Generation Film’s 2012 Oscar Predictions

Academy Awards 2012

The following is a duel list consisting of what will most likely win (my ballot picks) and then who I think should rightfully receive the recognition. Hopefully you’ll enjoy agreeing or disagreeing with the list and hopefully you’ll post your own to compete with my own ballot (last year I got 20 out of 24). Good luck!

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

Tree of Life

War Horse

Who Will Win: The Artist; Who Should Win: Hugo

Don’t get me wrong. The Artist is a fantastic crowd pleaser of a film that took me by surprise the first time I saw it. It’s a worthy best picture winner and probably will win after a Producer’s Guild, Director’s Guild, and Golden Globe win. However, I can’t get rid of this feeling that The Artist is just sort of a novelty for our time and age. It’s quite the throwback to the silent era and a fantastic homage to such great cinema classics such as The Thin Man, A Star is Born, Sunset Blvd., and Citizen Kane. But as reverential films go this year there is none more glorious, epic, and beautiful as Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the graphic novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. After seeing this film a couple of times now it truly gets better and more meaningful after more viewings. Compare this to The Artist and how each time it is seen it loses a little more of that magic that grabs you originally. Personally I would have liked to see the existential Drive or the meticulous spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy competing for the best picture slot instead of War Horse, The Help, or Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. But the Academy seems to go for more sentimental films instead of truly daring artistic pieces.

Best Directing

Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)

Alexander Payne (The Descendants)

Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)

Terrance Malick (Tree of Life)

Who Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius; Who Should Win: Martin Scorsese

Again, Michel Hazanavicius is a deserving contender this year for best director and will most likely take home the prize after a DGA win. But Hugo was another film that Scorsese will inevitably be ignored for just like he has in times past for Raging Bull and Goodfellas (The Departed wasn’t necessarily deserved, simply long overdue). Watching the mixture of tightly planned tracking shots, actual sets amidst digital sets, and fantastic performances from adults and children throughout Hugo shows Scorsese as a master of the craft of direction. But this could also be said for Hazanavicius and his use of classic movie sets, intriguing framing, and capturing the paradoxically exaggerated controlled performances from his actors. I do think that Woody Allen is a bit out of place in this category despite how delightful Midnight in Paris was. It would have been better to see Swedish director Tomas Alfredson compete with his incredibly ambient yet undeviating direction of the complex spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Maybe even Nicholas Winding Refn for Drive. Both are up and coming directors who will get their chance in the spotlight for sure.

Best Actor

Damian Bichir (A Better Life)

George Clooney (The Descendants)

Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)

Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Who Will Win: Jean Dujardin; Who Should Win: Gary Oldman

This is clearly a post that is beating up on The Artist, which I can’t express my love for it enough. Jean Dujardin is a worthy recipient and any day that George Clooney doesn’t win is a good day (probably one of the most overrated actors of our day). If it wasn’t for Dujardin’s fantastic control and charm on the screen The Artist would not have been nearly as good as it ended up being. This category does show us what is really wrong with the Academy and their picks for Best Actor revealing that it’s more about drastic displays of emotion rather than fierce control and understanding of a character. I’m glad to see Gary Oldman up for such an incredibly understated performance that is usually not recognized by the award season (look at the Golden Globes and SAG nominations). This is why Michael Shannon, Michael Fassbender, and Ryan Gosling all didn’t get recognized because all of their performances were more internal than acrobatically external (Brad Pitt’s rage, George Clooney’s crying, and to a lesser extent Damian Bichir).

Best Actress

Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)

Viola Davis (The Help)

Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Who Will Win: Viola Davis; Who Should Win: Tilda Swinton

I’m one of those stubborn negative Nancy’s who thought The Help was a very pleasant film but really forgettable. This isn’t to say that Viola’s performance wasn’t good because it really was and she deserves the nomination well before some of her competitors such as the phoned in contrite performance by Meryl Streep or the moody, over the top performance by Rooney Mara (see Noomi Rapace in the Swedish adaptation and you’ll see where the character needs to find that balance of control and anger). But the true staying performance from this year by a lead actress was from Tilda Swinton in the deranged British drama We Need to Talk About Kevin who was up for the Golden Globe and SAG award but was neglected by the Academy. And I won’t stop there because there were plenty of other performances that were far more impressive or possess more staying power than Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs or Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn. How about the narcissistic character study that Charlize Theron took on in Young Adult? Even Olivia Coleman in the brooding Tyrannosaur sticks with me more or Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene (not a fan of the movie personally but her performance was more impressive than Meryl Streep’s). Very different nominees than what I was expecting but then again this category seems to always be relatively unpredictable.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)

Jonah Hill (Moneyball)

Nick Nolte (Warrior)

Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)

Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer; Who Should Win: Albert Brooks

If we were going to go for an award based on age than we should note that Max Von Sydow is just as old as Christopher Plummer and gives an equally heart-wrenching performance. Plummer is the favorite to win the award for his portrayal as a late out of the closet father in the partially flat drama Beginners. Plummer is deserving of an award considering how long he has been around in the movies and has only been nominated once before. But no performance stood out more in a supporting role than the Academy snubbed nomination of Albert Brooks in Drive. His commanding presence, gallows humor, and playing against type was both frightening and surprising all at the same time. It’s a real shame he got overshadowed by Jonah Hill playing…well Jonah Hill and Nick Nolte whose ability to be unintelligible is mistaken for deep acting. Over the previously mentioned two I would have considered either Viggo Mortensen in A Dangerous Method, Benedict Cumberbatch or Mark Strong in Tinker Tailor, or Patton Oswalt in Young Adult.

Best Supporting Actress

Berenice Bejo (The Artist)

Jessica Chastain (The Help)

Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)

Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)

Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer; Who Should Win: Berenice Bejo

Another film it looks like I’m beating up on is The Help. Octavia Spencer will win so don’t worry those who haven’t seen her in other films and seen how she acts the exact same way in all of them. She grabbed hold of a well written part (probably the best character to portray in the film) and rode with it in her typical acting fashion and is getting recognized for doing it because it had a civil rights/cultural context. If the Academy is going to give it to Spencer they might as well give it to Melissa McCarthy who was just as on point if not more so in Bridesmaids. It was a shame to not see Shailene Woodley for The Descendants or Carey Mulligan for Shame for consideration over Janet McTeer.

Best Original Screenplay

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)

Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo, Kristin Wiig)

Margin Call (J.C. Chandor)

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)

A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)

Who Will Win: Midnight in Paris; Who Should Win: A Separation

Perhaps I’ll upset Midnight in Paris fans here but there is something all too familiar about the script when you know Woody Allen’s 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo. There is a similarity of escapism and the idea of throwing things out of balance when you dabble in two unfamiliar worlds. It will win and it’s a well suited win considering how well the idea was executed in a slightly different way. But I’m a little too partial to the Iranian film A Separation that really tackled complex characters, varying perceptions, and moral questions in a mere two hours. It was a drama that was positively riveting even if you didn’t have subtitles explaining what they were saying. Really A Separation should be up for Best Picture this year and it’s a shame that the Academy doesn’t take advantage of their new up to 10 nominations to recognize some really great foreign titles.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash)

Hugo (John Logan)

The Ides of March (George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon)

Moneyball (Steven Zallian, Aaron Sorkin)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Peter Straughan, Bridget O’Connor)

Who Will Win: The Descendants; Who Should Win: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hugo

This is a difficult category to really pin down since it really isn’t about how well the screenwriters adapted the source material but rather how well the drama unfolds on the screen. The uncomfortable truth about The Descendants is that it’s a rather lazy film coming from the capable talent of Alexander Payne and the more you see it the drama becomes more and more pointless to experience. Everything in the film is put together relatively well but if you ask yourself, “what’s the point?” then you’ll find there really isn’t one. Not that my opinion matters anyway because it will certainly grab the adaptation prize giving Payne his second Academy Award for that category (and third nomination). Considering how difficult the source material is for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy it’s incredible they were able to chisel it down to a palpable two hours. And perhaps it was the film’s epic power hold over me but Hugo’s source material is quite a delightful Dickensian tale that was masterfully brought to life.

Animated Feature

A Cat in Paris (Alain Gagnol, Jean-Loup Felicoli)

Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson)

Puss in Boots (Chris Miller)

Rango (Gore Verbinski)

Who Will Win: Rango; Who Should Win: Rango

If The Adventures of Tin Tin had grabbed a nomination it would have been the favorite to win leaving me to explain why Rango deserves a Best Animated Feature win. Quite simply it was the most unique, visually commanding, and whimsically fun of the all the films up for the award. From its Ennio Moricone-esque score to the use of Western homage, Gore Verbinski certainly knew how to make an Animated Feature that was entertaining to both children and adults which is what Pixar used to be known for until they made the abomination Cars 2 (you’ll notice this is Pixar’s first time not being nominated ever since the category was introduced).

Documentary Feature

Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis, Mike Lerner)

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman)

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky)

Pina (Wim Wenders, Gian-Piero Ringel)

Undefeated (TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay, Rich Middlemas)

Who Will Win: Pina; Who Should Win: Pina, Senna, Buck, Project Nim

This was surprising to me because I had seen a lot of good documentaries this year yet most of them did not make the Best Documentary Feature cut. I’m asking myself where is Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams or his other documentary that came out this year, Into the Abyss. Project Nim or Senna certainly were Academy worthy and probably could have secured a win here if they had been nominated. The experts tell me that Paradise Lost 3 will win the award (almost a guarantee they say) and yet I see myself rooting for the beautifully shot Wim Wenders’ documentary Pina. We shall see who comes out on top here.

Best Cinematography

The Artist (Guillaume Schiffman)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Jeff Cronenweth)

Hugo (Robert Richardson)

The Tree of Life (Emanuel Lubezki)

War Horse (Janusz Kaminski)

Who Will Win: Tree of Life; Who Should Win: Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Probably the only award Terrance Malick’s philosophical film The Tree of Life will actually receive since it really was the film’s strong suit. Tree of Life as well as two of the other nominees are epic pieces of photography (War Horse, Hugo) so it really should be noted that Hoyt Van Hotema should have been recognized (as he was for the cinematographer’s guild prize) for his moody and atmospheric work on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. My personal choice though would be to award the exceptional 3D cinematography in Hugo, which was diverse, colorful, deep, and exquisitely planned.

Art Direction

The Artist (Laurence Bennett-Production Design; Robert Gould-Set Decoration)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (Stuart Craig- Production Design; Stephanie McMillan-Set Decoration)

Hugo (Dante Ferretti- Production Design; Francesca Lo Schiavo- Set Decoration)

Midnight in Paris (Anne Siebel- Production Design; Helene Dubreuil- Set Decoration)

War Horse (Rick Carter- Production Design; Lee Sandales- Set Decoration)

Who Will Win: Hugo; Who Should Win: Hugo

No contest. Hugo’s vast sets, period locations, and re-imagining of an old movie studio should give this film a win for how well it was all seamlessly constructed.

Costume Design

Anonymous (Lisy Christl)

The Artist (Mark Bridges)

Hugo (Sandy Powell)

Jane Eyre (Michael O’Connor)

W.E. (Arianne Phillips)

Who Will Win: The Artist; Who Should Win: The Artist

Period pieces always get nominated and they all usually have great uses of old costuming. Here it will probably go to The Artist for bringing to life the class and spectacle of the silent era through costume in a pitch perfect way.

Film Editing

The Artist (Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius)

The Descendants (Kevin Tent)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall)

Hugo (Thelma Schoonmaker)

Moneyball (Christopher Tellefson)

Who Will Win: The Artist; Who Should Win: Hugo

Foreign Language Film

Bullhead– Belgium (Michael R. Roskam)

Monsieur Lazhar– Canada (Phillipe Falardeau)

A Separation– Iran (Asghar Farhadi)

Footnote– Israel (Joseph Cedar)

In Darkness– Poland (Agnieszka Holland)

Who Will Win: A Separation; Who Should Win: A Separation

Original Score

The Adventures of Tin Tin (John Williams)

The Artist (Ludovic Bource)

Hugo (Howard Shore)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Alberto Iglesias)

War Horse (John Williams)

Who Will Win: The Artist; Who Should Win: The Artist

Original Song

“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets (Bret McKenzie)

“Real in Rio” from Rio (Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, Siedah Garrett)

Who Will Win: “Man or Muppet” Bret McKenzie; Who Should Win: “Man or Muppet” Bret McKenzie

Best Make Up

 

Albert Nobbs (Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston, Matthew M. Mungle)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin)

The Iron Lady (Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland)

Who Will Win: The Iron Lady; Who Should Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2

Short Film (Live Action)

 

Pentecost (Peter McDonald)

Raju (Max Zahle, Stefan Gieren)

The Shore (Terry George, Oorlagh George)

Time Freak (Andrew Bowler, Gigi Causey)

Tuba Atlantic (Hallver Witzo)

Who Will Win: The Shore; Who Should Win: Who Knows

Short Film (Animated)

Dimanche/Sunday (Patrick Doyon)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg)

La Luna (Enrico Casarosa)

A Morning Stroll (Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe)

Wild Life (Amanda Forbis, Wndy Tilby)

Who Will Win: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore; Who Should Win: Who Knows

Documentary Short

 

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement (Robin Fryday, Gail Dolgin)

God is the Bigger Elvis (Rebecca Cammisa, Julie Anderson)

Incident in New Baghdad (James Spione)

Saving Face (Daniel Junge)

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (Lucy Walker, Kira Carstensen)

Who Will Win: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom; Who Should Win: Who Knows

Sound Mixing

Drive (Lon Bender, Victor Ray Ennis)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Ren Klyce)

Hugo (Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl)

War Horse (Richard Hymns, Gary Rydstrom)

Who Will Win: Hugo; Who Should Win: Drive

Sound Editing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Bo Persson)

Hugo (Tom Fleischman, John Midgley)

Moneyball (Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco, Ed Novick)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Peter J. Devlin)

War Horse (Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Stuart Wilson)

Who Will Win: Hugo; Who Should Win: Hugo

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler, John Richardson)

Hugo (Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman, Alex Henning)

Reel Steel (Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor, Swen Gillberg)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, Daniel Barrett

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler, John Frazier)

Who Will Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Who Should Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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