This is the situation now. Don't forget that I still haven't seen most of the nominated movies - they will open in Italy in the next few weeks - and seeing the movies helps alot. Plus, things could (only slightly, in some cases) change when the Guilds announce their winners. Anyway, this is where we are today:
I was desperately asking anyone here for a possible alternative to The Artist in this category - a title, just a title. And, like in Sicily when journalists go around and ask about the Mafia, I only got silence, and people looking elsewhere. Now the Academy has given me an answer: Hugo. The Descendants isn't out still, I know: it got very few nominations but those are key nominations... but it didn't get Best Supporting Actress, which would have been a sign of love, and not just respect, and I find difficult to believe that it can win Best Director - which doesn't prevent a Best Picture win, of course, but makes it less probable. It would get Picture, Actor and Adapted Screenplay: in theory it's possible, and it will obtain the votes of those who like family dramas better than movies-about-movies, but only after I see it I will have a clear idea about its chances. Hugo is the most nominated movie of the year and the work of an admired (more than beloved) director. It has the technical branches behind it, but not the powerful Actors branch. So I'd say that yes, we definitely have an alternative here, but not an extremely convincing one. The Artist is still the movie to beat (I know, Mister Tee, it's foreign, it's silent, it's in black and white... but don't you think that at this point, with ten nominations, it doesn't matter anymore? Its "weirdness", rather than an obstacle, is what makes it stand out from the crowd) and I think it will win.
In theory, I tend to avoid predicting Picture/Director splits, unless I see strong signals that it can happen, and let's face it: anyone who had the courage to direct a silent movie in 2011 will get many, many votes. It's also true, though, that it's here, more than in Best Picture, that Hugo could win over The Artist, if only because Scorsese is THE American director, not just "an" American director. And if he hadn't won before, and recently, I'd say it could happen. But for the moment I still think that Best Picture and Best Director will go to the same movie.
The most interesting Acting category, with three possible winners - Clooney, Pitt, Dujardin - with more or less (though for different reasons) the same chances of winning. I'm not even sure that the SAG will helps us much here - Clooney, for example, has never won there, but already has an Oscar.
Viola Davis doesn't have anything to do in The Help except looking noble and mistreated, but as we know it's more about the way a role is "perceived" that counts. To be fair, she's been ignored, and rightly so, by most of the precursors, but the Academy is a huge group, with an often populistic approach - it fully represents America, both in its good and in its bad sides, and it knows it, and it's even a bit proud of it. Plus, deep inside and probably unconsciously I'm sure that they REALLY feel that giving an Oscar to an overweight black actress will convince God to forgive America for its slavery, its racism, its Ku-Klux-Klan, etc. If there weren't another category where they will certainly honor an actress of this kind, Davis would definitely triumph here. Spencer's Oscar could damage Davis's chances - I know that I sound cynical and not politically correct, but it's the truth. And then there's Meryl Streep - will guilt feelings be stronger than the by-now overdue tribute to a great actress playing one of the most important women in contemporary history? I hope not and I still want to think that Streep will win - but then I also thought that Streep would have won over Sandra Bullock, whose Blind Side had more than a few things in common with The Help (including the fact - though admittedly it counts less with so many nominees - that both movies are also in the Best Picture category). My prediction? Right now, Streep, but I will know more after I see The Iron Lady this weekend.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Another interesting race - Max Von Sydow's nomination could certainly change things. Not - as I have read - because the three veterans will split votes (leading to Jonah Hill's victory?!), but, more simply, because Von Sydow could be a strong alternative to Christopher Plummer, who otherwise would have easily won. He could still win, and probably will, but Von Sydow isn't just any outsider - we are talking about one of the most admired living actors, if not the most admired, and one, by the way, that while deeply European has acted in many American movies. I can easily imagine many voters - one I'm sure of: Steven Spielberg - picking him because of his amazing career, his charisma, his masterpieces with Ingmar Bergman and even just because Max Von Sydow MUST have an Oscar (or, if you like, the Oscars must have Max Von Sydow). In a year when the two most nominated movies are about the remote past of cinema, Max Von Sydow represents this past. In the end, if Plummer wins, it will be because Von Sydow's movie is really too dreadful - but let's not forget that, unlike Beginners, it's still a Best Picture nominee.
ITALIANO wrote:BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The only category which we don't even have to discuss. Octavia Spencer will get more votes than the other four put together. Ah, if only surprise still happened today, like in the good old times..!
Octavia wont win. There is no way with the fast ball nomination McCarthy got. Octavia's nomination is along the line's of Karen Black's in 1970. Everyone had her locked in, she won the Golden Globe, she won all the critics awards. Oscar night came up and bam Helen Hayes came from no where and took it. Melissa is this year's Helen Hayes. And the only one in the category ( besides Jessica Chastain, who I might add was more memorable in The Help than Octavia was) who deserves it. Janet McTeer, Bernice Bejo, definitely wont win. I would love to see Jessica Chastain win over Octavia in a heartbeat BUT, it will come down to Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. Melissa for the gold though