Oscar Pre-Game

Happy Saturday, b-rollers! After ten long months of film awards (okay, fine, like five; it felt longer), we’ve finally reached the pinnacle. I for one am fully prepped for tomorrow’s live blog: I have a working internet (for now, please God), a killer nachos recipe on tap, and my local Starbucks primed and ready to make me venti nonfat drinks throughout the day. By the time Giuliana Rancic and Ryan Seacrest hit the red carpet (along with their ensemble of fashion analysts from the Mad Hatter’s tea party), I will have the metabolism of a hummingbird. BRING IT.

Before then, here’s the plan: Today (now), we’ll do an analysis of “will win, should win, potential spoiler, should’ve been there” for the major categories. (The “potential spoiler” pick is my way of  being able to say “NAILED IT!!” if any shocking surprises happen, without being gutsy enough to actually predict them. I call this “The Romney.”) And tomorrow morning, I’ll post my guesses for all of the Oscar categories, some of which will be educated, others blind and completely random. (Hey, if you have an inside track on who’s going to win Sound Mix, then God bless.) Please feel free to share your picks there, too. And next week, we’ll compare notes and see how we did.

Ready? Let’s get started.


And the nominees are: The Artist, The Descendents, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse
Thoughts: I am still onboard The Artist bandwagon, and no amount of pre-Oscar backlash will knock me off. Folks, it’s a good freaking movie. Accept the things you cannot change. Now, I also adore Hugo, and could easily see that pulling an upset. I very much liked The Help and Midnight in Paris, but I didn’t think “FOR THE WIN!!” at the end of either (ditto for Moneyball, which is good but not as quietly brilliant as the anti-Artist crowd would have us believe). The Descendents didn’t really do it for me, though j’taime, George; in a related story, I greatly admire Steven Spielberg but really, really disliked War Horse. I have not seen ELIC, but I’ve read the book so I give myself half credit (you should too). And I still have The Tree of Life sitting on my bookshelf; it will probably win the prize for 2012 Oscar Nominee That I Watch On My Laptop On The Afternoon Of The Awards. (“ON A LAPTOP?!?!” scream the Tree of Life loyalists who insist that the artsy dinosaurs only make sense on a big screen. Sorry.)
Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Artist
Potential Spoiler: Hugo
Should’ve Been There: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and The Muppets. I don’t care if you think I’m a child; these movies carried ginormous expectations, and they crushed them. The news this week that the average Academy voter is an old, white man is not at all shocking, is it? Comedies and “kids movies,” out; War Horse, in. If the People’s Choice Awards weren’t so god-awful insane, I’d favor a popular vote for Best Picture. I guess this is the worst system, except for all of the others.


And the nominees are: Damian Bichir, A Better Life; George Clooney, The Descendents; Jean Dujardin, The Artist; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Thoughts: I’ve been pulling for Jean Dujardin ever since it seemed like George Clooney had this category locked in, but now Dujardin looks like a frontrunner; quite the momentum that our crazy little silent movie has gathered, huh? A Clooney win (or a Pitt win) wouldn’t kill me, as they were both exceptional. And I haven’t seen A Better Life or Tinker Tailor, so I can’t speak to those performances, but I am happy to see Gary Oldman at the dance. This is only his first nomination, folks; inconceivable!
Will Win: Jean Dujardin
Should Win: Jean Dujardin
Potential Spoiler: Brad Pitt
Should’ve Been There: Michael Fassbender, Shame. Sure, it was a “brave” performance, though I wish it weren’t simply couched that way because, “Whoa, a penis!” Fassbender was remarkable in how subtly he conveyed his character’s pain and hopelessness. Also, Miss Piggy agrees with me; she’s seen Shame 12 times. Without Kermit. I always vote with Miss Piggy.


And the nominees are: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis, The Help; Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Thoughts: I have seen all of these films but Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady – two films that are destined to end up in the middle of my Netflix queue and stay there forever – so apologies to Glenn Close and Meryl Streep, but let’s break down the rest. Michelle Williams was brilliant (can you even imagine how hard it would be to play Marilyn Monroe as anything but a caricature? Smash can’t), but is, unfortunately, out of this two-horse race. Rooney Mara was excellent, and if I hadn’t already seen Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander, I probably would have been more impressed. And Viola Davis was remarkable, the beating heart of The Help; her win at the SAGs means she’s got a ton of support, and her amazing speech probably locked it down. Remember a couple of years ago, when Meryl Streep said, “Somebody give Viola Davis a movie!”? We’ll file that under “be careful what you wish for.”
Will Win: Viola Davis
Should Win: Viola Davis
Potential Spoiler: Meryl Streep, if you can call her a “spoiler” (not really). But I wish Michelle Williams had more momentum, or had given this performance another year.
Should’ve Been There: Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene. Another quiet, haunting performance. In a year in which Oscar was more likely to reward gimmicks (I don’t mean that as negatively as it sounds, but you can’t deny that it’s true), the Fassbenders and Olsens get left out. 


And the nominees are: Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn; Jonah Hill, Moneyball; Nick Nolte, Warrior; Christopher Plummer, Beginners; Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Thoughts: This is the very definition of a one-man race, at least for me. I haven’t seen Max von Sydow or Nick Nolte’s films, and I thought that Kenneth Branagh and Jonah Hill were perfectly fine, thanks, but not particularly memorable. But Christopher Plummer was oh so dear in Beginners, so et voila. My, what a weak year in supporting roles. Anyway, I think if anyone beats Plummer, it’s von Sydow; Oscar voters deeply love giving these supporting awards for career achievement, which is why I predict that Meryl Streep’s next Oscar win will be for playing Kate Winslet’s alcoholic mother in something. Bank it.
Will Win: Christopher Plummer
Should Win: Christopher Plummer
Potential Spoiler: Max von Sydow
Should’ve Been There: Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I’m sorry, Muggles, but Snape’s death scene was epic. (I’m not going to say spoiler alert; that book’s been out for like eight years. Come on.) And I didn’t think the flashback sequence could be more heartbreaking than it was in the novel, but enter Alan Rickman. It’s a shame he never got his due.


And the nominees are: Berenice Bejo, The Artist; Jessica Chastain, The Help; Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Octavia Spencer, The Help
Thoughts: I’ve seen all of these performances but Janet McTeer’s (see above). I’d love to see Berenice Bejo win – okay, maybe I’m driving the Artist bandwagon – but it’ll almost certainly go to Octavia Spencer, who was wonderful and deserving. As is Melissa McCarthy, who may sneak in if the Oscar voters get snippy and say, “Hey, we’re not that old! SEE?!” As for Jessica Chastain, I thought she was very sweet in The Help, but she was barely in it; I have to imagine the votes that she gets will be cumulative for the five films she was in last year. It still won’t be enough, though.
Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Should Win: Berenice Bejo
Potential Spoiler: Melissa McCarthy
Should’ve Been There: Carey Mulligan, Shame. She was wonderful, and her version of “New York, New York” was devastating. Also, endless. But still devastating.


And the nominees are: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Alexander Payne, The Descendents; Martin Scorsese, Hugo; Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Thoughts: For the record, this category is the main reason why I couldn’t write these blog posts using the WordPress app on my iPhone this week when my internet went down; I have no idea what my auto-correct would have tried to do with “Hazanavicius,” and I don’t want to know. Anyway, my feelings on these movies pretty match my “best picture” thoughts, so I won’t reiterate them, except to say this: Much as I love The Artist, I thought that what Martin Scorsese accomplished with Hugo was much more difficult. Also, Hugo was the first 3D movie that I saw where it felt like the 3D was a part of the experience, and not an excuse for an extra $4 per ticket. Credit to Scorsese for integrating the new AND the nostalgic.
Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Should Win: Martin Scorsese
Potential Spoiler: Woody Allen or Terrence Malick (Rhetorical question: If you were an Academy member, would you vote for someone who you knew probably wouldn’t attend the ceremony just to shorten it by 2-3 minutes? I might.)
Should’ve Been There: Bill Condon, The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn, Part 1. No, I’m totally kidding; that movie was 50 different shades of awful. But (semi) seriously, what about Paul Feig for Bridesmaids? One of the best comedies in years, and to quote Billy Crystal, it didn’t direct itself.


And the nominees are: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids; J.C. Chandor, Margin Call; Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Thoughts: I have yet to see Margin Call or A Separation, two films that are on my “to do” list. Of the remaining three, I would probably vote for Woody Allen’s script for Midnight in Paris; there was a lot of charm there, but even more importantly, there were a ton of intricately moving parts. That movie could’ve fallen apart so easily. A Bridesmaids or Artist win would be perfectly acceptable, though I’d imagine if/when Hazanavicius wins, there will be a lot of, “But there were hardly any words!” outcry. Fair enough.
Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Should Win: Woody Allen
Potential Spoiler: Asghar Farhadi
Should’ve Been There: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, The Muppets. YOU try writing for the Swedish Chef.


And the nominees are: Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendents; John Logan, Hugo; George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March; Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin, Moneyball; Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy
Thoughts: Question: What do we think is the difference between a “&” and an “and” between the names? Clearly it indicates something very important – like, “This guy & this guy worked in the same room together over a single laptop, but this guy AND this guy have never met in their lives” – and I’m seriously curious. This is a question for a philosophy major. ANYWAY. I think this will be the prize that goes to The Descendents as the “thanks for playing” award, though if Hugo picks up steam, that could take it (and oh, how I’d love that). Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin are big names in a not-very-sexy category, though, so it wouldn’t shock me to see them win. (And they made a movie about baseball statistics interesting, so it wouldn’t be out of left field. Thank you, I’ll be here all week!)
Will Win: Alexander Payne AND Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Should Win: John Logan
Potential Spoiler: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin
Should’ve Been There: Steve Kloves, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I know it’s a broken record now, but that was one helluva book to try to adapt for the screen, and many twists and pieces were even better than the source material. (Sorry, J.K.)

So, those are my initial predictions! I think I covered as many bases as possible without taking any really bold stands; I know, I’m proud of me, too. Who are you rooting for, b-rollers?


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