It’s that time again: the time that I go ga-ga, and not in the meat-dress way:
Let me point out that it’s Ash Wednesday and I’m Catholic, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell just for Googling “Meat Dress.”
But anyway…it’s that time of year and it’s time for me to prove my film snobbery through a blog post. As I told Hannah Burkett on Monday, “This is going to be a major blogging week.” She asked, “Why?” My reply: “I have a lot to say.”
And WOW do I have a lot to say.
I didn’t make my goal of seeing all 10 Oscar-nominated films. I made it through 4.5 films, exactly half the list (but if you round up, it’s more than half of the list). I count watching the first 10 minutes of The Tree of Life as half, because it’s a 10 minutes that felt like an hour I’ll never get back.
I think the best way to go about this is by boldfacing each category. So here we go. I promise not to give too much away.
Best Supporting Actress: This is the first category they lead with usually, so Octavia Spencer of The Help won’t have to wait long. She has swept the other awards this year, so it’s only fitting that she wins the Academy’s highest honor. There is no doubt in my mind that she deserves it, too; her role in Tate Taylor’s film made us cheer, then cry, then cheer again.
Honorary mention goes to Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids, the ultimate dark-horse in this leg of the Oscar race, and Berenice Bejo, who absolutely stunned us in The Artist.
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer will probably win because of his reputation and because he’s long-due for an award, but, to be honest, I want Jonah Hill of Moneyball to get the Oscar. Not only did he make me forget I was watching the kid from Superbad, but he also made such a leap in his career that his reversion to movies like 21 Jump Street (due out in March) is even more of an embarrassment than if he had never made Moneyball to begin with. Then again, didn’t last year’s winner, Natalie Portman, then go on to make that terrible Razzie-bait of a movie, Your Highness? Maybe the “Jump Street” reboot is just a way for Hill to tempt the Oscar curse.
For the record, however, Plummer’s performance as the main character’s out-and-proud geriatric father was fantastic.
Best Lead Actress: Every year before this has always had a clear winner. Natalie Portman was going to get it for Black Swan, and Sandra Bullock was going to get it for The Blind Side unless the Academy wanted to lose all credibility with the average movie-goer. This year, things are more up in the air, and I’m posting it that it’s either going to Michelle Williams of My Week with Marilyn or Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady. Williams has the playing-a-Hollywood-icon advantage, but that can also hurt her if voters aren’t happy with her portrayal. Streep, however, is long overdue for an award (this is her 17th nomination, and she hasn’t won since Sophie’s Choice in 1982). If the Academy gives it to her, though, they end the greatest suspense story ever written; Streep will have her award, and no one will care the next time she gets nominated.
All three other actresses performed well, I’m sure (I haven’t seen Albert Nobbs yet). Rooney Mara’s nomination for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo drives me a little nuts, however, because I feel that Noomi Rapace was better in the role of Lisbeth Salander, yet was snubbed because of the Swedish thriller’s foreign-language-non-art-film stigma.
Best Lead Actor: Like in the Best Lead Actress category, it’s full-out war between Jean Dujardin of The Artist and George Clooney of The Descendants. I haven’t seen Clooney’s film, so I’m at a bit of a disadvantage on this one. However good he was, I think Dujardin has the best shot of winning. Pantomiming in a silent film is a lost art, especially when everything else includes the benefit of speech and sound; Dujardin handles it with grace that doesn’t reflect the over-acting skills of fictitious Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly’s character in Singin’ In the Rain), but still gets the message across.
I would like to see Gary Oldman win something eventually, since he’s one of the most underrated actors out there. I feel bad that his first Oscar nom should come the year of these two performances; if it wasn’t for them, he’d have a real shot at winning for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Best Original Screenplay: As a writer, I feel obligated to write about these. This year, my favorite story was Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen; the innovation and 1920s references made it a joy to watch, and I never wanted to leave the roaring nighttime city. The Artist is also nominated, but I see it getting a bit of the kibosh from voters not accustomed to the type of writing that goes into silent films.
Best Adapted Screenplay: I’m Aaron Sorkin biased, so don’t be surprised when I say I want Moneyball to win, even though I think The Descendants has it in the bag. Then again, Hugo might come out of nowhere this year and stun us all.
Best Director: I’d like to see Woody Allen win for Midnight in Paris just because I loved every moment of that film, especially how it was filmed. Usually best director follows best picture, however, and my bet is on Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. Martin Scorsese could come out of nowhere for Hugo; I wouldn’t be surprised if Hugo comes out of absolutely nowhere and grabs up every award.
Best Original Soundtrack: You know how much I love this category, but this year wasn’t a great one for soundtracks. There was nothing as emotionally stirring and heart-poundingly good as Hans Zimmer’s Inception (heck, I don’t think Zimmer did anything huge this year apart from a rehash of Sherlock Holmes, mostly because he’s getting geared up for The Dark Knight Rises). I was almost as excited to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo snubbed as I was to see John Williams get nominated twice for his work on The Adventures of TinTin and War Horse. Although I’m sure his work on War Horse was extremely good (just the trailer music made me shiver), I’m going to call The Artist on this one, too. Ludovic Bource’s score drives that movie, and even though Kim Novak tastelessly referred to his use of Vertigo‘s love theme as “rape” (I’m still not over that, Novak. You lost all class in my book as a woman comparing something as trivial as that to rape), I think it’s just generally going to be the best of the year in the voters’ ears, even though nothing really stood out.
Best Picture: Fanfare please:
This is without a doubt the best film of 2012, as seen through the Academy’s criteria. It’s just generally an excellent piece. The only thing I see standing up to it is The Descendants, but Michel Hazanvicius’ film has something Alexander Payne’s doesn’t: a reversion to the old that makes it delightfully new.
I’m not going to get into the technical awards, but it goes without saying that I want Harry Potter to get all three for which it’s been nominated (even though Albert Nobbs will be the Best Makeup winner). It’s about time that a franchise that connects people more than The Lord of the Rings trilogy receives some accolades, and if it’s not going to be for Alan Rickman’s performance — the biggest snub in Oscar history, in my opinion — it better at least be for the breathtaking effects.