The Artist (Thomas Langmann, producer); The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor); Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin); The Help (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan); Hugo (Graham King and Martin Scorsese); Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum); Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt); The Tree of Life (Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill); War Horse (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy)
PREDICTION: The Artist. With both the Producers Guild of America award and the Directors Guild of America award, The Artist looks poised to win Best Picture. If there’s an upset here it will likely be Hugo.[youtube id=”zzNhyZlTNAg” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Demián Bichir for A Better Life; George Clooney for The Descendants; Jean Dujardin for The Artist; Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Brad Pitt for Moneyball
PREDICTION: Jean Dujardin. If you’d asked me a month ago, I’d have been certain this is Clooney’s year to win. But The Artist and its star are gaining momentum, especially with Dujardin’s win at the Screen Actors Guild awards. As many SAG members are also Academy members, I’m going with Dujardin.
Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis for The Help; Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady; Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn
PREDICTION: Viola Davis. The notion that “Meryl Streep wins every year” is pretty much not true. She’s only won the leading actress Oscar one time, for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and she also took home the supporting actress Oscar once for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). A more accurate observation would be “Meryl Streep gets nominated every year but hardly ever wins.” In fact she currently holds the record for acting nominations with 17, second to Jack Nicholson with 12. While Streep’s chances of winning are better than normal this time, I still think Viola Davis will take home the Oscar. And with her recent win at the SAG awards, it’s even more likely that this is Davis’s year to win.[youtube id=”DQeEdzs18XM” width=”600″ height=”350″]
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn; Jonah Hill for Moneyball; Nick Nolte for Warrior; Christopher Plummer for Beginners; Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
PREDICTION: Christopher Plummer. Plummer has won many of the supporting actor awards this season and will probably win the Oscar as well. If anyone gives him a run for his money here, it will be Max von Sydow — but don’t count on it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Bérénice Bejo for The Artist; Jessica Chastain for The Help; Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids; Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs; Octavia Spencer for The Help
PREDICTION: Octavia Spencer. With several other supporting actress awards this season, plus the all-important SAG win, Octavia Spencer looks to be the frontrunner.
Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist; Alexander Payne for The Descendants; Martin Scorsese for Hugo; Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris; Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life
PREDICTION: Michel Hazanavicius. The DGA award went to Hazanavicius and thus he’ll very likely win the Oscar. Does Scorsese have a shot here? Sure — this could be one of those rare years in which the Picture and Director awards are split, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
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)
PREDICTION: The Descendants. I’ll be on a cruise when the Writers Guild of America awards are announced (Feb 19), but my instinct tells me the Oscar is going to The Descendants. The outcome of the WGA winner might change my mind and if so I will post any last-minute changes in the comments section below (assuming of course I can find a decent internet connection — I know, I know, poor me).
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)
PREDICTION: Midnight in Paris. Again, the results of the WGA awards are not known at “press time,” but I think Woody Allen is due for another win in this category. The Artist also has a very solid chance of winning here, but I’m betting on Woody.[youtube id=”AGi5euHt1bQ” width=”600″ height=”350″]
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)
PREDICTION: Rango. With nothing by Pixar and no Tintin nominated, this is a tough call. Part of me wonders if they’ll go with old-school hand-drawn animation this year (A Cat in Paris or Chico & Rita, two films I admittedly hadn’t heard of before the nominations were announced). Ultimately, I say Rango has the slight edge.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Bullhead (Belgium); Footnote (Israel); In Darkness (Poland); Monsieur Lazhar (Canada); A Separation (Iran)
PREDICTION: A Separation. It’s the only nominee that also has a screenplay nomination so that’s the one I’m going with. I’m not sure how much that matters in this category — it certainly didn’t help Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) when The Lives of Others took home the Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The Artist (Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan); Hugo (Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo); Midnight in Paris (Anne Seibel, Hélène Dubreuil); War Horse (Rick Carter, Lee Sandales)
PREDICTION: Hugo. A tough category to predict. The Artist could take the prize because generally the Best Picture winner will sweep a few more categories, whether deserved or not. Harry Potter also has a decent shot of winning. But I have to go with Hugo and the amazing team of Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo (both have won two Oscars together in this category).[youtube id=”bfjtjpZTISo” width=”600″ height=”350″]
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)
PREDICTION: The Tree of Life. This is Emmanuel Lubezki’s fifth nomination and he’s never won, so he’s probably due. He also won the American Society of Cinematographers award this year, which makes his Oscar win even more likely.
Anonymous (Lisy Christl); The Artist (Mark Bridges); Hugo (Sandy Powell); Jane Eyre (Michael O’Connor); W.E. (Arianne Phillips)
PREDICTION: The Artist. I will be at sea on February 21 when the Costume Design Guild awards are announced. This category seems to be a three-way race between The Artist, Hugo and Jane Eyre, but ultimately I’m thinking The Artist will sweep a few of these categories.
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)
PREDICTION: The Artist. The American Cinema Editors awards (to be presented Feb 18) haven’t been awarded at time of publication, but my instinct tells me this is one of the categories that The Artist will sweep along with its Best Picture win.
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)
PREDICTION: The Iron Lady. Strong contenders, but it seems to me that old-age makeup is generally favored in this category.[youtube id=”IKPltuiEVJ8″ width=”600″ height=”350″]
PREDICTION: The Artist. Because it’s a silent film, music plays a larger than normal role and that is why it will win. That doesn’t mean it should win, but it will. War Horse is the score that should win, but unfortunately it won’t. I’ll be very happy if I’m wrong.
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets (music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie); “Real in Rio” from Rio (music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, lyrics by Siedah Garrett)
PREDICTION: “Man or Muppet.” How can I possibly bet against Muppets?
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)
PREDICTION: Hugo. With some exceptions (like last year), this Oscar has a history of being awarded to the Best Picture winner, rather than the most deserving nominee (Slumdog Millionaire over WALL-E is the most glaring example that comes to mind). Since The Artist isn’t nominated in this category, the award will probably go to the second Best Picture frontrunner which is Hugo.
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)
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)
PREDICTION: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This Oscar will be awarded, in part, due to the film’s aggressive “For Your Consideration” campaign which tried to get Andy Serkis a Best Supporting Actor nod for his amazing motion-capture performance as Caesar. But aside from the politics of it all, the film’s combination of CGI artistry and motion-capture acting is pretty seamless.[youtube id=”EbCoDf44oCE” width=”600″ height=”350″]
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 Richard Middlemas)
PREDICTION: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. The previous two highly-regarded Paradise Lost installments generated awareness about the West Memphis Three and thus quite possibly played a role in the eventual release of the three men. This third film debuted as a theatrical release, so it is the first of the films to be eligible for an Oscar nomination (the other two premiered on HBO and therefore did not quality for a nomination).
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)
PREDICTION: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.
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)
PREDICTION: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The Pixar entry, La Luna, has a decent shot here, but ultimately I’m placing my bets on The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. My Popdose colleague Bob Cashill recently posted an excellent review of all the films nominated in this (and the next) category.
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)