Friday, January 20, 2012

Oscar 2012: Nominations Predictions

For all of the campaigning, money and crystal-ball gazing, Oscar nominations predictions still seems to be an ineffective science. Anyone who’s been watching the precursor awards or at least keeping up understand that an alchemy of popularity, critical consensus and campaigning will somehow land a performer, writer, director or film a nod for the big prize. No one will truly know who gets nominated except for the Academy’s accounting team.

Without further ado, here are my predictions for who receives Oscar nominations in major categories. Keep in mind that these are by no means slam-dunk nods and we could be completely surprised. I threw out the playbook a couple of times when I thought Cold Mountain and About Schmidt would both float in on waves of nods (oops) and underestimated the popularity of Seabiscuit and The Pianist, respectively, in those years. I’m also listing one or two alternates per category, and including mentions in “should be here” to denote personal favourites that I don’t think have a shot at getting into the big dance (which I will call the “wishful thinking” category).

Best Picture: 

Mara for Best Actress? Possibly.
The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, War Horse

Alternates: Drive, The Ides of March

Should be here: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Tree of Life, Melancholia

I have to state that this is a bit of an asterisk, as the Academy will nominate somewhere from 5 to 10 films this year for Best Picture. The exact number is unknown, so I’m going with a middle of the road approach and predict 8 slots. This could be as little as 5 or as many as 10 this year!

Best Director: 
A bride, but not a Bridesmaid: Lars von Trier's Melancholia 

David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Martin Scorsese (Hugo), Steven Spielberg (War Horse)

Alternate: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)

Should be here: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Lars von Trier (Melancholia)

Malick’s film has won over critics groups, and he can’t be ignored entirely. However, his being snubbed by even the Directors Guild of America does not bode well.

Best Actor: 

George Clooney (The Descendants), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Alternate: Woody Harrelson (Rampart)

Should be here: Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris)

I am going waaaaaay out on a limb here for Harrelson, but for those of you who think he’s still Woody Boyd from Cheers, may I remind you he’s been nominated twice for an Oscar before, including once in this category? Otherwise, I think this is a solid bunch, and I doubt that DiCaprio’s excellent work in the otherwise undistinguished J. Edgar can make it.

Wishful thinking: Alan Rickman
Best Actress: 

Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Alternate: Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Should be here: Kirsten Dunst or Charlotte Gainsbourg for Melancholia, Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)

There’s plenty of competition for these five slots this year. At one point Olsen, Dunst and even Charlize Theron of Young Adult entered the conversation. If Dragon Tattoo sweeps into the nominations, look for Mara to displace Close, who should be receiving a second (if not single consolation) nod in Original Song.

Won't you nominate Hemingway
(Corey Stoll)?
Best Supporting Actor: 

Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn), Albert Brooks (Drive), Jonah Hill (Moneyball), Nick Nolte (Warrior), Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Alternate: Armie Hammer (J. Edgar)

Should be here: Alan Rickman (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris), Seth Rogen (Take This Waltz)

The vulnerable fifth slot goes to Nolte in the little-seen Warrior vs. Hammer in the reviled J. Edgar, but either has a solid shot at the slot. Rickman has never been nominated and Stoll is a revelation, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on either or both getting in. Again: wishful thinking. And Take This Waltz is a film festival favourite but didn't qualify for the Oscars this year. Maybe next year?

Best Supporting Actress: 

Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Jessica Chastain (The Help), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)

Alternate: Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)

Should be here: Carey Mulligan (Shame)

Chastain could have populated this category entirely on her own given her other supporting performances this year in The Tree of Life, Texas Killing Field, Coriolanus and Take Shelter. Mulligan received a surprise BAFTA nomination for Drive, but I don’t see that performance translating here for the showier Shame. The one on the verge is Woodley.

No guts, no glory: A Separation for Best Screenplay?
Best Original Screenplay: 

50/50, The Artist, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, A Separation

Alternate: Win-Win

Should be here: Circumstance, Abel

I’ve been speculating that the twists and turns will get the script for A Separation nominated, and I’m sticking by it in a no-guts-no-glory call.

Best Adapted Screenplay: 

The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo, Moneyball

Alternate: The Ides of March

Should be here: Jane Eyre, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Tate Taylor’s like for The Help should make up for him not getting a director nod. If Ides gets Clooney a writing nomination, you know he’s the lock for Best Actor because he’s that popular.

Did I miss your favourite? Will the Academy miss yours? Tune in tomorrow for the nominations.