It’s Oscar Sunday – the second biggest American non-holiday behind Super Bowl Sunday – and that means it’s time for Academy Award predictions. When I make my picks, I like to predict who I think will win, and also list who I think deserves to win (which is not always the same).
You can jump to this entry to see a full list of all the categories and nominees for the 84th Academy Awards ceremony, which gets under way at 8:30 p.m. from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. I’ll start with the major categories, and then include the ones no one really cares about. So let’s get started…
Actress in a Supporting Role Bérénice Bejo in The Artist; Jessica Chastain in The Help; Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids; Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs; Octavia Spencer in The Help
Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer. She’s been steamrolling through the preliminary awards, scooping up everything in sight.
Who Should Win: Octavia Spencer. Why not?
Actor in a Supporting Role 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
Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer. Like Octavia, he’s rolled up everything he’s been nominated for, so there’s no stopping him now.
Who Should Win: Albert Brooks, for Drive. Oops! He wasn’t even nominated. That’s the Academy’s bad.
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
Who Will Win: Viola Davis. I know Michelle Williams has been picking off trophies left and right, but The Help is the kind of movie the Academy loves, and Viola the kind of nominee the Academy loves. Plus, Michelle is young, and everyone figures she’ll be nominated again….
Who Should Win: Michelle Williams. I don’t think the Independent Spirit Awards, and Golden Globes are necessarily wrong.
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
Who Will Win: Jean Dujardin. He will get credit for getting his character across with almost no dialogue, whereas Clooney will be penalized for delivering great lines. And already having an Oscar.
Who Should Win: I can see Dujardin deserving it, but so does George Clooney, whose character I enjoyed more.
Directing The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius; The Descendants, Alexander Payne; Hugo, Martin Scorsese; Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen; The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick
Who Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius. Another awards magnet who is on a role.
Who Should Win: Martin Scorsese. But he won’t, because the buzz around the Academy it’s “too soon” to give him another Oscar – he won his first in 2007, for The Departed. But I still think Hugo was better directed.
Best Picture The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse
What Will Win: The Artist. Academy voters can feel sophisticated about voting for the (mostly) silent movie with a foreign leading man and director. But the movie is downright enjoyable, and a fun look back at a lost age.
What Should Win: Hugo. Another homage to the early days of movies, this one hearkening all the way back to their very creation. The marketing campaign sold this movie completely wrong, hence most of the Academy thinks it’s a jumped-up kid flick that turned out to have something for grown-ups. Wrong. It’s a terrific, adult movie that was also accessible to children. (At least its first half was.)
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) The Descendants, Hugo, The Ides of March, Moneyball, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
What Will Win: Hugo. Could be seen as tossing Scorsese’s picture a bone.
What Should Win: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Oh, right, that’s another one that wasn’t even nominated. So then I’d pick Hugo, which was a great adaptation of a book – just not as great as Dragon Tattoo.
Writing (Original Screenplay) The Artist, Bridesmaids, Margin Call, Midnight in Paris, A Separation
What Will Win: Midnight in Paris. The Academy is ready to welcome back Woody Allen.
What Should Win: Midnight in Paris. It’s the best of the nominated screenplays. And the Academy will no doubt hold the scarcity of dialogue against The Artist.
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
Who Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki, Tree of Life.
Who Should Win: Emmanuel Lubezki, Tree of Life.
Art Direction The Artist, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, War Horse
What Will Win: Hugo.
What Should Win: Hugo, just edging out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. They both created amazing fantasy worlds, but Hugo’s lightness will win favor over Harry’s darkness.
Costume Design Anonymous, The Artist, Hugo, Jane Eyre, W.E.
What Will Win: The Artist. It’s a groundswell for the period piece. The Academy loves subtlety.
What Should Win: Hugo. When in doubt, pick the one who dressed the most extras in period clothing.
Visual Effects Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, Hugo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
What Will Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It put fantastical elements (apes) in an ordinary situation (San Francisco), whereas Harry Potter’s world was completely alien.
What Should Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. It was the greater achievement.
Animated Feature Film A Cat in Paris, Chico & Ritam, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rango
What Will Win: Rango.
What Should Win: Rango.
Foreign Language Film Bullhead, Belgium; Footnote, Israel; In Darkness, Poland; Monsieur Lazhar, Canada; A Separation, Iran
What Will Win: A Separation. Again, the Academy can feel sophisticated with this vote (plus, it has already won almost every other prize it was up for.)
What Should Win: A Separation. But don’t count out In Darkness, which is about the Holocaust – certain Oscar gold in years past.
And now, the rest of the categories (which make or break office pools):
Film Editing The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Moneyball
Winner: The Artist. Best picture usually gets best editing.
Makeup Albert Nobbs, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, The Iron Lady
Winner: The Iron Lady. Remember, the Academy prefers subtlety in this department.
Music (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
Winner: War Horse. The Academy loves John Williams.
Music (Original Song) “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, “Real in Rio” from Rio
Winner: “Man or Muppet.” Most of the Academy at least saw The Muppets.
Sound Editing Drive, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, War Horse
Winner: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Sound Mixing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, War Horse
Winner: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Documentary (Feature) Hell and Back Again, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Undefeated
Winner: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Documentary (Short Subject) The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, God Is the Bigger Elvis, Incident in New Baghdad, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Winner: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. The Academy can honor the survivors of last year’s horrifying tsunami.
Short Film (Animated) Dimanche/Sunday, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, La Luna, A Morning Stroll, Wild Life
Winner: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. I like the name.
Short Film (Live Action) Pentecost, Raju, The Shore, Time Freak, Tuba Atlantic
Winner: Seriously? Has anybody seen these? Um… Raju sounds like a winner.