20 acting nominations. We haven't seen many of the movies in contention, but this is the Oscars, since when did that matter? As we've written over and over and over again, Oscars are handed out for a variety of reasons, i.e. popularity, career recognition, acknowledgement of ethnic diversity, etc., and only sometimes are Oscars given to the actors who truly delivered the critically-best performance. So actually watching the movies when trying to guess who will win is irrelevant. All one has to do is pay attention to the "prevailing Hollywood winds".
Daniel Day-Lewis. Period. Okay, next up, Best Actress. Okay, okay, we're kidding... but not really. Not only is Daniel Day-Lewis a lock for a nomination, but he's also a lock for the win. All the other actors this year, no matter how good, simply had the misfortune of acting up a storm in a year in which Daniel Day-Lewis acted up a tsunami. The only guessing game left in this category is which actors will get the other four nominations.
(daniel day-lewis in "lincoln")
Locks for a Nomination: Daniel Day-Lewis and Bradley Cooper.
The Maybe's: Joaquin Phoenix won several critics awards this year, but he's not particularly popular in Hollywood right now, for a variety of reasons. John Hawkes is a new favorite in Hollywood, plus he portrayed a character with a physical disability, a long-time Oscar favorite. He's also received an Oscar nom in the past, so he has Academy credibility. Denzel Washington, a two-time Oscar winner, is a perennial Academy favorite. Denzel won't win this year, but he's likely to get a nomination simply based on his popularity.
Prediction for the Nominations: Day-Lewis, Cooper, Phoenix, Hawkes and Washington.
Locks for a Nomination: Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence and Emmanuelle Riva.
(jennifer lawrence in "silver linings playbook")
The Maybe's: Rachel Weisz and Helen Hunt are both previous Oscar winners, and other than Chastain, Lawrence and Riva, they were the only other actresses to win critics awards this year, so there aren't any other actresses on Hollywood's radar at the moment. There could be a surprise nominee in this category if Hunt is nominated in the Supporting category. And the surprise could be Emma Watson, who the Academy would like to reward for valiantly trying to break out of the Harry Potter child-star roles for which she is best known. Oscar likes to give big pats on the back to young, up-and-coming stars. Marion Cotillard, Naomi Watts and Helen Mirren are very long shots, but the fact that none of them won a single critics award this year severely hurt their chances. In the end, we're going with Watts over Weisz because no one saw Weisz's movie, and Hollywood really, really likes Naomi Watts.
Prediction for the Nominations: Chastain, Lawrence, Riva, Watts and... either Hunt or Watson.
Tomorrow, the Supporting Categories.