Stephen Simon Handicaps The Oscars (Part 1)

January 25, 2012

Nominees for the 84th Academy Awards

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

It’s absolutely wonderful that Mr. Bichir was nominated in a film that few people other than Academy voters have yet seen. His performance in “A Better Life” was utterly brilliant. I thought that Mr. Pitt was stronger in “The Tree of Life” than “Moneyball.” Although Mr. Oldman is a fabulous actor and Mr. Dujardin was also terrific in “The Artist”, I think George Clooney will win for his against-type, pitch-perfect performance in “The Descendants”.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

This is one of those years and categories where a great performance will be tied to an informal lifetime achievement award as well. Christopher Plummer is 82, has never won, and has a long and celebrated career. I think he’s an absolute cinch to win. In any other year, I think Nick Nolte might win because he was beyond haunting and brilliant in “Warrior” which was, by the way, one of the most underappreciated films of 2011. But this is Mr. Plummer’s year. Personally, I am very honored to have worked with both Christopher Plummer (“Somewhere in Time”) and Max Von Sydow (“What Dreams May Come”).

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Ms. Mara, Ms. Williams, and Ms. Close are outsiders here. The race is strictly between Ms. Davis and Ms. Streep who is is certainly one of  the greatest actresses ever in films. Although she has won 2 Oscars already, this is Ms. Streep’s record and mind-boggling  17th nomination! She was, as always, brilliant as Margaret Thatcher. That being said, I strongly suspect that Ms. Davis will win. She gave a sensational performance in “The Help” and, quite frankly, the political sensibilities of that film are much aligned with most of the Academy than those in “Iron Lady.” Should that matter? Of course not. Does it matter? Absolutely!

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

While this is often a category that springs a big surprise, I’ll be pretty shocked if Octavia Spencer doesn’t win. Along with Viola Davis, she was absolutely terrific in “The Help”. If there were a big shock here, it would probably be Melissa McCarthy but I still think Ms. Spencer will win.

Art Direction

  • “The Artist”
    Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
    Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “Hugo”
    Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “Midnight in Paris”
    Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • “War Horse”
    Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

This category is probably a duel between “The Artist” and “Hugo”, both of which, I am thrilled to say, honor The Old Hollywood! My sense is that “The Artist” is going to win so many of the major awards that “Hugo” may win this one.

  • “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
  • “The Artist” Mark Bridges
  • “Hugo” Sandy Powell
  • “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
  • “W.E.” Arianne Phillips

Ditto my comments for Art Direction.

Foreign Language Film

  • “Bullhead” Belgium
  • “Footnote” Israel
  • “In Darkness” Poland
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
  • “A Separation” Iran

I must admit here that the only film that I saw in this category was “A Separation.” If it doesn’t win, I’ll be the first in line to see the film that does because “A Separation” is a powerhouse in every way.

(To be continued).

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brian Mills February 2, 2012 at 10:01 am

I would love to see The Artist win Best Film, and I think it stands a very good chance of doing just that.
George Clooney is I think a certainty to win Best Actor for The Descendants.
Viola Davis – Best Actress for The Help as I think this will be a tactical vote.
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer for Beginners.
Best Supporting actress: Octavia Spencer: The Help
My choice: The Artist, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Christopher Plummer and Jessica Chastain respectively.


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