Saturday, February 25, 2012

The 2012 Oscar Blog

The Oscars are Sunday, Billy Crystal is back, James Franco should be nowhere near the telecast, and all is right in the world.  Let's do this thing!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Jean Dujardin, The Artist.

George is favored, but Jean Dujardin is French, funny, charming and handsome - the quadruple threat.  He won the SAG award, giving him an edge over Clooney. Maybe he'll win, maybe he won't, but I think he's got a solid shot at an "upset."

Dark Horse: George.  A lot of people are calling this George's best performance, but I think his turn in Syriana gets that title. Let's be honest - the best part of The Descendants was George's funny run.

Darker Horse: Brad.  I really loved Moneyball - I like seeing Brad doing Robert Redford-esque roles. Also, roles that involve shaving and washing his hair. I hope he does more of all of these things. He's due for a bit of Academy love. I get the feeling Brad isn't a fan of his Oklahoma-farm-boy looks, as he spends a great deal of time hiding under a partially grown in beard, ugly glasses, a braided beard (what was *that* about?) and/or stringy hair, and  usually picks roles that are what you might call odd (see: Fight Club, Snatch, Inglourious Basterds, Burn After Reading). The exception to this is in the Oceans franchise, but if you're doing it for Steven Soderberg, it doesn't count.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Viola Davis, The Help.

Dark Horse:  Michelle Williams. She's campaigned hard through the awards season, and her turn as Marilyn was truly impressive.

Note on Meryl: I love Meryl. I really do. But as Ebert noted, in Iron Lady, Streep was "all dressed up with nowhere to go." Here's hoping her next director will give her more direction.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Christopher Plummer, Beginners.

Oh, how the Academy loves 1.) Beloved Octogenarians Still Acting Into Their Dotage and 2.) Straight actors playing gay actors. Mix the two? Awards magic.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer, The Help.

She's sassy, she's funny, she was great in the film and great on the awards circuit. Nice seeing someone who's spent a lot of time in teeny roles getting her due.

My only personal quibble with the role was that it's written to be funnier and more feel-good than the character was in the book. But that's not Octavia's fault, and honestly I think the film is probably better for it.

Should have been: Jessica Chastain, Tree of Life. Or Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter. Or Jessica Chastain, The Debt. Or Jessica Chastain, on points. Somewhere, she's in a fetal position, wondering WHAT ON EARTH she has to do to actually get an AWARD, PEOPLE!!

I think she and Ryan Gosling need to star in a film together. And be vindicated. (Throw in Fassbender and you've got serious, golden Oscar guilt bait. Are you listening to me, Weinstein Company? Paul Giamatti is waiting for your call.)

Best Achievement in Directing: Michel Hazanavicius.

He won the DGA award, end of story.  And I really loved The Artist, and he's kind to dogs, so I'm good with that.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Midnight in Paris.

Oh, Woody - you proved once again that America is willing to flock to theaters to see Charm and Nostalgia with a generous helping of Wit. The Educated Collective thanks you.

Favorite Quote: "I see - rhinoceros!" (Gets me EVERY time).

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: The Descendants

Who knew a tragedy could be so funny? Alexander Payne's script knew how to balance tragedy and comedy without every straying into melodramatic territory - which, considering the subject matter, could have happened under a different writing/production team.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Rango, which I didn't see, and cannot rent/stream, has gotten some guild love.

 I  loved Arthur Christmas. Did the Academy bother to nominate it? No, they did not. Is it horrifying that Puss in Boots got a nomination, when the crisp and clever Arthur Christmas is overlooked? Well, I'm just gonna say, Bill Nighy strikes me as the sort of guy who knows how to get even.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: A Separation.  This is always a tricky category to predict, but the buzz has begun and ended with A Separation. I'd be very surprised if it went differently.

Best Achievement in Cinematography: Tree of Life.

There were dinosaurs. And the Big Bang. And Jessica Chastain, floating. What else do you need to know?

Best Achievement in Editing: The Artist - it won the Eddie. It was...well-edited.  And I expect the Oscars to be a multi-hour love letter to a movie that's a love letter to Hollywood, at a show which is also a love letter to Hollywood...

...that's a lot of love. And letters.

Best Achievement in Makeup: The Iron Lady. Hey! They made Meryl Streep look old, *and* like Margaret Thatcher! Yup, best hand them a golden statuette.

Best Achievement in Costume Design: Still waffling on this. Most everyone is guessing The Artist, but W.E. was the one actually nominated for a Costume Designer's Guild Award. In the past, six out of 10 Oscar winners won the guild award.

Did enough people see/appreciate W.E. without having their thoughts taken over by Madonna? Or will they get swept away with Artist love?

Right now, I'm thinking swept away, Titanic-style, with Oscar love. So my pick is The Artist.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: I'm thinking "Real in Rio," by Sergio Mendes, set to a kicky samba beat, rather than the kinda weirdy weird "Man or a Muppet."

I may be alone in this.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: The Artist. No contest. Have a listen if you haven't seen the film.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Hugo.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing: Still Hugo.  I did really like that scene when the wind-up mouse ran around. Did that remind you of the book Alexander and the Wind up Mouse? Well, it reminded me at least.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Or maybe Hugo. But I'm hearing a lot of buzz for Apes. Hoping that if they show a clip during the telecast, it will not include James Franco's face.  Because I don't want to see James Franco's face.

Best Achievement in Art Direction: Hugo for the win! It was lovely and detailed - come to think of it, if the pacing had been better, it might have walked away with more of The Artist's critical bounty.

Best Documentary, Features: Paradise Lost 3? Maybe?

Even in a category when people tend to *think* they know, this one's a doozy when it comes to predictions.

And let's be honest, guessing the shorts is kind of a crap shoot. But short films are important - it's how beginning directors get noticed and get their start.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects: Saving Face, about plastic surgeon Muhammad Jawad as he performs reconstructive plastic surgery on Pakistani women who have suffered acid burns at the hands of men in their life. It's a serious subject, character-oriented, and backed by HBO.

Best Short Film, Animated: The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Basically, it's the one I most wanted to see all the way through. Flying books! With flying letters! And Buster Keaton homages!

Best Short Film, Live Action: The Shore.

It's directed by Terry George, who also directed Hotel Rwanda, and features Ciaran Hinds and Kerry Condon.  Also, George's daughter produced, which is sweet.

Best Motion Picture of the Year: The Artist.

This puppy is a lock. It's won pretty much every guild award available, including the very telling Producer's Guild awards (and in case you're wondering WHY the guilds are a deal, remember that there's a lot of voting crossover from the guild members to the Academy members.  The Golden Globes are not a deal for the opposite reason).

While The Artist was fluffy, frothy joy, I think its charm and nostalgia carried it through an award season often cluttered with dark, ponderous films. Remember the year (2008, if you want to know) that Juno was the only comedy swimming around in the Best Picture shark tank that included No Country for Old Men, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, and Atonement?

I think The Artist will win for the same reason that Amish fiction maintains its popularity, Downton Abbey is a smash success, and Midnight in Paris became Woody Allen's top grossing film - life is tough, the world is scary, and sometimes, a little well-made escapism is just what the doctor ordered.

So! We'll see how things shake out on Sunday. I'll be live-tweeting, per usual, through the broadcast - you can join me here. Also, join me in the aftermath for a multigenerational red carpet review.  See you then!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Hilary, I LOVED reading this!! :0) So much fun. I am back to myself and I am bummed I couldn't join you in this colossal criticing collaboration, but hey, next year!! I'll be thinking of you tonight as I watch the show. SOMEDAY, maybe we could watch it together. Wouldn't that be a HOOT! :0)


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