The 2012 Academy Awards haven't happened yet? Must they really take place or can we just pretend we've already watched Billy Crystal do his familiar Oscar host schtick and witnessed the first silent Best Picture since the inaugural event and the first French Best Picture since ever? Everyone expects The Artist to win everything, including the awards it's not up for, whether they're happy or angry or indifferent about such an outcome. It was tiresome just trying to find some variety in the predictions around the web compiled for today's Conversation, and now I'm just going to sleep until Monday, when I'll likely have to do a Conversation on complaints about how The Artist indeed won everything.
The following late season Oscar punditry comes to you solely from the past two days' worth of discussion and analysis, from experts, critics and regular folk alike. I've dug through and found comments regarding a few of the most significant and most interesting categories. Feel free to make additional guesses and prognoses up until the Big Night down below.
What are people picking and proposing for the 2012 Oscar winners? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:
The Artist’s going to win everything. - Salman Rushdie, via Evan Mulvihill, Vanity Fair
The Artist has it locked up, you claim? For the love of Pete, you add, no movie’s won best picture without being nominated for best director in 22 years? But let’s take a closer look at that movie that won best picture in 1990: Driving Miss Daisy. I believe The Help is the Driving Miss Daisy of 2012. [...] I’m gonna be that guy. The Help will upset The Artist for best picture! If it really does win, I’ll be disappointed—say what you will about The Artist, but it’s certainly more adventuresome than The Help—but not angry, thanks to all those $5 bills I’ll be pocketing with a shit-eating grin. - Dan Kois, Slate
Still holding out hope THE TREE OF LIFE will win the Best Picture Oscar for the counterintuitive reason that it was the best movie in 2011. - @AngusDwyer
The bottom line is that many voters believe that Meryl Streep deserves another Oscar, especially considering her last Oscar win was for Sophie’s Choice thirty years ago. I recently had a conversation with another film critic, and he said, “Oh, they just want to give Meryl that Oscar.” He’s totally right. And with such a spotlight role like this one, it’s the safe bet. - Kevin Carr, Film School Rejects
Of course I could be proven wrong, but along with virtually everybody else who pays attention to this circus, I’m betting that Viola Davis ends up clutching one of those little gold statues on Sunday night — as much because everybody watching wants to hear her acceptance speech as because of anything she did on-screen in “The Help.” People talk about all the backstage hoodoo that goes into an Oscar campaign, and Harvey Weinstein’s admittedly amazing powers to bend the minds of Academy voters to his will. But I’m not sure we’ve ever seen an actor go out and claim an Oscar during the campaign in quite the forthright and dramatic way that Davis has. - Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
Regardless of if Streep wins the Oscar, I predict in two years everyone (including myself) will have forgotten about THE IRON LADY. - @fisackerly
Jean Dujardin (The Artist) is likely to win the Oscar for Best Actor. If he doesn't then it will go to George Clooney whom I believe is far more deserving. Even more deserving still is Brad Pitt for Moneyball in my opinion. Though very much along the lines of Clooney's performance in its ability to reveal a layer of vulnerability, I felt Pitt's didn't have that occasional farcical aspect to his performance that ends up keeping it slightly more grounded. Then again, I've loved Pitt's work for a long time and watching him grow as an actor has been a pleasure. I believe he'll be rewarded some day, but like most Oscar winners, it will ultimately be for lesser work. - Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon
For my money, George Clooney found another level within himself and gave hands down the best performance of the year. I’ve always dug Clooney’s stuff, but his role in The Descendants was astounding. You felt every bit of the anger and pain that this guy was dealing with. When the movie is over you find yourself asking questions like, “could I have done that?” Performances that make you look inside yourself are those that need to be honored. - Stephen Clifton, What Culture!
It's down to Dujardin and Clooney. Both turned in praiseworthy performances in their respective films. Dujardin's wordless ways have captivated voters throughout awards season. Likewise, it's impossible to resist Clooney's charms. Both men walked away from the Golden Globes with new awards in their hands. One of them will have an Oscar to add to his trophy shelf come Sunday night. It's essentially a coin toss, but we're putting our money on Camp Clooney. "The Artist" will take Best Picture, and this will be the consolation prize for the "Descendants" crew. - Josh Wigler, MTV News
Best Supporting Actress: It has been a long, long time since Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American Oscar winner, taking the supporting actress award for playing a Southern maid, Mammy, in Gone With The Wind in 1939. Octavia Spencer’s turn as a Southern maid in The Help should be able to pull off the same feat, especially since she’s been on a roll winning a number of key supporting awards whenever and wherever her nominated co-star Jessica Chastain hasn’t heard her name called. Chastain may be the supporting actress of the year in number of roles, and Berenice Bejo may have done it without saying a word, but they will probably have to settle for just the nomination this time around. - Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood
Though Octavia Spencer has been the presumed favorite for awhile now, I'm wondering if Jessica Chastain will win an unofficial 2011 achievement award—then again, if they split the Help partisans, McCarthy could sneak in. This feels like the acting category ripest for a surprise if only because while Spencer does feel vaguely inevitable, she's not as undeniable as her main-category costar. Spencer will probably win, but don't count McCarthy out. [...] Some people still bag on that Marisa Tomei win for My Cousin Vinny, but that is surely one of the most richly deserved Oscar wins of my lifetime. McCarthy isn't quite in that league—her character isn't as important to the movie's story—and did already pretty much win an Emmy as appreciation for Bridesmaids, but she lights up the screen in a movie full of talented comic performers. - Jesse Hassenger, The Measure ( L Magazine)
If Max von Sydow wins Oscar instead of Christopher Plummer, I hope the latter jumps him so we finally get that Gen. Chang vs Ming battle. - @StaxIGN
Adapted Screenplay: The Descendents. Director Payne and screenwriting duo Faxon and Rash took a novel that was not nearly as interesting or compelling as their finished product and, well, made it that. Hart Hemmings’ book is a fine effort, but compared to the final film, it’s but a kernel of an idea. Payne, Faxon, and Rash crafted some of the finest characters of the year – Clooney’s Matt King, Shailene Woodley’s Alex King, Judy Greer’s Julie Speer. Hell, they even made a woman in a coma feel like her own character. - Kate Erbland, Film School Rejects
Original Screenplay: If Kristen Wiig doesn't win an Oscar we hope she flips off the Academy. - @betchesluvthis
Visual Effects: “Apes.” If you’re not an academy member, you’re thinking this is a no-brainer. One problem: Since this category came into existence in 1977, a best picture nominee has never lost to a movie that wasn’t nominated for best picture. And guess what movie wasn’t nominated? So how does “Apes” win? Even voters who wouldn’t be caught within a 10-mile radius of a theater playing “Transformers” or “Real Steel” know the intricacies and brilliance of WETA’s work on “Apes,” thanks to Fox’s sustained campaign for Andy Serkis in the supporting actor category. All the attention didn’t secure Serkis a nomination, but it did place the movie in the minds of genre-averse academy members. - Glenn Whipp, The Envelope (LA Times)
Hugo is likely to lose most of the major prizes it’s nominated for, so its consolation should be the tech awards that aren’t up against The Artist. When going head to head, its scale is bigger so it should win Art Direction but lose Costuming – though Hugo vs. The Artist is the main drama of both awards. The Iron Lady is the most respectable of the make-up choices, and there’s no home team favorite (that is to say, Rick Baker). Still, we could see Potter eke out a victory. - Damon Houx, ScreenCrave
For the author and essayist Sarah Vowell, the only clear Oscar front-runner this year is “The Iron Lady” for best makeup. When the film ended, “my friend got up to leave and I asked him to wait so I could watch the credits and see who did Meryl Streep’s makeup,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Specifically, her neck. What a perfect, leathery landscape. Normally, you don’t get that kind of celebration of surface detail and patina outside of a Pixar movie.” - via Rachel Lee Harris, The Carpetbagger (NY Times)
Original Song: “Man or Muppet” is not just a song; it tells a lyrical story that gets to the heart of The Muppets while still keeping those tongue-in-cheek moments that have kept the Muppets entertaining for both children and adults over the years. The song has the epic grander that fit the climactic scene it was featured in and had audiences singing (and questioning) whether they were a man or a muppet as they left the theater. If you were to ask people to name one of the songs that stood out to them from the films released last year, “Man or Muppet” would probably top many people’s lists and if the Academy is looking to reflect film in 2011, they would be remiss to vote over this choice. - Allison Loring, Film School Rejects
I want to see "Man or Muppet" performed at the Oscars by Mitt Romney and Guy Smiley. - @Fake_Dispatch
Best Documentary Feature: I’m picking Paradise Lost to win for several reasons. First, you can’t underestimate the importance of the way this film exonerated three wrongly-accused men from spending the rest of their lives in jail. Not since The Thin Blue Line has something like this happened, and many voters are cognizant of that. There’s also what I’ll call The Lord of the Rings factor. The first two LOTR films made a small dent at the Oscars. But the third collected a record number of gold. In other words, when it comes to a trilogy, the third film is rewarded for everything that happened before it. There’s a cumulative effect. Even if Academy voters didn’t love Paradise Lost, many must have been blown away by one, or both, of the previous films. Another significant factor is that the trilogy was produced by HBO Documentaries, and its head Sheila Nevins, who must have a lot of friends in the Academy. - Tom Roston, Doc Soup (POV)
Best Animated Feature: Not only is Rango the year’s best animated film, but it’s also one of the best movies of 2011 period. The animation is absolutely stunning, and the film’s design allows for the occasional seamless integration into live footage that works beautifully. Gore Verbinski‘s direction and John Logan‘s script keep things engaging, exciting and smart as it tells a fun story filled with homages to pop culture icons as diverse as The Man With No Name and Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny Depp‘s excessive quirk has grown tiresome in live action, but he finds a perfectly suited home for it here. - Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects
I love TIMEFREAK. I hope you get the Oscar. I saw it at a screening in July and talked about it for months afterward. Great job!!! - @bonniekathleen
I want Janet McTeer to find a worthy display case for the spectacular bosoms she so memorably flashed at Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs. I want the entire cast of Bridesmaids to show up in matching fuchsia taffeta poufs with wrist corsages. And I want Jessica Chastain to float down the red carpet without touching the ground, dressed as the impossibly ethereal mother she played in The Tree of Life, in a perfect ’50s-vintage sundress and grassy, wet bare feet. (If her stylist has any sense, she’s rigging up a portable lawn sprinkler to accompany La Chastain everywhere she goes, dousing her in an ambient dewy mist.) - Dana Stevens, Slate
Conversation Twitter Poll: What are your predictions, expectations and recommendations for the 2012 Academy Awards?
THE ARTIST will win everything. - @DanSchindel
Predictions: Artist wins everything possible. Expectations: To be unsurprised. - @mousterpiece
I predict THE ARTIST takes home Best Picture/Best Actor/Best Director, twitter will erupt with angry bloggers - @PatrickTussle
The Descendants gets best pic. Silent frenchman gets best actor. Since the oscars banned Sacha Baron Cohen from dressing as a dictator I predict he shows up as a dick 'tater (potato dick) or BIN LADEN. - @whatcameoutofme
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.