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Reel Mama’s Oscar 2012 predictions

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Reel Mama: Reel Mama’s Oscar 2012 predictions

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reel Mama’s Oscar 2012 predictions

Don’t mortgage your house based on my Oscar predictions, but they might help you win the night at your Oscar party.  Here are the artists and films I think will win in some of the major categories:
Best Picture
Safe Bet: The Artist
Dark Horses: The Help and Hugo
Other nominees: Tree of Life, Moneyball, the Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, War Horse, and Midnight in Paris
The Help is an inspiring movie with a message.  The Academy loves this kind of film.  Hugo is Martin Scorsese’s valentine to Hollywood. It’s a movie about movies and a remarkable technical accomplishment.  Nostalgia reigns supreme with the Academy, which overwhelmingly leans toward period films that touch the heart.  The accomplished performance by child actor Asa Butterfield as Hugo also helps.  
I’m of a mind that more than five pictures being up for Best Picture is too many.  What you might not know is that the Oscars started out with ten nominees in the early years, which were later reduced to five, and then in 2009 made the decision to return to ten.  But the Academy makes its own rules and reserves the right to nominate fewer then ten if a full ten films aren’t deemed worthy of Best Picture.  Last year we had the ten, now there are but nine.  
The original rational for increasing the number of films was to give more commercial films a shot at the big time.  In 2009, it was a surprise that The Dark Knight Batman movie that was shut out of a nomination.  Why then has the last Harry Potter film, an enormous commercial success, not received that tenth spot? This has me scratching my head.  Similarly, why do foreign films have such a hard time breaking out of the “Best Foreign Film” ghetto?  Fans of A Separation feel it’s also a glaring omission from the Best Picture list.   Life Is Beautiful and Il Postino were some of the only ones to do so, but these films, though bittersweet, had a great deal of heart, with story lines more favored by the Academy.  
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Safe Bet: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Close Second: George Clooney, The Descendants
Other nominees: Brad Pitt, Moneyball, Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Demian Bichir, A Better Life
The problem with Jean Dujardin is he’s the actor du jour, but for too many it’s “Dujar...who??”  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a special place in my soul for French films and talent.  I’d love to see him win, but Dujardin is not George Clooney.  The Academy is grateful to Clooney for his long track record as a major box office draw.  Nevertheless, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the Academy will grace sentimental favorite Dujardin with the Oscar for his portrayal of a major silent film star turned has-been with the onset of talkies.  Dujardin has received more major acting awards than Clooney.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Safe Bet: Viola Davis, The Help
Close Second: Meryl Streep, Iron Lady
Other Nominees: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs, Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
The most interesting and unpredictable category this year is for Best Actress.
With 17 nominations but no statuette in decades, Meryl Streep is long overdue for an Oscar.  Her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the Iron Lady is seamless.  Perhaps, like British actress Helen Mirren did portraying another British icon, Queen Elizabeth in The Queen, Meryl will take Oscar gold.  Glenn Close is also a major contender for her walk in a man’s shoes as Albert Nobbs.  Yet Viola Davis is the sentimental favorite.  She poured her heart and soul into the role of Aibileen Clark in The Help.  She perfectly understood the role of Aibileen, and has revealed that her own mother and grandmother made a living as maids.  Because of the profound honesty she brings to the performance, the Academy will have a hard time passing Viola Davis up.  This is Viola’s year.
Here’s a piece from my friend and entertainment news guru Hillary Atkin about the Best Actress Oscar race.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Safe Bet: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Close Second: Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Other Nominees: Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn, Jonah Hill, Moneyball, Nick Nolte, Warrior
This race is between two legendary octogenarians.  Max Von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close playing a mute grandfather, and Christopher Plummer for his adventurous role as as a man who comes out of the closet in his golden years in Beginners.  The sentimental favorite is Christopher Plummer, beloved for his role as the Captain in The Sound of Music, and admired for this adventuresome role that admirably displays his versatility.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Safe Bet: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Dark Horse: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Other Nominees: Berenice Bejo, The Artist, Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs, Jessica Chastain, The Help
All of these actresses are deserving, but Octavia Spencer is the sentimental favorite, and she has scooped up every major acting award in this category.  For years Spencer paid her dues with guest spots on every TV show from ER to The Big Bang Theory.  Now her overdue moment in the sun has finally arrived.  It’s all but certain that she has a lock on this category.  However, if the vote for The Help is split between Spencer and Jessica Chastain, also widely celebrated, then my prediction is that Melissa McCarthy could walk away with the gold in a surprise upset.  She may seems like an unlikely candidate for Hollywood’s sweetheart, especially when one considers the classic Hollywood sweetheart portrayed by Berenice Bejo in The Artist.  McCarthy is a master of physical comedy and even gross-out humor, and like Spencer, she is finally receiving a hard-earned place in the spotlight.  Upsets galore have happened in this category before. Juliette Binoche won over Lauren Bacall in 1997, and people are still howling over Marisa Tomei’s win in this category in 1993, though Tomei has since proven her worth with an accomplished career and remarkable staying power.
Best Director
Safe Bet: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Close Second: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Other Nominees: Terrence Mallick, Tree of Life, Alexander Payne, The Descendants, Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Hazanavicius has received every major directing award, but Martin Scorsese may be a sentimental favorite.  Scorsese has had his unfair share of Oscar snubs, for films like Raging Bull and Goodfellas.  Both of these directors have created valentines to cinema with nostalgic period films about the golden age of silent film, and this category has them neck and neck.  Mallick’s film may be seen as too cryptic. Payne’s direction in The Descendants is not his best, and it doesn’t have the bravura matching the works by Scorsese and Hazanavicius.  Woody Allen is a master, but Midnight in Paris is viewed as too light to take this heavyweight category.
Best Foreign Film
Safe Bet: In Darkness (Poland)
Close Second: A Separation (Iran)
Other Nominees: Footnote (Israel), Bullhead (Belgium), and Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
Holocaust films tend to do well at the Oscars.  Many of Hollywood’s great pioneers came to America to escape Nazi Germany.  Therefore, there is a very deep and time-honored tradition of recognizing films that deal with the Holocaust.  Director Agnieszka Hollland is a darling of the foreign film scene with previously nominated films like Europa EuropaA Separation has received the most critical acclaim, and this category is certainly one to watch, because it’s going to be a close race.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Safe Bet: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash,The Descendants
Dark Horse: John Logan, Hugo
Other Nominees: George Clooney and Grant Heslov, The Ides of March, Aaron Sorkin and Stephen Zaillian, Moneyball, Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughn, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Bafflingly, every major writing award has been bestowed on The Decendants, a family drama with ho-hum comedic moments and no heart. My prediction is that the film has a lock on this category at the Oscars as well, because the screenwriters believe that this is a “complex” and “authentic” window into the American family.  But while Hugo is not a perfect screenplay, it does have some impressive plot twists and set pieces.  It is a heartfelt journey about a boy’s attempt to decipher a message from his late father.  And everybody loves anything Martin Scorses touches.  It could be a sentimental favorite over the bland film The Descendants.
Best Original Screenplay
Safe Bet: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Close Second: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Dark Horse: Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Other Nominees: JC Chandor, Margin Call, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids
Midnight in Paris has received every major writing award thus far for original screenplay.  The Academy loves this film, but not enough to reward it with Best Picture.  Still intent on recognizing the film’s creative accomplishments, the Best Original Screenplay Award will serve as Allen’s “consolation” prize.  Woody Allen is the perennial favorite in this category.  The irony is that Allen can’t stand awards shows, so he always makes it a point to miss them, even when his winning is a sure bet.  He’d rather be playing his clarinet.  The Artist might well sweep the Oscars, and if this happens, then its award for Best Original Screenplay will fall into line.  Nevertheless, the intricately layered plot of the Iranian film A Separation is also widely celebrated, and could steal the category away from the two leading contenders.
For a full list of the nominees, click here.


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