Academy Award Predictions (2012)

brent johnson, bill bodkin and daniel cohen predict this year’s Oscar nominees …

Can a 3D children’s tale about the magic of old-time movies upset a silent film about the advent of talking pictures?

Can a surprisingly sad-sack turn from George Clooney hold off a winking, twinkle-toed performance from the George Clooney of France?

Can another feat of transformation from Meryl Streep beat out a subtle, rock-solid role from Viola Davis?

Will Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer actually walk away with the trophies they’re supposed to win?

Those are the key questions heading into the 84th annual Academy Awards tomorrow night. But before you tune in to see Billy Crystal host this year’s gala, Pop-Break co-founders Brent Johnson and Bill Bodkin and film editor Daniel Cohen look at who should win, who will win and who deserves more attention in the top categories.

  • BEST PICTURE
  • The Artist
    The Descendants
    Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
    The Help
    Hugo
    Midnight In Paris
    Moneyball
    The Tree Of Life
    War Horse

    BRENT
    Should Win: The Artist
    Will Win: The Artist
    For Your Consideration: Hugo and Midnight In Paris

    Many cry foul when the Academy chooses stuffy tradition over modern flash — like when The Last Emperor beat Broadcast News in 1988, Titanic beat L.A. Confidential in 1997 and The King’s Speech beat The Social Network last year. But The Artist appeases everyone. For traditionalists, it has starry-eyed affection for the glory days of Tinsletown. For modernists, it takes an ancient convention — silent movies — and makes it new. It’s a fantastic film. Expect Oscar to drool.

    But Hugo is pretty glorious, too. Martin Scorsese trades guns and four-letter words for a family film that’s part vintage sci-fi, part thriller and part fable. I cried twice before it was through. Plus, Scorsese doesn’t shove 3D in your face like most moviemakers — he shows it’s possible to use it tastefully and creatively.

    And Midnight In Paris? There’s a reason Woody Allen scored his first Best Picture nom since 1986. Few films are as beguiling. It has fun with history, fun with dialogue, fun with imagination — and it somehow manages to make Paris seem even more gorgeous.

    BILL
    Should Win: The Artist
    Will Win: The Artist
    For Your Consideration: Moneyball

    It wouldn’t surprise me if another film upset this year’s frontrunner, The Artist, just because I think this year is an acting year more than it is an actual movie year. But to me, The Artist is the complete package — it’s highly creative, terrifically acted, wonderfully directed, it’s clever, it’s whimsical, it’s charming, yet it has a dark side, a sense of gravity. It’s not just ‘that silent’ movie, it’s the best movie of the year.

    Despite its nom, I think Moneyball is a film a lot of people are sleeping on. How director Bennett Miller and actors Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were able to take such a niche subject matter — baseball economics — and transform it into something dramatic and thrilling is something special. It’s like how David Fincher made The Social Network more than just ‘the Facebook movie.’

    DANIEL
    Should Win: The Artist
    Will Win: The Artist
    For Your Consideration: Midnight In Paris

    While The Artist is way ahead of all these other films, I’d be fine with Midnight In Paris taking the top prize as well.

  • BEST ACTOR
  • Demian Bichir (A Better Life)
    George Clooney (The Descendants)
    Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
    Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
    Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

    BRENT
    Should Win: Dujardin
    Will Win: Dujardin
    For Your Consideration: Pitt

    Clooney is fantastic playing against type as schlubby Hawaiian lawyer. There’s no hint of leading man behind his sad glances and grumbled monologues. But Dujardin is so damn charming. He transports himself to another time — tap-dancing, mugging for the camera — and conveys a well of heartbreak without saying a word. How can you not love him?

    Pitt is the one who really gets left out. For a man who looks so much like a movie star, he does an awful good job embodying an angry and desperate guy who tries to avoid failure by clinging to a crazy new idea.

    BILL
    Should Win: Dujardin
    Will Win: Dujardin
    For Your Consideration: Oldman

    Jean Dujardin IS The Artist. No, this isn’t the tagline to the film, but it’s true. He makes this movie — he’s loveable and loathable, charming and depressing. He’s marvelous. And if you haven’t seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, you really should — if only to see Oldman in an amazing subdued performance as the clever senior British intelligence officer George Smiley.

    DANIEL
    Should Win: Dujardin
    Will Win: Dujardin
    For Your Consideration: Pitt

    This is a legit race between Dujardin and Clooney, but Dujardin’s performance is just so ‘Oscarish,’ I got to give him the slight edge. And as ‘meh’ as I am about Moneyball, I do think it’s the performance of Brad Pitt’s career.

  • BEST 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)

    BRENT
    Should Win: Davis
    Will Win: Davis
    For Your Consideration: Williams

    Like Best Actor, this is air-tight race. Some think Streep is due for her third Oscar. After all, she hasn’t won since 1982! Gasp! But Davis’ performance is a model of understated acting. It isn’t easy to display grace while choking back pain — especially in your first leading role. The Academy’s powerful actors branch is likely to notice that.

    But let’s not forget Williams, who at 31 has completely shed her image as a one-time teen TV star to become one of the most promising actresses of her generation. You try portraying Marilyn Monroe — an icon of icons — without shifting into parody.

    BILL
    Should Win: Davis
    Will Win: Streep
    For Your Consideration: Close

    Meryl Streep might be the greatest actress ever to grace the silver screen. And since Oscar has avoided her for nearly 30 years, I think she gets the win. However, Davis did give a career performance here — the kind that puts you on the map for good. The one everyone misses out on is Close. She won’t win, but her performance as a woman disguised as a man was fantastic — a refreshing reminder of just how good of an actress she is.

    DANIEL
    Should Win: Somebody Else
    Will Win: Viola Davis
    For Your Consideration: Charlize Theron (Young Adult) (not nominated)

    I’m lost on this category. I’ve seen only Davis and Mara, and honestly, both were underwhelming. I have to believe one of the other three performances is a cut above Davis, but I realize that’s unfair to say without seeing the other films. I loved Theron in Young Adult, though. She got totally snubbed.

  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn)
    Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
    Nick Nolte (Warrior)
    Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
    Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)

    BRENT
    Should Win: Plummer
    Will Win: Plummer
    For Your Consideration: Branagh and Hill

    The 82-year-old Plummer is the rare actor that’s quite good in his youth but brilliant in his twilight years. Over the last decade, he’s been a vision in The Insider, Inside Man, The Last Station and now Beginners. This isn’t a Lifetime Achievement Award. This is deserved.

    Maybe Branagh will one day grip a long-overdue Oscar as well. He’s scored five nominations — two for acting, two for directing and one for writing — in a sterling career. What else does he have to do to win — sew the costumes?

    And well done, Jonah Hill. Who thought the guy who brought us raunchy joy in the great Superbad and Get Him To The Greek would one day be an Oscar nominee? He did it with a performance full of wonderful little moments: his dumbfounded reactions in his first conversation with Brad Pitt, his witty response to the surprise trade of a star baseball player, the way he clenches his fist in victory at a key moment.

    BILL
    Should Win: Plummer
    Will Win: Plummer
    For Your Consideration: Hill

    A lot of people forget Plummer was Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music, but most people will remember him for the innumerable supporting roles he’s taken on since the ’90s. It’s a shame he didn’t take it home for The Insider. This is his cumulative Oscar, and from what I’ve heard, it’s deserved. And kudos to Hill, in his first dramatic role (unless you count the film Cyrus, which is more a comedy) he scores an Oscar nom. Like Moneyball itself, Hill’s performance is highly underrated.

    DANIEL
    Should Win: Nolte
    Will Win: Plummer
    For Your Consideration: Von Sydow

    I didn’t see Plummer or Branagh. All I know is Nolte was absolutely heartbreaking in Warrior. Von Sydow also does a great job in the year of ‘great silent performances.’

  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
    Jessica Chastain (The Help)
    Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
    Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
    Octavia Spencer (The Help)

    BRENT
    Should Win: Bejo
    Will Win: Spencer
    For Your Consideration: Chastain

    It would be massive shock if Spencer’s name isn’t called. And she’s great as a spunky-on-the-surface, grizzled-on-the-inside Southern maid. But like co-star Dujardin, Bejo is such an irresistible delight. She sparkles in every scene — and that doesn’t stop her from showing a tough side, too. Plus, that wink is iconic.

    Chastain is almost Bejo’s kindred spirit. At first, she’s all giggling charm as an outcast, white-trash Mississippi housewife who swigs Coca-Cola. But she brings an edge to the role when you least expect it.

    BILL
    Should Win: Bejo
    Will Win: Spencer
    For Your Consideration: McCarthy

    Let’s not take anything away from Spencer. She was a brilliant balance of comedy and tragedy in The Help. But there’s something magical about Bejo’s performance that I hope propels here to a win. My personal favorite of the group, though, is McCarthy, who dropped her usual ‘sweet as can be’ TV persona and gave both a raunchy and heartfelt performance.

    DANIEL
    Should Win: Bejo
    Will Win: Spencer
    For Your Consideration: Chastain

    This one should be Bejo all the way, but it’s not happening.

  • BEST DIRECTOR
  • Woody Allen (Midnight In Paris)
    Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
    Terrence Malick (The Tree Of Life)
    Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
    Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

    BRENT
    Should Win: Hazanavicius
    Will Win: Hazanavicius
    For Your Consideration: Payne

    Hazanavicius, the category’s lone first-time nominee, could have made a silent film simply for the gimmick of making a silent film. Instead, he made a movie that’s funny, touching, romantic, nostalgic — despite, and often because of, its lack of sound. In turn, the French director accomplished something miraculous: He made a creaky old art form relevant in our impatient, technology-obsessed times. The Academy’s directors branch isn’t likely to ignore that.

    But poor Alexander Payne. A few months ago, this seemed like his year. He proved yet again that he’s a master of storytelling that’s both unique and universal. But Oscar voters often overlook films as nuanced as his.

    BILL
    Should Win: Hazanavicius
    Will Win: Hazanavicius
    For Your Consideration: Scorsese

    The Artist needed someone brilliant at the helm — and ‘Haz’ was just that. While I’ve never seen Hugo, you’ve got to give it up to Marty, who traded in guns, blood and cussing to create a highly lauded tale of whimsy.

    DANIEL
    Should Win: Hazanavicius
    Will Win: Hazanavicius
    For Your Consideration: Allen

    Hazanavicius should get it, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ll be really mad if Scorsese wins … I feel dirty. Also, why do I have a really, really, really bad feeling Terrence Malick could sneak away with this? Ugh.

  • BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
    Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)
    J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
    Woody Allen (Midnight In Paris)
    Asghar Farhadi (A Separation)

    BRENT
    Should Win: Allen for Midnight In Paris
    Will Win: Allen
    For Your Consideration: Hazanavicius for The Artist

    The greatest screenwriter ever to live produced the year’s smartest and most creative script. End of story.

    But let us recognize the magic behind Hazanavicius’ work. He used a handful of words to craft a tale that never ceases to be gripping.

    BILL
    Should Win: Mumolo, Wiig for Bridesmaids
    Will Win: Allen for Midnight in Paris
    For Your Consideration: Hazanavicius for The Artist

    I don’t think The Artist will get this one because I truly believe the Academy will honor Allen for what many are calling his best film in years. Yet, let’s not rule out Bridesmaids. It was one of the smartest comedies I’ve seen in a long time, and it appealed to both critics and audiences in the same way.

    DANIEL
    Should Win: Allen for Midnight In Paris
    Will Win: Allen
    For Your Consideration: Hazanavicius for The Artist

    It’s the biggest lock of the night.

  • BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (The Descendants)
    John Logan (Hugo)
    George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon (The Ides Of March)
    Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin (Moneyball)
    Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

    BRENT
    Should Win: Payne, Faxon, Rash for The Descendants
    Will Win: Payne, Faxon, Rash for The Descendants
    For Your Consideration: Zallian, Sorkin, Chervin for Moneyball

    This category isn’t nearly the lock that Original Screenplay is. But The Descendants‘ script is so humorous and so human. And this is likely where the Academy will honor Payne’s film — which once looked to be a Best Picture frontrunner.

    But it’s so hard to count out a screenplay co-written by Sorkin and Zaillian, the Oscar winners behind The Social Network and Schindler’s List, respectively. Many actors would kill for the lines Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill got to say.

    BILL
    Should Win: O’Connor, Straughan for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    Will Win: Payne, Faxon, Rash for The Descendants
    For Your Consideration: Clooney, Heslov, Willimon for The Ides Of March

    Tinker Tailor was such a throwback to the days of the tense, wordy thrillers of the ’60s. It was so understated that it kept you on the edge of your seat. However, I think with the lack of overall love for Clooney and The Descendants, that film will win the Oscar here. I’d also ask you to consider the criminally under-nominated Ides Of March. Such an amazing film. I hold out hope it ekes out a win here.

    DANIEL
    Should Win: Clooney, Heslov, Willimon for The Ides Of March
    Will Win: Payne, Faxon, Rash for The Descendants
    For Your Consideration: Roman Polanski, Yasmina Reza for Carnage (not nominated)

    I’m cool with The Descendants winning, only if to see Dean Pelton win an Oscar. Yeah, the guy who plays Dean Pelton on Community — Jim Rash — is one of the writers for The Descendants … look it up.

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