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Movie Blog: Your Oscar Ballot Cheat Sheet

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the artist Movie Blog: Your Oscar Ballot Cheat Sheet

(credit: The Weinstein Company)

The ballots are in and the votes are being tabulated. The Oscars will be handed out this Sunday evening and it’s looking to be a big night for The Artist and Hugo, which lead the race with 10 and 11 nominations, respectively.

If you want to get a leg up in your Oscar pool, take my advice below … and then add a grain of salt. I ended up getting almost as many wrong last year as I got right. (Note: I already did predictions in two short film categories. Click here for my thoughts on the animated and live action races.)

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

Will Win: The Descendants has lost its momentum and, despite its pack-leading 11 nominations, Hugo has too many detractors. The Artist has this one practically by default.
Deserves To Win: I know approximately 0.5 percent of anyone reading this will agree, but The Tree of Life was easily the most visionary movie in this line-up. War Horse was, in its more traditional way, also a success.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Something, anything, if only to avoid the awkwardness of having a nine-deep slate. Whatever they could’ve stuck in there could’ve hardly been worse than making room Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

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

Will Win: Four arguable heavyweights against someone who, up until a few months ago, almost no one knew by name. It happened last year, and it’s going to happen again this year. Now, let’s see if the presenter knows how to pronounce “Michel Hazanavicius.”
Deserves To Win: No contest: Terrence Malick.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Drive was the most stylish action movie of the year.

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

Will Win: Somehow, the Pitt vs. Clooney battle royale has fallen apart, and it’s Jean Dujardin‘s morose Gene Kelly act that looks most likely to benefit.
Deserves To Win: Dujardin says next to nothing, but it’s Gary Oldman who makes every single word count.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Shame was utterly ridiculous, but Michael Fassbender was spellbinding. Take Shelter‘s Michael Shannon equally so.

viola davis Movie Blog: Your Oscar Ballot Cheat Sheet

(credit: Touchstone)

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

Will Win: Speaking of radical reversals of fortune, this was expected to finally (FINALLY!) be Meryl Streep’s year. But all the buzz points toward Viola Davis.
Deserves To Win: And why shouldn’t it? Even The Help‘s detractors have nothing but praise for Davis‘s commanding performance.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Tilda Swinton‘s work in We Need to Talk About Kevin was nominated for almost every known film award leading up to the Oscars. How could they leave her off?

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

Will Win: The surest bet of the evening: Christopher Plummer will win not just for his performance as a gay man coming out of the closet in his 70s, but for his whole career.
Deserves To Win: Plummer is grand, but Nick Nolte is just as affecting in a far more clichéd role.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Corey Stoll‘s Ernest Hemingway was the toast of Midnight in Paris.

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

Will Win: Forget vote-splitting. Octavia Spencer should coast easily past her ubiquitous co-star in The Help, not to mention the rest of the competition.
Deserves To Win: Melissa McCarthy is a force of nature in Bridesmaids. I’m scared NOT to give her the award.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Rather than The Help, I would’ve rather seen double-dip nominations come from Bridesmaids‘ corner, with McCarthy joined by Wendi McLendon-Covey‘s tipsy, world-weary bridesmatron Rita.

Midnight In Paris

(credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo
Margin Call, J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
A Separation, Asghar Farhadi

Will Win: Here’s the category The Artist is most likely not to win. We’re pretty sure Oscar’s ready to pay tribute Woody Allen again.
Deserves To Win: This is one of the strongest lineups of the evening and almost any would be welcome, but A Separation rises to the top.
Should’ve Been Nominated: This is one of the rare categories that seems aware of foreign films, so it would’ve been great to see Certified Copy join A Separation here.

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

Will Win: It’s probably going to be a long night for the Descendants crew, but for this category.
Deserves To Win: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a head-spinner. I either want it to win or I want a Cliff’s Notes, pronto.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Not sure room needs to be made here. Maybe A Dangerous Method?

Foreign Language Film
Bullhead (Belgium)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)

Will Win: You’d think the screenplay nomination would tip scales A Separation‘s way. But this category has a way of confounding expectation. It also has a way of always awarding movies about the Holocaust, so expect In Darkness to act as spoiler.
Deserves To Win: A Separation.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Oy, rather than open this can of worms, let’s just say there were snubs.

Animated Feature
A Cat in Paris
Chico and Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

Will Win: Rango is the only one here that’s not a sequel, not a spinoff, and not almost totally unseen.
Deserves To Win: I haven’t seen it, but A Cat in Paris has mad snob support.
Should’ve Been Nominated: I’m not going to advocate for more movies here. Rather, I’d humbly submit eliminating the category altogether.

Documentary (Feature)
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Pina
Undefeated

Will Win: Much like the foreign film category, this one can sometimes be a little tricky, but lately it’s been going to the doc with the highest profile. This year, there’s no such candidate, but the 3-D ballet epic Pina comes closest.
Deserves To Win: If A Tree Falls is said to be the most passionate.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Project Nim was robbed.

Documentary (Short Subject)
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Will Win: Subject matter counts for a lot here. Saving Face is about disfigured women crusading to pass a law that will stiffen penalties for those who attack women’s faces with acid. Not to be glib but, yeah, it’s going to win.
Deserves To Win: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom is the most immediate and intelligent.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Your guess is as good as mine.

hugo Movie Blog: Your Oscar Ballot Cheat Sheet

(credit: GK Films)

Art Direction
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

Will Win: I’ll save some time by saying right now the tech categories are probably going to be two-film battles between Hugo and The Artist. In this category, the meticulous Hugo prevails.
Deserves To Win: Imaginative and detailed, Hugo deserves it.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was even more immaculate than any of the nominated films.

Cinematography
The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Will Win: It kills me to say it, but I think the eye-poppingly gorgeous The Tree of Life will probably take a back seat here to Hugo.
Deserves To Win: If you don’t think The Tree of Life deserves this, you don’t know what the word “cinematography” means.
Should’ve Been Nominated: The sleek, Michael Mann feel of Drive should’ve been honored here.

Costume Design
Anonymous
The Artist
Hugo
Jane Eyre
W.E.

Will Win: Hard to say for sure, because this is the one category where period frocks tend to usurp pockets of support. I’ll play the law of averages and say Jane Eyre sneaks away with this one.
Deserves To Win: The Artist got the flapper duds just right.
Should’ve Been Nominated: How about that hideous dress in Bridesmaids?

Film Editing
The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball

Will Win: All other points aside, the movie that wins best picture is usually also favored in this category. For that reason alone, bet on The Artist.
Deserves To Win: I wasn’t particularly enamored with Moneyball on the whole, but its cutting achieved the goal most editors strive for: total invisibility.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Just as invisible, and even more delicate, were the rhythms of Certified Copy.

Original Score
The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

Will Win: The score for The Artist is just too ubiquitous to ignore. It’s literally about the only thing people can listen to. If that doesn’t push it over the top, I don’t know what could.
Deserves To Win: John Williams’ double-dip here was well-earned, particularly for the old-fashioned, rousing themes of War Horse.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Cliff Martinez should’ve been twice nominated this year too — for Drive and Contagion.

the muppets Movie Blog: Your Oscar Ballot Cheat Sheet

(credit: Scott Garfield/Disney Enterprises)

Original Song
“Man or Muppet,” The Muppets
“Real in Rio,” Rio

Will Win: Well, you’ve got a 50-50 shot at guessing with a dart. No reason, though, to think The Muppets doesn’t have this one.
Deserves To Win: Ditto.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Hard to believe this is the best they could do, but at the same time, I’m hard-pressed to think of anything else that deserved to be nominated.

Makeup
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
The Iron Lady

Will Win: The Iron Lady accents Streep’s impersonation perfectly.
Deserves To Win: The gender confusion of Albert Nobbs might be more subtle, but Iron Lady is more varied.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Far be it from me to pad The Artist‘s tally any further, but shouldn’t “the look” have been honored here?

Sound
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Will Win: It’s between Hugo and War Horse, with the cannons of the latter probably winning over the trains of the former.
Deserves To Win: Add in the snorting of the War Horse, and it sounds like a winner to me too.
Should’ve Been Nominated: The Artist. Just kidding.

Sound Editing
Drive
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Will Win: It’s between Hugo and War Horse, with the trains of the former probably winning over the cannons of the latter.
Deserves To Win: The gunshots in Drive were shocking.
Should’ve Been Nominated: Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

rise of the planet of the apes Movie Blog: Your Oscar Ballot Cheat Sheet

(credit: 20th Century Fox)

Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Hugo
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Will Win: It’ll be hard for them to not go with the only best picture nominee here, but I think the Apes are going to snatch it away from Hugo.
Deserves To Win: Either Apes or, despite the general crappiness of the movie in virtually every other respect, Transformers.
Should’ve Been Nominated: The effects in the latest Final Destination movie were hardly affixed to anything more garish and unworthy than Transformers.

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