Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Friday, 24 February 2012

Potential Oscar Shocks

The Oscars seem predictable this year, but are there some surprises on the horizon?

The awards season finally comes to an end this weekend with the 84th Academy Awards, the Oscars, taking place on Sunday evening in Hollywood.  What originally held some promise to be one of the most keenly contested races for quite some time, has, like so many races before, become a procession in favour of one film.

There is no real doubt that The Artist will be dominating the world’s press for the last time on Monday morning, but Oscar has shocked us before and there is the slim possibility that it may do so this year. So, in the most probably vain hope of surprise, let’s go looking for some potential Oscar shocks.

Well, the Supporting Acting categories are all sewn up. There is no way on earth that either Christopher Plummer (Beginners) or Octavia Spencer (The Help) won’t be celebrating on Sunday night. However, in the Leading Acting categories there are few potential shocks.

In fact, one shock has already happened. A few weeks ago, it looked like Meryl Streep was going to walk to her third Oscar for her astonishing portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, but then she lost the Screen Actors’ Guild award (SAG) to Viola Davis (The Help). Davis is well respected and her film is well liked, and it is pure Oscar bait, so she is highly likely to walk away with the award, much to the surprise of many.

Best Actor appears to be between Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and George Clooney (The Descendants), with Dujardin looking like the clear favourite having won every award going. Any chance that the excellent Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) had of winning seemed to vanish when he lost the BAFTA to Dujardin. However, you can’t rule out Clooney. If the Academy decides to spread the awards, this may be one of the categories where The Artist loses out.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Best Director is the best prospect for a surprise. Whilst The Artist has swept all before it so far, it is not in fact the film with the most Oscar nominations. That honour goes to Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s family film about the birth of cinema. The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius is the favourite, but Oscar has come to love Marty and has a lingering sense of guilt for having taken so long to give him an award. If he ends up on stage on Sunday, it won’t be completely unexpected.

Finally, we look at Best Picture, which The Artist is going to win, but, if it doesn’t (though it will) then the most likely candidate is The Help. There are two key indicators of who is headed for the Best Picture award. One is the Producers’ Guild Award, which The Artist won, and the other is the Best Ensemble Cast award at the SAGs, which was won by The Help. The reason why the latter is important is that most Academy members are actors and their ensemble award is a good indicator of where their sympathies lie. The Help’s triumph shows a lot of fondness for it, and it seems like the only contender who can challenge The Artist.

It won’t win though. This whole article has really been clutching at straws. In perfect honesty, I am expecting the expected on Sunday, with The Artist deservedly, the quite boringly, cleaning up. I am more than happy for The Artist to win, but it would just be nice to have one, small surprise.

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