Oscar Nominations: Who Will Make The Cut?

It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the nominees for the 84st Annual Academy Awards.

Every year there are snubs and surprises, thrills and controversies. There is no way of knowing who will be nominated, especially in a year when the Best Picture nominees could be 5 films, or ten films, or any number in between.  We here at FilmBuffOnLine, who believe the day nominations are announced should be a National holiday, are going to try and handicap the process for you.

We will try to tell you, in the most non-committal way possible, who we think are Almost Certain to get a nomination, who Definite May Be nominated, and whose nomination is a Outside Shot in the major categories (the four acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture). We are trying to cover all bases, but don’t come to us if you lose money on your Oscar Nomination pool.

Best Actor:

Almost Certain:

George Clooney, The Descendants; Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Definite Maybe:

Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method or Shame; Leonardo DiCaprio, J Edgar; Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Outside Shot:

Demián Bichir, A Better Life; Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive, or The Ides of March; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Clooney and Dujardin have won the most hardware this year, which not only make them a lock to be nominated, but also likely one of them will be taking home the award.

Fassbender has been great in a lot of films (listing X-Men: First Class was a bit of a joke, he’ll most likely get the nod for Shame, but I think he gave an Oscar worthy performance in that film) so he is practically a lock for a nomination. The next two are about 50/50 of getting in. The Academy seems to have something against DiCaprio, and his performance as J. Edgar Hoover while not horrible (he got a lot of nods for other awards for it), was not amazing enough to overcome that film’s lackluster performance critically or financially. Brad Pitt eked out a couple of wins along the way (most notably, the New York and Boston critics), and while Moneyball was well received, I don’t see it as 100% Oscar material.

If DiCaprio and Pitt don’t get nominated, there are worthy choices waiting to take a spot. Bichir was great in a small film with a limited release that opened over the summer. These all work against him, but he is deserving of a nod. Gosling, like Fassbender, was great in a lot of films this year, and has been nominated before, but none of the films he was in seem to pass Oscar muster. Oldman was flat out amazing in Tinker Tailor, but his subtle performance might be lost on Oscar voters.

Best Actress

Almost Certain:

Viola Davis, The Help;  Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Definite Maybe:

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Outside Shot:

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist; Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene; Charlize Theron, Young Adult

On paper, this seems to be the category that seems to have the least wiggle room. Davis, Streep, Close, Swinton and Williams are all in the type of roles that Oscar voters seem to trip over giving nominations to. But in every round of nominations, there are bound to be surprises, and this category is ripe for one.

Bejo and Olsen have the best chance of breaking in, in my opinion. But Bejo is getting pushed for Best Supporting Actress instead of Lead, even though she essentially had a lead role. Olsen got good notices in her role, but suffers from the same “too early/too small handicap” that Bichir has. Theron has received nods for Best Actress in the Golden Globes (where there are nominations for comedy and drama) and the Critic’ Choice Awards (where there are six nominees). She has an Oscar pedigree, but Young Adult could very well be seen as less than Oscar worthy.

Best Supporting Actor:

Almost Certain:

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn; Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Definite Maybe:

Albert Brooks, Drive; Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Outside Shot:

Nick Nolte, Warrior; Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method; Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes or The Adventures of Tintin; Armie Hammer, J Edgar; Tom Hardy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Plummer has won the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice award Supporting Actor, making him a lock for an  Oscar nomination, if not the actual award. Branagh has been consistently nominated for his apt portrayal of Laurence Olivier, so he could get the nod as well. Slightly less certain but highly possible are nomination of two actors best known for comedy, Brooks and Hill, for playing against type. After that, place your bets. Will Nolte’s “sports mentor” role make the grade? Will Mortensen’s change of pace role as Sigmund Freud catch the Academy’s attention? Will the Academy make a statement and move towards the future by giving Serkis the nod for his superior motion-capture work? Does the Academy like J Edgar more than the critics and the general public do, thereby swing the nod to Hammer? Will Hardy represent Tinker Tailor‘s stellar cast with a nomination? Will it be another cast member? Or will the film be ignored?

Best Supporting Actress

Almost Certain:

Octavia Spencer, The Help; Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Definite Maybe:

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Outside Shot:

Jessica Chastain, The Help or Take Shelter; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Carey Mulligan, Shame; Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

What I said for Christopher Plummer above also applies to Spencer. The only chance Bejo doesn’t get nominated here is if she gets nominated for Best Actress. But that race is crowded so I think she’ll land here. She is deserving.

The only thing keeping me from making McCarthy almost certain is the Academy’s apparent hatred of the comedy. They do not like to give nominations from comedies, no matter how good the role or film is. This time, though, I think they’ll make an exception.

After that, pick two. Chastain and Woodley might have a slight advantage, but McTeer has a good chance and Mulligan could sneak in.

Best Director:

Almost Certain:

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Definite Maybe:

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris;  Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Outside Shot:

David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life; Bennett Miller, Moneyball; Steven Spielberg, War Horse or The Adventures of Tintin; Tate Taylor, The Help

Hazanavicius is definitely most deserving and Scorsese won the Golden Globe, so they should both be nominated. After that, Payne is almost a lock, as is Allen, due to the number of nominations they received. After that, well, ot depends. Fincher got a Directors Guild nomination, Malick has been on a lot of west coast critics awards list, which might be a barometer of how the Academy will go. Miller might ride the surprising accolades Moneyball is getting this award season with a nomination. And months ago, it looked like it wouldn’t be a question if Spielberg would be nominated, but for which film. Now, here he is, a long shot for any nomination at all. Weird. And Taylor has to be consider taking into account the number of great performance that came from that film.

Best Picture:

Almost Certain:

The Artist; The Descendants

Definite Maybe:

Hugo; The Help ; Midnight in Paris

Outside Chance:

The Tree of Life; War Horse; Moneyball; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Adventures of Tintin; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or just about any other film out there that has a miniscule amount of buzz.

Not having a definite number of nominees beforehand really plays havoc with the prognosticating business. I tried to pick out the five most likely films to get nominated, but with the possibility of five more, well, it could be any film of a certain stature.

So, what do you think? Am I on to something, or totally wrong? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

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About William Gatevackes 1929 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.

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