OSCARS 2011: Analysis & Prediction (The Major Players)

[Film still from The Artist]


The term "Best Picture" has two meanings. One, it most commonly refers to the "Best Film of the Year", which in itself could mean either the most critically-acclaimed or the most popular film of the year. Two, it could also refer to the "Best Production of the Year", meaning that the film has great production values, stemming from an amalgamation of numerous parts ranging from the technical (e.g. cinematography, special visual effects) to the artistic (e.g. art direction, costume design), and to the logistical (e.g. casting, shooting locations).

This most prestigious category ideally rewards the nominee that shows itself to be the "Best Film of the Year", as well as the "Best Production of the Year", though in reality, it does not occur as frequently as we like. 

[Film still from Hugo]

The nominees:

  • THE ARTIST - Thomas Langmann
Known for: Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (2008), Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008).
  • THE DESCENDANTS - Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, & Jim Taylor
Known for: Election (1999)
Known for: The Hours (2002), No Country for Old Men (2007), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), True Grit (2010), The Social Network (2010). 
  • THE HELP - Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, & Michael Barnathan
Known for: Bicentennial Man (1999), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Night at the Museum (2006). 
  • HUGO - Graham King, & Martin Scorsese
Known for: The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Blood Diamond (2006), Shutter Island (2010), Rango (2011).
  • MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - Letty Aronson, & Stephen Tenenbaum
Known for: Match Point (2005), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) 
  • MONEYBALL - Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, & Brad Pitt
Known for: The Departed (2006), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Kick-Ass (2010), The Social Network (2010), The Tree of Life (2011).
  • THE TREE OF LIFE - Sarah Green, Grant Hill, Dede Gardner, & Bill Pohlad
Known for: The Thin Red Line (1998), Frida (2002), V for Vendetta (2005), The New World (2005), Into the Wild (2007). 
  • WAR HORSE - Steven Spielberg, & Kathleen Kennedy
Known for: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Sixth Sense (1999), Munich (2005), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).

 The Academy will pick... The Artist 
 The Dark Horse is... Hugo 
 My vote will go to... The Artist

[Film still from The Help]

 The Descendants was the frontrunner in this category, but the buzz for it has since petered off. The Help has an outside chance of winning if the 1000+ actors voters have their way. But I feel this is a two-horse race between The Artist and Hugo, with the former having the clear advantage. 

It will be a big statement of intent if the Academy goes for The Artist on Oscar night, shattering the myth that a black-and-white silent film about the decline of a silent film star can never win a Best Picture Award in this modern age. 


The director is the most important person in the entire filmmaking process. A number of great directors are also screenwriters. They oversee the creative process from pre-production to production to post-production. Great directors have their own unique vision, visual style, and have themes that recur in their works, in what is now known as "The Auteur Theory". They are also masters in getting the best out of his or her cast and crew.   

[Image of Martin Scorsese, director of Hugo]

The nominees:

  • MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - Woody Allen
Known for: Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Match Point (2005), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008).
  • THE ARTIST - Michel Hazanavicius
Known for: Nil
  • THE TREE OF LIFE - Terrence Malick
Known for: Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), The New World (2005).
  • THE DESCENDANTS - Alexander Payne
Known for: Citizen Ruth (1996), Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004).
  • HUGO - Martin Scorsese
Known for: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006). 

 The Academy will pick... Michel Hazanavicius 
 The Dark Horse is... Martin Scorsese 
 My vote will go to... Michel Hazanavicius

[Image of Michel Hazanavicius, director of The Artist]

 Woody Allen and Alexander Payne will most likely be rewarded for their outstanding screenplays, rather than their directing. This leaves us with Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese, and Michel Hazanavicius. Malick is a surprise nomination in this category, though in an ideal scenario, he should be rewarded for his bold vision of a philosophical and meditative film, something of an anomaly in today's cinema. 

Scorsese is the dark horse for his successful foray into 3-D filmmaking, and I feel that his solitary Oscar win for The Departed is still not enough recognition for this living legend. Another Best Director Oscar win will go a long way in addressing this fact. That being said, I think that Hazanavicius should be crowned the winner for the sole reason that he has dared to make a silent black-and-white film, more than 80 years after it had gone out of fashion. It is now or never for the Academy to award this audacious and talented director.



[Image of George Clooney in The Descendants]

The nominees:

  • A BETTER LIFE - Demián Bichir
Known for: Che: Part One & Part Two (2008)
  • THE DESCENDANTS - George Clooney
Known for: Ocean's Eleven (2001), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Syriana (2005), Michael Clayton (2007), Up in the Air (2009).
  • THE ARTIST - Jean Dujardin
Known for: OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006).
Known for: JFK (1991), Dracula (1992), Leon: The Professional (1994), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). The Dark Knight (2008).
  • MONEYBALL - Brad Pitt
Known for: Thelma & Louise (1991), Twelve Monkeys (1995), Fight Club (1999), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Inglorious Basterds (2009). 

 The Academy will pick...  Jean Dujardin 
 The Dark Horse is... George Clooney 
 My vote will go to... Jean Dujardin 

[Image of Brad Pitt in Moneyball]

: A close two-horse race between Jean Dujardin and George Clooney is expected. Dujardin deserves the award for his outstanding performance, though Clooney might pip him to the prize if the Academy decides to reward one of their own. Brad Pitt, and Gary Oldman have a small outside chance of winning because they have not won before, especially the latter who has been undervalued by the Academy in the past. If Bichir wins, it would be one of the greatest Oscar upsets of all-time.   



[Image of Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn]

The nominees:

  • ALBERT NOBBS - Glenn Close
Known for: The World According to Garp (1982), The Big Chill (1983), The Natural (1984), Fatal Attraction (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988).
  • THE HELP - Viola Davis
Known for: Far from Heaven (2002), Doubt (2008).
Known for: The Social Network (2010)
  • THE IRON LADY - Meryl Streep
Known for: Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Sophie's Choice (1982), Out of Africa (1985), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), The Devil Wears Prada (2006).
  • MY WEEK WITH MARILYN - Michelle Williams
Known for: Brokeback Mountain (2005), Wendy and Lucy (2008), Blue Valentine (2010), Shutter Island (2010). 

 The Academy will pick... Viola Davis 
 The Dark Horse is... Meryl Streep 
 My vote will go to... Michelle Williams

[Image of Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady]

 Like the Best Leading Actor category, this is a close two-horse race between Meryl Streep and Viola Davis. Streep has not won in nearly thirty years, so the Academy may decide to reward her for her remarkable consistency over the decades. Viola Davis is the favorite with the Screen Actors Guild voters, who make up the bulk of the Academy, so she has the slight edge over Streep. 

Glenn Close has been previously nominated five times, but sadly it is unlikely she will win on her sixth attempt. Michelle Williams is unlucky to be with Streep and Davis this year as her performance as Marilyn Monroe warrants an Oscar. As for Rooney Mara, if she wins, it will also be one of the greatest upsets in Oscar history. 



[Image of Christopher Plummer in Beginners]

The nominees:

  • MY WEEK WITH MARILYN  - Kenneth Branagh
Known for: Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Frankenstein (1994), Hamlet (1996).
  • MONEYBALL - Jonah Hill
Known for: Knocked Up (2007), Superbad (2007), Funny People (2009), Get Him to the Greek (2010). 
  • WARRIOR - Nick Nolte
Known for: The Prince of Tides (1991), Affliction (1997), The Thin Red Line (1998), 
  • BEGINNERS - Christopher Plummer
Known for: The Sound of Music (1965), The Insider (1999), The Last Station (2009), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
Known for: The Seventh Seal (1957), The Exorcist (1973), Pelle the Conqueror (1987), Minority Report (2002), Shutter Island (2010). 

 The Academy will pick... Christopher Plumme
 The Dark Horse is... Max von Sydow 
 My vote will go to Christopher Plummer 

[Image of Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close]

 One of the easiest categories to predict, the Best Supporting Actor Oscar will go to Christopher Plummer. Jonah Hill and Kenneth Branagh have never been in contention, while Nick Nolte and Max von Sydow are the best bets for an upset. The latter, like Plummer, is of the same age (82), and has only been nominated once before. But it is their body of work over the last half-century that has left a lasting legacy, and the Academy would want to reward either of them. But they are surely going to reward one of their own...



[Image of Bérénice Bejo in The Artist]

The nominees:

  • THE ARTIST - Bérénice Bejo
Known for: Nil
  • THE HELP - Jessica Chastain
Known for: Take Shelter (2011), The Tree of Life (2011).
  • BRIDESMAIDS - Melissa McCarthy
Known for: Nil
  • ALBERT NOBBS - Janet McTeer
Known for: Tumbleweeds (1999), Songcatcher (2000).
  • THE HELP - Octavia Spencer
Known for: Nil

 The Academy will pick... Octavia Spencer 
 The Dark Horse is... Bérénice Bejo
 My vote will go to... Octavia Spencer

[Image of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (right) in The Help]

 Despite Jessia Chastain being nominated in the same category for the same film, it is highly unlikely the votes will be split between her and Octavia Spencer, who we believe has one hand on the trophy already. The dark horse is Bérénice Bejo, who might nick it because of the tremendous support for The Artist, but the upset is unlikely. Janet McTeer, and Melissa McCarthy will be posing little threat to Spencer. 


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