My Complete, Fearless 2012 Oscar Predictions! Who Will Win? Who Should Win? 

The 84th Academy Awards will pay homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The perceived Oscar frontrunner, “The Artist,” is a black-and-white silent movie, while one of the Oscar Best Picture contenders, “Hugo,” touches upon the life of Georges Méliès and his magical “Trip to the Moon” (1902). Even Marilyn Monroe is being honored via a Best Actress nomination for Michelle Williams who played the icon in “My Week with Marilyn.”

Amidst the glamour and the spectacle, this is one of the most unpredictable Oscars in recent memory. There is no clear-cut favorite. Even the awards darling “The Artist” may lose its voice on Oscar night. But I am marching forward to reveal my fearless 2012 Oscar predictions. (Read after the jump for my complete predictions on 24 categories, watch the video for the majors!)

Best Picture
*** "The Artist"

"The Descendants"
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
"The Help"
"Midnight in Paris"
"The Tree of Life"
"War Horse"

Will Win: “The Artist”

For being a silent film, “The Artist” has a lot to say. It evokes an important historical aspect of Hollywood by way of romance and drama. The film has already won much kudos from various award-giving bodies. If there’s one surefire category, this is it. “The Artist” will be heard loudly come Oscar night.

Best Director
*** "The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius

"The Descendants" Alexander Payne
"Hugo" Martin Scorsese
"Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen
"The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick

Will Win: “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius

My heart says Martin Scorsese gave his all in “Hugo.” The director defied gravity and created a 3D film for the very first time. Yet, defying gravity is also Michel Hazanavicius’ forte. By creating a powerful silent film, Hazanavicius, a French auteur, distances himself from his fellow nominees and brilliantly embraces Hollywood. Moreover, he already won a Directors Guild Award so that’s a good sign.

Best Actor
Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"
George Clooney in "The Descendants"
*** Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"

Will Win: Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”

My heart yearns for George Clooney’s powerfully understated performance in “The Descendants” but my mind tells me that it’s going to be Dujardin’s moment. In “The Artist,” he screams, yells, cries in silence, yet we feel every word. It’s quite miraculous!

Best Actress
Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs"
*** Viola Davis in "The Help"
Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"

Will Win: Viola Davis in “The Help”

I am rooting for Michelle Williams to win in “My Week with Marilyn,” but the Academy is in Davis’ favor. She already won a Screen Actors Guild award, not to mention a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress, so it’s safe to say, Davis will receive Oscar gold. And she’s a brilliant actress who always comes out memorable in any movie she’s in.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"
Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
*** Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Will Win: Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”

With Albert Brooks failing to receive a nomination for “Drive,” this category pretty much belongs to Plummer. His performance as an aging father who finally comes out of the closet at age 78 is simply brilliant. It’s also time for the revered actor to finally receive his first Oscar award.

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"
*** Octavia Spencer in "The Help"

Will Win: Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Who doesn’t love Spencer’s performance as Minny in “The Help?” Sure, she’s sassy, but she’s also sweet-natured and she made Bryce Dallas Howard’s character eat a very special pie! That alone deserves an award!

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
*** "The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

"Hugo" Screenplay by John Logan
"The Ides of March" Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
"Moneyball" Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

Will Win: “The Descendants”

It’s really a toss-up between “The Descendants” and “Moneyball” for me. I think both movies have brilliantly adapted each of their own material. But, “The Descendants” reaches far deeper into the human psyche better than “Moneyball.” And, because of its great script, the film is saved from meandering into the melodramatic category.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"The Artist" Written by Michel Hazanavicius
"Bridesmaids" Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
"Margin Call" Written by J.C. Chandor
*** "Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen
"A Separation" Written by Asghar Farhadi

Will Win: “Midnight in Paris”

The Academy loves Woody Allen and “Midnight in Paris” is the strongest movie from the director in recent years. The film takes us back to a magical time in Paris with Owen Wilson acting as our tour guide. This film is truly original!

Animated Feature Film
"A Cat in Paris" Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
"Chico & Rita" Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
"Kung Fu Panda 2" Jennifer Yuh Nelson
"Puss in Boots" Chris Miller
*** "Rango" Gore Verbinski

Will Win: “Rango”

It’s the strongest, strangest yet oddly heartwarming film among the nominees. And, “Rango” has been racking up awards most recently from the Annie Awards, animation’s greatest honor, well, after the Academy of course :wink

Art Direction
"The Artist" Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
*** "Hugo" Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"Midnight in Paris" Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
"War Horse" Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

Will Win: “Hugo”

I would have said “The Artist” but “Hugo” already won at the recently concluded Art Directors Guild award! Another good sign! Plus, don’t you just love the artistry of “Hugo?”

"The Artist" Guillaume Schiffman
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Jeff Cronenweth
"Hugo" Robert Richardson
*** "The Tree of Life" Emmanuel Lubezki
"War Horse" Janusz Kaminski

Will Win: “The Tree of Life”

Remove all the transcendental questions about life and living and all we have left is a brilliant cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki in “The Tree of Life.”

Costume Design
"Anonymous" Lisy Christl
*** "The Artist" Mark Bridges
"Hugo" Sandy Powell
"Jane Eyre" Michael O'Connor
"W.E." Arianne Phillips

Will Win: “The Artist”

I just love its brilliant costumes designed by Mark Bridges!

Documentary (Feature)
"Hell and Back Again" Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
*** "Pina" Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
"Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Will Win: "Pina"

Both my favorite documentaries, “Senna” and “Project Nim” were absent from the nominees so I’ll go with my third favorite, “Pina” from Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel.

Documentary (Short Subject)
"The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement" Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
"God Is the Bigger Elvis" Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
"Incident in New Baghdad"James Spione
*** "Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
"The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Will Win: “Saving Face”

A plastic surgeon performing surgeries on acid violence victims in Pakistan – it’s what the Oscars is all about!

Film Editing
"The Artist" Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Kevin Tent
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
*** "Hugo" Thelma Schoonmaker
"Moneyball" Christopher Tellefsen

Will Win: “Hugo”

Although “The Girl with the Dragon Tatto” may surprise!

Foreign Language Film
"Bullhead" Belgium
"Footnote" Israel
"In Darkness" Poland
"Monsieur Lazhar" Canada
*** "A Separation" Iran

Will Win: “A Separation”

Among all the Foreign Language Film contenders, “A Separation” is the only one to receive a Best Writing nomination as well. A good sign, plus, the film is emotionally heartfelt!

"Albert Nobbs" Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
*** "The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Will Win: “The Iron Lady”

I think “The Iron Lady” will win but come on, throw “Harry Potter” a bone!

Music (Original Score)
"The Adventures of Tintin" John Williams
*** "The Artist" Ludovic Bource
"Hugo" Howard Shore
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Alberto Iglesias
"War Horse" John Williams

Will Win: “The Artist”

If “Drive” or “Hanna” was nominated, I would choose either of the film, but “The Artist” comes very close to my heart.

Music (Original Song)
*** "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie

"Real in Rio" from "Rio" Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Will Win: “The Muppets”

Too bad the Academy is not allowing musical performances this year because I really want to see The Muppets take center stage!

Short Film (Animated)
"Dimanche/Sunday" Patrick Doyon
*** "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
"La Luna" Enrico Casarosa
"A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
"Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Will Win: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”

Brilliantly constructed, and much like “The Artist,” this film is about words – verbal and non-verbal!

Short Film (Live Action)
"Pentecost" Peter McDonald and Eimear O'Kane
"Raju" Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
"The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George
"Time Freak" Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
*** "Tuba Atlantic" Hallvar Witzø

Will Win: “Tuba Atlantic”

“Tuba Atlantic” is my favorite among the nominees so I’ll go with that one, since honestly, this category is always one of the hardest to predict.

Sound Editing
"Drive" Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Ren Klyce
"Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
*** "War Horse" Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Will Win: “War Horse”

Yes, the horse, the horse! I could hear every neigh, every gallop!

Sound Mixing
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
*** "Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
"Moneyball" Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
"War Horse" Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Will Win: “Hugo”

The sound matches its dazzling visuals!

Visual Effects
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
"Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
"Real Steel" Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
*** "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Will Win: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

How can you make Caesar more affecting? Oh that’s right, by effectively mixing visuals and the fine, fine job by the criminally underappreciated (by the Academy, at least) Andy Serkis! But truth be told, "Harry Potter" may get this award because it's the end of the franchise and the Academy is fond of goodbyes.

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Bridgit Mendler and David Henrie Interview for “The Secret World of Arrietty” 

Walt Disney Pictures is releasing the blockbuster Japanese film, “The Secret World of Arrietty,” in the U.S. on February 17th. Based on the beloved novel “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton and co-written by the iconic Hayao Miyazaki, this Studio Ghibli production (“Ponyo,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away”) is an enthralling, visually entertaining piece with a great cast featuring Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, and the legendary Carol Burnett. The main leads are Bridgit Mendler as Arrietty and David Henrie as Shawn.

I talked to Mendler (“Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Good Luck Charlie”) and Henrie (“Wizard of Waverly Place,” “How I Met Your Mother”) about their roles, why they wanted to do the film, being a part of Studio Ghibli, and the moral of the story.

Have Fun!

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Ben Stiller to Attend Oscars! Who Will He Channel This Time? 

In 2009, Ben Stiller presented the award for Best Cinematography alongside Natalie Portman and he showed up as the "confused" Joaquin Phoenix.

In 2010, the actor showed up as a Na’vi inspired by the Best Picture contender "Avatar."

So this year, Stiller is set to present at the 84th Academy Awards, but will he dress up as a popular character or will he just come as Ben Stiller?

We'll find out on Sunday, February 26th for the Oscar presentation live from the Kodak Theatre. Stiller will be joining the following actors as Oscar presenters:

Halle Berry
Rose Byrne
Bradley Cooper
Tom Cruise
Penelope Cruz
Cameron Diaz
Tom Hanks
Angelina Jolie
Ellie Kemper
Jennifer Lopez
Melissa McCarthy
Wendi McLendon-Covery
Chris Rock
Maya Rudolph
Emma Stone
Kristen Wiig

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Confirmed! Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts Team Up for "August: Osage County" 

It took nearly two years, but finally, Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Julia Roberts ("Eat Pray Love") are teaming up for the feature adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer-winning play "August: Osage County." In October of 2010, we first brought you the story of the two fantastic actresses in talks with the Weinstein Co. to star in the film to be directed by John Wells ("Shameless," "The Company Men") from a script adapted by Letts. (See The Perfect Pair -- Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts Team Up for "August: Osage County")

And tonight, I received a press release from The Weinstein Co (TWC) announcing that the Academy Award-winning actresses will star in the movie. The talks have concluded, and Roberts and Streep are attending the party! Roberts, after seeing Streep's "Iron Lady" performance said, "it has me even more excited and proud to co star with her."

Wells is looking forward to direct both stars, "I'm delighted and feel very privileged to have the opportunity to direct Meryl and Julia in this magnificent piece written by Tracy Letts. Meryl's extraordinary body of work made her the only conceivable choice to play Violet. Coupled with Julia's effortless mastery of every role she undertakes and her fearlessness as an actress, I'm confident this first ever collaboration with Meryl and Julia will produce an exciting and moving film."

I hope so!

Harvey Weinstein has been developing the movie since 2007. The play explores death and how it affects one family's dynamics when the patriarch dies.

Here's the rest of the press release from Weinstein:

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Letts' play made its Broadway debut in December 2007 after premiering at Chicago's legendary Steppenwolf Theatre earlier that year. It continued with a successful international run.

Streep has been cast as pill-popping matriarch Violet Weston, and Roberts will play her complicated adult daughter Barbara. Streep has been nominated for the 2012 Best Actress Academy Award® for THE IRON LADY, and recently won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe Award® for her performance.

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Welcome Back to the Oscars Chris Rock! 

Once upon a time, in 2005 to be exact, Chris Rock hosted the Oscars. True to his fashion, Rock's monologue was a biting satire of Hollywood where he announced that there's only a handful of stars in Tinseltown. The rest? They're just popular! Sean Penn scolded the comedian when he made fun of Jude Law. He made fun of everyone that's why it's kind of exciting to see him be back on the Oscar stage to present at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony.

Rock will be joining an ever-growing list of Oscar presenters such as:

Halle Berry
Rose Byrne
Bradley Cooper
Tom Cruise
Penelope Cruz
Cameron Diaz
Tom Hanks
Angelina Jolie
Ellie Kemper
Jennifer Lopez
Melissa McCarthy
Wendi McLendon-Covery
Maya Rudolph
Emma Stone
Kristen Wiig

The biggest night in Hollywood will happen on Sunday, February 26th live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood! (For complete 2012 Oscar nominations, click here; For my rants and raves, click here)

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