Oscars 2012 Predictions: Best Actor

It's George Clooney and Jean Dujardin's for the taking, but Gary Oldman can't be underestimated in this up-in-the-air race.

The Academy Awards are shaping up to be a veritable death match between “The Artist” and “The Descendants.” Michel Hazanavicius’ nostalgia-driven silent film and Alexander Payne’s set-in-Hawaii spiritual journey are the front-runners at the Oscars this year, with most onlookers divided on which of these two films will walk away with the top prizes.

Looking beyond Best Picture, the battle between “Artist” and “Descendants” is guaranteed to come down to the Best Actor category. Though five actors are nominated, all signs are pointing to two names for the highly coveted award: George Clooney, nominated for his heartbroken and heartbreaking turn as soon-to-be-widower Matt King in “The Descendants,” and Jean Dujardin‘s performance in “The Artist” as George Valentin, a silent-film actor on the verge of extinction.

Both Clooney and Dujardin are deserving candidates to be sure, but are they guaranteed the win? Could there be a spoiler in the mix? Read on for our predictions and wishes for this year’s Best Actor category.

Who Will Win: Yes, in all likelihood, it’s down to Dujardin and Clooney. Both turned in praiseworthy performances in their respective films. Dujardin’s wordless ways have captivated voters throughout awards season. Likewise, it’s impossible to resist Clooney’s charms. Both men walked away from the Golden Globes with new awards in their hands. One of them will have an Oscar to add to his trophy shelf come Sunday night. It’s essentially a coin toss, but we’re putting our money on Camp Clooney. “The Artist” will take Best Picture, and this will be the consolation prize for the “Descendants” crew.

Who Should Win: Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” It’s nearly impossible to believe that Oldman has never been nominated for an Oscar before. But that nomination has finally arrived, for a fairly understated performance as far as Oldman roles go, no less. Oldman’s espionage veteran George Smiley isn’t the flashiest character in the actor’s catalog, but it is the first character to earn Oldman a nomination. And frankly, few expected the esteemed British actor to even earn a nomination at this year’s Oscars in the first place. But sometimes, all it takes is a foot in the door to win. Consider this Oldman’s foot in the door … and don’t be surprised if he manages to sneak the rest of himself all the way in.

The MTV Movies team has the 2012 Oscars covered! Stick with us for everything you need to know leading up to the awards show, and on Sunday, February 26, tune in to MTV.com at 5 p.m. ET for our two-and-a-half-hour red-carpet live stream and updates on the night’s big winners.

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