The 2012 Academy Award nominations will be revealed by ‘Hunger Games’ star Jennifer Lawrence on 24 January and the press is naturally buzzing with Oscar speculation. It’s an awards show with few clear favourites, making it very exciting indeed. Here’s our predictions for who will nab the nods...
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Thanks to a new voting system, the biggest category of the night could have between five and ten nominations. It will be a full of great films but nothing is certain, except the inclusion of the two big winners at this year's Golden Globe awards...
Dead certs: ...‘The Artist’ and ‘The Descendants’. Both will definitely be up for the big prize come 26 February. The former is the darling of the film world right now, and the latter is from acclaimed director Alexander Payne ('Sideways’). They’re undoubtedly the two favourites.
‘Hugo’, ‘The Help’ and ‘Moneyball’ are not quite certainties but we expect them to make the cut. That’s a likely five, with Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ and David Fincher’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ decent bets as well.
Potential snubs: ‘Drive’ was the film of the year for many fans but it’s not exactly awards-material and it could easily be snubbed, though a Best Film nod at the BAFTAs improves its chances.
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‘Tinker Tailor Solider Spy’ also got its fair share of BAFTA love, but American award shows have mostly snubbed the film and the Academy could continue the trend. Terrence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ was another critically acclaimed project which did well at smaller ceremonies (like Cannes) but will probably miss out here.
Steven Spielberg epic ‘War Horse’ also appeared tailor-made to win Oscars, but a middling reception from critics could also see it miss out.
The only category with a very clear favourite.
Dead certs: Meryl Streep is of course odds-on to take home her first statuette in nearly 30 years for her portrayal of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in ‘The Iron Lady’.
An outside bet is Tilda Swinton. When ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ was first released critics were falling over each other to praise her stunning performance. You can be sure that if she were to win there would be gasps but nobody would say she doesn’t deserve it.
Viola Davis in ‘The Help’, Michelle Williams in ‘My Week With Marilyn’ and Charlize Theron in ‘Young Adult’ will (probably) make up the numbers.
Potential snubs: One amazing performance that might go unnoticed is Rooney Mara’s turn as Lisbeth Salander in ‘Dragon Tattoo’. Playing a character from a well-known book and undergoing a huge physical transformation is often enough to nab a nod, but maybe not this time.
Another tricky one here; an impressive field with no runaway favourite.
Dead certs: Again, a Golden Globe winning pair is sure to be involved. That’s Jean Dujardin for ‘The Artist’ and George Clooney for ‘The Descendants’, with both men almost joint- favourites for the prize. Each was magnificent in films that could not have been more different.
Padding out the list is Brad Pitt, a better bet than most for his performance in ‘Moneyball’. Ryan Gosling is due some love for out-acting his veteran co-stars in ‘The Ides of March’ and Michael Fassbender stunned critics with a brave performance in Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame’.
Potential snubs: Gary Oldman’s turn as spy master George Smiley in ‘Tinker Tailor Solider Spy’ deserves not only a nomination but maybe even to win as well. However, as we’ve seen the film’s release date worked against it, and has already missed out on a Golden Globe nod.
The trends of past ceremonies can help us out here.
Dead certs: If ‘The Artist’ and ‘The Descendants’ dominate the Best Picture and Best Actor categories then it makes sense for Michel Hazanavicius and Alexander Payne to fight it out for the Best Director prize as well.
Martin Scorsese did a marvellous job on ‘Hugo’ and is (finally) loved by The Academy so expect a nom for him. Ditto Woody Allen for ‘Midnight in Paris’.
Potential snubs: Steven Spielberg might miss out - but as we’ve seen this would not be such a shock. Other big names facing a shut out; Terrence Malick (‘The Tree of Life’), Lynne Ramsay (‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’), and almost certainly Nicolas Winding Refn (‘Drive’).
David Fincher has famously never won an Oscar despite an impressive CV, and he could miss out again for ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’.
Here are our other predictions for the main categories...
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marylin)
Nick Nolte (Warrior)
Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Vanessa Redgrave (Corionalus)
Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Will Reiser (50/50)
Diablo Cody (Young Adult)
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon (The Ides of March)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne & Jim Rash (The Descendants)
Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
Aaron Sorkin & Steve Zaillian (Moneyball)
Tate Taylor (The Help)
Lynne Ramsay & Rory Kinnear (We Need To Talk About Kevin)
Best Animated Film
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots