Well, Lobby readers, it’s been a month since we over-confidently shared our first set of 2012 Academy Award predictions. With the big shindig coming up today, we figured we’d best wrap it up fast. Like now.
As a quick reminder, here’s who we’ve already revealed as our picks to be Sunday night’s lucky speechgivers:
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants
Best Actress: Viola Davis, The Help
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
And here are our best, somewhat-educated guesses for a few other major categories:
:: Best Director
A curious field this year: Three auteurs who became established in the 1970s… one rarely makes a film, one makes a film annually, and the last is best known for crime epics, but may become canonized for a family film. Hmmm. Add a smart, independent voice who’s made a surprisingly cliched film. And a French guy.
By awarding Best Picture to The Artist the Academy voters show and/or convince the world of their warm passion for cinema (whether it’s true or not, remember, this is all about perception). In that case, they’ll need to find a way to reward Hugo, another paean to the wonders of moviemaking. And that will come in the form of an Oscar to Martin Scorsese. He conveys the art of film as a spiritual, breathtaking experience and, along with another couple elders, shows Hollywood you can use 3D for good, not marketing.
:: Best Original Screenplay
This is a fairly strong, moderately offbeat set of nominees, and here’s how we break it down: Enough voters put A Separation on their ballots to win Best Foreign Language film, so Asghar Farhadi’s script won’t win here. J.C. Chandor’s script for Margin Call is interesting, but sits on the nominees list as a “happy just to be nominated” entry. The nomination for Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig’s wonderful Bridesmaids screenplay is more of a thank you from the Academy for making a legitimately great silly comedy. So it comes down to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist and Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. Not only is there a lot more heft to Allen’s script, but if you vote for a film that includes Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bunuel, Dali and Man Ray, you just sort of feel smart, right?
Winner: Woody Allen (who won the Writers Guild award)
If Not: Michel Hazanavicius
Watch out for: Asghar Farhadi
:: Best Adapted Screenplay
While screenplay awards can often represent less popular films, this year’s nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay include two Clooney movies and a Brad Pitt vehicle. And one of those will actually win… Although Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s screenplay for The Descendants was this year’s WGA winner, we’re going with Moneyball. Why? First, Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, two of the most sought-after writers in the game, teaming up to make a completely engaging movie about baseball scouting, is a feat. Second, I think some voters are too intimidated by Sorkin not to vote for him. I’m just kidding. I think.
Winner: Zaillian and Sorkin, Moneyball
If Not: Payne, Faxon and Rush, The Descendants
Watch out for: Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
:: Best Cinematography
What a wonderfully diverse group this year: The 3D period detail of Hugo. The darkness of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The glorious combination of sharpness and haze in The Tree of Life. The complexity of The War Horse, the black-and-white brilliance of The Artist. We sincerely love all of it, and it’s tough to pick, in my opinion. If it’s a clean sweep for The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman gets it. Otherwise, we like Robert Richardson in his employ for Mr. Scorsese.
Winner: Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist
If Not: Robert Richardson, Hugo
Watch out for: Emmanuel Lubeski, The Tree of Life
Quick extra notes: We’ll pick Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory as Best Documentary Feature (a good deal of celebrities got behind the plight of the West Memphis Three); the WGA’s screenwriting award for Best Documentary Screenplay went to Better This World, my favorite documentary of the year, similarly themed and enormously better than the Oscar-nominated If A Tree Falls.