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Predictions and Dreams for Tomorrow’s Oscar Nominations

January 23, 2012

By John C.

With the nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards set to come bright and early tomorrow morning, it might be the only time throughout this awards season that we get a proper surprise.  I expect to see several nominations for The Artist, The Descendants and Hugo, which are the films that make up the perfect trio of this year’s awards season favourites.  But we really don’t know exactly how many films will get a coveted Best Picture nomination.  There can be anywhere from five to ten.

For the past few years, I’ve spent the day before the nominations come out predicting what we will see in the major categories.  This year I’m going to do a similar thing, but I’m mainly going to talk about a few of the surprises that I would love to see tomorrow morning alongside the clear frontrunners, in some of the top categories.  Even if some of them aren’t likely going to happen, it makes things more interesting than just offering straight predictions, don’t you think?

In recent years, the Oscars have been so easy to predict in many of the major categories, that nomination morning could easily prove to be the event that holds many on the edge of their seat.  I think I made note of this last year when The Social Network was dominating the awards season, but The King’s Speech was the obvious choice to take home Best Picture come Oscar night.  But I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, because those were both great films, just that it seems like the unpredictability of previous years is gone.  In this day and age, it’s impossible not to pay attention to which films are picking up the precursor awards.  Right off the bat, I would love to see some Best Supporting Actor recognition for Andy Serkis’ outstanding motion-capture performance in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

One of the closest things we have to a lock is in the Best Supporting Actor category.  Christopher Plummer is pretty much guaranteed a nomination for his good but surprisingly brief performance in the overrated and needlessly twee film Beginners, but there are three other veteran actors vying for attention, who gave great performances in equally excellent films.  Max von Sydow was heartbreaking in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close without uttering a single word, and Nick Nolte gave what is perhaps the best performance of his career as a recovering alcoholic in Warrior.  Ben Kingsley also deserves recognition for Hugo.  On a much younger level, Patton Oswalt allowed so many different layers to shine through his performance in Young Adult, that his physically disabled and emotionally fragile character was one of the most fascinating of the year.

Equally mesmerizing to watch was Charlize Theron, who was outstanding as an author still living like she’s in high school in Young Adult, and she deserves a Best Actress nomination.  But like the Best Picture category, there are three clear favourites for Best Actress.  Michelle Williams was luminous as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn and is guaranteed a nomination.  As is the case with Viola Davis, who was nothing short of brilliant in The Help.  Then there’s Meryl Streep, who gave a good performance in the very mediocre biopic The Iron Lady, and could quite possibly take home the gold.  I would love to see Charlize Theron as one of the contenders, but I’m not holding my breath.

Three of the performances that I’m counting on to get nominated for Best Supporting Actress are also my favourites of the year.  Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain were both excellent in The Help, and 20-year-old cinematic newcomer Shailene Woodley was able to hold her own alongside George Clooney in The Descendants.  Add Bérénice Bejo for The Artist, and you get a dream list of supporting performances in some of the best movies of last year.  I would love to see the fifth spot go to Anna Kendrick for her excellent performance as a young therapist in 50/50, but I’m going to go with Melissa McCarthy for her hilarious work in Bridesmaids as both a happy compromise and a willing prediction.

Like with so many others, the Best Actor category is also likely to end up a three person race.  George Clooney will be rcognized for The Descendants, as will Jean Dujardin for The Artist and Brad Pitt for Moneyball.  These are three of the most brilliant performances of the year, but my Oscar dream would be to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt standing beside them for his heartbreaking, human and ultimately unforgettable performance as a young cancer patient in 50/50.  I would also give the pitch-perfect dramedy a nomination for Best Picture, but at this point I’ll be happy if they at least recognize Will Reiser’s semi-autobigraphical screenplay.

On the Best Picture side of things, two wildly different films that I would love to see get nominated are The Tree of Life and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.  But despite being critically acclaimed, I’m not sure if either one will manage to sneak in.  Alongside the powerhouse trio of The Artist, The Descendants and Hugo, I expect to see nods for The Help, Midnight in Paris and Moneyball, all excellent films which I will be happy to see nominated.  When the Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow morning, we will likely end up with a pretty clear idea of who will take home the gold come February 26th.  But this predictability won’t be a bad thing, so long as the right films are nominated.

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