We're going to try something a little different this year. Since Hollywood wasn't able to provide enough drama in its films this year (honestly, the 2011 crop is pretty tragic), we decided to add a little something to this year's Oscar predictions by performing a duet.
Of course, duets might be a touchy subject with the Academy, since Best Song is down to a historic low - two contenders? Really, Hollywood? Still, grousing about the Oscars is easy but predicting the outcome isn't always straightforward. There are actually a few tough calls in this year's roster (though, in the end, we pretty much agreed on most). Our picks and reasoning follow.
See how our Oscar predictions pan out when the 84th Annual Academy Awards broadcasts live on ABC, Sunday February 26, 2012.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Demian Bichir, "A Better Life"
George Clooney, "The Descendants" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
Jean Dujarin, "The Artist"
Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"
LEXI: Everyone loves Clooney, and he's going to love walking away with the best actor award. He bypasses the charisma and gives a raw yet subtle performance as a man sideswiped by grief. Dujardin has arguably the most difficult role in the lot but he will be overlooked as "The Artist" sweeps other big categories. And where is "Shame" star Michael Fassbender in this lineup? Looks he was given, er, the shaft.
JOE: I wonder about this one. Clooney gives another in a string of great performances, but there's no denying that Dujarin had the toughest job this seaon - acting with virtually no dialogue. And Oldman is an Academy favorite, for those who saw, understood, and stayed awake for "Tinker Tailor". Still this feels like Clooney's year. Gotta agree with you.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
Max von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
LEXI: This one belongs to Plummer. No question.
JOE: I'd debate you if there were anything to debate about.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help" - Joe's pick
Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady" - Lexi's pick
Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"
LEXI: While I don't agree with it, I think Streep will win. I couldn't help but feel like she was channeling Julia Child during her performance of Margaret Thatcher, as her voice jumped randomly to higher octaves. (Sorry Meryl, you're still my girl.) I'd give it to the often-overlooked Davis.
JOE: I'm not so sure about this one. While I loved Steep and "Iron Lady", the film wasn't as well-received as I would have thought. It's almost like there's a Streep backlash going on. That could lead to an upset this year. It's a (ahem) Close call, but this could go to Davis.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
LEXI: The proof is in the pudding - or in this case, the pie. My money's on Spencer for her mischievous, memorable performance in "The Help."
JOE: In an alternate, funnier universe, Melissa McCarthy would walk away with this one. But, yeah, this will go to Spencer.
LEXI: Uhh, I guess "Rango?" Next?
JOE: I'm going to say "Rango" only because it's the only one I cared to see. But I also respect its gonzo sensibility. It's certainly the most unique of the bunch.
ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Hugo" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
"Midnight in Paris"
LEXI: All the aesthetic awards will go to "Hugo." It's the only 2011 film I could see being turned into a family-friendly 3-D theme park ride, so that's saying something.
JOE: While I'm not looking forward to the theme park ride, yeah, "Hugo" will get this one.
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
"The Artist" - Joe's pick
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
"Hugo" - Lexi's pick
"The Tree of Life"
LEXI: Here's to you, "Hugo."
JOE: I could see "The Artist" taking this one. The Academy may see "Hugo" as relying too heavily on CG to be a true achievement in cinematography.
LEXI: Raise your hand if you saw "W.E." Thought so. Marty's got it.
JOE: Sigh, yeah. But c'mon, someone must have seen one of those costume pieces, no? Ok, fine, "Hugo".
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"Hell and Back Again"
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front"
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" - Joe's pick
LEXI: I heart documentaries, but I've seen none of these. Shrug.
JOE: I'm going to say "Paradise Lost 3" because it's got a ton of steam behind it.
ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
"The Artist" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
LEXI: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is great until the last 20 minutes when it feels like the cinematic version of a run-on sentence. "Moneyball" is a fine flick but not for its admirable editing prowess. Let's go with "The Artist" because it flows together without a hiccup.
JOE: Yes, yes it did.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
"The Adventures of Tintin", John Williams
"The Artist", Ludovic Bource - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
"Hugo", Howard Shore
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Alberto Iglesias
"War Horse", John Williams
LEXI: "The Artist" has (almost) no dialogue, so music is an essential part of the story. P.S., the only music I remember from "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is the sound of collective snoring.
JOE: Well, duh.
LEXI: Nobody can compete with Kermit, let alone a Brazilian bird.
JOE: This whole category's a tragedy. But the only thing worse would be if the Muppets didn't win.
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" - Lexi's pick
"Hugo" - Joe's pick
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
LEXI: Oh phew, "Transformers" was nominated for at least something this round. Close call. But yeah, putting the snide aside, Fincher's film will probably win this one.
JOE: I'm giving this one to the little toy robot. Though the visuals may have been assisted by computers, the sound was old school Oscars.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, "The Descendants" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
John Logan, "Hugo"
George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, "The Ides of March"
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, "Moneyball"
Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
LEXI: I'm betting on "The Descendants". It is incredibly well written and put together. Tackling both comedy and drama without overdoing either is a challenge, but the screenplay totally pulls it off.
JOE: Seems like "Moneyball" could be a dark horse winner here, but Payne is a favorite. Though it's not his best work, he'll probably get this one.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids"
J.C. Chandor, "Margin Call"
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
Asghar Farhadi, "A Separation"
LEXI: There is no screenplay here more original than "Midnight in Paris," where Allen brings a new spin to idolizing the past. Every line out of Hemingway's mouth is classic. Everything else is icing.
JOE: To quote Hemingway: True dat.
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist" - Lexi's pick; Joe's pick
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"
LEXI: Since "The Artist" is going to take home best picture, Hazanavicius will take home best director. There's a chance for an upset here for Scorsese, since he didn't win for all those amazing films he made way back when, but it's a serious longshot.
JOE: Yeah, it's hard to justify giving it to anyone but Hazanavicius. That was truly an achievement in direction. I love ya, Marty, but you have to hand it to him.
LEXI: Who would have guessed a silent black and white film would reign supreme in 2011? But it shall.
JOE: Talk about the little film that could! The only competition is "Hugo". They're both love letters to filmmaking, so either one would be fine. But "Hugo" is too long by about twenty minutes, whereas "The Artist" is a pitch-perfect piece of silent filmmaking. Let's give it to "The Artist".