The movie award season is upon us.
The New York Film Critics weighed in Monday, the National Board of Review on Wednesday, and the Los Angeles Film Critics will have their say next week.
Bigger clues to the Oscar picture will appear Wednesday with the Screen Actors Guild nominations, followed Dec. 13 by the Golden Globe nods.
With so many contending titles yet to play Omaha, I'm relying on what the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly magazine, the Hollywood Reporter and other industry sources have been saying — plus what I've already seen — to predict which names and titles you're likely to hear in the next week.
PICTURE: The most likely nominees look to be “Argo,” Ben Affleck's movie about sneaking Americans out of Tehran amid the Iran hostage crisis; “Life of Pi,” Ang Lee's adaptation of the popular novel about a boy and a tiger trapped on a lifeboat; Steven Spielberg's “Lincoln,” based on the last months of the president's life, in which he fought to get slavery banned; “Les Miserables,” a musical set in France with an all-star cast; and “Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell's dramedy about two mentally unstable people looking for happiness.
Other viable contenders: “The Sessions,” about a polio victim who seeks to lose his virginity with a sex surrogate; Kathryn Bigelow's “Zero Dark Thirty,” which tells the story of tracking down Osama bin Laden; “The Master,” Paul Thomas Anderson's period piece loosely based on Scientology's roots; “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” an apocalyptic sci-fi tale in which a child copes with rapid change; and “The Impossible,” about a tourist family trying to survive a tsunami in Thailand.
“Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino's race-charged story about slavery that almost nobody has seen yet; and “Moonrise Kingdom,” a Wes Anderson comedy, could make the cut as well. “Anna Karenina” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” appear less likely.
Sorry, “Dark Knight Rises” and “Avengers” fans. It looks like technical categories only for your comic-book favorites again this year.
DIRECTOR: Affleck (“Argo”), Lee (“Life of Pi”) and Spielberg (“Lincoln”) seem to be on everybody's list. Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”) and Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”) are also in the race, as is Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”). Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master”) and Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) can't be counted out.
ACTRESS: A relatively open category in which Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) are most frequently mentioned. Next come little first-time actress Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”). Helen Mirren (“Hitchcock”), Emmanuella Riva (“Amour”) and Marion Cotillard (“Rust and Bone”) also are in the mix.
ACTOR: The trio of shoo-ins on every list are Daniel Day-Lewis, as “Lincoln”; Joaquin Phoenix, as a booze-soaked loose cannon in “The Master”; and John Hawkes, the polio victim in “The Sessions.” Two of my favorites are Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Denzel Washington, a flawed pilot in “Flight.”
Entirely possible: Hugh Jackman, as Valjean in “Les Miserables”; Richard Gere, a morally bankrupt financier in “Arbitrage”; and Ben Affleck, a CIA operative in “Argo.”
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hot competition between Anne Hathaway, as Fantine in “Les Miserables”; Sally Field, as first lady in “Lincoln”; and Helen Hunt, as the sex surrogate in “The Sessions.” Lots of buzz for Amy Adams, put-upon wife in “The Master”; Maggie Smith, put-upon immigrant in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”; and Jacki Weaver, put-upon mom in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Philip Seymour Hoffman, as a charismatic religious leader in “The Master”; Tommy Lee Jones, as an ardent abolitionist in “Lincoln”; and Alan Arkin, as a Hollywood producer in “Argo,” lead the pack. I think John Goodman is as good as Arkin, playing his pal in “Argo,” and also is a riot as a drug dealer in “Flight.” Robert De Niro, as an obsessive compulsive dad in “Silver Linings Playbook”; and Leonardo DiCaprio, as a plantation owner in “Django Unchained.” Dwight Henry, from “Beasts of the Southern Wild”; and Matthew McConaughey, for “Magic Mike,” are on some lists. So are Russell Crowe, as Javert in “Les Miserables”; and Christoph Waltz, who helps an ex-slave bounty hunter in “Django Unchained.”
SCREENPLAY: Favored in the original screenplay category: “Amour,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Master” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Adapted-screenplay frontrunners might be: “Argo,” “Life of Pi,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Lincoln.”