So there's this movie awards show you might've heard of…
By Jett Wells
The nominations for the 2012 Oscars come out on January 24th. Now, given that the Golden Globes and flurry of other non-Oscar awards shows act as a barometer for the Academy’s picks, So, using our elaborate and arcane methodology (tea leaves were stared at; goats were sacrificed), we've assembled a scorecard for the nominees and eventual winners. Plus, just for fun, we're giving props to the movies that should win in an alternative universe where petty Oscar laws don’t apply. Oh, and don’t forget Painful Omissions: the deserving movies that will get flat-out ignored. (Also, we’d like to point out that Best Director nearly always lines up with Best Picture, but out of respect for arbitrary traditions, we're including it anyway.)
Brad Pitt, Moneyball — Yes, he’s really pretty, but he’s done great work. His performance in Tree of Life was more ambitious, but he’ll probably get the nod for the Academy-friendly Moneyball.
George Clooney, The Descendants — Clooney gets a lot of flack for just playing “George Clooney” repeatedly, but The Descendants gave him a deeper character and as a result, a better performance, than most of his roles.
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar — Leo's turn as Hoover was probably the only good thing that came out of the movie, but the Academy loves Clint Eastwood and historical dramas.
Michael Fassbender, Shame — An intense performance, if one somewhat tempered by the fact that all people could talk about was his nakedness.
Jean Dujardin, The Artist — Hollywood is drunk on Harvey Weinstein’s Kool-Aid, but Dujardin genuinely deserves this nod deserves this nod for his precise evocation of the silent-movie acting style.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Gary Oldman, damnit! He’s never even been nominated!
WHO WILL WIN: Brad Pitt
PAINFUL OMISSIONS: Ryan Gosling (Drive), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher Plummer, Beginners — Plummer has been the home-run name all year. His role in Beginners, as an elderly gay man with cancer, practically screamed “Oscar!” It’s easier to just call this his lifetime achievement award.
Albert Brooks, Drive —Who said funny guys couldn’t be scary villains? Brooks is a serious underdog, but it would be nice for him to get nominated, at least.
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn — Branagh is a solid Academy favorite, and a biopic/drama like My Week is a winning combination for the Academy.
Jonah Hill, Moneyball — Who would’ve seen this coming after Superbad? Congrats, Jonah. Just don’t quit comedy altogether.
Nick Nolte, Warrior — Nolte is impressive as a old drunk of a father/cage-wrestling coach. Grizzled actor + role as old drunk + redemptive sports story = Academy catnip.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Albert Brooks
WHO WILL WIN: Christopher Plummer
PAINFUL OMISSIONS: Seth Rogen (50/50), Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris), and Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady — This isn’t even really that close — it’s been a slam-dunk since the summer.
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn — Williams is on a nice roll now, and it’s likely she’ll win some day, but not against Streep.
Viola Davis, The Help — Davis made a name for herself after Doubt, and it’ll be nice to see her garner more lead roles down the road, but the field’s just too stacked this year for the embattled Help to come out on top.
Charlize Theron, Young Adult — Young Adult was an excellent vehicle for Theron to remind us that she's still a top-notch actress, but her role was far too dark and unlikable, and the film too ambiguous to garner a win.
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs — This role had Oscar bait written all over it, but the film hasn't gotten much love.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Meryl Streep
WHO WILL WIN: Meryl Streep
PAINFUL OMISSIONS: Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur), and Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants — Woodley stood out as a salty teenager in Alexander Payne’s comedy. We’ll see her again, but it’s doubtful she’ll win for this one.
Octavia Spencer, The Help — Spencer’s counterpart Jessica Chastain, is probably also in the running, but I’m giving the edge to Spencer.
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids — She had a great year and she’s still riding the wave into 2012 (having recently sold another television show) but the Academy will probably neglect a comic role in favor of more serious fare.
Carey Mulligan, Shame — This is probably a reach, since Mulligan failed to get nods from major predictors like the Golden Globes, but it’d be nice to see her nominated for this or Drive.
Berenice Bejo, The Artist — Bejo is a relative newcomer, but so was Gwyneth Paltrow when she won for Shakespeare in Love, and what do the two have in common? Harvey Weinstein.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Melissa McCarthy
WHO WILL WIN: Octavia Spencer
PAINFUL OMISSIONS: none
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist — The Artist has succeeded in spite of itself (a silent film about the bygone era of silent films isn't exactly box-office gold), and Hazanavicius deserves to be rewarded for his vision.
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris — It’s arguably his best script since Match Point, except much more shallow. It could be a nice career-cap for everyone's favorite misanthrope.
Will Reiser, 50/50 — It’s truly a shame how little buzz this film got — Reiser’s screenplay was equally tragic and hilarious.
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids — It’d be nice to see exceptionally funny writing get acknowledged, especially from a team so against-the-grain of the male-dominated comedy landscape.
Diablo Cody, Young Adult —It’s a far cry from Juno but Young Adult featured a truly-unlikable-but-still-sympathetic protagonist — a difficult feat to pull off.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Will Reiser (50/50)
WHO WILL WIN: Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist)
PAINFUL OMISSIONS: Mike Mills (Beginners)
Alexander Payne, The Descendants — Payne has assembled a decent filmography, and he's close to being one of the "it" directors in Hollywood, but this isn't really his year.
Bennett Miller, Moneyball — Miller is one of the most underrated directors around right now; between this and Capote, he's cemented himself as a solid if low-profile director.
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris — Everybody knows Woody is past his prime, and until Midnight, it seemed like he was just going through the motions. But this time, he flashed a little bit of his old self.
Martin Scorsese, Hugo — Marty will probably only show up here out of the Academy's shame for letting him go nearly thirty years without a Best Director Oscar, but it's unlikely he'll win for a children's movie.
Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist — This would be a good year for the Academy to split the Best Picture and Best Director awards. If The Artist is posed to win (which it seems to), it'd be nice to see them break the mold and give Miller or Payne the nod.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Bennett Miller
WHO WILL WIN: Michael Hazanavicius
PAINFUL OMISSIONS: Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), Jonathan Levine (50/50), and Tom McCarthy (Win Win)
The Artist — It’s been sweeping the awards season, and even if it is a long shot, we’ve seen what behind-the-scenes politicking can do for an film (See Also:Shakespeare in Love).
Moneyball — If the ending hewed a bit closer to fairytale like most sports films, it’d be a shoo-in. But that touch of realism could have tipped the balance.
The Descendants — There could be upset potential here, but it’s unlikely.
Hugo — Scorsese will always get love, no matter what.
Midnight in Paris — Woody Allen reclaimed a lot of old fans with this one, despite its spotty reviews.
Tree of Life — This was one of the most polarizing films of the year, but it wowed just enough pundits to get a spot in the nominee’s circle at least.
The Help — The Academy does love a historical drama, particularly one where the civil rights struggle is filtered through the lens of a nice white lady.
War Horse — Spielberg’s adaptation has lost a ton of steam in the past weeks, which means it’s possible this year Best Picture could only have seven nominees.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Moneyball
WHAT WILL WIN: The Artist
PAINFUL OMISSIONS: Drive, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2