Now that the Golden Globes are behind us and the BAFTA’s are but a memory, it’s time, ladies and gentlemen, for the main event; The Academy Awards. In a year that has seen Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen return to fighting form, Academy favourites Clooney and Streep remain at the top of their retrospective acting perches and silent cinema given a more than welcome return to the big screen, we run through the list of who has the best chance of walking away with their hands full and who will leave empty handed.

Best Picture

The award every film-maker reaches out for, the golden statuette that both upcoming and veteran directors dream of collecting. This year the nominees are The Artist, The Descendants, Moneyball, The Help, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life and War Horse. The frontrunners for the award are The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo and War Horse. In a category which contains both Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, our predicted winner may be surprising given the fact that two pioneers of cinema have been overlooked. It would take a brave man to bet against The Artist picking up the top prize. Never before has silence made such a noise.

Best Actor

Winners from previous years contain the likes of Colin Firth, Jeff Bridges and Sean Penn; all at the peak of their acting ability, collecting the top prize for Best Actor, and this year the competition will be as strong as ever. George Clooney and Jean Dujardin are considered favourites for their roles in The Descendants and The Artist respectively and we can see no other likely outcome than to see either the experienced Clooney (earning his fourth acting nomination) or the relative newcomer Dujardin battle it out for top spot ahead of the likes of Demian Bichir, Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt. Dujardin to victor.

Best Actress

The standard of this category last year was a little disappointing. Natalie Portman picked up the award for her role in Black Swan, a commendable performance, certainly one that deserved a nomination, but to win outright? We’re not so sure. What was most impressive about Black Swan was both Darren Aronofsky’s direction and Mila Kunis’s turn in a supporting role. This year the category is likely to be one of the most predictable with Meryl Streep earning herself a staggering 17th Academy Award nomination for her leading performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady and fully expecting to pick up a third Oscar. Viola Davis could be a surprise threat to Streep.

Best Director

Last year was something of an annoyance for me regarding this category. I didn’t find Black Swan deserved all of the praise it was getting from audiences, it was a good film, but definitely not ‘great’. Both The Kings Speech and 127 Hours were far better films in my opinion, the latter especially. However, Darren Aronofsky’s direction was sublime, as was Danny Boyle’s for 127 Hours, so as to how Tom Hooper walked away with Best Director for The King’s Speech was beyond me. This year blends a mix of both experience and youth, with Woody Allen, Terrence Malik and Martin Scorsese bringing the former, and Michel Hazanavicius and Alexander Payne covering the latter. The Academy Awards is expected to go swimmingly well for The Artist, and we can see it continuing here with a Best director win for Michel Hazanavicius.

Writing (Adapted/Original Screenplay)

The adapted screenplay category this year has served up something of a treat. There were numerous book adaptations on show this year, most of which have enough gusto behind them to satisfy our needs for the forthcoming future. The Descendants, Hugo, Moneyball, The Ides of March and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy are the films competing. This could be the only award TTSS picks up this evening, with Oldman looking likely to lose out to either Clooney or Dujardin in the acting category. The Artist will also pick up another award for Original Screenplay, in what we expect to be a hugely successful night for Dujardin and co.

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