It's that time of year again, folks. The 84th Academy Awards are set to go down this Sunday. While I don't know if I'm crazy or awesome for continuing to care about who wins these things, and while I feel less prepared than ever before to talk about who will and should win in each of the major categories, I nevertheless bring you, once again, my hopes and predictions for this year's ceremony. (Jesus, this must be the first time I've made the Oscar prediction entry before I've even done up my top-10 movies of the year list!) Amid all the traditional Billy Crystal-style hilarity and the absurdly glamourous people mulling about, here's what I think and hope will go down starting at 8:30 pm my time on Sunday (as for you other times... figure it out). A W will appear beside the nominee that I think will win in each of the following categories, and an S will appear beside the one I think should win. (Obviously, an SW will appear if me and the Academy will likely agree, which would be SWeet.) Let's get rolling...
The Artist W
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
should have been nominated: Melancholia, Bridesmaids (shut up, I liked it a lot), and/or Drive
I don't know why there are only nine nominees this year rather than ten, and I don't know how the hell some of these things got in there (especially Extremely Loud, etc., although I shouldn't pick on that one too hard because I haven't seen it... but could it really be better than Melancholia? Really?) So I haven't seen that one, nor Midnight in Paris (although that will be shortly corrected), nor War Horse, but among the others I have seen, it's a ludicrously close call between The Artist and Hugo, oddly similar (and similarly emotional and wonderful and charming) ruminations on film history that are both gorgeous and make clever use of different technologies (3-D in Hugo's case; black-and-white and silence in The Artist's) and that also prove riveting stories in their own right. I have a feeling the buzz is behind The Artist but I personally liked Hugo just a teensy bit more. Either way, an utterly magical and transporting film is going to end up winning the night.
The Artist - Michael Hazanavicius W
The Descendants - Alexander Payne
Hugo - Martin Scorsese S
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick
should have been nominated: Lars von Trier (Melancholia)
Pretty much my same reasoning as above applies here. The Academy will likely honour Hazanavicius while I slightly prefer Martin Scorsese's work on Hugo. I almost want to throw Terrence Malick a bone here, as The Tree of Life was certainly the most-directed thing I saw all year, and has certainly grown on me since my lukewarm initial reception to it. It's a unique effort only a guy like Malick could pull off, but ultimately I have to go with my heart, which Scorsese captured this year with uncommon skill.
Demian Bichir - A Better Life
George Clooney - The Descendants W
Jean Dujardin - The Artist S
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
should have been nominated: Brad Pitt (for The Tree of Life), Ryan Gosling (either for Crazy, Stupid, Love. or Drive), Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method)
I haven't seen A Better Life, but sweet Jesus, were all the other nominees fantastic! I have no doubt that Demian Bichir was, too! So yeah... tough category. Honestly, if Brad Pitt were nominated for The Tree of Life rather than Moneyball, he would have my vote, since that was probably the best male performance I saw from anyone last year. But then, he was just swell in Moneyball, too. Gary Oldman was gripping in what I recall from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (don't ask). Jean Dujardin was pure suave charm in The Artist, effortlessly alternating between levity and despair. George Clooney was... well, excellent as always in The Descendants. Damn. The more I think on it, I think Dujardin was the best of this bunch, given that he had the added hurdle of having to act sans dialogue and he still knocked it out of the park. However, he might just be too new on the scene for Oscar to take proper notice. More likely: a George Clooney win for his admittedly wonderful work on The Descendants. Basically, however this turns out, I'll be pleased as punch.
Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis - The Help W
Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo S
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn
should have been nominated: Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) - like, seriously, I'm really upset over this one -, Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life)... is that one a lead performance?
So, darn, I've seen two of these - The Help and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - so... sorry, ladies. I'm giving you short shrift compared with the guys. I swear I'm not a sexist jerk, as I did bear witness to some phenomenal female performances this year... unfortunately, the Academy is dumb and didn't nominate any of them. Sigh. Between the two I've seen, I thought Rooney Mara was an absolute revelation and kept me riveted for the entire two-and-a-half-plus hours of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and delivered one of the most interesting characters in many a moon. Of course, I loved Viola Davis and really the entire cast of The Help, too. I feel like Viola Davis has the buzz behind her (and she was in the sort of movie the Academy goes in for way more than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to boot), so she will definitely come out on top. But Mara was just way too astonishing for me to not pick as my personal favourite. (Did I mention this was a lame category?)
Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Nick Nolte - Warrior
Christopher Plummer - Beginners W
Max von Sydow - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
S = ?
should have been nominated: Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March), Albert Brooks (Drive), someone in something I've seen
So I'm going to be even more of an asshole in this category. I've seen precisely one of these: Moneyball. So, um, go Jonah Hill! (The dude was pretty tremendous in that movie, don't get me wrong. I just feel like I have no frame of reference here.) I really wanted to see Beginners before Sunday but, alas! 'Twas not to be. I really am not sure who is going to win this, but I suspect it will be either of the two gracefully aging thespians, Christopher Plummer in Beginners or Max von Sydow from Extremely Long Title. My friends in the know say Plummer was extraordinary, so I feel like the Academy will throw him a bone. As for who should win, I'm actually abstaining from this one. Sorry, guys.
Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer - The Help SW
should have been nominated: No giant oversights spring to mind here; maybe Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)... hmm... good category, I guess.
OK, well, I feel better with this category, as the only one I haven't seen is McTeer in Albert Nobbs. The rest were all pretty excellent, and all quite funny in their way. I'm glad comedic (or at least semi-comedic) turns have gotten due recognition ths year. Bejo was a vibrant charmer, Chastain was hilarious yet deeply empathetic as a clueless housewife in The Help, McCarthy's antics in Bridesmaids had me in fits of laughter throughout the movie, and Spencer was just a sassy yet serious joy to behold. Another close-call category, but I think the gusto with which Spencer infused her role will win over the Academy just a little bit more than any of the others' efforts. It certainly won me over, too.
Best Original Screenplay
The Artist - Michael Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids - Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo S
Margin Call - J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen W
A Separation - Asghar Farhadi
should have been nominated: Melancholia, possibly Crazy, Stupid, Love., Super 8... Young Adult if I want to get really broad
I wish I could have seen Margin Call, Midnight in Paris, and A Separation in a timely fashion but what can you do? Of the ones I've seen, Bridesmaids was almost incredibly well-written. I actually can't believe how observant and sharp and witty and warm and wise that movie was. Many of the same things can be said about The Artist, but that's a hard screenplay to judge because of the lack of dialogue; Bridesmaids' dialogue, on the other hand, was a piquant, surprising joy to behold unfurling. It's a close call for me, but, perhaps surprisingly, I'm rooting for the latter. Midnight in Paris might have some of that shrewd charm as well, and indeed, way more of the prestige factor that the Academy loves than Bridesmaids has, so that one will likely pull ahead on Sunday.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants - Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo - John Logan
The Ides of March - George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball - screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; story by Stan Chervin SW
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
should have been nominated: 50/50, The Muppets (because I liked it and it should be nominated for something and why not this?)
Decent round-up. Really decent round-up. I love Hugo incessantly, but I think the screenplay might be the weakest link in its chain of glory... on paper, it seems a bit messy. The Ides of March was crisply done stuff but a bit out-matched here; same with Tinker Tailor.... That leaves Moneyball and The Descendants. Very close call. I think the Sorkin factor will put Moneyball over the edge for the Academy, and I feel like Moneyball's writing and dialogue was for sure the best, meatiest part of the movie. Of course, The Descendants was a warm, smart, bitter, witty, funny, tragic balancing act from the always remarkable brain of Alexander Payne, joined by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (the Dean on Community, dontcha know?). It really could go either way. But I'll stick with my gut and put my money on Moneyball.
That'll do for my extensive predictions. As for the other minor categories of interest, I'm rooting for Rango for Best Animated Feature in a surprisingly (but appropriately, given the awfulness of Cars 2) Pixar-less year and I feel like the Academy will agree, although I liked Kung Fu Panda 2 a lot too, and I've heard great things about Chico & Rita. The Tree of Life should take the cake for Cinematography since it was maybe one of the best examples of that ever, let alone last year. Hugo should and probably will take a lot of the other technical categories. Finally, "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets is the clear winner for Best Original Song.
Happy Oscar-ing, everybody!