Nevertheless the critical response to some of the titles at the festival can be quite indicative of how the films will play to the audiences this side of the Atlantic. If you haven’t heard already, Terrence Malick’s long-awaited Tree of Life, an unseen favourite of this blog, was awarded the top prize and the biggest news from the fest was the brouhaha about Lars von Trier and his persona non grata status from now on.
I’ve never predicted awards this far in advance, but it’ll be interesting to see how I’ll score. Also, if you’re wondering why I’ve picked these categories among all of them, these are the ones I track throughout the year and honour on the blog myself.
Without further ado:
1- War Horse (dir. Steven Spielberg)
2- J. Edgar (dir. Clint Eastwood)
3- Young Adult (dir. Jason Reitman)
4- The Descendants (dir. Alexander Payne)
5- Ides of March (dir. George Clooney)
6- Moneyball (dir. Bennett Miller)
7- Super 8 (dir. JJ Abrams)
8- A Dangerous Method (dir. David Cronenberg)
9- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (dir. David Fincher)
10- Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick)
Alternates: Drive (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn) and Hugo Cabret (dir. Martin Scorsese)
I brought Tree of Life down from number 2 all the way to number 10 despite its win at Cannes. I have yet to see the film (June 10th is the release date in Toronto) but the voices I’ve heard seem to declare it more obscure than I’d originally thought. If anything, the Palme d’or will increase the expectations even further and that usually doesn’t help any film. Think of how high the expectations must have been for The Social Network after the critics went nuts for it. I also think the enthusiastic words about Drive and its general appeal (action film, old school car chases, crime elements, Ryan Gosling) can lead to good numbers at the box office which can translate to awards success if it’s not too much of a B-movie. Finally, I still maintain that the Academy will have to welcome Cronenberg to the club at some point and if they want to do it, what better opportunity than a biopic about Jung and Freud?
1- Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
2- Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar)
3- Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
4- George Clooney (Ides of March)
5- JJ Abrams (Super 8)
Alternate: Jason Reitman (Young Adult)
I can’t help but think this is another 2005 for Clooney where he leads The Descendants as an actor and directs another successful film of his own. As for Reitman, I originally thought the film’s weak spot could be that it’s female-oriented and hence will have a smaller chance at big nominations with the Academy, but then I thought of Juno. There’s one or two female driven films every year that succeed and if Meryl Streep, Michelle Willams and Glenn Close’s films don’t catch on anywhere outside Actress, then Reitman has a better chance of being in the conversation.
1- Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar)
2- George Clooney (The Descendants)
3- Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
4- Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
5- Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)
Alternate: Michael Fassbender (Shame)
Leo is pretty much a shoe-in, even if the film doesn’t gain traction elsewhere. He’s been a megastar for so many years now and a lot of people believed he deserved a nomination last year. The role is exactly the type the academy goes for. George Clooney’s role is a perfect fit for him too and I don’t think he’ll be left out; besides, if you’veseen the trailer, you can sense that he’s trying to come out of his shell a little bit. Pitt has Tree of Life too so he’ll be in the conversation and if they campaign him for supporting there, he could probably score a double nod. Shannon’s film was a hit at Sundance and a surprise winner at Cannes and he’s a previous nominee (Revolutionary Road) so he could take a fifth spot.
1- Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
2- Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
3- Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk about Kevin)
4- Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
5- Charlize Theron (Young Adult)
Alternate: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
I’m counting on Swinton’s terrific reviews from Cannes and the build-up from the past two years. She was criminally robbed for Julia in favour of weaker performances in 2009 (Still can’t believe Sandra Bullock won) and last year’s I am Love had its own supporters too. Kevin’s release will have a huge impact on how her campaign will play out though. I have a feeling Rooney Mara will the take the young “it” girl spot this year (instead of say, Elizabeth Olsen or Emily Browning) because a) she was Terrific with a capital T in The Social Network and definitely has the chops and b) Noomi Rapace was in the conversation last year despite her unknown actress status and the film’s foreign language.
Best Supporting Actor
1- Brad Pitt (Tree of Life)
2- Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method)
3- Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Ides of March)
4- Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady)
5- Steve Buscemi or Ben Foster (Rampart)
Alternate: Niels Arestrup (War Horse) or Albert Brooks (Drive)
Am I overestimating Rampart? Or maybe I’m underestimating War Horse? Spielberg isn’t exactly known for getting actors nominated for Oscars, but both Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan got their lead performers nominated. I’m not sure how big Arestrup’s role is but if his performance is as good as his turn in A Prophet and War Horse scores big, he won’t be ignored. Pitt’s fate will depend on his campaigning (lead or supporting) and Hoffman’s will probably depend on his other supporting role (Moneyball).
Best Supporting Actress
1- Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus)
2- Judi Dench (My Week with Marilyn)
3- Maris Tomei (Ides of March)
4- Carey Mulligan (Shame)
5- Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Alternate: Viola Davis (The Help)
This category looks open wide and aside from Redgrave doesn’t seem to have a major contender. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a weak year, just that from the outset, nothing looks certain yet. I’m including Fanning because she had a small group of strong supporters last year that would certainly grow if her performance is good. It will also depend on how seriously the voters will take Super 8. Is it a summer blockbuster or will it make an impact beyond that?
Best Original Screenplay
1- J. Edgar (Dustin Lance Black)
2- Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
3- Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley)
4- Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols)
5- Rampart (Oren Moverman and James Elroy)
Alternate: Young Adult (Diablo Cody)
I’m counting Woody’s success in this category. I feel like if the film is critically acclaimed as it seems to be, this category is the place they’ll want to honour him. He was last nominated for the same prize in 2006 for Match Point. Take Shelter’s festival success in America and Europe is a hint to its crossover potential and I can see it getting a nod here (and possibly in the top category?) It’s one of my most anticipated films of the year now.
Best Adapted Screenplay
1- War Horse (Lee Hall and Richard Curtis)
2- The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
3- The Ides of March (George Clooney and Grant Heslov)
4- A Dangerous Method (Christopher Hampton)
5- We Bought a Zoo (Cameron Crowe and Aline Brosh McKenna)
Alternate: Moneyball (Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zailian)
This far in advance, I already feel really confident about the top three predictions. All three directors are unlikely to screw up their films and the type of story is what the voters usually go for. Beyond that, things can swing in any direction based on the acceptance of the films.
1- War Horse (Janusz Kaminski)
2- Tree of Life (Emmanuel Lubezki)
3- Hugo Cabret (Robert Richardson)
4- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Jeff Cronenweth)
5- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (Edoardo Serra)
Alternate: We Bought a Zoo (Rodrigo Prieto)
While the cinematography branch also has the tendency to nominate best picture nominees (like last year’s 5/5 roster) they sometimes do look outside the box a little bit (like 2006’s 0/5 overlap with best picture). But the films have to look pretty. I’m not sure about Harry Potter since the series’ only nomination in this category was given to a different DP. We Bought a Zoo has the potential to look pretty and Prieto is a terrific lenser, so it might slide in.
1- War Horse (Michael Kahn)
2- J. Edgar (Joel Cox, Gary Roach)
3- Super 8 (Marann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey)
4- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)
5- Hugo Cabret (Thelma Schoonmaker)
Alternate: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Paul Hirsch)
This category is usually filled with Best Picture nominees regardless of how well they’re edited. In the past two years, where we’ve had ten best picture nominees, no film has managed a nod in this category while missing out on the top ten, which means I’ll probably be wrong about Hugo Cabret making it in one place and not the other. Bourne Ultimatum won this category despite not being nominated for best picture but that was before the expansion of that category. Can that ever happen again?
Best Art Direction
1- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan)
2- War Horse (Rick Carter; Lee Sandales)
3- Hugo Cabret (Dante Ferretti; Dorothée Baussan, Francesca Lo Schiavo)
4- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Sarah Greenwood; Alison Harvey, Katie Spencer)
5- Jane Eyre (Will Hughes-Jones; Tina Jones)
Alternate: A Dangerous Method (James McAteer; Gernot Thondel)
Here is one category where most means best. The more visible the art direction, the easier it will be to get nominated. Period pieces and fantasy films usually do well here too. The Harry Potter series has been nominated 3 times before and given that this is their last chance to honour it, I think Craig is a shoe-in and actually a likely winner. I’m also counting on the magic of Scorsese’s regularly top-notch production designs and the team behind Sherlock Holmes (which was nominated two years ago). I’ll leave Rango out of my predictions even though I think it featured really praise-worthy work. This branch seems very reluctant toward animation and if Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Illusionist couldn’t do it, I’m sure Rango won’t either.