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Oscar Breakdown: Snubs, Surprises and Initial Predictions

Oscar nomination morning is generally met with equally high amounts of shock and disgust. This appears especially true in 2012, as a new Best Picture voting system was put to the test for the first time, a number of highly respected performances were snubbed, and a movie with just a 48% on RottenTomatoes.com earned nominations in two major categories, including Best Picture. Here's our rundown of an especially chaotic nomination day, complete with winner predictions and major snubs.

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

Wow. Easily the biggest surprises of the day were the number of Best Picture nominees (9), and the inclusion of Stephen Daldry's 9/11 film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which has gotten some of the most vicious reviews of any film last year. The new voting system, which most thought would favor films with very passionate pockets of support by forcing Best Picture nominees to earn at least 5 percent of first-place votes, seems to not have changed much. But perhaps it's just a year without true consensus. Regardless, the field is solid and diverse. 

Predicted Winner: The Artist
Potential Spoiler: Hugo
Surprising Snub: We suspect that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have been the tenth nominee had last year's rules been in play, but its exclusion isn't a major surprise.

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

We knew four of the names: Allen, Hazanavicius, Payne, and Scorsese. Terrence Malick gets the fifth, making this one of the few categories we went 5/5 on with our predictions.

Predicted Winner: Hazanavicius
Potential Spoiler: Scorsese 
Surprising Snub: Neither David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) or Steven Spielberg (War Horse) would've been major surprises, but again, they were far from locks.

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

Though the Michael Fassbender (Shame) snub stings, we're thrilled for both Gary Oldman and Demian Bichir. The former is an Oscar nominee for the first time in his long and brilliant career. The latter was a stealth candidate who earned only a SAG nomination, but hopefully, this recognition means more people seek out his film. Plus, we predicted him. Always satisfying when a dark horse hunch pans out.

Predicted Winner: Clooney
Potential Spoiler: Dujardin
Surprising Snub: Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), who earned the lion's share of precursor nods.

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

Mara has been lurking all season long, but the lack of support for "Dragon Tattoo" in the other major categories would make you think she'd be left out, in favor of perhaps Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), who definitely had more support from the various critics groups over the past month. Regardless, it's Streep vs. Davis for the win in one of the year's strongest and tightest races.

Predicted Winner: Streep 
Possible Spoiler: Davis
Surprising Snub: Swinton

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

No Albert Brooks was a major surprise, probably the biggest of the day. We thought he could be a spoiler for the win, but the Academy clearly did not like Drive. He gets bumped in favor of Max von Sydow, the only other nomination for "Extremely Loud." Kenneth Branagh, Nick Nolte, and frontrunner Christopher Plummer make this the year of the "older" gentleman, but Jonah Hill lends some youth to the category and becomes the first member of the Apatow stable to earn a (well-deserved) nomination.

Predicted Winner: Plummer 
Potential Spoiler: None? Maybe Nolte?
Surprising Snub: Brooks

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

There's a reason comedies don't get nominated very often: Comedy is subjective. It's harder to form a consensus around a comedy film. I think that's what probably stopped Bridesmaids from getting a Best Picture nomination. Melissa McCarthy, it seems, was too funny to ignore, despite our generally lukewarm feelings about her work. But plenty of people who were head-over-heels for this performance, so expect it to be a major story until the ceremony. Still, it probably will come down to The Help's girls for the win.

Predicted Winner: Spencer 
Possible Spoiler: Chastain
Surprising Snub: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants


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