The 84th Annual Academy Awards airs this Sunday, February 26 and prognosticators, pundits, and pedestrians all over the globe are scrambling to compile their picks for cut-throat Oscar pools. Well, if you’re throwing down hard money on Hollywood’s most self-indulgent night, look no further than SanDiego.com’s
expert predictions below for your victory dance, complimented with analysis and a “Should Win/Will Win” dynamic that’s sure to make the award cynic in you even angrier.
My heart screams The Tree of Life, certainly the most ambitious and lasting film of the nine nominated for this category. Many local critics labeled Terrence Malick’s film bombastic, pretentious, and even boring, but to me it’s a transcendant piece of art as fluid as the ocean, constantly changing and morphing into something new depending on the mood of the viewer. But who am I kidding? Harvey Weinstein and his blitzkrieg of public relations and marketing schemes have basically assured The Artist a Best Picture win since it premiered at Cannes in May, just another example of how little Oscar victories correlate with quality. I like the film. It’s a perfectly serviceable gimmick that has a lot to say about on-screen chemistry. But it pails in comparison to Midnight in Paris’s charming melancholy, The Descendants’s sun-drenched heartache, and most certainly The Tree of Life’s all-encompassing scope.
Should Win: The Tree of Life
I will rejoice if anyone other than The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius wins this category. Malick or Scorsese would be amazing choices here, a sign of support for master filmmakers who consistently take risks no matter the budget. While Scorsese seemed to be the early favorite for his incredibly 3-D children’s film Hugo, it now seems The Artist’s victory wave is crashing every major category. The momentum for Hazanavicius hit a crescendo when he won the Director’s Guild of America award for Best Director, usually a sure fire indicator of Oscar’s outcome. So my choice feels more like a gamble now than it did a few weeks back.
Will Win: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Should Win: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Really a 3-horse race between Clooney, Dujardin, and Pitt, so this may be one of the hardest categories to predict come Sunday. My gut has always sided with Clooney, even though he previously won a Supporting Actor Oscar for Syriana
. His lead turn in The Descendants
is something remarkable, a quiet look at internal emotional erosion that many critics have mistaken for hollow or manipulative. Dujardin is the epitome of suave in The Artist
, but has far less to do in a pretty straightforward role. Despite all the talent in this category, I still think Gary Oldman’s masterful anti-method turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
is one of the great performances in years.
Considering the lack of depth in this category, (Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams are both relative newcomers and therefore cancel each other out), Viola Davis should win the Oscar in her sleep. She is a respected actress getting some long-deserved recognition for a role that could have been a disaster. The Help
isn’t a great movie, but it’s central performances are all strong. If you’re going to award it for something, it should be for the acting. Davis’s only real competition is perennial Oscar-nominee Meryl Streep, whose dynamic performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady
is a chameleon-like turn for the ages at the center of an otherwise inconsequential biopic.
Should Win: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actor
Probably the safest bet in any of the major categories is Christopher Plummer who’s had his Oscar locked up for months. The veteran actor dominated every stage of the awards season gauntlet for his role as an elderly gay man dying of cancer in Beginners, and I don’t see him losing out to the likes of this particularly weak field of competitors. The snub of Albert Brooks for his serpentine performance in Drive instantly made this category pretty inert from the start, and outside of Nolte’s suffering soul in Warrior, I can’t get excited about any of the other nominees.
Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should Win: Nick Nolte, Warrior
Best Supporting Actress
One of my favorite acting surprises in years is Jessica Chastain’s magnificent performance in The Help
, a prime example of a brilliant young actress inserting the necessary heartache and soul into a very one-dimensional role. Expect to see her name populating the Oscar acting categories for years to come. Still, it appears Octavia Spencer, another actress nominated for The Help
, will carry the day amidst a flood of awards season momentum.