The early months of a new year indicate an unpredictable awards season culminating in the Academy Awards.
However, earlier awards such as the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards are often good indicators of who will go home with Hollywood’s most coveted golden statue. The Oscars will air at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 on ABC.
But this year, if these indicators have any say, it will be a highly interesting race for the gold.
On Jan. 10, Oscar nominations were announced at a press conference hosted by this year’s ceremony host, “Ted” star Seth McFarlane and “The Amazing Spider-Man” actress Emma Stone.
Traditionally, the Golden Globes ceremony occurs before the Academy Award nominations are released, but the Oscar process was sped up this year, and the nominations for those awards were released before the Golden Globes were held.
The epic biopic “Lincoln” led for most nominations per film with 12, while “Life of Pi,” based on a novel of the same name, was a close second with 11. The musical adaptation of “Les Miserables” and the Bradley Cooper – Jennifer Lawrence romantic comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” each earned eight nominations.
All four films earned Best Picture recognition, in addition to the Ben Affleck thriller
With Affleck and Bigelow — who made history in 2009 by becoming the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director — gone from the directing race, the Academy seemingly favored smaller films.
Lesser known directors Michael Haneke of “Amour” and Benh Zeitlin of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” will go head-to-head with “Life of Pi” director Ang Lee and “Silver Linings Playbook” director David O. Russell, but expect the legendary Steven Spielberg to take this award for “Lincoln.”
Speaking of the famous president, Daniel Day-Lewis grabbed an expected bid for Best Actor for his portrayal of the 16th president. He is joined by the previously mentioned Cooper, Denzel Washington of “Flight,” “Les Miserables’” Hugh Jackman, and “The Master” star Joaquin Phoenix.
A frontrunner since day one, it would be a true shocker to see Day-Lewis miss out on his third Oscar for Best Actor. If anyone steals this award, perhaps it is Jackman, the Golden Globe winner for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical.
Two nominees in the Best Actress category make history with their nominations.
Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour” becomes the oldest ever nominee in the category at age 85. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Quvenzhanè Wallis, the nine-year-old star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” becomes the youngest nominee in the category ever.
However, in addition to “The Impossible” star Naomi Watts, these actresses should be honored to just be nominated, as this race is really only between Jessica Chastain for her performance in “Zero Dark Thirty” and the previously mentioned Lawrence.
Perhaps the tightest race of the year, the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards will provide a better insight, but at the moment, the heat seems to be with Lawrence to win her first Best Actress bid after a nomination here two years ago, a great start for a just-blossoming career.
Five previous Oscar winners make up the Best Supporting Actor category. Alan Arkin and Christoph Waltz were the only nominated actors from their films, “Argo” and “Django Unchained,” respectively. They are joined by the previously mentioned DeNiro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman of “The Master,” and Tommy Lee Jones for his work in “Lincoln.”
With no clear frontrunner, this race is wide-open. With initial buzz on Hoffman and Jones, Waltz surprised everyone by winning the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. Don’t expect any clarity after the Screen Actors Guild Awards, however: Waltz was snubbed there in place of “Skyfall” villain Javier Bardem.
This might just be the race to watch come Oscar night.
In the final acting category, Anne Hathaway earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in “Les Miserables.” Competing against her are Amy Adams of “The Master,” Helen Hunt in “The Sessions,” the previously mentioned Weaver, and two-time Oscar winner Sally Field of “Lincoln.”
In what seems to be the “lock” of the year, Hathaway is widely expected to win after having previously been nominated for Best Actress in 2009 for “Rachel Getting Married.”
Regardless of the precursors, it is evident we should be prepared for an exhilarating awards season that is already chock full of surprises, snubs and triumphs. We wouldn’t have it any other way.