Friday, February 24, 2012

Obligatory Oscar Predictions - 2012

I have not seen, nor do I have any plans to see, The Artist. I feel like I need to get that out on the table up front. Most years I make it my duty to see all of the important award contenders before the Oscars roll around and I usually fulfill that duty. This year, though, I shot 8-for-9 and I just can’t bring myself to complete the list. I am not vehemently set against The Artist nor do I expect it to be a bad film (though I believe it’s a film that I wouldn’t appreciate the way many other critics and bloggers do). There’s just nothing interesting about The Artist for me; I cannot conjure up the desire to see a black and white, silent film and since I’ve never been big on catching up on the classic black and white, silent films of the early years of cinema, it would seem a bit disingenuous to get excited about a modern version. And I must confess, the entire concept seems too gimmicky, too cute for my tastes. It would be fine if The Artist was just a nice, quality, independent film that people enjoyed and then went about their business; but the best film of the year? That’s just too much for me.

I say all that to say this: I expect The Artist to come away with a U-HAUL full of awards on Sunday. I can accept that if those of you who are adamant supporters of the film can accept that I will be quietly rooting for the many other worthy nominees in this year’s field. With that in mind, I give you my predictions for Sunday’s show, along with the requisite expressions of opinion that make movie blogging so glorious.

(Please note that, along with The Artist, I have missed out on the following important films: A Separation; Margin Call; A Better Life; Take Shelter; Martha Mary May Marlene; and virtually every film involving the Best Actress nominees.)

Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicus, The Artist
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
JC Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asgnar Farhadi, A Separation

Winner: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Should Win: Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Should Have Been Nominated: Will Reiser, 50/50

I expect The Artist to take home a ton of awards on the night and I’ve come to grips with this. But if a SILENT film manages to win a Best Screenplay award…I might just lose it. Midnight is the best film Woody Allen has made in many years and since it’s all but out of the running for Best Picture and Best Director, I think it gets the consolation prize. Bridesmaids, meanwhile, is a genre-redefining film that packs both easy laughs and intelligent hilarity together. If the Academy, in all its collective wisdom, would have consulted with me during the voting period, I would have told them that it was literally insane not to include 50/50 on this list and that its omission would be an embarrassment. Alas, no one ever asked my opinion.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, Nat Faxon, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian, Moneyball
Peter Straughan and Bridget O'Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Winner: Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, Nat Faxon, The Descendants
Should Win: Peter Straughan and Bridget O'Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Should Have Been Nominated: Tate Taylor, The Help (I guess)

For the record, I think the Academy nailed it in this category. Outside of Ides of March, which I was thoroughly underwhelmed by on every level, the nominees are spot on. This is basically a two-horse race between Moneyball and The Descendants and it will likely come down to the wire, so to speak. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with Moneyball as others were but having read the book and seen the movie, I can tell you Sorkin and Zaillian did an excellent job of creating a cinematic story out of non-cinematic source material. That said, I think The Descendants is a better film overall and it has been building steady speed since the nominations were announced. Personally I think TTSS is written with exquisite precision and would receive my vote were I given one, with The Descendants following close behind

Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Winner: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should Have Been Nominated: Albert Brooks, Drive

This is the only absolute in the field this year. Plummer is such a (deserving) lock that right now Vegas won’t even place odds on the rest of the field. If someone strapped a bomb to my chest and forced me to bet on another contestant in order to safe my life, I would put the money on Max Von Sydow and then get right with God. In all honestly, Plummer’s greatest competition would have come in the form of Brooks who was completely and totally screwed out of his rightful place among the nominees. I think Brooks handled this (at least publicly) better than many fans, including myself.

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Winner: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Should Win: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Should Have Been Nominated: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Vegas hasn’t set odds in this category either but it’s not quite the lock that Plummer’s win is. Spencer is a thoroughly deserving nominee and I always, ALWAYS love to see a long-time character actor pick up a major award (case in point: Margo Martindale’s Emmy award for her work in Justified last year). That said, I don’t think her performance is nearly as integral to The Help as Viola Davis’ is. McCarthy, on the other hand, is the driving force behind Bridesmaids (at least when considering the on-screen talent; the writing is pretty spectacular). I was very disappointed that Woodley didn’t score a nod for her work in The Descendants. I’ve said this many times already but there are many great actors who have shriveled in the shadow that George Clooney casts on set; Woodley went toe-to-toe with Clooney and stole numerous scenes from a legend. That type of work deserves attention.

Best Actor
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Demian Bechir, A Better Life

Winner: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Should Win: Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Should Have Been Nominated: Ryan Gosling, Drive and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50

This is probably the tightest race at this point. Dujardin is the favorite but there’s some suggestion out there that Clooney will be rewarded for playing a more vulnerable character than we’re used to seeing from him. Likewise, Pitt gave a very likeable portrayal in a pseudo-biopic (always an Academy favorite) and while Oldman is definitely the long-shot of the four, his performance was MASTERFUL and there has to be a handful of voters who want to make sure the guy gets the award when they have the chance. (Poor Demian Bechir is just lucky to be here.) And I won’t waste any more time complaining about Gosling’s TREMENDOUS performance in Drive being all-but shut out in this year’s Award Season but I would be remiss if I didn’t take one last opportunity to say: Absolute bull. That is all.

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Viola Davis, The Help
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Winner: Viola Davis, The Help
Should Win: Viola Davis, The Help
Should Have Been Nominated: Kristin Wiig, Bridesmaids

As is almost always the case, I saw very few outstanding performances by a “female in a leading role” last year. Hollywood as a whole is in a bad rut right now wherein the best female performances are consistently relegated to unappealing and underwhelming films that most moviegoers avoid. Obviously that’s a real shame. That said Davis’ turn in The Help is one of the very best performances by a leading lady that I have seen in many, many years. She is strong, powerful, beautiful, and compelling throughout and (no offense to Meryl who I’m sure was great in yet another movie of hers I will never see) it would be a serious mistake to not to reward her magnificent work here.

Best Director
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicus, The Artist
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Terrence Malick, Tree of Life

Winner: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Should Win: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Should Have Been Nominated: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive

I’m going with an upset here; I think most Oscar prognosticators will peg Hazanavicus as the winner. I’m taking a leap of faith, however, that Hollywood will recognize a film about the movie industry in some way or another and this seems to be the most likely category. I feel like I’ve been the champion for Hugo of late so obviously I’d love to see it win. Aside from Hazanavicus, Payne also has a decent shot at winning, though I think The Descendants is considered more of a writer’s film than a director’s. And while I can’t say there’s a film among these five that definitely doesn’t deserve its place on the list, I truly believe Refn should have found a spot here considering he made what I consider to be the best film of the year.

Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Winner: The Artist
Should Win: The Descendants
Should Have Been Nominated: Drive, 50/50

It seems inevitable that The Artist will be taking home the big prize on Sunday. I wouldn’t call it a lock but it is close enough. The Descendants is the only film that has a chance to knock it off and I have to say, I’m rooting hard for its success. Again, it’s not that I’m diametrically opposed to The Artist; it’s just that, from a somewhat selfish standpoint, I think 2011 was a great year for film and when I look back on it, I don’t want it to be marred by awarding Best Picture to a film that will not hold up well over time. I still don’t understand how Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close scored a nomination, a feat even harder to fathom given that Drive, 50/50, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, all vastly superior films, were shut out. Regardless, this is The Artist’s trophy to lose and I expect it will come through.


  1. No desire to see The Artist! Brian! I am quite surprised at that. LOL.

    I do remain hopeful for Gary Oldman and Viola Davis the most I think in those tight races.

    I like your predictions and can't argue with your reasons. Except I will say I've been hearing some pretty stellar things about Demian Bechir's performance.

  2. I would love to see The Descendants win Best Picture, but, like you, I think The Artist will clean up. Clooney's performance was my favorite of the year, but I haven't seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy yet.

    I'm rooting for The Descendants, Clooney, Payne, Allen (for screenplay) and Scorsese.

  3. @FF, I would trade an Artist sweep in every other category if Hollywood would give Oldman the Best Actor trophy, haha. I rented A Better Life tonight, hoping to get to it before the Oscars on Sunday.

    @Steven, loved Clooney's work on Descendants. But of course, he's always incredible. Thanks for the comment!


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