Every year when they announce the Oscar nominations I get excited. Don’t ask me why; it’s not something I can easily explain. Sure, once upon a time, in a different century, I had dreams of being nominated and I’ve sort of figured out by now that’s not likely to happen. I know the Oscars are political, I know they’re driven by mass opinion and by advertising dollars and I know that in many years the most deserving often didn’t win. Nonetheless ….
Best Picture – 9 nominated films this year – Tree of Life, Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, The Help, Hugo, Warhorse, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Descendants, The Artist – I’ve seen 5 of the 9 so far. I’d love to see Tree of Life win; not that it was the best picture but it was the most wildly ambitious and partially succeeded. The Artist (which I watched last night) probably doesn’t stand a chance. Maybe Spielberg’s Warhorse, which I haven’t seen, or the feel-good mush of The Help or a nod to Woody Allen’s film – it is the top-grossing film in his long career.
Best Director – Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius, Malick. They won’t give it to Hazanavicius for The Artist simply to spare the presenter from having to pronounce his name. I love Payne but haven’t seen Descendants yet. It could come down to a New York war – Scorsese vs. Allen – each of their films set in Paris, Scorsese’s a love letter to cinema, Woody Allen giving advice to Luis Bunuel on film-making.
Best Actor – Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Jean Dujardin, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Gary Oldman. I think it’s Clooney’s year. I haven’t seen A Better Life so I can’t say about Bichir but all the other nominees did really strong work. Actually I don’t know who Bichir is and I think most people were expecting Michael Fassbender to get nominated here.
Best Actress – Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Rooney Mara, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep (her 17th nomination!), Michelle Williams. I’ve only seen 2 of the films here and it does seem to be Ms. Davis’s year.
Best Supporting Actor – Kenneth Branagh, Nick Nolte, Max von Sydow, Jonah Hill, Christopher Plummer. I’ve only seen 2 of the films and thought that both Hill and Nolte gave great performances, Nolte’s all the better because no one thought he had anything left at this point. But all the attention is going to Christopher Plummer who is old, has been good for decades and I think never won.
Best Supporting Actress – Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Janet McTeer. Two noms for The Help might cancel each other out. I absolutely loved McCarthy in Bridesmaids and could have watched another hour of her. But I fell in love with Bejo in The Artist.
Original Screenplay – Midnight in Paris, The Artist, Bridesmaids, Margin Call, A Separation. Bridesmaids won’t stand a chance because most voters will think it was mostly improv. Margin Call was an exceptionally strong piece of work, balanced and nuanced. But this one is a sure win for Woody.
Adapted Screenplay – Moneyball, The Descendants, Hugo, The Ides of March, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Not having seen The Descendants, I think it’s a strong contender here. But Moneyball has names that Oscar likes – Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian (and Stan Chervin).
Foreign Language Film – Bullhead, Footnote, In Darkness, A Separation, Monsieur Lazhar. Everyone is going to say A Separation. All I’ll note is that the only Asian films nominated this year come from Iran and Israel.
Animated Feature – A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rango. I don’t even know what the first two films are. I’m hoping for Rango.
Okay, there’s 14 more awards, but not going to run them down here. But here’s the scoreboard:
Hugo – 11 nominations
The Artist – 10 nominations
Moneyball & Warhorse – 6 each
The Descendants – 5
Midnight in Paris – 4
Studio-wise, Sony did the best with 20 nominations.
So what are your picks for the winners?