Dec 28, 2011

Oscar Predictions: December

With a majority of the precursor nominations now behind us, we have a clearer image of how the Oscar race will pan out. There are some potential nominees whom I’d assumed had faded but are back in the race. Then there are films and individuals who just cemented their status. And, of course, there are some who just failed to make any impact.

Best Picture
1. The Artist
2. Hugo
3. The Descendants
4. The Help
5. War Horse
6. Midnight in Paris
7. Moneyball
8. Tree of Life
Potential Additions
9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I’ve predicted eight nominees though Tree of Life missed on both Globe and SAG nominations. I have a hunch that the film’s fervent supporters will help it slide in probably even ahead of Midnight in Paris or Moneyball but I don’t know how many of them there is in the academy. Furthermore, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has received an extremely quiet and incredibly tepid reaction response from the critics. That didn’t stop The Reader from getting a nomination but holocaust and 9/11 are incomparable properties when it comes to the Oscar race. Finally, Drive has done well with the critics, which makes me wonder if more people will put it at their number one spot ahead of the likes Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Best Director
1. Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
2. Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
3. Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
4. Terrence Malick (Tree of Life)
5. Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)

The top three are set. The directors’ branch will get behind Malick’s grand vision, leading me to think that the fifth spot will a battle between the other two veteran American masters. Refn has been embraced by the critics but I don’t think academy members will put him on their ballots ahead of his more well-known competitors. Daldry, who has been nominated for a 100% of his films so far, will probably have to suffer a blow to his perfect record this year.

Acting, technical and foreign categories after the jump:

Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn. She won the lion's share of the critics' awards.

Best Actress
1. Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
2. Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
3. Viola Davis (The Help)
4. Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk about Kevin)
5. Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Tilda Swinton has managed quite a few awards and nominations this year but I’m still not sure if she’ll be in. Glenn Close missed out on the critics’ prizes but the industry welcomed her. The film’s lukewarm reception is her only obstacle. Sadly, Elizabeth Olsen doesn’t look like a nominee anymore which really upsets me. The academy welcomes a new starlet almost every year and very few of them give performances as strong as Olsen’s.

Best Actor
1. George Clooney (The Descendants)
2. Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
3. Jean DuJardin (The Artist)
4. Michael Fassbender (Shame)
5. Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar)
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

I’m still hoping BAFTA can fuel Oldman’s vehicle. His terrific performance doesn’t make my personal top five but I sure hope he gets his overdue first nomination. Demian Bichir’s SAG nomination might be a hint at his potential but my theory is that if any unknown actor can break through the wall of major stars this year, his film has to be as popular as The Artist. Bichir’s is not. Meanwhile, DiCaprio, who I had written off after the J. Edgar was met with derision, has seemingly never left the race. He was nominated for all the industry awards proving what we all should have known after Invictus: Never mind the quality of the film, just show up on the set of any Eastwood biopic and you can still get yourself an Oscar nomination.

Best Supporting Actress
1. Berenic Bejo (The Artist)
2. Octavia Spencer (The Help)
3. Jessica Chastain (The Help)
4. Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
5. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus)

I didn’t predict Chastain in any of the previous months’ editions, thinking that votes would be spread too thin over all her films and she’ll miss out altogether. The industry seems to have rallied behind The Help (the right choice!) and she’s probably in for a nomination. In a just world, she would get another nod for Take Shelter as well but I’m sure she’ll be happy with just one in her debut year. Meanwhile, Vanessa Redgrave couldn’t get on the shortlist anywhere so she’ll need everyone to watch their screeners of Coriolanus before it’s too late. I really hope her nomination doesn't come at the expense of Woodley though since I think she's the only thing in The Descendants worth watching.

Shailene Woodley in The Descendants

Best Supporting Actor
1. Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
2. Albert Brooks (Drive)
3. Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
4. Nick Nolte (Warrior)
5. Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Perhaps the most volatile of the acting categories and at the same time, the only one with a clear front-runner. It will come down to the top two men for the win, so the other three should probably be happy with a nomination. Armie Hammer (J. Edgar) and Patton Oswalt (Young Adult) still look like possible contenders too.

Best Original Screenplay
1. Midnight in Paris
2. The Artist
3. 50/50
4. Margin Call
5. Win Win
Young Adult

I’m still hoping that the LAFCA screenplay win for A Separation is repeated at the Oscars. The writers’ branch has done stranger things that nominating the year’s most acclaimed foreign film but aside from LAFCA and another organization across the pond, Farhadi’s film has been demoted to the ghetto foreign category.

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. The Descendants
2. Moneyball
3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
4. Hugo
5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
War Horse

The dullest of all races. The Descendants will win this easily and it will be an awfully uninspired win. I’ll continue to hope there’s an upset a la Up in the Air.

Le Havre, one of the best foreign films of the year
Best Foreign Language Film
1. In Darkness (Poland)
2. A Separation (Iran)
3. Le Havre (Finland)
4. Footnote (Israel)
5. Declaration of War (France)
Where do we go now? (Lebanon)

Rumours are A Separation’s screening didn’t go that well with the voting body but I think the executive committee will come to the film’s help. It will be a real shame if it fails to get a nod and I suspect if that happens, it will be upsetting enough to cause another rule change in the voting process.

Not much has changed in the technical categories. I’m sticking to my gut feeling that Mission: Impossible might be rewarded with a nod in editing. Meanwhile, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy did feel a little too chilly but its design work (both for art direction and costume design) is wholly deserving of nominations.

Best Cinematography
1. The Artist
2. Tree of Life
3. Hugo
4. War Horse
5. Moneyball

Best Art Direction
1. Hugo
2. The Artist
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
4. Tinker Tailor Soldier spy
5. Tree of Life
War Horse

Best Film Editing
1. The Artist
2. Hugo
3. War Horse
4. Moneyball
5. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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