In this post, we come to the categories that most people care about, which are tucked further back and spread throughout the telecast just to make sure that you watch the whole thing. Let’s take a look at the four acting categories and see if we can suss out the winners.
The acting categories, for me, are always the hardest to predict. Sometimes they follow suit along with the Best Picture winner, but not always. There are usually a few stand-out performances that I struggle with because any of them could be worthy of winning. This year, we have a couple of stand-out performances, a few performances that shouldn’t have been nominated in the first place, and two veteran actors searching for their first Academy wins. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll try to make sense of things.
Best Supporting Actor
- Kenneth Branagh, ‘My Week with Marilyn’
- Jonah Hill, ‘Moneyball’
- Nick Nolte, ‘Warrior’
- Christopher Plummer, ‘Beginners’
- Max von Sydow, ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’
This is perhaps the most contentious category at this year’s Oscars. Many people thought that Albert Brooks’ villainous performance in ‘Drive’ should have been nominated, but he somehow got ousted by Max von Syndow’s silent man routine in ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’. Now we have controversy, but we also have something better: an Old-Off!
First, let’s eliminate the nominees who aren’t likely to win. I liked Branagh in ‘My Week with Marilyn’, but he was simply doing an impersonation of Sir Laurence Olivier. It’s a decent performance, but it’s completely overshadowed by Michelle Williams’ take on Marilyn Monroe. Jonah Hill’s character in ‘Moneyball’ is fun while you’re watching the movie, but Oscar worthy? I don’t really think so. Brooks’ fans should be just as mad that Hill was nominated. Nick Nolte gave a gritty performance in ‘Warrior’, but again, I just don’t believe that we’ll watch Nolte give an acceptance speech on Oscar night.
That brings us to the Old-Off. Christopher Plummer faces off against Max von Sydow. Imagine if they put on boxing gloves and had to duke it out. I loved ‘Extremely Loud’, but I agree that von Sydow’s part in that movie was limited and didn’t really have the range one would expect from an Oscar winner. Plummer, on the other hand, was fantastic in ‘Beginners’, and I don’t think that the Academy will be able to resist finally plopping a gold statuette into his hands.
Best Supporting Actress
- Bérénice Bejo, ‘The Artist’
- Jessica Chastain, ‘The Help’
- Melissa McCarthy, ‘Bridesmaids’
- Janet McTeer, ‘Albert Nobbs’
- Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’
This category is all messed up. First off you have Jessica Chastain being nominated for the wrong role. Either nominate her for ‘Take Shelter’ or ‘The Tree of Life’, which are not only both better movies than ‘The Help’ but are much better performances. Secondly, I still find it hard to fathom the thought process behind nominating Melissa McCarthy from ‘Bridesmaids’. Did we nominate Zach Galifianakis for his work in ‘The Hangover’? Was Chris Farley ever nominated for an Oscar? Why are we putting Melissa McCarthy up on a pedestal? Is it because we’re suddenly impressed that women can make R-rated comedies? I just don’t see any real reason why she deserves to be nominated.
Personally, I think the race comes down to Octavia Spencer and Bérénice Bejo. If ‘The Artist’ is slated to take home Best Picture, I think that Bejo edges out the recent Golden Globe winner. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for. The cloying self-satisfaction of ‘The Help’ drives me crazy.
- Demián Bichir, ‘A Better Life’
- George Clooney, ‘The Descendants’
- Jean Dujardin, ‘The Artist’
- Gary Oldman, ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’
- Brad Pitt, ‘Moneyball’
George Clooney already took home a Golden Globe, but I think that’s as far as he’s getting with his role in ‘The Descendants’. Clooney put on his best wide-eyed ‘O, Brother Where Art Thou?’ face, and apparently that was enough for the Globes. However, I don’t think ‘The Descendants’ will take home the grand prize, so I don’t think Clooney will win here either.
Pitt and Bichir are good nominees, but don’t have much else going for them. This category is going to come down to one of two things. If ‘The Artist’ takes home Best Picture, it’ll probably take home Best Actor too. If it doesn’t manage to get Best Picture, I can see the award going to a great, but as of now, Oscar-less actor like Gary Oldman. Oldman has a hill to climb, that’s for sure. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull off an upset, get ready for another French-accented acceptance speech.
- Glenn Close, ‘Albert Nobbs’
- Viola Davis, ‘The Help’
- Rooney Mara, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’
- Meryl Streep, ‘The Iron Lady’
- Michelle Williams, ‘My Week with Marilyn’
Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. ‘Albert Nobbs’ is not a very good movie by any stretch of the imagination, and the only reason Close is nominated here is that she looks like a very believable man. So she’s out. Streep is certainly an Oscar favorite whenever she’s nominated, but if the people voting actually watched ‘The Iron Lady’ all the way through, they’d realize that (like ‘Albert Nobbs’) it’s a subpar film. Couple that with the fact that (like Kenneth Branagh) Streep is simply doing an impersonation of a historical figure.
I liked Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, but I think that her competition here is a little too strong. Michelle Williams is coming off a Golden Globe win, which in my mind was very well-deserved. While there are a few impersonations of historical figures in these nominations, Williams went above and beyond that. She embodied the role of Marilyn Monroe instead of just mimicking her characteristics.
‘The Help’ seems to have a push of good-will behind it, and I could see Viola Davis walking away with the award come Sunday night. With a gun to my head, I’d have to say Williams, but honestly, I think this is a toss-up between the two.
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Bérénice Bejo
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin
Best Actress: Michelle Williams