With the announcement of the Oscars this week, it begins the annual guessing game of who will win what? There’s even a competition to win one million pounds this year for guessing correctly all the winners. I am afraid I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the winners, but this is going to be an exciting year, ripe for upsets. Maybe because it hasn’t been a vintage year or all the frontrunners seem to have their faults.

All the UK critics have had their moans about the shameful oversight of the more “European” films such as Shame, Drive and We Want to Talk about Kevin and how well the more “American” films have done such as The Help, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (despite having an English director). Even the beloved Aardman animations didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Arthur Christmas.

But who will win what?

Surprisingly Hugo has 11 nominations compared to The Artist 10, but the Artist is expected to win the main awards. The strongest favourites are in the supporting categories. The Best Actor in a supporting role throws up some very interesting names in Max Von Sydow of The Exorcist fame and Jonah Hill getting an Oscar nomination in his first dramatic role. The clear frontrunner by a mile is Christopher Plummer, who takes the meaning of a “late developer” to new levels in Beginners. His portrayal in the film is poignant and touching and his strong body of work will ensure that he will have his hands on the statuette on the big night.

Almost as strong a favourite is Octavia Spencer in The Help. You would have thought her votes might get divided up by people also voting for her co-star Jessica Chastain, but Octavia’s performance is the kind of underdog performance much loved by the Academy voters. As much as I loved Bridesmaid, what is the Academy thinking giving Melissa McCarthy a best actress nomination?

The really interesting battles comes in the main characters, everyone has said Meryl Streep has her name already etched on the statuette, but her favourite status isn’t as strong as you would believe. Hot on her heels are the popular actresses Viola Davis for the Help and Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn. No one doubts Meryl gave a cast iron performance as Mrs T in The Iron Lady, but the film itself has been panned for its focus on her dementia rather than political achievements. Will this be her downfall? We doubt it but it will keep us on our toes watching it on the night.

George Clooney is similarly a weakish favourite for the Best Actor gong. However this is more likely to be just a two horse race between the silver fox and the fallen Artist, that is played brilliantly by Jean Dujardin. George Clooney has been winning most of the plaudits but you really get discard Jean Dujardin especially if The Artist picks up momentum and the “sweep” effect takes place and will George’s heavily left wing political view hinder his chances. Probably not considering he has won a best supporting actor gong before.

Best Director and Best Picture normally but not always go hand in hand (as the case when Crash won Best Picture to steal Ang Lee’s Best Director thunder in 2006). This should be Michel Hazanavicius and the Artist’s year. A wonderful film paying homage to the great golden era of silent cinema. If Martin Scorsese had not won Best Director with The Departed already (far inferior film to the original Infernal Affairs), Michael Hazanavicius might be in trouble, but in all likelihood he should start writing his Oscar acceptance speech.

With so many tightly contested races, it should be a fun night/morning of Oscar watching, we await with bated breath to see if silence is indeed golden.

Baldwin Ho

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