Another outstanding year in film. So many memorable pictures, more than a couple worthy of Best Picture. When in doubt, though, as you plow through your ballot…go with The Artist. It’s gonna take home a bundle of statues.
BEST ACTOR I don’t get all the George Clooney hype here. Since when does wearing bad shorts and running in flip-flops constitute an Oscar caliber performance? For that matter, the performance I enjoyed most this year, Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane in Moneyball, wasn’t all that challenging either. Suffice it to say, neither of those mega stars could have pulled off what Frenchie Jean Dujardin accomplished in The Artist. Sure, Clooney gets compared to Cary Grant a lot, but Dujardin was equal parts Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Gene Kelly. And for that, Dujardin SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN.
BEST ACTRESS I loved Viola Davis. In Doubt! Ok, she was really really solid and obviously sympathetic in The Help, but the force of nature known as Meryl Streep delivered yet another chameleon sleight of hand as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Problem is, it’s just not that great of a film, and everyone liked The Help. So proceed with caution on your ballot here, but Streep SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN her third Oscar.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Must admit, I didn’t see The Beginners. Kept expecting it to show up in my mail box courtesy of the Academy. But it never arrived. I’m furious. But not so mad that I won’t go with the age-old flow here and insist that Christopher Plummer is a no-brainer. Put it this way, if Yul Brynner was still alive and showed up as a Russian mastermind in Transformers 4: What Ever Happened to Megan Fox, he would win the Oscar. I was stoked to see an old favorite of mine, Nick Nolte, nominated for his teary-eyed lush performance in The Warrior; Jonah Hill SHOULD WIN for his computer geek, number crunching role in Moneyball. But Plummer WILL WIN.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS I am still disappointed that Evan Rachel Wood was overlooked for her “this is what Clinton’s intern should have looked like” performance in The Ides of March. With her out of the way, however, Octavia Spencer is a lock for her #2 duty in The Help. Breakthrough star of the year Jessica Chastain SHOULD WIN because not only was she excellent in an otherwise cliché dingbat ‘Ellie May’ role in The Help, but she was purity personified in The Tree of Life. But Spencer WILL WIN, so don’t get nutty here.
BEST DIRECTOR You will hear buzz leading up to the big show Sunday that the wildly respected and admired Martin Scorsese is going to win for his homage to film restoration, Hugo. First of all, he already won his honorary “how can this guy not have an Oscar?” trophy for the mediocre at best The Departed. Don’t get caught up in the foolishness. Michel Hazanavicius conceived and delivered one of the freshest and all-around sweetest films of the past half century. There will be no backlash. Hazanavicius SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN for The Artist. A masterful work of art.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY They will give this one to Woody. Midnight in Paris probably shouldn’t work as well as it does. But it jumps off the page and it’s one of Woody Allen’s best films – and that’s saying a lot. His very original script SHOULD WIN and it WILL WIN.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Last year he gave us the brilliant The Social Network. And it won him his first writing Oscar. Back to back is in the cards for Aaron Sorkin. Moneyball works on all levels, but mostly in its adaptation of a difficult subject matter to make cinematic. It SHOULD WIN and WILL.. I’m suddenly having a sinking feeling that The Descendants might take this. A script that is both over written and then under written. You know what, Sorkin won last year and the Academy will penalize him for that. The Descendants WILL WIN.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY An argument could be made for the amazing Janusz Kaminski and War Horse, and the consistently innovative Robert Richardson for the visually stimulating 3-D Hugo. But this night will belong to The Artist, so put an ‘x’ next to Guillaume Schiffman. Kaminski probably SHOULD WIN, but Schiffman WILL WIN for nailing the silent film era frame by impeccable frame.
BEST FILM EDITING This one goes to Hugo. It SHOULD WIN and it WILL WIN.
BEST SOUND EDITING Drive would be an inspired choice here. But War Horse SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN.
BEST SOUND MIXING War Horse SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS Gotta go with Hugo here. It was almost worth wearing the obnoxious 3-D glasses. Almost! This one probably SHOULD go to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, but Hugo WILL WIN.
BEST MAKEUP Streep disappeared into the skin of Margaret Thatcher. Very impressive makeup job. Tough call, with Albert Nobbs and Harry Potter in the field, but Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN for The Iron Lady.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN The Artist and Mark Bridges SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN.
BEST ART DIRECTION The Artist production team Laurence Bennett and Robert Gould SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN.
ORIGINAL MUSIC Ludovic Bource’s sweet stylings added to the brilliance of The Artist. He SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG Gotta go with the guy from Flight of the Conchords! But only two nominees? I still cannot believe “The Living Proof” by Mary J. Blige for The Help was snubbed. She SHOULD HAVE WON! But the funny Kiwi from Conchords, Bret McKenzie, WILL WIN for “Man or Muppet.”
BEST FOREIGN FILM A Separation won at the Golden Globes. So I think it’s a lock here too. Besides, it’s out of Iran and we all know how important it is to keep that lot happy. A Separation SHOULD WIN (civilization may just be at stake, people!!!!), therefore it WILL WIN.
BEST DOCUMENTARY Your guess is as good as mine. I haven’t picked a winner in this category in over a decade. I did see Errol Morris’ most recent doc, Tabloid. Bizarre story to say the least, check it out. But it’s not nominated. I say go with the Earth Liberation one, sounds like a winner.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT Again, didn’t see ’em. The Civil Rights barber one sounds kind of cool, but can it really beat out one with ‘Baghdad’ in the title?
BEST ANIMATED FILM Now that my kids are older, I don’t have to suffer through every single animated film that is released. Sure, some of them are brilliant, but…only one I saw this year was Rango. Pretty fresh. It SHOULD WIN (I guess), and WILL WIN.
BEST SHORT, ANIMATED & LIVE Hope they’re not on your ballot.
BEST PICTURE No shocker here. If you didn’t like The Artist you probably should skip this year’s show. I am crazy about Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life; and I absolutely loved Moneyball, seen it at least five times. Midnight in Paris restored by admiration for Woody Allen and had me laughing out loud; I sat in the front row with my two youngest sons for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, letting it rush over me like a cinematic tidal wave. All four really unique and wonderful films that I will watch over and over for years to come. But make no mistake, this year belongs to, of all things, a silent film called The Artist. This super sweet, beautifully crafted film SHOULD WIN and WILL WIN the Oscar for Best Picture. Bravo.