AP writers pick 'Argo' for Oscar best picture
FILE - This publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows John Goodman, left, Alan Arkin, center, and actor-director Ben Affleck in a scene from "Argo." The film has dominated the awards picture with wins at the Golden Globes and ceremonies held by the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild of America. "Argo" now is poised to do what only four movies have managed before at the Oscars: win best picture without a nomination for its director. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Claire Folger, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Surprises and snubs on nominations day held the promise of an unpredictable Academy Awards night. But things have settled into the usual predictability, with clear favorites emerging in key categories.
Associated Press movie writers Christy Lemire and David Germain prefer to disagree, but they're in harmony on the top prizes for Sunday's show. Here are their picks, with Lemire sounding off on best picture, actor and supporting actress and Germain offering their take on director, actress and supporting actor.
Nominees: "Amour," ''Argo," ''Beasts of the Southern Wild," ''Django Unchained," ''Les Miserables," ''Life of Pi," ''Lincoln," ''Silver Linings Playbook."
LEMIRE: The road to the top prize at the Academy Awards is a long haul full of ups and downs, front-runners and underdogs, and it's been especially eventful this year. Back in November, Steven Spielberg's stately "Lincoln" looked like the safe bet. Then the gripping "Zero Dark Thirty" figured into the mix. Then when Oscar nominations were announced, and the quirky romance "Silver Linings Playbook" received seven including one for best picture, it looked like a contender. Accusations of inaccuracy plagued some of these films and eventually were shot down, adding further drama.
Which brings us to "Argo," whose makers have acknowledged since that they tweaked some details in depicting the daring rescue of six American embassy workers during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Ben Affleck's film steadily and deservedly has been racking up key prizes leading to the big night and has unstoppable momentum. That Affleck weirdly didn't receive a director nomination for the film, which I (and many other critics) named the year's best, won't matter; as a producer, he'll walk away with a trophy Sunday night anyway. Plus "Argo" is a sure thing because it seamlessly blends Hollywood satire with thrilling action, and this industry loves to honor itself for teasing itself.
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Steven Spielberg, nominated for directing and best picture for "Lincoln," arrives at the 85th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif. "Lincoln" leads the field with 12 Academy Awards nominations, including one for director Steven Spielberg. The 85th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 24. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
Nominees: Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"; Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."
GERMAIN: We'll never know what might have happened if not for the surprise directing snubs that included Ben Affleck for "Argo" and Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty."