Oscar 2011 Predictions, Round 1

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Shailene Woodley

With the Golden Globe nominations announced next week, plus a slew of critics awards, it’s time to try to get ahead of the curve of Oscar prognostication, but this year I gleefully throw up my hands and declare I know nothing. This year, at least in the all-important Best Picture category, is unusually fluid. I have no clue what the favorite to win is. Usually it’s down to only a few films by now, but there’s a wide variety of possibilities this year. Here goes nothing:

Best Picture

Locks: The Descendants, The Artist

Safe Bets: The Help; Midnight in Paris, Hugo, War Horse

Also Possible: Moneyball, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I’m really stretching the definition of “Lock,” since it wouldn’t unduly shock me if either of those two were left out. But I’m pretty sure the nominees, however many there are, will come from this list. The one film that could play spoiler is The Tree of Life. Incredibly Close has not had many screenings, so no one knows if its any good, but if it’s even half-way decent it has all the earmarks of Oscar bait.

Best Actor:

Locks: George Clooney (The Descendants), Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Safe Bets: Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Michael Fassbender (Shame)

Also possible: Woody Harrelson (Rampart), Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Michael Shannon, (Take Shelter), Ryan Gosling (Drive or The Ides of March).

If I’m right there are four actors pretty much set, with the fifth slot wide open, though I think Oldman is the frontrunner for it at this point.

Best Actress:

Locks: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Viola Davis (The Help)

Safe Bets: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)

Also Possible: Charline Theron (Young Adult), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Tilda Swinton (We Have to Talk About Kevin), Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia)

It’s not often the Best Actress category is this deep. My guess at this point is that Theron will get the fifth slot, so the entire category will be previous nominees.

Best Director:

Locks: Alexander Payne (The Descendants)  Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Safe Bets: Michael Hazavinicius (The Artist), Steven Spielberg (War Horse)

Also possible: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Terence Malick (The Tree of Life), Tate Taylor (The Help), David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Bennett Miller (Moneyball), Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Director goes the way of picture, as since the Best Picture category was expanded (admittedly a small sample size) no director has been nominated without his/her picture also nominated. That could change with Malick, who would seem to be more of a director’s darling than the average Academy member. But I’m going to guess Allen in the fifth slot.

Best Supporting Actor:

Locks: None

Safe Bets: Albert Brooks (Drive), Christopher Plummer (Beginners), Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn), Ben Kingsley (Hugo)

Also possible: Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)

This is a gloriously jumbled category, with no clear favorites at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the eventual winner isn’t even listed here.

Best Supporting Actress:

Locks: Octavia Spencer (The Help), Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)

Safe Bets: Jessica Chastain (The Help or Take Shelter), Berenice Bejo (The Artist)

Also possible: Vanessa Redgrave, (Coriolanus), Carey Mulligan (Shame), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)

The first four I’m pretty sure about, while the fifth is wide open and subject to a surprise.

Please note these are not my personal preferences. I will have a new slate of predictions before the nominations are announced in late January.

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

18 responses »

  1. I think these are the most likely:

    Picture: Hugo, Midnight in Paris
    Director: Scorsese, Payne, Allen, Malick
    Actor: Oldman, Clooney
    Actress: Theron, Streep
    Supporting Actor: Plummer, Nolte
    Supporting Actress: Spencer, Chastain (for something other than The Help)

  2. Is Midnight in Paris really an Oscar contender? I don’t follow Oscar tracking at all, and I’m really surprised if this is true. I thought it was decent myself, but I thought the critical consensus was more of the enjoyable-but-minor variety. I certainly don’t remember any of the reviews talking up its Oscar worthiness when it was released.

  3. I think the fact that it caught on so well with the public is a factor – it was one of Allen’s biggest hits. And speaking from personal experience, I know a lot of people who spoke very favourably about the film.

    I think it’s gained a bit of momentum from that despite being a mid-year release and when you factor in that Allen has always been a favourite of the Academy, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t score a nomination in writing at least.

  4. That seems to be the consensus of Oscar predictors, but of course that becomes a self-perpetuating circle jerk based on little evidence. Midnight in Paris got no mention from the NBR or the NYFCC, but those aren’t precise belwethers. It could even get ignored by the Golden Globes and still have a shot at some nominations, because as Marco says, he’s an Academy darling.

  5. Yep – Allen is an Oscar favorite and MIP is a lighter film – the kind with a much better shot these days thanks to changing the limit from five to up to ten. I think they’ll see it as audience pleasing, but it’s also an Allen movie so it must somehow be artsy. I’ll also throw The Help up there cause it’s audience pleasing, but about racism – but it’s non-threatening. Do The Right Thing – too much for the Academy. The Help – just right.

    The other thing is this is a WEAK year. The fact that Moneyball is a contender shows that.

  6. That’s funny, but honestly I think we agree frequently enough. It’s just that when we disagree, we can disagree pretty hard.

  7. While there have been the odd occasion of strong disagreement (Simpsons, Inception, last Indiana Jones movie) I would say Brian and JS are in fairly close agreement on movies more often than not.

  8. The Simpsons seasons 3-8 was the best thing on TV. The movie was no good. Inception is crazy overrated. Crystal Skull was terrible.

  9. The movie was AWFUL. I think I clocked 10 laughs. I laugh more times at a classic episode I’ve seen a dozen times.

    Anyway – I wonder if the Globes giving nods to Ides of March so Clooney will attend will influence the Oscars at all.

  10. If I had gotten 10 laughs from it, I would have considered it ‘decent’ instead of ‘pitiful’. As it is, my review at the time (I used to write reviews here sometimes) notes “only … a couple of moments from the film that I found even halfway amusing, and both involved some voice actor named ‘A. Brooks.'” And now I have no idea what those moments were; I’ve completely forgotten that Brooks even had a character in the movie.

    Yes, 10 laughs would have been a vast improvement.

  11. I haven’t seen any of the films themselves to make a personal judgement, but the plethora of films released this time of year considered to be Oscar contenders have from critics had a largely underwhelming response. I don’t follow it like JS does, but I suspect a film like ‘The Help’ which really caught on with the general public is a big chance in the BP race now (and Midnight in Paris as well).

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