Final 2012 Oscar Predictions from Experts and Users

  • Publish Date: February 23, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments

(No) spoiler(s) alert


Well, there's not much suspense heading into this year's ceremony. The Artist will win best picture, best director, and duke it out with Hugo in the technical categories, while The Help will help itself to a pair of acting Oscars. At least, that is the overwhelming opinion of nearly every expert heading into the home stretch. With so many pundits predicting the same outcome in so many races this year, it makes any surprises that much more unlikely.

Sunday's 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will be televised live on ABC from the venue formerly known as the Kodak Theatre at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT (with a red carpet pre-show beginning at 7 ET / 4 PT). Billy Crystal—a late replacement for Eddie Murphy—hosts this year's ceremony, returning to the gig he last held in 2004. Presenters will include Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Tom Hanks, Tina Fey, Halle Berry, Bradley Cooper, Michael Douglas, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Christian Bale, and Natalie Portman. (You won't be seeing Sacha Baron Cohen in any capacity, though; he's been banned from the show.)

Below, we've aggregated the predictions of 45 entertainment writers and awards experts, and compared them to the votes cast by the more than 2,100 Metacritic visitors who voted in our 3rd annual poll. Monday morning, we'll be back to see how accurate these guesses turned out to be, and we'll also have reviews of the broadcast.

Best picture and director

It's quite a challenge to find anyone who doesn't think that silent film The Artist is going to collect the best picture trophy on Sunday; every one of the 45 experts we surveyed picked that film to win, as did a huge majority of Metacritic users. According to betting website, the film with the next best chance at best picture glory is The Descendants, but even that title is listed as a 9-to-1 longshot. The Artist's dominance looks likely to extend into the directing category as well, with Michel Hazanavicius all but certain to take home his first Oscar. It should be noted, however, that most experts failed in their director predictions last year; if that happens again this year, expect either Alexander Payne or our users' second-favorite pick, Martin Scorsese, to win.

Best Picture   Experts   Users
The Artist 89 Image   100% bar   70% bar
The Descendants 84     0%     11% bar
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 46   0%     0%  
The Help 62     0%     3% bar
Hugo 83     0%     8% bar
Midnight in Paris 81     0%     2% bar
Moneyball 87     0%     3% bar
The Tree of Life 85     0%     4% bar
War Horse 72     0%     1% bar
Best Director   Experts   Users
Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris
    2% bar   4% bar
Michel Hazanavicius
The Artist
Image   95% bar   48% bar
Terrence Malick
The Tree of Life
    0%     10% bar
Alexander Payne
The Descendants
    2% bar   9% bar
Martin Scorsese
    0%     28% bar


While there is absolutely no suspense in either supporting actor category—Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer are probably rehearsing their speeches as you read this—the lead acting categories are each down to a pair of finalists. Experts give The Artist's Jean Dujardin a 2-to-1 edge over George Clooney, while Viola Davis has an even bigger lead over Margaret Thatcher impersonator Meryl Streep. If an Oscar presenter opens the envelope and reads a name other than one of those four on Sunday night, then consider anything possible in any of the other categories.

Lead Actor   Experts   Users
Demián Bichir
A Better Life
    0%     1% bar
George Clooney
The Descendants
    32% bar   40% bar
Jean Dujardin
The Artist
Image   66% bar   41% bar
Gary Oldman
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    0%     10% bar
Brad Pitt
    2% bar   8% bar
Lead Actress   Experts   Users
Glenn Close
Albert Nobbs
    2% bar   3% bar
Viola Davis
The Help
Image   77% bar   41% bar
Rooney Mara
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  0%     14% bar
Meryl Streep
The Iron Lady
    18% bar   32% bar
Michelle Williams
My Week with Marilyn
  2% bar   11% bar
Supporting Actor   Experts   Users
Kenneth Branagh
My Week with Marilyn
    0%     5% bar
Jonah Hill
    0%     11% bar
Nick Nolte
    0%     8% bar
Christopher Plummer
Image   100% bar   70% bar
Max von Sydow
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
    0%     5% bar
Supporting Actress   Experts   Users
Bérénice Bejo
The Artist
    2% bar   18% bar
Jessica Chastain
The Help
    0%     11% bar
Melissa McCarthy
    0%     10% bar
Janet McTeer
Albert Nobbs
    0%     1% bar
Octavia Spencer
The Help
Image   98% bar   60% bar


While last year's adapted screenplay winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) has a slim chance of repeating as part of the team behind Moneyball, look for the overwhelming favorite The Descendants to get the win, as it did last weekend at both the WGA Awards and the USC Scripter Awards. In the original screenplay category, while The Artist could slip in here too as part of its overall domination, look for Woody Allen both to win and to fail to show up to collect the trophy.

Original Screenplay   Experts   Users
Michel Hazanavicius
The Artist
    9% bar   29% bar
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  2% bar   6% bar
JC Chandor
Margin Call
  0%     1% bar
Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris
Image   86% bar   53% bar
Asghar Farhadi
A Separation
  2% bar   11% bar
Adapted Screenplay   Experts   Users
Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash The Descendants Image   84% bar   49% bar
John Logan
  5% bar   11% bar
George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
The Ides of March
  0%     4% bar
Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin
  11% bar   25% bar
Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  0%     11% bar


The Johnny Depp-starring Rango is the overwhelming favorite among a weak field of contenders to win the animated feature trophy. Last year, not a single expert correctly predicted the animated short category, so their pick of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, that dialogue-free, New Orleans-set short film (which you can watch online) with allusions to classic cinema has already won numerous awards on the festival circuit, and seems to best represent the Academy's preferences this year. The animated short category is one of only four where our users diverged from the expert picks; their choice of La Luna is a Pixar creation, so it, too, is a solid choice. The wildcard is A Morning Stroll, which won the category at this year's BAFTAs.

Animated Feature   Experts   Users
A Cat in Paris     2% bar   4% bar
Chico & Rita     2% bar   5% bar
Kung Fu Panda 2     0%     7% bar
Puss in Boots     4% bar   6% bar
Rango     91% bar   78% bar
Animated Short   Experts   Users
Dimanche/Sunday     9% bar   10% bar
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore     60% bar   24% bar
La Luna     19% bar   35% bar
A Morning Stroll     12% bar   14% bar
Wild Life     0%     17% bar


Documentary feature is another category where experts and Metacritic users offered differing predictions. While the latter group preferred Wim Wenders' unconventional 3D look at the work of choreographer Pina Bausch, a plurality of experts forecast HBO's West Memphis Three doc Paradise Lost 3 (which was given a last-minute theatrical premiere with the intention of securing an Oscar nomination) to win the statuette. Those two films, incidentally, are also the favorites with bookmakers, followed by The Weinstein Company's Undefeated, which plays like a real-life Friday Night Lights. The documentary short category is not an easy one to predict, though experts were correct last year, and this year they (and our users) have settled on The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (from one of the directors of Waste Land), which examines the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The other frontrunner, Saving Face, looks at Pakistani women who have been disfigured by acid attacks, which is a bit more uplifting than it sounds, though still mostly horrifying.

Documentary Feature   Experts   Users
Hell and Back Again     11% bar   13% bar
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front   2% bar   12% bar
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory     42% bar   26% bar
Pina     20% bar   32% bar
Undefeated     24% bar   17% bar
Documentary Short Subject   Experts   Users
The Barber of Birmingham   5% bar   16% bar
God Is the Bigger Elvis     10% bar   18% bar
Incident in New Baghdad     7% bar   20% bar
Saving Face     38% bar   18% bar
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom     40% bar   28% bar

Other films

Critical acclaim and Oscar trophies don't always go hand in hand, but 2011's best-reviewed film, the Iranian drama A Separation, is the overwhelming favorite to win the foreign-language category. The live-action short category is another Oscar pool-buster, though this year appears to have a relatively clear frontrunner: The Shore, which boasts the biggest names of any of the entrants in two-time Oscar-nominated writer writer Terry George (Hotel Rwanda, In the Name of the Father) and star Ciaran Hinds. However, note that the recent trend is for humorous films to win in this category, which could hurt chances for both The Shore and Raju (and could really help Pentecost, the funniest of the bunch). Also making this category harder to predict this year is an expansion of the voting pool thanks to screenings of the five shorts at over 200 theaters nationwide. (Previously, just four screenings were held.)

Foreign-Language Film   Experts   Users
Bullhead     2% bar   3% bar
Footnote     0%     2% bar
In Darkness     4% bar   5% bar
Monsieur Lazhar     0%     3% bar
A Separation     93% bar   87% bar
Live-Action Short Film   Experts   Users
Pentecost     12% bar   17% bar
Raju     15% bar   20% bar
The Shore     54% bar   29% bar
Time Freak     5% bar   21% bar
Tuba Atlantic     15% bar   12% bar


The music playing throughout a silent film might be a bit easier to notice and remember thanks to not having all that pesky dialogue get in the way; at any rate, most experts feel that the Academy will recognize The Artist composer Ludovic Bource on Sunday. And while no Muppets will be performing during the broadcast (though a few will present an award), their song "Man or Muppet" (penned by Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie) is the expected winner in a depleted field. A few dissenters, however, think that music industry veteran Sergio Mendes could sneak in with his song from the animated film Rio.

Original Score   Experts   Users
John Williams
The Adventures of Tintin
    2% bar   7% bar
Ludovic Bource
The Artist
Image   84% bar   59% bar
Howard Shore
    9% bar   14% bar
Alberto Iglesias
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    0%     6% bar
John Williams
War Horse
    5% bar   14% bar
Original Song   Experts   Users
"Man or Muppet"
The Muppets
Image   88% bar   82% bar
"Real in Rio"
    12% bar   18% bar

Technical categories

Many of the remaining categories are shaping up to be a head-to-head battle between Hugo and The Artist, though the sound categories have War Horse as the closest competitor to Scorsese's film (both have already received awards from other organizations for their sound work), and experts give Rise of the Planet of the Apes the edge over Hugo in the visual effects category. In addition, Emmanuel Lubezki looks likely to win the Oscar for best cinematography for the first time in five tries for his work on The Tree of Life (even people who hated the film agreed that it looked great), while makeup artists on The Iron Lady are expected to be rewarded for transforming Meryl Streep into former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The experts usually get a few of these categories wrong, so to succeed in your Oscar pool you'll need to take a chance on an underdog or two; then again, there seems to be more of a consensus in these categories than is typical.

Art Direction   Experts   Users
The Artist     7% bar   27% bar
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2   0%     15% bar
Hugo     93% bar   47% bar
Midnight in Paris     0%     6% bar
War Horse     0%     4% bar
Cinematography   Experts   Users
Guillaume Schiffman
The Artist
    16% bar   15% bar
Jeff Cronenweth
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  0%     9% bar
Robert Richardson
    14% bar   14% bar
Emmanuel Lubezki
The Tree of Life
Image   70% bar   53% bar
Janusz Kaminski
War Horse
    0%     8% bar
Costume Design   Experts   Users
Anonymous     12% bar   8% bar
The Artist     49% bar   45% bar
Hugo     23% bar   30% bar
Jane Eyre     14% bar   14% bar
W.E.     2% bar   4% bar
Film Editing   Experts   Users
The Artist     72% bar   34% bar
The Descendants     0%     7% bar
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo   5% bar   28% bar
Hugo     21% bar   22% bar
Moneyball     2% bar   9% bar
Makeup   Experts   Users
Albert Nobbs     9% bar   20% bar
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2   30% bar   51% bar
The Iron Lady     60% bar   29% bar
Sound Editing   Experts   Users
Drive     5% bar   35% bar
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo     7% bar   15% bar
Hugo     60% bar   25% bar
Transformers: Dark of the Moon     7% bar   12% bar
War Horse     21% bar   13% bar
Sound Mixing   Experts   Users
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo     2% bar   26% bar
Hugo     79% bar   35% bar
Moneyball     0%     6% bar
Transformers: Dark of the Moon     5% bar   18% bar
War Horse     14% bar   16% bar
Visual Effects   Experts   Users
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2   7% bar   27% bar
Hugo     21% bar   21% bar
Real Steel     0%     2% bar
Rise of the Planet of the Apes     72% bar   42% bar
Transformers: Dark of the Moon     0%     9% bar

List of experts

The expert predictions listed above come from the following sources:

* As reported in Movie City News' Gurus O' Gold column
** As reported at Gold Derby as of February 22, 2012

Comments (4)

  • schmageggey  

    Does it really matter? I am a huge fan of the Academy Awards, I've been watching them since I was a kid, but now all they do is nominate crap and let crap win. Granted, there are instances where there are some pretty good movies and then awesome movies up potential wins, but then the remainder is garbage, generic, safe by-the-books garbage and this year is no slouch. The Help? Tree of Life? Moneyball? War Horse? Really? There are so many better movies out there that should've gotten some recognition but if a movie is too out there or too out-of-the-box, then nope can't do that. So with the slim pickings that I have, I will say Midnight in Paris, because this is one of those nominees that actually deserved it. It was a great movie and I think Woody Allen's best movie. I do however have to thank the Academy for not giving Drive more nominations because that movie was terrible and I really don't know what all the fuss about that movie was.

  • BKM  

    The Artist is a popular choice with Academy members because of its novelty and nostalgia rather than its quality. It just doesn't have the substance and weight to be honored as the best film of 2011. My pick would be The Tree of Life, but we all know that's not going to happen.

  • mubagreen  


  • LamontRaymond  

    Brilliant move, entertainment industry. Scheduling the NBA All-Star Game at the SAME TIME as the Academy Awards. Not like either is extraordinarily compelling this year. I had no idea that The Artist is such a slam dunk for best picture. Did nobody see The Descendants? And why does the film industry spend all of this time and money to celebrate quality when the other 51 weeks out of the year they're churning out comic book movies, sequels, and other assorted crap? Tickets sales are down - something's gotta give, I'd say.

What Our Users Are Talking About

  1. /feature/music-releases-for-week-of-february-13-2017 Image
    Music Monday (2/13): This Week's New Albums + Videos
    February 13, 2017 - 2 comments
    1. JasonDietz : @michaeln: It should come out sometime this year, though there's still no firm date. He reportedly finished recording... Read »
    2. michaeln : What ever happened to that LP that Beck said would launch soon after his last one? Read »
  2. /feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2016-releases Image
    Metacritic's 7th Annual Game Publisher Rankings
    February 13, 2017 - 4 comments
    1. LamontRaymond : @SilexEco - which is why they call it a "Publisher Ranking" - Sony is a publisher..... Next stop, rocket science. Read »
    2. SilexEco : Electronic Arts?????? Sony???? Sony has been never created any game, only their second/third-parties. Go home... Read »
    3. Twarone : As usual, quite an interesting list. A couple of suggestions to make things bit more fair (that actually wouldn't... Read »
    4. TheRealBryan : Damn EA winning was quite a shock. Read »
  3. /feature/predict-2017-oscar-winners Image
    Make Your 2017 Oscar Predictions!
    February 1, 2017 - 4 comments
    1. 3-16-2016 : The Witch (2016) for Best Picture of ALL TIME!! Read »
    2. Abdoolblyat : The Witch (2016) for Best Picture of ALL TIME!! Read »
    3. getwiththetimes : The Witch (2016) for Best Picture of ALL TIME!! Read »
  4. /feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2015-releases Image
    Metacritic's 6th Annual Game Publisher Rankings
    February 4, 2016 - 5 comments
    1. alvargon : ¿Where is CD Project Red? Read »