Each week in The Moviegoer, Nick Olson examines new and upcoming films.

On Sunday night, they will roll out the red carpet for the 2012 Oscar ceremony. I want to share some predictions, hopes, and regrets for all of the major categories. Then, at the end of the preview, I’ll share my favorite ten movies from 2011.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn); Jonah Hill (Moneyball); Nick Nolte (Warrior); Christopher Plummer (Beginners); Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Who Do I Hope Wins? Hill, Moneyball

Who Will Win? Plummer, Beginners

Thoughts: Honestly, this may be the toughest selection for me to make. I admired all of these performances. Branagh more than held his own with Michelle Williams and von Sydow was a bright spot in Extremely Loud. Warrior surprised me and Nolte delivered. I’ll go with Hill, if only because I have so much admiration for Moneyball, but you can’t go wrong here.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Bérénice Bejo (The Artist); Jessica Chastain (The Help); Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids); Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs); Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Who Do I Hope Wins? Chastain, The Help

Who Will Win? Spencer, The Help

Thoughts: It’s probably a toss-up between Bejo and Spencer. I admit: I’m going with Chastain with some “taking all performances into account” bias. It was the year of Chastain: she deserves an award for one of her several performances (even if it’s not necessarily this one).

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash); Hugo (John Logan); The Ides of March (George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon); Moneyball (Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin); Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan)

Who Do I Hope Wins? Zaillian & Sorkin, Moneyball

Who Will Win? Payne, Faxon & Rash, The Descendants

Thoughts: Descendants will win because it’s Payne and it’s Clooney and it’s Descendants (not bitter). Unfortunately, I admire the other four nominees more than this one. If Clooney is going to win any awards, give it to him for Ides! And I admire O’Connor and Straughan for cramming Tinker into the time frame that they did. But for a pure achievement in writing, I have to give it to Zaillian and Sorkin. To adapt that work of non-fiction into one of the most engaging narratives of the year is truly award-worthy.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius); Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig); Margin Call (J.C. Chandor); Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen); A Separation (Ashgar Farhadi)

Who Do I Hope Wins? Chandor, Margin Call

Who Will Win? Farhadi, A Separation

Thoughts: Confession — A Separation is the one significant 2011 film that I’ve  been dying to see, but just haven’t had the chance to yet. From what I hear, I probably would want Farhadi to win, but based on what I’ve seen, I have to hand it to Chandor for creating a screenplay that edge-of-your-seat when the scenes take place in boardrooms in front of computers. Well done, sir.

Best Actor

Demián Bichir (A Better Life); George Clooney (The Descendants); Jean Dujardin (The Artist); Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy); Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Who Do I Hope Wins? Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Who Will Win? Clooney, The Descendants

Who Should Have Been Nominated? Michael Shannon (Take Shelter); Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life)

Thoughts: As we’ve been told repeatedly, it’s Clooney’s year. For the record, I’m way more okay with Clooney winning “Best Actor” than with Descendants winning “Best Picture.” Pitt was excellent in Moneyball. He was probably my favorite actor this year (with apologies to Fassbender), but he should have been nominated for The Tree of Life. I’ll go with Oldman, though, who accomplished so much with such an understated role.

Best Actress

Nominees: 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)

Who Do I Hope Wins? Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Who Will Win? Streep, The Iron Lady

Who Should Have Been Nominated? Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia); Juliette Binoche (Certified Copy); Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)

Thoughts: I’m disappointed that Dunst, Binoche, and Olsen all missed the cut. They were all deserving, I think. I’d even consider Binoche ahead of Williams. But, wow, Williams was stunning as Monroe, and she may have been just as good in Meek’s Cutoff. She’s one of our best actresses right now for certain.

Best Director

Nominees: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist); Alexander Payne (The Descendants); Martin Scorsese (Hugo); Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris); Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)

Who Do I Hope Wins: Malick, The Tree of Life

Who Will Win? Scorsese, Hugo

Thoughts: Look, you might expect me to say that Malick should definitely win this (he should), but I won’t be totally disappointed if Scorsese wins. Let’s be honest: giving us hope that 3D might actually be worthwhile is almost as significant an accomplishment as depicting the universe’s formation in 20 minutes. Hazanavicius might steal it from Scorsese, which would be a shame.

Best Picture

Nominees: The Artist; The Descendants; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; The Help; Hugo; Midnight in Paris; Moneyball; The Tree of Life; War Horse

Who do I Hope Wins? The Tree of Life

Who Will Win? The Artist

Thoughts: Among this list? It’s not even close. Of this list, Tree, Hugo, and Moneyball would be nominees if I were choosing. I enjoyed Midnight in Paris and War Horse but they wouldn’t be on my short list. And, well, you know how I feel about the other four films. If it’s not going to be Tree, I’m hoping Hugo takes it away from Artist.

What would be my ten favorite 2011 films right now?

1. The Tree of Life

2. Certified Copy

3. Of Gods and Men

4. Hugo

5. The Mill and the Cross

6. Moneyball

7. Martha Marcy May Marlene

8. Take Shelter

9. Meek’s Cutoff

10. Attack the Block

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Buck; Tuesday, After Christmas; Melancholia; Win Win; Cave of Forgotten Dreams; The Muppets; Midnight in Paris; The Ides of March; Carnage; Margin Call; Drive; The Trip; Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol; The Trip; Young Adult; Jane Eyre

Movie I need to see again before ranking, but could be in my top ten: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Movie I need to see, but a likely top ten candidate: A Separation


  1. Wow! You have covered all the bases here. Sadly, I’ve not seen enough of these films, but I will definitely be using your predictions, choices, and analyses in my Netflix queue over the coming year. Thanks for such an insightful and helpful piece.

  2. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else having similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

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