Oscar 2013 Best Picture Nominees: Which Movie Will Win & Which SHOULD Win

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 25th, 2013 at 9:58 am, This is a list post.

Best Picture Oscar nominees 2013The 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony takes place this weekend, capping off the 2013 Oscar race and providing a chance for various films, actors, screenwriters, directors and technical artists to be showered with praise by their peers.2012 was a strong year for cinema, so there's a good chance the Academy will share the love and not heap the majority of awards on a single motion picture, as has occurred every so often in the past (see: Titanic, Return of the King, etc.). Of course, the big question is: Which film is going to walk away crowned the Best Picture of 2012?Every movie has its strengths and flaws, so I've broken down the Best Picture nominees as follows:
  • Why It Should Win (What's good about it)
  • Why It Shouldn't Win (What's not-so-good about it)
  • The Bottom Line (What are its chances?)

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Picture Nominee Beasts of the Southern WildWhy It Should Win: Director Benh Zeitlin and co-writer Lucy Alibar (drawing from her play) weave together modern myth and metaphor in a visually-poetic reverie about the citizens of a mystical bayou. Nine-year old Quvenzhané Wallis debuts as Hushpuppy, giving a spirited performance and serving as the heart and soul for this celebration of the human spirit.Why It Shouldn't Win: Beasts of the Southern Wild, for me, feels like a short film stretched to fill a three-act structure. That weakens the philosophical musings (as presented in Hushpuppy's voice), making the whole thing repetitive and slightly pretentious at times. There's also this issue: does the film inadvertently promote racist stereotypes, with its romanticized portrayal of Southern wild folk?The Bottom Line: Love or hate it, Beasts isn't poised to beat out the competition for Best Picture or any of the categories it's nominated in. Whether or not that's for the wrong reason (ie. Academy members think it's too weird), is up for debate.


Best Picture Oscar nominee AmourWhy It Should Win: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are heart-wrenching as a husband and his wife, who is deteriorating from a stroke. Writer-director Michael Haneke's somber drama leads audiences to comprehend the horrors of that scenario in full, with an unflinching viewing experience that puts your willpower and morals to the test.Why It Shouldn't Win: Haneke's approach is so clinical and distant, it weakens viewers' emotional connection with the events depicted onscreen, making it difficult to feel much of anything. The filmmaker is too often guilty of "navel gazing" while searching for the beauty in the horrific - meaning, Haneke sometimes comes off as more nihilistic in approach than intended (or desired).The Bottom Line: It'll be a surprise if Amour doesn't snag the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Beyond that, though, this isn't a heavyweight contender in other categories.

Life of Pi

Best Picture Oscar nominee Life of PiWhy It Should Win: Yann Martel's acclaimed novel comes to life under Ang Lee's direction, resembling a beautifully-illustrated children's fable transformed into a well-crafted 3D motion picture. Irrfan Khan brings humanity to older Pi, while newcomer Suraj Sharma holds his own against the film's true star: the literal (and metaphorical) tiger on a boat, Richard Parker.Why It Shouldn't Win: The screenplay from David Magee struggles to realize Martel's original writing about spirituality, resulting in a film adaptation that frames the best parts of the story (flashbacks to Pi's experiences) with segments full of ponderous conversations and philosophical revelations that are less profound than intended.The Bottom Line: Life of Pi could follow the example of Martin Scorsese's Hugo, by picking up a handful of technical awards (but without landing any of the top prizes).

Django Unchained

Best Picture Nominee Django UnchainedWhy It Should Win: Quentin Taratino's film reexamines the spaghetti western and origins of Blaxploitation, through a tale about slavery and revenge in the Antebellum South. It transitions smoothly from dark comedy to brutal intensity, drawing from a script that includes memorable dialogue and characters (buoyed by great performances all around).Why It Shouldn't Win: Tarantino occasionally gets wrapped up in his own idiosyncrasies, which includes tangents and humorous asides that distract from storytelling (and weaken the thematic undertones). Django Unchained is less like his genre blends of the past; it's more a straightforward movie where the quirky touches stand out (but not always in a good way).The Bottom Line: Tarantino and Christoph Waltz are strong contenders to win for Original Script and Supporting Actor. Beyond that, though, Django might be going home empty-handed after the ceremony.

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Picture Oscar nominee Silver Linings PlaybookWhy It Should Win: David O. Russell turns Matthew Quick's novel into a semi-farcical love story where the participants are literally crazy. The result is a great film that celebrates blue collar culture (like sports mania) and reclaims art as something meant to inspire, with assistance from the terrific performances by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (and just about everyone else too).Why It Shouldn't Win: The final stretch of Silver Linings Playbook is a bit too predictable, given the raw slice of (dysfunctional) life and dramedy that proceeds it. Russell just doesn't manage to pull off the climax with quite as much energy and confidence as necessary to make the whole thing work perfectly. (There's a "parle bet" joke in there somewhere.)The Bottom Line: Truth be told, Lawrence is the one person involved with this film who stands the best chance of taking home a major award. As far as it winning Best Picture... well, just have a look at THIS POSTER. It explains the situation pretty well.

Les Misérables

Best Picture Oscar Nominee Les MiserablesWhy It Should Win: Director Tom Hooper blends musical fantasy and cinematic realism together, crafting a motion picture event that does justice by the socially-conscious themes of Victor Hugo's novel-turned-Broadway show. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway flex their acting muscles something fierce, while their live-recorded singing becomes a language of its own.Why It Shouldn't Win: Hooper's choice of shots and Danny Cohen's cinematography for Les Misérables have provoked much debate, as the effectiveness tends to vary from scene to scene. Character-wise, there are weak links in the chain - most noticeably Russell Crowe, who can both act and sing, but doesn't prove to be an inspired match for Jackman's protagonist.The Bottom Line: Hathaway could walk away with the gold, while some of the technical artists (costume design, makeup) may end up recognized. However, Hooper being snubbed as director is a sign that his movie won't land the top prize.

Zero Dark Thirty

Best Picture Oscar nominee Zero Dark ThirtyWhy It Should Win: Jessica Chastain anchors the story of America's manhunt for Osama bin Laden with a mannered and nuanced performance, buoyed by confident direction from Kathryn Bigelow. The film examines bureaucracy and morals post-9/11, before transitioning into an impeccably-constructed final set piece (involving the raid of you-know-who's compound).Why It Shouldn't Win: Chastain, as Maya, isn't so much a character as the embodiment of America's obsession with bin Laden after 9/11 (in ways good and bad). Mark Boal's script presents a cut-and-dry picture of events, but sometimes fails to walk that line between being non-partisan and apolitical. That means it's unable to coherently address all the issues it raises about torture, extradition, etc.The Bottom Line: Bigelow and Boal won big for The Hurt Locker, but there's a good chance Zero Dark Thirty will only be recognized for something like editing and/or sound mixing.


Best Picture Oscar nominee LincolnWhy It Should Win: Steven Spielberg's ultimate piece of "Oscar bait" is an eloquent work of political theater, where Daniel Day-Lewis vanishes into the role of the 16th U.S. president (while surrounded by great performances on all sides). It's a beautifully-shot dramatization of Civil War-era political views, giving it relevance and resonance with our modern times.Why It Shouldn't Win: Despite its title, this memoir doesn't closely examine the truth about Honest Abe and, instead, idolizes his good qualities and flaws alike. The political banter and maneuvering occasionally parallels the present-day a bit too well for its own good. Meanwhile, there are story threads that wind on for too long with no real end, while the actual conclusion is overly drawn-out.The Bottom Line: Spielberg has three Oscars already, but will the Academy recognize him for Lincoln anyway? Lewis, by comparison, is on-course to pick up a third golden statuette of his own for Best Actor.


Best Picture Oscar nominee Argo
 Why It Should Win: The Iranian Crisis tale from director Ben Affleck (who also stars) is an entertaining drama-thriller that maintains a high level of intensity throughout. Additional story material examines Hollywood culture and how showbiz folk manipulate the media, inviting thoughtful comparisons to how the CIA and U.S. government use their own power and influence.Why It Shouldn't Win: Chris Terrio's script miscalculates by taking the approach of "Hollywood to the rescue," glorifying that aspect of the story - but also failing to bring much depth or conviction to the political content (or even the important non-American characters). Similarly, Affleck is at the center of the action, but doesn't exactly give himself a captivating role to play with.The Bottom Line: Surprisingly, although Affleck was passed over for a Best Director nod, Argo has a strong chance of walking home with the big prize.

Ben Affleck wins for Argo at the Golden GlobesWhich Best Picture Nominee Will Win: Lincoln may be the ultimate "Oscar bait," but Argo has pushed ahead thanks to its popularity with the Academy - which always appreciates a good movie that's about Hollywood in some regard (see: last year's winner The Artist, for case in point).Which Best Picture Nominee SHOULD Win: Personally, I would like to see Silver Linings Playbook take the big prize. Yes, in part because it's my personal favorite out of the nine picks (and I would argue it's the best film of the lot overall), but also because it defies the stereotype of what Hollywood usually considers a "proper" choice.-Which of the Best Picture nominees do YOU think will win? Which one do you feel SHOULD win? Let us know in the comments section.
TAGS: Amour, argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, django unchained, les miserables, life of pi, lincoln, oscars, the silver lining playbook, zero dark thirty


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  1. Argo or Les Miserables :)

  2. Argo should win but I can see Lincoln or ZDT taking it purely based on the fact that one is about one of the most much-loved Presidents in US history and the other is an “America, **** YEAH!!” movie. Those types usually tend to at least be considered major players.

    Personally, the only one I enjoyed was Life Of Pi but as usual, we can always trust the Academy to hand nominations to goofy choices.

  3. Silver Linings Playbook was my favorite movie from 2012, but I also loved Argo out of the nominees.

    In a perfect world, I’d give Affleck Best Director and Silver Linings Best Picture, but since Oscar effed up and snubbed Affleck in the Directing category, I’ll settle for David O. Russell getting Best Director and Argo taking home the top prize.

  4. Argo is a lock imo it won best film in every other award show. Stuff like the sags get to vote in the academy. SLP was my favorite followed by life of pi the
    Latter will win director imo. SLP mite snag best supporting actor its been so long for dinero and i cant see waltz winning for another tarintino role

  5. The Dark Knight Rises was by far the best movie of 2012. Don’t agree with me? Then go f**k yourself.

    • You give fans a bad image.

    • I changed my user name because of Brian :)

    • It wasn’t even the best superhero movie of 2012 imo.

      • @ Mikey W

        That is EXACTLY right!!

        Good call!!

      • Well said…

    • grow up.

  6. Zero Dark Thirty-crap

    Lincoln-crap, spielberg fell off



    life of pi-boring

    silver linen playbook-i’ll wait for it on HBO

    • *linings

  7. Quentin deserves a best picture after being passed over for Pulp Fiction in ’94, and Basterds and Django have been amazing! Who would’ve thought, 10 years ago, that Ben Affleck would earn a best picture over Spielberg AND Tarantino!

    Argo-f**k yourself! lol

    • Disagree completely tarintino films are far from academy type films. Django is an enjoyable film that is basic and at times pure rediculous like kill bill.

    • I’m glad you agree mate. Tarrentino does deserve it but if history has anything to say a crappy movie like silver lining play book or zero dark thirty will will.
      My opinion.
      Best pic- Argo (half decent movie.. Best pic I’m not too sure but think it will take it)
      Best actor- dan day Lewis (hands down)
      Best actress- Ann Hathaway
      Best screenplay- django unchained
      Best supporting actor- Chris waltz
      ” ” actress- Jennifer Lawrence
      Visual effects- life of pi
      Best score- les miserables

      I just hope Django gets more that I hope as tarrentino deserves it!!

  8. I’ve seen 7 of the 9 films nominated so I have to base my guess off of that but I doubt Amour or Silver Linings Playbook will win regardless.
    At this point I think Argo is the film that will win. It’s won everything else, most importantly the Producers Guild. But you can’t forget that normally a film doesn’t win BP when the director isn’t also nominated so that leaves the door open for Lincoln.
    As for Best Director… I think it’s going to be Ang Lee. He’s an Academy favorite and has turned the quote “unfilmable” book into a pretty great film.

  9. wreck it ralph.

    • Ooh do an article like this for Best Animated! I’d love to hear ScreenRant’s vote in the Brave vs. Wreck-It Ralph debate!

      • If you ask me it’s Paranorman s Wreck-It Ralph.

    • Frankenweenie, Wreck-it Ralph, or ParaNorman should win. Brave will win.

      • I agree. I think if it was just up to people that know about animation, Ralph would take home the gold, but since it’s up to people that may not have seen any of the nominees, or just Brave will always go for the Pixar film.

  10. Sandy, you don’t have me convinced Argo has a strong chance to win. The Artist is really the only movie about movie making I can think of that has won, and while Argo has swept many of the other awards, the Academy does tend to very much have a mind of their own. Plus, it didn’t get a nomination in many of the other major categories, specifically directing and every acting category sans Supporting Actor. I think this is a sign that the Academy big wigs and old farts that make the nominations don’t have much respect for the movie or Affleck, then again, it is the Academy as a whole that make the final decision. I’d love it if you could elaborate on your thoughts about exactly why it has a good chance, and let me throw in a Bonus Question, Would you still think it had a good chance if it did NOT sweep the other awards shows?

    • I’m basing my guess on two things:

      1) I keep hearing from people in the know that Argo is winning favor with a lot of Academy members.

      2) Usually when a very good movie about filmmaking or Hollywood comes along (which doesn’t happen all that often), it tends to pick up awards from just about every organization, like both The Artist and Hugo did last year.

      It’s certainly possible that Lincoln or something like Zero Dark Thirty could swoop in and take Best Picture in the end, but right now it’s looking to me like Argo’s going to take the crown. We’ll find out soon enough if I’m right or wrong, of course.

  11. What I want to win: Les Miserables or Django

    What I think will win: Argo

  12. Just watched ‘Argo’ tonight. It was amazing. Totally surprised that the Academy didn’t give Affleck a nod.
    ‘Argo’, ‘Les Misérables’, ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘Life Of Pi’ were all great films.
    Still need to check out ‘Lincoln’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, and ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ though, but aside from the latter maybe, I doubt I’ll enjoy them as much as the above mentioned four films.

    The funny thing is, people keep saying “film is dead”, but just look at the great movies released last year! From blockbusters to dramatic indie flicks. There were “gems” for everyone.
    IMO 2012 was any cinephile’s dream. If 2013 can give us a fraction of 2012′s quality films, then we’re in for a treat.

    • Don’t waste your time with Zero Dark 30 & Silver Linings Playbook, wait for it on cable.

      • Silver lining playbook is easily the best romantic comedy of the decade. Its so unique give it a watch avenger

  13. Zero Dark Thirty is one of best films of 2012 in my opinion. It SHOULD win, but Argo wii win.

    • I meant to say “will”

  14. @The Avenger 1999 was the best year in movies period, i feel bad for you kids because you have crappy films in your generation. I haven’t been to the movies since ’02.

    • I hope nobody minds but I’m going to take the liberty of speaking for 99.9% of my fellow Ranters and the staff of Screen Rant and say you’re wrong.

    • @Cryo God – so you were a fan of Kevin Spacey jerking off in the shower and that was it…you were done with film after that? I’m kidding ;)

      Yes, 1999 was a year that redefined film-making with the Matrix’s new technological camera styles, The Sixth Sense writing twists, Kubrick’s final film, George Lucas’s homage to the little girl on Full House who annoyingly repeated the phrase “How rude!”, and South Park being nominated for an Oscar.
      But the Avenger is correct about 2012 being a very good year for film. We saw George Lucas’s homage to the little girl on Full House who annoyingly repeated the phrase “How rude!” in 3D (along with 5 other blockbusters being post converted), the first film using 48 fps was released, a movie about a failed film used to save lives was nominated for best film, the first time that a remake of a TV show became an actual funny film, 3 strikes for Taylor Kitsch, James Bond’s 50th anniversary and 23rd film, and a superhero team-up that brought in over a billion dollars. I think 2012 did pretty good for itself.

  15. Avengers for the win

  16. Do not feel “Zero Dark Thirty” should be in the nomination for Best Picture AT ALL. It’s only there because of the subject matter.

  17. I still have not seen Argo, but very much want to, and Silve Linings seems intriguing.

    Of what I have seen, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln were both very good, but not Best Picture good. Life of Pi certainly did have incredible visual effects and imaginative cinematography, but really should be nowhere close to being considered one of the best films overall. The story was far too unrealized.

    • I haven’t seen Argo or SL Playbook but I really want. I guess as soon as they come out

  18. Argo or Zero Dark Thirty

  19. Like you said, the Best picture will be Argo which has been foreseen by the BAFTA awards and has been doing so for the last 5 years unless this cycle gets broken somehow but i dont see it happening. However if ever it does, I would also like Silver Linings Playbook to win it. Its not the usual romantic cliche movie which focuses on more of the drama of loving someone and letting someone else go at the same time. :-)

    • Like you said, the Best picture will be Argo which has been foreseen by the BAFTA awards and has been doing so for the last 5 years unless this cycle gets broken somehow but i dont see it happening. However if ever it does, I would also like Silver Linings Playbook to win it. Its not the usual romantic cliche movie which instead focuses on more of the drama of loving someone and letting someone else go at the same time.

  20. As much as I want some other films to win (Les Mis, Pi, Silver Lining), I think it’s Argo for the taking… there’s always a possibility of unexpected twist though.
    Anyway, for Les Mis I think I’ll be satisfied just with the cast delivering musical tribute on the ceremony

  21. (Out of the nominated movies)List of movies I haven’t seen… Yet : No, Flight, the impossible, the gatekeepers, Anna Karenina, Snow White and the huntsman , mirror mirror all the short documentaries and all the short films and all animated films. For some reason animated movies don’t appeal to me , maybe because I don’t have kids and can’t stand them…

    Life of Pi for best director and best picture and all technical awards including best cinematography and best score
    DDL for best actor
    Emanuelle Riva for best actress
    De Niro or TLJ for best supporting actor
    Hattaway for best supporting actress
    Silver Lining Playbooks for best adapted screenplay
    Amour or Django for best original screenplay
    Searching for sugar man for best documentary
    Head over heels for best short animation
    Pi’s lullaby or skyfall for best song
    Argo wins best editing yet doesn’t win anything else
    Les miserables wins best costume designed and best makeup/hairstylist
    Amour wins best foreign language ( a royal affair was a nice surprise and so was kon-tiki . I watched the latter earlier while i was visiting as much of of Europe as i couldwith no subtitle and I loved it )

    • I haven’t seen the sessions neither

      • I just realized I haven’t seen Hitchcock Prometheus and the Hobbit…

  22. The avengers was fun, it should have been nominated for best adapted screenplay and more technical award
    The dark knight rises and looper didn’t do it for me
    Moonrise kingdom would have been a much better movie if Wes Anderson had given more scenes to the adults especially Murray and mcdormand

  23. Battleship or John Carter from Mars with Taylor Kitsh winning best actor as well. Boom!

  24. I Love Silver Lining Playbook.
    It was also my favorite of the year .
    Sandys Logic for picking Argo is sound though.
    Just look at the last time Spielberg won the Best Director Oscar
    He won for Saving Private Ryan ,and Shakespeare In love, A film about Actors beat him for best Picture .
    That says it all.

  25. Zero Dark Thirty is my pick :)

  26. Les mis

  27. I hope The Hobbit gets nominated and also when the “Man of Steel” hits theatres this summer. We have to see how it gets nominated.

  28. After seeing The Master last night, I now know with certainty that whatever wins Best Picture will be disappointing to me, since the best picture of 2012 isn’t even nominated (seriously, how is PT Anderson not even nominated for Best Original Screenplay?).

  29. How the hell Jim Broadbent not nominated for best supporting actor for cloud atlas ???
    How ?????