2012 Academy Awards

Please don’t let this be the year that the gimmicky French film wins.  I would prefer that the real masterpiece that took place in Paris, France take home the gold.  The rush to crown The Artist as Best Picture feels a little like the time we anointed Brokeback Mountain the movie of our times.  If it actually wins, then it will feel like when Out of Africa beat out The Color Purple: only one of those films has been watched since 1985.

The disappointments this year are in the omission of the last Harry Potter film, along with Take Shelter from the nominees list for Best Picture.  We easily could have done without War Horse, Moneyball and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in this category.  This just shows the kind of clout Speilberg, Pitt and Hanks have that they get these as gimmes.

As a refresher from last year’s post, if a category is not covered here, it’s because I have not seen most of the films in that group, and, obviously, don’t care about the category.

Best Picture

The Artist, The DescendantsExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Hugo, Midnight in ParisThe HelpMoneyballWar Horse, The Tree of Life

My pick:  Out of this group, Hugo is the clear class of the bunch.  There are other good films here, The Help, The Descendants and The Tree of Life among them.  None of those, though, were better than Take Shelter.  Only Hugo achieves this, and it is the best 3D film ever.

Who will win: If The Artist wins, something is seriously wrong with Hollywood, because no one will be watching this film in a year.  For the self-congratulatory voters, however, this is the shiny object in their periphery.  Better still, it is a shiny object that they feel represents “tradition.”  It should be a dead heat between Hugo and The Help.  My money is on The Artist, though.  Something is seriously wrong with Hollywood.

Best Actor
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

My pick: Bashir gave a clinic in A Better Life.  Brad Pitt actually did better work this year in Tree of Life, but that was a supporting role, so the performance was ignored.  Clooney playing slightly against type is always fun.  The older he gets, the more ways he finds to go against type.  Soon, he will have no “type.”

Who will win: If The Artist wins best picture, it may be enough to divorce the voters from the idea of giving it to the French guy, who spoke not a word.  I think the Academy likes Clooney as much as I do.

Best Actress
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

My pick: Mara’s movie, while great, is derivative.  I still think of Noomi Rapace.  She should have been nominated for her work first.  Streep is great, but the Iron Lady is not enough to get the gold.  I haven’t liked Close much since Cookie’s Fortune showed me how unskilled she is when unrestrained.  I haven’t seen Williams as Marilyn.  If ever there was a clear standout, Davis should win for showing us how to be humble, graceful and a giant of a human being.

Who will win: Davis, with no question.  Streep is old reliable and could surprise.  From what I have been told, Mara does not interview well.  That and a violent movie about rape should keep her from the gold this time.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

My pick:  Nick Nolte’s performance in Warrior was incredibly poetic.  His skill has only increased with age.  Hill was fun in his fictional version of Paul DePodesta, and he really worked Sorkin’s dialogue.  I have to go with Nolte here.  I have to say, though, it was a true shame that Rickman was not nominated for his role of Snape.  He would have taken the Oscar, if so.

Who will win:  The shiny object in this category is the old gay guy dying of cancer who was faithful until his wife died.  Plummer is a great actor of many years.  This is his Sean Connery moment, albeit a slightly pinker version.  I would rather have given it to him for Star Trek VI, but hey, I am a different breed of cat.

Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

My pick:  Chastain is a wonderful actress who had many excellent roles this year.  3 of these, The Help, Tree of Life, and especially Take Shelter deserved nominations (the latter for Best Actress), but she lands in the one spot she can’t win.  Octavia Spencer is perhaps the best nominated performance of this year’s awards.  She made a lasting impression with The Help.  McCarthy was good, but undercut by fat chick clichés in Bridesmaids.

Who will win: I think that Spencer made the same impression on the voters that she made with me.

Best Director
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

My pick: Payne and Malick had excellent movies, but Scorsese’s Hugo is a masterpiece.  This movie is right up there with Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Aviator and Taxi Driver as the best in his career.  Yeah, I know I did not include The Departed.  It’s good, but not on the level with his best.  Remember, Oscar is a shiny object.  The most impressive feat of the film, though, is Scorcese’s ability to weave a wonderful tale and while using unobtrusive 3D effects that actually help the story seem all the more real.

Who will win: It looks like The Artist’s director will take this one.  The only one that stands a chance is Scorsese.  Not a good one, though.

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
JC Chandor, Margin Call
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids

My pick:  Out of this group, I have to go with Midnight in Paris.  Take Shelter should have been nominated and deserves the award, too.  Margin Call was nothing more than a depressing recap.  Bridesmaids was good, but the fat clichés knock it out for me.

Who will win: The Academy is big on Woody Allen.  He thinks like they do.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton, Jim Rash, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughn, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

My pick:  No contest.  As good as The Descendants is, Hugo is the best story of the nominations and it was written exquisitely.  The story is the history of movies itself.  There can be no better story than this for a movie lover.

Who will win: Odds have The Descendants.  I have to go with Hugo though.  What better way for Hollywood to celebrate itself than by this story?

Best Animated Feature
A Cat In Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

My pick:  No question here.  Kung Fu Panda 2.  The story was a true continuation of the journey.  Remarkable and one of the 4 best animated features ever.  The great thing here is that Pixar was shut out after putting out that derivative pile of crap, Cars 2.  It’s only because I love everything else that Pixar has done (except Cars) that I celebrate this.  They always do better, and they deserved the shut out.

Who will win: Rango is probably going to take this.  It looked great, to be sure.  The story was about as original as Avatar, though.

Original Score

The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

My pick: Howard Shore did a very skilful job combining the feelings and the tension with Hugo.  The Artist was a hodgepodge of stolen riffs from other movies.  They call it an homage, but that did not fare any better than Moulin Rouge for me.

Who will win:  The music for the silent film will probably win the day.

Best Original Song
Man or Muppet,” The Muppets; Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
Real in Rio,” Rio; Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett

My pick:  Easy.  McKenzie’s faux rock ballad perfectly encapsulated the glory of all things Muppet.  Ironically, that was not even as good as Life’s a Happy Song from the same movie.  Real in Rio is a nice song, but that’s about it.

Who will win:  Like I said.  Easy.

Best Achievement in Art Direction
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

My pick: Before I saw Hugo, this award would have gone to the last Harry Potter.  My life is now infused with the images from Scorsese’s masterpiece.

Who will win:  Hugo should win, but The Artist could creep in.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
The Artist
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

My pick:  Malick’s work was immaculate.  His nonsequiturs are amazingly filmed as they are puzzling.  I love Fincher camera work and The Artist sure does look good.  Nothing, however, holds a camera to Scorsese’s work in Hugo.

Who will win:  This is likely the one place that they reward Malick’s wonderful film.  Hugo or The Artist could surprise though.

Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Artist
Jane Eyre

My pick:  This is a contest between Hugo and The Artist.  Hugo’s costumes encompass all that The Artist’s presented, while bringing into it so much more.  Hugo.

Who will win:  This could go either way, but I am guessing that they go with The Artist.

Best Documentary Feature
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

My pick:  Hell and Back Again.  Semper Fi.

Who will win:  Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory has traction.

Best Achievement in Film Editing

The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

My pick:  There are no wasted shot’s with Thelma Schoonmaker.  Hugo.

Who will win:  If the tide is with them, and I think it may well be, The Artist, will probably win.  If by some miracle, they judge on merit, Hugo will take it.

Best Achievement in Makeup
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Iron Lady

My pick: Potter.

Who will win:  Potter.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

My pick:  Hugo

Who will win: Hugo

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

My pick:  Hugo

Who will win:  Hugo

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

My pick: Hugo should win this.  Apes was an excellent effort, but Scorsese’s work was conventional and groundbreaking simultaneously.

Who will win:  Unless there is a Hugo landslide, Rise of the Planet of the Apes should win.


  1. Good picks. I think Best Pic is a toss-up between Hugo and The Artist. I liked both films but loved neither. I do however think that Jean Dujardin should win and will win best actor. To play that role without the power of speech, to portray a broad range of emotions without ever over-acting or becoming a charicature, and to make the character genuinely likeable, was a feat few actors could have pulled off so well. It doesn’t hurt that he looks alot like Gene Kelly, especially when he smiles. Hugo might surprise everybody and have a runaway night. The last time a movie had double digit Oscar noms, but none in acting, was “Return of the King”, and it went 11 for 11. Good sign for Hugo and its 11 noms? Perhaps.

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