Monday, January 23, 2012

Predicting the Oscar Nominees

The Oscar race may technically last until the end of February, but nomination day pretty much signals the end to 90% of the suspense surrounding the eventual Oscar winners. Tomorrow is the biggie, and here are my (occasionally foolhardy) guesses as to who/what will make the cut:

Best Picture

"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"The Help"
"Midnight in Paris"
"War Horse"

Alternates (if there are ten): “The Tree of Life”; “The Ides of March”; “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

The untested new balloting system for Best Picture makes predicting a little more uncertain, but one would think that the passionate ‘best’ cries would see at least these seven films make it. I’m not buying that popular titles “Bridesmaids,” “Drive,” and “A Separation” are anything more than fringe-dwellers in this race, and I’m not ready to replace the dwindling “War Horse” with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The guild-surging David Fincher film, as well as being a remake, is far too pulpy a genre pic for Academy tastes. They rarely deviate from the norm when selecting Best Picture candidates, and I doubt that the number of nominees will be high enough to see it included ahead of safer,more traditional options.

Best Director

Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

Alternates: Tate Taylor, "The Help"; David Fincher, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”; Steven Spielberg, “War Horse”

I’m chickening out of predicting Taylor for a nomination since it seems so absurd he’d be included ahead of major, major directors like Allen, Fincher, and Spielberg. Having said that, I think his film will prove more popular with the Academy than the films helmed by those other three men. Somehow, after all of these Oscar seasons, I haven’t yet given up on the unique quality of accomplishments being recognised on sheer merit alone, and therefore I think that Terrence Malick will score a lone director nod for the artistry of his divisive “The Tree of Life.”

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Tilda Swinton, "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

Alternates: Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”; Charlize Theron, “Young Adult”

Mara is probably closer to ousting Glenn Close than anyone seems to be admitting, given her consistency throughout the precursors, but AMPAS will likely turn out to reward an Oscar comeback for Glenn, after nearly 25 years.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Leonardo Di Caprio, “J. Edgar”
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

Alternates: Michael Fassbender, “Shame”; Demian Bichir, “A Better Life”; Michael Shannon, “Take Shelter”

I don’t think that “Shame” is going to float Oscar’s boat, and that might allow for Gary Oldman, who has been gaining career honours, and whose film appears as if it might be buoyed by guild and BAFTA love, to sneak in above the critically-championed Michael Fassbender. But then Leo isn’t safe either. Exciting?

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Vanessa Redgrave, "Coriolanus"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

Alternates: Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs”; Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”; Carey Mulligan, “Shame”

Again, I’m hoping that the performance will win out. The three women listed here as alternates all have detractors to do with their films. “Coriolanus” may be heavy going, but it at least has the prestige that the others don’t.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
Albert Brooks, "Drive"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Ben Kingsley, "Hugo"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

Alternates: Nick Nolte, “Warrior”; Brad Pitt, “The Tree of Life”; Armie Hammer, “J.Edgar”

As soon as I watched “Hugo” it seemed a cinch to me that Kingsley would be nominated for this sympathetic, key role as cinema’s original auteur. There hasn’t been quite the wave of reaction some anticipated, but this category is still fractured and open after Globe and SAG went their separate ways.

Best Original Screenplay

"The Artist"
"Midnight in Paris"
“Win Win”

Alternates: “Margin Call”; “Young Adult”; “A Separation”; “Beginners”

Best Adapted Screenplay

"The Descendants"
"The Help"
"The Ides of March"

Alternates: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”; “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Best Original Score

“The Adventures of Tintin”
“The Artist”
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
“War Horse”

Best Original Song

“Albert Nobbs”
“The Help”
“Machine Gun Preacher"
“The Muppets”
“The Muppets”

Best Documentary Feature

“If a Tree Falls”
“Project Nim”
“Semper Fi: Always Faithful”
“We Were Here”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Footnote” (Israel)
“In Darkness” (Poland)
“Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)
“Omar Killed Me" (Morocco)
“A Separation” (Iran)

Best Animated Feature

“The Adventures of Tintin”
“Cars 2”
“Chico & Rita”
“Puss In Boots”

Best Art Direction

"The Artist"
"Captain America: The First Avenger"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II"
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Best Costume Design

“The Artist”
“The Help”
“Jane Eyre”
“My Week With Marilyn”

Best Make Up

“The Artist”
“Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”
"The Iron Lady"

Best Cinematography

"The Artist"
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
"The Tree of Life"
"War Horse"

Best Film Editing

"The Artist"
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
"War Horse"

Best Visual Effects

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
“The Tree of Life”

Best Sound Mixing

“The Adventures of Tintin”
“The Artist”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Best Sound Editing

“The Adventures of Tintin”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

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