2012 Oscar Predictions

This is the first year I think I have actually seen all of the films that are contenders or have actors competing in all of the major categories. I had to go back and rent A Better Life as I was surprised to see it's lead actor Demian Bichir recieve a best actor nomination over Michael Fassbender for his fearless portrayal of a sex addict in Shame. There were several surprises and many disappointments within this years nominees but I believe that with how the academy has picked their nominations we can narrow down who the winner will be in each repective category.

First things first, is anyone else upset Harry Potter didn't recieve any love? Oh well, though I was glad to see Terrance Malick and his extremely ambitious and personal Tree of Life recieve nominations for best picture and best director, I was upset by the fact The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its director David Fincher were completely skipped in these categories. Fincher has been making great, envelope-pushing films for years and should have taken both the directing and picture categories with last years The Social Network, but here's hoping he will get his due sooner than later. It only makes me angrier that films like Albert Nobbs and War Horse who were critically divided recieved several nominations while Drive (which was the best film of the year in my opinion) couldn't even get a best supporting actor nom for Albert Brooks only getting one for Best Score.

Other surprises included The Adventures of Tintin not recieving a best animated feature award (though it got its due at the Globes) as well as Tilda Swinton not recieving a best actress nomination for We Need to Talk About Kevin and Bridesmaids only getting one acting nomination for Melissa McCarthy (thank God) though I was pulling for Wiig to get a best actress nom and hoping the film might even make the Best Picture category. Another widely debated film was Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and despite it only recieving two major nods I thought they were well deserved as I was fully invested in the film. Never will everyone be happy though and so with that, here are my picks for who will win and who should win...

Best Picture

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

Despite "The Artist" not being my favortite film from last year I understand why the Academy is so in love with it. I enjoyed it myself very much and think it was a great idea, a loving valentine to cinema. Do I think there are other contenders like "Midnight in Paris", "The Descendants", "Hugo", "Moneyball", and "The Tree of Life" or even films that weren't nominated like "Bridesmaids", "50/50" and especially "Drive" that carried more weight and would win any other year? Yes absolutely, these are all great films. Last year I was upset with the Academy for not allowing itself to recognize a film that was all about the culture and world we live in now when they gave the best picture award to "The King's Speech" rather than "The Social Network"  but "The Artist" is significant and stands out for what it has brought to the art of making movies and love for the reason these kinds of awards shows even exist. For that it deserves the highest honor this year.

What Will Win: The Artist
What Should Win: The Artist

Best Supporting Actor

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

Though I thought "Beginners" was a lovely film with good performances all around, I actually found Ewan McGregor's lead role more complex and deserving of the recognition Christopher Plummer is getting for his turn as an elderly cancer patient who comes out of the closet after his wife dies. It is a brave performance, no doubt, but I think if there was one supporting role in a film that really changed the rest of the movie this year it was Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close". All of the other nominees are fully deserving of these honors and I probably enjoyed "Moneyball", "Warrior" and "My Week with Marilyn" more than the two front runners films, but if there was one aspect of "EL&IC" it was Sydow's turn as a mysterious mute who aids our protagonist in his journey.

Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer
Who Should Win: Max von Sydow



Best Supporting Actress


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

Don't get me wrong, I loved Octavia Spencer as the sassy Minny. She stole every scene she appeared in, that was until we met Jessica Chastain's Celia Foote. Chastain has had an incredible year with both "The Help" and "The Tree of Life" being nominated for best picture and her underrated turns in both "The Debt" and "Take Shelter". Chastain completely embraced the character of Celia and infused the movie with a real sense of transcendent emotion. We could see ourselves in Celia's position and we related most to her. I am glad Spencer won the Golden Globe and she will likely take the Oscar as well, but it would be a pleasant surprise to see Chastain get awarded for her incredible work here as well as in several other features this year.

Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer 
Who Should Win: Jessica Chastain

Best Actress

Glenn 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

Meryl Streep even felt bad that she took the Best Actress award at the Golden Globes last month. As good as her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is, this award is destined for Viola Davis. We all knew she was a force to be reckoned with after her supporting nod a few years ago for "Doubt" but with "The Help" Mrs. Davis has cemented her status as one of our greatest actresses. The Academy will no doubt give her the gold this year, and deservedly so, allowing "The Help" to sweep all of the best actress categories.

Who Will Win: Viola Davis 
Who Should Win: Viola Davis

Best Actor

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

Many people have Clooney and "The Artist's" Jean Dujardin in a head to head race for this award, but I think this will ultimately end up going to Clooney. The Academy loves him and "The Descendants" is a great film. If "The Artist" is going to take best picture and therefore director, they have to at least acknowledge Clooney's turn as a confused father, husband and lawyer searching for real meaning to life after the loss of his wife. Clooney will get it, but in all honesty I don't think anyone deserves it more than Brad Pitt. "Moneyball" is a great, great movie and will be overlooked in pretty much every category, but what makes the film work so well, its heart, is Pitt as Billy Beane. He is a wonder to watch on screen, fully inhabiting every aspect of this man in his present and what has made him the way he is. Pitt has given countless performances that have deserved Academy Awards and this is his pinnacle. He deserves to take one home for "Moneyball".

Who Will Win: George Clooney
Who Should Win: Brad Pitt


Best Director

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

Many people will disagree with me on this one, but "The Tree of Life" is a film unlike any other. Both in its artistic aspirations and storytelling ambition. Director Terrence Malick has crafted a gorgeous and touching film and while the Academy generally gives the best director prize to that of the Best Picture winner I don't think it would be a bad thing to recognize the difference in the presence of a film and the craftmanship with which one is made. "The Artist" has so many elements that have made it so loved, and Michel Hazanavicius is of course a huge factor in this, but every aspect of "The Tree of Life" was up to Malick and he has accomplished a manifesto-like film. This mysterious director should be pulled from reclusion to accept a Best Director award.

Who Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Who Should Win:Terrence Malick


Best Adapted Screenplay

The Descendants, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Hugo, John Logan
The Ides of March, George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball, Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridget O’ Connor and Peter Straughan

I say the academy will gives this to "Hugo" as it leads the pack with this years most nominations but won't take home any from the major categories. While I have neither read Brian Selznick's "The Adventures of Hugo Cabret" or "Moneyball" simply hearing the long, and sometimes bleak road it took for "Moneyball" to make it to the screen and how the book, in no way, made itself easy to translate into a cinematic piece of art stands out for the job well done that the writers did. While "Hugo" was adapted by John Logan (Rango, Gladiator, and not to mention the upcoming Lincoln and Skyfall) and was a wonderful film that gave Scorsese an opportunity to tell a new kind of story it was likely more a less stressful endeavor than that Steve Zaillian (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) had in trying to translate Michael Lewis's book to the big screen. Both are wonderfully executed films, but if we are looking at the writing I'd like to put my money on "Moneyball".

What Will Win: Hugo
What Should Win: Moneyball

Best Original Screenplay

The Artist, Michael Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
Margin Call, J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
A Separation, Asghar Farhadi

This is absolutely no competition. While I would have liked to have seen "Bridesmaids" score some kind of recognition and while the surprise nomination of "A Separation" in this category worries me a little as it is a brilliantly written and subtle film, I can think of no better time I had at the movies this year than watching Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris". The story is a piece out of everyone's hearts and fulfills a fantasy so many people have. To watch a version of ourselves in Owen Wilson's Gil Pender get all giddy as he meets his idols from the 1920's infuses us as an audience with real excitement; genuine excitement over the film we are watching. I absolutely loved this film and though it isn't a heavy enough hitter to find its self vying for a bigger title, the category of Original Screenplay belongs to the romantics.

What Will Win: Midnight in Paris
What Should Win: Midnight in Paris

Best Animated Feature

A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

Can I just say that while I loved the adventure that Tintin took me on, it could not touch the originality that "Rango" brought to the screen earlier in the year. I found "Rango" so interestingly original I was delighted how much I enjoyed it. When "Tintin" took the statue for Best Animated Feature at the Globes I was more shocked than when Meryl beat Viola, but that is only to say the Globes were giving Spielberg a little something for his great effort and saving the real prize for the true winner. As the Academy did not even recognize "Tintin" with a nomination the award will surely be going home in the right hands on the 26th when "Rango" claims its spot as the true Best Animated film of the year.

What Will Win: Rango
What Should Win: Rango