It’s that time of year again; the world descends upon the Kodak Theatre to decide which movies and movie stars deserve the most prestigious accolades. Although both Hugo and The Artist received double-digit nominations (11 and 10 respectively), many feel that has been a relatively underwhelming year by industry standards. That being said, here is my take on who will take home the Golden Statuettes.
The Artist is the favourite here. However, Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life is emerging as a surprising dark horse candidate – more for its visual beauty, rather than its unintelligible plot – and The Descendants could creep its way into top spot. But for sheer artistic merit, I’m sticking with The Artist.
Michel Hazanavicius should take this in another win for The Artist. Rarely do films win Best Picture and not get Best Director as well. (The last such movie was Crash in 2006).
As much as I would love to see Gary Oldman win for his brilliant, nuanced performance in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, this category has become a two-horse race between silent maestro Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and Mr. Everything George Clooney (Descendants). Clooney seems to have the edge, but Dujardin has the momentum.
At the start of the year, this was a contest between Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn). Streep has her past 16 nominations and the fact that no one really liked The Iron Lady working against her. That would appear to clear the path for Williams -- if it weren’t for Viola Davis, who has silently tiptoed her way to frontrunner status. It appears to be hers to lose. Of course, the academy could shock everybody by giving it to Rooney Mara (who received some praise, some scathing criticism for her role in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer has been getting most of the awards and it appears to be his time. (It’s his second nomination in three years). But Kenneth Branagh or Max Von Sydow could pull off an upset.
Best Supporting Actress
For the first time in history, two black actresses could win Academy Awards in the same year. Anybody who is anybody has been raving about Octavia Spencer’s performance in The Help. While the same has been said about Melissa McCarthy’s flatulent turn in Bridesmaids, the Academy doesn’t hold comedies in high regard.
Best Original Screenplay
Rumblings are that this is Woody Allen’s to lose. Midnight in Paris is his best script in his years. But Woody has a habit of not showing up and that could turn off Academy voters. The Artist could take home another Oscar here, but Margin Call has quietly been building support.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Hollywood loves Aaron Sorkin. They also love baseball (and sports movies in general). Do they love it enough to give Sorkin the Oscar two years in a row? Perhaps. But The Descendants seems to have the momentum as of late and appears to have the edge.
Best Foreign Language Film
There is a very strong slate of foreign films this year. While Monsieur Lazhar, In Darkness and Bullhead have all gotten great reviews, they pale in comparison to A Separation. This category has surprised in recent years and the political situation in the Middle East will most certainly be a factor. If that’s the case, Canada may just pull it off.
Again, there have been great documentaries this year. The odds-on favourite is Pina. Wim Wenders is loved by just about everybody and the story surrounding the production of Pina is almost irresistible to Academy voters.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
It was slim pickings this year on the animated front. Very few people saw Chico & Rita or A Cat in Paris. The reviews on Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2 were average at best. Rango has smooth sailing to the Oscar.
After the disaster that was James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s hosting gig last year, Billy Crystal looks like a billion dollars to the Academy and the audience. Look forward to his trademark opening number lampooning the nominees and his lightning-fast wit. However, even Billy will agree that he will be overshadowed by the Muppets. Look for Kermit to once again steal the show.