james debate
james debate

Sunday, 26 February 2012

academy awards 2012

This Sunday, Hollywood's famous Kodak Theatre will once again play host to the biggest day on the cinema calendar, the Oscars. People all over the world will tune in for that most tragically popular of pastimes, celebrity watching, followed by four hours of forced laughs and real tears.

The real drama this year lies not on the screen, but behind the scenes as overrated director Brett Ratner (hey, in Hollywood "knowing people" is a very real qualification) resigned from his producer's role in this year's ceremony following scandal, and took with him scheduled host Eddie Murphy. So in a moment of panic the Academy has done what it always does and gone crawling back to Billy Crystal, who will once again host the evening.

As always, I give you my loyal readers some predictions for the big night. You may not have seen the big films this year, or be familiar with the latest hype tearing through tinseltown; if so consider the following a crib sheet for what lies ahead this weekend, and perhaps even a sneak peek at who might just be walking away with the big prize.

Best Picture


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

Who Could Win:
This year we have 9 nominations, as apparently the new rules state that "up to" 10 may be nominated for best picture. As always I pine for the day of 5 nominations, when a best picture nomination actually meant something. This year I think it's safe to say that everyone and his nan could guess the winner, the hype for The Artist has well and truly reached fever pitch, deservedly so, and it will take far more than a Clooney-shaped meteor to stop it.

The Artist

Best Director

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

Who Could Win:
No surprises here; in recent years the best director prize has always gone with the winner of best picture, even more so when that director has already won the DGA award, as good a barometer of Oscar gold as any. This year that man is Michel Hazanavicius, the impossible to spell director of The Artist.

Michel Hazanavicius

Best Actor

  • Demián Bichir – A Better Life as Carlos Galindo
  • George Clooney – The Descendants as Matt King
  • Jean Dujardin – The Artist as George Valentin
  • Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as George Smiley
  • Brad Pitt – Moneyball as Billy Beane

Who Could Win:
Up until a few months ago, George Clooney's victory appeared almost inevitable. The Academy often has a tendency to pick "the next in line" for this award as seen with Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth in recent years, whose victories were known before anyone had even seen a frame of their respective films. This year there was the sense that it was simply Clooney's year. But that was before The Artist came along, and now some hold the sentiment that it would simply be unconscionable not to award Jean Dujardin the Oscar for what is, quite simply, the best performance of the year in The Artist.

Jean Dujardin

Best Actress

  • Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs as Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis – The Help as Aibileen Clark
  • Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as Lisbeth Salander
  • Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady as Margaret Thatcher
  • Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn as Marilyn Monroe

Who Could Win:
This could be a close one. Conventional wisdom is torn between this award going to Academy darling Meryl Streep for her Oscar bait role as Maggie Thatcher and the lesser known Viola Davis for her star turn in the crowd pleaser The Help. If there's one thing the Academy loves it's period pieces circa the civil rights era, and the word from my sources says that Viola has simply won too many hearts with her performance to let this prize go to media favourite Streep.

Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor

  • Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn as Laurence Olivier
  • Jonah Hill – Moneyball as Peter Brand
  • Nick Nolte – Warrior as Paddy Conlon
  • Christopher Plummer – Beginners as Hal Fields
  • Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as The Renter

Who Could Win:
Another tough one. Here you have here a number of very well regarded actors in good roles, and Jonah Hill for some reason, who could win themselves an Oscar on prestige alone. However I suspect that this race is really down to Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer, the latter of whom has in fact never won an Oscar. If the buzz is to be believed then this might just be Plummer's year at last.

Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress

  • Bérénice Bejo – The Artist as Peppy Miller
  • Jessica Chastain – The Help as Celia Foote
  • Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids as Megan Price
  • Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs as Hubert Page
  • Octavia Spencer – The Help as Minny Jackson

Who Could Win:
This year's favourite is without a doubt Octavia Spencer who by all rights should complete an impressive actress prize double whammy for The Help. That being said, there is genuine upset potential here depending on just how big a wave The Artist enjoys on Sunday night; I wouldn't run out and bet money on it, but don't rule out a surprise win for Bérénice Bejo.

Who Will Win:
Octavia Spencer

Best Original Screenplay

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

Who Could Win:
A two horse race between Midnight in Paris and The Artist. Personally I think any screenplay that manages to be as engaging as The Artist's without including any dialogue deserves some recognition, but there is a lot of buzz about Woody Allen's most recent hit. This one will once again depend on just how big that Artist wave is.

Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Descendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash from The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
  • Hugo – John Logan from The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • The Ides of March – George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon from Farragut North by Beau Willimon
  • Moneyball – Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin from Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

Who Could Win:
Another tough one to call. On the one hand there is The Descendants, a film which fancies itself as the would be Oscar kingpin for this year had The Artist not existed, and in close competition there is the underrated Moneyball. In all honesty Moneyball should probably win, offering a smarter and more original product than it's rival, but I predict the Descendants will win here as consolation for losing out to the Artist elsewhere.

The Descendants

Various Technical Awards:
Hugo will likely pick up a few prizes here in the way of cinematography and art direction, again largely as consolation for losing out elsewhere. Expect also to see some of the Artist tsunami strike these shores; for my money best original score should be on the cards, after all pretty much all you hear the entire film is non-stop score.

So there you have it, my picks for the year. Enjoy the Oscars this weekend, and when the results go exactly as I've predicted, remember that you heard it here first!

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