2012 Oscar Awards

2012 Oscar Predictions: Our Official Academy Awards Picks

The ArtistUpdated Feb. 23, 2012.

Here’s some inside intel for casual movie fans contemplating their Oscar predictions: By the time the Academy Awards roll around, we know who’s going to win in pretty much every major category.

Sure, there can be surprises and the occasional too-close-to-call race, but after so many other award functions play out in the lead-up to Oscar night, from the Critics Choice to the Golden Globes to the all the guild gatherings, patterns emerge and some favorites appear unbeatable.

That’s why if you’re about to head to Vegas (Editor’s note: NextMovie does not condone gambling, unless you’re sharing …) and lay down some scratch on “The Artist” winning Best Picture, the rewards, at this point, won’t be too tempting.

Best Picture

In last year’s marquee matchup, there was an early front-runner (“The Social Network”) that maintained months of momentum before a late bloomer (“The King Speech”) took the lead in the final lap and won the throne. So far this year it seems like the opposite: There was an early front-runner (“The Descendants”) whose lead lasted only so long before a seemingly unbeatable contender (“The Artist”) took over and has maintained that momentum for several months now.

The DescendantsWith the inevitable front-runner backlash being relatively muted, and the high-powered Weinstein campaign machine seemingly content to stay in first gear (do they even need to push hard?), the only question seems to be whether or not the Academy will really go through with it and actually award a black-and-white silent film Hollywood’s biggest prize in 2012. You can pretty much count on it.

Smart Money: “The Artist”
Don’t Be Surprised By: “The Descendants”
Dark Horses: “The Help” and “Hugo”
Our Pick: “The Artist”

Best Director

This one appears to be a two-way battle between visionaries who paid tribute to the olden years of classic cinema, Michel Hazanavicius (say it with us, “Ha-za-na-VEE-shooz “) for “The Artist” and Martin Scorsese for “Hugo.”

Hazanavicius won the primary predictor here, which is top honors from The Directors Guild, while Scorsese pulled off an upset by taking home the Golden Globe. But it’s Hazanavicius who also seems to be winning favor in Hollywood, continually expressing his just-happy-to-be-here ’tude with quotes like, “It would have been no problem to lose to Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, David Fincher, Alexander Payne.” Respect.

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher inSmart Money: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Don’t Be Surprised By: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Dark Horse: Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Our Pick: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Best Actor

The lead actor race has just recently become one of the more intriguing contests to watch. George Clooney was long looking like a lock for his revered performance as a devastated dad dealing with an unfaithful comatose wife (one of 99 problems) in “The Descendants, ” which is widely considered a career best. That was until “Artist” star Jean Dujardin pulled off a whopper of an upset at the Screen Actors Guild. Could the face of that widely celebrated film win the Oscar, too? (And could he be the new Roberto Benigni?)

It’s hard to see Clooney, easily one of the most beloved actors in all of Hollywoodland, losing to a relative unknown, and 15 of the 27 experts on Gold Derby (including yours truly) are still going with him. But hey, stranger things have happened. Like Roberto Benigni …

Christopher Plummer in BeginnersSmart Money: George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Don’t Be Surprised By: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Our Pick: George Clooney, “The Descendants”

Best Actress

And now for the tightest race among the major categories. In one corner you have Viola Davis: the true heart of “The Help, ” a film that had plenty to spare; and an underdog Hollywood success story up for her second Oscar in three years. In the other corner you have Meryl Streep (maybe you’ve heard of her), reigning Academy Queen who’s been up for the statuette a record 1700 17 times now, her latest for the Margaret Thatcher biopic “The Iron Lady.”

While Streep seemed like the early favorite (Streep + Thatcher = Game Over), the tide turned toward Davis after “Iron Lady” got less than rave reviews, and Davis became a sentimental favorite. Then Streep prevailed at the Golden Globes, and people began to realize that while she is seemingly up for an Oscar every other year, she hasn’t WON one since 1983 (for “Sophie’s Choice”). SAG winner Davis currently holds favorite status, but this one’s clooooose.

Smart Money: Viola Davis, “The Help”

Octavia Spencer in The Help Midnight in Paris A Separation Paradise Lost 3
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