I don’t really take the Oscars seriously, though they are interesting to look at and fun to lambast. This year’s nominees are chock-full of the typical awards-seeking fodder (War Horse, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and the usual pleasant surprises (Tree of Life, Gary Oldman) and snubs (DiCaprio, Dunst). These are my picks for this year’s ceremonies, though like I said, I don’t particularly care.
Nominees: War Horse, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, The Artist, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help
Will Win: The Artist. It’s a cute gimmick that should’ve been a short film, but I was sold on it winning as soon as people started bringing up that if it won it’d be the first silent to film to win since the actual Silent Era. Blah blah blah.
Should Win: The Tree of Life was the most ambitious and beautiful film to be released last year, though it was lucky to score a nomination. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Hugo take top honors. It does what The Artist tried to do so much better.
Left out: Melancholia, A Dangerous Method, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Certified Copy and Young Adult are all more worthy than most of the nominees.
Nominees: Martin Scorsese- Hugo, Terrence Malick- The Tree of Life, Woody Allen- Midnight in Paris, Alexander Payne- The Descendants and Michel Hazanavicius- The Artist.
Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius. I’m expecting The Artist to clean up in these major categories. Scorsese or Payne could pull an upset here, though.
Should Win: Malick. Did you guys know I enjoyed The Tree of Life?
Left Out: There are a ton here. David Cronenberg for A Dangerous Method, Lars von Trier for Melancholia, Tomas Alfredson for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Steven Soderbergh for Contagion, Raúl Ruiz for Mysteries of Lisbon, Kelly Reichardt for Meek’s Cutoff, Abbas Kiarostami for Certified Copy, Lee Chang-dong for Poetry, David Fincher for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Clint Eastwood for J. Edgar.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Michel Hazanavicius- The Artist, J.C. Chandor- Margin Call, Woody Allen- Midnight in Paris, Annie Mumalo and Kristen Wiig- Bridesmaids and Asghar Farhadi- A Seperation.
Will Win: For the sake of not picking The Artist again, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet on Midnight in Paris. It will be overlooked in all other categories, but for some reason I feel the Academy will honor Allen here as the strength of many of his films is in the sharp dialogue.
Should Win: Of the nominees, I would also say Allen deserves it the most. Midnight in Paris was a wonderful surprise this summer, and he deserves all the acclaim he’s getting for it. I would not be upset if J.C. Chandor took the award either, though, as Margin Call was a remarkable debut.
Left Out: Diablo Cody staked dark new territory in Young Adult, and I don’t think the Academy could reconcile that with the warm and fuzzy work of Juno, the movie that won her this award in 2008. I’d also add in Abbas Kiarostami for Certified Copy, Miranda July for The Future, Dustin Lance Black for J. Edgar, Jonathan Raymond for Meek’s Cutoff, Lars von Trier for Melancholia and the team (Will Gluck, Keith Merryman and David A. Newman) behind the surprisingly witty summer flick Friends With Benefits.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian- Moneyball, John Logan- Hugo, Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash- The Descendants, Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon- The Ides of March
Will Win: Sorkin is still fresh off his win last year for The Social Network, but him and Steve Zaillian are going to take this award for Moneyball. Look for Payne and co. to upset, though.
Should Win: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a twisty, brilliantly complex film. O’Connor and Straughan deserve this award head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
Left Out: Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of his own play for A Dangerous Method was nearly perfect. Carolyn S. Briggs also did a wonderful job of adapting her own book with Tim Metcalfe for the very underrated Higher Ground. Also, Zaillian deserved a nomination for The Girl With Dragon Tattoo even more so than his share on Moneyball.
Nominees: Brad Pitt- Moneyball, Jean Dujardin- The Artist, George Clooney- The Descendants, Gary Oldman- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Demián Bichir- A Better Life
Will Win: Jean Dujardin. The press has made it a Pitt/Clooney bromance duel, so I think they may cancel each other out and make way for the French outsider, even if the fabricated scandal of sexism attempts to hurt his chances.
Should Win: Oldman’s performance in Tinker Tailor is a restrained but nonetheless incredible performance. This is, incredibly, his first Oscar nomination, though an upset win is pretty much out of the question.
Left Out: I never thought Leonardo DiCaprio would be underrated, but his incredible work in J. Edgar certainly is. Also add in Michael Fassbender in either Dangerous Method or Shame, Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Tom Hardy in Warrior.
Nominees: Meryl Streep- The Iron Lady, Rooney Mara- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Glenn Close- Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis- The Help and Michelle Williams- My Week With Marilyn.
Will Win: Viola Davis. Though Streep is long overdue, I think The Help is going to get rewarded both here and in the Supporting Actress category.
Should Win: Of these nominees, Streep. The Iron Lady is cowardly in its avoidance of Margaret Thatcher’s controversial tenure as Prime Minister, but Streep is in top form. Rooney Mara is also worthy for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander.
Left out: Kirsten Dunst gave the best performance of 2011 in Melancholia. I’d also place Juliette Binoche in Certified Copy, Charlize Theron in Young Adult, Yun Jeong-hie in Poetry and Vera Farmiga in Higher Ground in there.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Max von Sydow- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Kenneth Branagh- My Week With Marilyn, Jonah Hill- Moneyball, Christopher Plummer- Beginners and Nick Nolte- Warrior.
Will Win: Plummer is a pretty solid bet to take this award, as countless praise has already been lauded on him and he has the elderly “career achievement” thing in his favor. It helps that he’s good in the movie, too.
Should Win: Plummer is far and away the best thing about Beginners, and this category is probably the weakest one this year.
Left Out: Ben Kingsley’s role in Hugo is the biggest omission here. Other than that, I’d add in Viggo Mortensen in A Dangerous Method, John Hawkes in Martha Marcy May Marlene, Kevin Spacey in Margin Call, Michael Parks in Red State, Albert Brooks in Drive and Rob Brydon for The Trip.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Jessica Chastain- The Help, Octavia Spencer- The Help, Melissa McCarthy- Bridesmaids, Bérénice Bejo- The Artist and Janet McTeer- Albert Nobbs.
Will Win: Spencer. Her character is little more than a sassy caricature, but then again that’s pretty much The Help in a nutshell. The Academy will pat themselves on the back for supporting a “social issue” drama and call it good.
Should Win: Either of the Mc’s would have my vote in this category. McTeer is by far the best thing about Albert Nobbs, and McCarthy is a welcome comedic presence in this cramped, dull category.
Left Out: Keira Knightley was too much for voters and many viewers to handle in A Dangerous Method, but I thought she was terrific. I’d also add in Carey Mulligan for Shame, Jennifer Ehle in Contagion, Charlotte Gainsbourg in Melancholia, Shailene Woodley for The Descendants and Jessica Chastain for Tree of Life instead of The Help.
For the sake of not rambling, I’ll just list my predictions in the remaining categories
Cinematography- Emmanuel Lubezki- The Tree of Life
Animated Feature- Rango
Costume Design: Michael O’Connor- Jane Eyre
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti- Hugo
Editing: Thelma Schoonmaker- Hugo
Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Makeup: Albert Nobbs
Original Score: Ludovic Bource- The Artist
Original Song: “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets
Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Sound Editing: Hugo
Sound Mixing: Hugo