No need to really preface this. The word of the Oscar buzz comes first. My two cents to follow. The buzz for the 2013 Oscars says...
2. Les Miserables
4. Anna Karenina
5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
6. Life of Pi
7. The Silver Linings Playbook
8. On the Road
9. The Great Gatsby
10. Gangster Squad
Also: The Dark Knight Rises, Gambit, Hyde Park On Hudson, Killing Them Softly, Lawless
I'm gonna go with:
1. Les Miserables - Maybe the best source material for a movie musical since Fosse made Cabaret. I may fall on my face, but I'm all in.
2. Life of Pi - This film has a huge leg up on most of the other major contenders because it has already been previewed and well received AND it came from source material many called impossible to adapt for the screen.
3. Anna Karenina - Academy Award winning writer Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love, Brazil) comes off a decade long hiatus to adapt an immortal classic. Not a BAD bet.
4. The Great Gatsby - Auteur Baz Luhrman is somewhat hit or miss but damn it, I WANT it to be good. And again, great source material.
5. Argo - Even if Argo fails to garner a best picture nomination, I could see Affleck getting a consolation nod here because we know that even in a field of ten, there could easily be a snub in screenplay to...
6. The Dark Knight Rises - The Academy likes to tease Christopher Nolan for some reason, and superhero comics as source material seems so... common (yawn). Still, it may be too good to pass up.
7. The Silver Linings Playbook - O'Russell is a very talented writer, and could find love from this branch even if the film fails to catch on in other categories.
8. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - I think this series' second installment will garner more above the line attention than this first film, but it cannot be discounted.
9. Killing Them Softly - Andrew Dominick's new movie premiered at Cannes to reviews that were not universally glowing, but neither were Midnight In Paris's last year.
10. Lincoln - I should have more confidence in John Logan after Hugo, Corialanus, and Rango last year but my faith in the project overall is a little shakier than most people's.
1. Django Unchained
2. The Master
3. Zero Dark Thirty
4. Six Sessions
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
6. Moonrise Kingdom
8. To Rome With Love
9. Inside Llewyn Davis
10. Seven Psychopaths
Also: All In, Amour, He Loves Me, Place Beyond the Pines, Safety First, To The Wonder
As for my feelings:
1. Beasts of the Southern Wild - From Sundance, to Cannes, it seems to have momentum on its side. It's the top stealth contender of the season so far.
2. The Master - It appears to be producer (and Oscar miracle worker) Harvey Weinstein's main horse in the race this year. That's enough.
3. Zero Dark Thirty - Last time out Mark Boal won this category and he's paired with the same director.
4. Amour - This film was so universally loved at Cannes that it is hard to believe it won't break out of the Foreign Film category somewhere. Screenplay is often where that happens.
5. Inside Llewyn Davis - It is unwise to EVER bet against the Coen brothers, especially in screenplay. The only fly in the ointment is that their script for Gambit (which they did not direct) may split the votes from their supporters.
6. Django Unchained - I always want Tarantino to succeed, but I'm afraid that the subject matter and action-ish nature of the film may hurt its chances. Here's to hoping I am wrong.
7. Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson's newest was received well at Cannes, but he has been ignored before.
8. Six Sessions - I keep feeling like I should have this film higher on the list, but I feel that the Cannes boost received by Beasts has sort of left this other Sundance darling in the dust for now. Word is, the script is excellent.
9. To the Wonder - Any movie from Terrence Malick (Tree of Life, Thin Red Line) is bound to be a unique cinematic experience but will his directorial flourishes overpower the script?
10. Seven Psychopaths - Again, a film that has previewed favorably from a respected young auteur (Martin McDonagh of In Bruges), that would be higher on this list if the field was not so seemingly wide and deep.
Next up: 2013 Supporting Acting Academy Awards