Who We Predicted to Win the 2013 Oscars

By  · Published on February 23rd, 2013

Welcome back to Hollywood’s Prom Night, everyone. In a little over 24 hours, hundreds of the movie industry’s shining stars will take awkward photographs by a fireplace at their mother’s behest, cram themselves into a rented limousine without crushing their corsages and emerge at the Under The Sea Dance we all know as The Oscars.

Last year, the Film School Rejects team went 11 for 12 in predicting who would win (and yet Nate Silver’s the famous one?), and this year we wanted to stretch our ambition a bit. We took on 18 of the 24 categories in our award-worthy (yet strangely not recognized) Oscar Prediction Series. We also made one up and asked for help from two domesticated animals named “Oscar.”

I’m telling you. We went all out. It’s time to see if all the research and analysis paid off. Here’s who we picked to win the 2013 Oscars with our full analysis pieces linked within.

Would you take us up on these bets?


Beasts of the Southern Wild

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty


Les Miserables

Life of Pi


Django Unchained

Argo— All the indicators are pointing to an Argo win, and it’s got momentum on its side. While Lincolnwas the clear frontrunner a month ago, Argo has broken ahead of the pack. The strongest indicator for an Oscar win for this film is the numerous major awards it has won over the past few weeks, including the Golden Globe, the Critics Choice Award and most recently the Producer’s Guild. Plus, all the betting sites are giving it the best odds by a mile going into Oscar week. – Kevin Carr


Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

Joaquin Phoenix – The Master

Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln— Because he’s Daniel Day-Freaking-Lewis. Because he is one of the most respected actors of our time. Because he played Abraham Lincoln historically accurately rather than apocryphally. Because he led a 2 1/2-hour movie by telling stories and giving speeches and still managed to make it compelling. Because it was his first time working with Steven Spielberg. Because he killed vampires, or at least he could have. Because his tears can cure cancer. Because he is a wizard. And did I mention he’s Daniel Day-Lewis? – Kevin Carr

Denzel Washington – Flight

Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables


Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook— Silver Linings Playbook is beloved by most who see it… not by me, however. Though I am in the minority – Silver Linings Playbook is just the feel-good drama that the Academy likes and was designed to please the masses. Even I can’t deny that it was extremely impressive to see Miss Lawrence win over Robert De Niro in a screaming match – she out-toughed Travis Bickle! Lawrence plays Tiffany with a maturity well beyond her years and is able to create a character that would have been one-note in the hands of a lesser actress. Lawrence’s performance has also been getting buzz since the film debuted at this past Toronto Film Festival, so it’s fairly safe to assume that a lot of the voters might have made the effort to see the film. Like Chastain, she also won the Golden Globe for Best Actress (Comedy), so the face-off continues! – Caitlin Hughes

Naomi Watts – The Impossible

Emmanuelle Riva – Amou


Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master

Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook— He’s got a dang good chance of winning because he’s one of the biggest acting legends of all time, but the stuff he’s been doing in recent years has all been pretty crappy. This is the first time the Academy has had an excuse to parade young Vito Corleone and Travis Bickle around in a long time, so chances are they’re going to take it. De Niro’s work in the movie really was quite good too. He took a character who could have come off as one-note or cartoony and made him resonate. – Nathan Adams

Alan Arkin – Argo

Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln


Sally Field – Lincoln

Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables— There is no “might” here. The award is hers to pick up. If you don’t recall, everyone went bananas over her work in the movie. Even the film’s harshest critics spoke highly of her performance. If you can overcome Tom Hooper‘s literally in-your-face approach to Les Mis, then you deserve all the awards available. – Jack Giroux

Jacki Weaver – The Silver Linings Playbook

Helen Hunt – The Sessions

Amy Adams – The Master




Wreck-It Ralph— For one thing, it won the Annie Award. It might be the industry favorite, giving it strength in the Academy where there wasn’t in the HFPA. Disney is also a force to be reckoned with, even if they have another horse in the race with Frankenweenie. And, anecdotally, Wreck-It Ralph supporters are among the most passionate, which is often enough to give a movie the edge. – Daniel Walber


The Pirates! Band of Misfits


David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

Michael Haneke – Amour

Ang Lee – Life of Pi

Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Steven Spielberg – Lincoln — Expectations for the film were high for the obvious reason that he was directing, but Spielberg surprised viewers by delivering a film that focused on arguably the president’s finest achievement instead of being a more typical biopic of Lincoln’s life story. With Daniel Day-Lewis’ celebrated performance at its core the movie brings history alive through words and the promise that government can in fact get things right sometimes. – Rob Hunter

Adapted Screenplay

Chris Terrio – Argo

Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

David Magee – Life of Pi

Tony Kushner – Lincoln— Kushner is a dramatist of high regard, having won the Pulitzer Prize for Angels in America. It makes sense, then, that character and dialogue-driven material is his strong suit. Lincoln will almost certainly take home a few statues for its performances, but it’s Kushner’s dialogue that these brilliant performances rest on, and he’s why Lincoln is the best film Spielberg has made in over a decade. – Landon Palmer

David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

Original Screenplay

Mark Gatins, Flight

Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty— As naive as this sounds, Zero Dark Thirty is likely to win based on actual merit. Boal’s script is just such an impressive piece of screenwriting. It’s almost strictly procedural and is necessarily heavy on exposition, but it somehow manages to keep you engaged all the way through. Despite being fairly long, it’s paced expertly enough that it propels you through its story without the process ever feeling protracted. It somehow pulls off a third act that completely shoves its protagonist to the side, and still maintains your emotional involvement. Zero Dark Thirty is at the same time a script that succeeds due to by-the-book storytelling techniques as well as one that pulls off a huge risk. And it’s hard not to be impressed by how meticulously researched it was. – Nathan Adams

Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Michael Haneke, Amour

Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom

Best Foreign Language Film

Amour, Austria — The path seems clear to victory for a drama that finds the traditionally emotionless director tackling a powerful and lasting love between a husband and wife. Its five total Oscar nominations, four more than each of its competitors, are also a pretty good indicator. – Rob Hunter

Kon-Tiki, Norway

No, Chile

A Royal Affair, Denmark

The War Witch, Canada

Production Design

Sarah Greenwood (Production Design); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration) – Anna Karenina

Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration) – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Eve Stewart (Production Design); Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Decoration) – Les Miserables

David Gropman (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) – Life of Pi — I’s this year’s Hugo. It’s a technical, 3D marvel by a widely respected Oscar-winning director that probably won’t win Best Picture. It could, however, easily pick up a number of awards along the way. – Daniel Walber

Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration) – Lincoln

Achievement in Cinematography

Seamus McGarvey – Anna Karenina

Robert Richardson – Django Unchained

Claudio Miranda – Life of Pi

Janusz Kaminski – Lincoln

Roger Deakins – Skyfall— If Deakins had won any of the awards he deserved at this point, his nomination for Skyfall would simply be a routine recognition of regularly exceptional work. But Deakins is nearing pre-2006 Scorsese territory, having never won an Oscar despite the fact that he shot gorgeous films like The Assassination of Jesse James, No Country for Old Men, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and set the gold standard for color correction with O Brother, Where Art Thou? After nine nominations and zero wins, it’s time for the man to receive his legacy prize. – Landon Palmer

Achievement in Costume Design

Jacqueline Durran – Anna Karenina

Paco Delgado – Les Miserables

Joanna Johnston – Lincoln

Eiko Ishioka – Mirror Mirror

Colleen Atwood – Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Documentary Feature

Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi – 5 Broken Cameras

The Gatekeepers

How to Survive a Plague

The Invisible War

Searching for Sugar Man— Simply put, it’s been winning everything. It just picked up the BAFTA, it won the Critics’ Choice, it won the PGA. It’s practically unstoppable at this point. –Daniel Walber

Best Documentary Short Subject


Kings Point

Mondays at Racine

Open Heart— Because it’s so similar to last year’s winner but it involves children, and who doesn’t root for the saving of children? Kids being rescued also appeared in 2011 winner Strangers No More, and a child who similarly gets to travel afar to be given free, live-changing surgery was the subject of 2009 winner Smile Pinki. So, there’s a history that this short fits into. Meanwhile, it’s got the most stunning cinematography of the nominees, including some amazing footage of open heart surgery being performed. Also, there’s more to this story than the kids in need and the doctors with aid, as Davidson also shows us some of the international bureaucracy involved, which is both an intriguing and a frustrating side of the otherwise simple focus on a good cause. – Christopher Campbell


Achievement in Film Editing

William Goldenberg – Argo— Beyond the stellar work here and the high profile of the film (not to mention the mathematics), Goldenberg has now earned his third and fourth nominations without a win. Granted, his work on The Insider was bested by The Matrix, and his work on Seabiscuit was beaten by Return of the King, so he’s in good company even without a statue. With Argo, his skill is at the top of his game, and he’s already been recognized by BAFTA (beating himself there as well) and by the American Cinema Editors. With those in his pocket, it’s almost a sure thing that he’ll hear his name called during the ceremony. – Scott Beggs

Tim Squyres – Life of Pi

Michael Kahn – Lincoln

Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers – Silver Linings Playbook

Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg – Zero Dark Thirty

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel – Hitchcock

Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell – Les Miserables

Best Original Score

Dario Marianelli – Anna Karenina

Alexandre Desplat – Argo

Mychael Danna – Life of PiThis is Danna’s first nomination and the Academy has a history of awarding first-timers. The fact that “Pi’s Lullaby” was also nominated Best Original Song indicates that voters liked what they heard, on both an individual level and as a whole when it came to the film’s music. Plus the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Original Score is usually a good indicator of who will win here (and Danna has already taken home that win.) — Allison Loring

John Williams – Lincoln

Thomas Newman – Skyfall

Best Original Song

“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice

“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted

“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi

“Skyfall” from Skyfall— Because Adele should win all the awards. Kidding. (Sort of.) “Skyfall” certainly harkened back to the original Bond films, but it also brought it crashing into the present day with commanding instrumentation and Adele’s powerful vocals, a voice that seemed born to sing a Bond theme. – Allison Loring

“Suddenly” from Les Miserables

Best Animated Short Film

Adam and Dog

Fresh Guacamole

Head Over Heels

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”


Best Live Action Short Film


Buzkashi Boys


Death of a Shadow


Achievement in Sound Editing

Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn – Argo

Wylie Stateman – Django Unchained

Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton – Life of Pi

Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers – Skyfall

Paul N.J. Ottosson – Zero Dark Thirty

Achievement in Sound Mixing

John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia – Argo

Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes – Les Miserables

Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin – Life of Pi

Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins – Lincoln

Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson – Skyfall

Achievement in Visual Effects

Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott – Life of Pi— It has the right balance needed to appeal to Academy voters. It’s spectacle enough to take your breath away and ask yourself whether or not the effect is an effect or the real thing. And the film caries with it enough artistic pedigree to feel like a real Oscar kind of movie. Voters get to vote for something cool, but also something respectable. Also being the only film in this category nominated for Best Picture doesn’t hurt, either. – Neil Miller

Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick – The Avengers

Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill – Prometheus

Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson – Snow White and the Huntsman

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.