The Oscars pomp and pageantry is extremely loud and incredibly close almost a midnight (or day depending where you are) away. Which artist, craftsmen, and (silent) picture will win and join the glorious winners and descendants of Hollywood? Help is on the way with our annual predictions (Moneyball statistics don’t apply).

Hollywood’s most self-important celebratory night will descend into a deafening silence when the winners are handed the Oscar statuettes at the Kodak Theatre tomorrow (Feb 27).

Silence from disbelief all 9 Best Picture films have combined box office revenue of less than a singular Harry Potter movie or sale of Edward Cullen figurines. Silence from the ladies that Ryan Gosling (and his photoshopped abs) and Michael Fassbender will not be in the audience. Or Eddie Murphy. Silence that James Franco and Anne Hathaway are invited back to the awards after Franco’s valium and Hathaway’s epinephrine-induced hosting gig last year.

Silence as a fitting tribute to The Artist, the second silent film in history to perhaps win Best Picture. History shall be the order of the day as the Academy members celebrate films made in remembrance of the silent movie era and illustrious filmmakers (Georges Melies) and hobnob with the old guard from Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman to host good ol’ Billy Crystal.

And lastly, silence because a dinosaur might just appear onstage at the 84th Annual Academy Awards (just ask Terrence Malick).

Best Actor

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Brad Pitt proves he is more than just the sexist man alive with another nomination for his astute managerial role in Moneyball. And while we are most impressed with Gary Oldman’s understated acting in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the spotlight is on the tight contest between George Clooney and Jean Dujardin.

Clooney strips his suave demeanour and tux down into all-American polo shirts and loafers in The Descendants as a father struggling to connect with his daughters and a husband grieving over a dying wife who has cheated on him while Dujardin stars as a silent film actor forgotten and replaced by talkies. Both performances are an observation of how men handle and overcome despair with unease and Djuardin stands out much more without speaking a word in the silent film. The acting was on his facial expression and slightest gesture, which is a tres bien achievement. Besides, the French actor’s win at SAG shows he’s in good company.

Best Actress

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Old-timers Glenn Close and Meryl Streep return to the consciousness of the Academy alongside relatively younger actresses Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams. Williams lights up as the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn and her Golden Globe win is a sweet justification while Mara suffers for her art (piercing, tattoos and that rape scene in The Girl with Dragon Tattoo) and is rewarded with her first nomination.

The winner is too close to call between Streep and Davis, incidentally friends and two of the finest actresses to grace the screens over the past decades. Streep, nominated 17 times and last won for Sophie’s Choice in 1983, stars as The Iron Lady in a mirror-like impersonation of Margaret Thatcher right down to the voice, inflection and gait. Viola Davis is The Help, whose emotional and heart-wrenching performance is captured in her forlorn gaze when talking about her late son; frightened yet resilient poise in an intense racially charged environment; and her tender voice when she comforts a white child. Davis to win narrowly.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Young folks are rooting for Jonah Hill, whose weight and career transformed with a subtle performance in Moneyball. Max Von Sydow, in a year known for silent acting, portrays a  traumatised German mute haunted by the horrors of war in Extremely Loud. In another year he could have won but this year belongs to 82-year-old Christopher Plummer instead for his flamboyant gay widower character in Beginners. About time Plummer wins an Oscar since this is surprisingly Plummer’s first nom after a career spanning 6 decades.

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, underrated since the days of Gilmore girls, literally sank and nailed her  hilarious role in Bridesmaids (who could forget the restroom sink scene) and earned a well-deserved nomination. We would love her to win but we know Octavia Spencer is the frontrunner here who has been sweeping the awards from SAG, Golden Globe to Critics’ Choice for her feisty Minny Jackson role in The Help. And it clearly shows the depth of her acting when she’s able to stand head and shoulders above a stellar ensemble from Davis to fellow nominee Jessica Chastain.

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris 
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

A thematic face off is setup between Martin Scorsese and Michel Hazanavicius, the veteran and the newcomer, the stalwart and the new kid on the block. Ironically, both directors’ films run parallel on the subject of filmmaking and the love for the movies. It is most likely voters will vote Best Director together with Best Picture so the head says Hazanavicius but the heart goes to Scorsese for directing in a new medium with so much passion (and this time it doesn’t revolve around gangsters and agents).

Best Picture

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

If there’s any contest, it’s underdog Hugo against favourite The Artist where both films are centred on the history of film and art of filmmaking, a theme that resonates with an industry that is more than happy to give one another a congratulatory pat on the back.

Other 7 notable nominees include the inspirational The Help (which won the Screen Actors Guild award), melancholic drama The Descendants, non-typical baseball movie Moneyball,  polarising art-house film The Tree of Life, and the epic War Horse thanks to its pedigree (shout-out to Spielberg). Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close rounds off with a low-key undeserving nomination.  

Considering how The Artist has received most buzz and picked up major awards such as the Producers Guild and Directors Guild, the silent black-and-white movie, which reminds the Academy of a romantic era where movie stars are idolised and movies are cherished, will be a resounding yes for Best Picture.

And the other award goes to…

Original Screenplay

Woody Allen’s words come off Midnight in Paris like magic akin to Owen Wilson’s character in the movie. We adore J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call for its pointed and sharp writing but Allen should win.

Adapted Screenplay

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy based on John le Carre’s heavy tome is a marvellous work by the late Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan in trimming words and cutting to the chase but it feels heavy handed at times. Moneyball charms without being fan zealous on baseball jargon but The Descendants should win for navigating a family drama without bordering on hysteria or worse, sitcom cliches.

Animated Feature

Rango for making a Western animated feature and scaly creatures look hip.


Film Editing

Hugo since Scorsese’s longtime collaborator and editor Thelma Schoonmaker is a sentimental favourite.



The Tree of Life for its dazzling camera work depicting a vast universe, cosmos and a family.


Art Direction

Hugo for bringing to life a beautiful train station set in romantic Paris.


Costume Design

The Artist picks up another award for its dresses and tux wardrobe in a relatively weak category.



We believe Meryl Streep to be The Iron Lady thanks to its creative aging makeup.


Visual Effects

Rise of the Planet of the Apes because we are really frightened by the simians. Have you seen the faces of the apes up close on motion capture?


Sound Mixing

Hugo for making a kaleidoscope of minute sounds from ticking clocks to metallic contraception set against the violin musical background.


Sound Editing

Drive for its atmospheric sound portraying a gritty Los Angeles.