Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Bumper final Oscar prediction post.

I have been relatively quiet about the Oscars this year. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I am sick of being shouted at every time I make such a post. I know they don’t mean anything. But I still …

Sat, Jan 21, 2012, 21:33


I have been relatively quiet about the Oscars this year. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I am sick of being shouted at every time I make such a post. I know they don’t mean anything. But I still enjoy playing the game. The second reason for the relative silence stems from performance anxiety. As I have mentioned many times since, I made 25 predictions last year and got 25 right. With the new rules for best picture, that seems close to impossible this year. As you will recall, the Academy is set to nominate between five and 10 films. All pictures that receive at least 5 percent of first preferences — unless, of course, that number exceeds 10 — will be included in the final shortlist. So, we have to work out not just whether a film is among the 10 most liked, but whether it has a significant weight of support behind it.

Not this year, Uggie.

First things first. If there were still just five nominations — the case until 2009 — then I reckon we could have a very good stab at getting them right. I see four films as being absolutely secure in their seats and one more as being almost nailed to its perch.  The dead certs are The Artist, The Descendants, The Help and Midnight in Paris. The slightly less certain nominee is Hugo. The Artist is odds-on favourite for the big prize. The Descendants, Alexander Payne’s latest mid-life crisis drama, hasn’t won all that much in awards season, but the director makes the kind of well-structured, middle-brow flicks the voters favour and they all love George Clooney (though not enough to nominate the flaccid Ides of March).  The Help is a good, old-school, socially conscious soap. Midnight in Paris has, somewhat bafflingly, become Woody Allen’s biggest film ever. The delightful Hugo — which originally sounded awful — ended up getting great reviews and Hollywood adores films about its own medium. Martin need not fret.

Now things get tricky. Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly reckons the field is so evenly spread that we really will see just five nominess. I don’t buy that. Surely there is at least one more film that one in 20 of Academy voters rate as their favourite. But what? I think two establishment picks will sneak in. War Horse should sweep by on the Spielberg trade wind. Then there’s the peculiar case of Moneyball. Two months after its release, I have yet to meet anybody who thought the film was anything more than passable. Yet the American critics love the blasted thing. It’s not just that we don’t get baseball — actually, I enjoy the sport — it’s that we don’t see that activity as a class of religion. Most of us on this side of the Atlantic refuse to buy man-hitting-ball (or, with apologies to hurling and cricket fans, man hitting that particular ball) as an irresistible metaphor for life’s great existential challenge or whatever. Anyway, I think it will saunter in.

So, I’m going with seven. If there are more, then they should be drawn from The Tree of Life (annoyed as many as it impressed), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (beats me), Bridesmaids (they’d fancy a populist choice) and Drive (will require younger, hipper members to vote en masse).

What’s missing? Well, before anybody saw it, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close looked like it had a good chance. It seems as if Mr Stephen Daldry will, however, see his so-far unbroken record of Oscar nominations come to an end. The film has opened in the US to very iffy reviews. The Americans were less keen on J Edgar than I was. The Iron Lady stinks.

But the really intriguing dog that hasn’t barked (unlike Uggie above) is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It really is an odd one this. The film got superb reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. It has made very decent money. Indeed, playing in the same class of cinema as The Artist, it has made about 20 percent more in the US than the French film. It received 11 nominations at the Baftas and  – given that about 10 percent of Academy voters are also Bafta members — those awards generally offer the best guide as to the eventual Oscar nominations. Yet the picture has been completely invisible at US awards ceremony so far. It would be astonishing if, after travelling beneath the water for so long, it broke the waves to secure a best picture nomination. I hereby predict that it gets nothing at all.

So here we go. As was the case last year, I have listed suggestions for best picture, best director and the two main acting prizes. The nominations emerge at lunchtime on Tuesday. In order of likelihood…



Still there. Still favourite.


Payne is Oscar catnip.


Old-school Oscar fare.


One more for Woody


Films about films…


Who directed this again?


I dunno. Ask an American



1. ALEXANDER PAYNE (The Descendants)

Could be one of those years where best film and director split.


Well, d’uh!


Even if the film doesn’t get in, he should manage a nod.

4. WOODY ALLEN (Midnight in Paris)

Of course he won’t turn up.


Could nudge out Tate Taylor from The Help.


1. JEAN DUJARDIN (The Artist)

Neck-and-neck in the big race with…

2. GEORGE CLOONEY (The Descendants)

They love the grey-haired man. He was so kind to those sick kids in ER

3. BRAD PITT (Moneyball)

I could have done this standing on my head, but then again I’m not Brad bleeding Pitt.


Relax, Kerry. He has no chance of winning


The fifth place is really tricky this year. If it’s Michael Shannon or Gary Oldman (and it could be) I will — for the first time in my life — happily be proved wrong.


1. MERYL STREEP (The Iron Lady)

She hasn’t won for nearly 30 years, you know.

2. MICHELLE WILLIAMS (My Week with Marilyn)

Running Meryl close. They love impersonations.

3. VIOLA DAVIS (The Help)

An amazingly good actress. But the role is barely a lead.

4. TILDA SWINTON (We Need to Talk About Kevin)

Showy. Hard to ignore.

5. GLENN CLOSE (Albert Nobbs)

She dresses as a man. Almost a safer bet than playing a disabled person.

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