Oscar Contenders

Top Five Surprise Winners I'd Like to See at the 2012 Oscars

Doing my best to find something to care about this Sunday

Photo: Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Classics / Roadside Attractions / Drafthouse Films

The Oscars are this Sunday and yesterday I posted my predictions for who I believe will win, but today I thought we would look at the films and contenders we are pretty sure won't win, but would enjoy the moment if they did.

For me, this task wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Only three of the films in my top ten of 2011 were nominated for Best Picture and obviously none of them are top contenders. And if you look back at my RopeofSilicon Awards two of my Best Actor contenders were nominated, one from my Best Actress field, one from Supporting Actor, one from Supporting Actress and none from my Best Directors.

Not even one of the five scores I named or any of the three films I named for Best Cinematography were nominated. So how could I pick a "surprise" that would actually please me? So many of this year's Oscar nominees are such "blah" contenders I'm having a hard time mustering up much interest, but hopefully you can help me out and inject a little passion with your personal wishlist.

So, that said, have a look at my five surprises I wouldn't mind seeing (in no particular order) and share your personal wishlist and let's see if something we're hoping for can come true this Sunday night and give us something to care about.

Midnight in Paris
Best Picture

Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

It was #3 on my top ten for 2011 so clearly I would rather see it win more than any of the top three contenders, which includes The Artist, The Descendants and Hugo (you could also throw The Help in there if youi're feeling optimisitc), but just for its level of sheer magic I would like to see it win. If you want a runner-up I wouldn't mind seeing Moneyball announced and I would pay to see the number of heads that would explode should Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close win.

Everyone, even the people that rush to every blog post about the Oscars proclaiming how they don't matter, would turn beat red and begin hammering on their keyboards in every message board and comment section they could find if Exxtremely Loud won. It just might end up being the greatest moment in Oscar history if that happened.

Brad Pitt
Moneyball
Best Actor

Brad Pitt in Moneyball
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Jean Dujardin (The Artist) is likely to win the Oscar for Best Actor. If he doesn't then it will go to George Clooney whom I believe is far more deserving. Even more deserving still is Brad Pitt for Moneyball in my opinion. Though very much along the lines of Clooney's performance in its ability to reveal a layer of vulnerability, I felt Pitt's didn't have that occasional farcical aspect to his performance that ends up keeping it slightly more grounded. Then again, I've loved Pitt's work for a long time and watching him grow as an actor has been a pleasure. I believe he'll be rewarded some day, but like most Oscar winners, it will ultimately be for lesser work.

Rooney Mara
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Actress

Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Photo: Columbia Pictures

There were equal parts strength and fragility to Rooney Mara's portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that I don't think is easy for an actor to tap into. I will agree that some of it had to do with the physicality of Mara, but I'm not going to ding her just because she fit the role from a body type standpoint and ignore what was going on behind the eyes. She was great in this role; a role, that when you look at the rest of the contenders, certainly stands out in my opinion.

Janet McTeer
Albert Nobbs
Best Supporting Actress

Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
Photo: Roadside Attractions

Perhaps the fact I didn't like Albert Nobbs plays some role in my appreciation for the work Janet McTeer put in, but, more than any other performance last year, I looked forward to every opportunity she would be on screen while watching this film, if only to add some life and personality to a film that was like watching paint dry.

Bullhead
Foreign Language

Matthias Schoenaerts in Bullhead
Photo: Drafthouse Films

Everyone loves A Separation and it is going to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and I really have no problem with that, I agree it's a great film, but I like Bullhead just a bit more and I also needed a fifth category to make a top five. I considered going with Moneyball for Best Adapted Screenplay over The Descendants, but I didn't consider that much of a surprise.

I also considered Woody Allen for Best Director as I would like to see any of the four contenders other than Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) take that award, but in truth, I don't feel all that passionate about it one way or another. So Foreign Language got the fifth spot, if only because I felt it was a bit meaningless to care of A Morning Stroll won for Best Animated Short, though you could add that to my list if you like.


And so that does it for me, now it's your turn. What surprises could Sunday night offer you that would make the Oscars that much better? If you need a refresher when it comes to the nominees you can get the full list right here. Add as many as you can so I'll have a little something extra to talk about and consider this Sunday during the live blog.

Also, if you missed my Oscar predictions and your chance to vote on who you think will win click here and add your voice over there as well.

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  • Winchester

    I haven't seen enough of the nominees to in good faith offer up alternates.

    I've not seen any of the Best Actor performances yet and only Williams and Mara. Which, I think I would go with Williams of the two since she really did seem to make that whole film.

    But part of the problem is part having UK releases at times out of synch with Oscar season and simply not having the luxury of time to see them all.

    • Winchester

      My correction - I have seen Oldman but while I thought he gave a very good performance I'm not sure I felt it would justify an Oscar.

  • http://www.switchbladecomb.com Rolocop

    I would love to see Nick Nolte get it for WARRIOR. Seriously, if the majority of the Academy watched BEGINNERS and WARRIOR back-to-back, I can't see Plummer winning. Plummer is solid, but Nolte gives a career crowning iconic performance.

    I would love to see Martin Scorsese get it for Best Director.

    I would love to see Demian Bichir get it for Best Actor for A BETTER LIFE. So hopefully Clooney and Dejardin will split the vote, just like Nicholson and Cage split the vote for Brody back in 2003.

    Love to see Michelle Williams get it for MY WEEK WITH MARILYN.

  • Nick

    Agree completely about Brad Pitt and Rooney Mara.

    Other surprise wins I'd love to see:

    Best Picture - Moneyball or Midnight in Paris
    Best Director - Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
    Best Original Screenplay - A Separation
    Best Score - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    Best Visual Effects - Transformers 3 (I wasn't a fan of the film, but the fact that after three movies the guys at ILM aren't going to get an Oscar for their work is a crime and a shame)

  • http://arthurjcarlson.com Arthur Carlson

    More than anything, I want to see my favorite film of last year win Best Picture: Moneyball. I know it's a long shot, but man, that movie made baseball statistics fascinating and moving. A lot of that had to do with Brad Pitt's performance (my favorite of the year, so understated, and so very human). So, he'd be my other surprise. As well as Jonah Hill getting Supporting Actor. I'd also love to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy take Best Adapted Screenplay (my second favorite movie of the year) as it's such a layered, intelligent script that doesn't think it's audience is stupid. I appreciate that. Also, I'm in 100% agreement with Rooney Mara, since out of the best actresses, her performance will be remembered in ten years time whereas the other four will probably be forgotten about. It's the very definition of iconic role.

  • Risa

    I'd love to see Bichir winning. Apart from that, same as your other 4, plus Nolte for Warrior.

  • Criterion10

    Picture: Midnight in Paris
    Actor: Brad Pitt
    Actress: Rooney Mara
    Supporting Actor: Max von Sydow
    Director: Terrence Malick

  • Casper

    Janet McTeer or Berenice Bejo deserve Oscar. Come on. What did Octavia Spencer do better in her performance than those two??????

    • http://n/a Stiggy

      Melissa McCarthy's more deserving than McTeer and Bejo. Spencer and Chastain may still split the vote yet.

  • carrie

    i don't want to see Mara won because her Lisbeth is a victim in Fincher's DRAGON TATOO and i prefer Rapace's Lisbeth

    THE ARTIST(for the ambition)/Terrence Malick /Gary Oldman (for all his career) or Pitt/every one except Mara and Streep/Melissa McCarthy(just to see her with Bale on the stage and to see a comedy woman won)/Plummer/Midnight in Paris or A Separation(for best script)

  • Calvin

    Picture: Midnight in Paris
    Best Actor: Gary Oldman
    Best Actress: Michelle Williams
    Best Director: Woody Allen

  • Ravi Bhaskar

    Best Film: Hugo
    Best Director: Martin Scorsese
    Best Actor: Brad Pitt (liked him much more in The Tree of Life)
    Best Actress: Michelle Williams (Best performance after Tilda Swinton)
    Best Original Screenplay: Margin Call

  • Daniel Wolfe

    Here are my 3 upsets I'd like to see.

    Best Picture: From what I've seen of the nominees for best picture (Midnight In Paris, Tree Of Life & Moneyball) I'd give it to Midnight In Paris as well. Not a Woody Allen fan at all but there is something about this film. Incredibly enjoyable and bursting at the seams with charm. Definitely deserving since this is the only one from my top ten of 2011 to make the best picture list.

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: I loved this movie and it would be a shock if it won any of it's nominations. But if it does win by some miracle I hope it's Gary Oldman winning best actor. He was fantastic (as usual) in this film. But it deserves at least one award in my opinion.

    Best Actress: Rooney Mara by far. Amazing performance. Everyone can agree with that. All I keep hearing though is how she knocked it out of the park but she's either to young to win or hasn't paid her dues yet. Which is crazy because she really earned this one.

  • Andrew U.

    Best Picture: Hugo
    Best Director: Martin Scorsese
    Best Actor: Brad Pitt
    Best Actress: Rooney Mara
    Best Supporting Actor: Jonah Hill

  • Harry Fuertes

    Best Picture- Tree of Life
    Best Director- Terrence Mallick
    Actor- Brad Pitt or Gary Oldman (Clooney would be a 3rd place)
    Actress- Rooney Mara
    Original Screenplay- The Artist
    Adapted Screenplay-The Descendants

    I wish Tree of life would have gotten like 6 more deserved nominations.

  • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

    My 5

    Picture: Moneyball
    Actor: Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
    Actress: Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
    Supporting Actress: Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
    Director: Martin Scorsese (Hugo) or Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)

  • gumby

    I'd love to see driver come in with a hammer and take all the awards and surprise everyone.

  • maja

    I'm sort of ambivalent about this years Oscar batch...

    The upset I would most like to see is Hugo winning Best Picture. I would also like to see Michelle Williams win an Oscar because I think she's one of the best actresses around and deserves one but Viola Davis deserves this one and i hope she gets it.

  • Brett McNeill

    The only thing I want to happen at the Oscars this year is see The Tree of Life win all 3 of the awards it's up for. Drive winning it's sole nomination would be nice too. And come ON give something to Harry Potter

  • rewster79

    I would love to see Jonah Hill on stage accepting an Oscar. Go back in time 3 years and try to imagine THAT happening in 2012.

    I would also like to see Alexander Payne win for Directing. And Bejo for Supporting Actress -- Spencer was great, and I haven't seen McTeer's, but I just found Bejo really captivating.

    And this one's just for B-n-L....

    For Best Picture: WAR HORSE :)

    • med

      Rewster 79,

      what does B-n-L mean?

      Thanks...

  • Jake

    I would love to see anything but the artist win in all categories. George clooney's is impossible to ignore in the descendants. I hope viola davis wins.

  • Michael Vazquez

    Best Picture: Moneyball or The Help
    Best Actor: Brad Pitt (far more deserving than Clooney & Dujardin, had DiCaprio been nominated, I would have picked him easily)
    Best Supporting Actor: Jonah Hill
    Best Actress: Viola Davis or Rooney Mara
    Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain (The Help)
    Best Director: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
    Best Original Screenplay: Bridesmaids
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball (best adapted screenplay of 11' hands down)
    Best Original Score: War Horse
    Best Visual Effects: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes or Transformers 3
    Best Sound Mixing: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
    Best Sound Editing: Transformers 3

  • Ismal Ishak

    Best Picture: The Help
    Best Actor: Gary Oldman
    Best Actress: Michelle Williams. (if they give it to Tilda Swinton out of a sudden, let's see how many heads explode)

  • Feedback

    My Oscar wishlist

    Best Picture- Moneyball
    Best Director- Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris

    Best Actor- Brad Pitt in Moneyball
    Best Actress- Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Best Supporting Actor- Christopher Plummer in Beginners
    Best Supporting Actress- Janet McTeer in Albert Knoobs

    Best Cinematography- Jeff Cronenweth for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Best Editing- Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Best Costume Design- Mark Bridges for The Artist
    Best Art Direction- Anne Seibel and Helene Dubreuil for Midnight in Paris

    Best Visual Effects- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
    Best Makeup- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

    Best Sound Editing- Ren Klyce for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Best Sound Mixing- Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick for Moneyball

    Best Original Screenplay- Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
    Best Adapted Screenplay- Steve Zaillan and Aaron Sorkin for Moneyball

    Best Foreign Language Film- A Separation
    Best Animated Film- A Cat in Paris

    Best Live-Action Short Film- Tuba Atlantic
    Best Animated Short Film- La Luna

    Best Documentary- N/A
    Best Documentary Short Subject- N/A

    Best Original Score- The Artist
    Best Original Song- (tie) The Muppets, Rio

  • Feedback

    Brad how many times did you watch Extremely Loud? In any case, I think you should watch it again. I've followed your taste in films for quite some time and I'm stunned you enjoyed that film so much. That kid was so annoying I wanted to punch him in the face throughout the whole movie. The dialogue was so cheesy and the whole plot was really uninteresting, not to mentions the climax (and "twists") were really boring. The movie as a whole was mind-numbingly dull. At least to me. Just try watching it again, maybe you'll see it differently.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Three times and loved it all three.

      • Kristen K.

        I'm with you Brad. I have seen it twice & would happily see it again.

        • Alex Roggio

          I'm sincerely dumbfounded here.

  • Viral

    agree with you on Brad Pitt for Money ball and not as a surprise but i think he should deserve that award as a top contender - but with the weinstein weight behind DuJardin and clooney being clooney i dont see pitt standing a chance - which is sad cause moneyball was gripping and i am from india i dont understand baseball (we've got cricket and its better :P )

    disagree with all the love for midnight in paris - i was bored to death - and that shouldnt happen if Marion Cottilard is in the movie but it did and i hope it is a surprise looser at the screenplay

  • Adriano

    Would love to see Gary Oldman walking home with the Oscar. He's (in my opinion) by far the more deserving actor of the bunch.

    I loved Octavia Spencer, but Jessica Chastain delivered the true standout performance of the film. I'd LOVE to see her win.

    And if Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close won Best Picture... I'd be happy. (but Hugo is the one that most deserves it)

  • Irf

    Ain’t it weird that considering the political climate and severely soured allied relationship, Pakistan looks set to earn its first ever Oscar on Sunday? These times are interesting indeed.

  • http://thestar.com Linda Barnard

    Been rooting for Janet McTeer since I saw Albert Nobbs at TIFF in September. That's an brilliant performance. She deserves the Oscar.

  • Bogdan

    Best Director : Terrence Malick
    Original Screenplay: A Separation
    Supporting actress: Jessica Chastain

  • salar

    Brad pitt was far better in The Tree of Life than he was in Moneyball and unfortunately everyone seems to forget that.
    other than that, who cares about the awards. The best films are the ones that don't get Oscar noms. that's how i know which films to watch, 1) the films that are not oscar nominees and 2) the films that aren't on Quentin Tarantino's top of the year list.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      "and unfortunately everyone seems to forget that" or disagree, like me.

      • Michael Vazquez

        Same here, disagree. Moneyball is his best performance, it was not showy but very confident performance from Pitt. Loved his chemistry with Jonah Hill in the movie.