Oscar Nominations 2012

January 23, 2012 by staff 

Oscar Nominations 2012, Everywhere else in the world, this coming Tuesday (Jan. 24) will be just that: Tuesday — a plain, old, ordinary Tuesday, the most flavorless day of the week.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its 2012 Oscar nominations this Tuesday morning (Jan. 24).
In La-La Land, however, it will be something approaching a holiday. There, it will be Press Your Tuxedo Tuesday, the annual day on which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and

Sciences announces its annual Oscar nominations — and the day that Hollywood’s movers and shakers find out if they’ll be invited to the party.

That party is set for Feb. 26, so there’s plenty of time for the Oscar races to take shape, but come Tuesday, they’ll be locked in to just a handful of hopefuls.

So who will those hopefuls be? Well, I’ve dusted off my crystal ball again this year, as I try to divine what people and films will populate Oscar’s biggest categories. And so without further ado, the Oscar nominees should be …

Best picture

The front-runners: This is a two-horse race, with the sweetly nostalgic “The Artist” and the more harshly realistic “The Descendants” vying for the big award. They both won a best picture trophy at last week’s Golden Globes — best musical or comedy for “The Artist,” and best drama for “The Descendants” — and they’ve both been doing well in other pre-Oscar awards.

The runner-up: Terrence Malick’s existential drama “Tree of Life” is a movie that people either love or hate. Still, one’s got to think its sheer artistry will earn it a seat at the Oscar table.

The dark horse: Brad Pitt’s “Moneyball” isn’t the kind of movie that will change anyone’s life, but I haven’t spoken to a person yet who didn’t thoroughly enjoy it.

The sentimental favorite: Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” is a beautiful film from a masterful director. Don’t count it out.

But don’t forget about: Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Tate Taylor’s “The Help” and Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia.”

Best director

Director Martin Scorsese, center, discusses a scene with Asa Butterfield, left, and Chloe Grace Moretz on the set of ‘Hugo.’
The front-runner: Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”). This was shaping up to be another two-horse race, as Scorsese won the Golden Globe in this category, and Terrence Malick (“Tree of Life”) has won a number of other pre-Oscar awards. But then the Director’s Guild snubbed Malick when it announced its nominations earlier this month. As the DGA’s are an enormously reliable Oscar prognosticator, that hurts Malick’s chances immensely — and helps Scorsese’s at least as much.

The runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”). Hazanavicius’ film continues to build pre-Oscar momentum, and he won the Critics’ Choice Award for best director two weeks ago. Could the charming Frenchman stage the upset?

The dark horse: Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”). He’s not one to attend award banquets, but I have a feeling the Oscars might lure him out of seclusion. His chances are better in the original-screenplay race, but he’s not out of the picture here.

The sentimental favorite: Alexander Payne, for “The Descendants.” Such a smart, nuanced film. Could the “Sideways” director cash in this time?

But don’t forget about: Malick for “Tree of Life” and Nicolas Winding Refn for “Drive.”

Best lead actress

Jim Broadbent, left, and Meryl Streep, in an image from ‘The Iron Lady.’
The front-runners: Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) and Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”). They both scored big at the Golden Globes, and they’re both all but assured of nominations on Tuesday.

The runner-up: Viola Davis (“The Help”). One thing we can count on: “The Help” will be well-represented on Tuesday in the acting categories.

The dark horse: Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”). The “other” Olsen sister could formalize her arrival in Hollywood by being this year’s newcomer candidate.

The sentimental favorite: Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”). The Academy does love its gender-bending performances.

But don’t forget about: Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) and Kirsten Dunst (“Melancholia”).

Best lead actor

George Clooney and Shailene Woodley star in director Alexander Payne’s latest drama, ‘The Descendants.’
The front-runner: George Clooney (“The Descendants”). With just a month to go, this is still a tight race, but the five-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner (for his supporting role in “Syriana”) is slowly starting to pull away from the pack.

The runner-up: Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”). Honestly, his work in “Tree of Life” is just as deserving in the supporting category, but his “Moneyball” role has earned more attention and more affection. Either way, expect to hear his name called for a third time on nomination Tuesday.

The dark horse: Michael Fassbender (“Shame”). Even if he doesn’t win, a nomination will be a victory of sorts, as films with an NC-17 rating have a history of difficulty landing nominations in major Oscar categories.

The sentimental favorite: Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”). It’s a role and a movie that everybody loves. Could a split vote between Clooney supporters and Pitt backers leave the door open for this charming Golden Globe winner?

But don’t forget about: Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar”) and Ryan Gosling (“Drive”).

Best supporting actor

Christopher Plummer, left, and Ewan McGregor star in a scene from ‘Beginners.’
The front-runners: Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) and Albert Brooks (“Drive”). As the awards season got started last fall, Brooks looked to be in the driver’s seat. Lately, though, it’s been Plummer winning all the awards — and charming award-show audiences — thus giving him that all-too-coveted Oscar quality: momentum.

The runner-up: Patton Oswalt (“Young Adult”). The talented actor said at the Critics’ Choice Awards that he was just glad to be nominated. That’s good — because with Plummer and Brooks duking it out for the gold, that’s all he’ll get this year.

The dark horse: Kenneth Branagh (“My Week with Marilyn”). After earning four nominations in the 1990s, it’s been a while since he’s been invited to sit at the big-kids’ table. That stands to change.

The sentimental favorite: Andy Serkis (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”). The man behind the CG monkey (and Gollum of “Lord of the Rings”) would be an unconventional choice — his face never appears on screen — but by nominating him, the Academy could send a signal that it isn’t as stodgy as everyone thinks it is.

But don’t forget about: Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”), Nick Nolte (“Warrior”) and Viggo Mortensen (“A Dangerous Method”).

Best supporting actress

Jessica Chastain, left, and Octavia Spencer in ‘The Help.’
The front-runners: Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer, both from “The Help.” It’s been a remarkable year for Chastain — in addition to “The Help,” she’s done great work in “Tree of Life,” “The Debt” and “Take Shelter” — but Spencer seems to be on an awards-show roll.

The runner-up: Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”). The kid’s got chops.

The dark horse: Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs.” You might remember her for her Oscar-nominated role in 1999′s “Tumbleweeds,” but her work in “Albert Nobbs” has been getting not-insignificant attention.

The sentimental favorite: Bérénice Bejo (“The Artist”). If she won, it would be an upset — but as delightful as she is in the film, one that wouldn’t be the least bit upsetting.

But don’t forget about: Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”) and Carey Mulligan (“Shame”).

Best animated film

The title character from the animated film ‘Rango.’
The front-runner: “Rango.” Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “But ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ just won the Golden Globe.” Yeah, well, the Golden Globes are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press — of course they love a movie about Euro-star “Tintin.” The vast majority of the trophy-slinging groups stateside however, have preferred Gore Verbinski’s trippy “Rango.”

The runner-up: “The Adventures of Tintin.”

The dark horse: “Puss in Boots.” The last time a DreamWorks film won was with 2002′s “Shrek,” the first year the Academy awarded an Oscar for animation. Is it time for a return?

The sentimental favorite: “Winnie the Pooh.” The success of “The Artist” in the pre-Oscar awards suggest a thirst for nostalgia. This cozy, hand-drawn throwback certainly fits that description.

But don’t forget about: “Rio,” “Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Arthur Christmas.”

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