Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscar (not) the Grouch

Over the past couple of days I had been feeling rather guilty about never putting together an Oscar nominations predictions piece. This is the first time since the mid-90s I've not done it. As it has so often done in the recent past, life happened to me while I was busy making other plans.

Well, thanks a million, life! I'm kinda glad I didn't do a predictions piece this year, because it would contain several variations of "Whoops! Got THAT wrong!"  So embarrassment spared, I will simply react to the nominees as presented Tuesday morning.


Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse 

The only major surprise here was Extremely Loud getting tapped after all of the precursors had ignored it. Personally, I'm terrified of the film, since the trailer makes it look like precious schmaltz, and I loathe most of the movies by Stephen Daldry (The Hours, The Reader). No matter, however. The film has zero chance of winning, although I think The Artist has probably got it for turning a gimmick into something, well, artistic. More to the point, it's delightful. But The Descendants is probably a strong second, and Hugo a decent third.


Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris 
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Malick took what some people said should have been Fincher's slot, and while I would have preferred Fincher myself,  I understand the thinking. Among directors, Malick is a legend. Fincher isn't quite there yet. This is a race between another legend (Marty) and a newcomer (Michel), both of whom made loving homages to the early history of movies. Since he's Scorsese, and because he gave his picture such a wondrous 3D visual style, I tend to tap him for director, since Hazanavicius' movie will probably win picture and screenplay.


Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

 Some people favor Clooney, and while he ran an impressive emotional gamut, he won fairly recently, for Syriana. I favor the boundless charm of Dujardin, with Pitt as a possible spoiler. Finally, while I have great respect for Gary Oldman, I'm lukewarm on his Tinker Tailor perf. As a friend of mine facetiously said, "Gary Oldmann should get an Oscar for being able to hold a completely emotionless look on his face for 2.5 hours."


Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

I am absolutely DELIGHTED Ms. Mara made the cut here when many said she wouldn't - it made up for Dragon Tattoo not scoring any other major nominations. She would be my vote to win, but she won't - I think that honor will most likely go to Davis, who's an emotional powerhouse in The Help, and who has been so good in so many movies that it's well nigh time for her ship to come in.


Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Like many others, I was sorry, although not altogether surprised to see AMPAS snub Albert Brooks for his great work in Drive. As Mr. Brooks himself put it before the nominations, "Tomorrow I find out if I have to go to any more events that Christopher Plummer wins." This is Plummer in a walk. If someone is second, it ain't even close.


Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

I was very sad to see Shailene Woodley's sassy and touching performance in The Descendants get overlooked; my guess is McTeer took her slot, and as it happens, I think McTeer is the only one who's a long shot. I could see any of the other four getting it. AMPAS might pair up Spencer with Davis. Or they might pair Bejo with Duajardin. Or they might reward Chastain for being great not only in The Help but in 62 other movies last year. The toughest race to call. I'll get back to you on that one, and I'll get back to you soon on the other Oscar categories.

For now, for people lamenting the lack of nominations for Drive, Dragon Tattoo et al, it's important to remember that the Academy likes its films to be happy or tear-jerking, not in-your-face antisocial. As In Contention astutely observed,

"...no nominations for "Shame" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin" -- including snubs for two of the top performances of the year -- combined with somewhat unexpected major nominations for "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" and "War Horse" to go along with the expected inclusions of "The Artist," "The Help" and "Midnight in Paris," as well as a Best Picture miss for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," all adds up to one thing: the Academy likes its collective heart warmed, not disturbed. We already knew that, of course, so it's a point less learned than solidified. And very important to keep in mind."
 In other words, Oscar is many things, but on Hollywood Boulevard, he's not a grouch.

1 comment:

David M. Allen M.D. said...

Not that all the other best actress nominees aren't totally deserving, but Kirsten Dunst got screwed over, probably because her director is apparently a Nazi. I hated the movie, but she was very good. What a great year for female leads. Carrie Mulligan was no slouch in "Shame" either.