Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oscar Predictions, Part 3: Acting

What better way to spend your Saturday than familiarizing yourself with some Oscar hopefuls? Read this, figure out what sounds good, and go see a movie. I'm here to help. ...Also, to predict, but I help too. Anyhow...

Best Actor
Finally, a race that makes some sense to me. The lead races are pretty easy to figure out this year, which will be a fun contrast to the hellish nightmare we'll get to enjoy with the supporting categories. I honestly think the top 5 are pretty much set here. The top three spots--George Clooney in The Descendants, Jean Dujardin in The Artist, and Brad Pitt in Moneyball--aren't going to be changing any time soon. Honestly, I don't think the last two spots will either. Leonardo Dicaprio's probably in for J. Edgar; sure, the movie got poor reviews, but so did Clint Eastwood's Invictus, which went home with two acting nominations. Bad reviews never stop the Academy from giving out "meh, you tried" nominations. Michael Fassbender is probably also in for Shame. Now, I've been hearing talk of a Fassbender snub recently, but I'm just not buying it. Admittedly, I might not be buying it because I really love the performance and am letting my own tastes get in the way, and I recognize that both the performance and the film are hardly typical Oscar fare. That being said, who's going to push him out? Surprise nominations are usually garnered by small, spunky independent contenders who are critically respected but underseen, and they tend to knock out bigger, more obvious contenders. If anything, Dicaprio's more vulnerable than Fassbender, because Dicaprio's primed to be upset by an underdog, whereas Fassbender is an underdog, at least when it comes to being a standard Oscar movie. If there is an upset, who would it be? Maybe Michael Shannon in Take Shelter, who is the only one who could do it; I don't see either Demian Bichir in A Better Life or Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy making it, regardless of what other bloggers would have me believe. Nope, I'm confident with my top 5.
My predictions, in order of likelihood:
George Clooney-The Descendants
Brad Pitt-Moneyball
Jean Dujardin-The Artist
Michael Fassbender-Shame
Leonardo Dicaprio-J. Edgar
Alternates: Michael Shannon-Take Shelter, Demian Bichir-A Better Life

Best Actress
Here's the funny thing: this category is almost the same as lead actor. Swap out the names, repeat the argument, we're good to go. Top three spots--Viola Davis/The Help, Meryl Streep/The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams/My Week with Marilyn--are golden. Bottom two are spots are filled with a scrappy indie not-traditionally-oscar contender (Tilda Swinton/We Need to Talk About Kevin) and a "meh, you tried" nomination (Glenn Close/Albert Nobbs). The only difference between these two categories is I'm more open to the idea of one of the slots changing. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been coming on really strong the past couple weeks, which could help Rooney Mara immensely. I could easily see her stealing one of the more fluid bottom slots. That being said, I think Swinton's this-nomination-is-really-an-apology-for-not-noticing-you-in-Julia-and-I Am Love narrative, as well as Close's ahmygawd-Glenn-welcome-back-at-least-you-got-the-movie-made will defeat Rooney's "exciting new ingenue" flair.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Viola Davis-The Help
Meryl Streep-The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams-My Week with Marilyn
Tilda Swinton-We Need to Talk About Kevin
Glenn Close-Albert Nobbs
Alternates: Rooney Mara-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Charlize Theron-Young Adult

Best Supporting Actor
I hate this category so, so much. I know exactly one thing: Christopher Plummer is a lock for Beginners. The rest? I've no clue whatsoever. Anyone could get it, and I still don't even know who I want to predict. So I'm just going to list all twelve possibilities (yup, twelve, and all of them have a good shot) and hope that when I'm done, I'll have made a decision or two. In alphabetical order:
Kenneth Branagh-My Week with Marilyn:Here's about as close to another lock as it gets. I don't understand what people love about this performance, but apparently they do. Oscar loves famous people imitating other famous peoples, Branagh's Olivier should succeed here.
Albert Brooks-Drive: I used to be way more confident here, but Brooks has missed some important precursors. Maybe the Academy just isn't cool enough to reward Drive? I really hope that's not the case.
Armie Hammer-J. Edgar: If J. Edgar feels like repeating Invictus's Oscar history, this could happen; Hammer is admittedly the best thing about this movie, and he's got Leo's coattails to hold onto.
Jonah Hill-Moneyball: I acknowledge that I really ought to predict Hill in this category, but I just don't want to. It's not right, dammit. Besides, I've got a hunch that he'll miss. Or maybe my hunch is just a hope.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman-The Ides of March: If Hoffman gets in for this, one of his laziest, most repetitive performances, I'm going to scream. Still, The Ides of March has got to show up somewhere, and Hoffman is a tried and tested default nominee. *sigh*
Ben Kingsley-Hugo: I really, really thought Kingsley's campaign would take off more. He's a respected former nominee, playing a famous person who is the emotional backbone of the best segment of Hugo. That being said, he's shown up in almost none of the precursors. I guess people have just forgotten him.
Viggo Mortensen-A Dangerous Method: Mortensen scored a surprise Golden Globe nomination for this category, which resuscitated his campaign, but no one seems to be talking about this movie.
Nick Nolte-Warrior: About once a decade, people seem to enjoy Nick Nolte's work. He's been nominated for a lot of supporting awards this season, but I can't shake the feeling that Warrior might be forgotten altogether.
Patton Oswalt-Young Adult: Here's another movie that's been forgotten. Sure, Oswalt's charming and fairly deserving, but voters just aren't responding to his film.
Brad Pitt-The Tree of Life: Maybe this is wishful thinking, or maybe people will be voting for Moneyball and will remember just how good Pitt was in this film as well.
Andy Serkis-Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Hey, it could happen. He's earned a bunch of awards/nominations on the precursor circuit. That being said, I can't see the Academy rewarding an entirely motion-capture performance just quite yet. I'd love to be wrong, though.
Corey Stoll-Midnight in Paris: I'd love for this to happen. Stoll's Hemingway is easily the most memorable part of Midnight in Paris, and the movie has done very well for itself thus far. Could he be the big surprise?
Max Von Sydow-Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: About three hours ago, I was pretty sure I was going to put Von Sydow in the top five. Then I saw the movie. Not only are the reviews brutal, Von Sydow's character isn't around much, and doesn't have much to do with the time he's given. Still, I suppose he could slip in on residual love for other movies.
Y'know, that didn't help at all. I've got no idea who to predict. Oh well. I'm just going to start typing and we'll see what happens.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Christopher Plummer-Beginners
Kenneth Branagh-My Week with Marilyn
Albert Brooks-Drive
Phillip Seymour Hoffman-The Ides of March
Viggo Mortensen-A Dangerous Method
Alternates: Jonah Hill-Moneyball, Nick Nolte-Warrior, Corey Stoll-Midnight in Paris
(Yeah, I get three, because I'm so lost. I honestly didn't even have Hoffman or Mortensen in my top 10 until about 30 seconds ago. Just watch-it's going to be Hill and Nolte. I know it. Shoot.)

Best Supporting Actress
Well, that was embarrassingly long. Supporting Actress is also very difficult to predict, but refreshingly so, in that there are only 6 women still in the running. The problem is that only one of them is safe. That's Octavia Spencer for The Help. She's won a Critics' Choice award and a Golden Globe, so she's in. The other five women? Any of them could do it. They are:
Berenice Bejo-The Artist: She's essentially a co-lead in the Best Picture front-runner, and it doesn't hurt that she's fantastic. I feel confident that she'll make it in.
Jessica Chastain-The Help: This category has a penchant for picking two women from the same movie, and Jessica Chastain has had one hell of a year, with great performances in this, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, Coriolanus, etc. Unfortunately, all those great performances might work against her; if voters can't decide which movie they like best, she'll split too many votes between all her various roles.
Melissa McCarthy-Bridesmaids: It's so fun that we can even consider this. Sure, she hardly gives my favorite performance in the film, but it would be such a wacky, atypical Oscar nomination that I don't even care. That being said, the wacky, atypical-ness of it all is her biggest problem right now.
Janet McTeer-Albert Nobbs: People don't like this movie, which hurts, but apparently McTeer steals the show (which I haven't seen yet), which helps. Plus she's the only former nominee still in the running, which has to give her a leg up.
Shailene Woodley-The Descendants: She's in a popular film, and she's quite good, but she's just so young. Are they going to want to reward a 20-year old whose only known for being in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, or will they make her wait?
...I should probably briefly mention Vanessa Redgrave in Coriolanus. Allegedly, it's an incredible performance, but the film's just not being seen, and the people that do see it don't like it. If anyone surprises in this category, it'll be her; just don't count on it.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Octavia Spencer-The Help
Berenice Bejo-The Artist
Jessica Chastain-The Help
Shailene Woodley-The Descendants
Janet McTeer-Albert Nobbs
Alternates: Melissa McCarthy-Bridesmaids, Vanessa Redgrave-Coriolanus

Phew. That was much longer than anticipated. I completely forgive you for not reading the whole post. Tomorrow, I'll post some brief thoughts on all the craft categories, and then we'll wrap it up Monday!

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