The Oscar Warrior’s 2012 Picks – The Actors


With the Oscar nominations now less than two weeks away, now seems like a good time for the Oscar Warrior to put his money where his mouth is and commit to picking who he thinks will be nominated. Some nominations will be fairly obvious and maybe some not so much, but there are certainly a lot of neck-and-neck races for nominations with a lot of great performances and films vying for a few select slots.

This is a tough year to be predicting Oscars. There’s a lot of really good movies and performances and so many different ways the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences could go in terms of their picks. One interesting change this year is that the Academy has started an online voting program that may have hit a few snags as members have had problems that may limit voter turnout at least in terms of the nominations stage. Either way, the nominations deadline is Friday, January 4, with the nominations to be announced on January 10, so there’s very little that can be done about that now and we’re just going to go ahead and throw out our own annual predictions and hope this doesn’t affect things.

Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

For the last few months, this has been the most heated races at least in terms of the nominations even if there was one actor who immediately jumped to the front in terms of winning the Oscar. This was essentially a category with five slots and roughly eight or nine strong options to fill them and while the Critics Choice, Golden Globes and SAG nominations have certainly solidified things, there’s always room for surprises as we’ve seen in previous years.

The Contenders:

1. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Co.)

An actor who has risen to the A-list by traversing raunchy comedies like The Hangover and more serious dramas was finally given a role by David O. Russell that seems perfectly suited towards his strengths in both. Cooper has already received SAG, Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations which puts him in good company to receive his first nomination.

2. John Hawkes, The Sessions (Fox Searchlight)

Previous Oscar nominee John Hawkes’ brilliant performance as polio-stricken Bay Area writer and poet Mark O’Brien in Ben Lewin’s drama has received raves going back to the film’s debut at Sundance. It’s hard to deny that Hawkes’ commitment to the role is worthy, but both Mathieu Amalric and Javier Bardem were spurned by the Academy for playing quadriplegics.

3. Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables (Universal)

Jackman’s show-stopping performance as Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper’s movie musical follow-up to The King’s Speech (for which Colin Firth won an Oscar two years ago) has really gotten everyone’s attention, showing another side of Jackman that’s guaranteed to get him his first Oscar nomination.

4. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln (DreamWorks)

The clear frontrunner ever since Steven Spielberg’s drama about the 16th President first screened at the New York Film Festival, Day-Lewis is in line to receive his third Oscar in this category, benefitted greatly by playing a famous person but doing it in such a transformative way that this doesn’t seem like the same actor who previously won for Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. This is one of the surest bets on Oscar nights.

5. Denzel Washington, Flight (Paramount)

It’s been ten years since Washington won his second Oscar for his performance in Training Day and this is his first nomination since then, starring as an airline pilot whose fight with alcoholism is at the center of Robert Zemeckis’ first live action film since Cast Away (for which Tom Hanks was nominated).

The Alternates:

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master (The Weinstein Company)

Phoenix’s performance as a troubled, almost deviant, Navy man who falls under the sway of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s influential religious leader is pretty unforgettable, but so is his anti-awards diatribe which may have already gotten him on the Academy sh*t list. It’s an amazing performance that has received kudos going back to Cannes, but as Russell Crowe can attest, causing trouble can sometimes get you into trouble and Phoenix may have gone too far and gotten himself blacklisted, at least this year. Not receiving a Screen Actors Guild nomination is not a good sign.

Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock (Fox Searchlight)

It’s surprising that Hopkins’ performance as Alfred Hitchcock has gotten almost no love in the precursor award nominations which may mean he has no chance, although one has to remember that the Academy includes many older industry folks who may appreciate a veteran like Hopkins recreating a legendary filmmaker … or they may see this another make-up driven performance ala Leonardo DiCaprio who was snubbed for J. Edgar last year.

Our Personal Choice:

Alan Cumming, Any Day Now

As mentioned in our list of 10 Performances Deserving an Oscar, Cumming’s performance as a drag queen trying to adopt a teen with Down’s Syndrome is quite heartbreaking, but he also brings a humor to the role that helps make the heavy subject work.

The Winner

Daniel Day-Lewis should win his third Oscar for Lincoln with relative ease.

Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

If the Leading Actor category is interesting for who may or may not get nominated, the supporting category is just as much about who may win since at this point, there isn’t a clear frontrunner and there are a number of camps within the acting branch that could go one way or another in terms of nominations. The Academy often uses this category to award veterans who have never received nominations, but this year there seems to be more returning candidates than ever

The Contenders:

1. Alan Arkin, Argo (Warner Bros.)

Arkin is a favorite among the Academy, having pulled off the surprise Oscar win a few years back for Little Miss Sunshine. His humorous performance in Ben Affleck’s political thriller is one of the best things about it, but is it enough to get him his fourth nomination? With SAG and Golden Globe nominations under his belt already, there’s a good chance that it is.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company)

One of the late entries into the race is Quentin Tarantino’s violent Western and one of the performances that really stands out is DiCaprio’s plantation owner and slaver Calvin Candie, a truly diabolical human, which is something the Academy tends to honor, as DiCaprio’s co-star Christoph Waltz can attest, having won for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

3. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Co.)

With two Oscars under his belt and four other nominations, it’s shocking that it’s been 20 years since De Niro was last nominated, but his performance as Bradley Cooper’s father, who suffers from similar anger management problems, has really helped endear people to David O. Russell’s dramedy. SAG felt this way but the Hollywood Foreign Press didn’t.

4. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master (The Weinstein Company)

Having been awarded with an acting prize at Cannes, it seemed like an easy victory for Hoffman to get his second Oscar in this category in which he’s been nominated twice before. Although critics got behind the movie, mainstream audiences were puzzled which hurt Hoffman’s chances although all three precursor groups felt he deserved it, so he’s as good as gold.

5. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln (DreamWorks)

If there is any frontrunner in this category, it may be this three-time nominee who previously won in 1994 in this category for The Fugitive and whose performance as Thaddeus Stevens really stands out among a huge ensemble cast and Daniel Day-Lewis’ own transformative performance.

The Alternates:

Javier Bardem, Skyfall (Sony)

No actor has ever been nominated for an Oscar for playing a Bond villain, but no other actor has been nominated for three previous Oscars like Bardem. The Spanish actor has already received a SAG nomination, but was snubbed by the Golden Globes in favor of DiCaprio and Waltz from Django Unchained. There may not be room for two diabolical villains in this year’s category.

Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike (Warner Bros.)

Probably one of the actors who really deserves a nomination for his daring portrayal of the MC at a strip club who isn’t afraid to strip himself, McConaughey was very funny and entertaining in that role, but maybe the movie isn’t being taken very seriously among awards voters.

My Personal Choice:

Omar Sy, The Intouchables (The Weinstein Co.)

While Sy is probably more of a co-lead in this French blockbuster comedy, his hilarious portrayal of an ex-con who gets a job as caretaker to a quadriplegic was just a fantastic introduction to Americans who may not be familiar with his previous work with the directors or his popular French television show.

The Winner

We’re pretty confident Tommy Lee Jones will win his second Oscar this year for Lincoln.

Look for our predictions in the two actress races sometime tomorrow.