Sunday, February 26, 2012

My 2012 Oscar predictions

Tonight, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the 84th Annual Academy Awards. For what it's worth, here are my predictions.

Complete nominations for the 84th Academy Awards

[UPDATE: I got 18 of the 24 categories right which is respectable. I was very pleased to be wrong about Best Actress (won by Meryl Streep) and Foreign Language Film (won by A Separation) as I went with my head and not my heart on those predictions.]

Best Picture
Will win: The Artist
Should win: The Artist
In spite of all the griping, The Artist will win easily and will be a very worthy winner. It's an extremely accomplished work that approaches perfection. It could hardly be improved – certainly not by its noisiest detractors who didn't get it and casually dismissed it as light. In spite of people saying it was a weak year, many of the nominees were on my personal top ten list or runners-up. I didn't even hate Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close although I get why some (especially New Yorkers) despise it. The only one I think doesn't belong is The Help but even then I understand why some people admire it.

Best Actor
Will win: Jean Dujardin
Should win: anyone
This is a very strong field with five equally credible possibilities. It appears to be a tight race with Clooney and Dujardin out in front. Although he lost at the César Awards, Dujardin has won many others and looks to be out in front slightly, perhaps also aided by the stronger general love for The Artist or perhaps because Clooney already has an Oscar so some voters will want to give someone else a break.

Best Supporting Actor
Will win: Christopher Plummer
Should win: Christopher Plummer
Usually, this is a stronger category but the only other truly worthy candidate is Nick Nolte. Kenneth Branagh was very good but not really much like Laurence Olivier. Jonah Hill and Max von Sydow hardly had anything to do in their respective roles.

Best Actress
Will win: Viola Davis
Should win: Meryl Streep
Even though she didn't play a lead role, Viola Davis will win from a combination of white guilt, respect for her career and tiredness of Meryl Streep. Michelle Williams is a worthy contender but doesn't doesn't have much hope. Even though Streep is the greatest actress of her generation, people take her for granted. They often don't realize how good she is because she always makes it look so easy – you could easily imagine her playing anyone else's part if she were the right age, colour and size, but you couldn't do the reverse and see others tossing off so many diverse roles the way she has. So although Streep has set the record for nominations with seventeen, she hasn't won in three decades and loses even to actresses like Sandra Bullock. That's a travesty.

Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Octavia Spencer
Should win: Bérénice Bejo or Janet McTeer
Usually this is a strong field but like the Supporting Actor category, this year seems a bit off. It's highly questionable whether Bérénice Bejo is a supporting actress but she did a stand-out job. So too did Janet McTeer who manages to upstage Glenn Close.

Best Animated Feature
Will win: Rango
I haven't seen all of the nominees but Rango seems to have the most buzz going in.

Art Direction
Will win: Hugo
All of the nominees had strong Art Direction that served the story precisely as it was meant to. However, Hugo was perhaps the flashiest and Dante Ferretti is the most well-known of the group and that is enough of an edge.

Will win: The Tree of Life
As with Art Direction, these are all good choices. I think it comes does to a race between The Tree of Life and The Artist and it's a tough call. I would give The Tree of Life the edge just because many people don't realize how difficult black-and-white filming is, and also because people are easily impressed by nature cinematography and don't realize how easy it can be.

Costume Design
Will win: The Artist
All of the nominees are period costume dramas which are usual contenders for this category. That being the case, I think that The Artist will benefit again here because of the overall love for the movie itself.

Will win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Should win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
While all of the directors are strong and accomplished, Hazanavicius did something unique and hit it out of the park. Terrence Malick has his fans but he gets away with a lot that would not be tolerated with anyone else. He shot tons and tons of material and spent well over a year with five different editors to come up with something that either incredibly profound or a dog's breakfast (or both). He makes interesting, even great films but I wouldn't call him the Best Director.

Documentary (Feature)
Will win: Undefeated
Should win: Pina
The Academy instituted new rules as to how the Documentary nominees and winners are chosen but those don't come into effect until next year. So for now, it's still the old retirees who have the time to attend the scheduled Academy screenings that can vote and not the younger, busier members. Pina will be too esoteric for them while the others are perhaps too journalistic. Undefeated is a rousing feel-good story. The only thing it has going against it though is the black content which often has often worked against films like The Interrupters.

Documentary (Short)
Will win: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
This is a wild guess, since the documentary shorts didn't screen as part of the nominated short film theatrical run. But I saw The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom at the Toronto International Film Festival where it premiered during the Doc Conference and thought it excellent.

Film Editing
Will win: The Artist
All of the choices are well-edited. But most people – even in the industry – don't really notice editing unless it's bad. So they will likely just give this to the film they like most.

Foreign Language Film
Will win: In Darkness
Should win: A Separation
I loved A Separation and it was my favourite movie of the year. But the rules for voting for Foreign Language (and the short films) are similar to the recently abolished rules for Documentary. So it's the older, retired and out-of-touch members who vote, and they don't like gritty dramas unless it's a Holocaust story. That's how Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters) won in 2007. I want to be wrong but can't help being cynical in this instance.

Will win: The Iron Lady

Music (Original Score)
Will win: The Artist
This will be a deserved win in spite of the ridiculous fake scandal where Kim Novak took out ads to claim she felt "raped" by the use of music from Vertigo in The Artist, no doubt a nasty campaign trick by a rival studio. But it works with this movie because silent films often used pieces of existing music. Besides, the score for Vertigo wasn't 100% original either, with Bernard Hermann raping others including Mozart. Obviously most scores include music that isn't original but there's no question that Ludovic Bource created a perfectly matched score for the film.

Music (Original Song)
Will win: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets
A coin toss, really.

Short Film (Animated)
Will win: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Nothing really blew me away from this selection, but all were good.

Short Film (Live Action)
Will win: The Shore
Should win: Raju
All are good choices, except for Pentecost which was not as clever as it wanted to be.

Sound Editing
Will win: Hugo

Sound Mixing
Will win: Hugo

Visual Effects
Will win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Will win: The Descendants
The writing categories are always the most interesting. There is an outside chance it could go to Moneyball or to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to honour the late Bridget O'Connor, but I wouldn't count on it.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Will win: Midnight in Paris – Written by Woody Allen
Should win: A Separation – Written by Asghar Farhadi
There is a slight chance that The Artist or A Separation could pull off an upset.

Complete nominations for the 84th Academy Awards

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