Friday, February 24, 2012

THE 84th ACADEMY AWARDS: Final Thoughts and Predictions

It's just about that time, and I have been waiting as long as I could to get my final thoughts out regarding these Academy Awards.  I am pulling for a few surprises.  It's been quite a long time since any big earth-shattering upsets, unless you count The Hurt Locker beating Avatar.  I don't; I had it pegged in 2009.  I am hoping for some upsets in the acting categories, and I see a split in director and picture, at least I hope I do.  The Artist seems to be the overwhelming favorite, and I don't think much will change in that regard.  But I also think the awards will be greatly divided among a handful of pictures.  There will be no film to win six or more Oscars that I can see, but a few might get pretty close.

THE SCREENPLAYS - Adapted Screenplay is top heavy with the Descendants, Moneyball, and Hugo sticking out above The Ides of March and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  Of the three frontrunners, each have a certain Academy prestige in their corner.  Last year's winner Aaron Sorkin, teamed with Steven Zallian in adapting Moneyball, should be the big winner for turning a seemingly unfilmable book into a compelling sports drama.  The Descendants has the power of past winner Alexander Payne, and Hugo has one Martin Scorsese in it's corner.  I don't have a good grasp on which one will win, but The Descendants seems to be trending downward while Moneyball is picking up steam.  Hugo will clean up in the technical areas in my opinion, so I think through simple elimination, Sorkin and Zaillian should win.  SHOULD WIN: Moneyball.  WILL WIN: Moneyball.

I understand there still needs to be a screenplay for a silent film, but The Artist has a script under fifty pages.  It's a compelling story for sure, but I don't think it will win.  Margin Call is a widely unseen picture.  A Separation has an outside chance as it is practically a shoe in for Best Foreign Language Film.  Bridesmaids is a fan favorite which managed to fit in with the Screenplay nominees, but a great deal of the film is ad-libbed and strays from any script.  And then there is Midnight in Paris, written by Woody Allen.  It is his best comedy in decades, and the Academy absolutely loves Mr. Allen.  I feel like this is his to, deservedly, win.  SHOULD WIN: Midnight in Paris.  WILL WIN: Midnight in Paris.

THE SUPPORTING PLAYERS - Supporting Actress is more of a foregone conclusion that it has been in the past.  Typically, if there is an upset in the four acting categories you can point to Supporting Actress.  Berenice Bejo is wonderful in The Artist, but her performance feels like an afterthought to the rest of the picture's nominees.  Jessica Chastain, nominated for The Help, deserved a nomination but not for this role.  Janet McTeer has no realistic chance here for her role in Albert Nobbs because the film is mediocre at best.  Of course, there is Melissa McCarthy, who could be the upset pick for Bridesmaids, but I think this statue belongs to Octavia Spencer for her fiery and memorable performance in The HelpSHOULD WIN: Octavia Spencer.  WILL WIN: Spencer.

Supporting Actor should be relatively devoid of drama as well.  Kenneth Branagh deserved his nomination playing Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn, but I can't see him stealing the statue.  Nick Nolte is back in Warrior, and much like Branagh I can't see him accepting the award.  Congratulations to Jonah hill for his well-deserved nomination here, though he is a newcomer to the Oscars and he might have a few more shots as he matures.  Max von Sydow did not deserve a nomination for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close because that film deserved no nominations.  This leaves Christopher Plummer, the aged thespian who has been in wonderful pictures throughout the years.  His performance in Beginners is tailor-made for the Oscar.  SHOULD WIN: Christopher Plummer.  WILL WIN: Plummer.

ACTOR AND ACTRESS - Both of the lead categories have more intrigue than normal.  Best Actress is a toss up to me.  Viola Davis appears to be the favorite here for her work in The Help, but I could see Michelle Williams upset for My Week With Marilyn.  Williams has been flirting with the Oscar for several years and that might stir up enough momentum.  It's an outside chance.  I don't see Glenn Close winning because, again, Albert Nobbs is mediocre.  Rooney Mara deserved her nomination, and that is a win for her this time around.  She will be back.  Which leaves Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.  She could win, she very well might, but I don't think she should.  Through default, this belongs to Davis when all is said and done.  SHOULD WIN: Viola Davis.  WILL WIN: Davis.

Anything could really happen in Best Actor outside of Gary Oldman or Demian Bichir winning for their roles.  George Clooney was once the frontrunner, but The Descendants has been tailing off recently.  And while I understand and greatly admire Jean Dujardin for his performance in The Artist, I am pulling for Brad Pitt.  Pitt has been a fantastic actor for a long time, and his role in Moneyball as the enigmatic Billy Beane is one of his best.  It is subtle and very nuanced.  That being said, Dujardin has been lobbying greatly for his nomination, and he will probably pull off the win Sunday night.  SHOULD WIN: Brad Pitt.  WILL WIN: Jean Dujardin. 

BEST DIRECTOR - I see Alexander Payne as the outside in this category, mostly because I think The Descendants is a painfully average picture.  He won't upset the field.  Terrence Malick might deserve a win for the ambition and wonderful serenity of The Tree of Life, but he won't be on hand and I don't feel like the Academy is ready to hand him a statue quite yet.  Woody Allen won't be in attendance either, and I think his Oscar for Midnight in Paris will be in the screenplay.  There may be a split this year between Picture and Director, which sometimes happens.  Michel Hazanavicius is a strong newcomer and The Artist should win Best Picture.  But Martin Scorsese is a legend, an national treasure, and his ability to branch out and direct a film like Hugo just adds to his personal prestige.  Marty has a lot of friends in Hollywood, and he deserves another statue on his mantle.  SHOULD WIN: Martin Scorsese.  WILL WIN: Scorsese.

BEST PICTURE - For the sake of time, and referring to what I wrote about Tuesday, let's just eliminate five Best Picture nominees because of their lack of an Editing nomination:  War Horse, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Midnight in Paris, The Help, and The Tree of Life.  This is a shame for Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life, but history is working against them.  This leaves The Descendants, which is fading, Moneyball, which doesn't have much of a chance at winning the biggest award of the night, Hugo, and The Artist.  These last two films will battle for technical awards all night, though if my split theory is to stay in play I think The Artist will surprise nobody by winning the big award Sunday night.  SHOULD WIN: The Tree of Life.  WILL WIN: The Artist.

PREDICTING THE REST (winner in gold)

EDITING                                                               CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Artist                                                               The Artist
The Descendants                                                    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo                        Hugo
Hugo                                                                        The Tree of Life
Moneyball                                                               War Horse

ART DIRECTION                                                 COSTUME DESIGN
The Artist                                                                Anonymous
Harry Potter                                                           The Artist
Hugo                                                                        Hugo
Midnight in Paris                                                   Jayne Eyre
War Horse                                                              W.E.

Hell and Back Again                                             The Barber of Birmingham
If a Tree Falls                                                        God is Bigger Than Elvis
Paradise Lost 3                                                      Incident in New Baghdad
Pina                                                                         Saving Face
Undefeated                                                             The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

ANIMATED FEATURE                                      ANIMATED SHORT
A Cat in Paris                                                        Dimanche/Sunday
Chico & Rita                                                         The Fantastic Flying Books...
Kung Fu Panda 2                                                  La Luna
Rango                                                                     A Morning Stroll
Puss in Boots                                                         Wild Life

LIVE ACTION SHORT                                      FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Pentecost                                                                Bullhead
Raju                                                                        Monsieur  Lazhar
The Shore                                                              A Separation
Time Freak                                                            Footnote
Tuba Atlantic                                                        In Darkness

ORIGINAL SCORE                                            ORIGINAL SONG
The Adventures of Tintin                                    "Man or Muppet" The Muppets
The Artist                                                              "Real in Rio Rio
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

MAKEUP                                                              VISUAL EFFECTS
Albert Nobbs                                                         Harry Potter
Harry Potter                                                          Hugo
The Iron Lady                                                       Real Steel
                                                                                Rise of The Planet of The Apes
                                                                                Transformers 3

SOUND MIXING                                                 SOUND EDITING
Drive                                                                      The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo                       Hugo
Hugo                                                                       Moneyball
Transformers 3                                                     Transformers 3
War Horse                                                             War Horse