Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Year in Advance Oscar Predictions 2012

As we officially say good-bye to the films of 2011 with the Oscar ceremony on Sunday, it's time to take a breather from awards and just focus on the movies...Totally kidding! It's time to look ahead to the Oscars celebrating 2012! What's that you say? Too soon? It's never too soon to start thinking about Oscar. Let's see if I can do even better than I did with last year's year-in-advance predictions. We'll have to wait and see if these actors hear their name called early on nomination morning in January 2013 (you know, if the world doesn't end in 2012. Is there a day we're aiming for with that? I'd like to mark my calendar.) On to the nominees! Today is Actor and Actress and tomorrow is the supporting categories:

Murray channels FDR
Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln
John Hawkes The Surrogate
Hugh Jackman Les Misérables
Bill Murray Hyde Park on Hudson
Philip Seymour Hoffman The Master

Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln The Role: Speilberg directs the two time Oscar winner in this biopic about our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln (hence the creative title). Why Him: DDL is one of those people, like Meryl Streep that you always assume will get nominated. He's just that good. And he works so infrequently (only 4 films last decade and he was nominated for half of them) that you have to assume the role is good if he's taking the time to make it. I even predicated he would be nominated for Nine (it sounded good on paper). But a lot of it also has has to do with the fact that he's playing a real, well-known, historical figure and working with Oscar winning director, Steven Speilberg, for the first time. Liam Neeson was attached to this role for years and I believe he would have been nominated as well if he had played it. 
John Hawkes The Surrogate The Role: Based on the true story of a man who lived his life in an iron lung and decides to lose his virginity. Why Him: Hawkes is one of those character actors that has been steadily working for years, but his profile rose to another level when he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Winter's Bone (2010). The Surrogate played at Sundance this year (it was his third Sundance hit in a row), where it was meet with huge success winning the Audience Award for Best Drama and a special acting award for the ensemble. And it's based on a true story. And he's playing a person with a disability. If it was set during the Holocaust it'd be a guaranteed Oscar
Hugh Jackman Les Misérables The Role: 'Who am I? 24601!' Jackman takes on the lead role in the film version of the hit Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo's novel. He plays Jean Valjean, a man who is recently released after spending 19 years in prison after stealing a loaf of bread. Why Him: Jackman is one of those people that I feel they've been wanting to nominate. The academy already likes him–he's hosted the ceremony before. He just needed to find the right role and film. Hopefully, director Tom Hopper can strike Oscar gold a second time like he did with The King's Speech. Jackman makes no secret about his love for musical theatre, so it should be a treat to see what he brings to this classic role.
Bill Murray Hyde Park on Hudson The Role: Another president! Murray plays our 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The film is not a biopic of his life but focuses on a weekend in 1939 when he had a brief affair. Why Him: Because he was robbed! Many people expected him to take home the Best Actor Oscar for 2003's Lost in Translation, but he lost to Sean Penn's over-the-top shouting fit in Mystic River. This would be one of those noms to make-up for past mistakes. And the fact that he's playing a real person (in a wheelchair!) sure doesn't hurt his chances. 
Philip Seymour Hoffman The Master The Oscar winner plays a mysterious and charismatic leader of a religious group in 1950's Los Angeles, which may or may not be based on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. Why Him: Paul Thomas Anderson has directed 4 actors already to nominations and the Academy already likes Hoffman (how else to explain his noms for Doubt and Charlie Wilson's War. Admit it, you forgot he was nominated for those). There may be some controversy regarding the subject matter, but my guess is that the role is gonna be too meaty not to include. 

'Trust me, John. I've been here before. They just can't wait to give us nominations.'

Best Actress
Helen Hunt The Surrogate
Nicole Kidman My Wild Life
Keira Knightley Anna Karenina
Rachel McAdams Untitled Terrence Malick
Carey Mulligan The Great Gatsby

Helen Hunt The Surrogate The Role: The professional sex surrogate hired by John Hawkes's character Why Her: Is 2012 gonna be the year of a Helen Hunt comeback? The Best Actress winner from the 90's seemed to have disappeared from acting over the past couple of years. Unless, of course, you caught her in such films as Soul Surfer and Then She Found Me. Yeah, didn't think so. I've never really been a fan of Hunt. My main problem with her is that she's always the same in everything.  But she shared that acting ensemble award at Sundance and people that saw the film were predicting that she could win her second Oscar for this performance. We'll have to wait and see.
Nicole Kidman My Wild Life The Role: Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the real-life conservationist who worked with elephants in Kenya. Why Her: It's all very Gorillas in the Mist meets Out of Africa. The film will reunite the Oscar winning actress with director, Phillip Noyce. His film, Dead Calm, introduced the world to the actress. After Kidman won the Oscar for The Hours (2002), it seemed, despite some of her best work in Birth and Dogville, that the academy was over her. She was also deemed box office poison (just like Katharine Hepburn! Ah, she really is Hollywood royalty) after a series of big-budget flops. But, after her nom for Rabbit Hole, it's looking like the Academy is ready to welcome her back. This project sounds like the perfect fit for Oscar.
Keira Knightley Anna Karenina The Role: The title character in Joe Wright's adaptation of Tolstoy's classic. Anna is a Russian aristocrat in the late 1800's who begins a disastrous affair with a Count. Why Her: Joe Wright's first feature film, the adaptation of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, brought Keira her first (and only) Oscar nomination. The two have collaborated many times since then, creating an artistic relationship. Her work in last year's A Dangerous Method, was seen as many to be her strongest work to date. It seems to be a good time to invite her back. The role has been played by everyone from Greta Garbo to Vivien Leigh and is a showcase for any actress.
Rachel McAdams Untitled Terrence Malick The Role: No one knows exactly. But, rumor has it that she plays the high school sweetheart of a man (Ben Affleck) who returns to his hometown after a divorce and rekindles the old flame. We're talking about Malick, so expect lots of voice overs and gorgeous cinematography. Why Her: McAdams is one of those young actresses that is well-liked in Hollywood, but has never been nominated. She's great in awful films like Morning Glory and can even make the thankless role of a shrewish fiance in Midnight in Paris interesting (my friend lovingly refers to her as a raging bitch in that film). Despite some stellar performances (including a career best from Brad Pitt in last year's The Tree of Life), no actor has ever been nominated for a Malick film. It's more about the visuals. But, McAdams excels in love stories and if she can make dreck like The Notebook and The Vow work, think what she can achieve with a legendary director like Malick.  
Carey Mulligan The Great Gatsby The Role: Daisy Buchanan, the wealthy socialite that is the center of attention of the titular character in Baz Luhrmann's 3-D adaptation. Why Her: The Oscar nominated actress won the role over such contenders as Amanda Seyfried, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, Abbie Cornish, and Michelle Williams due to the strength of her screen test. That's why she's predicted here– because she's  one of the finest young actresses working today. Last year, she played her best performance to date as the troubled sister in Shame. It brought a new side to her. She is sure to bring something unique to this well-known literary character.
The history-in-the-making screentest

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