Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Night 2012: Shhhhhhhhhh. . .

I am reminded today of a song by Marshall Mathers. Opens with "Guess who's back, back again . . ." However, instead of the next line referring to one Slim Shady, the version I've got whizzing around is all about Billy Crystal.

Yep, kids. Daddy's home.

After the debacle that was the Franco/Hathaway experiment, the Academy's decided to bring Billy back for his ninth turn as the host of the year's biggest award show. You heard right. NINE. Called it last year too, if you recall.

Predictions coming right up. . .

Best Picture

  • "The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • "The Descendants" Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" Scott Rudin, Producer
  • "The Help" Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • "Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • "Midnight in Paris" Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • "Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • "The Tree of Life" Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill, Producers
  • "War Horse" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
  • Predicted winner: The Artist
  • If I was voting: The Tree of Life
    Possible upsets: The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight In Paris

    Analysis: After a monster of a coming-out party at Cannes last May, The Artist hasn't looked back, going on to that rare mix of critical and popular acclaim. Personally, I thought it was fine, but had some issues with the third act. I liked it, but couldn't really be bothered to go any further than that. On the other hand, The Tree of Life moved me to my soul with its combination of soaring visual sweep and thematic profundity. I think it's easily the best film of 2011, and deserves to walk off this award, without much of a second thought. There's also a theory that Midnight In Paris might squeak through. (which would make me ridiculously happy!) That said, I don't think that the juggernaut that is a little silent French period piece is going to be stopped.

    Prepare yourself, I think this is going to be the evening's recurrent theme.


  • "The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius
  • "The Descendants" Alexander Payne
  • "Hugo" Martin Scorsese
  • "Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen
  • "The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick
  • Predicted winner: Michel Hazanavicius
  • If I was voting: Terrence Malick
    Possible upsets: Martin Scorsese

    Analysis: This year has some really strong contenders, but Hazanavicius has the Director's Guild Award. Surely you must remember how many times I have lectured you about that? DGA (almost 100% of the time) = Oscar. Personally, I think Terrence Malick's work in The Tree of Life was far and away the best work of any director this year, but the fact that he was nominated at all is a small miracle in and of itself. The only real threat I see is Scorsese who, despite my issues with certain inert performances and lackluster narrative choices in Hugo, directed a visually dazzling film.

    Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"
  • George Clooney in "The Descendants"
  • Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
  • Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
  • Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"

    Predicted winner:
    Jean Dujardin
  • If I was voting:
    Possible upsets: George Clooney

    Analysis: After the host of awards that Jean Dujardin has picked up, I think this one's his to lose. Clooney's a definite threat, as he's been quietly running neck-in-neck with Dujardin throughout the season. Despite that, I think Dujardin's charm on and off camera is going to be too much for anyone else to overcome.

    Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs"
  • Viola Davis in "The Help"
  • Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
  • Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"
  • Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"
  • Predicted winner: Viola Davis
  • If I was voting: Rooney Mara
    Possible upsets: Meryl Streep

    Analysis: Viola Davis has been the favorite for a while, but she ought to watch her back. Though Davis has won the lion's share of trophies, Meryl Streep is right on her heels. What's more, Streep scored both the BAFTA and Golden Globe this year. While those don't necessarily have a direct correlation to who wins the Oscar, it's a definite indication that the door's open. Personally, I was very surprised when Davis to Penelope Cruz in 2008, and I think this is her year to take Oscar home . . . but keep an eye on the barroom door.

    Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"
  • Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
  • Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
  • Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
  • Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
  • Predicted winner: Christopher Plummer
  • If I was voting: Kenneth Branagh
    Possible upsets: Max von Sydow

    Analysis: The fact that this year's seen legendary actors Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer's respective first and second Oscar nominations is a remarkable thing. What's more, Plummer's first nomination came three years ago. THREE. Wow. This one's a pretty sure thing. Max von Sydow might have a tiny outside chance, but this one's going to Captain von Trapp.

    Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
  • Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
  • Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
  • Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"
  • Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
  • Predicted winner: Octavia Spencer
  • If I was voting: Bérénice Bejo
    Possible upsets: None.

    Analysis: I think this one's a done deal, folks.

Here's the rest . . .

  • Animated Feature Film: Rango
  • Art Direction: Hugo - Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • Cinematography: The Tree of Life - Emmanuel Lubezki
  • Costume Design: Jane Eyre - Michael O'Connor
  • Documentary (Feature): Pina - Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel (but keep your eye on Hell and Back Again)
  • Documentary (Short Subject): Saving Face
  • Film Editing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • Foreign Language Film: A Separation (this is so much of a done deal it's not even funny, but I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to my friend Phillippe Falardeau, nominated for Monseiur Lazhar. I'm so excited for him tonight!)
  • Makeup: Albert Nobbs - Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
  • Music (Original Score): Hugo - Howard Shore
  • Music (Original Song): Man or Muppet - Bret McKenzie
  • Short Film (Animated): The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore - William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • Short Film (Live Action): The Shore - Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • Sound Editing: Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • Sound Mixing: Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • Visual Effects: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Descendants - Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • Writing (Original Screenplay): Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen

So, will Woody show up? Will there be any big upsets? Will you actually win any money this year? We'll see.

The reason I started watching the Oscars is fairly straightforward. Every year on Oscar night as a child, my mother would flip on the television, and we'd watch the pre-show and some of the awards. I remember the year Beauty and the Beast (which would later become her favorite film, and one of mine) didn't win and we were disappointed. I remember the year that Titanic fever swept the nation. I remember there being so many of those nights. It's fair to say that this tradition (along with a movie every Friday afternoon for years) is one of the foundations of my love of the movies.

I owe that to her, and I will be thinking of her tonight.