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Finally, the ever-pretentious Golden Globes will have minimal effect on the Oscar nominations this year. For the first time in decades, the Oscar Nominations will be announced BEFORE the Hollywood Foreign Press Asscociation gets a chance to crown their winners.
For some perspective on that, films that had won the Golden Globe for best Drama film, such as Babel, Atonement, The Aviator, and The Hours may not have been up for nearly as many (if any) Oscars, and several more films may never have won nearly as many awards.
The real test of predicting the nominations is doing it without the Director's Guild nominations coming out. Regardless, film buffs all over the country will have their papers out Thursday morning, and the odds will look something like this:
(Since the Oscars no longer have a set number of nominations, I'll just post ten films, which is the maximum allowed, in order of their chances of being nominated).
2. Zero Dark Thirty
4. Silver Linings Playbook
5. Les Miserables
6. Life of Pi
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Moonrise Kingdom
9. Django Unchained
10. The Master
We can most likely see the first five nominated on Thursday, but the question is, do any of the other films have a chance at scoring a nomination? Life of Pi has the best chance, having performed far better at the box office than expected, but smaller films such as Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom have the potential to get Best Picture votes with far fewer support from wins in other categories, after scoring a nomination.
Django may have been nominated for a Golden Globe for drama, but because of the recent shooting incidents, it is far less likely to get any kind of support. Finally, The Master is a kind of film that has the potential to be nominated with the new voting policy, as it is likely to sneak in with enough 1st place votes (although it probably won't get many overall). As Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty are the two favorites, look for them to both score a TON of nominations. As for Skyfall, as good as it was, it just doesn't have a realistic chance at being nominated.
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
John Hawkes for The Sessions
Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables
Denzel Washington for Flight
Alternate: Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
I honestly wish I could say that someone else other than those listed will be nominated, but I just can't. Look for Phoenix to possibly be nominated over Hugh Jackman.
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Rive for Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Alternate: Naomi Watts for The Impossible
In a tight race between Chastain and Lawrence, the other nominees seem to be irrelevant. However, Watts was up for a SAG award, but I don't see her being up with a severe lack of screen time. Amour's Riva has an interesting chance at scoring a nomination as the film continues it's wonderful press, but not having any kind of release may hurt her chances.
Finally, Wallis was not nominated for a SAG or Golden Globe, but could score a nomination to cap a fantastic year for black actors.
It should be noted however, 2012 has been, unfortunately, one of the worst years for female roles. All of the films listed (bar Silver Linings) had very limited releases so far, and some may not even get to most markets before the Oscars are announced.
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin for Argo
Javier Bardem for Skyfall
Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Alternate: Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike
This is the hardest category to predict. You can see the old guys, Arkin, De Niro and Jones, for sure. Some may scratch their heads when they see Phillip Seymour Hoffman absent for his bid with The Master, and he very well maybe nominated after having been nominated for SAG and the Globe. The Master, however, may not get a lot of love from the Oscars, due to it being too unconventional.
Other potential nominees include Dwight Henry in Beasts of the Southern Wild and Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained. I included Bardem because there will be a surprise in this category, and also McConaughey to cover my bases. In truth, though, you could see a nomination even crazier that that.
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Field for Lincoln
Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy
Maggie Smith for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Alternate: Judi Dench for Skyfall
Another pretty tight race. Sally Field has won the only notable awards so far, however, she has already won an Oscar twice. We could see Anne Hathaway gain some momentum, depending on how many nominations her film receives. As for the rest, it's wide open. Nicole Kidman was a surprise SAG nomination, and hence has had some views from Academy voters that may give her a nomination as well (a la Melissa Leo in Frozen River). Old British winners and veterans of the Oscar races, Dench and Smith will surely score nominations if their films score well in other categories.
Ben Affleck for Argo
Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty
Tom Hooper for Les Mieserables
Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Alternate: David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
I always look for a surprise in the Best Director category. Foreign directors are no stranger to this category, so Michael Heneke could possibly be nominated for Amour. Other than that, what you see is what you get, I would've included Quentin Tarantino, but he seems to be at the forefront of the attack on gun violence in Hollywood.
Best Original Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins for Flight
Michael Heneke for Amour
Alternate: Rian Johnson for Looper
With the banning of Django from this category, it becomes a bit easier to predict. Mark Boal will most likely repeat his win from 2009's The Hurt Locker in the Acaedemy's tireless effort to make the awards exciting until the Best Picture ballot is opened. ZDT is the only film that could potentially take out Lincoln for Best Picture, so it may already be a lock in this category. The other films are there because they were all wonderful, and voters think they deserve to have their names called more than once during the night.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Tony Kushner, John Logan and Paul Webb for Lincoln
Ben Lewin for The Sessions
David Magee for Life of Pi
David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
Chris Terrio for Argo
Alternate: Stephen Chbosky for The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Chbosky was a surprise at the WGA award nominations, but it's going to be hard to fit into the rest of the pack. Les Mis is absent due to ineligibility, so that helps the small films' chances a little bit.
You can watch the nominees announced live, coverage starts at 5:30 AM PST on E! and KTLA (or your local news station).