Friday, February 24, 2012

Jonathan Lack's Official "2012 Academy Award Predictions!"

The whole idea behind “Oscar Pools” and predictions and contests confuses me.  The Oscars are ridiculously predictable.  They always have been.  Two years ago, I guessed all but two winners correctly.  It’s one of the reasons I hate the Oscars – they’re just boring when you know who’s going to win.  And 2012 is shaping up to be one of the most predictable years in Oscar history.  There’s no “race” this year.  All the big awards have already been determined, and the technical categories are still fairly easy calls.

But in the spirit of tradition, I’ve laid out all my Oscar Predictions, and I’ve explained my reasoning in case you want to use my methods to win a bet.  If you’re going to watch this silly show, you might as well win some money.

And if you’d like to hear more of my Oscar thoughts, come back to this website on Sunday night, February 26th for my LIVE BLOG of the telecast.  I’ll be there from moment one until the very end, giving you my thoughts on every moment of the ceremony.  A fun time will be had by…somebody, I’m sure.

Discover my official Oscar Predictions after the jump….

 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

It’s a mathematical impossibility that “The Artist” will lose.  It’s got the DGA and the PGA awards on its side, and though the SAG gave its big award to “The Help,” that was in recognition of its cast.  They will probably go for “The Artist.”  Even if they don’t, the DGA and PGA combined will push it to a win.  This is a boring category, and it’s missing so many of the year’s best movies that I have trouble taking it seriously. 

Will Win: “The Artist”
Should Win: “The Tree of Life”
Should Have Been Here: “Shame,” “The Muppets,” “Melancholia”

"The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Alexander Payne
"Hugo" Martin Scorsese
"Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen
"The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick

Martin Scorsese directing "Hugo"

The DGA awarded Michel Hazanavicius, so that about sums it up.  He’ll win.  It helps that Best Picture winners almost always snag up this prize as well.  Malick and Scorsese are much, much, much more deserving, though, as are all the great directors not recognized here. 

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Should Win: Terrence Malick
Should Have Been Here: Steve McQueen (“Shame”), Tomas Alfredson (“Tinker Tailor”), Lars Von Trier (“Melancholia”)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
"Hugo" Screenplay by John Logan
"The Ides of March" Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
"Moneyball" Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

“The Descendants” has tons of hype coming into the Academy Awards, including a recent WGA win, so it’s hard to imagine it loosing.  Still, “Moneyball” was scribed by last year’s winner, so I wouldn’t be surprised by an upset.  Neither script is nearly as good as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” though, especially if we’re looking at how masterfully the source material was adapted.

Will Win: “The Descendants”
Should Win: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Should Have Been Here: “The Muppets,” “Drive”

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"The Artist" Written by Michel Hazanavicius
"Bridesmaids" Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
"Margin Call" Written by J.C. Chandor
"Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen
"A Separation" Written by Asghar Farhadi

This is a very, very hard one to call.  “Midnight in Paris” won the WGA award, but “The Artist” wasn’t eligible.  It’s been a long time since a Best Picture winner didn’t win a screenplay award, which makes this nearly impossible to call.  I still say the Academy is going to go with Allen on this one.  They clearly love “Midnight in Paris,” and no one’s going to deny it’s one of the best scripts of recent times.  It’s really a no-brainer, and it helps that “The Artist” doesn’t have any dialogue.  A screenplay is obviously a lot more than just speech, but the Academy probably doesn’t know that, and to be honest, the script is easily the weakest part of “The Artist.”  All that being said, “A Separation” is easily the best script in the category; when I compared it to Shakespeare in my review, I meant it. 

Will Win: “Midnight in Paris”
Should Win: “A Separation”
Should Have Been Here: “Young Adult,” “Melancholia,” “Beginners”

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 is a very dull Oscar race across the board this year, so you’ll mostly hear me voting on guild lines, and the SAG recognized Dujardin, tying this award up.  It’s a shame, too.  Dujardin was good in “The Artist,” but Pitt, Clooney, and particularly Oldman have been waiting a long damn time for their turn on stage, and they’re all more deserving.  But Michael Fassbender isn’t here, so I would take this whole thing with a grain of salt to begin with. 

Will Win: Jean Dujardin
Should Win: Gary Oldman
Should Have Been Here: Michael Fassbender for “Shame”

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"

Christopher Plummer hasn’t just won the SAG award.  He’s won everything, and rightfully so.  It may be the most clearly deserving win of the night, even if several other great performances weren’t nominated. 

Will Win: Christopher Plummer
Should Win: Christopher Plummer
Should Have Been Here: Albert Brooks, Patton Oswalt

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"

Viola Davis won the SAG award, and many others, and she’s perfectly deserving.  Her work in “The Help” is extraordinary.  I would still favor Williams for her transformative, insightful, piercing work in “My Week With Marilyn,” but I won’t be mad with a Davis win.  Still…they forgot an incredible number of fine female performances in this category.  Mara, Streep, and Close should all be kicked out to make room for better work. 

Will Win: Viola Davis
Should Win: Michelle Williams
Should Have Been Here: Kirsten Dunst, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron, too many others to count

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"

Another embarrassment of a category.  So many good women missing.  Spencer will win; SAG winner.  Duh.  And yes, she’s quite funny in the film.  I would say Chastain is more deserving, but not necessarily for “The Help.”  She was far better in “The Tree of Life” and “Take Shelter,” but the Academy inexplicably nominated her for “The Help.”  I would like her to win in recognition for her incredible debut year, but Spencer is an unstoppable train at this point. 

Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Should Win: Jessica Chastain
Should Have Been Here: Carey Mulligan, Melanie Laurent, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shailene Woodley….yeah, they messed this one up big time

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

Oy…this category is awful.  Just awful.  There were only two good animated movies this year by my count, and only “Rango” is nominated (the other is “Tintin”).  You can tell how hard the Academy worked to stretch this one out to five while still maintaining their prejudices against motion capture.  “Rango” is the only one with any significant respect in the industry, so it will win. 

Will Win: “Rango”
Should Win: “Rango”
Should Have Been Here: “The Adventures of Tintin”

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

The Oscars don’t usually give out awards on the basis of clear quality, but…have you seen “Hugo?”  Even for the Oscars, that’s a production design too blindingly brilliant to ignore.  It will win.  And it damn well deserves it.

Will Win: “Hugo”
Should Win: “Hugo”
Should Have Been Here: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

"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

Like Art Direction, this award is just too clear for the Oscars to mess up.  And if they do, I will be very angry.  “The Tree of Life” features the best cinematography I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I’m not alone.  It’s won just about every award it’s been up for all season.  I don’t see how it loses; if it does, it will be to “Hugo,” which is also very deserving, but not as much as “Tree.” 

Will Win: “The Tree of Life”
Should Win: “The Tree of Life”
Should Have Been Here: “Drive,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Costume Design
"Anonymous" Lisy Christl
"The Artist" Mark Bridges
"Hugo" Sandy Powell
"Jane Eyre" Michael O'Connor
"W.E." Arianne Phillips

Here’s an award that typically goes to a film otherwise unrecognized; “The Artist” has momentum, yes, and “Hugo” could sweep the technical awards, but Costume Design rarely goes to a “big” contender.  It doesn’t help that neither film is as “flashy” as the competition.  I’ve never understood the need to give this award to period pieces every single year (“Drive” had the best costuming of the year, but since it was contemporary, it was functionally ineligible), but that’s the way it is, and of the other three nominees, “Jane Eyre” features the best costumes and is the most respected film.  Plus, Michael O’Connor won this award in 2008 for “The Duchess,” so there’s precedent, always a factor in this race. 

Will Win: “Jane Eyre”
Should Win: “Hugo”
Should Have Been Here: “Drive”

Documentary (Feature)
"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" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Pina" Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
"Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

I have seen none of these films, but “Paradise Lost 3” certainly has the most hype behind it; the final chronicle of the West Memphis Three case, this series did a great deal to a get a trio of innocent men set free, and enacting social change has helped filmmakers here in the past.  Still, this was an overall travesty of a category; just as anyone – many of the year’s best documentaries were completely ignored.  So…who cares?

Will Win: “Paradise Lost 3”

Documentary (Short Subject)
"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

Again, haven’t seen any of these…but “Saving Face” was co-produced by Colorado’s very own Milkhaus productions, who happen to be friends of mine.  Am I biased?  Yeah, but I’ve also heard that “Saving Face” is exactly what the Oscars like in this category. 

Will Win: “Saving Face”

Short Film (Animated)
"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

“La Luna” was made by Pixar.  I’d be a fool to bet against it.

Will Win: “La Luna”

Short Film (Live Action)
"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

Will Win: “Tuba Atlantic” (totally random guess)

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

Damn.  This is a tough one.  I would normally just predict the guild winner, but the American Cinema Editors (ACE) have two kinds of editing awards, Comedy and Drama, and both winners – “The Artist” and “The Descendants” – are represented here.  Hmm.  “The Artist” is the front-runner, and Best Picture winners often win this award, so I’m putting my money on that one. 

Will Win: “The Artist”
Should Win: “Hugo”
Should Have Been Here: “Drive,” “The Tree of Life”

Foreign Language Film
"Bullhead" Belgium
"Footnote" Israel
"In Darkness" Poland
"Monsieur Lazhar" Canada
"A Separation" Iran

Have you seen “A Separation?”  No?  Have you read anything about “A Separation?”  Yes?  Then you know how much everyone loves this movie.  It can’t lose.

Will Win: “A Separation”
Should Win: “A Separation”

"Albert Nobbs" Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
"The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

I hate this award.  I’m sick of giving Oscars to old-age make-up.  But “The Iron Lady” has the most of it, and all that make-up is plastered on a Best Actress front-runner, so it’s unlikely to lose.  “Harry Potter” deserves the award for a multitude of reasons, primarily the Gringotts goblins, a true feat of imagination.  But we all know how much the Oscars hate imagination, so that’s not going to happen.

Will Win: “The Iron Lady”
Should Win: “Harry Potter”

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

This one is easy to call.  John Williams, bless his heart, will probably cancel himself out, Iglesias and Shore are too subtle for the Oscars to award, and that leaves Bource.  He won’t be an undeserving winner.  “The Artist” features a fantastic score, and relies on music more heavily than any other film on the list.  Still, the best score here is Igleasis’ wonderfully understated work on “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” and I would love to see him take home the gold, even if it’s a long shot.

Will Win: “The Artist”
Should Win: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Should Have Been Here: “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “Drive”

Music (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

Sigh….yes, the aborted fetus category of the Oscars.  If you want to kill this category, Academy, just curb stomp it, won’t you?  This slow, poisonious death is just making you all look even sillier than you already are.  So many great songs missing here, many of them from “The Muppets,” one from “Captain America.”  But there is one “Muppets” song, and it’s hard to see the Oscars picking “Real in Rio” when “Man or Muppet” exists.  But given the silliness of this whole category, anything could happen.  I do sincerely hope that Bret McKenzie is on stage accepting an Oscar, though; he would be one of the most deserving winners of the evening. 

Will Win: “The Muppets”
Should Win: “The Muppets”
Should Have Been Here: More “Muppets” songs, “Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America”

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

Tough category to call.  “Drive” deserves the award, unquestionably, as it featured the best sound work of 2011.  But since this is its only nomination, it won’t win.  “Transformers” is too reviled by the academy to actually win a statue, but from there, it’s a pretty open field.  The Academy loves them a War soundtrack, though, especially when it’s Spielberg, so “War Horse” is a relatively safe bet.

Will Win: “War Horse”
Should Win: “Drive”

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, Dave 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

The Cinema Audio Society didn’t nominate “War Horse” here, so even though it got Academy recognition, it probably won’t take this award too.  But who knows?  “Hugo” got the guild recognition here, and the Oscars clearly love the film, so it’s worth a bet. 

Will Win: “Hugo”
Should Win: “Transformers”

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 Grossman 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

Fun fact: no Best Picture nominee has lost this award since 1970, and “Hugo” is the only Best Picture nominee on this list.  It’s hard not to put my money there.  The effects aren’t as impressive as the other films, but since when has deserve had anything to do with this award?  “The Golden Compass” won this award over “Transformers.”  THE GOLDEN %$^ING COMPASS!!!! Yeah, don’t worry about deserve. 

Will Win: “Hugo”
Should Win: “Transformers”

Come back this Sunday night, February 26th, for my LIVE BLOG of the 2012 Academy Awards!

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