Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Oscar Predictions: Directing and Picture

And so it's come to this. We've talked about the animation, the writing and the acting (both lead and supporting), but at the end of the day, it all boils down to these two Oscars: Best Directing and Best Picture.

Among the Oscar's 24 categories, there are several correlations that can be made. More often than not, the Best Editing award goes to the Best Picture winner. More often than not, Art Direction and Visual Effects are awarded to the same film. But no two categories are so famously linked than Directing and Picture. In the 83 ceremonies leading up to this year, there has only been a picture/director split nine times. Granted, three of those occasions were in the past decade or so (2000, 2002, 2005), but predicting a split usually just leads to disappointment (i.e. last year, when I foolishly believed David Fincher would be rewarded for The Social Network even if The King's Speech took top prize).

So have I learned my lesson, or am I going to predict another split?! Take a look at my predictions for Best Directing and Best Picture...

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

Talk about heavy hitters! These are some of the most celebrated directors in film today, with the exception, of course, of relatively unknown Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius. Funny enough, I'm predicting the unknown to trump them all. The Artist could have easily gone into the territory of mockery, and while there was certainly a lot of over-the-top antics and comedy, it always felt genuine and heartfelt, a tribute to the old movie magic of 1920s Hollywood instead of a parody of it. All of that can be credited to Monsieur Hazanavicius, and I believe the Academy will be crediting him plenty come Sunday night. Of course, that is not to take away from the tremendous achievements by his competitors, and I'd be willing to bet that there are quite a few voters out there wanting to hand the award to Martin Scorsese for his beautiful Parisian homage to film preservation wrapped up in a children's 3D movie.

Will & Should Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Could Win: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Should Have Been Nominated: Tate Taylor, The Help

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

I'll cut right to the chase. There's not going to be a split this year. The momentum is clear and the frontrunner is obvious: The Artist is your winner. It wasn't my personal favorite of the year—and, to be fair, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 wasn't even nominated—but it was pretty darn close to the top and it has all the makings of an Oscar champion. Let's be honest, how can we be upset that the Best Picture frontrunner is an independent silent, black-and-white French film?!

This year's crop of nominees is a pretty good, if a little safe, group. I would have loved to see the likes of Harry Potter, Bridesmaids, Rise of the Planet of the Apes or Drive receive the elite distinction of Best Picture nominee, but it was not meant to be, I suppose. The only picture I haven't seen here is War Horse, so I cannot speak to that, but I do not understand all of the love for Midnight in Paris or, for that matter, all of the vitriol being spewed toward Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which I very much enjoyed. The Oscars being what they are, it's pretty much a given that you need nominations in both directing and editing in order to really be a contendor for Best Picture, so that means the only potential upsets on Sunday would be from Hugo or The Descendants. To me, however, the true dark horse is The Help. It doesn't have the necessary nominations by a long shot (three acting nominations and picture do not a champion make), but it was by far my favorite of this group. After its huge victories at the SAG Awards, could the actors—the largest branch in the Academy—band together and push The Help to victory? Not bloody likely, but it sure would make for an exciting night!

Will Win: The Artist
Could Win: Hugo
Should Win: The Help
Should Have Been Nominated: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Bridesmaids; Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Drive

I'll return tomorrow will my full list of predictions in all 24 categories, and if I have some time I may even make a dream list of winners just to keep things interesting. In the meantime, make sure you enter the 2012 Please Welcome Your Judges Oscar Contest for your chance to win an Oscar-winning film on DVD!

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