Will The Artist Sweep the Oscars?

Predictions for Sunday night's big award show.

2011 will not be remembered as the year of great movies, but as the year of great movie performances. Certainly there were some great movies—The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Drive, Melancholia, and Warrior, to name a few—but for many, like The Help and My Week with Marilyn, the performances were greater than the sum total.

To really recognize all the award-worthy performances in 2011, the Academy should have increased the number of slots in each acting category (rather than just maintaining more than five Best Picture). These performances include: Albert Brooks, Olivia Coleman, Kirsten Dunst, Michael Fassbender, Elizabeth Olsen, Michael Shannon, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron and Shailene Woodley.

And really, it’s time for the Academy the end that experiment and reduce the number of Best Picture slots back to five. What was originally attempted—to include more well-received (critically and financially) pictures in the big race—has failed. Instead, we now live in a world where both The Blind Side and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close have DVD covers stating “Best Picture Nominee.”

But we cannot change the past; we must live with nominations given to us. So let us all gather around the TV on Sunday night as we usually do—ballots in one hand, champagne cocktail in the other. Let’s forget about the stench of last year’s Franco/Hathaway debacle and focus on what’s really important: Making fun of what people are wearing.

Here are my picks—and a few possible upset predictions—for Sunday’s big night.

Best Picture

My Pick: The Artist
Possible Upset: The Help

Let’s immediately cross off Extremely Loud and War Horse, shall we? Tree of Life is too enigmatic. Moneyball and Midnight in Paris are good, but not memorable. The Help often feels like a Lifetime movie, but has many wonderful performances (actors are the largest Academy voting bloc). But of the three remaining, The Artist, Hugo, and The Descendants, it is The Artist that will win. Imaginatively original and wonderfully familiar, it has enchanted both old-Hollywood and hard-to-please crowds, alike.


Actor in a Leading Role

My Pick: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Possible Upset: George Clooney, The Descendants
I would love to see George Clooney win. After all, he truly gives a career-defining performance in The Descendants. (The scene where he says goodbye to his comatose wife is brutal!) But Jean Dujardin, in his breakout performance, is able to be funny, dashing, and heartbreaking with only one audible line.


Actress in a Leading Role

My Pick: Viola Davis, The Help
Possible Upset: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Poor Meryl Streep. Yes, she is the most nominated actress of all time with 17. But with winning two, that also makes her the most losing actress of all time. And though her performance was the only reason to see the fractured, glossy The Iron Lady, this year’s award belongs to Viola Davis’s honest, powerful performance in The Help. Not convinced? Go back and watch Davis’s win (and gracious speech) at the Golden Globes: Notice the standing ovation she received.


Actress in a Supporting Role

My Pick: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Possible Upset: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Seen as a done deal, Octavia Spencer will certainly win the Oscar. (She’s already won the SAG, Golden Globe and BAFTA.)


Actor in a Supporting Role

My Pick: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Possible Upset: Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Like Octavia Spencer, Christopher Plummer is the actor to beat. (He’s already won the SAG, Golden Globe, and BAFTA awards.) But don’t count out Max von Sydow, yet. With an equally legendary career, his silent performance in the overall dud Extremely Loud has gained momentum in the last few days.


Animated Feature Film

My Pick: Rango
Possible Upset: Chico & Rita

Rango is utterly original, funny, and beautifully animated. But Chico & Rita, a decidedly more adult film (with several animated adult situations), feels wonderfully old-school and features a glorious soundtrack filled with classic jazz.



My Pick: Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist
Possible Upset: Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Not since 1929 has a silent film been nominated for Best Picture. It is because of Michael Hazanavicius that another may actually win.


The Rest

Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris

Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants

Documentary: Pina

Foreign Language Film: A Separation

Original Score: The Artist

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

Cinematography: Tree of Life

Art Direction: Hugo

Costume Design: Hugo

Make Up: The Iron Lady

Film Editing: The Artist

Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Sound Editing: Hugo

Sound Mixing: Hugo

Documentary Short: Saving Face

Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Live Action Short: Raju

Weigh in with your Oscar picks in the comments!