Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My 84th Oscar Awards Predictions

Guide to the 84th Oscars
By Raymond F. Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated February 24, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments
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MANILA, Philippines - Because the 84th edition of the Oscars is set on Sunday night (Monday morning in Manila), film buffs all over the world are in a whirl of excitement and anticipation trying to determine which among the nominated actors and movies will walk away with arguably the most coveted prize in the world after the Nobel Prize.

Per tradition, this writer is giving The STAR readers a quick run-through of which performers and movies could win in the major categories come Sunday. But before that, here’s a quick trivia: Who is the only actress to have received at least oneOscar nomination for every decade since the ’70s? If you answered Meryl Streep, then mark one correct answer for you.

The chameleonic actress, who began her record-setting Oscar haul of 17 nominations during the latter part of the ‘70s in the Vietnam drama The Deer Hunter, ushers in the second decade of the new century with a new nomination for her magnificent portrayal of England’s Margaret Thatcher in the biopic The Iron Lady.

Ironically, Meryl has amassed so many Oscar nominations that many people think she already has a shelf-full of golden statuettes at home. The sad truth is that she has not won an Oscar since winning in 1982. Consider this: She has been nominated 12 times and also lost for 12 consecutive times since then.

On Sunday night, the greatest American actress in history is poised to finally end the drought and make her 13th nomination since winning for Sophie’s Choice her lucky outing. But many Oscar prognosticators aren’t so sure though. Meryl is facing stiff competition from Tony-winner Viola Davis, whose star-making turn in The Help has already earned her a Best Actress trophy from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the all-important precursor award seen by many Oscar-watchers as the only accurate predictor of the Academy Awards.

Admittedly, this writer is one of Meryl’s biggest fans and every time she gets a nomination I always predict a win for her. Two years ago, she had the best chance of winning but Sandra Bullock had the best year of her career and that goodwill carried over to the Oscars. Sadly, the story from two years ago rings similar to this year’s race: Viola is enjoying her best year and the Academy may be inclined to crown that year with a Best Actress award for her.

But being a fan, I can always spin a story favorable to Meryl’s cause. Yes, Meryl will win but not because she hasn’t won in 30 years. She will win because she delivered the best performance of the year and because her turn in The Iron Lady is her best ever! Her towering performance offers many would-be actresses a clinical lesson on how to act.

Other actresses competing with Meryl and Viola for Best Actress are Michelle Williams, who was brilliant as the tormented Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, Glenn Close, who earned her sixth nomination for her gender-bending role in Albert Nobbs and first-time nominee Rooney Mara for her fierce and brave performance in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Best Actress prediction? I am going against the SAG and I predict that Meryl will win her well-deserved third Oscar.

In the hotly contested race for Best Actor, George Clooney and Brad Pitt are undeniably the most popular contenders among the five actors in the race. The Hollywood superstars, who are great friends in real-life, are competing for their masterful turns as fathers-in-crises in The Descendants and Moneyball, respectively. However, the frontrunner in this category is an otherwise unknown French actor named Jean Dujardin whose charming turn as a fading silent film star in the silent movie The Artist has already been recognized by the SAG and the British Academy.

George is tipped by many to win his second Oscar but Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor will most likely spend the evening smiling before the camera while stuck to his seat if the predicted sweep of The Artist materializes and Jean waltzes his way to the stage to collect his Oscar on his very first nomination.

The two other actors nominated in the category are also first-timers: Mexico’s Demian Bichir, who delivered a heartbreaking performance as an illegal immigrant caring for his son in A Better Life, and, surprise, surprise, Gary Oldman! Yes, the actor, considered by many critics as the greatest European actor of his generation, has never received a nomination until this year. The actor was cited for his understated but powerful performance as a master spy in the British adaptation of John Le Carre’s classic novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

My prediction for Best Actor: Jean Dujardin.

While the Best Actor and Best Actress races are difficult to predict, the race for the supporting performances has been virtually decided months ago. Octogenarian actor Christopher Plummer is set to become the oldest performer ever to receive an acting Oscar for his delightful turn as a widower who came out as a gay man to his son during the last days of his life in the acclaimed movie Beginners.

Chris is competing against Max Von Sydow (Extremely Close/Incredibly Loud), Nick Nolte (Warrior), Jonah Hill (Moneyball) and Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn).

In the Best Supporting Actress race, character actress Octavia Spencer is also virtually guaranteed to receive an Oscar for her affecting and audience-pleasing performance as a feisty maid in The Help. Octavia is joined in this category by her The Help co-star Jessica Chastain.

Other actresses nominated in this category are former nominee Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs, Berenice Bejo for The Artist and Melissa McCarthy, whose scene-stealing turn in Bridesmaids is the only comedic performance to receive a nomination this year.

The race for Best Director pits four of Hollywood’s legendary and greatest directors against a Frenchman, whose homage to silent movies could also sweep the Oscars.

French director Michel Hazanavicius, who was declared winner by the Directors Guild of America, is tipped to also win the Oscar for his work in The Artist against Martin Scorsese (Hugo), Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Terence Malick (The Tree of Life) and Alexander Payne (The Descendants).

Alexander and Woody are most likely not going home empty-handed because the nominated directors are also nominated and are expected to win for their writing works on their respective movies.

For the nights’ biggest award, the Best Picture race, nine movies are in competition this year: The Artist, Hugo, War Horse, The Help, The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Extremely Close/Incredibly Loud and The Descendants.

My predicted winner for Best Picture is The Artist. But if there will be an upset, look out for either The Help or The Descendants to pull the trick. If Hugo pulls the unlikeliest of upsets and win Best Picture, I will be happiest.

In the animated feature film category, the western Rango is expected to win in a category where the only other mainstream nominees are Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots.

Only two movies are expected to duke it out in the other categories. The Artist and Huwill most likely split the awards haul with the latter taking most of the technical awards.

The Iranian film A Separation will most likely score a historic win for its country in the Best Foreign Language Film category. However, Poland’s entry In Darkness, which is based on a harrowing true story about the Holocaust, is a dark horse contender that could very well be the surprise winner in the category — and I will be disappointed, if that happens.

Final count. Hugo: Six wins. The Artist: Five wins. The Iron Lady: Two wins.

Beloved comedian and veteran Oscar host Billy Crystal will again take over the emceeing job Sunday night.

***

Author's note: I got all ten major categories right. And in the distribution of most Oscars, only the surprise win of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for Editing spoiled my predicted count, otherwise i would have been perfect! :)

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