Predictions for the 2012 Academy Awards

Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

It’s time for my 2012 Oscar predictions, as Hollywood’s most-watched annual event will be taking place on Sunday, February 26th. Hosted for the ninth time by Billy Crystal, the 84th Academy Awards ceremony promises an evening filled with winners, losers, and lots of questionable fashion decisions.

Oddly enough, Hollywood’s top awards are dominated by a French theme in 2012. The Artist, made in France, is a leading contender in categories such as Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director, while Midnight in Paris and Hugo both take a loving look at the people and places of Paris. Even the Best Animated Feature category is getting in on the act, with A Cat in Paris among the nominees.

While most Oscar telecasts feature a clear-cut favorite in the Best Picture category, this year’s field of nine is wide open. Sure, The Artist has been taking home all the trophies leading up to the main event, but Academy voters have been known to veer in a decidedly different direction when it comes time to cast their ballots. Will a silent French film paying homage to Hollywood win the top prize, or will members choose to award something from this side of the Atlantic?

Whether you’re a passionate fan of cinema or someone who’s desperately trying to win their office Oscar pool, my picks for the 2012 Academy Awards should provide food for thought prior to the event. I’m not pretentious enough to pretend that I have a clue who’s going to win the award for Best Sound Mixing or Best Live Action Short Film, so I’ve limited my efforts to the following categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.

84th Academy Awards

Just in case you’re curious, the following section details the criteria I factor in when making Oscar predictions. While the Academy voters are supposed to consider each performance on its own merit, there are a surprising number of elements that determine the ultimate winner. After all, we’re talking about a diverse group of people who are asked once a year to vote on categories populated by friends, enemies, and even total strangers. If you immediately think back to your high school days of deciding on the student council and cheerleading squad, you wouldn’t be far off. Then again, name me one student council hopeful who had a multi-million dollar ad campaign behind them.

1. Momentum – Prior to the Oscars, there are a number of film award shows such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and Golden Globes. If a nominee has won at one of more of these events, they clearly have momentum on their side and should be considered a favorite.

2. Previous Wins – Has the nominee won an Oscar in the past? If so, the voters may choose to let someone else enjoy a moment in the sun. Then again, respected actors or directors who’ve been passed over repeatedly will sometimes receive an Oscar even if the nominated project isn’t up to the quality of their previous work. Case in point: Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman and Martin Scorsese taking home the gold for The Departed.

3. Actual Talent – While this should be the sole factor, it isn’t. Still, it does play a major role more often than not.

If you want to form your own opinions, I suggest watching as many of these Oscar contenders as possible. Amazon carries all of them, and I’ve included a number of links throughout this article.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category for the 2012 Academy Awards include:

And the Winner Is: Octavia Spencer. After playing the role of a smart-mouthed maid in The Help, character actress Octavia Spencer has received honors from the Golden Globes, SAG and BAFTA awards. While this kind of success doesn’t always guarantee an Oscar win, it does indicate that she has momentum on her side. In this crowded field, that should be enough.

Possible Spoiler: Melissa McCarthy. The Academy enjoys handing out Best Supporting Actress wins to those who’ve appeared in popular comedies (Mira Sorvino, Marisa Tomei, Whoopi Goldberg), so McCarthy’s bizarre-yet-entertaining turn in Bridesmaids could benefit from this trend. She and Octavia Spencer have many of the same things going for them, although The Help’s Civil Rights era setting may prove to be the deciding factor. After all, Academy voters love movies with a message.

Best Supporting Actor

The 2012 Academy Award nominees for Best Supporting Actor are:

And the Winner Is: Christopher Plummer. The Canadian actor’s seven-decade career includes Emmy and Tony awards but no Oscar. That all changes in 2012 thanks to his role as a widower who comes out as gay in Beginners. The Academy likes to reward performers who’ve been criminally overlooked in the past, and Plummer more than qualifies. There’s no way he walks away empty-handed on the 26th of February.

Possible Spoiler: While I’d love to see Nick Nolte accept an Oscar wearing a Hawaiian shirt, I think Plummer’s victory is the most assured of all the nominees on this list.

Best Actress

The 2012 Oscar nominees for Best Actress include:

And the Winner Is: It seems that Meryl Streep getting nominated has become something of an Oscar tradition. This is her fourth nomination in the last decade, and her 17th overall (an Academy Awards record). Surprisingly, her last Oscar win came all the back in 1982 for her role in the heartrending Sophie’s Choice. Both she and Glenn Close have the advantage of being respected actresses who’ve been overlooked by the Academy, but Streep has the edge since her work in films is still so respected and prolific. I expect her role as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to earn her another golden trophy.

Possible Spoiler: Glenn Close. Over the course of her career, Close has lost out five times in her efforts to capture an Oscar. That might change in 2012 thanks to Albert Nobbs, a film project that she’s has been fostering for more than a decade. Besides the fact that she’s come up short in the past, Close also has the advantage of playing a woman who’s pretending to be a man. Academy voters love that sort of thing, and the success rate of actors and actresses playing unattractive and/or handicapped individuals has become something of a running joke in various corners of pop culture.

Best Actor

And the Winner Is: George Clooney. The likable thespian already has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Syriana), and he’s been nominated in this category for Up in the Air and Michael Clayton. While Jean Dujardin has earned Best Actor wins this year at the BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globes (Musical or Comedy), Clooney has picked up a Golden Globe win as Best Dramatic Actor. This is also where popularity comes into play, as the 50-year-old heartthrob is loved by fans, co-workers, and just about everyone else on the planet. He does tons of humanitarian work, cranks out challenging films instead of coasting, and most of America has watched him graduate from a TV hunk on E.R. to an international celebrity. He’s also the closest thing Hollywood has to an old school movie star. But Clooney’s win won’t be a gimme, as his role as a man forced to confront his inadequacies as both husband and father is truly worthy of the Oscar nod.

Possible Spoiler: Despite his impressive body of work, this marks the first Academy Award nomination for Gary Oldman. He might have a chance if it weren’t for the presence of George Clooney, as the Academy is known for handing out awards to those who’ve been overlooked in the past. It also doesn’t hurt that Oldman turns in one of his best performances in years as mild-mannered intelligence agent George Smiley. That being said, I’m afraid that the veteran British actor will have to be satisfied with just a nomination, an honor that’s long overdue.

Best Director

The 2012 nominees for Best Director are:

And the Winner Is: Michel Hazanavicius. The French director received his first Academy Award nomination for the uplifting silent film The Artist, and he’s already picked up a Best Director win at the BAFTA ceremony. Martin Scorsese would be the clear favorite if he hadn’t won for The Departed in 2006, but the Academy voters are often stingy when it comes to handing out multiple trophies to the same person within a short period of time.

Possible Spoiler: Martin Scorsese. Hugo received 11 Oscar nominations, the most of any picture in 2012. While Scorsese won for The Departed, it’s not a reach to assume that he might add another well-deserved trophy to his mantle. He’s popular within the industry, has a stellar reputation among actors and fellow directors, and has worked tirelessly to advocate film preservation. He also picked up a Best Director win at the Golden Globes, which means a win for Marty in this category wouldn’t come as a great surprise. Woody Allen might normally have a shot, but his refusal to attend the Oscars or even acknowledge previous wins doesn’t help his cause.

Best Picture

The following films are contending for the Best Picture Oscar at the 84th Academy Awards. While last year’s policy allowed for 10 movies to be nominated in this category, a rules change has been implemented for 2012. Now, Best Picture nominees are required to receive at least 5% of first place votes. Those that qualify are placed on the ballot, with a maximum of 10 films making the final cut. For the 2012 Oscar ceremony, a total of 9 motion pictures met the requirements. They are:

And the Winner Is: Most Oscar ceremonies feature a Best Picture nominee that’s either politically charged or a $200 million blockbuster. This is one of those rare years when neither is present, which means television ratings will probably experience an unfortunate drop. It also means that the race is more wide open than usual, although I expect The Artist to continue its winning ways. It captured Best Picture honors at the BAFTA Awards, as well as the top honors in the Musical or Comedy category at the Golden Globes. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood, even if they are made by the French. The fact that it offers the novelty of a silent movie is just icing on the cake.

Possible Spoilers: While The Artist takes a look at the early years of Hollywood, both Hugo and Midnight in Paris also offer heavy doses of nostalgia. Midnight in Paris has become the top-grossing film of Woody Allen’s prolific career, and it’s a 94-minute love letter to the city of Paris and its artsy scene of the 1920s. Hugo, while set in the 1930s, also takes place in Paris, and Martin Scorsese dabbles in the 3D format to share his boundless enthusiasm for cinema. Both directors are icons of the industry, and both projects provide the kind of halcyon energy that critics (and voters) love. I consider The Artist the favorite to win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if either of these pulled off the upset.

So there you have it…my 2012 Oscar predictions. I invite you to make your own predictions in the comments section, and be sure to check back after the ceremony for my thoughts on the eventual winners.

Suggested Reading:

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2012 at 12:21 pm and is filed under Academy Awards. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Predictions for the 2012 Academy Awards”

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February 27, 2012

Shane

Looks like I went 5 out of 6 on my Oscar predictions. How did you do?

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