And lo, it’s that time of year again – an exciting time for we film journalists, as we pore over the list of Academy Award nominations. The Oscars being nothing if not predictable, here’s an overview of the favourites.
The nominations have seen two films stand out – Martin Scorsese’s Hugo netted the most nominations with 11, closely followed by Michael Hazanavicius’ The Artist with 10. It’s The Artist however that’s really being talked up for the big awards. It’s a heavy favourite for Best Picture, although Alexander Payne’s The Descendants has the potential to spoil the party for Hazanavicius, who’s also up for Best Director. He’s the favourite there too, although that one could be pretty close. Payne and Terrence Malik (for Palme d’Or winner Tree of Life) could potentially sneak it on the night, but the main challenge will be from the veteran Scorcese – his 2007 win for The Departed could stand against him though.
The acting categories could see some surprises. George Clooney is the Best Actor favourite for his role in The Descendants – he’s a Hollywood favourite and despite multiple nominations has only ever received one Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, for Syriana. He faces a potential threat from The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, but it’s Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) that Clooney should really be looking out for – this is, shockingly, the veteran actor’s first ever nomination, and the Academy may decide to reward an acting legend for long service.
There seem to be two main candidates for Best Actress. Meryl Streep (for whom this is an incredible 17th nomination) is seen by some as a shoe-in for her much-praised performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, especially given the Academy’s recent form in rewarding biopic roles. She has, however, already won two Oscars, and the Academy may instead decide to bestow the honour on relative newcomer Viola Davis for her powerful performance in The Help.
Christopher Plummer (Beginners) looks a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor, though there’s a possibility the honour could go to the 84 year old Max von Sydown (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) – the veteran actor is on only his second nomination and has never received an Oscar before. The competition for Best Supporting Actress appears close, looking like it could go one of three ways. Jessica Chastain is perhaps the favourite for The Help, but Berenice Bejo (The Artist) and Octavia Spencer (The Help) should not be ruled out.
Elsewhere, Best Original Screenplay competition seems to be between The Artist and Midnight in Paris (also look out for nominee A Separation – the Iranian film is a heavy favourite for Best Foreign Language Film). The Descendants looks a sure bet for Best Adapted Screenplay – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is its nearest rival, but if you’re looking for a bit of a left-field option, consider baseball film Moneyball, which has been attracting a bit of attention.
The truth will be revealed on February 26th.