Three Dirty Letters

Three letters greatly handicapped my Oscar predictions: SAG. Long a sage predictor for who will be nominated for an Academy Award, the Screen Actors Guild nods are the most reliable bellwether for future Oscar glory. And I completely forgot about them. Had I even glanced at those nominations, I would certainly have added two actors to my roster—Max Von Sydow of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and A Better Life’s Demián Bichir—put one, Christopher Plummer, into his rightful Best Supporting Actor mix rather than the Lead Actor category I had egregiously assigned him to, and slotted Jessica Chastain for Best Supporting Actress in . . . The Help instead of The Tree of Life. (Ironically, I think her best performance this year was actually in The Debt.) Forgetting Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids—especially when I had her co-star Kristin Wiig as a dark horse Best Actress candidate and the film itself predicated for Best Picture—was entirely my own omission.

But all was not lost. In fact, given everything mentioned above, I’m pretty proud of my picks—especially nailing the entire Best Actress category, correctly identifying all five leading ladies, most notably the to-die-for Rooney Mara and her bravura performance in the exquisite The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My Best Actor nods were also spot-on: I got four of the five nominees correct and the only one I missed (Bichir) I had no room for him due to the Plummer imbroglio. (Aside: Captain Von Trapp is now my prediction to win Best Supporting Actor on this evening’s telecast.)

While my gut served me well with the actress who played Lisbeth Salander, it was not so apt when it came to deciding the last of my Best Director nominees. I went with that film’s director, David Fincher, and should have gone with the more obvious choice: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist’s auteur. It was an odd choice (of mine), given that Fincher was nominated last year for The Social Network and I had selected The Artist as my favorite movie of 2011.

Overall, I correctly predicted 16 of the 25 major category nominations and had Albert Nobbs’ Janet McTeer as my sleeper selection for Best Supporting Actress and Hazanavicius for director. And I loved the nomination of Nick Nolte in the vastly underrated and under seen film Warrior. The only Best Picture I missed with was Bridesmaids; I correctly identified the other five—The Artist, The Descendents, The Help, Hugo, and Midnight in Paris—but didn’t think such a high number, nine, would be picked. (The other noms went to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse.)

All in all, I’m quite pleased with my prognostications, shocked that Shailene Woodley was not nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and am very much looking forward to Billy Crystal’s triumphant return to the Oscar stage! And despite the crazy momentum The Artist currently has—a phenomenon I’m not allowed to glean from when I pick my winners before the nominations are announced—I’m sticking with The Descendants to pull off a Crash-esque upset in a few hours!

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