The 2012 Academy Awards Nominations: Our Educated Guesses

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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.

Best Picture

If the Academy goes with ten noms again, we'll likely see most of the following titles:

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The Artist

The Descendants


The Help

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.

Best Director

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.

Best Actor

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

Dark Horse:

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

baseball flick.

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.

Best Actress

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

Dark Horse:

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


Project Nim

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.

Highlight? Watching it in SoHo behind Mad Men star Elizabeth Moss.

--Ahmed Mori

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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