Continual shifting is to be expected over the coming months, but one thing is set in stone: I am going to chronicle it. I've been addicted to Oscar predictions since the Academy threw me for a loop in 2008 and gave Best Actor to Sean Penn over Mickey Rourke (a travesty!) and I realized just how fun it was to get them right - or to be proven wrong. Every month I will post changes in my predictions, and I can see how the odds change on my predictions as the year progresses. I hope you enjoy.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio - J. Edgar
Leonardo DiCaprio, three-time Oscar nominee (never won) in a biopic directed by Clint Eastwood (whose films over the past 8 years have earned a total of 9 acting nominations -- 4 of which won) about controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and his life as a closeted homosexual. What about this doesn't sound like Oscar material? I will go on the record saying that there is absolutely no chance that DiCaprio doesn't receive a nomination for his performance here, and I believe it would be safe to bet that he could very well win it in the long run: Without having even seen it.
- 100% chance
2. George Clooney - The Descendants
Early reviews for the Alexander Payne-directed drama/comedy have been fair, most of which (even the negative reviews) have praised Clooney's pitch-perfect performance. It fits well with Clooney's bi-yearly nominations (2005 - Syriana, 2007 - Michael Clayton, 2009 - Up In The Air) and though he has already won an Oscar in the past, never for Best Leading Actor, and with the help of Payne as the director (who in his past 2 movies has garnered 5 Oscar nominations for his actors), Clooney is almost a shoe-in for a nomination, and many people are already predicting a win.
- 95% chance
3. Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Praise has been pouring in from every direction when it comes to both Dujardin's performance and the movie itself, but will the fact that it's a silent movie deter voters? People always say that the Academy only votes for "old people movies", but will this be too retro for them to handle? It's hard to predict, but for now I feel he has a viable chance.
- 90% chance
4. Michael Fassbender - Shame (or A Dangerous Method)
From here on out it gets much more difficult. Fassbender's performance in Shame has earned nothing but praise from everyone who's seen it, but will its potential NC-17 rating hurt it when it reaches voters? Possibly. If it is given an R-rating, I would say that Fassbender has an 90% (or better) chance of earning a nomination, but few actors in recent years have been able to overcome the disadvantage of the NC-17 rating. As for A Dangerous Method, if Shame is saddled with an NC-17 rating, David Cronenberg's Freud/Jung biopic might still earn Fassbender a nomination, though his performance here isn't nearly as lauded by critics.
- 70% chance
5. Brad Pitt - Moneyball
There is no doubt in my mind that Pitt wouldn't be a reasonable nominee, but Moneyball's PG-13 rating (which, surprisingly, does seem to have adverse effects on the amount of awards movies seem to get) and Pitt's fairly "normal" character may not stand out to Academy voters when the time comes to fill the ballot. I would say at this juncture, Pitt has a chance, but not a very good one.
- 60% chance
Other potential nominees:
Gary Oldman - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
- 40% chance
Michael Shannon - Take Shelter
- 35% chance
Ryan Gosling - The Ides Of March
- 30% chance