Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscar Nominations Predictions

This originally opened with "I'm gonna try to keep this one short." Yeah, that didn't quite work out. Anyway, Oscar nominations are just a few hours away, so I figured I'd put in my two copper Lincolns. So here goes (roughly in order of likelihood):

* = early winner prediction
^ = haven't seen (aka never saw it)

BEST PICTURE
The Artist*
The Descendants
Hugo
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo^
Moneyball
---
Just missing the cut:
War Horse^
Tree of Life
Drive

Comments: I'd love it if Hugo could somehow sneak its way in and snag the statue (it's currently my #4 movie of 2011 -- list forthcoming), but I don't see it happening. I think the top 5 are locks, while it wouldn't surprise me if any of the "just missed" movies slide in ahead of Girl or Moneyball. Those two would seem to have support from more branches though. If there were 10 nominees guaranteed this year, I really think Drive would be there. As it is, that's the movie I'm pulling for most. As far as The Artist perhaps winning, ugh, but whatever. Still better than The King's Speech over The Social Network.

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist*
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life
---
Just missing the cut:
David Fincher - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo^
Steven Spielberg - War Horse^

Comments:  This is a really tough one to handicap. Each of these 7 has a great shot. I could go into all the precursor awards and whatnot, but ZZZZZZZZZZs. I think Payne is actually more vulnerable than Malick, but The Descendants figures to have a ton of nominations across the board and I can't see Payne being ignored. Malick has cultivated quite a legendary presence, maybe even more so than Scorsese or Spielberg, and should get in as a lone director (meaning his film isn't nominated for Picture -- nor should it be, as it was a narrative disaster, albeit a beautiful one). Both Fincher and Spielberg obviously have a great shot, but their films seem to minor in the grand scheme of their careers. That said, I'm perfectly prepared to see one or both of their names when the noms come out. AMPAS rarely splits Picture/Director anymore, hence Hazanavicius's asterisk.

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney - The Descendants*
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Michael Fassbender - Shame
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
---
Just missing the cut:
Michael Shannon - Take Shelter
Demian Bichir - A Better Life^
Leonardo DiCaprio - J. Edgar^

Comments:  This will sound familiar -- the top 3 are locks, after that, who knows. Fassbender should get in for the most daring performance of the year -- you know, a real ballsy bit of acting. I may just be putting Oldman in there as a sentimental favorite, but I think there's more than a decent chance I'm right -- the whole "never been nominated for an Oscar" thing is a real shame and I think a lot of voters will take this chance to rectify that error at the expense of two former nominees (who should be back). I've barely heard of Bichir and his movie, but, you know, all that precursor stuff (and remember Bardem's nomination here last year?). Leo's Globes nomination screamed of the HFPA's "Look! A famous person! Let's nominate them!" antics. Clooney's the frontrunner for now, but if Payne isn't nominated for director, I'll take that as a Descendants backlash and give Pitt the coveted asterisk.

BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis - The Help*
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady^
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn
Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs^
Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo^
---
Just missed the cut:
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin^
 
Comments:  Toughest one yet. I'm about 72% sure I'm wrong about Swinton not making the cut. Precursors, yadda yadda yadda. But she's got a couple things going against her: 1) She's already got a statue (for Michael Clayton), and 2) I haven't seen it, but the movie just looks weird. I'm not sure how many voters will actually have watched it (especially non-actors). I think Mara sneaks in by virtue of the transformative nature of the role -- a lot of voters will have heard/read about the piercings and the tattoos and, of course, the nudity. All that said, I think these are the only 6 contenders (although a WTf? Kristen Wiig nomination would be awesome), and I think Davis is the only real lock -- I could see any of the others missing out for various reasons. Hence her asterisk.

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher Plummer - Beginners*
Albert Brooks - Drive
Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn
Nick Nolte - Warrior^
Jonah Hill - Moneyball 
---
Just missed the cut: 
none -- this 5 seems pretty set
---
Gun to my head WTF? nom:
Patton Oswalt - Young Adult

Comments:  Barring any surprises (Oswalt? Big Vig? Corey Stoll??), this is your Supporting Actor field. I think Plummer is also the surest bet in any major category at this point -- the perfect role for a respected vet. I would like to see Drive get some love, but I also think Plummer was better than Brooks. Branagh was solid in a very weak movie, I haven't seen Warrior yet (although I'm not sure how I missed it with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton... oh wait, now I remember, the trailer sucked -- misleading?), and I really don't get the Jonah Hill thing. He was just kind of... there. Maybe I missed something. I'll have to rewatch it.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer - The Help*
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - something (most likely, The Help)
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Shailene Woodley - The Descendants
---
Just missed the cut:
Jessica Chastain - various things (The Tree of Life, Take Shelter), Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs^, Carey Mulligan - Shame or Drive

Comments:  Another fustercluck of a category. Again, repeat with me now: top 3 locks, after that, who knows. I think McCarthy will get in as the Academy's occasional bone to mainstream comedies (i.e. RDJ for Tropic Thunder). Woodley should be in unless the aforementioned Descendants backlash is a thing. Chastain will be nominated, and deservingly so, but if I had a vote (one day), I'd give it to her work in The Tree of Life -- she was the second best thing in that movie after Lubezki's photography. I haven't seen Albert Nobbs yet, but McTeer has been getting rave reviews -- but can that movie really pull off two major noms? Carey Mulligan is the real dark horse to me -- I'd love to see her name called for either role. Spencer is the presumptive favorite after the Globes win -- but, again, can her movie pull off two major awards?

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris*
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Kristin Wiig, Annie Mumalo - Bridesmaids
Will Reiser - 50/50
Asghar Farhadi - A Separation^
---
Just missed the cut:
Mike Mills - Beginners
Jeff Nichols - Take Shelter
Tom McCarthy, Joe Tiboni - Win Win^
Diablo Cody - Young Adult
Sean Durkin - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Many others

Comments:  Ah, Original Screenplay is easily my favorite category. I am an occasional practitioner of the screenwriting arts (thus far only on the amateur level, but still), and this is the category where the Academy takes the most chances, often nominating some brilliant, under-appreciated work (think In Bruges). All that said, repeat the chant: top 3 locks, after that, who knows. Reiser's true-to-life 50/50 is the exact kind of story voters usually like, while Farhadi's script is my WTF? special (there's always one in this category -- last year, it was Another Year). Obviously, any of the others listed and plenty more (Tree of Life? Shame?) could very well hear their name called. I think Allen edges out The Artist when voters realize, "Wait, did I just vote for a silent movie for a screenplay award? Let me change that..." Also: It has no shot, but I'd like to give a shout out to Bellflower. See it if you haven't.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Steve Cherwin - Moneyball*
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash - The Descendants
John Logan - Hugo
Tate Taylor - The Help
Bridget O'Conner, Peter Straughan - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
---
Just missed the cut:
Steven Zaillian - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo^
Hossein Amini - Drive
Lee Hall, Richard Curtis - War Horse^

Comments:  A curveball (get it??) on the formula -- this time, the top 4 are locks (especially given their likely Best Picture noms -- although Moneyball could get left off). For the fifth spot, I'm doubling down on my Gary Oldman prediction -- plus, the screenwriting duo were husband and wife, and the wife died before the film came out. Sad, and probably the kind of thing that voters will think of when struggling for a final nominee. There could obviously be a left field pick (9/11: The Movie, A Dangerous Method) by a former winner, but this field is a lot more settled than Original. I gave Moneyball the asterisk not only because of the prestigious names, but the whole "baseball movie that isn't really about baseball" is more of an achievement in screenwriting than dead mothers and cloying voiceovers. (Although, again, it must be said that, "Dean Pelton, Oscar winner" has a certain ring to it.)

Short this was not, but I get excited about my awards season. Maybe I'll even get up to watch the announcements (Disclaimer: I say that every year but never do.) I'll sign off with this: Go Drive! It should get a Best Costume Design nomination alone for the scorpion jacket. Thanks for reading.

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