IAR's Oscar Predictions

Thursday, 08 December 2011 15:16 Written by  Brett Gursky
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IAR's Oscar Predictions

With the 84th Academy Awards only three months away, it’s time to go on record with some Oscar predictions. The race is officially on, with front-runners beginning to take the lead and dark horses waiting in the wings to shake things up. Several movies have still not yet been released, but every film that hopes to qualify for the Oscars will be in theaters by the last day of December. Let's take a look at how the six major categories are taking shape, with the top ten contenders fighting for five coveted slots…

Gerard Butler, Machine Gun Preacher
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Chris Evans, Puncture

Michael Fassbender, Shame
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Tom Hardy, Warrior
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

The five most buzzed about performances by a Lead Actor are George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Michael Fassbender, Woody Harrelson, and Brad Pitt. For both Dujardin and Fassbender, this would be their first Oscar nomination. Harrelson and Pitt have each been nominated twice before- Harrelson for The People vs. Larry Flynt and The Messenger and Pitt for Twelve Monkeys and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Only Clooney has won an Oscar, in the Supporting Actor category for Syriana. He was nominated as Lead Actor in Michael Clayton and Up in the Air. Also look out for Leonardo DiCaprio, who could score a nomination for J. Edgar. He has three previous nominations (What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Aviator, and Blood Diamond), but no wins. Three of my favorite Lead Actor performances of the year: Chris Evans in Puncture, Gerard Butler in Machine Gun Preacher and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50.

Ellen Barkin, Another Happy Day
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meryl Streep, The Iron lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Right now the top five Lead Actress contenders are Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Elizabeth Olsen, Meryl Streep, and Michelle Williams. Olsen (the younger sister of Mary-Kate & Ashley) is the break-out star of the year and would receive her first Oscar nomination for Marcy Martha May Marlene. Close has yet to win an Oscar, though she was nominated five times in the '1980s (for The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, and Dangerous Liasons). Williams has been nominated twice (for Brokeback Mountain and Blue Valentine), while Davis has been nominated once before for Doubt. Last but not least, Streep is the most Oscar nominated actress in history, with sixteen career nominations. She first won for Kramer vs. Kramer and then, more recently, for Sophie's Choice – But that was nearly thirty years ago. Another Oscar is long overdue. You can also never discount the Academy’s fondness for Charlize Theron and Tilda Swinton, who have both previously won Oscars for their performances in Monster and Michael Clayton, respectively.

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Ben Kingsley, Hugo
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Best Supporting Actor category is looking like a face-off between veteran actors Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow, both eighty-two years old. They have each been nominated for Oscars before – Plummer for The Last Station and Von Sydow for Pelle the Conqueror – but neither has won. It is very possible that one of them will take home the prize this year. Rounding out the category will most likely be Kenneth Branagh (previously nominated for Henry V) and Albert Brooks (previously nominated for Broadcast News). Neither has won before. The final slot is a toss-up, though one of my personal favorites of the year would have to be Corey Stoll as “Ernest Hemingway” in Midnight in Paris.

Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Sandra Bullock, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Judy Greer, The Descendants
Anjelica Huston, 50/50
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Carey Mulligan, Shame
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

The Best Supporting Actress award belongs to Octavia Spencer for The Help. Hot on her heels is Shailene Woodley as George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendants. But the next 3 slots are up for grabs. It would be great to see Melissa McCarthy nominated for her scene-stealing role in the hit comedy Bridesmaids. Carey Mulligan holds her own opposite Michael Fassbender in Shame (and was previously nominated for An Education). Janet McTeer also stands out opposite Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs (and was previously nominated for Tumbleweeds). Sandra Bullock, who won the Oscar two years ago for The Blind Side, is back again this year in the not-yet-released Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (in theaters Christmas Day). Berenice Bejo may ride The Artist wave all the way to her first Oscar nomination. It also must be noted that this was Jessica Chastain’s year with 3 acclaimed performances in The Help, Take Shelter, and The Tree of Life – but that may lead to her splitting the votes with herself.

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Steve McQueen, Shame
Bennett Miller, Moneyball
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Steven Spielberg, War Horse
Tate Taylor, The Help

My two favorite films of the year, so far, are Midnight in Paris and The Descendants, and this could be a race between two deserving directors – Woody Allen and Alexander Payne. Allen, who has been nominated for an Oscar twenty-one times (as a writer, director, & actor) won the Best Director Oscar for '1977s Annie Hall. Payne was nominated for Best Director for '2004s Sideways, but has not yet won the directing award. He did win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Sideways (and was also previously nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Election). Also expected in this year’s Best Director category are two of the greats: Steven Spielberg for War Horse and Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Spielberg, nominated twelve times, won Best Director for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. Scorsese, nominated eight times, won Best Director for The Departed. The final slot looks like it could go to Stephen Daldry for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Daldry has been nominated three times before (for Billy Elliot, The Hours, and The Reader). But you can’t count out Bennett Miller for Moneyball (previously nominated for Capote) or David Fincher for the not-yet-released The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (previously nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network). Also strongly in the running: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Steve McQueen for Shame, and first-time director Tate Taylor for The Help.

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Help
The Ides of March
The Iron Lady
J. Edgar
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Midnight In Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse
Young Adult

With the possibility of ten nominees, the Best Picture category is still anybody’s guess. The eight films with the most heat right now are The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, and War Horse. There has been a lot of support for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as a way to honor the entire eight-film series. There are also high expectations for the much anticipated, not-yet-seen The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (in theaters December 21st). Smaller movies looking to make the cut this year are Beginners, Drive, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Shame. It will also be interesting to see what happens with The Tree of Life, the “love it or hate it” film of the year. Game on…

The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 24th, 2012.

The 84th Academy Awards will take place on February 26th, 2012.

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