Britannia isn’t going to rule this Oscar Sunday.
Unlike last year’s Academy Awards, when The King’s Speech and star Colin Firth owned the night, most major Oscar categories are sadly Brit-lite this time around. (The award show airs live on ABC, with the actual ceremony – that thing that happens after the red carpet – beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 26.)
Take heart, Anglophiles, because all is not lost — or won — yet. Here are five Anglo-centric angles to keep in mind while viewing this year’s ceremony:
Best Actor: Gary Oldman, he’s our man.
The 53-year-old British star received his first, long-overdue nomination for his subtle performance as veteran intelligence agent George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
If he wins, it’ll be a huge upset, as George Clooney (for The Descendants) and Jean Dujardin (The Artist) are the favorites. But it’s tough to make a case for Oldman scoring a surprise win, given that he failed to take home a BAFTA award for the role and didn’t even score a Golden Globe or Screen Actors Guild nomination.
Best Actress: Brits by proxy.
There’s nary an English actress nominated this year. The best Anglophiles can do is root for Meryl Streep — it’s her 17th Oscar nomination! — for her marvelous turn as former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the biopic, The Iron Lady. Other nominees with tangential claims to Brit connections would be Glenn Close, who’s up for playing a cross-dressing Irishwoman in Dublin in Albert Nobbs, and Michelle Williams, nominated for portraying Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn, a movie about the sex siren’s stay in London while making The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
Expect the award to go to either Streep, who won a BAFTA earlier this month (and lost a heel while walking up to accept), or Viola Davis (The Help).
Best Supporting Actor: Honor to be nominated.
That sentiment is likely going to have to be the consolation for sole British nominee Kenneth Branagh, who’s up for his sly impersonation of Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn. (It is Branagh’s second Oscar nomination for acting; he has three others for writing and directing.) Christopher Plummer (Beginners) is the predicted winner for this category, having already beaten out Branagh at the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild ceremonies. The silver lining here is that Plummer is Canadian, so he is at least a native of a Commonwealth nation.
Best Supporting Actress: Mighty McTeer to save the day?
Could Britisher Janet McTeer score an unexpected victory for her joyous performance as a woman disguised as a man in Albert Nobbs? Don’t count on it. Octavia Spencer (The Help) has a lock on this one, having already walked past an also nominated McTeer to accept a BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild statuette.
Best Picture: Location, location, location.
Two nominees, War Horse and Hugo, were shot in England, which is as good as it gets this year. The former is more of a Spielberg movie than a British one, while the latter may have been shot in Britain, but it is set in Paris. And neither movie is really in the running to win. The award will go either to The Artist or The Descendants.
So where might Brits win? Look to the less popular categories, the ones during which announcements you are often off hunting through your refrigerator or checking your Facebook page. Hugo will likely pick up a clutch of statues in these categories, including Art Direction (for which Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is also nominated). And English costume designers Michael O’Connor (Jane Eyre) and Sandy Powell (Hugo) are both nominated for in their category.
Don’t despair. Even if Old Blighty gets blighted this year, well, there’s always next year.
Will you be watching the Oscars?