Home > Musings, Oscars > 2012 Oscars Winner Predictions – Round One

2012 Oscars Winner Predictions – Round One

Well, there’s no turning back now. There’s no more debating to be done on the Academy Award nominees. No more discussion of who’s too young or too old, too white or too black, too new or two powerful, and no more weighing out each person’s clout within their particular groups of peers. The nominations are in, and it’s a whole new ballgame. Some frontrunners have fallen and others still sit at the top. Yet, I fully believe that barely a single category is the same as it was three days ago.

Instead of just highlighting a few select categories and offering my thoughts, I’m going to go through each award, one by one, and discuss how things have shaped up.

See the full list after the jump:

BEST PICTURE

Despite a couple shifts in the power balance a few days ago, this is an award whose frontrunner hasn’t shifted at all. “Hugo” may have beat it out by one to become the nomination leader (and thus the only competition for the award), but “The Artist” has a massive lead. It will take a whole lot to knock it from the top of the ladder. “The Help,” once considered a possible underdog upset, showed up little support, including a lack of the crucial Best Editing nomination. Meanwhile, “The Descendants” has lost this battle in the guilds. “Hugo” is the only film that really holds any kind of chance, but only in theory.
MY PREDICTION: “The Artist”
SPOILER: “Hugo”

BEST DIRECTOR

Nearly as locked up as it has the above award, Best Director will likely go to Michel Hazanavicius, helmer of “The Artist.” Voters seem to be of the opinion that it’s as difficult to direct a silent film, in this day and age, as it is to get one made. Scorsese still has a small chance, but his Globe win, was likely the HFPA just being the HFPA. Hazanavicius’ taking DGA sealed this one up. Personally, I wash my hands of this award. The weakest field of Best Director nominees I’ve seen in years.
MY PREDICTION: Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
SPOILER: Martin Scorsese – “Hugo”

NOTE: There will be a recurring phrase that you will see popping up in the following four categories: “It’s up to the SAGs.” And that’s the cold, hard truth. In the last five years, the Screen Actors Guild has forecasted the acting winners 80% of the time, and that percentage would have been higher if not for the great Winslet category confusion of 2009.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

As much as I really want to go with Pitt in this category, it’s hard to deny the force behind George Clooney this year. There is some sort of magnetism that pulls people in. This really is the type of role that actors like Clooney win for. Pitt still has an outside shot, if voters choose to recognize what IS a career-best performance, as well as Dujardin, who picked up some steam with his Globe win. Yet, if Clooney wins the SAG, that will probably seal the deal.
MY PREDICTION: George Clooney – “The Descendants”
SPOILER: Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

This duel between close friends and former colleagues, Viola Davis and Meryl Streep, will likely remain one of the closest and most exciting this awards season. Reminiscent of the Sean Penn/Mickey Rourke duel of 2008, both contenders have very strong chances. Both women reek of elegance and eloquence. Both of them put on a completely different face for their roles. In the end, I’ll go with Davis. This is all provided that she wins the SAG, tonight, and keeps herself in the race. If not, La Streep may finally receive what she’s had coming to her for thirty years: Oscar #3.
MY PREDICTION: Viola Davis – “The Help”
SPOILER: Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Plummer. That’s all there is to it. It’s been Christopher Plummer’s award to lose since the trailer for “Beginners” came out, featuring the clip in which Plummer asks McGregor about house music. His biggest competition seemed to have been Albert Brooks, who was snubbed for even a nomination. A few pundits are claiming a Max von Sydow surprise is in the cards, on the grounds that the “ELAIC” Best Pic nom shows more support for the actor of identical age and similar appearance. I don’t buy it for a moment. Plummer is locked and loaded.
MY PREDICTION: Christopher Plummer – “Beginners
SPOILER: Max von Sydow – “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

While not quite as sealed as is the other supporting category, Octavia Spencer is definitely the favorite to win, here. While, the reduced amount of support for “The Help” may be cause of some panic, her BFCA and Globe wins keep her a leg above the rest. Bejo is just not known or recognizable enough. Chastain, who will undoubtedly be an Oscar winner within the next five to ten years, will settle for a nomination, here. Perhaps the only real competition is from Melissa McCarthy who is riding a career wave like most people have never seen. Some voters may decide to follow up her Emmy with an Oscar win, as well, for a true scene-stealer of a performance. Once again, it will depend on what happens at the SAG, tonight.
MY PREDICTION: Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
SPOILER: Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Many widely believe that “The Descendants” has this award locked up. Incorrect. Yes, Payne and his writing team took down quite a few critics awards, but another film received just as many, if not more: “Moneyball.” And while it’s true that Sorkin just won last year, I don’t think all the good faith has gone away. “Moneyball” picked up more nominations than “The Descendants” and, unlike said film, it HAS won a major precursor in the Critics Choice Awards. In the end, the winner of the WGA will probably clear this race up. Yet, even if it comes down to a close race and “Moneyball” just eeks out a win, it has more than a handful of scenarios by which it can take this award home.
MY PREDICTION: “Moneyball”
SPOILER: “The Descendants”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Both writing categories are going to be bitter brawls between two candidates. Yet, this is a race that the WGA (which “Midnight in Paris” will win in a heartbeat) will not decide, due to the ineligibility of “The Artist.” It will come down to the big night. This may just get added to the pile of “Artist” victories in the event of a sweep. Plus, there is sure to be a group of voters annoyed by Woody’s utter hatred for the Oscars, along with his refusal to show his face there. All in all, however, I doubt that group is big enough, and Allen will take home his first Oscar since 1986.
MY PREDICTION: “Midnight in Paris”
SPOILER: “The Artist.”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Okay. I will admit that there is an obvious frontrunner in this category. “A Separation” has been unanimously praised by…well…everyone as the best foreign (if not the best overall) film of the year. That is exactly what makes me wary of predicting it to take this award. In previous circumstances, when a clear frontrunner has existed, the Academy has gone the other way and shocked the world. In 2010, they chose the Argentinian crime thriller “The Secret in their Eyes” over Michael Haneke’s heavily favored “White Ribbon.” The year before that, they snubbed the stunning “Waltz with Bashir” for Japan’s “Departures.” Going back two years before that, they voted “The Lives of Others” to upset perhaps the most popular foreign film of the decade, “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Yes, “A Separation” is the favorite, but I would not be shocked, in the least, if we hear Agnieszka Holland’s name announced for “In Darkness,” instead.
MY PREDICTION: “A Separation”
SPOILER: “In Darkness”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

A truly wacky category. Yes, many people are thrilled that the Academy went with some exotic foreign choices over American, money-making, trash sequels (aside from “Kung Fu Panda 2), but let’s be honest. Neither of said foreign titles has a chance. Without “Adventures of Tintin” making it onto the field, essentially being disqualified due to its motion capture usage, “Rango” has this in a wash.
MY PREDICTION: “Rango”
SPOILER: “Puss in Boots”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Prior to Tuesday, every pundit and their mother was predicting “Project Nim” for not only a nomination, but the eventual victory. Now that it’s shockingly been left out in the cold, what will take it’s place is an elusive truth. Based on its level of support on the outside, I would take a guess at “Pina.” Yet, the unorthodox structure or Wim Wenders, as well as the 3D (which burns as many people as it enthralls), may pave the way for something more accessible, relevant and emotional like either “Paradise Lost 3” or “Hell and Back Again.”
MY PREDICTION: “Pina”
SPOILER: “Hell and Back Again” or “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

There seems to be a collective, depressive cynicism that has been forming since Tuesday (and maybe before that) that says Emmanuel Lubezki will not win for “The Tree of Life.” I do not subscribe to that particular ideology. El Chivo’s collected some of the most extraordinary images of his career and is the most awarded cinematographer of the year by about ten to one. He’s been snubbed in the past (most prominently for “Children of Men”), but not this year. Perhaps the only thing that can unhinge him is a complete “Artist” sweep.
MY PREDICTION: “The Tree of Life”
SPOILER: “The Artist”

BEST EDITING

In a perfect world, this award would either go to Christopher Tellefsen’s incredible work on “Moneyball” or Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall would pick up their second consecutive Oscars for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Yet, the world is definitely not perfect, so the award will go to “The Artist” (which looking back, is easy, but still exceptional). “Hugo” might have a shot for historical circumstances, yet, I hope voters will use their good senses to realize that if they want to make the great Thelma Schoonmaker the most awarded editor of all time, don’t give her the crown jewel for a job that she could have (and might have) done in her sleep.
MY PREDICTION: “The Artist”
SPOILER: “Hugo”

BEST ART DIRECTION

This might be one of the strongest locks of the night. Not much of anything can stop “Hugo” and its two-time Oscar-winning pair, Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo. The immensity, grandeur and insane attention to detail will not go unnoticed here. Perhaps the only things that could dethrone them are a, once again, collective mentality to reward “Harry Potter” before it’s too late or, as previously discussed, an all-encompassing sweep for “The Artist.”
MY PREDICTION: “Hugo”
SPOILER: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

I’m going to say “The Artist” is frontrunner here for its lavish, sparkly fare. However, never underestimate “Hugo” and Sandy Powell’s clout. She is a ten time nominee and three time winner, including a victory for her last period trip with Marty (“The Aviator”). Also, don’t count out the Academy’s recent penchant for anything to come out of 18th and 19th centuries, which have won over voters four out of the last five years (“Alice in Wonderland,” “The Young Victoria,” “The Duchess” and “Marie Antoinette”) and would usher in a win for “Jane Eyre.”
MY PREDICTION: “The Artist”
SPOILER: “Hugo” or “Jane Eyre”

BEST SOUND MIXING

This award is a bit conspicuous, this year, due to the mere 2/5 matchup with the Cinema Audio Society. That occurrence has only happened once in the last twenty years. Yet, despite all that, one truth that has remained constant is that the winner of the Sound Mixing Oscar has at least been nominated for the CAS every year that the two have coexisted. That leaves “Moneyball” and “Hugo.” Yikes. Perhaps this is the year that the streak gets broken, but for now, I’ll go with tradition.
MY PREDICTION: “Hugo”
SPOILER: “War Horse”

BEST SOUND EDITING

Where the CAS dropped the ball, the Motion Picture Sound Editors hit this one on the mark. All of the five nominees were highly honored with the MPSE, so it comes down to intuition. I think that this just might be “Transformers” year, if we actually based this award on both quantity and quality. However, I have a feeling that since this is the only category that “Drive” found a nomination in, its die-hard supporters might rally their full strength and steal the award away.
MY PREDICTION: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
SPOILER: “Drive”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

I’m still calling “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” at the top of this category. Yet, when there’s no frontrunner (which isn’t very often), this category has a tendency be get a little nuts. “Transformers” may sneak out a win, it being the final chapter of a previously unrewarded franchise. Same goes for “Harry Potter.” Voters may even respond to the overly extravagant 3D work of “Hugo.” I’d say only “Real Steel” lacks a shot at the gold.
MY PREDICTION: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
SPOILER: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2”

BEST MAKEUP

Without a Best Picture nominee in the category, and many people scratching their heads as to why “Albert Nobbs” is even here, the race is down between “The Iron Lady” and “Harry Potter.” The realism and quality put into the aging effects of the former will probably win out, but the Potter nostalgics may want to award the film on its last time out for its really quite admirable work on Voldemort and company. A race closer than people think, but still “The Iron Lady”‘s to lose.
WILL WIN: “The Iron Lady”
SPOILER: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Despite the whole Kim Novak-“Vertigo”-gaffe, “The Artist” has been taking victories for Best Original Score all year long. Plus, in a film with no dialogue and a few sporadic sound effects, the music usually becomes a standout, and the voters will notice. Since John Williams has once again canceled out his vote with two films, the only main competition is “Hugo.”
WILL WIN: “The Artist”
SPOILER: “Hugo”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

There is simply no predicting this award. How can you make a conscious effort to predict an award that the Academy itself obviously doesn’t give a crap about? Absolute toss up, but we’ll go with “The Muppets,” since the song and film are more memorable.
WILL WIN: “Man or Muppet?” from “The Muppets”
SPOILER: “Real in Rio” from “Rio”

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  1. TR
    January 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

    “a separation” should win the Oscar for sure

    • January 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      I’m seeing it, this afternoon. Pretty excited.

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