Spinning Platters Predicts the 2012 Oscar Nominations: What Should — and Will — Be Nominated

by Jason LeRoy on January 20, 2012

Ellie Kemper, Oscar hopeful Melissa McCarthy, and Wendi McLendon-Covey in BRIDESMAIDS

The Academy Awards are commonly referred to as the gay Super Bowl, and for good reason: they each represent the culmination of months of grueling, bone-crunching competition, tend to feature misguided musical numbers, and are ultimately about impossibly wealthy people fighting over trophies while the rest of us cheer from the breadlines. In short: it’s the best thing that happens all year. My post-Oscar depression is far more devastating than even the worst case of post-Christmas blues. Such emptiness. The nominations for this year’s 84th Academy Awards will be announced in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, January 24. After the jump, check out my picks for what should be nominated and what we’re likely to read about on Tuesday.

2012 Oscar Nominations (According to Spinning Platters Films)

Best Picture


The Descendants

Midnight in Paris

The Tree of Life

Young Adult

How will this compare to the real nominations?

Not surprisingly, my personal picks for Best Picture are also the top five films in my Best of 2011 list. The Descendants and Midnight in Paris are pretty much shoo-in nominees at this point, and Bridesmaids still has a solid dark-horse chance after getting a lot of love from the Guilds (Screen Actors, Writers, and Producers). The Tree of Life has managed to fall entirely out of Oscar contention, and to a lesser extent, so has Young Adult. You can expect to see The Artist, Hugo, The Help, and possibly Moneyball get nominated. The Artist seems to have a lock on winning.


Best Actor

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Michael Fassbender, Shame

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50

Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

How will this compare to the real nominations?

Clooney and Dujardin are locks, and Fassbender seems likely. Sadly, Gordon-Levitt’s remarkable work in 50/50 has been almost entirely ignored by awards season, and Take Shelter has proven to be too small for the Oscar radar; I’d also love to see Rainn Wilson get some recognition for Super, but that shit ain’t happening. Brad Pitt will probably be nominated for Moneyball, and despite its weak reception, J. Edgar will likely receive a nod for three-time nominee Leonardo DiCaprio.


Best Actress

Viola Davis, The Help

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Charlize Theron, Young Adult

Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

How will this compare to the real nominations?

Davis, Streep, and Williams are sure things, and also the only likely winners; the other two nominees are purely for decoration, because no one else has a chance. But you can expect the Oscar leading-category prejudice against comedies to rule out the marvelous performances of Wiig and Theron (who seemed like a likely contender for quite some time, and still has a maybe-outside chance). Kirsten Dunst is also deserving for her Cannes Best Actress-winning work in Melancholia, but hasn’t gotten any awards season traction; I’d love to see Elizabeth Olsen get nominated for Martha Marcy May Marlene, but she has a promising career ahead of her that will likely find her in this category at some point. In their spots, you’ll find five-time nominee Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs and either Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin.


Best Supporting Actor

Albert Brooks, Drive

Armie Hammer, J. Edgar

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Patton Oswalt, Young Adult

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

How will this compare to the real nominations?

Plummer has this one locked up, while Brooks and Nolte are shoo-in nominees. Hammer will likely be a casualty of his film’s poor reception, while Oswalt will suffer from Young Adult’s weak campaign; John Hawkes is also deserving for his chilling work in Martha Marcy May Marlene. In their places, you’ll probably find Kenneth Branagh for coasting through My Week with Marilyn and Jonah Hill — yes, we will now hear references to “Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill” — in Moneyball.


Best Supporting Actress

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Carey Mulligan, Shame

Kim Wayans, Pariah

Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

How will this compare to the real nominations?

Chastain and Woodley are locks, and most awesomely, McCarthy still seems primed for a nomination; it helps that this category has historically been receptive to comedies. And yet somehow, Mulligan — who bared body and soul while going toe-to-toe with Fassbender in Shame — has become awards season roadkill. One of the biggest surprises this year was Kim Wayans’ devastating dramatic turn as the disapproving mother of a lesbian teen in Pariah, but voters may think it’s too similar to the much more garish and theatrical character played by Mo’Nique in Precious. I’d also love to see some recognition for Sarah Paulson in Martha Marcy May Marlene and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Melancholia. Instead, you’ll see a nomination (and, likely, a win) for Octavia Spencer’s sassy spirited maid in The Help, and quite possibly Berenice Bejo, who seems poised to ride The Artist‘s massive wave of publicity to an Oscar nod.


Best Director

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

How will this compare to the real nominations?

Payne, Allen, and Fincher are all likely nominees, and despite my lukewarm feelings for The Artist, I still have to praise the dedication and vision of Hazanavicius, who will also receive a nomination. But once again, Malick has somehow found himself on the cutting-room floor (along with most of Sean Penn’s performance), despite helming the most daring, ambitious film of the year. It would also be great to see nominations for visionaries Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive and Lars von Trier for Melancholia, as well as the dependable Jason Reitman for Young Adult. But you can expect the great Martin Scorsese to be nominated for the not-at-all-great Hugo — and maybe even repeat his surprise Golden Globes win.


And, just because, here are my personal picks for the Screenplay categories.

Best Original Screenplay

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Diablo Cody, Young Adult

Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene

Miranda July, The Future

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo, Bridesmaids

Best Adapted Screenplay

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants

Hossein Amini, Drive

Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe, Higher Ground

Pedro Almodovar and Agustin Almodovar, The Skin I Live In

Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball


What do you want to see nominated for an Oscar this year? Other than Madonna and Elton John in the Best Original Song category, obviously, just so we can anticipate an escalation of their memaw fight at the Globes. Tell us in the comments, and check out the Academy Award nominations when they’re announced on January 24th. Look for our predictions about the winners before the ceremony on February 26.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Gordon January 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I really want “Man or Muppet” to be nominated for Best Original Song, but I doubt it’s happening. I look forward to Rise of the Planet of the Apes winning for Best Visual Effects, which is sort of an acting award for Andy Serkis.

Speaking of Andy Serkis, he may get a Razzie nomination before he gets an Oscar nomination. There’s a decent amount of Razzie buzz about his performances as The Chipmunks in the newest squek-quel, or however the fuck they spell it.


Marie Carney January 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Dude, I finally watched Hugo today and that pile of shit deserves nothing! I hate it when directors win awards because of past work, not the actual film being recognized.
Just had to get that out.

I have my fingers crossed for Bridesmaids. Either Melissa McCarthy or Best Picture would make me happy, but I’d rather have both happen!


Gordon January 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I’d never go so far as to call Hugo a pile of shit, but it isn’t as good as most of its press.

As for Bridesmaids, talk about an overrated movie! Sure, it’s funny for the most part, but there are funnier movies that didn’t get a sniff of Oscar buzz. Most of the “greatness'” talk about this movie is in apology for years of comedy sexism. “Look at this. Women can be funny using gross out humor, too! You go, girls!”

If funny were good enough for Oscars, Anchorman would have won Best Picture. The 40 Year Old Virgin would be this generation’s Titanic. And The Gods Must Be Crazy would remembered more fondly than that same year’s winner, Ghandi (Maybe it is). And which movie would have won 17 Oscars? Airplane!


Jason January 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I think it’s sexist to chalk Bridesmaids’ overwhelmingly positive critical and commercial reception up to an apology for sexism. There have been lots of female-driven comedies with moments of gross-out humor. Not only is this a very funny movie, it’s a transcendent and genuinely resonant character piece with a very fully-realized female friendship at its core. I’ve written about its strengths at length on this site, and it definitely doesn’t come from some “good for them” sense of apologetic condescension.


Marie Carney January 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Anchorman does not have the believable story and character arc that Bridesmaids does and 40 Year Old Virgin is great, but only Steve Carrell’s character is truly compelling. The supporting cast is funny, but they don’t emotionally connect for me.
And Hugo is the worst movie I’ve seen all year since at least Melancholia had Kirsten Dunst’s boobs. I don’t know how you can make a story of a plucky orphan boy and take all the life out of it so I feel nothing for the characters. Of course, I hated the book too.
And 2 hours and 6 minutes? Just end already!
I will say it looked pretty when I wasn’t distracted by blurry corners of foreground. What’s up with that directing choice? Or was that a 3D issue?


Marie Carney January 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

What I really meant to say above is funny shouldn’t be a disqualifier for the Oscars. Airplane maybe should have won best picture (don’t want to bother looking up who did win) since it resonated for so many people. Comedies should get more credit. When written well they can touch you just as deeply as a drama.


Gordon Elgart January 25, 2012 at 8:49 am

It’s really impossible to debate funny, so I won’t even try. You laughed a lot more at Bridesmaids than I did. That’s good.

But it’s really hard to deny the overall narrative of the positive reviews for this movie. Time Magazine called it “a turning point in feminism.” Salon gave it “three cheers for equality.” Slate called it “a giddy feminist manifesto.” There’s more. I do feel like this narrative has been used to inflate this movie beyond what it is.


Jason January 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm

No one’s denying that narrative, but that has nothing to do with the movie itself. The movie existed before the press. The first screening I saw of it was about a month before it came out, when all it had was a bad trailer that no one liked, and I barely survived the screening from loving it so hard. The movie can’t be blamed for the fact that it inspired lots of journalists to write trend pieces about women in comedy. Obviously it’s totally fine if someone didn’t think it was hilarious or didn’t connect with it emotionally, but what I don’t like is when people try to rationalize its acclaim as some kind of feminist affirmative action. I find that offensive.


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