News Column

'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Lincoln' Hold Top Oscar Spots

Dec 21, 2012

Charlie McCollum

Now that the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild have weighed in with their nominations, the Oscar race for best picture is finally solidifying as films locking down their positions.

Right now, it appears at least six films are sure things: "Zero Dark Thirty," "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," "Argo," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Life of Pi." The distance between the top two appears to be minuscule.

So, the remaining question is which movies will fill out the list of 10 nominees -- presuming 10 films get enough votes to qualify. We will continue to update the rankings regularly until the nominations are announced Jan. 10. So be sure to check back.

1) "Zero Dark Thirty"

In very limited number of theaters

It's starting to knock off the early awards competitions and seems to have emerged as the leading contender -- but not by much.

Last ranking: 2

2) "Lincoln"

In theaters

This could just as easily be No. 1. It's picked up a raft of nominations from the Globes and SAG and its unexpected popularity at the box office continues to help its chances.

Last ranking: 1

3) "Silver Linings Playbook"

In theaters

It's a definite nominee with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro all getting a lot of recognition for their performances.

Last ranking: 5

4) "Les Miserables"

Opens Dec. 25

The critics have had some issues with the blockbuster movie musical but

that hasn't stopped it from racking up nominations in the Globes and from SAG. A sure thing for a best picture nomination and numerous other Academy noms.

Last ranking: 3

5) "Argo"

In theaters

Long the front-runner in the Oscar race it continues to hang in there against very stiff competition.

Last ranking: 4

6) "Life of Pi"

In theaters

It will be nominated but it's unlikely to win because of its weaknesses in the acting and writing categories.

Last ranking: 3

7) "Django Unchained"

Opens Dec. 25

Quentin Tarantino's film scored big time with the Golden Globes and even though it's violent (you were expecting a light comedy?), its chances of making the cut have improved dramatically in recent days.

Last ranking: On the bubble

8) "Moonrise Kingdom"

Out on DVD

It's now definitely the indie fave most likely to make the list.

Last ranking: 7

9) "Amour"

In very limited theaters

This is just a hunch that this film about love and death and growing old from Michael Haneke (2009's best foreign film winner, "The White Ribbon") will sneak into the race. It will certainly the leading contender for best foreign language film.

Last ranking: On the bubble

10) "Flight"

In theaters

Star Denzel Washington is almost single-handedly keeping the film in the conversation for best picture. It could slide off the list if "The Impossible" comes on strong late or there's some weirdness involving a dark horse like "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

Last ranking: 9

On the bubble

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

Out on DVD

Every year, there seems to be one late-emerging dark horse and this year, it's "Marigold Hotel." In case you missed it, it was a comedy about aging Brits running amok in India. It featured a stellar English cast -- Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy -- but the rest of the film was only so-so and the movie never surfaced in early Oscar talk. But first it got some very unexpected love from SAG and followed that with lots of noms in the Golden Globes. This could be the "Blind Side" of this Oscar season.

Last ranking: --

"The Impossible"

Opens Dec. 21

Still lagging behind other strong films because of late screenings. But early reviews are very strong.

Last ranking: On the bubble

"Skyfall"

In theaters

The latest Bond film hasn't gotten the recognition in early awards that many expected.

Last ranking: 9

"The Master"

In limbo between theaters and home video

It will get some nominations but best picture doesn't seem like it's in the cards.

Last ranking: On the bubble

"The Sessions"

Still in some theaters

The film isn't getting much notice in the early awards.

Last ranking: On the bubble



Source: (c)2012 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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