Oscar Predictions for 2012
Predicting the 2012 Oscar Race
This is an interesting year for the Oscars. In the Best Picture category, we have a silent movie (The Artist), an experimental/abstract film (The Tree of Life) and a movie starring a horse (War Horse). Any year when you have the likes of Spielberg, Scorsese and Woody Allen competing against each other, you know it’ll be interesting. This year, family films are heavily represented. If you look at the nine nominees, few of them have any adult subject matter or language. This may also be one of those years where the most nominated film (Hugo leads the pack with 11 nominations) comes out empty handed. Let’s take a look at the list…
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
Tree of Life
This is shaping up to be a two-horse race between The Artist and The Descendants, with Hugo running a distant third. While Hugo has the most nominations, it doesn’t have the buzz that the other two have, nor has it won the top spot on other awards shows (Like the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the LA Film Critic’s awards, etc.) so it seems a long shot to win. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was most likely nominated due to the subject matter (9-11) rather than its quality. (Important topics such as the Holocaust or 9-11 will never fail to get a nomination.) The Help had some early buzz but it’s lost its momentum and seems to have gotten lost in the crowd. Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s biggest hit ever but came out far too early in the season (films that are released before October almost never win) and it’s become overshadowed by more recent entries. Moneyball is also lacking buzz, mostly because sports movies don’t generally do that well at Oscar time. War Horse is a real dark horse in the race, suffering from advertising over-exposure and back-lash. Tree of Life never had a chance because it’s far too bizarre, abstract and experimental for most people.
And that brings us back to the Artist and the Descendants. The Artist gets points for originality, being a silent movie in 2011. And retro is in this year (Hugo, the Help, Midnight in Paris), so the Artist seems to be the film to beat. However, two things go against it. Firstly, comedies rarely ever win the big prize. The romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love (1998) was the last one, and before that Annie Hall (1977.) That’s two in 35 years. Not a great average. Secondly, relatively few people have seen the Artist since its mostly in limited release. (It’s been reported recently that many people have walked out on The Artist because they didn’t realize it was a silent film and so demanded their money back.) The academy likes it when lots of people have seen the film they choose. The Descendants also has the advantage of the Best Actor buzz for George Clooney. So its neck-and-neck to the finish line, but I think the superb quality, media buzz and originality of The Artist will edge out the Descendants.
My Pick: The Artist
(Possible spoiler: the Descendants.)
Woody Allen “Midnight in Paris”
Michel Hazanavicius “The Artist”
Terrance Malick “Tree of Life”
Alexander Payne “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese “Hugo”
It’s generally a safe bet to figure that whatever wins best picture will also win best director. That’s what happens about 75%-80% of the time. And the Academy will surely want to reward director Michel Hazanavicius for his daring choice of making a silent film in 2011; Especially one as good as the Artist. Of course, the monkey wrench in the works could be Martin Scorsese who’s racked up a ton of other best director awards this year (The LA Film critics, a Golden Globe, National Board of Review) for Hugo. It’s logical to think that the most nominated film of the year may get at least one major award. It is the best reviewed film of the year. So it’s possible that Hugo may pull off an upset but I still say that the Artist has the momentum and it’ll take both best director and best picture.
My Choice: Michel Hazanavicius for the Artist.
(Possible spoiler: Martin Scorsese for Hugo.)
Demian Bichir “A Better Life”
George Clooney “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin “The Artist”
Gary Oldman “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt “Moneyball”
I think this year the trophy is George Clooney’s to lose. He’s won the Golden Globe and all the buzz is surrounding him. Of course, Jean Dujardin also won a Golden Globe and is excellent in the Artist, but since the Descendants will likely suffer a double defeat in the top two categories, they can’t deny the film again, especially since Clooney has been the odds-on favorite for months.
My choice: George Clooney for The Descendants.
(Possible spoiler: Jean Dujardin for The Artist.)
Glen Close “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis “the Help”
Rooney Mara “the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep “the Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams “My Week with Marilyn”
Common sense would say not to bet against that nomination juggernaut Meryl Streep, who continues to rack up a record number of nominations. Her strong performance in the Iron Lady seems to back up that wisdom. However, although the formidable Ms. Streep is nominated almost every year, she rarely wins the big prize. She got a another Golden Globe this year and I think she’ll have to be content with that because the momentum is all on the side of Michelle Williams who seems poised to join the Oscar Winner Club this year. Viola Davis is also a very strong contender with a good shot at the prize, but the lack of media buzz for The Help will not help her. The academy loves to reward actors/actresses for playing real-life people, which brings us back to Williams and Streep (Playing Marilyn Monroe and Margaret Thatcher) but I think Williams has the edge because she surprised everyone this year with a career-best performance.
My Pick: Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn.
(Possible Spoiler: Meryl Streep for the Iron Lady.)
*Best Supporting Actor:
Kenneth Branagh “My week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte “the Warrior”
Christopher Plummer “the Beginners”
Max Von Sydow “Extremely Loud and Incredibly close”
This is a very strong category with four extremely talented, veteran actors—and Jonah Hill. (What’s wrong with this picture?) Branagh, Nolte, Plummer and Von Sydow are all acting heavyweights and any one of the four could deservedly win, but I think the legendary Mr. Plummer will edge out his rivals due to his performance in Beginners, helped by a second great supporting turn in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also, the academy loves it when straight A-list actors play against type and portray gay men (Milk, Philadelphia) so look for the old pro to add one more jewel to his crown.
My Choice: Christopher Plummer in The Beginners.
(Possible spoiler: Max Von Sydow in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.)
*Best Supporting Actress:
Berenice Bejo “the Artist”
Jessica Chastain “the Help”
Melissa McCarthy “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer “the Help”
The talented cast of The Help is doubly represented here. This is often a bad sign, since people from the same film will split their votes. (Think of Caan, Duvall and Pacino all being nominated for The Godfather and then splitting the vote, so that they all lost to Joel Grey in Cabaret.) That opens the door for Berenice Bejo to ride the coattails of the Artist to a possible win. However, the Help is one of those films with important subject matter and I don’t think it’ll be completely ignored by the Oscar voters. That fact favors Chastain and Spencer, but I think Spencer had the stronger performance and will edge out both her co-star and Bejo.
My Choice: Octavia Spencer for The Help.
(Possible spoiler: Bernice Bejo for The Artist.)
*Best Original Screenplay:
Woody Allen “Midnight in Paris”
JC Chandor “Margin Call”
Asghar Farhadi “A Separation”
Michel Hazanavicius “The Artist”
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo “Bridesmaids”
After many years of mediocre work, the legendary Mr. Allen finally came to the party with a vengeance and wrote one of his cleverest scripts with Midnight in Paris. The film may only appeal to intellectual snobs, but that only makes it more appealing to the academy. The Best Screenplay awards are often given as consolation prizes to films that won’t win anything else they’re nominated for, and since it’s unlikely that Woody will win Best picture or Director, I think he’ll walk away with his first Oscar in many years.
My Choice: Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen.
(Possible spoiler: the Artist by Michel Hazanavicius)
*Best Adapted Screenplay:
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton and Jim Rash “the Descendants”
John Logan “Hugo”
George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willmon “the Ides of March”
Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian “Moneyball”
Bridget O’Conner and Peter Straughn “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
I think this will be another case of a screenplay award being given as a consolation prize. The Descendants was an early favorite before the Artist stole its buzz and I think many people who vote for the Artist as Best Picture may feel sorry for the Descendants, even though Clooney is likely to take home a statue for it, and give it a Best Screenplay win. Of course, Moneyball could also get a consolation prize, too, but I’m betting on the Descendants.
My choice: The Descendants by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton and Jim Rash.
(Possible Spoiler: Moneyball by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian.)
*Best Animated Feature:
“A Cat in Paris"
“Chico and Rita”
“Kung Fu Panda 2”
“Puss in Boots”
Rango is far and away the best animated film of the year and, I think, could justifiably have been nominated for Best Picture. Rango is another film that came out way too early in the year; however, this film is of such incredible quality that I can’t imagine the competition besting it.
My Choice: Rango by a mile. No competition.
*Best original Score:
John Williams “the Adventures of Tintin”
Ludovic Bource “the Artist”
Howard Shore “Hugo”
Alberto Iglesias “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
John Williams “War Horse”
John Williams is a sentimental favorite, being such an icon of cinematic musical compositions. (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman: the Movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to name a few of his best.) However, this year the pro-Williams vote will be split between The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, so I think that will hurt his chances of winning. The momentum of the Artist will fill the gap, because the irony of a silent film winning Best Score is too good to pass up.
Winner: The Artist
Possible Spoiler: Either of John Williams’ scores…Tintin or War horse.
“Man or Muppet?” (the Muppets)
“Real in Rio” (Rio)
Only two choice here , and did anyone actually see Rio? Since The Muppets was a hit, and a sentimental favorite of many, look for it to win.
My Choice: Man or Muppet? (The Muppets)
*Best Visual Effects:
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; part 2”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon”
The incredible Motion-Capture effects from Rise of the Planet of the Apes were ground-breaking.
My choice: Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
(Possible spoiler: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; part 2.)
So there you have it. Those are my picks. You’ve heard my reasoning, so all that’s left is to wait and see what happens on Oscar night.