Off the Carpet: All bets are off
UPDATE (1/9 - 3:18am ET): Poor Matthew McConaughey looks so lonely over there now that there isn't a prediction to go along with the photo. Alas, the BAFTA nominations tonight have steered me this way and that. Of course "Skyfall" was going to go over big there, but that along with the SAG nod for Javier Bardem give me enough to go ahead and spring for him instead. Sorry, Matty.
I do, however, think BAFTA may have gone for "Django Unchained" more than the Academy did, but we'll see if that's true. Nevertheless, I've gone ahead and added "Django" to my Best Picture predictions (it was already at #10), bringing it to a full set of 10. Screw it. I've been thinking there's enough passion to go around to afford as much, but, well, we'll see. A few other tweaks and whatnot throughout. All this will be more set in stone when our final predictions gallery goes up Wednesday morning. Look for that for the final word.
EARLIER: So, these are pretty much finalized. I don't know that the DGA will add or subtract much, regardless of their choices. It's a funky season.
First question sure to come: Why "The Intouchables?" When you're the first screener out of the gate, you're seen early and, sometimes, often. And the film has stuck with a lot of members. While others like "Django Unchained" and "The Impossible" and even, though I'm still sticking with it, "Amour," are just hoping to be seen in the home stretch, films like "Skyfall" and "Flight" and, indeed, "The Intouchables" have built up some fans along with frontrunners like "Argo" and "Lincoln." That will either translate or it won't, but I don't mind stepping out onto a few limbs this year. It's a funky season.
That fifth slot in Best Supporting Actor? Yeah, it might just go to Javier Bardem, who managed the SAG nomination for a film that has the British voting block behind it (as does "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel") and is well-liked. It could go to one of the "Django Unchained" hopefuls, though they seem in danger of canceling each other out. So why not go on a wing and a prayer with Matthew McConaughey in "Magic Mike?" He picked up some key critics awards at the right time, just after hitting the press trail, rail thin, showing physical dedication to his next film. And he's likable. Sure, I'll make that bet. It's a funky season.
Speaking of "The Impossible," Naomi Watts has some wind in her sails with well-publicized endorsements and a movie in theaters, making them tear up. But some of those tears could well be of the "I really wish I had seen this before I voted" variety. So while two foreign actresses nominated feels like a stretch, I'll put some faith in Emmanuelle Riva and respect for her work in "Amour." She has actresses like Nicole Kidman halting their own Q&As to espouse the merits of the performance. It's a funky season.
And not to bury the lead a bit, but if two foreign performances getting in is weird, then two foreign films getting in for Best Picture is REALLY weird. So if the "Amour"/"The Intouchables" thing pans out when no foreign film has yet capitalized on the expanded Best Picture category, that's sure to be a story, if not THE story of the nominations. And it would instantly qualify the move to five-plus a success, if films like "Up," "Toy Story 3" and "District 9," among others, haven't done that already. So I don't mind making that reach. It's a funky year.
Across the board, there could just be surprise after surprise. And not in a left field kind of way, but simply because this is a season like no other. A squeezed timeline, voting snafus that are repressing voter turnout, a competitive slate producing passion across a wide spectrum and studios dominating over indies and dependents for a change make it a perfect storm of…something. I don't know what. It's kind of exciting. So I don't care how wrong I end up being at the end of the day because the simple fact that some of this is even on the table is pretty cool.
We'll see what the DGA and ASC have to say over the next two days. ACE, CDG and MPSE will all wait until after the nominations. So if the directors and/or the cinematographers do anything to make me rethink this or that, I'll make note of it in this space. But for now, I'm semi-finished with this craziness. Let the chips fall where they may.
We'll have a predictions-related collective up some time Wednesday featuring all of our choices. In the meantime, what are YOU predicting? Have your say in the comments section below.