A Pre-Mortem of the 84th Annual Academy Awards

posted Feb 25, 2012, 10:20 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Aug 16, 2014, 9:36 AM ]

One of the highlights of my year, the Academy Awards (how sad), is happening tomorrow. While I tend to fare better predicting the Emmys than the Oscars, it doesn’t stop me from attempting every year to better my average from the previous year even though I haven’t seen most of the movies.

Truth be told, the Academy itself probably hasn’t either. I’m just sayin’.

My selections in the Top 8 categories (for lack of a better term) are based less on punditry and buzz since I’ve seen all the movies -- with the exception of my picks in the screenplay categories.

For the “lesser” categories (once again for lack of a better term), my selections are based more on punditry and buzz since I don’t know enough about the technical aspects of film to be able to select a winner with any level of understanding. Regardless, it’s a fun exercise.

Before I get to the predictions, I want to address a couple of things:

When original Oscar host Eddie Murphy bowed out following original Oscar producer Brett Ratner’s own bowing out in the wake of some stupid ass comment, Billy Crystal was selected after expressing interest in hosting again for the first time since 2004. Since then, there’s been a lot of chatter about his selection as it relates to courting younger viewers.

As many may recall, last year’s attempt to do so by selecting the early thirtysomething James Franco and late twentysomething Anne Hathaway as hosts didn’t go all that well so who cares that Crystal is 63? A great host is a great host regardless of age. They need to be funny, quick on their feet and able to keep the show moving. If younger viewers are turned off by the age of the host and consider that to be indicative of a staid, old-fogey award show, then they should just wait for the MTV Movie and Video Music Awards. These are the Oscars and this isn’t MTV.

And enough with the complaints about how long the show is. It’s long EVERY year. It’s supposed to be long. It’s the Oscars. It’s a spectacle. It will never, ever come in at three hours or less because of the unnecessary video montages, mid-show production numbers and introduction of Best Picture nominees.

Secondly, the music branch should be ashamed of themselves for whatever complicated rules, owing nothing to the songs themselves, resulted in only two nominees for Best Original Song. And the Oscar producers should also be ashamed of themselves for opting against having those two songs actually performed, in their entirety, during the telecast.

On with the predictions:


Best Picture
The Descendants
The Help
The Artist
Midnight in Paris
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Winner: The Artist

No brainer here. It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy. It won the Producer’s Guild Award and the Director’s Guild Award. Plus, it was a great movie. It may not have been a heavily dramatic film, but it was a great movie that was well-done on all counts. It was enjoyable, it flowed and I left the theatre with a smile on my face. If that’s not a Best Picture, then I don’t know what should be.

Best Actor
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy
Demain Bichir, A Better Life

Winner: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Clooney had been the front-runner, but the tide turned after the Golden Globes when he and Dujardin both won (the former for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and the latter for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy). Since then Dujardin won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and at BAFTA (the British Oscars). Plus, Dujardin was charming, dramatic – all without words -- and had one helluva dance number at the end of the film.


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

Winner: Viola Davis, The Help

This is the category that scares me the most. I have never wanted anyone to win this badly before. I wanted Davis to win as Best Supporting Actress in 2009 for Doubt but Penelope Cruz won for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I wanted Streep to also win for Doubt but Kate Winslet won for The Reader. I again wanted Streep to win in 2010 for Julie and Julia but Sandra Bullock won for The Blind Side. While I’m just as anxious as the Academy is for her to win a third Oscar, it can’t happen this year. Viola Davis was just so great in The Help.

A lot has been said about Streep not having won in 29 years. Still, she has TWO Oscars. And just as I knew when I first heard about The Iron Lady that she’d be nominated for it, I know she’ll be nominated next year for August: Osage County. She can win then.

Of course, that thinking is how we’ve gotten to the point where she’s been nominated 13 times since that last win.

This is the tightest race. Davis won the Critic’s Choice Award. Streep won the Golden Globe. Davis won the Screen Actors Guild Award. Streep won the BAFTA.

Eeny Meeny Miney Moe.


Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Winner: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

It’s Christopher Plummer. He’s a living legend. He delivered a great performance in a great movie with an honest, personal and heartfelt story. Plus he’s won all the major precursors.

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Berenice Bejo¸ The Artist
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Winner: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Like Plummer, Spencer has won all the major precursors. Like Plummer, she delivered a great performance in a great movie with an honest, personal and heartfelt story (however controversial it has been). This was the perfect pairing of a strong actress with a meaty role (however controversial it is). 

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorcese, Hugo
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Winner: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

This movie was just so well-done. Not a moment was lost. Plus, he won the Director’s Guild Award and the BAFTA.

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

Winner: Peter Straughan & Bridget O’Connor, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

With a Writer’s Guild win, Faxon, Rash and Payne are the frontrunners here but Straughan and O’Connor won the BAFTA. Though there’s probably a greater cross-section of Academy voters between the former than the latter, I’m going to assume a late surge here for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy since it didn’t factor much this awards season until the Oscars.


Best Original Screenplay
Kristin Wiig & Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

Winner: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

This is another split race. Allen won the Golden Globe. Hazanavicious won the BAFTA. Allen won the Writers Guild Award but The Artist didn’t qualify. With a presumed greater cross-section of WGA voters than BAFTA voters within the Academy, that qualification will probably make a big difference here.


Below are the other categories of which I haven’t a clue about but will predict anyway. Predictions are based on buzz and punditry from other sources such as Entertainment Weekly, deadline dot com and goldderby.com who may or may not have any more of a clue than I:

Best Film Editing: The Artist

Best Cinematography: The Artist

Best Original Score: The Artist

Best Original Song: “Muppet or Man”, The Muppets

Best Art Direction: Hugo

Best Sound Mixing: Hugo

Best Sound Editing: Hugo

Best Costume Design: Jane Eyre

Best Visual Effects: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Best Animated Feature: Rango

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation

Best Makeup: Albert Nobbs

Best Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3

Best Documentary Short Subject: God is Bigger Than Elvis

Best Live Action Short Film: The Shore

Best Animated Short: A Morning Stroll

How funny would it be if I went 24 for 24? I’d never try to predict the Oscars again. 

The 84th Annual Academy Awards will air on February 26 at 7pm EST/4pm PST. I’m assuming this includes the pre-show.

Brought to you by G&S Gourmet Sweets. Bring your cravings to life.