Monday, February 20, 2012
84th Oscar Awards Picks
Three years in and I still find the expansion of this category to include 10 nominees to not only be a waste of time for consideration purposes, but for the audience as well. Even when there were only 5 nominees, chances were that 2 or 3 of them didn't have a shot anyway, now there's even more fluff to sort through. Let's boil this down to the 3 movies that have a chance: The Artist, Hugo, and The Descendants. Both The Artist and The Descendants come into the fray with Golden Globe wins for Best Picture and while Hugo didn't win big, it came out of that awards show with some buzz as well, though it seems to have faded. Now I may have been expecting too much from The Descendants based on Alexander Payne's prior works, but I wasn't as taken with it as some. In my opinion he's much better at character pieces than the straighter sort of drama/comedy that The Descendants ended up being. The Artist on the other hand was a movie I had no expectations for other than what had been generated by the buzz surrounding the film and I was not only pleasantly surprised, but thoroughly entertained on several different levels. If I'm going to be honest however, neither of these films is my personal choice for Best Picture this year, but the film I chose wasn't nominated: Drive. Regardless, I have to go with The Artist in this category. It would be a bold move for the Academy to award a film that (being both black & white, and silent) doesn't have immediate appeal to a large segment of the movie-going public. The Academy is no stranger to bold moves however. Add to this the fact that the Oscars (like The Artist) are a celebration of the art and artistry of film throughout the ages and The Artist is a no-brainer.
Pick: The Artist
Actor in a Leading Role
Smart money in this category should be on Clooney and Dujardin due to their Golden Globe wins, but adding Gary Oldman to the list of potentials would not be a bad move. Personally I think when you stack Clooney's performance in The Descendants up against Dujardin in The Artist there's no question that Dujardin wins, but once you consider Oldman, it becomes a much more interesting field. Something tells me to bet on Oldman for this one as much as I think Dujardin has a great shot. Oldman's performance was subtle and measured in Tinker, Tailor and while that makes it difficult to judge versus Dujardin's pitch-perfect silent era mugging, I think Oldman tips the scales due to his experience, lengthy career, and having been snubbed before. Giving Oldman the Oscar here is very much like giving Scosese the Oscar for The Departed. More an acknowledgement of a career than a specific role.
Pick: Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
Actress in a Leading Role
Well damn. How the hell do you even begin to pick in this category. Even if you just boil it down to Streep, Mara, and Williams, it's still near impossible to pick. My personal pick is Rooney Mara, whose performance in Dragon Tattoo was both compelling and haunting, but I'm coming from a place where I was waved off from seeing The Iron Lady and never got around to My Week With Marilyn so I don't have first person accounts to work from. I think streep had good buzz going into the Golden Globes, but then audiences actually saw The Iron Lady and didn't really care. I'm going to throw my lot behind Williams here as much as I want Rooney Mara to win it, but I would not be surprised to see Viola Davis come out of what I personally perceive to be "nowhere" in this category either.
Pick: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Actor in a Supporting Role
Why is it that the supporting actor and actress awards always seem to pick from movies I haven't seen? My problem in this specific category is that while I did see Moneyball, Jonah Hill doesn't have a chance. I almost get the feeling that this nomination is the Academy giving him a hint: reminding him that he's got broader range than dick jokes. If you take him out of the equation all I'm left with having seen is Christopher Plummer in Beginners. What makes it really tough for me to judge this (besides the fact that Plummer won the Globe in this category) is that I adored Beginners so I fear that there is some bias here on my part. Still, I have no reason not to pick him therefore Plummer it is.
Pick: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Actress in a Supporting Role
Traditionally this is one of my worst categories. Even more so than the men's category it seems that I never see any of the films that people get nominated from when it comes to Supporting Actress. I'm not even going to question it with this one though. With two actresses from The Help nominated it seems a fairly smart thing to pick one of them therefore I'm going with the one that won the Globe: Octavia Spencer
Pick: Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Animated Feature Film
Really? No Tintin? OK. Having seen none of these, I'm at a loss, especially given two films on the list I hadn't even heard of. I have to go with Rango though. Out of the 3 films on this list that I have heard of, this is the only one that seemed even remotely Oscar-worthy and that numerous people told me to see.
This is a loaded list this year. You can probably remove War Hose and Dragon Tattoo right away, but you're still left with 3 potential winners, each of them visually brilliant in their own way. I've heard decent buzz surrounding Hugo for this category, but personally I have to wonder if The Artist isn't actually a better achievement. Hugo is beautiful, but I think The Artist's faithful take on late 1920's/ early 1930's film technique is more alluring in the end. I think Hugo may have Art Direction tied up, but I have to give Cinematography to The Artist. Oh and Tree of Life loses simply for making me watch that same damn trailer for a year ... a trailer that screamed "give me an Oscar". Sorry ... no Oscar for you!
Pick: The Artist
As I said above, I think Hugo get this one. The Artist may be in a position to upset, but if things go the way I think they will, the split between Cinematography and Art Direction is going to go in my favor.
NEVER BET AGAINST AN ELIZABETHAN OR VICTORIAN PERIOD PIECE! I've gone against my own advice once and that was the only time I didn't win this category. Not this time! Jane Eyre wins!
Pick: Jane Eyre
Well let's just get rid of Terrance Malick immediately. While pretentious excess certainly has it's place in the Oscars, I don't see Malick's Tree of Life winning him this category at all. I honestly think this may be between Michael Hazanavicious, Alexander Payne, and Scorsese. Personally I think it would be a shame to give it to either Payne or Scorsese though, mainly because they've previously made better films that deserved this award much more. I do however know that this did not stop the Academy from giving Scorsese the Directing award for the mess that was The Departed several years back. Given the above and with Hazanavicious having won the Director's Guild Award, I think he's got to be my front runner here.
Pick: Michael Hazanavicious (The Artist)
Here's where we start getting into the categories based on films I didn't see at all and unlike some people, I simply don't pick in categories like this.
This is probably between Hugo and The Artist, but similar to the Cinematography category, I think The Artist is the bigger achievement here. Hugo may be well edited, but The Artist is well edited and accomplished the task of fitting an era-specific editing style as well. To me that is the greater achievement.
Pick: The Artist
I know nothing about film makeup except that it's not easy making someone look natural under those lights, therefore I have no pick here.
Music (Original Score)
Oh come on! This has to go to The Artist. As a "silent" film the score is a HUGE part of the narrative and expressive element of the movie. Other films may have excellent scores in this category, but The Artist's score is the only one that could also have been nominated for Actor in a Supporting Role as well.
Pick: The Artist
Music (Original Song)
It's a 50/50 shot here, but when the chips are down I bet on Muppets every time.
Pick: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets
Short Film (Animated)
Short Film (Live Action)
Every year I mean to get out and see the Short film showcases and the various theaters in the cities in which I have lived, but I never manage to do so. I'm just lazy I guess. That being the case, I have no picks here.
I'll just be honest and tell you that when it comes to sound editing and mixing in film, I have no idea what's good and what's not. When it comes to music I definitely have my opinions on what a well mixed album sounds like, but in film it's just an element I've never paid much attention to.
Take a moment at let these nominees sink in. The first thing you want to do is get rid of any notion that Transformers will win. Sure, the robots may be technically impressive, but they work horribly for film on so many levels. You can drop Real Steel too, but it really is an honor just to be nominated. This leaves you with Hugo, Harry Potter, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Like most technical awards, it comes down to the challenge and the level of achievement. When you take that into account I think the most obvious choice is Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The film gave itself the task of creating believable CG primates that people could relate to and accomplished this goal brilliantly. If Harry or Hugo took this award instead, I wouldn't be surprised, but I would be disappointed. I think the apes have this one locked up. The lawgiver has spoken!
Pick: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
This is a tough one here. On one hand The Descendants was a better movie, but on the other Moneyball took a non-narrative book and adapted it for the screen in a way that was both compelling and still true to the source. My personal feeling is that Moneyball wins this and I know I'm going against some buzz by saying this. Ultimately I think it's the better choice and I'm willing to accept losing this category because of it. Also ... I can't vote against Sorkin, I just can't.
Pick: Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian & Stan Chervin (Moneyball)
Writing (Original Screenplay)
If Director goes to Hazanavicious, then it's hard not to give this one to Woody Allen and with the exception of a surprise rally for Bridesmaids, I don't see how this is not a two nominee category this year. I'm going to throw my weight behind Allen though. Even though there is a certain challenge in writing for silent film, I think Woody's pedigree and his Golden Globe win make him the better choice this year.
Pick: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)