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2012 Oscar preview: For a change, the best picture will win Best Picture

February 20, 2012|Matt Pais | RedEye movie critic

At Sunday's Oscar ceremony, the Muppets aren't performing. "Drive"was snubbed in seemingly every category. And one of the most awful, insulting movies of 2011 is up for Best Picture. That's a triple. Freaking. Whammy.

So I'm thrilled to turn the frown upside down and say that "The Artist," the only great movie nominated for Best Picture, will take home several of the night's biggest awards. With that, let’s check in on the front-runner, the next-strongest competitor and more for the big-ticket categories. Not that you have money on it, right?

Best Picture
Front-runner: “The Artist.” The crowd-pleaser just screams Oscar despite, you know, being silent, black-and-white and featuring a lot of French people.
Competitor: “Hugo.” For voters who like their cinematic nostalgia even more academic and direct.
Really?? “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Voters obviously confused their ballots for a list of the worst movies of the year.
Snub: “Drive.” Will be remembered as more of a classic than any of the nominees.
The pick and my vote: “The Artist”
Also nominated: “The Descendants,” “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life,” “War Horse”

Best Actor
Front-runner: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist.” Deserves the praise for a brilliant silent performance and a face made for the role.
Competitor: George Clooney, “The Descendants.” He’s very good, but love for the movie hasn’t really lingered. Maybe because it’s just OK.
Really?? Demian Bichir, “A Better Life.” A good performance, yes, but not nomination-worthy. The movie made no impact upon its release.
Snub: Michael Fassbender, “Shame.” Simply the year’s best performance. Having nothing to do with the performance by his junk.
The pick and my vote: Dujardin
Also nominated: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball,” Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”


Best Actress
Front-runner: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady.” Just because she’s Meryl Streep, not because it’s more than a good impression of Margaret Thatcher.
Competitor: Viola Davis, “The Help.” The lead performance of an acting showcase.
Really?? Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs.” A performance that goes nowhere in a movie that convinces you for about three seconds.
Snub: Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia.” Really. Her career-best work.
The pick: Davis. I don’t think people will want Streep to win for such a mediocre movie. But it’s close.
My vote: Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The category’s biggest, most useful transformation.
Also nominated: Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn”

Best Supporting Actor
Front-runner: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners.” He’s pretty much won every pre-Oscar award.
Competitor: Max Von Sydow, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Apparently got a huge ovation at the Oscar luncheon. Maybe people were just clapping because food was being served.
Really?? Jonah Hill, “Moneyball.” He’s fine in the movie, which wouldn’t suffer much without him.
Snub: Albert Brooks, “Drive.” Scarier than you ever knew he could be.
The pick: Plummer
My vote: Nick Nolte, “Warrior.” He has experience as a hard-ass, but in "Warrior" he takes it to a different level.
Also nominated: Kenneth Branagh, “My Week with Marilyn”

Best Supporting Actress
Front-runner: Octavia Spencer, “The Help.” Wouldn’t be upset if she wins.
Competitor: Berenice Bejo, “The Artist.” Perhaps “The Artist” will win everything it’s nominated for?
Really?? Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs.” She’s better than Close, but still.
Snub: Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants,” who would have been my choice to win.
The pick: Spencer
My vote: Bejo
Also nominated: Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”

Best Director
Front-runner: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist.” The movie’s executed beautifully.
Competitor: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo.” Deserved the nomination but not the win.
Really?? Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life.” I know, I know, most people think he’s a genius. I do not agree.
Snub: Lars Von Trier, “Melancholia.” He should not be awarded as a person. Only as a filmmaker who delivered a spectacular film.
The pick and my vote: Hazanavicius
Also nominated: Alexander Payne, “The Descendants,” Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais

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