Tag Archives: Meryl Streep

[Review] – Hope Springs

29 Aug

Title: Hope Springs
Year: 2012
Director: David Frankel
Writer: Vanessa Taylor
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell, Elisabeth Shue
MPAA Rating: PG-13, mature thematic content involving sexuality
Runtime: 100 min
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Metacritic: 66

I have a total and unapologetic love for The Devil Wears Prada. I read and like the book, and then I saw and absolutely loved the movie. Everything about that film was pretty great, the soundtrack, the fashion, Anne Hathaway and, of course, most of all, Meryl Streep as the inimitably ruthless Miranda Priestly. That role got Ms. Streep her 14th Academy Award nomination, and even though it would take her three further tries to finally win her third golden man last year, it really was a terrific performance that only a living legend like her could have played that well.

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[Trailer] – Hope Springs

25 Apr

In case you thought Meryl Streep was done racking up Oscar nominations, here’s another film that may just get her to expand her own record and get an eighteenth nomination. She is, after all, reteaming with her The Devil Wears Prada director, David Frankel, for Hope Springs (formerly titled Great Hope Springs), for which a trailer hast just been released, and you can watch it after the cut.

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Oscar Recap

28 Feb

Finally, we come to the end of yet another exhaustive awards season. Though not as infuriating as the one of last year (in which The King’s Speech ended up stealing momentum from the far-superior The Social Network), there’s still stuff that will get people angry (little to none recognition for Drive and Shame? C’mon) and stuff that will make people overjoyed (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo winning Editing last night was a high point of the ceremony for me), but awards seasons always end up feeling tiresome, and yet I always watch them every step of the way and once they’re over I vow never to follow one as closely ever again, even though I know I’m full of it.

But anyways, back to the point, last night the 84th Academy Awards took place, and there were very little surprises insofar as the actual winners of the night, but there were a few things about the ceremony itself that I think are worth mentioning. So here’s my recap, first we’ll take a look at the list of winners with a brief impression of what I thought about each of them, and then we’ll look at the the good and bad parts about last night’s ceremoney.

LIST OF WINNERS

  • BEST PICTURE: The Artist – I predicted this one correctly and it’s not as though anyone was questioning it. When Hugo started winning the technical awards and The Artist had just 2 trophies heading into the final four awards of the night people were doubting it, but then came Harvey Weinstein and took those four awards (three for this film, the other for Meryl Streep).
  • BEST DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius – Another one that was easy to predict. It was still kind of odd to see an unknown Frenchman triumphing over four American masters, though.
  • BEST ACTOR: Jean Dujardin – Clooney couldn’t prevail, though I think this one was really close. Dujardin won’t be able to transition into American films in which he actually has to talk though, at least I don’t think so, so this was his only chance.
  • BEST ACTOR: Meryl Streep – YES! That’s all I can say about this win, which was the biggest surprise about this whole thing. Yes, Meryl was always in the running for this one, but people already thought it was Davis’ award after she won the SAG. I don’t care how people say this win won’t age well and won’t help Streep’s chances for future Oscars, all I know is that it had been 29 years since the greatest ever won one, it needed to happen as soon as possible. And I’m already looking forward to her fourth.
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Plummer – This could have been one of the biggest yawns because this was the surest bet there was, but Plummer’s eloquent and graceful speech made it one of the highlights of the night for me.
  • BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Octavia Spencer – Another sure-thing that happened and that was still awesome because Spencer was just so genuinely excited and everybody at home felt it.
  • BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen’s record third win in this category. He wasn’t there to accept it, naturally, but Angelina Jolie’s leg did just fine.
  • BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Descendants – This is the category in which the Academy chose to reward this masterful film. Getting Alexander Payne his second Oscar (let’s hope the third will be for directing) and getting Jim Rash (Dean Pelton!) to show that Angelina isn’t the only one that can rock a sexy stance.
  • BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: A Separation – Good thing they honored such an amazing film.
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY: Undefeated – I wasn’t expecting this one, honestly. Guess having Diddy in your camp helps. Or maybe it’s just that Weinstein magic at it again.
  • BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Rango – Obviously.
  • BEST EDITING: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – One of the biggest surprises of the night. This when people first started (wrongly) assuming The Artist may not have Best Picture in the bag after all. And I loved that Baxter and Wall are now consecutive winners of this award, too bad there’s no Fincher film this year so they can make it three.
  • BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Hugo – Look, Hugo was my favorite film 2011 and I’m super glad it racked up so many technical wins and tied The Artist for most overall, but it’s a seriously horrible snub that The Tree of Life didn’t get this one.
  • BEST ART DIRECTION: Hugo – As well as it should.
  • BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: The Artist – I like this guy’s speeches quite a bit. All of The Artist‘s team gave good speeches, actually.
  • BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Man or Muppet” – Bret McKenzie, Oscar winner! Yes!
  • BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Hugo – I think not even the winners thought they were ever gonna triumph over Rise of the Planet of the Apes or Harry Potter here. It’s as though the Academy thought “We’re not gonna give Hugo any of the big awards, so let’s give it all of the small ones”.
  • BEST SOUND MIXING: Hugo – Why not?.
  • BEST SOUND EDITING: Hugo – Again, why not? Sound Oscars I don’t know how to call, but I predicted Hugo for both categories so I’m happy, though I was still crossing fingers for a Drive win.
  • BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The Artist – I kind of wanted any other film to win here, but I got my prediction right.
  • BEST MAKEUP: The Iron Lady – Well, that’s it people, Harry Potter shut out from the Oscars yet again.

Overall I think I did okay, predicting 16 out of 21, which is pretty respectable.

THE GOOD

  • Billy Crystal’s opening montage inserting himself into the nominated films. This is what his hosting gigs are known for, and I liked it. That kiss with Clooney was pretty damn funny.
  • Octavia Spencer being so in the moment on her acceptance speech.
  • Christopher Guest’s hilarious The Wizard of Oz-inspired mockumentary.
  • Emma. Stone. She stole the show for me.
  • Christopher Plummer making the wives of every other winner feel bad because their husbands weren’t as awesome to them as he was to his wife. Seriously, what a speech.
  • Scorsese! (Best drinking game ever)
  • Meryl Streep. Period.

THE BAD

  • Every other thing about Billy Crystal’s hosting gig that wasn’t him inserting himself into the nominated films. It just felt too safe, too dated, too much like all of his other hosting gigs. I needed something fresher. Let’s hope next year’s host is a new, fresh face not named James Franco.
  • The fact that The Muppets were there to introduce a segment and not to perform their nominated song.
  • The celebrity interview packages did it at times for me, but as a whole I just didn’t really love them at all.
  • The horrible sound.
  • Billy Crystal’s The Help joke. It was cringe-worthy. The only time he went for something a bit edgy in humor and he was way off.

Oscar Predictions

25 Feb

The 84th Academy Awards are coming up some forty-something hours from now, so I thought I should post my predictions right now and not wait until the actual day, so I can enjoy Oscar weekend (and the NBA All-Star weekend) fully and without distractions knowing that my (hypothetical and irrelevant) votes have been cast. I know there’s bound to be a surprise or two (and hopefully it’ll be a welcome one and not a Crash-like one) but a general consensus seems to have been reached, and of course The Artist is poised to be the night’s massive winner. Now, below I will list all of the categories except the three shorts categories (because I haven’t seen most of those films) and offer up my prediction for both who I think will win and who I think should win. Without further ado:

BEST PICTURE

  • The Artist (Thomas Langmann)
  • The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin)
  • The Help (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan)
  • Hugo (Graham King and Martin Scorsese)
  • Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum)
  • Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt)
  • The Tree of Life (Nominees to be determined)
  • War Horse (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy)
Were this an old-school five-nominee race the nominees would most likely be The Artist, Hugo, The Help, The Descendants and Midnight in Paris, so you have to assume those are the only films with a shot at this one. However, while the other four do have a shot at it, it’s a very small one, as The Artist is bound to win the big one.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: Hugo
BEST DIRECTOR
  • Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
  • Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  • Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
  • Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
  • Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Two master directors who aren’t expected to actually attend the ceremony. One of the best American directors continuing his masterful streak. The best of all-time (in my opinion) delivering a really different, and personal, film. And a Frenchman who a few months ago was unknown this side of the Atlantic. And, guess what? The unknown French is bound to win this one over the proven masters. Some people are saying that maybe there will be a split, The Artist taking Picture, Hugo taking Director. I would love to see that, but I doubt it’s happening.
Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Should Win: Martin Scorsese
BEST ACTOR
  • Demián Bichir (A Better Life)
  • George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
  • Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
It’s Clooney vs. Dujardin all the way here, with maybe Brad Pitt having a thing or two to say about this. But the big wins have been all Dujardin pretty much, so expect him to triumph here. Still, the real travesty is that Fassbender isn’t here.
Will Win: Jean Dujardin
Should Win: George Clooney
BEST ACTRESS
  • Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
  • Viola Davis (The Help)
  • Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  • Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
  • Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
Meryl or Viola? Viola or Meryl? That’s the question that lingers through the minds of Oscar aficionados. It’s probably going to be Viola though, she’s hasn’t won before (I know Meryl hasn’t won in like three decades but she’s won before, and twice) and she’s a black actress so it means the Oscars can claim diversity (which will be for naught after this week’s profiling of its members, all old white men) and, more importantly, even Meryl wants Viola to win. So yes, seems like Ms. Streep, the best that ever lived, will have to wait until August: Osage County for that extremely deserved and ellusive third golden man.
Will Win: Viola Davis
Should Win: Rooney Mara
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
  • Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
  • Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
  • Nick Nolte (Warrior)
  • Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
  • Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Some people are of the opinion that von Sydow could maybe make a run for it. Well, he could, but it’s not happening. This one’s Plummer’s all the way, as well as it should be.
Will Win: Christopher Plummer
Should Win: Christopher Plummer
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
  • Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
  • Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  • Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
  • Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Another Oscar that probably already has the name engraved on it. Considering Chastain is here for the wrong role and Mulligan and Woodley are absent from the shortlist, I’d actually give this one to McCarthy for shitting on a sink.
Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Should Win: Melissa McCarthy
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
  • The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
  • Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig)
  • Margin Call (J.C. Chandor)
  • Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  • A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
Will The Artist take this one as part of its big sweep, or will this be the category in which they honor Woody by giving him his third Oscar for writing (and fourth overall)? I’m going with Woody, because his screenplay was the best of the year, original or adapted.
Will Win: Midnight in Paris
Should Win: Midnight in Paris
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
  • The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash)
  • Hugo (John Logan)
  • The Ides of March (George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon)
  • Moneyball (Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan)
This will probably be the category in which they choose to honor The Descendants which at one point in the race was the front-runner for Best Picture. And rightfully so, since the script is brilliant, even if I did personally like Moneyball‘s better.
Will Win: The Descendants
Should Win: Moneyball
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
  • Bullhead (Belgium)
  • Footnote (Israel)
  • In Darkness (Poland)
  • Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
  • A Separation (Iran)
If the Iranian film doesn’t fin this one it would be one of the biggest upsets of the night, for sure.
Will Win: A Separation
Should Win: A Separation
BEST DOCUMENTARY
  • Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner)
  • If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman)
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs)
  • Pina (Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel)
  • Undefeated (TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas)
It’s a travesty that neither Senna nor Project Nim are here, let’s just hope that Pina can take this, even though I’m afraid it won’t.
Will Win: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Should Win: Pina
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
  • A Cat in Paris (Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli)
  • Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal)
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson)
  • Puss in Boots (Chris Miller)
  • Rango (Gore Verbinski)
I just saw Chico & Rita and it’s fantastic, but no animated film came even close to achieving the greatness that Rango did.
Will Win: Rango
Should Win: Rango
BEST EDITING

  • The Artist (Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius)
  • The Descendants (Kevin Tent)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)
  • Hugo (Thelma Schoonmaker)
  • Moneyball (Christopher Tellefsen)
The Artist should take this one as part of its sweep, though maybe Hugo can sneak in and take it from them. I would very much like to see last year’s winning team come in for the repeat, though.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • The Artist (Guillaume Schiffman)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Jeff Cronenwerth)
  • Hugo (Robert Richardson)
  • The Tree of Life (Emmanuel Lubezki)
  • War Horse (Janusz Kaminski)
I guess The Artist could potentially take this one, too. But the Academy gave some love to The Tree of Life in major categories, which means they’ve seen it and liked it quite a lot, and even those who didn’t must have been left in awe of the work Emmanuel Lubezki in crafting the year’s most visually stunning film.
Will Win: The Tree of Life
Should Win: The Tree of Life
BEST ART DIRECTION
  • The Artist (Laurence Bennet, production designer; Robert Gould, set decorator)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Stuart Craig, production designer; Stephanie McMillan, set decorator)
  • Hugo (Dante Ferretti, production designer; Francesca Lo Schiavo, set decorator)
  • Midnight in Paris (Anne Seibel, production designer; Hélène Dubreuil, set decorator)
  • War Horse (Rick Carter, production designer; Lee Sandales, set decorator)
Well this one has to be Hugo‘s for sure, doesn’t it?
Will Win: Hugo
Should Win: Hugo
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
  • The Adventures of Tintin (John Williams)
  • The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
  • Hugo (Howard Shore)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alberto Iglesias)
  • War Horse (John Williams)
The big thing here is the fact that neither Drive nor The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were nominated, and that really sucks. Now, The Artist is a silent film so the score narrates the whole thing and keeps it moving, and that’s seriously a tremendous accomplishment.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Artist
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
  • “Man or Muppet” (The Muppets; Music and Lyrics by Bret McKenzie)
  • “Real in Rio” (Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyrics by Siedah Garrett)
Only two nominees and the songs won’t be performed at the telecast, a real pity of you ask me. Still that means the odds improve so that we can say “Bret McKenzie, Oscar Winner” in the very near future.
Will Win: “Man or Muppet”
Should Win: “Man or Muppet”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson)
  • Hugo (Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning)
  • Real Steel (Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg)
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier)
Right, if they didn’t Andy Serkis with an acting nod for his revolutionary motion-capture performance as Caesar the ape, they might as well reward the special effects team that made that happen. Though maybe this will be the Academy’s chance to reward the Harry Potter franchise, although they would be doing so in a smaller category than they should.
Will Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson)
  • Hugo (Tom Fleischman and John Midgley)
  • Moneyball (Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin)
  • War Horse (Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson)
I never know how to predict these pesky sound categories but Hugo has won these awards at the other awards shows so might as well go with that pick for both as it will probably win at least one.
Will Win: Hugo
Should Win: Hugo

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • Drive (Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Ren Klyce)
  • Hugo (Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl)
  • War Horse (Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom)
Again, tough to predict these sound categories, though nothing would be more awesome than for Drive to pick up an Oscar.
Will Win: Hugo
Should Win: Drive
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
  • Anonymous (Lisy Christl)
  • The Artist (Mark Bridges)
  • Hugo (Sandy Powell)
  • Jane Eyre (Michael O’Connor)
  • W.E. (Arianne Phillips)
It’s probably, as per usual, a battle between The Artist and Hugo.
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: Jane Eyre

BEST MAKEUP

  • Albert Nobbs (Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng)
  • The Iron Lady (Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland)
I think this is a toss-up between all three of them, or maybe just Potter and Iron Lady.
Will Win: The Iron Lady
Should Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
So that’s it for my predictions. Check back on Monday to see the full list of winners and how I did with these predictions!

Best of 2011: 20 Lead Actresses

7 Feb

A whole month after 2011 ended I have wrapped up my yearly rankings, having seen 256 films released in 2011, granting 13 perfect A+ scores and a really superb 76 scores in the A range. To remember the year that was I thought I should start a feature that will hopefully become a yearly thing for me and do a few Best of 2011 posts, choosing my Top 20 films, directing efforts, screenplays, and performances (separated by lead male, lead female, supporting male and supporting female) and doing a post honoring them with a brief paragraph explaining what made each of those 20 options so remarkable and memorable and thus made 2011 a great year for films. For the sixth entry in the series of posts we have my Top 20 Performances by Leading Actresses of 2011:

20. SAOIRSE RONAN as Hanna in Hanna

It’s kind of baffling that Hanna was so shut out from any awards love, at the very least its amazing score from The Chemical Brothers should have gotten some recognition. Saoirse Ronan who’ll turn just eighteen in a couple of months reteamed with Joe Wright, the director who get her an Oscar nod for her work in Atonement a few years ago, for this, a very different kind of role for her and one that would prove to be quite a challenge for any actress. The fact that she’s so young and so talented only means great things for the future, she’s stunning here, going toe-to-toe alongside experienced actors like Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett, and coming out on top.

19. MIRANDA JULY as Sophie in The Future

Miranda July has to be one of the most unique voices in film and literature right now. And one of the most polarizing, too, with people are loving or hating her work. I personally love everything she does, as was the case with her latest film, The Future, and the lead performance she gave in it as Sophie, one half of the duo that decides to adopt a stray kitten, Paw Paw (voiced by Ms. July), and to live the 30 days during which the kitten will live in a shelter as the last days of their lives since they believe this new small responsibility will alter their lives forever. Miranda July maybe super artsy and hipster and call her what you want, but her refreshing brand of quirky is one that I really love.

18. ANNA PAQUIN as Lisa Cohen in Margaret

When I first saw Kenneth Lonergan’s excruciatingly-delayed Margaret I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would, giving it a B. But I’ve seen it another time since and I liked it much more; I would give it a better grade now actually. But even the first time when I didn’t fully appreciate it as much as I do now, I was left impressed by the performance Anna Paquin gives as Lisa Cohen, a private school girl who will have her life turned around as she witnesses a bus accident that she may have caused by distracting the driver. She lends Lisa this sort of entitled and precocious vibe that works tremendously well.

17. KEIRA KNIGHTLEY as Sabina Spielrein in A Dangerous Method

Viggo Mortensen appeared on my Best Supporting Actors ranking (at #16) for his performance as Sigmund Freud, and now Keira Knightley, undoubtedly one of the five or ten best actresses under thirty working today, appears here. The stuff she does with her role in this film is just sensational to watch, daring to go for director David Cronenberg to some really unlikable places in a really fierce way, in a performance that, had it not been this perfect, would’ve meant the whole film falling apart. She plays Sabina, a girl who’s quite unhinged, examined by Freud and Carl Jung, and even though there’s a lot of sexual stuff, as Sabina wants people to sexually punish and humiliate her, Ms. Knightley lets go with such abandon into her performance that you don’t think sex even though she’s gorgeous, you just think she’s mad.

16. VERA FARMIGA as Corinne in Higher Ground

Vera Farmiga is an actress I’ve loved for a very long time and who I think should be a bigger name by now. In Higher Ground, a film that she also directed, she turns in another one of her typically splendid performances, while also giving a great performance behind the camera. The stuff she can do just with her eyes, which are the kind of eyes movie stars were once made of, is magnificent, the kind of eyes that draw you in but also warn you to keep a bit of distance, conveying good-heartedness as well as a sense of mischief. This was just terrific from her.

15. MIA WASIKOWSKA as Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre

Mia Wasikowska has a great future ahead of her, I think we can all agree on that. And in Jane Eyre she gives a performance that’s just wise beyond her years (she was 20 when she shot this), her performances are just so insightful that you just get the feeling that you’re watching an old soul with so much depth to her. When I saw this film at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center it included a Q&A with her and director Cary Fukunaga, and just the stuff she said about her approach to the role and her process was amazing, and it proved why she gave what to me is the definitive portrayal of the iconic character so far.

14. KRISTEN WIIG as Annie Walker in Bridesmaids

All the rage about the hilarious Bridesmaids ensemble (directed by Paul Feig, my #19 Director) has been focussed on Melissa McCarthy who got a Supporting Actress Oscar nod for her performance (I ranked her at #4 in that particular ranking of mine), and rightfully so because she’s hilarious. But Kristen Wiig (who got an Oscar nod for the screenplay, which I ranked #2 in those rankings) is just as amazing in this film, the scene against Rose Byrne with the battling maid of honor speeches is a feat of comedic genius, as is her drunken ramblings at the plane. She’s the SNL MVP for a reason, this just proves she can be one on the big screen, too.

13. BÉRÉNICE BEJO as Peppy Miller in The Artist

Yes, she got an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress, but if you’ve seen The Artist you’ll know she’s very much a Lead performer, so I ranked her here instead. The film (which I already named my #8, as well as my #7 Director and #12 Screenplay) obviously needed tremendously gifted performers to capture our attention in a silent black-and-white film. Bérénice Bejo is an exquisitely talented physical performer with features that speak louder than words ever could, taking direction from her real-life husband she gives a superb performance in one of the most charming films of the year.

12. OLIVIA COLMAN as Hannah in Tyrannosaur

Tyrannosaur is a really brutal film, quite tough to see actually, but the stunningly great performance by Olivia Colman alone is worth the price of admission and withstanding the harshness of it all. The sadness of the whole film, the feelings it relies on in order to tell its story rely on the performance she manages to give to become the unforgiving human drama it is, to show a compelling and visceral look at rage and abuse and all the things that can come out of it. Certainly a performance that grabs you by the throat and never lets go.

11. LEILA HATAMI as Simin in A Separation

My #15 Film, #17 Screenplay and #16 Director gets a mention in this category for the performance Leila Hatami gives as Simin, one half of the couple that goes through the titular separation. Everyone in this film actually does a fantastic job, but chief amongst them is Ms. Hatami, who in scenes where here character may seem stereotypical she does a lot to uncover a tremendous amount of depth to the character. She acts out some really tense and interesting situations, and does a lot to make A Separation one of the films that stays the longest with you from all 2011.

10. ADEPERO ODUYE as Alike in Pariah

This is Adepero Oduye’s first proper performance in a feature, and the stuff she does with the role of Alike is just spellbinding in the way she so subtly and seamlessly captures every single emotion this young girl in search of an identity is going through. What I thought was awesome about this performance is that we don’t need an expository scene or dialogue to set up much of Alike’s life, she does that just with her presence, taking smart direction from Dee Rees and expressing with just her eyes every little change that’s going through in the mind of her character.

9. FELICITY JONES as Anna in Like Crazy

My #11 Film and #18 Director gets a shout-out for the lead performance by the beautiful Felicity Jones. The journey she takes us with her performance of Anna in just ninety minutes is unbelievable, delivering such an honest and raw performance that it’s amazing to watch, and showing us a star being born right in front of our eyes, an actress that’s made for great things. This is just a very intelligent performance by her, and just the stuff she does with her face and her eyes in those many close-ups, saying ten times more than words ever could with her expressions, this is true talent.

8. VIOLA DAVIS as Aibileen Clark in The Help

Her cast-mate (and Supporting Actress front-runner) Octavia Spencer got a mention at #5 in my Supporting Actresses rankings, and now Viola Davis, arguably the front-runner for the Best Actress Oscar (barely getting the edge over Meryl Streep) gets a mention here. This is such a tour de force performance, the kind that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater, and Ms. Davis herself is just such a great woman (just look at her acceptance speech at the SAG’s) that you’re left speechless watching her be Aibileen. Three years ago she had one scene in Doubt, which she stole from Meryl Streep, and got a Supporting Actress nomination. Now she finally gets the role of her lifetime and she’s up against Ms. Streep, who you just know wants her to win more than she does herself.

7. MERYL STREEP as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady

From one Oscar front-runner to the next. While Viola Davis seems to have the edge in the actual competition, Meryl Streep gets it in my rankings for the performance that got her to extend her own record with 17 nominations. And yes, she’s out of the Top 5, but that’s just because, as amazing as her performance was, the film it was in wasn’t great, and the context in which a performance is given matters to judge its worth. Meryl Streep is, to me as she should be to you, the greatest actress that’s ever lived. And this is a masterclass in acting, a monster performance from a living legend that just knows how to really go deep into her character, to empathize and understand the person she’s playing. The fact that she’s playing a polarizing world-known figure is a daunting task, and yet she impersonates Thatcher so brilliantly, from the voice to the mannerisms to the subtle changes she gives in her performance as she plays her through various years of her life. Yes, the film works as just a showcase for Ms. Streep’s talents and not much else, that’s true, but with talents as considerable as these you don’t really need much else.

6. CHARLIZE THERON as Mavis Gary in Young Adult

Young Adult has been well represented in my rankings (#12 Film, #15 Director, #3 Supporting Actor and #3 Screenplay) and it gets a mention here as well for Charlize Theron’s stunning performance as Mavis Gary, who’s a really unlikable lead character, which is the toughest kind to play. But she’s up to the task, to lend herself to the piercing character study of Mavis Gary we get here, delivering a really brave performance as a woman who’s still acting like a child and who can’t come to terms with the reality of her life. The film never once tries to justify Mavis’ actions, but the sincerity of Ms. Theron’s portrayal of her maybe, just maybe, may get is to somewhat sympathize with her, which is a testament to well she acted out this role.

5. TILDA SWINTON as Eva Khatchadourian in We Need to Talk About Kevin

The film has gotten mentions in my rankings before (#11 Director and #12 Supporting Actor) but it’s Tilda Swinton’s masterful performance as Eva, the mother of the teenager that’s just gone on a shooting spree, that’s by far the best thing about this whole movie. It’s her performance that makes this film compelling to watch, what grabs your attention so much in a film that had it not counted with it may have been too harsh to watch for some. This is one of the finest performances Tilda Swinton has ever given, and she never once takes the easy way out in her portrayal of Eva, delivering this tough story through her eyes and emotions, making her a distant and vulnerable character that’s not easy to pity or connect to, but telling a story that’s impossible not to be drawn into.

4. MICHELLE WILLIAMS as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn

Kenneth Branagh got a shout-out in my Supporting Actor rankings (at #11) but it’s the performance by Michelle Williams, who I think is the best actress under forty working today, that made this film so damn great to me. A film about a woman as iconic as Marilyn Monroe obviously depended solely on the performance by the actress playing the blonde bombshell, and in Michelle Williams it found the perfect one. Physically, it’s all there, the curves and the lips and the everything that made Marilyn, but where Ms. Williams really rocked it is in the intangibles, the vulnerability, the sweetness; she really gets us to understand Marilyn Monroe, what went on inside her head, her insecurities and how she handled her iconic status. It’s such a beautifully soulful performance by a brilliant actress.

3. KIRSTEN DUNST as Justine in Melancholia

My #16 Film, #12 Director and #14 Supporting Actress, and now my #3 Lead Actress. This is the best performance Kirsten Dunst has given in her whole career by a clear mile, and one that really should have gotten her an Oscar nomination. She’s the perfect muse for Lars von Trier, playing Justine, the woman the first half of this film is named after, who starts suffering from a severe case of depression that progresses as the film goes along; at first she’s pure magic at portraying a woman trying to hide her severely damaged state of mind, and later on she’s perfection when she gets meatier scenes to sink her teeth into as her illness worsens, being just sheer perfection at showing her pain and sadness.

2. ELIZABETH OLSEN as Martha in Martha Marcy May Marlene

On Nomination morning I was crossing my fingers to hear Elizabeth’s Olsen named called out for her masterful performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene a film that’s already featured quite a lot in my rankings (#10 Film, #14 Director, #8 Supporting Actor and #13 Screenplay). Alas, her name wasn’t called out, but we still have her performance to hold on to, one of the better debut performances I’ve seen in quite some time, making her one of the young actresses I’m most excited to see evolve. She plays three iterations of the same person, as the three names in the title correspond to three different kind of behaviors that are expected from her while she’s answering to each name; she’s brilliant as all three, making all of them believable. She’s breathtakingly gorgeous, has a wonderful screen presence and has a depth and vulnerability to her that’s hard to explain; by which I mean, she’s meant to be a star.

1. ROONEY MARA as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

My #3 Film, #5 Director and #15 Screenplay of the year gets a first place mention thanks to Rooney Mara’s Oscar-nominated turn as the insuperable Lisbeth Salander. After impressing with just a really short turn in The Social Network, David Fincher pushed for her to get this role, and look what she did with it. She brings such an incredible level to commitment to it all, and delivering an awe-inspiring performance, showing a tremendous intelligence (both her character’s and hers as an actress) while she hides the many emotional scars of Lisbeth Salander, being able to seduce you just as well as she can intimidate you. This if the best female performance of all 2011 from an actress people knew pretty much nothing about until just know, but who I’m sure will give us plenty to talk about in years to come.

Those are my Top 20 performances by actresses in leading roles. 4 of the Oscar nominees made it into my Top 20 (Glenn Close was the one that missed out), but were I to actually ran the Oscars only Mara and Williams would remain nominees. They, however, don’t really have a shot at actually winning; so let’s just sit back and enjoy the Streep vs. Davis battle, since even though their performances weren’t the very best, they were still extraordinary, and they’re two actresses who are amazing both on and off the screen, so it’ll be a deserved win no matter what happens.

Oscar Nominations

24 Jan

Early this morning, the nominees for the 84th Academy Awards were announced and, as it’s usually the case with these things, there were some good things, some bad things, and some truly horrible ones too. Below I’ll post the entire slew of nominees announced this morning, a brief commentary on how that category panned out this morning and how I personally did with my nomination predictions I posted yesterday.

BEST PICTURE

  • The Artist (Thomas Langmann)
  • The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin)
  • The Help (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan)
  • Hugo (Graham King and Martin Scorsese)
  • Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum)
  • Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt)
  • The Tree of Life (Nominees to be determined)
  • War Horse (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy)

Most people were predicting six or seven nominees in this category. I predicted eight, though one of my eight, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was left out, which is one of the snubs that pained me the most this morning. In its place was The Tree of Life, showing how many people love Terrence Malick’s masterpiece. And grabbing that last spot is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which had been pretty much shut out this awards season but got some Oscar love, getting a ninth slot that people were predicting, if it happened, would go to Bridesmaids. I went 7 of 9 here.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
  • Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  • Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
  • Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
  • Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Much like in Best Picture, here again is The Tree of Life presumably taking the slot that should have gone to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s David Fincher. 4 out of 5 predicted correctly here for me.

BEST ACTOR

  • Demián Bichir (A Better Life)
  • George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
  • Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Here was the thing I hated the most about the Oscar nominations. The Academy failed to nominate the best male performance of the year by leaving out Michael Fassbender for Shame, proving that they are prudes that don’t mind female nudity but cringe at the sight of male nakedness. This was the one snub that got me mad this morning. It’s cool to see Oldman get his due, and a name like Bichir’s included, but all I think is how mad I am about Fassbender’s snub. 4 out of 5 here.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
  • Viola Davis (The Help)
  • Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  • Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
  • Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

In my predictions yesterday, I said that either Glenn Close or Tilda Swinton, the presumed fourth and fifth slots of this rarce would fall off thanks to an upset at the hands of Rooney Mara. I was half-right since that indeed happened but the one that fell off was Swinton and not Close, like I had predicted. Still, super happy to see Mara here. 4 out of 5 in this one, too.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
  • Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
  • Nick Nolte (Warrior)
  • Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
  • Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

One of the biggest upsets of the morning happened here, as Albert Brooks for Drive, the presumed second-place by many, was snubbed in favor of Max von Sydow, riding the wave of support that also got Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close into the Best Pic category. Still, this category at least got the best Twitter interventions from Patton Oswalt, another snubbee. Yet another 4 for 5 for me here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
  • Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  • Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
  • Octavia Spencer (The Help)

4 out 5 correctly predicted here, as Janet McTeer gets in instead of The Descendants‘ Shailene Woodley. Still, nothing too unexpected here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
  • Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig)
  • Margin Call (J.C. Chandor)
  • Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  • A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)

I went 3 for 5 here. Artist, Midnight and Bridesmaids were locks. And the final two slots I thought were down to about six films, Margin Call and A Separation included, I just predicted the wrong ones. Still, pretty happy about J.C. Chandor’s name being called out here, he’s an incredibly promising talent.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash)
  • Hugo (John Logan)
  • The Ides of March (George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon)
  • Moneyball (Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan)

3 for 5 in this category. In my predictions I said that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Ides of March could take the fifth slot which I had predicted for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was again snubbed, the fact that both got in, at the expense of The Help, doesn’t spell great things for the chances of Tate Taylor’s film at the Best Pic trophy.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Bullhead (Belgium)
  • Footnote (Israel)
  • In Darkness (Poland)
  • Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
  • A Separation (Iran)

4 for 5 here. Sad about the lack of Pina here, but at least it got into the Docu race (about which I’m really mad about for another reason).

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner)
  • If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman)
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs)
  • Pina (Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel)
  • Undefeated (TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas)

Just 2 out of 5 here. The fact that Project Nim wasn’t included in the shortlist is absolutely atrocious to me, one of the most horrible things the Academy announced this morning. At least Pina got in.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • A Cat in Paris (Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli)
  • Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal)
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson)
  • Puss in Boots (Chris Miller)
  • Rango (Gore Verbinski)

3 out of 5 here. Really shocked about not seeing The Adventures of Tintin here. Ditto for Cars 2, which I really don’t mind not being here, but thought it would sneak in just for being a Pixar film (this is the first time a Pixar film isn’t up for the award and isn’t nominated for any kind of Oscar). Hoping this means this award is Rango‘s already.

BEST EDITING

  • The Artist (Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius)
  • The Descendants (Kevin Tent)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)
  • Hugo (Thelma Schoonmaker)
  • Moneyball (Christopher Tellefsen)

I was awfully close to getting my first 5-for-5 category here. But in my predictions I went with my fanboy heart and predicted Drive instead of Moneyball. Still, good to see Thelma Schoonmaker here as well as last year’s winning team of Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • The Artist (Guillaume Schiffman)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Jeff Cronenwerth)
  • Hugo (Robert Richardson)
  • The Tree of Life (Emmanuel Lubezki)
  • War Horse (Janusz Kaminski)

Finally I predicted all five of the nominees here correctly. Probably a battle all the way between Schiffman and Lubezki.

BEST ART DIRECTION

  • The Artist (Laurence Bennet, production designer; Robert Gould, set decorator)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Stuart Craig, production designer; Stephanie McMillan, set decorator)
  • Hugo (Dante Ferretti, production designer; Francesca Lo Schiavo, set decorator)
  • Midnight in Paris (Anne Seibel, production designer; Hélène Dubreuil, set decorator)
  • War Horse (Rick Carter, production designer; Lee Sandales, set decorator)

3 for 5 here. I thought Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was an absolute lock in this category, and I also predicted The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but was quite unsure about that one. War Horse I could see here, but Midnight in Paris was more of a surprise to me, though a very welcome one.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • The Adventures of Tintin (John Williams)
  • The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
  • Hugo (Howard Shore)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alberto Iglesias)
  • War Horse (John Williams)

Double-dip by John Williams here. Still, all I can think about here is how infuriating the lack of Reznor and Ross for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson)
  • Hugo (Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning)
  • Real Steel (Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg)
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier)

3 for 5 here. Kind of surprised to see Real Steel pop in instead of The Tree of Life, especially considering how much love the Malick film had managed to score in more important categories.

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson)
  • Hugo (Tom Fleischman and John Midgley)
  • Moneyball (Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin)
  • War Horse (Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson)

I never know what I’m doing predicting these categories, so a 2-for-5 showing isn’t that shocking. Good to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo here though.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • Drive (Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Ren Klyce)
  • Hugo (Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl)
  • War Horse (Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom)

4 for 5 here, I don’t know why I was so sure Super 8 was the front-runner here. Just insanely happy about Drive.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Anonymous (Lisy Christl)
  • The Artist (Mark Bridges)
  • Hugo (Sandy Powell)
  • Jane Eyre (Michael O’Connor)
  • W.E. (Arianne Phillips)

4 for 5 again here, strange not seeing The Help here, I guess it means its support isn’t as strong as we once thought.

BEST MAKEUP

  • Albert Nobbs (Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng)
  • The Iron Lady (Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland)

2 for 3 here, I was super sure Albert Nobbs wasn’t going to get in here, but after the love thrown at Close and McTeer I guess this was expected.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Man or Muppet” (The Muppets; Music and Lyrics by Bret McKenzie)
  • “Real in Rio” (Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyrics by Siedah Garrett)

Don’t know why there were only 2 and not 5 nominees here, so I’m not really counting it for my predictions.

And that’s it for the Oscar nominations. I went 72 for 102 in the predictions I made, which I guess isn’t all that bad, as the date comes closer I’ll make my actual predictions for who I think will win, but for now let us just think about these nominations. Here are my picks for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

The Good:

  • Hugo leading all nominees with 11 (the film with the most nominations has won Best Picture 15 of the last 20 years).
  • Woody in for Best Director.
  • Gary Oldman finally getting his nomination.
  • Rooney Mara in for Best Actress.
  • J.C. Chandor getting a nod.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes getting a nod somewhere.

The Bad:

  • No extra Dragon Tattoo. I mean, Mara getting in there and a slew of technical nods is awesome indeed, but no Fincher for Director or the film not getting into the big race was hurtful. But those categories were crowded. The one that really stung was the omission of its score. I’m putting this under Bad and not Ugly because at least Rooney got her due.
  • Tilda Swinton out of Best Actress. True, it was to give a spot to Mara (who gave a better performance), but Swinton’s performance was better than Glenn Close’s who did get in and should have been the one scrapped in order to make room for the youngster of the bunch.
  • Pina not included in the Best Foreign Language race. Bad and not Ugly because at least it’s in the Best Docu category.
  • No The Adventures of Tintin in the Best Animated Feature race.

The Ugly:

  • No Fassbender!!!
  • No Project Nim.
  • No Drive (except for a sole technical nod).
  • No more (Muppets) Original Song nominations.

Predicting the Oscar Nominations

24 Jan

I still have a handful of 2011 releases to catch up with (namely: Submarine, Daydream Nation, Kaboom, Crazy Stupid Love, Arthur Christmas and Hugo) and while I wanted to make my Oscar nominations predictions post having seen all of them (especially Hugo since its poised to be a major Oscar player) the nominations come out tomorrow so I’ll have to post them now. Below is how I think the categories announced tomorrow morning will shape up (in order of likelihood of having their names called out), with a brief paragraph following them stating how I think that race is shaping up. Please let it be known that this not my personal preference of films, performances or technical achievements, just how I think the Academy will cast their votes (which, as we know, is something they get wrong probably more than they do right), and my personal Best of 2011 posts will come as soon as I watch those six 2011 releases I’m still waiting to catch up with. This will probabyl be a really long post but, without further ado, here are my predictions of tomorrow’s Oscar nominations:

BEST PICTURE

  1. The Artist
  2. The Descendants
  3. Hugo
  4. Midnight in Paris
  5. The Help
  6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  7. Moneyball
  8. War Horse

The first 5 films are absolute locks, and the actual trophy will be fought over by the handful of them alone. It’s beyond that that it gets tricky, since under the new Oscar rules anywhere from 5 to 10 Best Picture nominees can arise, depending on the percentage of the votes they get on the nomination ballots. The contenders for those potential five other slots are known, but how many slots there will actually be is too tough to call. I’m predicting an extra three slots, though maybe War Horse will fall off and there will be only 7 nominees, or maybe the eighth slot will go to The Tree of Life or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, or a fun pick like Bridesmaids or an edgy one like Drive. Who knows.

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
  2. Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  3. Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
  4. Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
  5. David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

The first three names are all locks, and I’m guessing so is Woody. The fifth slot is trickier, I’m going with Fincher because I love him and I think he should be there, but don’t be surprised if the name called out is Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Tate Taylor (The Help) or Steven Spielberg (War Horse)

BEST ACTOR

  1. George Clooney (The Descendants)
  2. Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  3. Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
  4. Michael Fassbender (Shame)
  5. Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

The first four slots, I think, are pretty much locked. The fifth one is a bit tricker, with Oldman and DiCaprio (for J. Edgar) battling it out, and even Demián Bichir (for A Better Life) and Michael Shannon (for Take Shelter) trying to get in there. I’m predicting Oldman because his is the better performance, the better film, and he’s incredibly overdue.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
  2. Viola Davis (The Help)
  3. Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
  4. Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
  5. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

The first three are absolute locks, and the general consensus is that the final two slots will go to Swinton and Glenn Close (for Albert Nobbs). I’m guessing one of them will be snubbed, probably Close, and Mara will get in and be the fresh face in the competition (though don’t count out Charlize Theron for Young Adult to maybe pull off that upset).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
  2. Albert Brooks (Drive)
  3. Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
  4. Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
  5. Nick Nolte (Warrior)

This is pretty much the general consensus for this category (which has already been won by Plummer, so whatever). If there’s an upset look for it to be at the expense of either Hill or Nolte, and by the hands of either Patton Oswalt for Young Adult (which would be insanely awesome), Ben Kingsley for Hugo (which would make the film a huge threat for the Best Picture crown) or Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Octavia Spencer (The Help)
  2. Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
  3. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  4. Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  5. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)

Much like the male equivalent of this award, this one already has a name engraved in the golden man. Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) is the only name I could forsee getting in here, though I would kill for a Carey Mulligan mention (for either Shame or Drive).

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  2. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
  3. Bridesmaids (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo)
  4. Young Adult (Diablo Cody)
  5. Beginners (Mike Mills)

I’m torn here for the final two slots, Thomas McCarthy for Win Win could easily be there, ditto for Will Reiser for 50/50, Asghar Farhadi for A Separation and J.C. Chandor for Margin Call. I always love this category.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash)
  2. Moneyball (Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian and Stan Chervin)
  3. Hugo (John Logan)
  4. The Help (Tate Taylor)
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Steve Zaillian)

I think the four first slots are in for sure, but the fifth could also go to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Ides of March.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  1. A Separation (Iran)
  2. In Darkness (Poland)
  3. Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
  4. Pina (Germany)
  5. Footnote (Israel)

Other than A Separation (which I gave an A to) and Pina (A-) I haven’t seen any of the other remaning seven films fighting for the five available slots here, so this is pretty much guesswork.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  1. Project Nim
  2. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
  3. Pina
  4. We Were Here
  5. Bill Cunningham New York

This is also pretty much guesswork in this category, but so long as both Pina and Project Nim get in here (and one of them wins the whole enchilada) I’ll be good with this.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  1. Rango
  2. The Adventures of Tintin
  3. Puss in Boots
  4. Cars 2
  5. Kung Fu Panda 2

Cars 2 shouldn’t get in here, but its Pixar so it probably will. Instead, a nod for Winnie the Pooh would be quite nice to see.

BEST EDITING

  1. The Artist
  2. Hugo
  3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  4. The Descendants
  5. Drive

I’m really hoping the Academy shows Drive some love tomorrow, and this would be a really nice nomination to do it with if they can’t go for the Best Pic nod. War Horse or Moneyball, though, are probably safer bets here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. The Artist
  2. The Tree of Life
  3. Hugo
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  5. War Horse

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Moneyball could get in here if the love for War Horse is even weaker than it already seems to be.

BEST ART DIRECTION

  1. Hugo
  2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  3. The Artist
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The first three films are total locks here. The rest is me just guessing, though it would make sense to see those other two films here, though War Horse, Jane Eyre, Anonymous and The Tree of Life could show up just as easily.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  1. The Artist
  2. Hugo
  3. War Horse
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Artist has this one in the bag since the score helps narrate the silent film. The rest of the field is quite tough to predict, I’m guessing Hugo and War Horse are definitely in there, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has the best score of the year so I’m hoping it’ll get in there too, and for the last slot I picked Desplat’s score for the 9/11 film over Dario Marianelli’s for Jane Eyre.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  2. Hugo
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  4. The Tree of Life
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger

Transformers: Dark of the Moon or X-Men: First Class could get in here as well, but I’m predicting a trio of really good blockbusters to go along with a couple of serious awards contenders.

BEST SOUND MIXING

  1. Hugo
  2. Super 8
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  5. War Horse

This is where the big, loud summer blockbusters get recognized, so don’t be surprised if Transformers: Dark of the Moon or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides get in here.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  1. Super 8
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  3. Hugo
  4. War Horse
  5. Drive

I have really no idea how this one will go, I just want Drive nominations.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  1. The Artist
  2. Hugo
  3. Jane Eyre
  4. The Help
  5. W.E.

I’m pretty confident in the first four films I have predicted here. The fifth slot I’m giving to Madonna’s film because the costumes were the only great thing about it, though maybe Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will also be here or, a personal favorite of mine, Midnight in Paris which combined contemporary and period costumes splendidly.

BEST MAKEUP

  1. The Iron Lady
  2. Hugo
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

I’m not predicting The Artist here. If anything Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life would be more deserving of an upset nod.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  1. “The Living Proof”  (The Help)
  2. “Life’s a Happy Song” (The Muppets)
  3. “Lay Your Head Down” (Albert Nobbs)
  4. “Pictures in My Head” (The Muppets)
  5. “Hello Hello” (Gnomeo and Juliet)
Two songs from The Muppets for sure, and I’m guessing they won’t snub Elton John.