A Big Morning for ‘The Artist’ and More Oscar Nomination Predictions

Michelle Williams--who will be nominated. Who else will join her? (Getty Images)

Michelle Williams--who will be nominated. Who else will join her? (Getty Images)

Tomorrow morning will bring that early-morning announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees–with the attention-desperate wrinkle that no one knows how many nominees there will be. Herewith, our predictions, for last-minute entries into your office pool (if yours is the sort of office at which Oscar nominations are the subject of a pool. Ours is not, which is why we’re writing a blog post).

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

We know any number of films between five and ten can be nominated for Best Picture, but with The Artist and The Descendants sucking up so much oxygen and so many first-place votes, it’s easy to imagine no sixth choice gathering enough steam. The likely sixth entry, if there is one, would be Moneyball–but aren’t many of those voters who love “adult dramas” more likely to vote in the buzzier Descendants first?

Best Director

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Mr. Allen, Mr. Scorsese, and Mr. Hazanavicius are clear locks, and Mr. Payne will get in on the strength of his film’s reputation. For the fifth spot, Mr. Fincher and Steven Spielberg seem the likeliest (The Help‘s debut director, Tate Taylor, did not particularly distinguish himself), but the total fade of War Horse‘s repute gives the advantage to Mr. Fincher for what would be his third nomination in four years.

Best Actor

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean DuJardin, The Artist

Michael Fassbender, Shame

Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for all manner of precursor awards for his role in J. Edgar, but that movie’s disappeared from theaters and from the minds of viewers who’ve seen many, many better movies by now (J. Edgar really is uniquely terrible). Anyone who loves biographical films about controversial figures gets to vote one in with Meryl Streep in Best Actress–and the surprise nominee might be Ryan Gosling, who does nothing too special in The Ides of March but who’d be a big enough star to stand alongside Mr. Clooney and Mr. Pitt.

Best Actress

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

Ms. Streep, Ms. Davis, and Ms. Williams have all won early awards, and Ms. Close helped produce her own movie, in which she plays a traditionally bait-y role as a female impersonating a male. The notion that four people in Oscar-bait roles would be joined by Tilda Swinton in the avant-garde We Need to Talk About Kevin stretches credulity–silent for long stretches and chronologically disjointed, this doesn’t seem like the sort of role that gets an actress to the Kodak. The narrative around Rooney Mara–plucked out of nowhere in the most extensive casting search since Scarlett O’Hara–seems to coalesce towards a surprise nomination.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn

Armie Hammer, J. Edgar

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Mr. Plummer is so far ahead here that the rest of the nominees seem plucked from thin air–an impersonation of Lawrence Olivier? Sure! A fairly quiet turn by a popular comic? Definitely! An attempt at a comeback in a movie no one saw? Okay! Armie Hammer’s nomination seems the least likely, but the energy he brought to J. Edgar could make him the one element of the film they nominate.

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Octavia Spencer, The Help

Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Three movies with huge amounts of apparent support carry their supporting stars towards a nomination, with the addition of Melissa McCarthy, taking the spot that some believe might have gone to Janet McTeer in the little-seen Albert Nobbs.

Best Original Screenplay

50/50

The Artist

Bridesmaids

Midnight in Paris

Young Adult

This category seems fairly open–besides the two Best Picture nominees, the three other top entries are not traditionally Oscar-y comedies. The Writers’ Guild of America nominated Win Win, a sort-of comedy also, here, but that movie seems even less up Oscar’s alley than Young Adult, a movie in which past winner Diablo Cody deals with her relationship with fame.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Descendants

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Help

Hugo

Moneyball

This category, on the other hand, has the real heat–it’s hard to imagine anything sneaking into a set of screenplays this popular. It’s also one of the few categories with true suspense as to the winner–because the real speculation only begins on Tuesday.