The 84th Annual Academy Awards are almost upon us. These are my predictions for what will win, and also what I would like to win. In some cases, I also offer a consideration as to why film X will win. This is, to my mind, rather more interesting than just lambasting the Academy for not nominating what I happen to think is best. After all, what makes my opinion, or anyone’s, more valid than someone else’s?
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
The Artist has captivated everyone it seems, and in some quarters there is probably a backlash saying “It isn’t really that good”, which will doubtless increase after it sweeps the board. But I thought Hugo was an even more interesting, as well as poignant and touching, love letter to early cinema. Two highly cine-literate films, and the wit, verve and sheer artistry of Hugo wins my vote. But it seems the charm and novelty of The Artist cannot be stopped, and come Oscar night, it is to be rewarded again.
The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Alexander Payne
Hugo, Martin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick
Both The Artist and Hugo are intensely directed, but it seems that nostalgia will triumph over innovation. Scorsese has always been a highly innovative director, but the Academy will reward Hazanavicius’ use of silent cinema techniques, and the members’ nostalgia for old cinema will win the night.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in A Better Life
George Clooney in The Descendants
Jean Dujardin in The Artist
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt in Moneyball
This might have been a close race between Dujardin and Clooney, but the “silent” star has pulled ahead, and the sheer novelty of his physical performance will triumph over Clooney’s impressive performance which, like the rest, is a standard type of performance. Just by being different, Dujardin is great. But in a performance that is very quiet, though not silent, Gary Oldman gives a masterclass in minimalism, yet delivers volumes.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis in The Help
Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn
It’s been a long time since Meryl Streep won, although she gets nominated every year. Playing an actual person who is suffering from a mental illness, as well as having to play her at different ages, will net her an Oscar this year. I have no objection, as she is the best thing in The Iron Lady by a long way.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Jonah Hill in Moneyball
Nick Nolte in Warrior
Christopher Plummer in Beginners
Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Bérénice Bejo in The Artist
Jessica Chastain in The Help
Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer in The Help
The Help has been nominated in several categories, but in all other cases there are much stronger nominees, so I think this will be the one it walks away with, as it seems The Help somehow should have an award. Plus it gives the Academy members a chance to indicate that they are not racist. But I would love to see comedy rewarded more.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants, Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo, John Logan
The Ides of March, George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball, Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a great film that has clearly impressed many, including the Academy members. Only being nominated in a couple of categories means that if it is going to win anything, it will be this one (and it isn’t competing against The Artist). One of the writers has also died, which historically tends to lead to awards. It’s cynical, but I expect the Academy to award the film both for its brilliant script, and as a means of honouring the deceased.
Best Original Screenplay
The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids, Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call, J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
A Separation, Asghar Farhadi
Again The Artist will leave the others in its wake, not least for being unusual in having to convey almost everything through cinematic language, including plot and character, rather than having to reply on dialogue. Being different will win this one as well. But again, I’d like to see comedy rewarded.
In Darkness, Poland
Monsieur Lazhar, Canada
A Separation, Iran
I’ve not seen any of these, but all reports are that A Separation is outstanding, so I’ll go for that.
Best Documentary Feature Film
Hell and Back Again, Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Pina, Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
Undefeated, TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas
Again, not seen any, so this is a pure guess.
Best Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots, Chris Miller
Rango, Gore Verbinski
I suggest Chico & Rita because it’s unusual, like The Artist. Animated Feature is a funny category, but having only seen Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, they don’t seem like Oscar material.
Best Original Song
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from Rio, Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown; Lyric by Siedah Garrett
I don’t remember “Real in Rio” at all, and “Man or Muppet” displays musical inventiveness, characterisation and nostalgia, which is doing well this year.
Best Original Score
The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams
The Artist has picked up many awards for its score, and there is little reason not to expect it to continue. Again, due to the lack of dialogue, more needs to be expressed through music than an average film, and for this reason its score is more noticeable, and will therefore be honoured. But I certainly noticed the music in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Best in Film Editing
The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Kevin Tent
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker
Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen
Best Picture and Editing usually go together, but I think Hugo will get some Academy love in technical categories. I’d like that.
Best in Makeup
Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
A remarkable progression of ages will win The Iron Lady its other award.
Best Costume Design
Anonymous, Lisy Christl
The Artist, Mark Bridges
Hugo, Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre, Michael O’Connor
W.E., Arianne Phillips
Much like the music and the performances, costume helps convey the moods and meanings of The Artist. It will win for its expression.
Best in Art Direction
The Artist, Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Hugo, Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Midnight in Paris, Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
War Horse, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
Another area where Hugo will get some love, because it so much of the film’s meaning is through its mise-en-scene. A clockwork cinematic landscape like the inside of cameras themselves will earn Hugo an award here.
Best in Cinematography
The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jeff Cronenweth
Hugo, Robert Richardson
The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse, Janusz Kaminski
This could go either way, especially due to the use of 3D in Hugo, but I think the Academy will lean towards nostalgia here.
Best in Sound Editing
Drive, Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ren Klyce
Hugo, Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
War Horse, Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
Another technical win for the film that won’t win major awards. As this is the only award Drive is up for, I’d like it to win.
Best in Sound Mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
Hugo, Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Moneyball, Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
War Horse, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
Best in Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Hugo, Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning
Real Steel, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
Best Animated Short Film
“Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
“La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
“A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
“Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Just a guess here.
Best Live Action Short Film [1 point]
“Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
“Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
“The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
“Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
“Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø
Best Documentary Short Film
“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
“God Is the Bigger Elvis” Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
“Incident in New Baghdad” James Spione
“Saving Face” Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen