As I’ve been covering awards season pretty extensively here on the site over the past few months, I figured it would be appropriate to (foolishly) try to predict the upcoming Oscar nominations. It’s been a fairly tame year, as a few frontrunners were singled out early in the race and have held their ground throughout the grueling awards season. We haven’t been without a few surprises, as Steven Spielberg’s War Horse took a massive tumble following snubs from most of the major guilds, and David Fincher has surged back into the race bringing his adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with him.
Though there are plenty of safe bets when it comes to the 2012 Oscar nominations, there are still a few wildcards and tricky categories. I’ve put on my prognosticating cap (those interested can purchase one of these nifty hats at your local Target) and compiled a list of who and what I think will make the cut. Hit the jump to see how I think the nods will stack up when they’re announced on January 24th.
*Note: Due to an Academy rule change, this year there will be somewhere between five and 10 nominees for Best Picture. The number won’t be revealed until the nominations are announced, so I’m taking a wild guesstimate and predicting there will be seven. In any case, I’ve listed the contenders in order of most likely to be nominated to least likely. So in the event that there are five nominees, cut off my list at five and those would be my picks. On to the future predicting!
Midnight in Paris
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Alternates: War Horse, Bridesmaids, The Tree of Life
The Artist is the frontrunner here and has been for months. There’s much debate over which film stands the best shot against the silent pic (Hugo, The Descendants, The Help), but at the end of the day, The Artist remains number one. Many thought War Horse was a sure thing, but the film failed to land nominations from the Writers Guild, Screen Actors Guild, Art Directors Guild, and Directors Guild. The guilds are major predictors of the eventual Oscar nominees, and a weak showing leads me to believe that War Horse will be lacking from the list of Best Picture nominees.
As David Fincher took Spielberg’s “spot” in the Directors Guild nominations, and given that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has scored mentions from quite a few of the other guilds as well, it’s looking like the adaptation that many initially wrote off may actually appear in the big category come Oscar night. Dragon Tattoo is the one I’m least sure about in the Best Picture field; I wouldn’t be shocked if War Horse or Bridesmaids sneaked in, but given its strong guild showing I’m inclined to believe that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be a Best Picture nominee.
Martin Scorsese – Hugo
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
David Fincher – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Alternates: Steven Spielberg, Terrence Malick, Bennett Miller
The Best Director category often resembles the DGA list, and I think this year the two will most likely match up. Hazanavicius, Payne, and Scorsese are near locks, and Allen’s a pretty safe bet as Midnight in Paris is being hailed as his best film in years. Fincher is the wild card, as few (if any) pegged him to land a DGA nod this year. Some could argue the Academy feels bad for snubbing him last year in favor of The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper, but I think he’ll make the cut regardless. That said, Spielberg is still a possibility because, you know, he’s Steven Spielberg. My dark horse pick for this category is Bennett Miller for Moneyball. It’s a longshot, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see his name land among the nominees in a move similar to Jason Reitman’s Best Director nomination for Juno.
George Clooney – The Descendants
Brad Pitt – Moneyball
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Michael Fassbender – Shame
Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Alternates: Leonardo DiCaprio, Demian Bichir, Woody Harrelson
You’d be forgiven for thinking this year’s Best Actor race was a contest for Most Handsome Man Ever. Clooney and Pitt are the frontrunners, with Dujardin threatening to pull an upset due to that Artist love that’s spreading by the minute. Oldman is far from a sure thing, but I think the Academy will finally choose to recognize this outstanding actor for his impressive work in the intricate spy thriller Tinker Tailor. Seriously, how has Oldman never been nominated for an Oscar?
If by some travesty Oldman doesn’t make the cut, expect to see DiCaprio land a nod for his turn in J. Edgar. While he’s certainly done much better work, DiCaprio has racked up a fair amount of recognition for the biopic and many are pitting him as a near-lock. I’m thinking Fassbender will rightfully be recognized for his extraordinary turn in Shame, but he and Oldman are the two I’m least confident about. Demian Bichir earned a SAG nom out of nowhere for A Better Life and Woody Harrelson has been turning heads for Rampart, so they remain possibilitiesas well.
Viola Davis – The Help
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn
Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Alternates: Glenn Close, Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Olsen
For months, the Best Actress race seemed locked as Viola Davis was the undisputed frontrunner to take home the trophy; then Streep came a-calling. The Iron Lady finally opened in theaters and—despite a lackluster reception to the film overall—Streep has been singled out for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. In my opinion, Tilda Swinton gave the best performance of the year in We Need to Talk About Kevin and I expect she’ll at least land a nomination here. Michelle Williams has also become a staple in early awards precursors, so I expect she’ll land a nod.
I’m going out on a limb with Mara, but I think given the late surge of Dragon Tattoo, voters will want to recognize her stellar, transformative performance. Most believe Close will get the nomination for Albert Nobbs (she does play a man, after all), so she’s definitely a possibility, but I’m stubbornly sticking with Mara.
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Albert Brooks – Drive
Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill – Moneyball
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Alternates: Max von Sydow, Patton Oswalt, Armie Hammer
Legendary actor Christopher Plummer has been picking up awards left and right for his work in Beginners, and he’s as close to a lock as you’re gonna find come Oscar night. Albert Brooks was an early awards favorite for his brilliantly nasty performance in Drive, but he was inexplicably shut out of the SAG race. I still think he’ll land a nomination from the Academy, but the lack of SAG consideration is definitely a detriment to his chances of winning.
Kenneth Branagh should squeeze in for his portrayal of Sir Lawrence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn, and Jonah Hill (yes, that Jonah Hill) is poised to land a nod for his work in Moneyball. The field here is relatively open, so the final spot could be filled by a number of actors including Patton Oswalt for Young Adult and Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close . However, I think Nick Nolte will be recognized for his work in the underseen Warrior.
Octavia Spencer – The Help
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Berenice Bejo – The Artist
Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs
Jessica Chastain – The Help
Alternates: Shailene Woodley, Carey Mulligan
Best Supporting Actress is another category that has fluctuated quite a bit over the past few months. Shailene Woodley began as a shoo-in for her nuanced work in The Descendants, but that film has lost considerable steam as of late and Woodley failed to land on the SAG shortlist. I don’t think she has the clout or recognition to overcome the snub (as I think Brooks will), so she’s been sidelined in favor of the new frontrunner Octavia Spencer.
Following closely behind Spencer is Melissa McCarthy. Though you may scoff at the notion of including her on this list, McCarthy has landed on nearly every single major critics list and awards nomination ballot thus far. Berenice Bejo should get in for Oscar favorite The Artist, as should Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs. Jessica Chastain is less of a sure-thing, but I think the Academy will want to recognize her for the incredible year she’s had. Though I think she’s more deserving for The Tree of Life, she was undeniably a stand-out in the ginormous ensemble of The Help and a nod for Chastain would make me incredibly happy.
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo – Bridesmaids
Will Reiser – 50/50
Todd McCarthy – Win Win
Alternates: Diablo Cody for Young Adult, Asghar Farhadi for A Separation
Woody Allen has been picking up numerous accolades for what many consider one of his best films in years, so he’s the slight frontrunner in the original screenplay race for Midnight in Paris. Close behind is Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. Yes, silent films have screenplays too and the Academy will most likely want to recognize the difficult task of writing a movie that has no dialogue. I also think Kristen Wiig will become an Oscar nominee for she and Annie Mumolo’s Bridesmaids script. What could have easily become “The Hangover with women” was actually a fairly sweet and painfully funny ensemble comedy.
Will Reiser and Todd McCarthy aren’t exactly a surety, but I think Resier’s fantastic script for 50/50 will deservingly make the cut. I’m less sure about McCarthy, and I could definitely see Diablo Cody taking his spot, but my gut says the Academy will want to recognize Win Win in some way, and a screenplay nod would single out McCarthy’s comedy.
Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin – Moneyball
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash – The Descendants
Tate Taylor – The Help
John Logan – Hugo
Steven Zaillian – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Alternates: Richard Curtis and Lee Hall for War Horse, George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon for The Ides of March
A batch of veterans and a newcomer are poised to make up the Best Adapted Screenplay field. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin are the deserved frontrunners for their magnificent Moneyball script, and I have a feeling Sorkin will win his second Oscar in a row this year. Payne, Faxon and Rash’s script for The Descendants stands a decent shot at a win (how great would it be to see Community’s Dean Pelton onstage?), but they’ve got some stiff competition from Tate Taylor’s impressive adaptation of The Help.
John Logan is a contender for Hugo, though I seriously doubt he has a chance at a win. Zaillian may very well find himself a double nominee, as his Dragon Tattoo adaptation scored a WGA nod alongside Moneyball. War Horse would have a better shot had it not been nearly shut out by the guilds, and I think the script for The Ides of March is a serious dark horse candidate here. Ides has been sadly absent from many precursors, but if anything has a shot at knocking off Dragon Tattoo I think it’s Ides.
That about does it for the major categories. I won’t make a total fool of myself by trying to predict the technical nominees, so feel free to weigh in with your picks. Joins us back here on Tuesday when the nominations are announced.