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What do the Critics' Choice Awards tell us about the Oscars?

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By Zach Laws
By Zach Laws
Dec 11 2012 15:16 pm
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The Critics' Choice Awards has become one of the best barometers for predicting Oscar nominees, if not winners.  (Read report on Tuesday's nominations here and see full list here.)

With many categories of these kudos from the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. having six slots, it has done well at foreseeing the five Oscar contenders. 

Below, a category by category analysis of the BFCA nominations and their likelihood of predicting the Oscars. 

BEST PICTURE
"Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "The Master," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty,"

Last year, the BFCA correctly predicted the nine Best Picture nominees: “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life,” and “War Horse.” Their 10th pic -- “Drive” -- was left out of the Oscar race. “The Artist” would win both the BFCA and the Oscar.

It’s hard to say which of this year's 10 BFCA contenders, if any, would be left out on Oscar nomination day. Because of the new Academy rules, there can be anywhere between five and 10 Best Picture nominees. At this point, we could be looking at them. The race looks to be between “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables,” with “Zero Dark Thirty” sneaking up.
 

BEST DIRECTOR
Ben Affleck (“Argo”); Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”); Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”); Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”); David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”); Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”)

Last year, the BFCA correctly predicted three of the Best Director nominees: Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”), Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”) and Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”). Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”), Stephen Daldry (“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”) and Steven Spielberg (“War Horse”) were replaced by Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”) and Terrence Malick (“The Tree of Life”). Hazanavicius would win both the BFCA and the Oscar.

Bigelow has won the lion’s share of critics awards so far, but now’s the time when the tides could change. Given the staggering number of nominations for “Lincoln,” it wouldn’t be surprising to see the King of Hollywood -- Spielberg -- pull off a victory in this category.


BEST ACTOR
Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook#”); Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln#”); John Hawkes (“The Sessions”); Hugh Jackman (“Les Miserables”); Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master”); Denzel Washington (“Flight”)

Last year, the BFCA correctly predicted three of the eventual Best Actor nominees: George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) and Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”); Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar”), Michael Fassbender (“Shame”), and Ryan Gosling (“Drive”) were replaced with Demian Bechir (“A Better Life”) and Gary Oldman (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”). Clooney won the BFCA, while Dujardin won the Oscar.

Day-Lewis is in the lead for Best Actor, but so was George Clooney this time last year. Look for Day-Lewis to take this prize, but if “Les Miserables” starts to gain traction, the battle between him and Hugh Jackman will become more heated.


BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”); Marion Cotillard (“Rust and Bone”); Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook); Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour); Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild); Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”)

Last year, the BFCA correctly predicted three of the eventual Best Actress nominees: Viola Davis (“The Help”), Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”), and Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”); Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”), Charlize Theron (“Young Adult”) and Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”) were replaced by Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”) and Rooney Mara (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”). Viola Davis won the BFCA, while Meryl Streep took the Oscar.

Here’s where the battle between Jessica and Jennifer will get interesting: if either wins this prize, she’ll have to be considered the front-runner. Remember, they won’t compete against each other at the Golden Globes, so this and SAG is our only real indication of who’s in the lead. Right now it’s anyone’s guess.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin (“Argo”); Javier Bardem (“Skyfall”); Robert De Niro (“Silver Linings Playbook”); Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master”); Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”); Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike”)

Last year, three of the BFCA’s picks repeated at the Oscars: Kenneth Branagh (“My Week with Marilyn”), Nick Nolte (“Warrior”), and Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”); Albert Brooks (“Drive”), Patton Oswalt (“Young Adult”) and Andy Serkis (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) were replaced by Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”) and Max von Sydow (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”). Plummer would win both the BFCA and the Oscar.

Since a front-runner has yet to emerge, it’s anyone’s game. Given the love shown to “Lincoln,” the safe bet would be Tommy Lee Jones.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams (“The Master”); Judi Dench (“Skyfall”); Ann Dowd (“Compliance”); Sally Field (“Lincoln”); Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”); Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”)

Last year, four of the BFCA’s picks repeated at the Oscars: Berenice Bejo (“The Artist”), Chastain (“The Help”), Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”), and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”). Carey Mulligan (“Shame”) and Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) were replaced by Janet McTeer (“Albert Nobbs”). Spencer would win both the BFCA and the Oscar.

It would be a surprise for anyone other than Anne Hathaway to win. Her closest competition is Sally Field, who’s been racking up critics prizes. But it’s Hathaway’s time, and this award will be our first confirmation of that.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained"); John Gatins (“Flight”); Rian Johnson (“Looper”); Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master”); Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom”)' Mark Boal (“Zero Dark Thirty”)

Last year, two of the BFCA’s picks repeated at the Oscars: “The Artist” (Michel Hazanavicius) and “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Allen). “50/50” (Will Reiser), “Win Win” (Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni) and “Young Adult” (Diablo Cody) were left out for “Bridesmaids” (Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo), “Margin Call” (J.C. Chandor) and “A Separation” (Asghar Farhadi). “Midnight in Paris” won both the BFCA and the Oscar.

As of now, there’s no front-runner in this category. Given the recent popularity of “Zero Dark Thirty,” it’s safe to put it in the lead, but don’t be surprised if Tarantino, P.T. Anderson, or Wes Anderson take this as a consolation prize.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Chris Terrio (“Argo”); David Magee (“Life of Pi”); Tony Kushner (“Lincoln”); Stephen Chbosky (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”); David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)

Last year, three of the BFCA’s picks repeated at the Oscars: “The Descendants” (Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, Nat Faxon), “Hugo” (John Logan), and “Moneyball” (Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin). “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Eric Roth) and “The Help” (Tate Taylor) were left out for “The Ides of March” (George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon) and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan). “Moneyball” won the BFCA, while “The Descendants” won the Oscar.

It’s a race between “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” with “Argo” lying in wait. As happened last year, there could be a split between the BFCA and the Oscars, with one going for “Silver Linings Playbook” and the other going for “Lincoln.”


BEST SCORE
Alexandre Desplat (“Argo”); Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”); John Williams (“Lincoln”); Jonny Greenwood (“The Master”); Alexandre Desplat (“Moonrise Kingdom”)

This award is up for grabs right now. Last year, the BFCA and the Oscar both went with Best Picture front-runner “The Artist” (Ludovic Bource), so perhaps five-time Oscar winner John Williams will win for “Lincoln.”


BEST SONG
“For You” (from “Act of Valor”), “Learn Me Right” (from “Brave”), “Skyfall” (from “Skyfall”), “Still Alive” (from “Paul Williams Still Alive”), “Suddenly” (from “Les Miserables”)

Given Adele’s popularity, it would be a shock for her to lose.


BEST EDITING
William Goldenberg (“Argo”); Melanie Ann Oliver & Chris Dickens (“Les Miserables”); Tim Squyres (“Life of Pi”); Michael Kahn (“Lincoln”); William Goldenberg & Dylan Tichenor (“Zero Dark Thirty”)

Since no film has won Best Picture without an Editing nomination since “Ordinary People” (1980), this is one of the most important categories to score a nomination in. Last year, the BFCA correctly predicted the Oscar victor “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall), and look for the same to happen this year with “Zero Dark Thirty.”


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Danny Cohen (“Les Miserables"); Claudio Miranda (“Life of Pi”); Janusz Kaminski (“Lincoln”); Mihai Malaimare Jr. (“The Master”); Roger Deakins (“Skyfall”)

Those expecting Deakins to finally get his due this year will be disappointed to see anything else win. Last year, the BFCA went with “The Tree of Life” (Emmanuel Lubezski) and “War Horse” (Kaminski), while the Academy went with “Hugo” (Robert Richardson). Given the split of the critics groups so far, that same scenario could play out this year.


BEST ART DIRECTION
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer (“Anna Karenina”); Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright (“The Hobbit”); Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson (“Les Miserables”); David Gropman, Anna Pinnock (“Life of Pi”); Rick Carter, Jim Erickson (“Lincoln”)

The battle between “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables” will be most fiercely fought in the design categories. Last year, the BFCA and the Oscars both went with “Hugo.” Rick Carter is a veteran with one Oscar to his name (for “Avatar”), so he’s a safe bet.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Jacqueline Durran (“Anna Karenina”); Kym Barrett & Pierre-Yves Gayraud (“Cloud Atlas”); Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey & Richard Taylor (“The Hobbit”); Paco Delgado (“Les Miserables”); Joanna Johnston (“Lincoln”)

Again, a battle between “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables,” with “Anna Karenina” close behind. Last year, the BFCA and the Oscars went with “The Artist.” Perhaps, as was the case last year, the Best Picture front-runners will be split, with “Lincoln” taking Art Direction and “Les Miserables” taking Costume Design.


BEST MAKEUP
"Cloud Atlas"; "The Hobbit"; "Les Miserables"; "Lincoln"

This award is anyone’s guess. Last year, the BFCA went with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II,” while the Oscars went with “The Iron Lady.” This could prove another interesting battle between “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables.”


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
"The Avengers"; "Cloud Atlas"; "The Dark Knight Rises"; "The Hobbit"; "Life of Pi"

As “Avatar,” “Inception,” and “Hugo” have proven, the Academy always goes for a Best Picture nominee in this category if they have one. The same could be true of BFCA, so look for “Life of Pi” to beat out the big blockbusters.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
"Brave"; "Frankenweenie"; "Madagascar 3"; "ParaNorman"; "Rise of the Guardians"; "Wreck-It Ralph"

“Frankenweenie” should continue to win in this category all the way to the Oscars.


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"Amour"; "The Intouchables"; "A Royal Affair"; "Rust and Bone

“Rust and Bone” is ineligible in this category at the Oscars, so don’t look for it to show up there. Right now “Amour” is in the lead, but “The Intouchables” could pull an upset.


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"Bully"; "The Central Park Five"; "The Imposter"; "The Queen of Versailles"; "Searching for Sugar Man"; "West of Memphis"

“The Central Park Five,” “The Queen of Versailles,” and “West of Memphis” were all left off of the Academy’s shortlist, so if either of those win it will have no impact on the race. However, if something else wins, we’ll have a new frontrunner.


BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
"Argo"; "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"; "Les Miserables"; "Lincoln"; "Moonrise Kingdom": "Silver Linings Playbook"

A good indication of where SAG will go tomorrow. As for the win, look for “Lincoln” or “Les Miserables” to reign victorious.


BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Elle Fanning (“Ginger and Rosa”); Kara Hayward (“Moonrise Kingdom”); Tom Holland (“The Impossible”); Logan Lerman (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower"); Suraj Sharma (“Life of Pi”) Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)

A win for Wallis will only help solidify her Best Actress campaign.

 
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