The Oscar Prediction Post, 2012

As I do every year when the Academy Award nominations come out, I put on my film critic hat and try to guess which nominees are eventually going to walk away with Oscar gold. This year’s nomination slates are frankly wacky, so I can say without hesitation that I wouldn’t put a huge amount of stock in my guesses at the moment — but that’s fine since I usually do a follow-up right before the award ceremony in which I factor in everything that’s changed in the race. So, having hedged myself sufficiently, here are my guesses, right now.

BEST PICTURE
“The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
“The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
“The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
“Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
“Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
“Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
“The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
“War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

After two years in which the Best Picture field had ten slots, the Academy instituted a new rule that allows for up to ten nominees, but all nominees must have at least 5% of the nomination vote (or something like that). This year apparently only nine films got more than 5% of the nomination vote. This still allows for a wide range of nominees, and this year’s Best Picture slate is commercially and artistically diverse. But who cares about that? We want to guess who will win.

First step: Toss out every nominee whose director is not nominated this year, since it is very rare for a film to win Best Picture without its director also being nominated (the last time it happened was 1988, with Driving Miss Daisy). So long Extremely Loud, The Help, Moneyball and War Horse.

After that I suspect Midnight in Paris is next off. Usually I’d say it’s because it’s a comedy and comedies don’t win Oscars (the last straight up comedy to win was Allen’s own Annie Hall, 35 years ago), but this year is different on that score. I don’t think it will win because even though this is considered Allen’s best picture since Hannah and Her Sisters, it’s arguable that it is as good as Allen’s films were in his heyday, and anyway, everyone knows he won’t come to the ceremony anyway. Next off from there is The Tree of Life; I think nominating Terrance Malick films is the closest thing the Academy members have to being hipsters, and that’s not enough to take home the statue.

After that things get wonky for me. Hugo has been having a hell of a run, and you can argue that even with awards for The Departed that the Academy still owes Martin Scorsese some Oscars; if Departed caught them up for Raging Bull, Hugo would catch them up for Goodfellas. But at the end of the day this is a family film, and that presents a problem. Not because a family film can’t be brilliant — please, don’t paint me with that brush — but because the last full-on family film to win the Best Picture Oscar (if you don’t count Slumdog Millionaire, and I don’t, because it wasn’t marketed that way) is Oliver! back in 1968. I think the Academy sees family films like it generally sees comedies: nice to nominate occasionally but not something you’d usually let win. The Scorsese name counts for something, but ultimately it’s not going to be enough.

So it comes down to The Artist and The Descendants, and why this is an unusual year: Both of them are comedies, with varying amounts of drama in them, and that’s kind of mindblowing (the Golden Globes put The Descendants in its Drama category, which suggests that those folks were more interested in their awars ratings than anything else). The question is which of these the Academy will choose. On one hand The Descendants has George Clooney at the top of his game, and Alexander Payne has been plugging away for years with films that are best described as “comfortably auteurish,” of which this film may be the very best example. So giving the award to this film would be something of a career award. On the other hand The Artist is genuinely novel (a silent, black and white film in 2011), is not just a stunt, which is something just short of a miracle, has a hell of a lot of momentum coming out of the Golden Globes and — this is not trivial — is distributed by The Weinstein Company, which means that Harvey Weinstein will be doing his thing of corralling Oscar votes. Given that Weinstein managed to jam Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan and The King’s Speech over The Social Network (as just two examples), if one of his films is a contender, you can’t count him out.

If I’m going to pick now, I’d go for The Descendants. But I have no confidence in that pick, and think Harvey Weinstein is perfectly capable of cutting enough balls to push The Artist over the top. Let’s check back just before the awards and see how I feel.

Will Win: The Descendants
Should Win: The Artist

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life”

Allen out first; it’s not his year (and he’s got three Oscars anyway). Malick out next; I see him getting one of those Lifetime Achievement Oscars in the not-too-distant future. Of the three remaining it’s a toss up for me, since I think Scorsese has a tremendous amount of good will in the Academy, Payne is at the top of his form and Hazanavicius pulled off a silent, black and white film in the 21st century. Flipping a three-sided coin, I’m going to give it to Payne since I am nominally guessing The Descendants will win Best Picture, but again: No confidence and watch out for Hazanavicius getting a Weinstein boost.

Will Win: Payne
Should Win: Hazanavicius

LEAD ACTRESS
Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo “
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

Rooney Mara is having a good year but it’s not going to extend all the way to winning an Oscar, especially with this lineup. After that, who knows? Normally I discount any Streep nomination because she’s seemingly nominated regardless, but this year she’s playing Margaret Thatcher and the extra historical personage tang might mean something (one disadvantage: Streep’s performance is generally seen as the best thing about the film). Michelle Williams is also playing a beloved icon — in this case Marilyn Monroe — but I wonder if she’s stuck doing time in what I used to call the Kate Winslet cage, i.e., everyone assuming she will win an Oscar at some point, but maybe just not yet. Close’s film has been little-seen but this would be a fine time to give her a career award. Any of the three could take it but in the what I think is most likely is that Viola Davis will, not just for her performance in The Help (which is by all indications worthy) but because, like Sandra Bullock’s win for The Blind Side, it will be the recognition that particular Best Picture-nominated film will get for all of its efforts.

Will Win: Davis
Should Win: Davis

LEAD ACTOR
Demián Bichir, “A Better Life”
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy “
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

Ever heard of Bichir before? Neither have I. His nomination is fantastic, because it means the folks in the actor’s branch really are searching high and low for the best performances, no matter where they are and who performs them. I wish Bichir well and all future success. He has no chance. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s somewhat appalling to consider that this is Oldman’s first Oscar nomination — seriously, Academy voters, what the hell? — and aside from what is by all accounts a rock solid performance in Tinker, I would be inclined to give the man the Oscar as a career award. But this year may not be the year for that. Pitt I think has a good chance simply for being Pitt (i.e., a movie star who also is serious about the acting), but in the end I think it will come down to Clooney and Dujardin. Dujardin has the flashier performance (you try acting without talking for a whole film) but Clooney’s willingness to play a schlub despite looking like, you know, George Clooney, is probably going to count for something. I’m going to call it for Dujardin on the grounds that it’s unpossible that Clooney won’t be back here again (hell, he’s got a screenwriting nomination this year), but I also note that’s probably me projecting.

Will Win: Dujardin
Should Win: Oldman

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Spencer out first; Nobbs is little seen and the spotlight there, I think, is on Close. Bejo out next, although like Ginger Rogers with Astaire, she’s doing everything Jean Dujardin is doing, backwards and in heels. I think there’s a fine chance that Spencer and Chastain will cancel each other out although of the two I could see Chastain pulling through, in part because of solid performances this year as well in Tree of Life and The Debt. But you know what? I think the Academy is going to want to give it to McCarthy, both for her performance and as recognition for Bridesmaids in general. And I would applaud such an award, personally.

Will Win: McCarthy
Should Win: McCarthy

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Wow, I have absolutely no idea about this category at all, except to suggest it’s probably not going to be Jonah Hill. Otherwise it’s Pick Your Favorite Woefully Overlooked Actor day. If we were going purely by most nominations, you’d have to give it to Branagh, since he’s been nominated four times before, twice as many as the next nearest (Nolte, who was nominated twice before). But then Plummer and von Sydow are both pretty damn old, and, sorry, that’s a factor in this category. On the other hand Nolte possibly has the oldest vital organs of any of them. Honestly, who can say. I do know that if Hill does win it, he’s going to get pummeled by senior citizens. I’m going to go with von Sydow for no other reason than that the power of Christ compels me, although personally I have a soft spot for Branagh (who is playing Laurence Olivier here to boot) so he’s probably who I would vote for myself.

Will Win: von Sydow
Should Win: Branagh

Other categories: I have a hunch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy might get a nod in Adapted Screenplay, while I wouldn’t be surprised the The Artist gets it in Original Screenplay, especially if it’s seen as a compensation Oscar for Michel Hazanavicius. I would likewise not be surprised if The Artist gets cinematography. I’d like to note that Cars 2 isn’t an Animated Feature Film nominee this year, which I think is correct; it’s the worst Pixar film by a considerable margin (which means, mind you, that it’s no worse than the average Dreamworks Animation feature). I’m going to guess Rango gets it this year because I suspect director Gore Verbinski is well-liked.

Your thoughts?

56 thoughts on “The Oscar Prediction Post, 2012

  1. Re: Best Picture. Don’t discount the fact that Hugo is about a love affair with early cinema. Academy voters LOVE cinematic films about love affairs with cinema.

  2. I think Plummer gets supporting; he’s won most (all?) of the precursors.

    I would love for Allen to at least get the original screenplay award, but I don’t think it’ll happen.

    I think we might actually be looking at a good night for the artist: I could see them getting picture, actor, supporting actress, director, screenplay, and various technicals. They could pull a 7 or 8 award sweep.

  3. I’ve seen many of the movies, but, unlike last year, when I really loved both Social Network and The King’s Speech, nothing really struck me as an instant classic, though both Hugo and The Artist came pretty close, and The Help and The Descendents were excellent movies.

    Some of the weirdest nominations for me were in screenwriting – Ides of March (brilliant in places but fell to pieces before the ending) and Bridesmaids (funny in places until it was badly Apatowed). Adapted screenplay may be the most competative category of them all, and it’s possible that Tinker Tailor might get it just for compressing the novel into about 2 hours. For Original screenplay, it’ll probably be for The Artist, even though it’s an incredibly derivative work (deliberately so).

    I think The Help will win one major award, and I have the feeling it will be for Octavia Spencer, though Jessica Chastain impressed the hell out of many people with radically different performances in all of her movies (remember, she was also in Coriolanus which almost no one has seen yet). I’ve enjoyed Melissa McCarthy, but she won her Emmy for last year and while she also was a gleeful scene-stealer in Bridesmaids, I think a bunch of people will look at the Bridesmaids nominations and go “WTF?”

    Supporting Actor Oscar will be more for a lifetime achievement award and it will probably go to Christopher Plummer (and probably more for an incredible performance a few years back in The Last Station). Nolte and von Sydow both have a good chance for the same reason, though Nolte’s performance in Warrior is great (and I’m not just saying that because I worked with him a little on Warrior and was edited out) and von Sydow was fine even though his character in “Incredibly…” was a wildly illogical character.

    Lead Actor – could be Clooney, but it could be for Pitt just because he made such a splash last year.

    Lead Actress – on the one hand, Streep hasn’t won one in 30 years. On the other hand, Glenn Close has never won one and gives what seems to be an excellent performance in a movie no one has seen. I liked Michelle Williams in Marilyn, but I think she has too much competition.

    Director/Picture – The Artist is certainly the splashiest of the bunch, but I would love to see Alexander Payne win for The Descendents. And you can’t count Scorsese out.

  4. Minor typo in your Lead Actor section: “One the other side of the spectrum…” should be “On the other side…”

    BTW, in total agreement re: Oldman.

  5. If you haven’t seen Warrior, it’s easy to overlook Nolte in a sports movie. But his performance as both unforgivable prick and sympathetic character is by pretty far the best work of a long career that’s seen some awfully good performances.

    Plummer was fine in Beginners, though I can’t figure out how that’s not a lead role, but it’s really just him being charming, which I never think of as a stretch for an actor. Branagh was excellent in Marilyn, and I would not object to him winning. Jonah Hill was, well, Jonah Hill, but that’s not an Oscar winning performance. And I admit that I’ve not seen Extremely Loud, etc., so maybe I’m missing it.

    But the performance that stands out in my memory is Nolte’s. I hope the Academy watches that movie and agrees. The rest of the categories I don’t have strong feelings about, but that one I do.

  6. I’m pretty sure Plummer will win, because I’m apparently under the impression that Plummer always wins. Although it may well be von Sydow, because of the old thing and because from what I hear he is the best thing about a terrible film (which must obviously be nominated, because 9/11).

    Also, I kind of doubt McCarthy will win – she’s extremely funny, but I always feel like funny (especially for women, perhaps) doesn’t win any awards. I’d be very happy to be wrong about this, though!

  7. On what planet is The Descendants a comedy? Sure, there might have been a couple of scenes that elicited a chuckle, but the film is all drama.

  8. I’m going to be contrarian and note that I haven’t seen any of these films, fine though they might be. The closest I got was reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the Caldecott-winning book on which Hugo is based. Children’s librarian, so biased. And generally too broke (or cheap) to see first run movies.

  9. In another category: For Best Song, I know everybody loves “Man or Muppet?” but I do wish “Life’s a Happy Song” had gotten a closer look. That’s the one I absentmindedly whistle.

  10. My only thought:
    Usually, by the time the nominations are announced, I’ve seen at least two of the best picture nominees. This year, not a one. I seem to have studiously avoided the really good movies. Not sure how that happened.

  11. One small correction: under lead actress, I think “Spencer out first” was meant to be “McTeer out first”.

  12. Pixar’s Cars 2 wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature. There has never been a year when Pixar had a film out that was not nominated for Best Animated Feature? Wikipedia reference. I haven’t seen Cars 2, but I’ve heard that it’s pretty bad. However, I would have expected that Pixar’s reputation alone would get their film nominated. I’m predicting Rango will win.

  13. I am disappointed that The Muppets only got a nod for Best Original Song. They should at least have been in the running for Best Original Screenplay if not Best Picture.

  14. It’s going to be an interesting awards year, I think. I suspect Plummer will win for Best Supporting Actor. I’m also guessing Moneyball has a good shot for Best Adapted Screenplay.

    Kind of shocked Tintin wasn’t nominated for best Animated Feature, especially considering what was nominated. Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss n Boots? Really? I would’ve thought Tintin was a lock.

    (Also – I do wish the Academy would give Andy Serkis some kind of recognition, as you previously suggested.)

  15. I agree with your assessment for the most part except for Best Supporting Actor. I think Christopher Plummer is far and away the favorite. No one is talking about Branagh or von Sydow. Beginners definitely deserves some recognition and they love doling that out to Hollywood royalty when they get the chance to give a straight actor an Oscar for playing a gay character (Penn, Hanks, Hurt, Hoffman, Theron, Swank (technically transgender not gay), etc). The only other winner I could see here is Nolte because the movie is really great and he got completely jobbed by the Academy and Roberto in ’97.

  16. Another year where I can only attest to having seen ONE film out of all those nominated. Which is fine. Some I had no interest in: Moneyball might be an interesting story, but I’m not paying $12 to see it….in the same way I had (and continue to have) no interest in seeing The Social Network, a very well-made movie (or so I hear) about truly terrible people being horrible to each other (and pretending to be based on fact, I suppose). Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close looks like it’s a great movie that I could never watch (I just don’t need that level of emotional pain, thanks). Warhorse came out at a busy time, so we opted for Tintin, instead.

    I would like to see The Artist, Warhorse and The Descendants.

    The Help? That seems really out of place amidst the others.

  17. “McTeer out first…” in the supporting actress category; Spencer is in “The Help” as you observe a few lines later.

    In supporting actor, I wouldn’t sell Jonah Hill short. He almost always annoys the hell out of me in anything he’s been in – except Moneyball, so he’s clearly managed to transcend himself for once.

  18. “serious about the acting” made me laugh

    Having only seen a few of the relevant movies, I have to say– Dujardin absolutely should win best actor. He (and Berenice) made the movie an experience worth having, despite, as you point out, living in the 21st century. It’s a cheesy performance except for, to me, the most memorable scene where he has a nightmare about sound–and in that moment, I felt sold on the whole premise, on his performance, and the story.

    Your points about Weinstein, however, are amazingly depressing. God I was so infuriated when King’s Speech beat out Social Network and/or Inception. It’s not that SN or Inception are timeless films, it’s just that–hasn’t the King’s Speech been made about 2,000 times already? Oh! Struggling British people! Woe is them, it’s like a full-length about Downton Abbey. Feh.

    Don’t even get me started about Shakespeare in Love, which is basically the same point I just made except for the wound has healed a little in the 13 years since.

  19. Your analysis is masterful, but the whole thing makes me angry. When my wife was in the Forces, she had to grade her reports on those serving under her. The report system went from 1 (shoot at dawn) to 6(walks on water) but here was the thing: No one could get a 1, because you had to be really, really bad. No one got a six for the opposite reason. So that only left grades 2-5. But since that was a given, grades 2 and 5 were an obvious indication that someone should be canned or knighted. So that only left 3 and 4. Ergo, you got a 3, you were doing badly, you got a 4 you could relax a little.
    The Oscar choice doesn’t seem to be about Best Film, Best Actor etc. It’s “Who got it last, how old are they, which films are they up against, have they done anything really good in the past that didn’t win because there was something better?” Level playing field, please. If Gary Oldman acts better in his picture than Max Von Sydow in his, then he gets the Oscar. If Woody’s pic sends everyone to sleep, he doesn’t win best picture.
    I know, I’m shockingly naive. Thanks for another great post. And I’m re-reading “Old Man’s War” and enjoying it again.

  20. Huh. Apparently Branagh broke a record with this nomination, in that he’s been nominated in five different categories. From Mark Harris at NYMag:

    “Branagh’s been nominated for Best Director (Henry V), Best Leading Actor (Henry V), Best Live-Action Short Film (1992’s Swan Song), Best Adapted Screenplay (Hamlet), and now Best Supporting Actor for My Week With Marilyn.”

    nymag.com/daily/…/2012/01/kenneth-branagh-oscar-category.html

  21. If Melissa McCarthy wins she’ll be the Marisa Tomei of this year’s telecast. Honestly, Bridesmaids is a fun, but not great film; however, McCarthy’s performances is certainly not worthy of an Oscar win or even really a nomination.

  22. I choose The Help in every category it’s been nominated in because I liked it that much, I preferred Octavia Spencer over Jessica Chastain because that woman has the most expressive and fun to watch eyes on the planet and she’s possibly the only actress in the history of time that could have gotten me through that pie easting scene without hurling. Honestly, I don’t care about any of the major categories The Help wasn’t nominated in.

    I also hope Rango wins because I liked it better than all of the other nominees. Rango was amazing.

    One thing I hoped you’d cover, John, is who you think should win the Visual Effects category. I’m pushing for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I could see it going one of many ways.

  23. I’ve seen six of the nominees for Best Picture (the Scalzi front-runners not among them) and from them Hugo wins for simply being “pleasant but over-produced and half an hour longer than it really needed to be” instead of “OMFG, stab me in the face with a camera stand and make the pain stop” awful.

  24. Laurie Mann:
    Lead Actress – on the one hand, Streep hasn’t won one in 30 years.

    No, but frankly Streep (who in my minority opinion is a horribly over-rated actor) could break wind and get another boatload of awards and nominations. The problem here for her is that The Iron Lady is no The Queen or The King’s Speech. Streep’s performance is about the only feature of the film that’s been getting consistently good reviews, and even then it’s not helped by a film that’s a masterclass in how not to make a coherent, engaging biopic.

  25. Craig – I saw The Iron Lady (and the other big biopic that didn’t really work – J. Edgar). Iron Lady also has a wonderful performance by Jim Broadbent, who might have been remembered for an Oscar in another year. But, otherwise, you’re quite right.

  26. Well, I don’t watch enough current movies to make any predictions but man, am hoping Hugo gets something. Is first movie in a long time that’s really reached inside me and given me a good shake. It literally brought tears to my eyes.

  27. I still need to see “The Descendants,” and “Extremely Loud,” but of the ones I’ve seen, “Hugo” and “The Artist” were my faves. I would love to see Jean Dujardin win just for looking like Gene Kelly in film slightly reminiscent of “Singing in the Rain.” It was a bizarre experience sitting in a movie theater in 2012, watching a black and white silent film that was made last year–and my 10-year-old daughter enjoyed it! I guess I’m leaning slightly toward “Hugo,” but just as I do, I begin to sway a bit back toward “The Artist.” I guess I’m still crushing on Dujardin…

    “Midnight in Paris” was fantastic! It should win for best screenplay.

    I like all the other nominees mentioned in the other categories, and as of this writing, I think I will be pleased with any outcome. I might change this after I’ve seen some more of the Oscar nominated films.

    (Leaving now to ‘internet stalk’ Jean Dujardin)

  28. I’ve ony seen Dujardin in the OSS 117 movies, which are very French, and very funny. The man is a delightful oaf in those, and I could easily see him being fantastic in The Artist. Fingers crossed!

  29. Amazed by the practice of rewarding current performances for those done previously, or the advanced age/career of the performer. Why not cast another statue for “life work” and have done, while releasing a position in whatever category for another talent, be it younger/better? And to get busy for real, ask why a professional movie critic can’t or won’t
    call his own pick without waffling and bowing to industry/peer pressure. I’ve met Mr. Scalzi as an
    appreciative and hardback-owning fan of all his work but one [the most exclusive]. I was and am impressed. I recommend his work as an introductory to all skeptical first-time SF readers to whom I speak and have turned most onto the way. I would like to see your unequivocal choices, Mr. Scalzi. I admire your courage and work, and would see another buckeye [even an immigrant] stand to.

  30. So I don’t sound like a total Grinch, I have to agree with our host about Gary Oldman – if nothing else, his George Smiley is a welcome reminder that while he’s a Jedi grandmaster at gnawing through scenery like a beaver on speed (and there’s nothing wrong with that) he can also do wonderful subtlety. The problem may be that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (and Oldman’s performance) is one hell of a downer and lack the showy sentimentality Oscar voters get hot for.

    It’s not that SN or Inception are timeless films, it’s just that–hasn’t the King’s Speech been made about 2,000 times already? Oh! Struggling British people! Woe is them, it’s like a full-length about Downton Abbey. Feh.

    Sean X.: It’s been made about as many times as movies about douchebag white Americans whose First World problems I don’t care about as much as I’m supposed to. Yes, I’m looking at The Social Network and whatever fine white whine George Clooney puts his name to in any given year.

  31. Reading over this year’s “best film” nominees I can’t help but think how mediocre the current stock of Hollywood films is. Most of the films by renowned directors (warhorse and Hugo) are ho hum. And the only movie I was even slightly interested in viewing was “Moneyball”; but that was mere professional geekery driving that interest despite my dislike of sports.

  32. WAIT WAIT WAIT. Tintin is NOT on the Best Animated Film nominee list? How did that happen, Academy? Was Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rango that good?

  33. WAIT WAIT WAIT. Tintin is NOT on the Best Animated Film nominee list? How did that happen, Academy? Was Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rango that good?

    No, but just between us neither was Tintin – OK, but it should have been great. I’m also not up on the qualifying rules (or the thought processes of the voting members) – would the roll out across Europe two months before the US release, and it’s comparatively anemic US box office have made any difference?

  34. The reason Tintin is not on the Animated Film slate (aside from any questions regarding quality) is that it’s motion capture and those are specifically disallowed from consideration.

  35. Anthony: There is a Lifetime Achievement Oscar; the trouble is it’s perceived as something of a consolation prize (as in ‘Oh crap, X [insert venerated industry figure here] has never won an Oscar? Quick, give him/her [although it’s usually a him] a Lifetime Achievement Award so we don’t look like idiots!’). Hence while Hitchcock has technically won an Oscar – a Lifetime Achievement one – folk are quick to point out he never won a competitive Oscar (i.e. for a specific film), so on those grounds Kevin Costner is an Oscar-winning director and Hitchcock isn’t. Which is why, I suspect, the Academy was so eager to award Scorsese a competitive Oscar, as soon as he directed a film they felt could legitimately be honoured in that way.

  36. I didn’t see the rest of the films yet, but Max von Sydow really did a fine job. For those of those who have not seen the film, his entire roll is silent, he does not speak. It is a very nuanced performance and it would have been easy to play the roll way too big. After watching it I thought the von Sydow must have loved the challenge of this roll after all these years. A true challenge for a master actor.

  37. If motion capture gets any more popular, they’re going to have to give it a separate category. Re: everyone who wants Hugo to win: I loved Hugo, and I love anything even remotely scifi looking, and that’s why I can tell you that Hugo won’t win. It has the smell of fantasy/scifi-ish-ness on it, and that spells doom for a best picture nominee. So the Artist will get it over Hugo.

  38. John, that’s interesting. I see their point, but so much of Tintin was animated, that seems a tad shortsighted.

    Of course, I’m curious about the nature of the category. Is it a quality assessment of it’s content or is it intended to assess its capability in animation technique? That is to say is it an artistic award or a technical one?

  39. I don’t think Hugo has a chance in Hell of winning, but I think it’s a worthy film to get the nod. I definitely want to see the Artist, though, especially based on the reviews. And while apparently The King’s Speech has been judged as having been an unworthy film, I thought it was a good movie that deserved it’s awards.

    Honestly, if a film gets nominated, that automatically says something about it, IMHO. Winning an Oscar is far more political (within the Academy) than being nominated.

  40. @Aviana Knochel:

    I can tell you that Hugo won’t win. It has the smell of fantasy/scifi-ish-ness on it, and that spells doom for a best picture nominee.

    Statements like that are true… until they’re not. I’d call grand-slam Oscar-winner The Silence of The Lambs Jonathan Demme going back to his grindhouse quickie roots, and those never get nominated let alone win. Right? :)

  41. the last full-on family film to win the Best Picture Oscar (if you don’t count Slumdog Millionaire, and I don’t, because it wasn’t marketed that way) is Oliver! back in 1968.

    Slumdog Millionaire was rated R, so I don’t think it counts as a “full on family film” regardless of the marketing.

  42. The Oscars are the story Hollywood tells about itself. Some years that means the theme is, “look how much we care about X“: women, minorities, the environment, whatever. Some years, it means affirming that some aspect of the film industry is An Important Contributor To Culture. My opinion is that the latter is true this year. 2012 is Films Year.

    So, most of the big awards will go to The Artist: Best Picture, Best Director, Lead Actor, Best Original Screenplay. Hugo will get Best Adapted Screenplay, and little else as the last Important Culture Contributor year was when Scorsese ran the table. Rooney Mara for Lead Actress, because Girl With A Dragon Tattoo meets the “important culture” mark, and new blood is valuable in affirming ongoing importance. Supporting Actress goes to Jessica Chastain, because of the new blood rule, and because it is not Black Year. (Next year might be, once various groups complain about only white people winning awards for The Help.) The Plummer/Von Sydow toss-up for Supporting Actor will probably be resolved in von Sydow’s favor, as he’s the one not in a romantic comedy.

    The losers: Anything having to do with Bridesmaids, because it’s an SNL-affiliated comedy and SNL is East Coast not West Coast, and because it isn’t Woman Year; Michelle Williams, because it isn’t Stars Year, and because she’ll have more opportunities; Terrence Malick, but keep an eye on him for 2012/13; the black actresses in The Help for the reason above.

    Side note: Chico & Rita deserves Best Animated Feature, but I expect that to go to Rango.

  43. I don’t think it’s fair to compare Shakespeare in Love – which was cutesy and mediocre at best – with The King’s Speech, which was legitimately one of the best films of the year even if you don’t think it tops The Social Network. (Personally, I think King’s Speech was a much better film, though they were both excellent, but I know a lot of people’s mileages vary on this.)

  44. Anyway, what I meant to say was: I don’t think that The King’s Speech was as mechanized of a win as Shakespare in Love was. There were plenty of critics who didn’t have Weinstein on their asses like the members of the Academy did, who were still picking it as one of their top films of 2010.

  45. Also you said: “Spencer out first; Nobbs is little seen and the spotlight there, I think, is on Close.”

    Don’t you mean McTeer here?

  46. I suppose I’m in the minority here but I thought both The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love were both very deserving winners and were rooting for both. To my mind, NONE of the films nominated for best picture are really deserving, though The Descendants is a good film that I wish I’d never seen (and it’s definitely a drama). All the others, to me, embody one or more film making cliche’ or conceit. I’ve never been a Monroe fan but thought that Michelle Williams essentially channelled her in My Week with Marilyn and will be delighted if she wins. I hope Christopher Plummer wins as a well deserved “lifetime achievement” and because I thought he was the major difference in my liking the English TGWTDT over the Swedish version. Can’t believe his performance in that has gotten so little mention here (none that I’ve seen). Branagh’s performance as Olivier just left me cold; he willingly took on a huge challenge and just failed, badly. I wonder if he realizes just how badly?

  47. Sir,
    I was reading book reviews when I came across the following:
    “I liked Wheaton in Stand By Me and Next Generation. I loved to hate him in The Guild. I even wrote an epic poem about him, once upon a time. A poem I dream of reading in public one day, as he, Scalzi, and Felica Day perform an elaborate dumbshow, acting it out while dressed in period costume appropriate for a 9th century mead-hall.

    During this reading, I would like to be wearing a fur cloak of some sort. And perhaps a crown. In this little mental fantasy, I look rather like a cross between Brian Blessed and an angry bear. I also imagine myself as being profoundly drunk on mead.”

    Watch out for someone called Patrick…..

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