In these very serious and not at all snarky Oscar nominations predictions, I wanted to begin by criticizing AMPAS for being conservative, self-serving and too politically correct, singling out members that double as nominees. I also wanted to discuss how demanding it is to watch an absurdly long and lackluster televised Oscars ceremony, and how E! has made bastardly portmanteaus like "amazeballs" synonymous with actresses who dress like aquatic birds. I even figured if I discussed wanting to discuss it, I'd be all meta and hip, unlike the Academy, who, well, is not.
But I'm a film buff, and although my YouTube attention span can only handle the last hour or so of the broadcast, I'll still tune in and catch awkward celebrity presenters give away more Oscars than Swedish adoption agencies. And like every movie junkie this side of Tinseltown, I fancy myself an expert worthy of forecasting nominees based on a number of scholarly sources -- namely, Rotten Tomatoes, /Film, and my Facebook news feed.
In addition, since the new Oscar balloting system is more puzzling than federal income tax rate schedules, I finalized my picks by consulting Hialeah santeros, shaking magic eight balls and pinning-the-tail-on-the-shortlists in categories where Nielsen actually quantifies viewers - or Animated Feature up through Best Movie to be exact. I'll keep my fingers crossed until tomorrow to see if the results below hold up.
If the Academy goes with ten noms again, we'll likely see most of the following titles:
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
Bridesmaids or The Ides of March
Although the last slot will likely go to War Horse, Spielberg's
melodramatic Family Channel fare reminds me of a trip to dinner/horseback attraction Arabian Nights in Orlando where I went home
with gastroenteritis, and so I'm picketing against it.
Favorite: The Artist. Director Michel Hazanavicius could admit to
selling advanced missile systems to Iran and still nab the trophy.
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
David Fincher, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Last year's Oscars were heralded as the year when young, wild Hollywood
would get its due - even if its chief mutineers are now well into
their 40s. Still, The King's Speech robbed Fincher of both Best Director
and Best Film, confirming suspicions that British biopics are the
equivalent of newborn puppies at the Academy. A Fincher nomination here
is like the call after a hopeful job interview where the company admits
they're not rushing to prepare your W-4 but encourage you to keep in
Favorite: Still Hazanavicius.
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Brad Pitt, Moneyball or Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
DiCaprio is like Samuel L. Jackson - until the gray locks start
sprouting, there's no proof he's actually aging, so it's likely he'll
have a few more shots at Oscar gold. Moreover, Gary Oldman was treated
warmly at the BAFTAs and will likely do well among the Academy's British
voting block, possibly upsetting Brad Pitt's nom for his math-nerd
And Fassbender? Well, if Oscars categories were like sponsored Tweets,
I'm sure a Hugh Hefner type would fund a category for his 'talents' in
the NC-17 rated Shame.
Favorite: Clooney. While The Descendants is blatant Oscar-bait, it was
amusing to see one of the 'sexiest stars alive' play a beta male cuckold
that never repeats an Aloha shirt.
Viola Davis, The Help
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Rooney Mara, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
I personally think Michelle Williams shined in the grossly
underappreciated Meek's Cutoff, but the specter of Marilyn Monroe on the
Academy is like mildew on the Hollywood Sign. She's a sight for sore,
red-blooded eyes wearing little more than a Stella McCartney brassiere
on that new GQ cover, though.
Favorite: Viola Davis. She's nabbed more gold than Jared this season.
Also, Meryl Streep's yearly nods seems like the result of a Contra-esque
NES code or something.
Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Al Brooks, Drive
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonah Hill stands a chance for his performance in Moneyball, and while
it'd be rewarding to watch a before-and-after weight loss diptych take the award home, the sound guys may have a hard time bleeping out
his profanity-laden word vomit.
Favorite: Christopher Plummer. He's two years younger than the trophy - throw him a bone.
Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, either The Help, Tree of Life or Take Shelter
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Carey Mulligan, Shame
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Favorite: Chastain. She killed it in three movies this season. That's
like a LeBron James triple double...from the bench with a sprained ankle.
Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Tom McCharthy and Joe Tibani, Win Win
Will Reiser, 50/50
Mike Mills, Beginners
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Diablo Cody, Young Adult
Favorite: Michel Hazana-VICIOUS for that silent movie everyone digs.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne and Jim Rash, The Descendants
Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Hossein Amini, Drive
John Logan, Hugo
Favorite: Anyone but Payne et al. Despite heaps of praise, The
Descendants doesn't deserve the cultural significance it's been pegged
with, given its generic subplots, robotic characters and juvenile
examination of human fortitude. The script is condescending and cold, as
if the camera was permanently angled down on the cast (who was
excellent, by the way, sans the ungraceful aging of Matthew Lillard). I
wouldn't watch it again under threat of castration.
Best Documentary Feature
Bill Cunningham: New York
Favorite: Project Nim is about a monkey raised as a human in an Upper
West Side brownstone in the '70s, produced by the guys who took home the
golden dwarf for Man On Wire. Duh.
Best Foreign Language Film
A Separation, Iran
Where Do We Go Now?, Lebanon
In Darkness, Poland
Le Havre, Finland
Monsieur Lazhar, Canada
Although A Separation deserves to win by most accounts, the ever-polemic
Best Foreign Film trophy will likely go to an undeserving film with
more Hollywood-friendly fodder, as was the case when Michael Haneke (The
White Ribbon) was fleeced in 2010.
Favorite: Remove A Separation and roll the dice.
Best Animated Feature
Not worth name-dropping the competition. It's all Rango.
Final note: It's clear Woody Allen will score a shitload of nominations
next week, but am I the only person on the planet that thinks Midnight
in Paris is all hype? Not only is Woody's dialogue as formulaic as Owen
Wilson's unyielding awe, but the plot line trivializes an era in
American literature that produced two Nobel laureates and set in motion
the freewheeling debauchery we romanticize in today's society.
I don't mean to be a contrarian on this one -- I mean, it's a miracle
he's been able to maintain James Patterson levels of prolificness at his
age - but magical realism just doesn't translate properly into works
outside of Latin America. Midnight in Paris doesn't scream 'auteur' as
much as it bids adieu, and it was kaput for me once I saw Adrien Brody
cast as Salvador Dali. With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if he
took a switchblade to the trophy's neck and held it for ransom,
considering he's been snubbed for decades.
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Highlight? Watching it in SoHo behind Mad Men star Elizabeth Moss.