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2012 Oscar Predictions
DVD Talk's 2012 Oscar Predictions

It's a well known fact that the DVDTalk review panel spends way too much time watching, and critiquing, movies, so it should come as no surprise that they have opinions as to which films, actors, and creators should win Hollywood's most coveted honor, the Oscar. Several of our writers offered their takes on who will win, and more importantly, who should win in our annual pre-Academy Awards column. Will little seen but critically acclaimed film The Artist sweep the prizes? Do we think Meryl Streep needs to clear off some room on her mantle for another gold statue? Find out all this and more in DVD Talk's 2012 Oscar Predictions.

Best Picture:

The Nominees: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Help, Moneyball, War Horse, The Tree of Life

artist.jpg William Harrison's Prediction: The Artist: This largely silent film glorifies old Hollywood, something not lost on Academy voters. The Artist has modest receipts at the box office when compared to some of the other nominees, but the film and actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo have received near universal critical praise. This year's best picture nominees are a mix of crowd pleasers and art house favorites, and it is interesting that two films - The Artist and Hugo - celebrate the art of filmmaking. Although The Help may sneak in for an upset, I suspect The Artist will prevail.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: The Artist. A beautiful tribute to the medium of cinema itself, The Artist should come out on top.

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: 2011 was a year with many great movies, and a sampling of them is noted with the Oscar choices for Best Picture. If you see any of these movies you are going to experience something worthwhile or even profound. After viewing The Artist, I was convinced on an immediate level that it was the film that was most deserving of winning the big award; the golden statue. It was an incredible story being told in a form of filmmaking that seemed to be forgotten by today's filmmakers. The Artist deserves to win Best Picture. So does Hugo, though. It was this film that stayed with me the most out of all of the nominees and it was one that also used traditional styles of filmmaking to tell a story. Sure, it blended together those styles with many modern elements, but it had a firm grasp on the foundations of classic cinema. It understood that to be truly worthwhile it had to tell a good story and emphasis the acting first, over the technology being used. This is something that most of the Best Picture nominees share in common. Certainly, it is an idea shared by both The Artist and Hugo. Hugo was like being read a wonderful storybook about characters that I cared deeply about. It felt as though both Scorsese and screenwriter John Logan were telling a classic bedtime story about remembering our dreams and the importance of human connection. These elements are inherent to The Artist as well. Both films meant a great deal to me, and I'm confident I'll be pleased when The Artist (or Hugo) brings home that shiny golden statue. Either way, film lovers win the night.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Hugo

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: I'm afraid there is no stopping the juggernaut the Weinsteins have created, and The Artist is going to take the big prize. Which is fine, I guess, it's an entertaining film, but it's not really "best" anything. It's the kind of Oscar winner that is immediately forgotten. By next year's race, people will have a hard time recalling what won. At least it's not War Horse, though. If I was voting, Tree of Life would be the only conceivable choice.

Best Actor:

The Nominees: Demian Bichir, "A Better Life," George Clooney, "The Descendants," Jean Dujardin, "The Artist," Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Brad Pitt, "Moneyball,"

artist.jpg

William Harrison's Prediction:   George Clooney, The Descendants: This is a tight race, and the prize could easily go to Jean Dujardin or Brad Pitt.  Clooney has only won one Academy Award - for best supporting actor in Syriana - and I suspect voters will consider his performance in The Descendants alongside his solid resume when choosing the winner of this category. 

Nick Hartel's Prediction: George Clooney. In a just world this would be a race between Dujardin and Oldman, but their very quiet (in one case, silent) performances aren't as visibly noticeable as the always reliable and entertaining Clooney.

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Jean Dujardin, The Artist. Oh boy. This is surprising. I'm a huge fan of both George Clooney and Brad Pitt, but the best performance I saw this year was by Jean Dujardin. He carried The Artist in a way that few actors can ever carry a film. It was essentially an emotionally-charged performance. It certainly wasn't the dialogue that carried parts of his performance. In bringing silent-cinema back to our multiplexes, Jean Dujardin reminds us of the fundamentals, and he brings us a portrait of humanity by performing his character in such an honest way.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Gary Oldman

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: George Clooney for The Descendants. His performance was understated and emotional. He made all the right moves without resorting to shtick or caricature. I could see maybe Gary Oldman grabbing some votes for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy since there seems to be a growing recognition that he doesn't get the accolades he deserves, but I think the Academy is ready to honor Clooney again.

Best Actress:

The Nominees: Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs," Viola Davis, "The Help," Rooney Mara, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady," Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Viola Davis, The Help:  Davis lost to Meryl Street at the Golden Globes, but expect Davis to win here for her stirring performance as a 1960s maid in the film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's book.  Davis is the audience favorite, and The Help grossed over $160 million at the box office.  She also has the support of critics lukewarm on the film.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Viola Davis. Davis injected a much needed, grounded level of humanity in an otherwise broad and pandering film.

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Viola Davis, The Help. There are so many worthwhile performances in this category. Viola Davis is my pick. The Help was one of the best and most surprising films of 2011 and a large part of that was due to her performance. It was something that helped to ground the film and make it all the more powerful for audiences. It was the kind of performance that helps define any cinematic-outing, and it helped audiences understand all of the characters of The Help. She was electrifying on so many levels.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Meryl Streep

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady. Voters don't even look at the competition anymore. For all I know, the ballots come with Streep already checked off. I have no favorite in this category. Kirsten Dunst would have had my vote. But then, Melancholia is better than 90% of the nominees in most of the categories.

Best Supporting Actor:

The Nominees: Kenneth Branagh, "My Week With Marilyn," Jonah Hill, "Moneyball," Nick Nolte, "Warrior," Christopher Plummer, "Beginners," Max Von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,"

plumber.jpg

William Harrison's Prediction:   Christopher Plummer, Beginners: Plummer has long been the favorite in this category for his touching performance as an elderly gay man finally living openly but suffering from terminal cancer.  Max Von Sydow might split voters looking to recognize his performance and legacy, but this should not be enough to unseat Plummer.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Christopher Plummer. Barring a Max Von Sydow upset, this is one of those "we owe you one" awards, in a year where the real winner, Albert Brooks wasn't even nominated.

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Jonah Hill, Moneyball. I'd love to pick Max Von Sydow (he is one of the best actors cinema has ever had) but what he really deserves is a lifetime achievement award. Sydow's performance in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was one that elevated the film but it wasn't one of my favorite supporting performances of the year. Jonah Hill, however, seems to be one of those actors who is enjoyable with his shtick but who might not wind up ever getting roles like this again. In any case, a large reason Moneyballworked was because Hill delivered a surprisingly strong supporting performance.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Max von Sydow

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Christopher Plummer deserves it out of this pack, no question. Hopefully the win will make more people watch Beginners. He's marvelous in it. It would have been so easy to go with a swishy cliché here, but instead, he is heartbreakingly honest as the elderly man embracing his true sexuality in the last years of his life.

Best Supporting Actress:

The Nominees: Bérénice Bejo, "The Artist," Jessica Chastain, "The Help," Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids," Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs," Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Jessica Chastain, The Help:  Chastain brought much humor to The Help as an unrefined socialite shunned as a ne'er-do-well by the upstanding ladies in town.  The actress had seven films in 2011, including The Tree of Life, and her win here will make her a household name. 

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Jessica Castain. Chastain has had a stellar year, turning in numerous strong and varied performances, and her work on The Help has gained her the most exposure. Next to Davis, she is the film's other source of empathy and compassion.

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Bérénice Bejo, The Artist. Even though there are many great nominees, I say "No Contest", and pick Bérénice Bejo for her part in The Artist. She was every-bit the match to Jean Dujardin. It was one of my favorite performances of the year. Truly Amazing.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Jessica Chastain

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Sometimes I think the Oscars should be for a body of work in any given year, because Jessica Chastain was the supporting actress of 2011 for her work in The Tree of Life and Take Shelter, not to mention The Help (which she is nominated for) and The Debt. I am actually not sure who the Academy is going to go for here--I have a feeling Chastain might lose to her Help co-star, Octavia Spencer--but if Chastain does lose, I hope it's because the Oscars acknowledge how important the scene-stealing side player is to a comedy and gives it to Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids.

Best Director:

The Nominees: Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris," Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist," Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life," Alexander Payne, "The Descendants," Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

William Harrison's Prediction:    Martin Scorsese, Hugo:  It took forever for Scorsese to earn his first directing Oscar - for The Departed in 2007 - but he looks to take home the trophy again for Hugo, which celebrates the art of cinema and pushes for preservation.  If Academy voters can get over Michel Hazanavicius' unpronounceable name, he may overtake Scorsese, but likely will have to wait his turn to win an Oscar.  It would be interesting if Mallick won.  Would the elusive director make an appearance?  

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Michel Hazanavicius. In the hands of a lesser director The Artist likely wouldn't have made it's way into the public attention. Hazanavicius' work is crucial to the film's success and his imprint is felt on the picture.

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Martin Scorsese, Hugo. This was one of Scorsese's best films to date. It had imaginative visuals in every moment. This was the kind of filmmaking that not only brought forth strong performances but that understood how to make every moment transport us to a faraway place only found in the movies.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Michel Hazanavicius

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: I am going to go out on a limb her and pick Terrence Malick. Many were confounded by Tree of Life, but at the same time, it's impossible to deny its visual splendor or the extraordinary task Malick undertook wrangling all of these various elements. That said, Scorsese is on a roll...

Best Original Screenplay:

The Nominees: Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris," JC Chandor, "Margin Call," Asghar Farhadi, "A Separation," Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist," Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, "Bridesmaids"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris:  My money is on Woody Allen, but this could also go to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.  The Academy does not usually recognize bawdy comedies, so it would interesting if Bridesmaids got some love here. 

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris. I'm going with Woody Allen. Midnight in Paris is one of his best films to date, and a large reason for this was the script. It managed to surprise at every turn and it was a magical journey to be taken on. Although, I think there are some major props that need to go to Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo for writing the hilarious breakout hit of 2011, Bridesmaids.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Michel Hazanavicius

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: The odds are on Woody and Midnight in Paris, who wrote a charming comedy that worked incredibly well, though I don't know if I'd call it great writing. (Ironically, given the great writers who appear as characters; then again, I think those guys were idealized versions of the real authors on purpose, hence the American Lit 101 clichés). The Oscar will go to Allen, but for my money, Asghar Farhadi's A Separation is the most dramatically true and narratively complex screenplay on the roster.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Nominees: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash, "The Descendants," John Logan, "Hugo," George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, "The Ides of March," Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, "Moneyball," Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughn, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants:  I think Academy voters will want to reward the team that adapted The Descendants since it will not be winning best picture.  Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian may overtake and win for Moneyball, but, while adapting Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy had to be difficult, do not expect a win for Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughn. 

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash "The Descendants"

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Moneyball. As much as I love Hugo and its story, I was most impressed by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian's screenplay for Moneyball. The writing is carefully nuanced. I'm not a huge sports fan, but I didn't have to be to be captivated by the absorbing story about fighting for the undervalued or overlooked, and about believing in what you feel is right.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: John Logan

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: The Academy will vote The Descendents, which works fine for me, but I think Moneyball's script from Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian provides a clear example of the true art of adaptation: converting difficult material from one medium to another. In the same way we were shocked that there could be an interesting movie about Facebook (also written by Sorkin, who took the trophy last year), so too did Moneyball get the caveat "and you don't even have to like baseball."

Best Animated Feature:

The Nominees: "A Cat In Paris," "Chico & Rita," "Kung Fu Panda 2," "Puss in Boots," "Rango,"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Rango:  Not enough voters have seen A Cat in Paris or Chico & Rita to make them real contenders, and Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots are kind of average.  There is no Pixar entry to pull an easy win, but Rango will likely be rewarded for its dark story and interesting animation.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Rango Nothing else on the list is in the same league, with "Rango" which frankly, is better than a lot of the films up for Best Picture.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Rango

Best Foreign Language Film:

The Nominees: Bullhead (Belgium), Footnote (Israel), In Darkness (Poland), Monsieur Lazhar (Canada), A Separation (Iran)

William Harrison's Prediction:   A Separation: This Iranian drama tackles big issues like oppression and Alzheimer's disease, and is a victory for filmmakers normally restricted by censorship and cultural dissent.  A Separation will win easily.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: A Separation

Randy Miller III's Prediction: In Darkness

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: A Separation. Period.

Original Score:

The Nominees: "The Adventures of Tintin," John Williams, "The Artist," Ludovic Bource, "Hugo," Howard Shore, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Alberto Iglesias, "War Horse," John Williams

William Harrison's Prediction:   The Artist.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: War Horse

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Howard Shore, Hugo. Selecting Best Original Score was the biggest challenge of the entire award season. I loved the scores John Williams composed for The Adventures of Tin-Tin and War Horse, but Howard Shore's Hugo score is one of his best to date (easily his best since the Lord of the Rings trilogy), and it perfectly complimented the emotional core of the story.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: The Adventures of Tintin

Best Original Song:

The Nominees: "Man or Muppet," The Muppets; Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie, "Real in Rio," Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett

William Harrison's Prediction:    "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets.  What a weak category!  At least there will be only two performances at the show this year! 

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Man or Muppet

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets. How could I not pick the song written by Bret McKenzie? It was beautiful, moving, and entertaining. It wasn't my favorite song from The Muppets (that would be the one used in the opening), but as it's the one with a nomination... it might as well get my vote.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Man or Muppet

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Wow, this category gets more sad every year. If The Muppets don't win, then they should never give this award again.

Best Achievement in Art Direction:

The Nominees: "The Artist," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," "Hugo","Midnight in Paris," "War Horse"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Hugo.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: The Artist

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. For one, it better win something. For two, it had the most consistent and brilliant art design of just about any film series ever made. It would be a huge oversight to not recognize it for the art design with a win.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Hugo

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Everyone loves Hugo, except for people with no souls, so giving the Academy credit for not being part of Voldemort's (or the Weinsteins') army, I'll wager the art categories are where Hugo will get its due.

Best Achievement in Cinematography:

The Nominees: "The Artist," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo," "The Tree of Life," "War Horse"

William Harrison's Prediction:    The Tree of Life.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: The Tree of Life

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: War Horse. Janusz Kaminski always seems to know exactly what's right for Steven Spielberg's films to look their absolute best. He is an incredible cinematographer, and War Horse is unquestionably one of the best examples the year has to showcase the power of cinematography to dramatically impact filmmaking. The closing shots alone are worth the award, with the impeccably-toned sky, the details in the grass, and the colors used to emphasis the film's emotional core.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: The Tree of Life

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: The Tree of Life's bouillabaisse of styles is astonishing. It's a movie to look at almost as much as it's one to watch.

Best Achievement in Costume Design:

The Nominees: "Anonymous," "The Artist," "Hugo," "Jane Eyre," "W.E."

William Harrison's Prediction:   The Artist.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Jane Eyre

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: The Artist.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Hugo

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Hugo.

Best Documentary Feature:

The Nominees: "Hell and Back Again," "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front," "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory," "Pina," "Undefeated"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory:  This documentary about the recently freed West Memphis 3 is the best known in this category, and its timely and affecting subject will resonate with Academy voters.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Hell and Back Again

Best Documentary Short Subject:

The Nominees: "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement?," "God Is the Bigger Elvis," "Incident in New Baghdad," "Saving Face," "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom"

William Harrison's Prediction:   The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Best Achievement in Film Editing:

The Nominees: "The Artist," "The Descendants," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo," "Moneyball"

William Harrison's Prediction:   The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: The Artist

Randy Miller III's Prediction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: What the--? No Tree of Life? Ugh. Fine. Hugo. Take it, Thelma!

Best Achievement in Makeup:

The Nominees: "Albert Nobbs," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," "The Iron Lady"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Randy Miller III's Prediction: The Iron Lady

Best Animated Short Film:

The Nominees: Dimanche/Sunday, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, La Luna, A Morning Stroll, Wild Life

William Harrison's Prediction:   La Luna.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: La Luna

Best Live Action Short Film

The Nominees: "Pentecost," "Raju," "The Shore," "Time Freak," "Tuba Atlantic"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Tuba Atlantic.

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Time Freak Best Achievement in Sound Editing:

The Nominees: "Drive","The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo","Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "War Horse"

William Harrison's Prediction:    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Drive. Criminally snubbed in every other category, it deserves something.

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Hugo

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Drive

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Drive. Because did you hear that elevator scene? Oh my god!

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing:

The Nominees: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo," "Moneyball," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "War Horse"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Nick Hartel's Prediction: War Horse

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Hugo

Randy Miller III's Prediction: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: Transformers 3. Because sound mixers like it loud, and they always pick movies that makes you go, "Huh? That won an Oscar?!"

Best Achievement in Visual Effects:

The Nominees: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," "Hugo," "Real Steel," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

William Harrison's Prediction:   Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  This better win, Andy Serkis as Caesar is brilliant.    

Nick Hartel's Prediction: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Neil Lumbard's Prediction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Randy Miller III's Prediction: Hugo

Jamie S. Rich's Prediction: I was less convinced by the primates in Rise of the Planet of the Apes than others. I think how fake James Franco looked as a scientist is the true special effect; by comparison, animated simians appear positively human. I'd rather see Hugo get it for the extraordinary use of 3D, but I have a feeling the motion captured chimps will take the award.

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