My Big Ass Oscar Article 2012

If you want to know what I felt were the best movies of the year etc. then that’s a different article altogether (one that can be read here). This is about the Oscars. For most categories, I just offer a quick pick for what WILL win and a brief explanation for why I think that. For the so-called “big” categories, I will give some analysis including 1) who the projected front-runner is, 2) who the rumored “dark horse” contender who could upset is, 3) my favorite of the nominees (or who I think SHOULD win), and 4) my pick for who WILL win. Movies I have not seen will be marked by an asterisk like so*. Finally let me point out that this is the Academy Awards. Crash beat Brokeback Mountain. Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in a year when Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated. Alfred Hitchcock NEVER WON AN OSCAR. As I’ve mentioned the Academy is predominantly white (94%), male (77%), and over 50 (86%). They ain’t infallible. Movie preferences have always been subjective and always will be. The Oscars are more worth taking note of because they an EVENT. They also serve as a barometer for where the culture of the entertainment industry is at the time. So join my little guessing game why don’t you…

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QUICK PICKS

Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris Midnight in Paris may be Woody’s best film of the 21st century (no small feat when he also made Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona in the past decade).

Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, & Jim Rash for The Descendants – I am just delighted by the fact that the Dean from Community (Rash) will probably have an Oscar by the end of the day… The Descendants was considered the front-runner for a while before The Artist-mania swept awards season, and I think this is the category where it will still come out on top.

Best Animated Feature: Rango – One of the best films of the year period, animated or otherwise. I will admit that A Cat in Paris* and Chico & Rita* are sort of an unknown quantity, since neither have seen a wide release in the U.S. (and both look quite good from what I’ve seen), but Rango has eccentric character design and some of the best style a mainstream animated film has had in ages.

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation* — Haven’t seen it, but it’s topped enough Best Films of 2011 lists that I’d wager is has a good shot at this category.

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life – Everyone was gushing over The Tree of Life back when it was released but it didn’t really connect with audiences. Hugo and The Artist will probably pick up their share of awards tonight, but Lubezki’s beautiful visuals in The Tree of Life can’t be denied, regardless of your feelings on the content.

Best Editing: Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist – The editing of The Artist had to carry even more of the weight of storytelling than most movies on account of the whole “silent film” thing. I think it will come on top because of that.

Best Art Direction: Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo for Hugo – Dante Ferretti builds worlds and he built an amazing one for Hugo. The Oscars have shown him love before and they will again.

Best Costume Design: Lisy Christl for Anonymous – I didn’t like this stupid movie but my costume designer friends were stoked for it and this category tends to go crazy for Victorian shit, so there you go…

Best Makeup: Mark Coulier & J. Roy Helland for The Iron Lady – Meryl Streep spends a good chunk of the movie as an old lady (one of the film’s narrative failings actually) and it is damn convincing. I know Harry Potter has showier make-up but I think verisimilitude will win out.

Best Music: Ludovic Bource for The Artist – Well, the fact that it used some music from Vertigo may work against it, but John Williams has enough damn Oscars already (and hasn’t been particularly inspired in a while). Howard Shore also stands a chance for Hugo, but Bource’s score for The Artist is more memorable and makes up a lot of the movie’s personality.

Best Original Song: “Man or Muppet” by Bret McKenzie from The Muppets – Only two nominees this year. Rio had a lot of great Brazilian-style music but I do not remember the nominated song “Real in Rio” at all. “Man or Muppet” on the other hand is the most memorable song from a musical with a few pretty great and clever songs. The fan outcry over the song not being performed at the ceremony this year is just proof: the Muppets have this one sewed up.

Best Sound Mixing: Tom Fleishman & John Midgely for Hugo – Unless it’s a movie like Wall-e where sound plays a major role, I never know how to judge this one. The safe bet this year is always go with Hugo or The Artist and The Artist isn’t nominated due to being a silent film (despite the excellently-mixed nightmare sequence).

Best Sound Editing: Lon Bender & Victor Ray Ennis for Drive – Okay despite the rule of thumb I just said in the last category (which would have Hugo winning this) I’m going with Drive. Drive is a movie where a good chunk of the movie’s atmosphere is experienced aurally. Drive was a lot of people’s favorite movie of last year and I just feel it’s got to win SOMETHING.

Best Visual Effects: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, & Daniel Barrett for Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Well, ever since Gollum chased his precious, people (yours truly included) have been clamoring for Andy Serkis to receive some kind of award for his mastery of motion capture. Serkis isn’t a nominee here but the realization of completely digital ape creations is worth an award.

Best Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory* — Well, the West Memphis Three have been released from prison and this series of films had a lot to do with that. That level of topical relevance will pull some Oscar love, I think.

Best Documentary Short: I have no fucking clue. I have not seen any of the nominees*. They screened in Sacramento but it was one night only, and I had play rehearsals that night.

Best Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – (see my article on the category)

Best Live Action Short: The Shore – (see my article on the category)

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees:

Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill for Moneyball

Nick Nolte for Warrior

Christopher Plummer for Beginners

Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud & Incrediley Close

Analysis:              Albert Brooks was the only man who could have posed a threat to Christopher Plummer in this category and he wasn’t nominated. Nick Nolte was only nominated because Warrior was a great movie and they felt it should get at least ONE nomination. Max von Sydow is an actor who has worked with Ingmar Bergman and has several decades of great roles behind him. He doesn’t deserve the award for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (nothing about that movie deserves any awards) but he could get a so-called “career Oscar” for it.

Front-runner:    Christopher Plummer

Dark Horse:        Max von Sydow

My Favorite:      Christopher Plummer

My Pick:               Christopher Plummer

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees:

Bérénice Bejo for The Artist

Jessica Chastian for The Help

Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs*

Octavia Spencer for The Help

Analysis:              Actors make up more of the Academy than any other profession. The Help is nominated largely because of the quality of its cast and Octavia Spencer is the scene-stealer of the bunch. She’s won most of the other Best Supporting Actress awards. The two other contenders are Jessica Chastain and Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy is the dark horse because everyone has just been heaping praise on her for Bridesmaids. She was funny enough, but I think the nomination is overkill. Then again she won an Emmy for a show that, near as I can tell, no one actually watches so the awards love for her might override conventional wisdom. Jessica Chastain’s 2011 included The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Debt, Coriolanus, and The Help. Her nomination reflects more the quality of her body of work than the individual performance. The fact that she was nominated for The Help and not for other roles in which she was superior is an indicator that she is not going to win. Her co-star Spencer has her beat.

Front-runner:    Octavia Spencer

Dark Horse:        Melissa McCarthy

My Favorite:      Octavia Spencer

My Pick:               Octavia Spencer

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BEST ACTOR

Nominees:

Damián Bichir for A Better Life*

George Clooney for The Descendants

Jean Dujardin for The Artist

Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt for Moneyball

Analysis:              Gary Oldman gave my favorite performance of the year. It was a masterful display of minimalist restraint from an actor who’s made an excellent career of going big. He’s not going to win, though. This is a battle between everyone’s favorite movie star, George Clooney, and a French newcomer with all the qualities of a movie star (playing one too, no less). Clooney already has an Oscar for Syriana and looks poised to win one again this year, but I think everyone’s favorite Frenchman will pull this one out. Clooney’s lost for better performances than this one (Up in the Air), and The Artist succeeds largely on the charm of Dujardin.

Front-runner:    George Clooney

Dark Horse:        Jean Dujardin

My Favorite:      Gary Oldman

My Pick:               Jean Dujardin

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BEST ACTRESS

Nominees:

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs*

Viola Davis for The Help

Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn

Analysis:              Meryl Streep has been nominated for more Oscars than any other actor of either gender (17! Holy shit!) but has only won two, and not since 1983 (Sophie’s Choice). A lot of people think she’s due. Plus, she played one hell of a Margaret Thatcher. Michelle Williams’ tragic but not stupid Marilyn Monroe was my favorite performance of the year, but she won’t win. This is her third nomination and I’m willing to bet more will follow with a win inevitably in her future. The dark horse contender is Viola Davis who plays a strong character with a resolute dignity that to me was the stand out performance in a very well-performed film. The Screen Actors Guild gave her the award and I think the Oscar will do the same.

Front-runner:    Meryl Streep

Dark Horse:        Viola Davis

My Favorite:      Michelle Williams

My Pick:               Viola Davis

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BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees:

Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris

Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life

Alexander Payne for The Descendants

Martin Scorsese for Hugo

Analysis:              The two most nomination films of the night are Hugo and The Artist. That translates to Martin Scorsese and Michel Hazanavicius being the only two real competitors for this award. Scorsese wins a lot of points for building an incredible world (in 3D no less) and using it to write a love letter to classic silent cinema. Hazanavicius one-ups him though by actually making a perfect example of classic [mostly] silent cinema.

Front-runner:    Michel Hazanavicius

Dark Horse:        Martin Scorsese

My Favorite:      Michel Hazanavicius

My Pick:               Michel Hazanavicius

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BEST PICTURE

Nominees:

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Analysis:              Overrated movies get nominated for Best Picture all the time, but Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close marks the first time I can remember that a film I’ve actively despised was up for the top prize. Fortunately it’s not a real contender so let’s move on and never speak of it again. War Horse and Moneyball are both good movies (not great) and the nomination IS the award for them. Midnight in Paris is a movie that a lot of people have seen and loved but popular tastes tend to have fuck-all to do with the Oscars most years so it probably won’t win, despite being one of the best of the nominees (only three of the nine nominees made it onto my top ten list). The Tree of Life was a meditative prayer of a movie that was exceptionally well put-together but it was impenetrable to a lot of movie-goers and probably a lot of Academy members as well. Hugo has the most nominations of any film this year so that means it has a fighting chance but no one is really considering it as a possible victor for whatever reason. Despite being amazing, I have to agree it probably won’t win. The Descendants was a front-runner for a while but people seem to have moved on from it (remember a couple years ago when Up in the Air was considered the likely winner until people’s attentions became focused on other films?) and I think it probably won’t win big (even though it got the Golden Globe). The real dark horse of the category is The Help. As previously mentioned, the Academy is made up primarily of actors and The Help’s cast is probably what got it nominated. Could that same momentum carry it to a win? It’s not outside the realm of possibility. The front-runner, and the movie that will win (and in my mind deserved to win) is The Artist. This will be the first time since The Departed in 2006 that my favorite movie of the year actually wins Best Picture. I’m stoked. Hollywood loves a salute to Hollywood. Plus, the message of embracing new things (specifically new technology) resonates in the industry. Plus it revitalizes a classic genre that has mostly fallen by the wayside. There really are a million reasons The Artist is going to win. That it’s actually the best picture of 2011 is my favorite of them.

Front-runner:    The Artist

Dark Horse:        The Help

My Favorite:      The Artist

My Pick:               The Artist

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LIVE (-ish) BLOG

First off, let me point out that I use a DVR to fast forward through commercials so I rarely watch anything live. But anyway, here are my real-time reactions to what is happening during the Academy Awards ceremony… (I will probably be drinking and do not vouch for my spelling)

Sasha Baron Cohen dumped “Kim Jong Il’s” ashes on Ryan Seacrest? Maybe I should be watching the Red Carpet after all…

Zack Galifianakis commented on how comics shouldn’t seek validation through awards. He’s right but it still strikes me as rationalizing…

Tim Gunn says Cameron Diaz personifies old Hollywood glamour. Everybody remembers when Ingrid Bergman had jizz in her hair, right?

Red Carpet is boring. Don’t think anything as fun as the ash thing is going to happen. Watching something else until the actual ceremony starts…

Okay instead of watching people drone on about clothes, Bill Moyers is talking about the political and cultural implications of film on PBS…

Morgan Freeman breaks his typecasting by playing a good-natured person with gravitas…

I know it’s played-out, but I always enjoy Billy Crystal putting himself in all the movies… then Bieber ruined it…

“Hemmingway and Fitzgerald” are trending on Twitter and the horrifying truth is that it’s probably just because Bieber said their names…

Field of Dreams jokes? Topical…

Okay, Crystal’s song is pretty lame. I remember this shtick being funnier in the 90s… then again I was 12 back then…

They’re saluting a seat filler? Really? Occupying space is now apparently a talent…

Hugo wins cinematography. Yay Robert Richardson. Though I am now 0:1 on my predictions…

Dante Ferretti for art direction!!!!! Wooooo!!!!! My prediction win:loss record soars to 1:1!

Okay, I didn’t know Kodak filed for Chapter 11. Now Billy Crystal’s jokes make sense…

The Artist wins for Costume Design, disproving my “Elizabethan shit always wins” theory and taking my record down to 1:2.

I do like the testimonials for the Art Direction and Costume Design nominees…

The Iron Lady wins for makeup taking my record up to 2:2!!!!!

An Iranian film (A Separation) wins the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film… can’t wait to hear what the Republican candidates have to say about this… 3:2 on my picks…

Octavia Spencer wins! 4:2 on my picks! Woo!!!!!

Octavia Spencer is someone no one had really heard of a year ago (unless you were a huge fan of “nurse excessively stabbed to death in Halloween II“) and her speech reflects the dream os every actor. Touching stuff.

Black people live 45 minutes outside of Beverly Hills apparently… good one, Billy…

THERE’S A CHRISTOPHER GUEST SHORT FILM!!!!! WITH FRED WILLARD, EUGENE LEVY, BOB BALLABAN, AND CATHERINE O’HARA!!!

AND JENNIFER COOLIDGE AND GUEST HIMSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wins Best editing! Hooray that it got something but boo that it takes my score down to 4:3!

Hugo takes Sound Editing! I’m tied again! 4:4! Fuck!

It is at this point, I feel I should come clean that I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about in the technical categories. I know what the categories are, and I know who I think SHOULD win, but the Oscar politics of the technical cetgories evade me.

Hugo takes Sound Mixing! I have a winning record again! 5:4!

Okay, I shouldn’t write them off as “technical” categories since they entail just as much if not more artistry as other categories. They are important and provide the backbone of cinema.

MUPPETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Interpretive dance. (Um, I mean “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”)

Cirque du Soleil! In suits!

Like most things, I guess I never understood film-going until I saw it expressed via dance…

Impressive but I still would have rather had a Muppets performance…

Undefeated wins Best Documentary! My “oh the most that got people released from prison will totally get the Oscar” theory is disproved! 5:5!

The music cut off the Undefeated guy after a way shorter time than Octavia Spencer talked… Apparently the Academy prioritizes categories as far as acceptance speeches go…

Rango, my second favorite film of 2011, wins Best Animated Feature! 6:5!

Hugo beats the apes! What the fuck? Tied again, 6:6… HOW CAN YOU DENY THE BRILLIANCE OF THE COMPLETELY CG APES IN RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Christopher Plummer becomes the oldest actor ever to win an Oscar! 7:6! Let’s see if he recycles the same speech from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and Spirit Awards…

Okay, he did change it up a bit. Touching stuff. Congrats, Gen. Chang… (Star Trek nerd reference!)

The drunker I get the funnier Billy Crystal gets…

Maybe that’s why he keeps getting asked back to host…

The Artist wins for music. I bet more film composers wish they didn’t have any pesky dialogue to contend with…

8:6, by the way…

“MAN OR MUPPET” WINS! THE MUPPETS HAVE A GOD DAMN OSCAR! AS DOES BRET MCKENZIE! WOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 9:6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmmm, maybe Billy’s been drinking too…

THE DEAN FROM COMMUNITY HAS A FUCKING OSCAR!!!! HOW YOU DEAN THAT?!?!?!? DEAN YEAH!!!! 10:6!!!!!

Woody Allen wins his first Oscar since 1987!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 11:6!!!!!!!!

The Oscars are almost always hosted by a comedian (this year Billy Crystal) but the technical awards are always hosted by a hot chick (this year Milla Jovovich)…

“And I believe in my heart that she was not referring to weiners, but short films…” -Maya Rudolph

The Shore wins for Live Action Short Film! My favorite of the bunch! 12:6!!!!!!!!

Documentary short subject… I made no pick so this cannot help or hurt my prediction  record…

Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy reprise their “Scorsese’ drinking game joke from the Screen Actors Guild Awards!!!

Saving Face wins… okay… I’m still mad the fucking Crest had the Best Documentary Shorts for only ONE FUCKING NIGHT and I didn’t get to see what I’m sure are five amazing films…

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore wins Best Animated Short! That was a beautiful film that had me tearing up at the end! Yay!!!! 13:6!!!!

Michel Hazanavicius wins Best Director! 14:6!!! I agree!!!!!

Special awards for Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, and Dick Smith.  Hooray for all, especially Jones and Smith!

Oh, Oprah is winning for humanitarian work as opposed to film work… in that case I support her. She may be a self-egrandizing media mogul but she does do a lot of good for people…

“What a Wonderful World” is ALWAYS a beautiful song and Esperanza Spalding did a wonderful job…

R.I.P. Laura Ziskin, Gil Cates, Jane Russell, Ken Russell, Farley Granger, Whitney Houston, Bingham Ray, Peter Falk, Cliff Robertson, Sidney Lumet, Steve Jobs, Gary Winnick . Jackie Cooper, Ben Gazzara, Elizabeth Taylor, and all the people whose names went by too quickly for me to type…

I like that Natalie Portman is actually describing the roles of the Best Actor nominees…

Jean Dujardin wins Best Actor! 15:6!!! I’m really going to have to see those OSS-117 films now…

“I love your country…” – Jean Dujardin

Between Dujardin and Spencer that’s two prevously unknown (in America) people who have won Oscars this year. That’s pretty incredible and a happy celebration of the show business dream…

Meryl Streep wins for the first time in 29 years! Knocking me down to 15:7…

An acting teacher of mine said a lot of younger actors and actresses think Streep is too much technique and not enough heart. I think you are an idiot if you don’t see the heart in Streep’s performances…

MY FAVORITE FILM OF 2011 ACTUALLY WON BEST PICTURE!!!!! THE FIRST SILENT FILM TO DO SO SINCE 1929!!!!!!!! FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My final total is 16 right and 7 wrong…

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  1. […] of Spies (2006) – So I don’t know if you all got this from my review, my best of 2011 list, or my Oscar article but I really enjoyed the hell out of The Artist. The loving tribute to and recreation of a bygone […]



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