This Sunday, the 84th Academy Awards, known as the ‘Oscars’, will take place at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles to commemorate the best films of 2011. This year’s host will be Billy Crystal, who has presented the awards on eight previous occasions and is returning for the first time since 2004.
The following article is a complete look at 2012’s incarnation of the biggest event on the movie calendar – I’ll be going through every awards category picking out the likely winners, potential surprises and overlooked no-hopers. Recently I managed to predict seven out of the eight major BAFTA Film Awards (my slip-up being the big surprise of the night, when The Skin I Live In pulled the rug from underneath the much-fancied A Separation‘s feet). Now, I’ll be looking to better that percentage here, and to provide some informative and (hopefully) entertaining insight for all you awards-fans.
This is going to be a lengthy piece, so I’ll be breaking it up with a few videos. First up, here’s Crystal’s excellent opening stint of the 1997 Oscar ceremony.
Can we hope for something of relative quality this year? Perhaps. Undoubtedly there will be a video skit that will parody the Best Picture nominees, which is more than welcome, hopefully with a decent set of writers working behind the scenes then it won’t feel too forced. Either way, it will have to do extremely well to be more of a shambles than last year.
We all remember James Franco’s Cheshire Cat performance with an uncomfortable squirm, and while Anne Hathaway was radiant on stage, and tried her best, it wasn’t enough to save the night.
The trailer for this year’s show was met with a relatively negative reception, but it’s merely a one-minute celebrity accumulation to advertise the awards and to announce that Crystal is back on the scene. Unfortunately, the one or two jokes in it are pretty weak. Check it out below.
Moving on, I’ll start in the doldrums, the categories that most people ignore and few predict. Seeing as there’s little interest here I’ll just rattle off a few predictions…
Best Documentary (Short Subject) – Saving Face, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Best Short Film (Animated) – The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
Best Short Film (Live Action) – The Shore, Terry George and Oorlagh George
Best Original Song – “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie
Now those are out of the way, we can get cracking with the minor, but still interesting, categories.
NB: I have placed the nominees in order of how likely I believe they are to win. My predictions are in blue, and the most likely to cause a surprise are in red.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
2. Hugo, Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
4. Real Steel, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
Comment: This is quite possibly the tightest category of the lot. I think either Hugo or Rise is a shoe-in, but picking between the two is nearly impossible. Traditionally, nominees in this category don’t win unless they also have a Best Picture nomination, but there are reasons to pick Rise too – Andy Serkis had backing from various sources to receive a Best Actor nomination, which he missed out on, so some might feel this is a gesture to make up for it. Alternatively, Hugo is in 3D, which could potentially put traditionalist members of the Academy off, despite Avatar triumphing in this category two years ago. My head says Hugo, my heart says Rise, in this instance I’m going with the latter.
BEST SOUND MIXING
1. Hugo, Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
2. Moneyball, Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
4. War Horse, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
Comment: Hugo is the favourite in this category after winning the top prize at the Cinema Audio Society Awards (the Sound Mixers Guild). The only other film out of the above to be nominated by CAS is Moneyball, and when you consider that, in the 18 years CAS has existed, no film has ever won the Oscar without their nomination, it has to be between those two. If the mould is to be broken then The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would in my opinion be a deserving winner, but you’d have to be brave to predict it.
BEST SOUND EDITING
1. Hugo, Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
2. Drive, Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ren Klyce
4. War Horse, Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
Comment: Often the award for Sound Editing is given to the winner of Sound Mixing so I’m going with Hugo again. However, seeing as Drive has been largely overlooked (this is its only nomination), there will be some who think it is due at least a little recognition, so I place it second, still some way behind the forerunner.
BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
1. The Artist, Ludovic Bource
2. Hugo, Howard Shore
3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
4. War Horse, John Williams
5. The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
Comment: After winning the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and just about everything else for his score for The Artist, Ludovic Bource looks certain to repeat his success on Sunday. Kim Novak will be pleased.
1. The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
3. Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
Comment: Will the Academy decide to chuck a token Oscar the way of Harry Potter? The series has received five nominations to date, and no wins. Answer – probably not, The Iron Lady seems the most likely.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
1. Iran, A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, director
2. Poland, In Darkness, Agnieszka Holland, director
3. Israel, Footnote, Joseph Cedar, director
4. Belgium, Bullhead, Michael R. Roskam, director
5. Canada, Monsieur Lazhar, Philippe Falardeau, director
Comment: Despite losing out to The Skin I Live In (not nominated here) at the Baftas, A Separation is the clear favourite to scoop this after winning the majority of comparable awards on the circuit.
BEST FILM EDITING
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
2. The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
3. Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen
4. Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker
5. The Descendants, Kevin Tent
Comment: I predict Dragon Tattoo to cause an upset here and take this prize away from The Artist, it could be one of the night’s major shocks.
BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)
1. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
2. Pina, Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
3. If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
4. Hell and Back Again, Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
5. Undefeated, TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Rich Middlemas
Comment: The third entry in the much-acclaimed Paradise Lost trilogy, Purgatory has a good chance because of its weight of media coverage in comparison with the other four nominees. The series is credited with generating lots of support for the innocence of the West Memphis 3 and has attracted plenty of attention since the first instalment aired in 1996. Pina and If a Tree Falls are neck-and-neck alternatives.
Time for a quick break – here’s one of the funniest videos that came out of last year’s ceremony.
1. The Artist, Mark Bridges
2. Hugo, Sandy Powell
3. Jane Eyre, Michael O’Connor
4. W.E., Arianne Phillips
5. Anonymous, Lisy Christl
Comment: I see this category going largely by the numbers, whichever film out of The Artist and Hugo has the more prolific night will probably take it.
1. The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
2. The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman
3. Hugo, Robert Richardson
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jeff Cronenweth
5. War Horse, Janusz Kaminski
Comment: I see this as another close race. I think Hugo‘s 3D might edge it out of favour, so it’s between The Tree of Life and The Artist. Lubezki’s cinematography has been much-lauded, more so than Schiffman’s, and he has won the majority of awards to-date. He was also snubbed for Children of Men back in 2007, I predict that The Academy will make it up to him here.
BEST ART DIRECTION
1. Hugo, Dante Ferretti (Production Design); Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration)
2. The Artist, Laurence Bennett (Production Design); Robert Gould (Set Decoration)
3. Midnight in Paris, Anne Seibel (Production Design); Hélène Dubreuil (Set Decoration)
4. War Horse, Rick Carter (Production Design); Lee Sandales (Set Decoration)
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Stuart Craig (Production Design); Stephenie McMillan (Set Decoration)
Comment: I see Hugo doing well in the technical categories and falling short in the major categories, and I give it the edge here. The Artist is in with a good chance, as it is with every award it received a nomination for, and I could see Midnight in Paris potentially pulling off an upset.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. The Descendants, screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
2. Moneyball, screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
3. The Ides of March, screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan
5. Hugo, Screenplay by John Logan
Comment: This award will be an excellent chance to honour one of the night’s less prolific films, and as such I expect it to go to either The Descendants or Moneyball. Tinker Tailor may have won the BAFTA but I find a repeat success unlikely and I predict a more America-friendly winner here. The Moneyball screenplay has been much-lauded – apparently it’s adapted from an un-adaptable book – and maybe if it had been solely written by Aaron Sorkin I could see it winning. However, I think this will be the moment to honour The Descendants, which is in danger of being largely overlooked in the major categories, but Moneyball could spring a surprise.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. Midnight in Paris, written by Woody Allen
2. The Artist, written by Michel Hazanavicius
3. Margin Call, written by J.C. Chandor
4. Bridesmaids, written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
5. A Separation, written by Asghar Farhadi
Comment: While Woody Allen may have missed out at the Baftas, I doubt lightning will strike twice. Hazanivicius has claimed that people fail to grasp how much screenplay goes into a silent film, and he’s right to point that out, but this is Allen’s category this year.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
1. Rango, Gore Verbinski
2. Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
3. A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
4. Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
5. Puss in Boots, Chris Miller
Comment: I would love to suggest that the fantastic Chico & Rita has a chance, but it may have to be satisfied with a (surprise) nomination. Rango looks set to triumph.
One final break before we hit the big six categories – here’s one of my favourite Oscar speeches of all time.
1. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2. Alexander Payne, The Descendants
3. Martin Scorsese, Hugo
4. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
5. Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Comment: While Hazanavicius seems the likely winner, picking who’s most likely to challenge him is a tricky task. I’m going for Alexander Payne as the man holding second place, but you can make a case for both Scorsese (under-accoladed legendary American auteur) and Malick (Hollywood outsider but well-respected in certain circles). Woody Allen seems unlikely.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Christopher Plummer, Beginners
2. Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
3. Nick Nolte, Warrior
4. Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
5. Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Comment: If either Plummer or Von Sydow triumph here, they will be the oldest person to ever win an acting Oscar. I put those two out in front, with Nick Nolte the potential upset. Plummer, however, seems almost a dead-cert to triumph after winning virtually every other Supporting Actor award throughout the season.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Octavia Spencer, The Help
2. Jessica Chastain, The Help
3. Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
4. Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
5. Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Comment: After triumphing at the majority of award ceremonies, I expect Octavia Spencer to continue her success here. Both Chastain and Bejo are potential surprises – the former has had a fantastic and prominent overall year, and the latter could get swept up on The Artist‘s coattails. Both are possible but unlikely.
1. Jean Dujardin, The Artist
2. George Clooney, The Descendants
3. Brad Pitt, Moneyball
4. Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
5. Demián Bichir, A Better Life
Comment: After winning the recent BAFTA and SAG award, Dujardin is the favourite. Don’t entirely discount Clooney though, he’s a popular guy out there and he’s only ever won a Supporting Actor Oscar. My logic for presuming Dujardin will win is that Brad Pitt may take some of the aforementioned popularity vote, another leading man largely overlooked (two nominations, no wins). Gary Oldman may have been the outside bet but after losing out at the Baftas I can’t see a shock.
1. Viola Davis, The Help
2. Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
3. Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
4. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
5. Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Comment: A close call between Viola Davis and Meryl Streep, with Michelle Williams as the only likely upset. This really could go either way, but Davis’ SAG award, along with the apparent popularity of The Help with The Academy, tips it in her favour.
1. The Artist
2. The Help
6. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
7. The Tree of Life
8. War Horse
9. Midnight in Paris
Comment: The Artist is the frontrunner, and it will be a big upset if it doesn’t triumph on Sunday. The Help appears to have support within The Academy, so I put that in second, The Descendants has some early support but that appears to have dried up since, Moneyball has an outside bet, just slightly more than Hugo in my view. Regardless, I thoroughly expect The Artist to take home the night’s major honour.
So there we have it, my official predictions/analysis of the 84th Academy Awards. I have concluded The Artist will take home 7 awards, a very healthy haul. If it does so, Jean Dujardin will be the first every Frenchman to win the Best Actor prize, and Hazanavicius will only be the second French-born person to take home Best Director (after Roman Polanski did for The Pianist). The Artist would also be the first predominantly silent film to win the Best Picture Oscar since Wings in 1927. Will the Academy turn the tables on form and refuse to honour a French movie so heavily? Will The Help spring a surprise and take a handful of major awards? Are Moneyball and The Descendants poised for an upset? Find out on Sunday!