1) David Fincher/The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
That snub last year is still burning (and it will for a while), and that’s not just a personal thing…it’s one of those long lasting atrocities that the Academy will need to live down. If The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo turns out to be as electrifying and as unforgettable as it is primed to be then maybe the Academy can claim this to be Fincher’s masterwork. It certainly looks to be a director’s piece, and we all know that Fincher can work the hell out of it.
2) Stephen Daldry/Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud
The Academy wants very badly to give him an Oscar. In fact, if it weren’t for the snub last year, I’d say that Daldry had this locked up. He’s been nominated for all three of his previous films, and this film in particular has BAIT written all over it. If he nails the tone and pulls out memorable performances than he’ll be waiting in the wings to snatch this away from Fincher.
3) Terrance Malick/The Tree of Life
He’s been out of the game for a long time (mainly because he rarely makes a film) and the buzz around this film surely points a finger back at Malick as the REASON to see this film (all of his works are primarily directorial showcases), so I have a strong feeling that he’ll be in for the running this year. However, unless Tree of Life strikes hot and winds up being a strong contender for Best Picture, I can’t see him winning.
4) Clint Eastwood/J. Edgar
Sure, he took a small hiatus with his films over the end of the last decade, but to say that Oscar didn’t appreciate them would be a lie since, well…they still garnered nominations even if he didn’t. Oscar LOVES Clint, and this is a biopic that screams bait and will most likely win an Acting Oscar. I don’t see him as a threat to the win (unless J. Edgar does a surprising sweep) but he’s surely in the running for a nomination.
5) Michael Hazanavicius/The Artist
The buzz for The Artist is steadily growing, and while it may seem foolish to predict a ‘lone director’ nominee in a year of ten Best Picture nominees, the new rule allows for this to be more logical, and the Director’s body is a different voting animal and this is said to be a director’s film so I kind of think that this is a VERY possible thing.
6) Clooney/The Ides of March
7) Spielberg/War Horse
8) Alfredson/Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
9) David Cronenberg/A Dangerous Method
A quick look at this lineup and it feels a tad too prestige, but then again that isn’t all that uncommon in this particular race. I feel pretty good with my top five, and even my top ten. I had really anticipated this being Cronenberg’s big breakthrough year with the Academy, but that blasted trailer ruined a lot of my anticipation for the film and painted it in such a bad light (and yet I’m still holding onto those leading men as potential nominees). The one to watch here may be Tomas Alfredson. I have him (and his film) a little low for now, but I have a good feeling about this film. He’s already proven himself a proficient director, and this film is far more up the Academy’s ally than his previous effort.
I still don’t know what to make of Contagion. The premise is interesting and the cast is outstanding and Soderbergh is, well…Soderbergh.
I once thought that JJ Abrams stood a chance, and then I saw the film. I was always skeptical. He’s no Spielberg…he’s not even a Christopher Nolan, and Nolan couldn’t even get a nomination in a year when he was almost guaranteed one (TWICE!) so I was always on the fence, and now I’m completely over it on the side that says he’s not coming close to one, even if the film actually makes the ending Best Picture ballot. Super 8 is no ET, even if it calls it to mind occasionally.
God, how I wish the second half had been as AMAZING as the first.
That’s it for now…I’ll get into the acting categories next week.
OTHER UPDATED PREDICTIONS: