Thursday morning, while celebrities are pretending to be humble and asleep, Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane will announce the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards. There will be your usual suspects, your "Lincolns," your "Lives of Pi," and your "Zero Dark Who Knows How Many," but that's not what we're interested in.
We're looking forward to the shockers, the movies we love that don't get nearly enough credit at the end-of-the-year awards shows. This year, there are a handful of films that could sneak into the race, and even though they won't be favored to win, the recognition alone would make the six-hour ceremony a little more digestible.
These are our dark horses for the 85th Academy Awards:
If you've seen Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his own book, you know exactly what we're talking about and can reasonably skip to the next entry. If you haven't, talk to anyone who has seen this tale of high school and the perils of freshman year, and they'll tell you what you're missing. The sheer sweetness and honesty latent in the script and performances of "Perks," in a just world, would easily put both Chbosky and Ezra Miller on Academy voters' radar, but alas, we have to wish for an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Thanks for the crumb.
The annual "Too Good for Best Picture" prize this year will likely go to Rian Johnson and his mind-meltingly original time travel flick, "Looper." The movie, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Bruce Willis and Bruce Willis as himself, could very likely pick up a Best Original Screenplay nomination, especially after the WGA rightfully gave a nod to Johnson, but the genre elements and the fact that "Looper" is "exciting," "different," and "actually good" could keep Academy voters away.
Yeah, we get it. It's a movie about male strippers. But it's also the year's best movie about male strippers. Though we'd like to see more representation from Steven Soderbergh's latest elsewhere — there's a category that honors onstage humping, right? — we're holding out hope for a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Matthew McConaughey to cap off a banner year for the underappreciated dude thespian.
The next two entries will likely score a host of nominations in other categories, but our dreams for them are more Best Picture-specific.
Quentin Tarantino's second historical revenge fantasy in all honesty should receive an amount of Academy love equal to his first foray back in time, "Inglourious Basterds." "Django Unchained" attempted the same feat, righting a historical wrong, in a more complex and controversial time period with outrageously entertaining results. Tarantino deserves more than a throw-away Screenplay nomination. Give it to him.
Best Song, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), and Best Supporting Actress (Dame Judi Dench, fingers crossed) nominations would all be rightfully earned, but on the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the only appropriate gift is gold. Lots of it. The Academy has 10 Best Picture nominations to give out, and when a half-century old, 23-film-deep movie franchise mounts perhaps its best entry to date, the least they can do is throw the old dog a bone.
Will "Lincoln" win the Oscar war, or will "Les Miserables" rule the night? Stick with MTV News to find out, as we've got everything you need to know about the 2013 Oscars! Stick with us as we bring you non-stop coverage until the big night on February 24, when the 85th annual Academy Awards goes live from Los Angeles.