Final 2013 Oscar Predictions from Experts and Users

  • Publish Date: February 21, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 2 user comments

Academy Award picks, from A(rgo) to Z(ero Dark Thirty)


Will this year's Academy Awards be as anticlimactic as last year's, when experts were able to correctly predict 18 of the 24 Oscar categories (including every major award save for lead actress)? We'll know on Sunday night when Seth MacFarlane hosts the 85th Annual Academy Awards. The show will be broadcast live on ABC from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT, with the red carpet pre-show beginning at 7 ET / 4 PT.

Below, we've aggregated predictions from 40 entertainment writers and awards experts, and compared them to the votes cast by nearly 2,200 Metacritic visitors who voted in our 4th annual Oscar poll. Don't forget to check this site on Monday morning to see which users and experts were the most accurate; we'll also sample reviews of the broadcast itself from TV critics.

Best picture and director

Everyone knows that Argo will collect Sunday's best picture trophy, becoming the first film since Driving Miss Daisy to win that honor without its director also being nominated. Or will it? If any film has a chance of scoring an upset victory, it is Silver Linings Playbook, thanks in part to the Academy's preferential voting system, which could reward a film sure to be included in most voters' top two or three films in the event that Lincoln siphons off enough of Argo's first-place votes. That is the argument made this week by pundits ranging from Roger Ebert to Huffington Post's Christopher Rosen to contributor Mark Hughes. (As for Lincoln itself? No chance, according to most experts, citing an apparent lack of enthusiasm for the film among Academy voters.)

Still, the award is certainly Argo's to lose, riding a wave of recent successes including Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Producers Guild wins for best picture. (It also helps that it's a movie about Hollywood itself, which certainly didn't hurt The Artist at last year's Oscars.) While Vegas sportsbooks do not accept wagers on the Academy Awards, bookmakers in the UK do, and most of them now have Argo as an overwhelming 1:7 favorite to win (by comparison, Lincoln is the second favorite at 5:1). Even a few statistics experts—hoping to become the Nate Silver of the entertainment industry, perhaps—have gotten in on the prediction game, with Harvard's Ben Zauzmer giving Argo a 60% chance of winning, while Canadian Ph.D. Iain Pardoe assigns the best odds to Lincoln, though even that film has just a 37% of being named best picture under his model. Meanwhile, the best-reviewed films of the bunch—Zero Dark Thirty and Amour—seem to have zero chance at Oscar love in the best picture category.

Thank's to Ben Affleck's absence, the director category is more unpredictable than would typically be the case with such a clear best picture frontrunner. While Lincoln's Steven Spielberg looks like he could collect his third directing trophy, many experts (including some UK bookmakers) give Life of Pi director Ang Lee a fighting chance.

Best Picture   Experts   Users
94 Amour   0%     1% bar
86 Argo Image   92% bar   46% bar
86 Beasts of the Southern Wild   0%     1% bar
81 Django Unchained   0%     5% bar
63 Les Miserables   0%     2% bar
79 Life of Pi   0%     3% bar
86 Lincoln   5% bar   28% bar
81 Silver Linings Playbook   3% bar   5% bar
95 Zero Dark Thirty   0%     9% bar
Best Director   Experts   Users
Michael Haneke
  8% bar   7% bar
Ang Lee
Life of Pi
  33% bar   15% bar
David O. Russell
Silver Linings Playbook
  10% bar   10% bar
Steven Spielberg
Image   50% bar   65% bar
Benh Zeitlin
Beasts of the Southern Wild
  0%     4% bar


Two of the acting categories are 100% locks and have been for months; if anyone defeats either Lincoln's Daniel Day-Lewis or Les Mis co-star Anne Hathaway, they will be considered one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. In the lead actress category, Jennifer Lawrence has been—and still is—the presumptive favorite, though over the past week some experts have suddenly started to line up behind soon-to-be 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva (Oscar's oldest ever best actress nominee), who could find herself with one heck of a birthday present on Sunday.

Only one of the four acting categories, however, seems to be wide open: supporting actor. Our users gave the edge to Christoph Waltz, while a plurality of experts felt that Academy voters would be unable to resist Robert De Niro's charms. And many pundits (and users) also gave Lincoln's Tommy Lee Jones an almost equal chance of winning, making this a three horse race. (In fact, many oddsmakers have Jones as the favorite, though some have better odds for Waltz.) Note that every nominee in the category has already won an Oscar, so sentimentality shouldn't play into the voting.

Lead Actor   Experts   Users
Bradley Cooper
Silver Linings Playbook
  0%     3% bar
Daniel Day-Lewis
Image   100% bar   86% bar
Hugh Jackman
Les Miserables
  0%     5% bar
Joaquin Phoenix
The Master
  0%     5% bar
Denzel Washington
  0%     2% bar
Lead Actress   Experts   Users
Jessica Chastain
Zero Dark Thirty
  5% bar   32% bar
Jennifer Lawrence
Silver Linings Playbook
Image   70% bar   52% bar
Emmanuelle Riva
  25% bar   9% bar
Quvenzhané Wallis
Beasts of the Southern Wild
  0%     4% bar
Naomi Watts
The Impossible
  0%     3% bar
Supporting Actor   Experts   Users
Alan Arkin
  3% bar   4% bar
Robert De Niro
Silver Linings Playbook
Image   45% bar   11% bar
Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Master
  3% bar   14% bar
Tommy Lee Jones
  33% bar   34% bar
Christoph Waltz
Django Unchained
Image   18% bar   38% bar
Supporting Actress   Experts   Users
Amy Adams
The Master
  0%     6% bar
Sally Field
  0%     7% bar
Anne Hathaway
Les Miserables
Image   100% bar   81% bar
Helen Hunt
The Sessions
  0%     2% bar
Jacki Weaver
Silver Linings Playbook
  0%     3% bar


Here's where your best Oscar pool plans may start to go awry, as evidenced by the fact that our users and experts disagreed in both categories (nor could the experts even come to a consensus in one of them). The original screenplay category is shaping up to be a three-film race with no clear favorite, while the adapted screenplay field—much like best picture—has been reduced to a frontrunner (Argo) and a single secondary contender (Lincoln).

Original Screenplay   Experts   Users
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Moonrise Kingdom
  0%     9% bar
Mark Boal
Zero Dark Thirty
Image   35% bar   26% bar
John Gatins
  0%     2% bar
Michael Haneke
Image   35% bar   8% bar
Quentin Tarantino
Django Unchained
Image   30% bar   54% bar
Adapted Screenplay   Experts   Users
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Beasts of the Southern Wild
  0%     3% bar
Tony Kushner
Image   28% bar   34% bar
David Magee
Life of Pi
  0%     10% bar
David O. Russell
Silver Linings Playbook
  3% bar   20% bar
Chris Terrio
Image   70% bar   32% bar


While a few experts are convinced that Pixar will triumph once again for Brave, it is fellow Disney release Wreck-It Ralph that has the most support from the pundits. In the animated short category, Paperman is the rare nominee to also receive an overwhelming majority of expert picks in what is usually a less predictable category. A clever black-and-white film set in 1940s New York, the latter is yet another Disney production, and it was the winner at this year's Annie Awards.

Animated Feature   Experts   Users
69 Brave   13% bar   35% bar
74 Frankenweenie   10% bar   16% bar
72 ParaNorman   0%     9% bar
73 The Pirates! Band of Misfits   0%     2% bar
73 Wreck-It Ralph   78% bar   38% bar
Animated Short   Experts   Users
Adam and Dog   12% bar   13% bar
Fresh Guacamole   0%     9% bar
Head over Heels   15% bar   11% bar
Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"   0%     22% bar
Paperman   74% bar   45% bar


The crowd-pleasing Searching for Sugar Man appears to be a lock in the documentary feature category, while experts were divided in the short category, eliminating just one of the five films (interestingly, the one our users preferred) from contention. Of the two receiving the most expert votes, Open Heart follows a group of Rwandan children who require life-saving medical procedures, while Inocente examines a homeless immigrant teenager with dreams of becoming an artist. For what it's worth, note that the experts predicted neither documentary category correctly last year.

Documentary Feature   Experts   Users
78 5 Broken Cameras   0%     6% bar
91 The Gatekeepers   5% bar   11% bar
87 How to Survive a Plague   3% bar   16% bar
75 The Invisible War   5% bar   23% bar
79 Searching for Sugar Man   87% bar   43% bar
Documentary Short Subject   Experts   Users
Inocente   38% bar   17% bar
Kings Point   6% bar   14% bar
Mondays at Racine   12% bar   11% bar
Open Heart   44% bar   25% bar
Redemption   0%     32% bar

Other films

Could such an acclaimed film as Amour, which is already nominated for four other nominations, fail to win in the foreign-langauge category? While that seems unlikely, the Academy does have a history of making odd selections here, and voters often fail to pick the best film of the bunch. Still, all of those other nominations suggest that Academy voters do indeed like Michael Haneke's love story.

Predicting the live action short category is always a dicey proposition. Three of this year's shorts feature young protagonists; one of them, Curfew, stands as the favorite with experts, but don't entirely rule out Buzkashi Boys, which features a pair of young friends in present-day Afghanistan and whose two teen stars will be walking the red carpet on Sunday thanks to a well publicized fundraising campaign to fly them out from Kabul. Metacritic users, meanwhile, gave the edge to the Belgian film Death of a Shadow, a fantasy about a dead soldier given a second chance at life if he can capture the shadows of 10,000 people.

Foreign-Language Film   Experts   Users
94 Amour Austria   98% bar   93% bar
Kon-Tiki Norway   3% bar   1% bar
81 No Chile   0%     2% bar
73 A Royal Affair Denmark   0%     2% bar
War Witch Canada   0%     1% bar
Live-Action Short Film   Experts   Users
Asad   0%     15% bar
Buzkashi Boys   15% bar   16% bar
Curfew   62% bar   25% bar
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)   21% bar   27% bar
Henry   3% bar   17% bar


Adele's "Skyfall" (which she will perform during the ceremony) is a lock to become the first Bond theme in history to win an Oscar, while first-time nominee Mychael Danna, nominated in both music categories, is the favorite to win for his Life of Pi score.

Original Score   Experts   Users
Mychael Danna
Life of Pi
    70% bar   38% bar
Alexandre Desplat
  8% bar   10% bar
Dario Marianelli
Anna Karenina
  3% bar   5% bar
Thomas Newman
  0%     21% bar
John Williams
  19% bar   25% bar
Original Song   Experts   Users
"Before My Time"
from Chasing Ice
  0%     0%  
"Everybody Needs a Best Friend"
from Ted
  3% bar   2% bar
"Pi's Lullaby"
from Life of Pi
  0%     3% bar
from Skyfall
    91% bar   85% bar
from Les Miserables
  6% bar   9% bar

Technical categories

The technical categories appear to be more settled than we are accustomed to, with clear favorites in many of the contests. Sound editing and makeup look to be the most problematic for your Oscar pool, though our users agreed with the experts in both instances.

Cinematography   Experts   Users
Roger Deakins
  18% bar   17% bar
Janusz Kaminski
  3% bar   13% bar
Seamus McGarvey
Anna Karenina
  0%     3% bar
Claudio Miranda
Life of Pi
  79% bar   54% bar
Robert Richardson
Django Unchained
  0%     12% bar
Costume Design   Experts   Users
Anna Karenina   89% bar   32% bar
Les Miserables   8% bar   42% bar
Lincoln   0%     22% bar
Mirror Mirror   3% bar   1% bar
Snow White and the Huntsman   0%     3% bar
Film Editing   Experts   Users
Argo   86% bar   38% bar
Life of Pi   0%     16% bar
Lincoln   0%     9% bar
Silver Linings Playbook   0%     6% bar
Zero Dark Thirty   14% bar   31% bar
Makeup & Hairstyling   Experts   Users
Hitchcock   8% bar   6% bar
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey   51% bar   49% bar
Les Miserables   41% bar   45% bar
Production Design   Experts   Users
Anna Karenina   43% bar   14% bar
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey   0%     23% bar
Les Miserables   27% bar   25% bar
Life of Pi   16% bar   18% bar
Lincoln   14% bar   20% bar
Sound Editing   Experts   Users
Argo   17% bar   12% bar
Django Unchained   3% bar   17% bar
Life of Pi   19% bar   17% bar
Skyfall   22% bar   27% bar
Zero Dark Thirty   39% bar   28% bar
Sound Mixing   Experts   Users
Argo   0%     14% bar
Les Miserables   94% bar   31% bar
Life of Pi   0%     17% bar
Lincoln   0%     6% bar
Skyfall   6% bar   32% bar
Visual Effects   Experts   Users
The Avengers   0%     13% bar
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey   3% bar   18% bar
Life of Pi   97% bar   59% bar
Prometheus   0%     9% bar
Snow White and the Huntsman   0%     1% bar

List of experts

The expert predictions compiled above come from the following sources:

* As reported in Movie City News' Gurus O' Gold column
** As reported at Gold Derby as of February 20, 2013

Comments (2)

  • LamontRaymond  

    I'd love to see Silver Linings Playbook sneak up on the field and take the Best Picture trophy. But I'm so excited that Lincoln is not the front-runner for the big prize. Sure, it's a solid flick, but not best of the year. And Argo? Really exciting movie enjoyed it when I saw it. Never dreamed that it would be a frontrunner for best picture, but it speaks to the quality of films in 2012. Objectively, Zero Dark Thirty deserves to win.

  • rebel6794  


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