Monday, January 16, 2012

Predictability Rules at the 2012 Golden Globes: Are the Oscar Winners Already a Done Deal?

Can Oscar resist a Gallic beauty in a tux? I hope not!
It's beginning to look a lot like it will be yet another predictable year at the Oscars.

Although the nominations won't be announced until Tuesday, January 24, a clear pattern has already emerged. After the January 13 Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics Choice Awards and the Hollywood Foreign Press's Golden Globe Awards two days later, the 2012 Oscar frontrunners are all but set in stone.

Sound familiar? It should. In recent years, there's been little variety among the picks made by the Critics Choice Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Oscars. Win one, win all -- at least for the most part. You'd have to go way back to 2003, when Adrien Brody, in a twist that I didn't see coming until they showed his Oscar clip, stole Best Actor right out from under the noses of Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) and Daniel Day-Lewis (The Gangs of New York) for a true Oscar miracle.

Since then, Oscar has kept his surprises mostly to the odd bone -- an out-of-left-field nomination -- thrown to an actor or actress who hadn't figured much into the precursor contests (Laura Finney for The Savages, Tommy Lee Jones for In the Garden of Elah). This year looks to be pretty much the same. Best Picture and Best Director seem likely to go to The Artist and Martin Scorcese for Hugo, respectively, on February 26, and Globe winners George Clooney (Best Actor, Drama, for The Descendants), Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress for The Help) and Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting Actor for Beginners) should start editing their Oscar acceptance speeches.

For Oscar's consideration!
Not that I have a problem with those choices -- Spencer and Plummer are more than deserving, and I'll see about Clooney this week when I finally see The Descendants, which just opened in Melbourne on January 14 -- but a bit more friendly competition would be nice. Will we ever again get to see Brad Pitt -- star of three Best Picture nominees since 2006, and this year, the likely star of two (Moneyball and The Tree of Life) -- walking onstage to accept anything? It's been 16 years since his Best Supporting Actor Globe win for 12 Monkeys! Always a nominee (well, this year's Moneyball nod, a foregone conclusion from the minute the film opened last September, will be only his third bridesmaid experience), never a winner. At least Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy's Oscar traction -- which I still think should have gone to co-star Rose Byrne -- apparently stops here.

Right now the only race that appears to be an actual race is Best Actress. Viola Davis (The Help) took the Critics Choice Award on Friday, and Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) won the drama and comedy Best Actress Globes, respectively, but I'm still going to go not so far out on a limb and declare this the year of Streep. It's hers to lose.

Which means that the only remaining excitement left this Oscar season will likely come on January 24, when we find out who's in the running. I'm still hoping for a last-minute Best Actress surge for Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) -- as much as it pains me to say it, she, not Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), should take that fifth slot alongside Davis, Streep, Williams and Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin). Meanwhile, Dunst's co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg, like Byrne, would be a lovely addition to the Best Supporting Actress roster.

And if there's any justice in the Best Actor race, we've seen almost the last of Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), and Ryan Gosling (Drive), Woody Harrelson (Rampart) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50) -- give or take Michael Fassbender (Shame) or Michael Shannon (Take Shelter), whom I predict to snag spots 4 and 5 if DiCaprio is left out -- will duke it out for the fourth and fifth Best Actor slots. They'd join Clooney, Pitt and Globe comedy winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist), who I'm secretly hoping will triumph with the Academy because he's so handsome, and it's about time that Oscar, who occasionally goes home with Gallic beauties, bestows that honor on a male one.

The movies, like life, are full of surprises. Shouldn't the Oscar race be, too?
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