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Predictions for the 2011 Academy Awards

George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in The Descendents movie image

George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in The Descendents.

2011 Oscar predictions

– by Regan Payne

With the Globe nominations announced last week, it seems a perfectly reasonable time for Oscar prophesies. For some perspective on this annual hobby, I hold approximately a 60 per cent success rating in selecting who will walk away with the major awards come Oscar night. It’s also worth noting, I always make my predictions pre-Oscar nominations themselves, just to make it all the more humbling a task.

Historically, the Oscars have had numerous trajectories, the most common being: The Juggernaut – one film taking hold of the proceedings early and never looking back (All About Eve, Gandhi, The English Patient); The Two-Horse Race (last year’s battle between The Social Network and The King’s Speech); and The Shocker – usually the result of a split vote (in 1999, Saving Private Ryan split the vote with The Thin Red Line, paving the way for the unlikely winner, Shakespeare in Love).

This year feels like none of the above, which makes me feel the shocker is a distinct possibility. Fun, trivial, and hugely debatable, here are my selections for this year’s Academy Awards.

Best Original Screenplay – Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Oscar loves Woody – the two have had a love affair dating back decades, and Oscar has waited patiently for Allen to make his way back into these hallowed waters. An Allen win also quickens the broadcast along, being that he’ll most likely be playing clarinet at The Carlyle that night.

Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezski, The Tree of Life

I’m taking Lubezski only because it seems unimaginable to me that another film other than The Tree of Life could win in this category. The sheer scope of the film is remarkably impressive, although I can also envision Robert Richardson making his way onto the Kodak stage for his work on Hugo, with 3D being all the rage.

Best Editing – Thelma Schoonmaker, Hugo

Quite frankly, Schoonmaker (Martin Scorsese’s long time cutter) will be the only recognizable name on the ballot early next year, and she will walk away with her fourth (yes, fourth!) Oscar for that reason alone. To be fair though, Hugo is also an extremely well crafted film.

Best Original Score – Ludovic Bource, The Artist

I have absolutely no idea about this category, just as I don’t each and every year. As such, I’ll take the swooning love letter to all things Golden Age Hollywood to win the prize.

Best Supporting Actress – Jessica Chastain, The Help

Chastain appeared in no less than six films in 2011, and one has to think that plays some role in rewarding actors. She could easily win for The Tree of Life, but I’m predicting that the audience-pleasing The Help will land the young Californian a fast-track onto Hollywood A-list.

Best Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer, Beginners

This is the closest category with a lock this year (I’m guessing Plummer’s name will be first to the engraver’s on ballot counting night). Beginners is a wonderful film, deserving of a much wider audience in my opinion, and Plummer has been historically underrepresented at the Oscars.

Best Actress – Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Prognosticators have already considered this a two-horse race between Ms. Williams and Meryl Streep for quite some time. The Globes, with their Comedy and Drama categories separated, is able to avoid a tough decision, though I’m going with the mild upset here. Sure, the film industry loves its legends, but it also doesn’t shy away from awarding new talent.

Best Actor – George Clooney, The Descendants

Proving how boring the Best Actor race is this year, I’m picking Clooney. This year, he’s had two critically acclaimed films  (The Descendents, The Ides of March) and, like Chastain, likely scores points for volume of work as much as anything else. He’s also charming as the dickens!

Best Director – Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

As long overdue as Plummer, Malick should be an absolute lock in this category. And yet it seems that somehow the film and its director have faded from mind for most critics. But The Tree of Life is a daring, challenging film worth every bit the wait (it was supposed to appear at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010, but Malick kept tinkering). The director has only been nominated twice in his long career (both times for The Thin Red Line), and his at-the-time overlooked  ’70s output, Badlands and Days of Heaven, is now considered critical to the overall American movie canon. Combined with the fact that a runaway contender has yet to appear that could sweep the three hour telecast (I’m not sold on The Artist being that film), I’m thinking there is a huge shock on Oscar night, and Malick takes the directing prize.

Best Picture – The Artist

Despite what I just wrote above, I’ll take Harvey Wein-I mean, The Artist to win Best Picture. Harvey Weinstein is the greatest Oscar manipulator in the history of cinema, and he pegged this film as his 2011 Best Picture winner the moment he snatched up the rights. There remains the off-chance of course that Academy voters split between this film and The Descendants, in which case I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Woody Allen’s sister – representing for Midnight in Paris – onstage, hoisting a golden statue.

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