And the Oscar goes to...
Predictions for Hollywood’s biggest ceremony
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 09:02
In any other year, George Clooney might have garnered his second Oscar for his performance in “The Descendants.” But the Academy is consistently enraptured by novelty and eccentricity, so the formerly unknown Frenchman, Dujardin, should go home with the precious britannium man.
The Best Picture category is the biggest tossup of the major groups. With nine acclaimed films, one might think the Academy covered all of its bases. But “Drive” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” are two glaring absences from the list. Either of these films could have readily replaced “War Horse” (2011) or “Extremely Loud,” a pair of melodramatic works that never lived up to the hype they generated. Perhaps the most egregious snub, however, is “50/50” (2011). Considering the Academy’s surprising affinity for comedies this year, the mixture of wit and poignancy in “50/50” should have been enough to solidify a spot in the year’s top nine.
As with the next category, the Best Picture Oscar will fall into the hands of “The Artist” or “The Descendants.” These two films have jockeyed for the top prize after successful Best Picture runs at the Golden Globes (“The Artist” won for Best Comedy or Musical and “The Descendants” won for Best Drama).
“The Descendants” is more moving, as it follows a man’s personal journey to connect with his children and come to terms with the misdeeds of his comatose wife. “The Artist,” however, is more unique and, thus, may be more appealing to Academy voters. Filmed entirely in black and white, “The Artist” pays homage to the era of silent film, portraying the romance of an aging silent film star and a blossoming actress. The film itself is mostly silent and has dazzled audiences since its debut at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
The dark horse in the Best Picture race is “Moneyball.” Rather than fall victim to classic sports movie cliches, “Moneyball” featured fantastic performances from Hill, Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman, a fluid, nuanced script written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin and adept directing by Bennett Miller. “Moneyball” is the total package, but Hollywood seems too entranced by “The Artist” and “The Descendants” to facilitate an upset champion. Best Director
The Best Director category features three old−timers with Oscar history: Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris” (2011)), Martin Scorsese (“Hugo” (2011)) and Terrence Malick (“Tree of Life” (2011)). The gold statue, however, will probably be gifted to one of the two younger guns, Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”) and Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”). Though Scorsese won at the Golden Globes, most foresee “The Artist” and “The Descendants” locking horns in both the Best Picture and the Best Director categories. Unfortunately for Payne, Hazanavicius’ work is favored in both regards. Do not feel too bad for Payne, though; he already has a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar glistening on his mantle for “Sideways” (2004).
The true losers on Sunday will be David Fincher and Nicolas Winding Refn. After first watching their respective works, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Drive,” omitted from the Best Picture category, they find themselves out of the running for Best Director as well. Both men rightfully deserved a nomination, but in the extremely competitive Best Director race, only five directors earned bids.
Of those five, expect Hazanavicius to win his first Oscar. He has an outstanding rapport with his two “The Artist” leads, having directed Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in two other feature films, Not to mention, Hazanavicius and Bejo are married with two children. So, for the French filmmaker and his two leads, a night of raucous merriment and unforgettable victories should be in store.