Oscar Predictions: Stephanie Zacharek on Who Will (and Who Should) Win on Hollywood's Biggest Night
Each Wednesday for the past five months, my colleague S.T. VanAirsdale has fearlessly navigated the ever-shifting Academy Awards tides with his weekly Oscar Index, a gig that’s enough to make even the most intrepid seafaring mortal long for dry land. It’s in sight, Stu! By this coming Monday morning, all of our meticulously calibrated predictions, as well as our wayward hopes for our own personal favorites, will amount to little more than scraps of speared whale blubber, receding in the distance as we move toward next year’s Oscar broadcast. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s still time to savor the last-minute glitter wave. To that end, here are my own Oscar predictions for each category, followed by the candidates I wish would win.
I loved The Artist when I first saw it last May, and I’ve seen it twice since. It has, of course, become de rigueur to adopt the “It’s not so great” stance when talking about the picture. But that’s not where my heart lies, and I’ve already spent ample time, both publicly (over at Slate Movie Club) and privately, defending the movie from the “Meh” Brigade. So, yeah, I hope it wins. But I also have a great deal of fondness for both Moneyball and Midnight in Paris, as well as for War Horse, whose old-school movie grandness appears to be sorely out of fashion, and more’s the pity.
Will win: The Artist
Should win: The Artist
I still don’t understand how you can have nine Best Picture nominees and only five Best Director nominees. What, does the Academy think these pictures direct themselves? Of course, in the case of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, you’d be forgiven for thinking so, but never mind. Woody Allen has given us his best movie in years – many years – with Midnight in Paris, so I would probably quaff an extra dose of Champagne if he were to win. But my Best Director choice nearly always aligns with my Best Picture choice, which leads us to Hazanavicius.
Will win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Should win: Michel Hazanvicius, The Artist
As I voted in numerous critics' groups at the end of 2011, I put the same three names on every Best Actor ballot: Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt (the latter for Moneyball only, though I concede that in The Tree of Life, he works his ass off for a director who cares little for actors). I would be thrilled if any of the three were to win, with perhaps a slight edge – about the width of a pencil mustache – going to Dujardin.
Will win: Jean Dujardin
Should win: Jean Dujardin or Brad Pitt or Gary Oldman – please don’t make me choose!
Although Michelle Williams gave my favorite female performance of the year, in My Week with Marilyn, for so many years now I’ve been watching Viola Davis doing superb work – always the quiet, unflashy kind – that I would be thrilled to see her win for The Help. Poor Glenn Close – I don’t want to look at Albert’s or anyone else’s nobbs, thanks very much. And while I greatly dislike Meryl Streep’s high-toned mimicry in The Iron Lady, the one thing that would really drive me ‘round the bend is another trilling, faux-gracious acceptance speech from La Streep. Oh God, no, please.
Will win: Viola Davis, The Help
Should win: Viola Davis, The Help
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
This is the category for which I have the least enthusiasm: These performances are all fine, but I don’t see any sparks of mad genius in them. (Not even Branagh’s amusing channeling of Olivier qualifies.) I can live with a Christopher Plummer win, if only because it’s about time for Old Mr. Grouchypants.
Will win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer is the real charmer in this category, and she has the benefit of being both an unknown and the underdog. Jessica Chastain is lovely in The Help, but she’s even better in a little-seen movie from a few years back called Jolene, in which she played a forerunner of the same character. Bérénice Bejo is extremely winning in The Artist, but I’d still prefer to see Spencer win. While it’s laudatory that the Academy should nominate a comedic actress for this award, I’d prefer it not to be the brassy McCarthy. And while McTeer is quite moving in Albert Nobbs, I truly am looking forward, as I said earlier, to a nobb-free Sunday evening.
Will win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Should win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
I have my fingers crossed for either Guillame Schiffman for The Artist or Janusz Kaminski for the unfairly maligned – and gorgeous — War Horse. (I wish Kaminski could follow me around with a key light every moment of my life – I’d kill to look as luminous as that horse does.) But I fear the winner will be Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life. I love Lubezski, but not The Tree of Life‘s brand of sterile, calculated beauty.
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Should win: Guillame Schiffman for The Artist or Janusz Kaminski for War Horse.
BEST ANIMATED PICTURE
Generally, I’m with Mark Harris: I don’t much care about this category. Except when I do. And this year, I found what I thought was a firm favorite in Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s lovely, mostly hand-drawn Latin jazz romance Chico & Rita.. Then I saw Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli’s A Cat in Paris – another hand-drawn adventure, this one about a winsome and mysterious cat burglar padding his way through the world’s most mysterious and beautiful city – and I fell even more deeply in love. I would be thrilled to see either picture win, though I suspect the honor will go to Gore Verbinski’s Rango, which is at least clever and lively.
Will win: Rango
Should win: A Cat in Paris or Chico & Rita