January 11, 2013 at 3:18 PM

85th Academy Awards Nominations: Wieners and Losers

Who will win the coveted gold statues?

By Casey St. Charnez

Media Rare

Casey St. Charnez has been video editor for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide since 1986 and buyer for Lisa Harris' Video Library since 1981. He likes Lisa, cats, crosswords, and the Metropolitan Opera, probably in that order.

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And so it begins. Again.

In a few weeks—on Sunday, February 24 on ABC-TV—the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, on behalf of its 5,856 voting members, once again will bestow those highly coveted 8 ½-pound statues, for the 85th consecutive year. Unlikely host Seth McFarlane (the “Family Guy” guy) will hand over a couple dozen of the gold-plated beauties unto the deserving, and in some cases, the less so. 

There will be gasps, gaffes, and surprises aplenty, just as there are in the newly announced nominations, a blend of the predictable and the brow-furrowing. You may peruse the complete list here.

A lot of movie pundits are convinced that AMPAS has all but declared a sweep for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and its 12 noms. (Well, so much for my Best Picture choice: “Life of Pi.”)

Despite this seeming Lincolnesque inevitability, this year’s preferences also, typically, offer both the pleasant and the odd. The age gulf between Best Actress nominees Emmanuelle Riva, who will turn 86 on that self same February 24, and cuter-than-cute Quvenzhané Wallis, 9, is an interesting twist. But the lack of official peer recognition for director Ben Affleck (“Argo”) and actor Richard Gere (“Arbitrage”) is perplexing, while the favorable nods for thespians Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Joaquin Phenix (“The Master”) are equally inexplicable.

Over the coming weeks, various components of the industry will promote their own picks in a fusillade of egos and tuxedos. The recent People’s Choice gave top honors to “The Hunger Games.” Go figure. Meanwhile, Critics’ Choice awards, presented by a coalition of broadcast movie reviewers, were on TV January 10. That night, “Argo,” Daniel Day-Lewis, and Jessica Chastain went home with the rather cheesy crystal C.C. trophies, distributed by A-, B-, and C-listers in a ceremony held at a revamped airplane hangar in Santa Monica, and aired on the CW. Classy.

Next will come the tipsy, silly Golden Globes (from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 90 voters) on January 13; then the Producers Guild, January 26, Screen Actors Guild, January 27, Directors Guild, February 2; BAFTA (the British Academy), February 10; Writers Guild, February 17; and Spirit Awards, February 23, on Oscar eve.

Though the zeitgeist shifts weekly, as the P.R. factory works sleeplessly to push push push their own wannabe winners, smart money says to keep an eye on the trade victors. Since directors vote for directors, producers for producers, actors for actors, one may assume these people know what they’re talking about.

However, the best way to prognosticate who’s going to win how many is to go see the movies. After all: You yourself are the best movie critic working today.

Here’s a plan:

Every year, Entertainment Weekly magazine--the 21st-century bible of American show biz—publishes its list of “25 Movies You Need to See Before Oscar Night.” Most of them played a Santa Fe screen, a few are already on DVD, and many are still showing locally.

Yes, that’s helpful…but as of this writing, I have seen exactly four of the 25. Time to get on the stick. Never has “See you at the movies” seemed so imminent.

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