29 January 2012

Oscar Zone, Vol. III, Part 2: Best Actor Chances

Norwegian Morning Wood takes careful time to analyse Oscar Nominees each year and often times we are way, wayy off. Usually the Acting Categories are fairly simple to predict, though and we run the show without incident. The past two years we have been 4/4, but the winners aren't nearly as clear-cut this time around. Nevertheless, it's time we take a look at everyone's chances, starting with the Supporting Categories:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Nick Nolte for Warrior (2011)
This is kind of an undervalued nomination. Nick Nolte hasn't really been a hot actor in...ever. His mere nomination reminds me of NBK and how much of a crazy dude this cat is. Warrior is an underseen film without a great deal of award momentum behind it although it perhaps deserves some. UFC can't replace Boxing as the prestige American Fighting Sport as much as UFC Films will not replace Boxing Films as Oscar Gold.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Jonah Hill for Moneyball (2011)
Finally, finally, the fat kid from Superbad (2007) has an Oscar Nomination. This is actually a great year for Comedians at the Oscars and Jonah's nomination here is pretty sweet in its concept, rewarding the kind of kid who is appearing in Channing Tatum comedies later on in the year. Still, there's a very remote chance he wins, although Jonah may turn towards pictures more prestigious than Accepted (2006) and Grandma's Boy (2006).
Chances of Winning: 2/5

Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn (2011)
This is actually Ken's fifth nomination although his first for Supporting Actor (previously nominated for Lead Actor, Director, Writer, and Live Action Short). My Week with Marilyn has a nice acting buzz around it, but Ken's on no one's radar this year and he'll go home empty-handed again.
Chances of Winning: 3/5

Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
This is the year of the geezer, for sure. Max von Sydow is about the only thing that's not sappy and emotionally manipulative to come out of this movie and he has enough career prestige to be in the running here. Nevertheless, he's in an awfully bad film and he's not going anywhere here.
Chances of Winning: 4/5

Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010)
This fake poster sums up this film nicely. Chris Plummer has been chugging along as a go-to geezer for a while now and the moment is right for him to bump up to Oscar-Winning status. Supposedly Acceptance Speeches can help fuel the Academy's mind and he had a keen mixture of class and humour in his Golden Globes win. There's no reason to ignore him here in a relatively weak category this year.
Chances of Winning: 5/5

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs (2011)
There's always that "Who?' in these kinds of categories. No one has ever heard of Janet McTeer or has a reason to vote for her. Albert Nobbs isn't the kind of great immortal movie that can bring up a more unknown performance like this. There's no good luck for Janet here.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids (2011)
Novelty performance of the year? The love Bridesmaids received this year is fantastic, and it's important for the Academy to recognize some goofy supporting roles every now and then (see also: Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder [2008]). That said, although Melissa really broke through with this role for both herself and Women in Comedy, it would be a huge shocker if the Academy handed her a Statue for pooping in a sink. The Academy has more dignity than that, unfortunately, and this is gesture for Melissa more than anything else.
Chances of Winning: 2/5

Jessica Chastain for The Help (2011)
Jessica had a really big year in 2011 and it'll culminate here. She was out-acted in her own movie by Octavia Spencer, though, and I don't see her bringing it all home this year. I'm betting on an Amy Adams / Melissa Leo kind of thing where the young, white, prettier girl goes home empty-handed. That said, barring overexposure, this won't be Jessica Chastain's last stop here.
Chances of Winning: 3/5

Bérénice Bejo for The Artist (2011)
The producers of The Artist successfully lobbied for Bérénice to get into this category and that may pay off, as it's far less competitive than the Best Leading Actress Category this year. Although The Artist is the favourite this year, with plenty of nominations everywhere, winning Acting should elude it. That said, the silent nature of The Artist requires an entirely different, antiquated skill set in emotionally expression. If the acting branch of the Academy recognizes that it may bode better for Bérénice but I don't think that will happen.
Chances of Winning: 4/5

Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011)
I don't think The Help was a good film at all but there is certainly enough precedent to help Octavia win this. The popularity of The Help in the sense that it makes audiences feel progressive because it's a film about White People patronizing Black People, is similar to the explosion of success of The Blind Side, which helped Sandra Bullock to a Statue. It's also similar to the sympathy towards blacks that pushed Mo'nique to an Oscar the same year. Whereas this is certainly not a lock like it has been last year, it's the best prediction that can be made.
Chances of Winning: 5/5

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir for A Better Life (2011)
There seems like an epidemic of these kinds of nominations this year. No one on earth knows who Demián Bichir is and there is little to know chance he can transition that into a glory Oscar night. In a ceremony already full of self-congratulation the competition between A-Listers in this category this year is immense.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Gary Oldman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
I would really like to see Gary take home his first nomination on Oscar Night. His lifetime of spectacular acting has gone largely unacknowledged and there's certainly precedent for the Academy doing so, especially with the chance to vote for him since he was deemed a longshot to be nominated. For that reason, though, his chances seem slim. Despite his track record Gary doesn't have a ton of momentum this year, nor does Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in comparison to some of the other actors nominated here. It's a longshot, for sure.
Chances of Winning: 2/5

Brad Pitt for Moneyball (2011)
Moneyball was Brad's passion project for a while and it's great that he has some acknowledgment to that here. His character here is very typical for the more recent kind of Brad Pitt role, the fast-talking dude who persists in the wake of constant failure. Brad certainly deserves a Statue at some point, but I don't think this is going to be it, while it was a high-profile role, the next two are higher.
Chances of Winning: 3/5

Jean Dujardin for The Artist (2011)
I'll treat Jean the same as Bérénice. It takes a lot of talent to act as well as these two did without sound. If the Academy can recognize that then Jean will grab Oscar. The Frenchman has the kind of classical good looks to nab the votes, if only he wasn't going against the most classical good looking actor ever.
Chances of Winning: 4/5

George Clooney for The Descendants (2011)
The Descendants has been George's best role in years, and that's with years of great roles. As the winner of the Best Dramatic Actor Golden Globe he's going against the winner of the Best Comedic Actor, Jean Dujardin. I've got to believe that Clooney has more of a history with the Academy and they'll lovingly vote up one of their own who is so entrenched as a poster boy for the Hollywood System. Although he's the classic kind of winner it's tough to cheer against him. Especially when he smiles.
Chances of Winning: 5/5

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs (2011)
Glenn Close really creeps me out here. She makes for a very bad looking man. I really am pretty freaked out just looking at that thing. For that and probably plenty of other reasons, Glenn won't bring home an Oscar this year, although the fact that she stands the least chance of winning says something about how tough this category is this year.
Chances of Winning: 1/5

Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Personally I believe this to be one of the greatest pieces of acting I've seen in years. It hasn't captured attention like it should have though, whether that be for the tough to digest subject material, the low profile of Rooney Mara, or a lack of general award buzz around The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Rooney was a longshot to make it into the final five here and the remaining three nominees are primed to duke it out pretty well.
Chances of Winning: 2/5

Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn (2011)
This is the kind of performance tailor-made for Oscar. Generally the Academy loves biographic tales like this and biographies of someone like Marilyn Monroe, pulled off as well as Michelle pulled it off and in this specific style should attract plenty of attention. She's the kind of young actress that the Academy has also loved awarding before and she has some good history with nominations. She somehow won a Golden Globe for this, as Seth Rogen put it, hilarious comedy and could very well make the push here.
Chances of Winning: 3/5

Viola Davis for The Help (2011)
Right now Viola and Meryl are in a virtual tie for winning this category, with Viola slightly ahead. I don't think that this performance was as iconic or captivating as Meryl's though, and if Octavia wins for Supporting Actress I've got think Viola also winning would be black chick winning overload. Hollywood isn't that progressive, after all. Then again, if voters are inclined towards Octavia, the support may be out there, although the Supporting Category is far less competitive.
Chances of Winning: 4/5

Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady (2011)
Meryl by far has the history with the Academy all set, and she turns into Margaret Thatcher with such ease that it's tough not to recognize her. What hurts her is how shitty The Iron Lady is and how there hasn't been a tremendous buzz or exceptionality to her performance. Again, it will come down to her or Viola most likely, and it's almost a virtual toss-up right now. I'll give Meryl the advantage due to her history with the Academy and for her already edging out Viola for the Golden Globe.
Chances of Winning: 5/5

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