With the last two months of the year the last few Oscar contenders are ready to hit theaters so what better time to start predicting the awards?
Best Actor: A few weeks ago I would have said John Hawkes (The Sessions), without a doubt, but Lincoln has gathered a lot of acclaim and Daniel Day-Lewis is always a powerhouse. Due to the lackluster reception of War Horse I found Lincoln's strong success somewhat unexpected. Another unexpected contender is Denzel Washington (Flight) reminding us that he does real movies (Take that cheap shot, Safe House). Phoenix is really strong in The Master but I think all the acting chances of The Master are dwindling due to the films quick cool off and the material's relation to Scientology. I can see Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) fighting it out for the last spot and probably give the advantage to Hugh Jackman. All that said, with Day-Lewis probably now the favorite I'm still throwing my support for a John Hawkes upset. Oscars occasionally have a single shakeup and perhaps Hawkes will be lucky enough to catch that break.
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook). So far I think there are few other contenders. Jessica Chastain could mix things up depending on how well Zero Dark Thirty is received but at the moment it's Lawrence's statue.
Best Supporting Actor: Kind of a hard one on which to get a good handle. Right now I'm saying Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) is the front runner. The great reception for Lincoln and praise for his performance in particular throw him in the front amid nominee contenders like Hoffman (With The Master losing steam), Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Russell Crowe (Les Miserables), and maybe even Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike). Currently Leonardo DiCaprio could swoop in however, depending on the reception of his turn in Django Unchained, so I'm still on the fence between Jones and DiCaprio.
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables). Out of all the acting awards she's probably the easiest lock for a win. Sally Field (Lincoln), Amy Adams (The Master), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), and Samantha Barks (Les Miserables) are likely for the other nominees but right now it's Hathaway by a large margin.
As for other categories, maybe an update will be in order in a few weeks. I thought Argo had a good lead but with the likes of Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln, and Les Miserables things are ready to heat up. And it wouldn't be the first time a film with a good head start wasn't able to make it to the podium, 2009's Up in the Air and 2010's The Social Network can attest to that. But those four seem like very strong contenders and Zero Dark Thirty may come in as a dark horse, though being that it could be a 2 hour and 40 minute political procedural thriller may obstruct it from catching on for awards. The directors I think will likely be the people behind those major four nominations with 3 or 4 others fighting for the fifth spot. As for the likely winner, like Best Picture, we may have to wait to get a better idea.