Meryl Won't Win, and Other Surefire Oscar Predictions

This is the only ballot you'll need at your viewing party

These are the only Oscar predictions you will need this year. Even if they're way off base—I mean even though they're way off base—they promise to be wildly entertaining and full of eldergay wisdoms.

BEST PICTURE

After a slew of heavy-going winners dealing with sadism, war, and stuttering, the art-house mood has gone lighter than nitrous oxide. Rather than reflect peoples' troubles with even more despair, filmmakers have been churning out candy-colored nostalgia flicks, taking us back to a time when people didn't talk, they just moved their mouths a lot. At the top of the escapist trend is The Artist, which I didn't totally love (too many cute reaction shots of the dog, and the leading lady didn't look right, either), but it's an audacious stunt whose supporters are very vocal about it, and Harvey, a/k/a The Punisher, will get it the top prize.

Oscars? We're speechless.
La Petite Reine
Oscars? We're speechless.

Winner: The Artist

BEST ACTRESS

Michelle Williams is good, but she can't win because the real Marilyn Monroe was never even nominated. It would be weird! Viola Davis is superbly dignified, but her part in The Help isn't all that big, and it doesn't really sock till "You is kind." That leaves The Iron Lady's Meryl Streep, who was so into the skin (and makeup) of Margaret Thatcher, she was like an Epcot Center automaton of the woman—and no one will care that the real Thatcher was never nominated. Yes, Oscar's ageism always tosses mature broads to the curb—plus the Academy wrongly thinks Meryl has been honored enough just because she got two statuettes a million years ago—but I just don't see how anyone could take the prize from her this year. And even if Davis does get it, it'll be a victory for Meryl, who has valiantly promoted her for years. Wait, I just changed my mind.

Winner: Viola Davis

BEST ACTOR

I thought it was finally going to be Brad Pitt's year because he excelled in two divergent flicks and has improbably emerged as not just a terrific movie star, but also a beauty of an actor, whether in high drama or low comedy. And he's still with Angelina! Besides, George Clooney has already won (for supporting), and The Descendants was no Sideways. But there's no denying the fact that Clooney instills the film with heart and wisdom, deftly underacting in a way that truly defines ownership. He's that damned good. The disarming Jean Dujardin has gained momentum for The Artist, but I feel that on Oscar night, he once again won't be allowed to speak.

Winner: George Clooney

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain had an amazing breakout year, shining in a kazillion roles that showed off an impressive range and a gameness to explore it. But the voters want to give The Help some honors, and this category is another chance for them to do so. Oh, wait, Jessica was in The Help, too! Still, Octavia Spencer got to be sassy and funny as well as become the revenge catalyst that propels the story to some satisfaction. More Oscars to African Americans for playing maids? Yes, but I don't think the Gone With the Wind lady served the racists that kind of chocolate pie. (Sorry, Melissa McCarthy. Doo-doo dessert trumps sink crapping every time.) And Octavia gives good speech.

Winner: Octavia Spencer

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

This is the biggest lock since the one on Bristol Palin's underpants. Christopher Plummer should have been nominated for 1999's The Insider, but no one wanted to offend Mike Wallace. He finally got a nod for The Last Station two years ago, but that was Christoph Waltz's year and you don't fuck with a Nazi (as Plummer learned in The Sound of Music). And now it's Plummer's turn. His charm as a septuagenarian who comes out in Mike Mills's Beginners was a culmination of many years of delivering quirky goods. And you never once thought, "But he's really an octogenarian!" But wait. Max von Sydow is getting a huge push for making something out of his impossible role as a mystery man who communicates via note writing in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. And he's an octogenarian, too! Could he get crowned? Nah. Be quiet! (Side note: In Beginners, Mélanie Laurent also communicates via note writing. I know talk is cheap, but let's have some of it next year!)

Winner: Christopher Plummer

BEST DIRECTOR

I originally felt that even with The Artist copping Best Picture, Michel Hazanavicius couldn't win. He's not widely known, and I'm the only one who can even spell his name. And Marty Scorsese won't nab it because he already got his lifetime-achievement award for The Departed, and besides, while Hugo is a stunningly beautiful thing to soak in, it's narratively a tiny bit flaccid, and it didn't exactly tear up the box office. So I guessed this could be Alexander Payne's year, because whatever you thought of The Descendants, his direction was tight and focused and stayed short of sappy. But who am I kidding? Oscar night will hail The Artist, which is, after all, a true feat of direction. People are going to have to learn to spell . . . wait for it . . .

Winner: Michel Hazanavicius

BEST SONG

Things are so dire that there are only two nominees, both from anxious-to-please kiddie flicks. It's the Muppets song versus the Rio tune, and all I can think of is, "We've gone a long way downward from 'Over the Rainbow.'"

Winner: Who gives a shit?

musto@villagevoice.com

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