There are some givens for this Sunday's 84th Annual Academy Awards telecast: Billy Crystal will likely slay it with his usual humorous monologue and "safe" appeal; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close star Max von Sydow will continue his silent streak by not winning Best Supporting Actor, and Miss Piggy and Kermit will make for the evening's best presenters. Aside from that, the telecast should offer more surprises than usual. Sure there are slam dunks like Rango taking home Best Animated Feature, and The Artist will probably win big in most major categories, but I suspect a bunch of upsets in the acting categories.
Here are my predictions for how the night will play out in every category. On a related note, I'm hoping Melissa McCarthy wins Best Supporting Actress for Bridesmaids. I think Octavia Spencer has this in the bag, and she deserves it, but McCarthy's win could help land more comedic performances Oscar nods in the future. Yes, I'm still reeling for little golden love for Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man? Slappin' the bass.
The Artist should and will win this and become just the second silent film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. A dark horse here, however, is The Descendants which earned a Golden Globe win for Best Drama. It's not likely. It'd be fitting if the "dark horse" was War Horse but that film has no legs. Get it? Hugo has a chance here, but it's a kids movie for adults and kiddie flicks get no Oscar love -- Ever. Had The Help had a bigger showing nominations-wise, I'd say that would be the best chance to unseat The Artist. But it didn't, and it won't.
This category could be the biggest shock of the night. It's essentially down to George Clooney for The Descendants and Jean Dujardin for The Artist. Months ago, I thought Brad Pitt would finally win for his career-best turn in Moneyball. If Clooney and Dujardin split the vote, look for that to happen and I'd be delighted. But it won't. My gut says Clooney will win this for his brilliant turn, but if Dujardin wins it would come as a surprise to only the people who bought tickets to The Artist not expecting it was a silent film.
Extremely Loud, and Glenn Close? Sorry no. This is a battle between Iron Lady Meryl Streep and The Help's Viola Davis. One day Streep is going to win her third Oscar, but my gut tells me it won't be this year. Actually, my gut can't speak because it's an organ. But, Davis should have this in the bag and deserves it. This will be viewed as an upset.
Best Supporting Actor:
Please, Christopher Plummer has had this won since the summer for his subtly moving performance in Beginners. The only possible upset is for fellow 82-year-old Max von Sydow to win, but I doubt it. If it were up to me, Nolte would take this home.
Best Supporting Actress:
Remember when Kate Hudson was a lock for Almost Famous and lost to Marcia Gay Harden for Pollock? Well, I do. This category sometimes serves up the most surprises (ugh, Tilda Swinton over Amy Ryan -- really?) and I expect it to happen again. I'm going to say McCarthy or Jessica Chastain pull an upset here. I may be wrong and probably will be. I'd personally vote for Chastain, but the Academy can make history this Sunday if Davis and Spencer win since two women of color have never won in acting categories on the same night. That's just nuts by the way that it's taken this long.
I can't pronounce his name nor will anyone presenting him the Oscar, but The Artist'sMichel Hazanavicius will take the honor. Martin Scorsese could surprise here, but I can't see him being honored so soon after The Departed. I don't know about you, I'd rather have Marty win again for a movie with bloodshed.
-- And the rest...
Adapted Screenplay: It's beyond me how The Help was left off. Because it was it's a three-way battle between Hugo, The Descendants, and Moneyball. I know Aaron Sorkin just won last year for The Social Network, but he deserves it again this year. That said, Descendants is so winning this category. Maybe Alexander Payne will make more movies if he keeps winning Oscars every time he makes a movie?
Original Screenplay: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. It's about time, but Woody's finally going to get another gold statue.
Animated Feature: Rango hands down.
Art Direction:: Hugo, which had the most nominations with 11, will clean up on technical categories like this one. It deserves to.
Cinematography: I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Jeff Cronenweth deserves it, but look for The Tree of Life to win this one. It'll be the Academy's way of honoring a truly great or truly "WTF" movie depending who you talk to.
Costume Design: Look for The Artist to take this one home.
Editing: Moneyball has a shot here and deserves it, but I suspect The Artist will prevail here.
Foreign Language Film:Iran's A Separation should have this -- easy.
Makeup:I know they made Glenn Close become a man, and Margaret Thatcher look like Meryl Streep or I probably mean that the other way around, but I think the Academy will give some props to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as sort of a lifetime achievement thing for the series.
Original Score: John Williams is nominated twice here for scores that, in my opinion, didn't live up to his standards. Howard Shore, who earned a gold guy for Lord of the Rings had the best score in my book, but look for Ludovic Bource's work on The Artist to win.
Original Song: What a disgrace this category has become. Oh well, at least Bret McKenzie will win for "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets.
Sound Editing: I'd love to see Drive win here. Actually, I'd love to go back in time and somehow get that amazing film more Oscar nominations. I mean, really? Seriously Oscar voters? One nomination? Anyway, Hugo's got this one.
Sound Mixing: Hugowill win this, but personally, I'd vote for Moneyball here.
Visual Effects: Again, I'm saying Hugo will win this although it wouldn't surprise me if Rise of the Planet of the Apes nabbed it.
Animated ShortLa Luna should make Pixar smile in a smile-less Oscar year.
Live Action Short : I think it'll be The Shore, a wonderful bio-pic of Dinah Shore. OK, I made that up but it should win and that's cool because Terry George would be one of the winners. He should've gotten love for 2004's Hotel Rwanda.
Documentary Feature: I'll say Undefeated because it would be terribly ironic if it lost.
Documentary Short: Something tells me the timely The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom will win it.
Wrestling legend Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka predicts The Descendants.
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