Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oscar Countdown: Actor

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 9:11 AM

In advance of the Academy Award ceremony on Sunday, Screen Grab will predict the winners in all categories.

Actor
: Demián Bichir, A Better Life; George Clooney, The Descendants; Jean Dujardin, The Artist; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Brad Pitt, Moneyball. The honor is in the nomination for Bichir, a Mexican actor probably best known before A Better Life for playing Fidel Casto in Steven Soderbergh's Che. Gary Oldman gives an excellent, minimal turn in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but the Academy usually doesn't reward that much understatement. Brad Pitt has matured into a excellent performer who commands the screen through his quiet magnetism, not his looks (and is even better in Tree of Life than in Moneyball). But it'll probably come down to Dujardin, who's irresistible charming in The Artist, and Clooney, who won Best Supporting Actor for Syriana and gives exactly the kind of performance the Academy likes to recognize in The Descendants. The each got a Golden Globe for Best Actor (in Comedy and Drama, respectively), which indicates the tightness of the race.

Prediction
: Dujardin. Dujardin's detractors have been dismissively comparing him to Roberto Benigni, which seems a little harsh. But it's true that Dujardin doesn't have a huge body of work and is primarily known for a handful of light comedies. Clooney and Pitt both probably deserve it more, but Dujardin nevertheless gives an utterly charming performance that seems to blossom within the silent constraint. Unless The Artist's support collapses among Academy members, he seems to be the favorite. Here's his unexpected musical number from OSS 177: Cairo, Nest of Spies:

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